November 20th, 2010

andrew potter

Shadow of the Father by Kyell Gold

My friends know that I’m not an huge fan of fantasy, but I really loved everything I read by Kyell Gold, and so I approached this new book with mixed feelings. In the past I recommend all Kyell Gold’s books to my friends, but some of them, that I knew are fantasy lovers, I directed to the Volle’s series, the story of a spy fox who in the previous two book and one short story looses a lover and finds another one, Streak. Volle is not exactly my type of romance hero, it’s true that in the end he finds his place in a long-term relationship with Streak but to arrive to that he passes many adventures and beds. So, truth be told, I was not expecting for Shadow of the Father to be really romantic, I was expecting again a lot of adventures and yes, maybe a love story, but not really center stage.

As in all the classical fantasy series, the role of main character passes from father, Volle, to son, Yilon. At the beginning of his story, Yilon is a quite young, but he has already met his companion, Sinch. Due to the young age of Yilon and Sinch, at first their relationship is more that of friends then lovers. When they have sexual intercourses, they are more a mutual comfort, and the output of all the repressed energy of two young males, more than something driven by love or even by desire. The relationship between Yilon and Sinch will grow with them, as they come to their adulthood, so their relationship will mature, and Sinch will turn from best-friend, to lover and life companion. Unexpectedly, Sinch has a really important role in the story, somewhat even more important that Yilon himself.

As for the setting of the story, it’s at the same time strange and familiar. Obviously, being a fantasy tale, the time and place can’t be familiar, and the author decided to start (and finish) the story, with a punch in the gut to the reader, with Yilon who is eating locust like they are candies. Such a strange thing… but it’s really so strange? In the end, there are place in the world, where you really eat insects like that. So it’s like that, the reader moves from the odd feeling to be in a stranger place to the familiarity of the medieval setting (or at least familiar if you like to read historical novel). Other than being populated by anthropomorphic animals instead of people, this fantasy is not so different from any other historic novel I read; and more you read, more you forget that you are reading of animals, the author blend his characters in the story and make them “ordinary” for the reader.

Last thing I noticed, it’s the lack of ostracism for Yilon and Sinch’s homosexuality; the trouble is that they are of different breed, Yilon a fox and Sinch a mouse, not that they are of the same sex. All the “usual” issues linked to a same-sex relationship are here all irrelevant. First of all, even if Sinch was a woman, it would impossible for them to breed. Second, it’s not even a problem: an issue like having an heir, to mate inside your breed, it’s not something linked to who you choose to be your life companion. Mating, having an heir is a “practical” thing that you solve in the “heat” of the moment (pun very much intended). Heat is something passing, to share your life is something completely different.

I realize that I didn’t speak so much of the story… well, probably it’s since the story in itself it’s nothing without all the wonderful details and language the author enriched it with. It’s not simply the plot that made the story, it’s the whole package. As I said, when you start to read Shadow of the Father, you soon forget that you are reading of animals acting like humans, and you loose yourself in the story. What will follow is the classical life journey of two young boys towards adulthood, and that is an eternal story.

Amazon Kindle: Shadow of the Father

1) Volle:
2) Pendant of Fortune:
3) Shadow of the Father

Reading List: list&view=elisa.rolle

Cover Art by Sara Palmer
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Behind the Cover: James Avati

James Avati (December 14, 1912, Bloomfield, NJ, USA – February 27, 2005, Petaluma, CA, USA) was an American illustrator and paperback cover artist. His father was a professional photographer in New York City. His mother died shortly after Jim's birth. He was raised by his aunt (mother's sister) and eventually, his father married her. While Jim was still young, his father died and another aunt and uncle helped to raise him. His uncle provided Jim with the opportunity to attend Princeton University where he obtained a degree in architecture in the mid-1930s.

He was always interested in painting and loved to paint. After World War Two, Avati obtained a job designing display windows at Fifth Avenue department stores in New York. But he continued to paint on the side and in 1948, impressed Kurt Enoch at New American Library, a new paperback publishing house. He was a hit from the beginning and changed the style of cover painting by the early 1950s. Among the authors he worked with included the likes of Theodore Dreiser, William Faulkner, Erskine Caldwell, J. D. Salinger, James T. Farrell, Pearl Buck, John O'Hara, Mickey Spillane, Erle Stanley Gardner, Alberto Moravia, and James Michener.


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He quickly became legendary and was highly sought after. He fathered nine children through two marriages, including a son who became a well-known sculptor, James R. Avati, of Salt Lake City, Utah.

He used professional models at first but soon used friends, family and people off the streets of Red Bank, New Jersey, his home for much of his life, as models. He sought reality in his representations on canvas and real people worked for him better than professionals.

Avati eventually moved to Petaluma, California, to pursue a love interest and died (February, 2005) at age 92. He had stopped painting towards the end as he was losing his eyesight due to macular degeneration.

He has been called the "Father of Paperback Book Covers" and the "Rembrandt of Paperback Book Covers". Ironically, his own life mirrored the novels he painted.


The Paperback Art of James Avati edited by Piet Schreuders & Kenneth Fulton
Paperback: 200 pages
Publisher: Donald M Grant (December 30, 2005)
ISBN-10: 1880418711
ISBN-13: 978-1880418710
Amazon: The Paperback Art of James Avati
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Best Gay Contemporary (3° place): An Ideal for Living by Marshall Moore

There are two reasons why this novel is not my usual read: this is absolutely not a romance and it has a female main character. By the way, that is probably the reason why I usually don’t read book told by a woman perspective, since I tend to identify a bit too much with the point of view.

An Ideal for Living is very near to my own experience: I don’t like myself so much, and of course I blaim on my overweight all my relationship problem; but since I’m also able to see outside my shell, I know that is not the reason, or at least not the main reason. There are overweight women who bring around their kg with thoughtlessness, and exactly for that reason they are basically as if they don’t have it. Appearance is not all in life, and when it becomes the only driven force, there is probably something wrong. True, it’s entirely possible that people around you are not helping, but probably you need to find the strenght inside you before being able to fight your own issues.

As I said, Grace is not only one of the main character of this story, she is probably also the strongest voice, or at least the one voice who I listened better than her brother Robert’s. For her, I would not classify this as a gay novel, or not only. Grace is a desperate housewife, married to her college sweetheart who stopped to be that long ago; it’s not that Grace was totally faithful herself, but until the escapades from both side were enough discreet that they could simply ignore them, Grace was, if not happy, at least comfortable. When Rich becomes to have more on your face attitude, than Grace started to question her own attractiveness. As I said, Rich, her own brother and her mother didn’t help in reassuring Grace that appearance is not all, but Grace’s issues have a deeper root, probably dating back to her own relationship with her father.

The other voice in the story is that of Robert, Grace’s gay brother: he is in lust with James, a buddy friend one can’t really call boyfriend, and I think he never was; as Grace, Robert is convinced that all his trouble in having a long term relationship is due to his weight. Moreover Robert is not used to be overweight, he was always an athletic guy until college and so, in a way, he is not used to his actual appearance. Robert thinks he wants to change to conquer James, but I think instead Robert’s true reason is completely different: he doesn’t care much about James, but more of himself. Even when his own sister falls down, even when he realizes that James is starting a downfall spiral, neither then Robert understands that balancing everything with appearance is not trying to resolve his issue, but hiding them behind a pretty exterior.

Marshall Moore is not kind with his own characters, and by the way, there is no salvation or repentance for them; this is not a quest towards understanding the real meaning of life, but more a confirmation that modern society is pretty much fake and without true feeling.

Amazon: An Ideal for Living

Amazon Kindle: An Ideal for Living

Reading List:
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Counterpoint (Song of the Fallen 1) by Rachel Haimowitz

Well, be warned friends when you start this novel, almost 350 pages long in small characters, don’t expect to arrive to the end and be finished: that Song of the Fallen Book 1 is a fair warning, this is only book 1 in a probably longer series about the same two main characters, Prince Freyrík, a human, and Ayden, an elf.

The starting point of this novel, a human Prince who takes as captive a warrior elf, chaining him in his own bedroom in exchange of the safety of the elf’s sister, Ella, reminded me of the old savage romance, and I was thinking, well, I’m ready to read once more a breeches ripper, hot sex in a fantasy medieval setting. But 100 pages after the hot sex had not yet happened, as it hadn’t after 200… more than 2/3 of the book was indead spent to let the two men know each other, and as in an old fashioned courtship, the sex arrived only when the two men respected each other and were ready to trust and love.

Actually the reader has a clue right at the beginning of the story, when Freyrík reassures his captive that, even if he is a prisoner, and confined in the Prince’s bedroom, he is not at risk of being raped. Freyrík has no need to rape men, or women, not only he has more than one wife consort, he has also male willing lovers, and I had the feeling that he was more interested in having a day relationship with Ayden, made out of friendship and respect, than a sexual one. Now don’t get me wrong, Freyrík is attracted by Ayden, but he has not sexual urges to posses him: sometime, in those old fashioned savage romance, you wondered if the men were sexually deprived since it seemed that for them it was absolutely necessary to have sex with the women otherwise they would go insane. Freyrík instead is sexually sated, he has no “need” of Ayden in that way, and he is more interested in conquering the elf’s trust, something that is even more difficult than conquering his body.

On the other way, Ayden plays the role of the tough elf, not interested in anything that is human, but oddily I found him funny sometime, like he had a friendly and light mood that wanted to awake Freyrík from his boring life. So, strange as it sounds, I read Freyrík as a lover and a gentle soul, and Ayden like a playful one, and both characters were forced in a situation, being enemies, that no one of them really wanted. When Freyrík plays at being the ruthless ruler, he is doing it out of his people custom, he doesn’t really feel like that; same Ayden, that inside the bedroom is more like a scared teenager than a seasoned warrior. Both Ayden than Freyrík have two personalities, public and private, and apparenlty their private personalities can be lover while instead the public ones should remain enemies.

As I said, be patient, since the romance in the story will arrive later, or at least the romance of lovers; I didn’t mind much, I like also the slowly friendship and trust blossiming between them, so much that when the sex arrived, it was more realistic, even if it was a fantasy setting. Another thing readers have to be warned of is that, as much time was given to the friendship to develop, not the same was for the love: I think most of this part of the story will be developed in the following book, this one was only an appetizer.

Amazon: Counterpoint (Book I of Song of the Fallen)

Amazon Kindle: Counterpoint (Book I of Song of the Fallen)

Reading List:

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Coming soon: The One directed by Caytha Jentis


Cast: Jon Prescott, Ian Novick & Margaret Anne Florence

Writer: Caytha Jentis

Director: Caytha Jentis

Production: Michael Billy, Aimee Denaro and Caytha Jentis

Plot: "The One," is a quick witted, edgy romantic dramedy about a young successful Manhattan investment banker living the charmed life about to marry the woman of his dreams who, a month before his wedding, meets and unexpectedly falls in love with a charismatic man from his past.