Thursday, November 19, 2015
Review: How We Began Anthology–various authors, edited by Edie Danford
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. ~ Goodreads
Overview of the anthology as a whole: This was one of the better anthologies I’ve read. There isn’t a bad story in the group and I was pleasantly surprised at the variety in both genre - sci-fi-ish future, dragons!, contemporary, YA, NA - and with the LGBTQ spectrum. This isn’t just M/M. There are Transgender, Lesbian, Bi, Gay and even Autism Spectrum stories and characters. I do hope we see more of this.
Most of the stories are YA, while a few take place in college or just heading to college but the heat level is low – steamy kisses at the most. There are no HEA’s or even HFN – this is “how they began”, not the full story - but all end happy with a future left wide open with potential.
Now on to each individual story:
TruNorth by Alexis Hall
He’s the nice one. Everybody’s third or fourth favourite. His name is Noah and his job is to be young and free, wild but not too wild, exciting but safe. He has everything he’s ever wanted, and he’s beginning to think it sucks.
When TruNorth play New Berlin, he follows his bandmate Callum (the quiet one, the one the shy girls go for) into the old city. To a club where everything is possible and everything is true.
My thoughts: As a member of the boy band TruNorth, Noah should be living the dream. Rich and famous yet every move is monitored to maintain each members carefully choreographed media image. Think One Direction in a slightly sci-fi near future.
Noah is collapsing under the weight of not being able to be his true self and finds surprising freedom and solace after following his band mate, Callum, to a club one night while touring in New Berlin. Noah’s reality is turned upside down and set free that night in this sweet romance that dares the boys to break free and be true to themselves.
Unexpected Dragons by Delphine Dryden
If Zev could wish his way into his dragon form, he would already be flying with the rest of his training group. But now it's high summer, and fear is taking over. If he hasn't made the change by now...maybe he'll never be a dragon.
Zev doesn't want to leave the village on the crag, leave his family and the rest of the dragon kin. He doesn't want to go down to the grasslands where the non-kin live—flat landers, earthbound. He worries his friend Rook may be headed that way. So how can Rook seem so calm about it?
But once Zev does change, a new dilemma greets him. Even staying in the village may mean a life he didn't bargain for. If only he could borrow a little of Rook's patient wisdom--reach out and take it from his slender hands, his petal-soft lips. If only Zev could unfurl his new wings and follow Rook up and up and up, into the blinding brilliance of a summer sky.
My thoughts: Um….dragons. Need I say more? This would make an awesome series! It also does a great job of exploring themes of gender stereotypes and expectations.
A Song for Sweater-boy by Vanessa North
Ash Cooper has made a mess—an angry prank turned into a criminal mischief charge and now he’s on probation. Jamie Allen has a talent for pattern recognition, but he’s not so great with people—how can someone as well-liked as Ash Cooper not have all the answers? An unlikely friendship springs up between them as they navigate senior year, a probation sentence, and—oh
My thoughts: This was my favorite of the group. It had a very Simon vs. the Homo Saipan Agenda vibe. Ash and Jamie were so damn sweet I thought I might die of cuteness overload. Not to say there weren’t complications or that it wasn’t a bumpy road but…omgthecuteness
North is a new author to me, I had read several of the others before, but I will be checking out her books immediately!
The Taste of Coffee and Cream by Amy Jo Cousins
Jude lives for Saturdays, when she can hop a bus and escape to wander the streets of a town where no one knows her, reveling in the freedom to be her true self. She isn’t interested in making friends, but some people become friends whether you invite them to or not.
Owen works the counter at the coffee shop where Jude changes clothes and she thinks maybe he knows things she usually keeps hidden. When he reveals her secret to someone else, Jude will have to decide if she can hang onto enough trust to let her take the biggest risk of all…
My thoughts: This was the most intense story of the anthology. It was told in 3rd person so I felt a little removed from Jude at first but then you fall into and realize it’s perfect for her story. Jude’s life is sad and fraught with danger but then she’s given a lifeline and hope from people who care enough to make the effort. Beautiful ending.
First in Line by Annabeth Albert
When new Cathia College freshman, Ethaniel Rhodes arrives on campus, he’s determined to finally be true to himself, but getting the courage to follow through with his plan proves harder than he thought. Unexpected allies, new friends, and an intriguing upperclassman all complicate his first days on campus. Ultimately, however, only Ethaniel can decide whether the time is right to take a leap of faith.
My thoughts: Another nice romance from Albert – a favorite M/M author of mine. I felt like I’ve read this particular type of story before but it didn’t take away from my enjoyment.
Extinction Level Events by Geonn Cannon
Recent high-school graduate Cassandra Keane is leaving the town she's known her whole life and heading to college. Before she goes, she has a list of things she has to do that includes a difficult conversation with her best friend. As her time runs out, Cassandra learns there are some things you can't plan, and other things you can miss even if they're right under your nose.
My thoughts: This one started a little ho hum for me – I thought it was going to go in a particular way but then the author threw in a nice twist that made the story so much more real. Nicely done!
*As mentioned in the summary – All proceeds go to The Trevor Project – the leading national organization providing crisis intervention and suicide prevention services to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning (LGBTQ) young people ages 13-24.