How We Began by Anthology – Multiple Authors ~ Buddy Review by Lirtle and Queue

How-We-Began-cover-1Title: How We Began

Author: Anthology – Multiple Authors

Publisher: Self Published

Cover Artist: Unknown

Lirtle’s Rating: 4 of 5 Stars
Queue’s Rating: 4 of 5 Stars

Publication Date: 11/09/2015

Length: Novel (~ 50K-100K)

Genre: Alternate Universe/Alternate World, Contemporary, Drama, Fiction, Gay, Gay Fiction, Young Adult

Summary:

How does love begin?

A glance, a gesture, an unexpected offer of help from a stranger…or from a good friend. A smile across a counter at a coffee shop or video store. A secret revealed in a song from another place and time. Or in a love ballad crooned at a high school dance.

In this anthology of never-before-published sweet LGBTQ+ stories, six authors explore the beginnings of love between young and new adult couples. All proceeds will support The Trevor Project‘s work with crisis intervention and suicide prevention for LGBTQ+ youth.

Lirtle’s View on three stories:

Tru North by Alexis Hall 3.5*

This story is told in first person and starts out rather dour and dry, almost like reading an itemized list of the things taking up Noah’s life and what it’s become over the last few years. It culminates in Noah feeling lost, separated from himself. He feels alone even when surrounded by thousands. I understand that feeling. The way this is portrayed, though, made it difficult to connect with Noah.

Then we have Callum. Aisling. To the world she’s usually Callum. For herself, she’s Aisling, and Noah gets to see her. She’s intriguing, and intelligent, and is trying hard to go after what she wants because she knows how she feels. I would have loved the story from her point of view. We all know we need and want more stories like hers. As soon as she started talking, I perked up and wanted to hear everything, all of her dreams, fears, and demands on life.

The writing is typical Hall, meaning beautiful, with rare patches of overdone or underperforming. I love this:

We’re still sort of in costume from Eldorado – I’m wearing the hat and Aisling’s got glitter in her hair and all down her arms – but maybe all they see is a pretty girl and a lucky guy.

I hope so.

It’s how I feel.

Lovely. And honest. And it feels right. And this marks the point where the story really gets moving. This story’s a good one but dragged initially before getting to the heart. It held great potential that is partially realized and is the beginning of a beautiful, perfect idea.

Unexpected Dragons by Delphine Dryden  4*

I have to say, this author made it easy for me to connect with Zev, our young teen on the cusp of his first shift into his dragon form. His awkwardness, the way his thoughts pinball all over the place, and is easily embarrassed self all convey his struggle to grow up and become the dragon he’s meant to be.

The world building is well done, painting a relatively clear picture of the physical surroundings and rules that govern this universe. The same can be said for the supporting characters.

I was left with some questions, and a couple of story points remained unresolved. Also, italics were overly employed. Teen readers are smart enough to understand where the emphasis should be placed without that “help” and it was sometime a distraction.

I like this author’s writing style, everything rolling along without any major hiccups. She does a good job in communicating a slice of a young teen’s life, especially that time when evenly stuck between childhood and adult existence.

Tears prickled up before Zev could stop them – his other form might not cry, but this one could and did. <b>I don’t deserve the welcome.</b> But he had changed, hadn’t he? He was kin. And he might not be an adult of the village yet, but he could never be a child again.

Most importantly, the author tells any teen reading this story that there are many good ways to express yourself, that just because you don’t feel confident using a particular type doesn’t mean you’ll feel the same when trying another. Keep trying until you find what works for you.

I enjoyed this one. 🙂

A Song for Sweater-boy by Vanessa North  5*

Jamie is a knitter, among other things, and he’s awesome at it, as well as other things.

Ash loves music, lives it, and wants to make it his career.

Jamie and Ash have several things in common, knitting being just one of them.

We get both their points of view and North does beautifully in portraying both of them. They each have their own personalities and are complete individuals, neither one bleeding into the other. There’s no confusing them, not for a second. I felt wonderful spending time with them.

North has this way of mixing the serious and the sweet, a subtle but undeniable way of grounding sigh-worthy wonder with the reality that is life. I think it’s her now not at all secret weapon. The phrase “prison knitting” is probably the best example ever in the history of examples of this ability of hers. She’s sneaky in an obvious underground sort of way and I love it. Her writing is, well, it’s now become an addiction and I recommend you get started on it. Right now.

This story excited me because of what it includes: grief, straightforward joy, friendship, the shattering of assumptions, and two older teens on the brink of adulthood who have already had more than their fair share of that. Emotional, complete, with all kinds of possibilities for more, and characters that will remain with me: this is a song for sweater-boy and I hold it in my heart. 🙂

Queue’s View on three stories:

The Taste of Coffee and Cream by Amy Jo Cousins

I liked that the mc was *trans and the message about finding your true self. However, I never connected with Jude. She seemed rather unlikable throughout most of the story. Though I did like Owen. He was super sweet. A real decent young man.

I also disliked the use of present tense, third person POV. It created a distance that I wasn’t able to get over.

3.5 stars

 

First In Line by Annabeth Albert

Of the three stories I read this was my favorite. I’ve only read a couple stories by this author but she is quickly becoming a favorite.

This was a sweet coming romance between college students Ethaniel and Nesto. Ethaniel comes from a conservative family and though he recognizes that he’s attracted to men he actually doesn’t think he could ever act on it. That is until he meets Nesto, an out and proud student who shakes up Ethaniel’s life view.

I loved the slow-build part of the relationship between these two. It felt realistic on every front. These guys felt totally real throughout the story. The supporting characters here were cool too, especially Ethaniel’s roommate.

The worst part of the story was that it ended. I would love to see more of this couple.

5 stars

Extinction Level Events by Geonn Cannon

This was a difficult story for me to even finish. It was just dull and there wasn’t much conflict or tension.

It focuses on Cassandra, a young woman dealing with sexuality and a crush on her best friend, Natalie. I liked the scene where Cassandra came out to Natalie. It was refreshingly realistic. However I would’ve like more romance.

3 stars

Links

How We Began on Goodreads
Self Published
Amazon US
Amazon UK
Amazon CA

I would like to thank the publisher for providing me with the eARC of this title in exchange for my honest opinion.

Farewell Giveaway
I have a number of paperbacks, most of which are signed, to giveaway. Over the between now (11 Mar 2017) and 31 Mar 2017, every comment on the blog (this post and all other new posts), will be entered to win 1 of these paperbacks. There are also some misc swag items, so there will be a few packs of these to give away as well.

Thank you so much for your support over the last 4 years. Prism will be closing its doors on 1 April 2017. All content will remain available, but no new content will appear after 31 Mar 2017. As such all request forms have been turned off. Again Thank you,

Brandilyn
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