This is supposed to be my reading challenge update for April, but… I didn’t read the book. I chose one, made sure it was on my list, read the first chapter and then put it aside. I expected this to happen. The organisers of this event expected it to happen. That’s why there are two alternates on the list. But…when I scan the list of twelve books I have left to read this year, none of them leaps out and grabs me by the throat—which is probably a good thing as psychotic books are bloody scary.
I’m beginning to wonder if this is why there are roughly two hundred and twenty books on my physical “To Be Read” shelf. Maybe I don’t really want to read any of these books. I just think I do.
Convoluted as that sounds, it actually makes sense. Some of the books on my shelf are there because I think I should read them. They’re a sequel or someone else read it and proclaimed it the BEST BOOK EVER, or I rescued it from the library sale because it’s by the author of a book I loved and so I should love the rest of their books. Right?
There are authors I love, but an author’s voice can change from book to book. Thing is, what really gets me, more than the writing or voice, is the characters. When I read a good book, when a good book READS me, it’s because I’ve slid into another life and have happily existed within someone else’s skin for countless hours or days. If that doesn’t happen within the first couple of pages of a book, then I’m apt to toss it aside—unless I really want to read it. Then I’ll make an effort to get further. Sometimes that effort pays off.
So, anyway, what did I read this month? A lot, as always. Somehow I’ve already read ninety-five books this year. For those of you as numerically challenged as me, that’s nearly a hundred. In four months. Let’s break that down a little further. That’s like twenty-five books a month, or nearly a book a day.
Not sure if that’s sad or incredible.
I do have a life, honestly.
What did I read this month that’s good? I’m so glad you asked! I actually read a lot this month that was good, but you know what? The books I remember the best are the ones that robbed me of an entire weekend and two working days. Seriously. The world could have ended I might not have noticed. I was THAT caught up. I laughed and I cried. Okay, I sobbed… awfully. I actually ran out of tissues. And then I picked up the next book. Brave of me, eh? Not really. It was compulsion. I couldn’t stop, and now that the series is done, I’m seriously considering stalking the author. Creepy.
The books were the Seasons or Something Like… series by Jay Bell. I picked up the first, Something Like Summer, on a whim. I read a review and thought it sounded exactly like my kinda book. A slow burn romance that spanned more than a decade. With the potential for long, drawn-out angst, a well-deserved HEA and some guy-on-guy action, I was in. I entered the Rafflecopter for a free copy and then bought it ten -minutes later ‘cause I never win those things.
Oh, wow, did I fall. I love it when that happens and it’s been soooo long since the last time. Ben, the young guy whose journey we take, was just the sort of guy I like. Sweet and somewhat vulnerable, but also brave and full of life. For a teenager, he had it pretty together. But he also had very real teenaged problems, like trying to figure out love and sex. Then, just when he thought he had it sorted, his boyfriend dumped him.
We cried together.
The story didn’t end there, though. Ben grew up and became an incredible man. Still sweet and somewhat vulnerable. Still brave. Still able to love. After some missteps, he meets another guy. Then his first love stumbles back into his life. What follows is a sequence of events anyone might have lived, regardless of gender and/or sexuality. I’ve been there. I suspect Jay Bell has, too.
Love is HARD. It’s really hard. It hurts more than it should, even when it’s supposed to feel good. It’s also wrapped up with this pesky thing called desire. It’s hard to do the right thing when your body is telling you to do the wrong thing, or that thing, or all the things. Ben does the wrong thing twice. Then he does the right thing, the very right thing. And then he does it again. Twice. In other words, he does what every human being on this planet does—he makes mistakes. Then he grows. His journey is heart-wrenchingly beautiful.
Best part? It doesn’t end when the book does. The second book in the series, Something Like Winter, tells Tim’s side of the story. Tim is Ben’s first love and… Oh, wow. Tim could be me. Tim has no idea who he is and sometimes he’s not sure what he is. But, man, does he ever try hard to figure it all out. He makes a whole lot more mistakes than Ben and he’s not always sorry. He’s selfish and he’s needy. In other words, he’s human too. That just makes him beautiful in my eyes.
I loved Tim’s book. I love Tim.
(I actually love all of Jay Bell’s characters, perhaps with the exception of Caesar Hubbard.)
Book three, Something Like Autumn, is Jace’s story. Who’s Jace? He’s the guy Ben meets in college. I’m not going to give any more detail than that, except to confirm the fact that if Jace has his own book, he’s damned important to the story. This series is unequivocally about three men and they’re all wonderful.
Jace’s story felt incredibly personal. It answered some of the questions Ben and Tim’s stories didn’t. Jace’s story was also the most challenging to read, because of <spoilers>. But it was also the most satisfying in a way. Reading a book where someone gets what they want, achieves a goal, is always going to be satisfying. When they have to work for it, suffer heartbreak for it, put themselves out there, risk everything for it, the ending is going to be more than satisfying.
I’d like to say Jace is the most exceptional of the three guys. But they’re all so wonderful in their own way. I also got the idea that Jace could have been the author. Maybe, a little bit. We put a piece of ourselves into every character we write. Sometimes it’s much more than a piece.
Something Like Spring is a perfect ending to the series. We revisit all three guys through the eyes of a new, younger character. Ends that were necessarily loose are tied up and the bow isn’t always pretty. Again, I was swept away, and ever so grateful Jay wrote another book, one that served as an introduction to wonderful new voices and epilogue to one of the best series EVER.
Yeah, I’m biased, but that’s probably because these guys are now an indelible part of my life. I actually want to read the books again and I never reread books. I don’t want to let these guys go. Them, their friends, or their families. I want to be a part of their world, a part of their lives. And that is what a good book does for you—regardless of genre.
I also enjoyed discussing all four books in minute detail with my friend and writing partner, Jenn. When you find a book you love, it’s wonderful. When you find a book you can share with a friend, the wonder only spreads.
So, yeah, that’s what I read in April. What’s up for May? Hell if I know. Might be something from the TBR pile, or maybe I’ll just take a holiday from obligation and read whatever I want. Hobbies are meant to be fun, right?