Kinky, touching, emotional, and sexually intense.

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MANTIES IN A TWIST

Still mourning the loss of a friend due to an accident during sadomasochistic sex, Kamen moves in with his boyfriend, Ryan, and has to navigate a spectrum of mixed feelings as he and his close-knit set of friends move into their own lives, loves, and levels of kink.

Kamen is in love, and for some reason he can’t comprehend, his very close friends aren’t happy about it. In his mind, Ryan is perfect for him. They share a goofy sense of humor, an explosive chemistry, and a “we’ll try anything once, but stop if either of us doesn’t like it” sensibility that is a "totes" turn-on for Kamen, whose happy-go-lucky personality is sometimes mistaken for a dim wit or a lack of maturity—possibly also somewhat due to his use of words like “totes,” “amazerbeam,” and “amazigasmitastic.” But at heart, Kamen is a kind, open-hearted young man who doesn’t brood, can be depended on to keep a secret, and is deeply loyal to people he cares about. Which is why he feels disheartened and a little betrayed when his friends subtly reject Ryan. For Kamen, Ryan’s adventurous nature brings out a curiosity he never knew he had, which leads them into all kinds of audacious experiences Kamen discovers he really likes—and a few he doesn’t. These include experimenting with female clothes and lingerie, water sports, and, thanks to some scornful taunting from a mean-spirited fellow client at a local  dungeon, an unexpected romp into competitive pony play. Kamen’s first-person perspective is funny and very present, while Rock does a terrific job of creating authentic, realistic characters who are exploring many layers of romance and kink while delving into emotionally deep territory: the preventable death of a friend, the reactions of friends when one begins to explore new aspects of self, and the inevitable tension of grief, guilt, and moving on. Still, not for the faint of heart, since it includes graphic sex scenes and realistic portrayals of a variety of kinky lifestyles.

Kinky, touching, emotional, and sexually intense.

Pub Date: April 4, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-62649-348-3

Page Count: 278

Publisher: Riptide

Review Posted Online: March 17, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2016

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A strange, subtle, and haunting novel.

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THE GLASS HOTEL

A financier's Ponzi scheme unravels to disastrous effect, revealing the unexpected connections among a cast of disparate characters.

How did Vincent Smith fall overboard from a container ship near the coast of Mauritania, fathoms away from her former life as Jonathan Alkaitis' pretend trophy wife? In this long-anticipated follow-up to Station Eleven (2014), Mandel uses Vincent's disappearance to pick through the wreckage of Alkaitis' fraudulent investment scheme, which ripples through hundreds of lives. There's Paul, Vincent's half brother, a composer and addict in recovery; Olivia, an octogenarian painter who invested her retirement savings in Alkaitis' funds; Leon, a former consultant for a shipping company; and a chorus of office workers who enabled Alkaitis and are terrified of facing the consequences. Slowly, Mandel reveals how her characters struggle to align their stations in life with their visions for what they could be. For Vincent, the promise of transformation comes when she's offered a stint with Alkaitis in "the kingdom of money." Here, the rules of reality are different and time expands, allowing her to pursue video art others find pointless. For Alkaitis, reality itself is too much to bear. In his jail cell, he is confronted by the ghosts of his victims and escapes into "the counterlife," a soothing alternate reality in which he avoided punishment. It's in these dreamy sections that Mandel's ideas about guilt and responsibility, wealth and comfort, the real and the imagined, begin to cohere. At its heart, this is a ghost story in which every boundary is blurred, from the moral to the physical. How far will Alkaitis go to deny responsibility for his actions? And how quickly will his wealth corrupt the ambitions of those in proximity to it? In luminous prose, Mandel shows how easy it is to become caught in a web of unintended consequences and how disastrous it can be when such fragile bonds shatter under pressure.

A strange, subtle, and haunting novel.

Pub Date: March 24, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-525-52114-3

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: Nov. 25, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2019

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A strict report, worthy of sympathy.

THE CATCHER IN THE RYE

A violent surfacing of adolescence (which has little in common with Tarkington's earlier, broadly comic, Seventeen) has a compulsive impact.

"Nobody big except me" is the dream world of Holden Caulfield and his first person story is down to the basic, drab English of the pre-collegiate. For Holden is now being bounced from fancy prep, and, after a vicious evening with hall- and roommates, heads for New York to try to keep his latest failure from his parents. He tries to have a wild evening (all he does is pay the check), is terrorized by the hotel elevator man and his on-call whore, has a date with a girl he likes—and hates, sees his 10 year old sister, Phoebe. He also visits a sympathetic English teacher after trying on a drunken session, and when he keeps his date with Phoebe, who turns up with her suitcase to join him on his flight, he heads home to a hospital siege. This is tender and true, and impossible, in its picture of the old hells of young boys, the lonesomeness and tentative attempts to be mature and secure, the awful block between youth and being grown-up, the fright and sickness that humans and their behavior cause the challenging, the dramatization of the big bang. It is a sorry little worm's view of the off-beat of adult pressure, of contemporary strictures and conformity, of sentiment….

A strict report, worthy of sympathy.

Pub Date: June 15, 1951

ISBN: 0316769177

Page Count: -

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Nov. 2, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1951

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