Cephalopod Coffehouse July 2015–LOVE SPELL–A Review

0ed81-coffeehouse
Hi there! Welcome one and all to the Cephalopod Coffeehouse, a cozy gathering of book lovers, meeting to discuss their thoughts regarding the tomes they enjoyed most over the previous month. Pull up a chair, order your cappuccino and join in the fun.

Hi all! Today I’m sharing my review for LOVE SPELL by Mia Kerick. This is a contemporary YA M/M romance which is wholly clean and really compelling. Chance is a gender-fluid teen–that means he’s as likely to dress male or female. He’s confident that he’s gay, and 58% (or so) sure that he’s not transgender, but he really doesn’t want to think about it. Or talk about it. He just wants to find the right guy, and he’s pretty sure (probably 95%) that this right guy is Jasper.

Love SpellMy Review:
Chance Cesar is an out gay teen, a senior in his rural New Hampshire high school and the new Miss Harvest Moon. That’s right, he was voted to be the pageant queen, as a cruel joke, but he werks it, strutting down the aisle in an orange tux and black pumps. That’s how we meet Chance, and henceforth his fabulousness cannot be denied.

Chance has always known he’s attracted to boys/men, but he’s still not clear on his gender identity. He struggles with his daily wardrobe–dress or pants–and he wants a boyfriend. A nice boyfriend. He kinda has his heart set on a boy from the vocational school, Jasper Donahue. “Jazz,” as Chance dubs him, is a burly boy with lots of responsibilities. He works to help support his mother and sister, and when he isn’t working, he’s babysitting his sister so his mom can work. Still, Chance is smitten, and he’s not even sure if Jazz swings his direction. Jazz seems to invite Chance’s attention, but there is no clear movement into Boyfriendland. All the discussions and intimate moments could be construed as simple friendliness.

So, Chance comes up with The Plan–well it’s more like The List for The Plan–of ten things to do to capture the heart of a boy. He spends weeks getting to know Jazz, hooking him in–if he can–and having hilarious misadventures. At the heart of this is a serious connection that Chance needs to make with himself, coming to terms with his gender and how that might affect a potential partner. Chance is a reliable narrator, and his narration is funny. He’s a diva, and his brilliance is often overwhelming to his objective: getting Jazz to love him. Thing is, he is super insecure, and that softens his manic edges. It’s a lot Notting Hill, with a boy standing in front of a boy, asking him to love him. This is a completely innocent book, sexually. The romance appears to be completely one-sided but it develops into a very tender friendship as Chance learns to love, and to give love, for no other reason than to help Jazz find happiness. Also, I enjoyed how Chance saw Jazz’s life, and how his privilege of money didn’t make for near as happy a home as Jazz’s criminally broke but bursting with love family.

I think the Love Spell part of it was rather short, and not the main focus, at all. It was great to walk through Chance’s gender-fluid shoes and get a better sense of the insecurity and frustration of not really KNOWING if he was a he-girl or a she-boy or somewhere in the middle, and I’m certain it will resonate with questioning teens. This is the second LGBTQ YA novel I’ve read from Ms. Kerick and the characters are always intense and sincere with real life plights that are honestly told. It took me a little time to settle into Chance’s voice because he’s got a flamboyant speech pattern, which is part of his quirky charm.

Interested? You can find LOVE SPELL on Goodreads, Amazon, Cool Dudes Publishing, and Barnes & Noble.

Thanks for popping in! Don’t forget to check out my fellow Coffeehouse reviewers, too!

Getting Real in A CASUAL THING–My Review for Joyfully Jay

Hi there! Today I’m back with a book I recently reviewed for Joyfully Jay. It’s a New Adult M/M romance that’s a lot sweet and a bit spicy. This is the first book I’ve read from Annabelle Jacobs, but it won’t be my last.

A Casual ThingAbout the book:
Patrick Mason travels to Bristol to spend the summer with his brother, Ben. He’s cat sitting for the first two weeks while Ben goes on holiday. But Ben neglected to tell him he wouldn’t be doing it alone. Will Adams—Ben’s mate and Patrick’s long-time crush—is staying in Ben’s guest room while he waits to move into his new house after a breakup.

Against his better judgment, Patrick convinces Will that a little no-strings fun is just what they need. Patrick doesn’t want to get involved with a guy on the rebound, and Will isn’t interested in starting something serious with a student. But Patrick’s never been good at separating sex from feelings, and this time is no exception. As their weeks together draw to a close, they need to decide if they have something worth pursuing or if it’s really just a casual thing.

I really enjoyed this novel. It’s short and sweet, perfect for an empty afternoon. And that cover is really perfect, as the entire romance kicks off with a simple dropped towel… 😉

Expect some steam, some regret, and some break up to make up–HEA style.

You can check out my complete review over on Joyfully Jay. Pick up the book on Amazon, All Romance or Amazon UK.

About the Author:

Annabelle Jacobs lives in the South West of England with her husband, three rowdy children, and two cats.

An avid reader of fantasy herself for many years, Annabelle now spends her days writing her own stories. They’re usually either fantasy or paranormal fiction, because she loves building worlds filled with magical creatures, and creating stories full of action and adventure. Her characters may have a tough time of it—fighting enemies and adversity—but they always find love in the end.

You can find Annabelle online on her website, Goodreads, twitter and Facebook.

Thanks for popping in, and keep reading my friends!

They found LOVE: IN THE FAST LANE–A Review

Hi there! Today I’m sharing a review for Rie Warren’s contemporary erotic romance, LOVE: IN THE FAST LANE. It’s a story about trust and faith, and plain-out redemption. It’s a sequel in the Carolina Bad Boys series, but can be read as a standalone.

Love: In the Fast Lane (Carolina Bad Boys, #2)About the book:

New York Times bestselling paranormal author, Nicky—Nick—Love is anything but successful in love. For years he’s lost himself in his writing career, but now he’s ready to get back to his rebel-boy roots. While restoring a motorcycle at Stone’s Auto Service, he meets the Wildcat of his dreams. She’s a shock to the system for the romance writer who doesn’t remember a damn thing about wooing a woman.

Cool-as-ice, Catarina “Wildcat” Steele is utterly untouchable until Nicky ignites a spark she can’t control. Their electric attraction explodes as Nicky pursues her, but he comes bearing the baggage of a family tragedy he’s hidden from everyone. He knows love has no guarantees.

Their passionate romance falls apart when Nicky discovers Cat’s secret rivals his own. The truth about her past reopens Nicky’s raw wounds and awakens a ghost he never laid to rest. He doesn’t know how to have Cat, and now he can’t trust her. Will they be torn apart . . . or tamed by love?

My Review:

Romance author Nicky Love isn’t looking for love. He’s used to being mostly on his own. His wealthy parents dumped him on his gram’s doorstep a week after his elder brother OD’ed on heroin and he hasn’t seen to them in the intervening years.

He grew to be fast friends with Josh Stone, and is happily celebrating in Josh’s upcoming wedding to a fellow author and good friend. Nicky’s a little sad to lose his wing man, but that’s nothing compared to seeing Josh so happy. Still, he doesn’t miss the allure of Josh’s new parts supplier–Cat Steele. She’s all kinds of buttoned-up this skirt-chasing bachelor would love to undress.

Thing is, Cat’s not interested. She makes every effort to dismiss Nick from her life. Their close connection through Josh does have some benefits. Nick is able to woo Cat’s body, but not her heart. And, that’s such a frustration that he actually tries to get into her tattooed skin.

There’s a huge secret surrounding Cat’s past, however, and her burly, protective brothers are always on hand to force Nick to turn away. Which, only sets his sights more fiercely on the woman whose cold exterior hides a burning Wildcat.

This is the second book in the series and I liked both of them. Nick has a many “come to Jesus” moments here and has to really overcome his own demons of abandonment in order to see past the problems in Cat’s life. She’s had her own tough road, if the remembrance sleeves permanently inked on her arms are any clue. The story has a got lotta heart, and a good lotta sex. I do love the close bond between Josh and Nick. They have a serious bromance happening, and the whole Stone Service family is a fun experience.

Interested? You can find LOVE: IN THE FAST LANE on Goodreads and Amazon.  (Free for Kindle Unlimited)

Stone: At Your Service (Carolina Bad Boys, #1)You can also check out my review for STONE AT YOUR SERVICE, a sweet romance with a huge dash of humor and heaping helping sexy on the side. (And in the middle! And at the end!!!)

And here are the purchase links in case it tickles your fancy. (Goodreads, and Amazon)

(Note, fancy tickling does occur in the book!)

Rie WarrenAbout the Author:

Badass, sassafras Rie Warren is the author of Sugar Daddy and the Don’t Tell series—a breakthrough trilogy that crosses traditional publishing boundaries beginning with In His Command.

She lives in gorgeous Charleston, South Carolina with her small family where she basks in the sunshine during the day, and adjourns to her woman cave at night. A nocturnal creature, she stays up way too late talking to herself, her characters, and anyone who will listen. She’s all about writing with heat, heart, and a hint of the dark, and she doesn’t shy away from the impossible.

Rie’s work has been called “edgy”, “daring”, and “some of the sexiest smut around”.

You can find Rie online Goodreads, Facebook and twitter.

Thanks for popping in and keep reading my friends!

Great M/M Christmas Collection in ONE HOLIDAY EVER AFTER

Hi there! Today I’m sharing a contemporary holiday M/M romance collection featuring three excellent novellas. Each story is well-developed with delicious characters and no cliffhangers. It’s a fantastic read with lots of love, laughs and heat.

One Holiday Ever AfterHoliday Roommates by Tere Michaels features a blossoming romance between a snarky actor and an overwhelmed, over-extended production manager.

Nathaniel has reached rock bottom. Despite his long career in acting, and his BFA in Theater from Yale, he’s out of work. Well, he’s got a job but it sucks. He’s an elf in a live do-wap Christmas production marking the grand opening of the La Kiss department store in NYC. He’s one month from eviction on his apartment and in his own words:

Facing eviction from your beloved apartment–and possibly having to move in with your mother and take her back as your manager–was enough to convince a man to take any role. Any role. If his penis were bigger he would have considered porn.

Sean owes his dad a lot of money. He didn’t want to go into the soul-sucking venture capital firm his father owns, so he borrowed cash to start a theater production company. Having few contacts and fewer bookings, he’s grasping for anything–and that includes begging his former boyfriend for a favor–which is how he got the gig producing La Kiss’ Holiday Spectacular. Of course, if it flops, he’s never going to have the cash to pay back Daddy Dearest, and as it stands his margin is so thin he’s rented a room to sleep in from a family in Bensonhurst. The commute to Manhattan is sapping his fleeting resources and hours of sleep.

Then, the star of the show–Nate–offers him a bedroom in his apartment…

The rent money would be almost the same as the cost of cabs and food eaten on the go–not to mention the fact that this would add literal hours to the time Sean could spend sleeping. It was all so reasonable and helpful and…
“I’m gay,” Sean said suddenly, interrupting Nate’s description of the room he’d potentially be renting.
Nate stopped, nodded. “Right, I knew that.”
“And that isn’t a problem?”
“Why, are you concerned you’re doing it wrong?”
Sean sputtered out a laugh. “I’m actually very good at it.”
Nate rolled his eyes. “Funny enough, so am I. Is that a yes?”

It’s a super fun read where these boys find love, acceptance and “family” where they least expect it.

Holiday Sanctuary by Elle Brownlee has two mature men trapped in a Maine cabin in the midst of a Christmas blizzard.

Paul has a doctorate in ornithology and his research has saved birds species from endangerment. He’s a solitary man, loving the solitude of his remote cabin, but he’s not averse to helping a stranger in need. Especially a strapping bear of a man who turns up as the snow tumbles down. Chris is out on a nature-challenge when the blizzard begins. Seeking shelter, he’d never anticipated finding more than a warm hearth, but bunking in with Paul is soon hotter than he could have imagined.

The bond that develops between them is far stronger than they anticipate, and each man finds the black out conditions allows for a welcome intimacy, one they are loathe to abandon, even when the plows arrive. It’s a steamer, with copious feels and smoking smexytimes.

Holiday Homecoming by Elizah J Davis is an unexpected romance between a man and the house-sitter he finds irresistible.

After a decade of campaigning, shmoozing and networking, Gavin has given up his dream of having his TV show produced. He leaves LA, for good, and drives to his parents home in remote Bonabri, Idaho hoping to catch them before they depart to his sister’s home for Christmas. Unfortunately, they left early and Eric is the person who freaks out at Gavin’s 2am arrival.

“Looks like they are still home,” Gavin said when the house creaked overhead. He scratched under Whiskey’s chin and waited, expecting the light to come on with each creak of the stairs. When it didn’t, he crept into the living room, toward the staircase, intending to switch on the light and startled his dad, who’d likely been the one sent to investigate. He secured Whiskey in one arm and darted at the light switch, flipping it on and turning to the stairs to shout, “Aha!”

“Aahhh!” The guy on the stairs yelled and then slid down several steps until he landed on his ass with a thump.

“Shit!” Gavin jumped back, because the guy on the stairs was not his dad.

Eric isn’t sure if he’s going to stay in Idaho–his BFF from college, Katie–has pestered him to visit, since, well, forever. She want’s to open a cafe, with Eric’s help, but the advent of Gavin has him reconsidering his usefulness as a house sitter now that the homeowner’s son is home. Yet, the men hit it off, and their friendship advances to one with benefits. And then some…

“Gavin?”
“Yeah?”
“Are you asking me to be your boyfriend?” Eric’s eyes were twinkling, dammit, and Gavin realized he was trying not to laugh.
“Did I not actually say that part out loud?”
Eric shook his head.

It’s a super fun read with a heartwarming plot.

Interested? You can find ONE HOLIDAY EVER AFTER on Goodreads, Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Dreamspinner Press.

You can clickety-click the author names above for further info on their books and online links.

Thanks for popping in and keep reading my friends!

Swooned for The DUKE IN DENIAL–A Review

What if following your heart could cause your death?

Hi there! Welcome!

Today’s book is one I’ve been waiting to share until it was released. It’s an historical M/M romance and I adored it. Allow me to tell you more about THE DUKE IN DENIAL by Alexandra Ainsworth.

The Duke in DenialAbout the book:

Sebastian Lewis never expected to become a duke. But with the sudden deaths of his cousin and uncle, Sebastian’s position changes. He is determined to fulfill his new responsibilities with grace, even if it means remarrying, and even if the attractions of women, so often lauded by poets, fail to interest him.

Captain William Carlisle, newly returned from India, is elated when he meets Sebastian. Nobody knows of his inclinations, but his harrowing experiences in battle have prompted him to reach for the type of companionship he longs for. He thinks Sebastian might feel an attraction as well, but to his dismay, he discovers that Sebastian is courting his sister Dorothea.

After a semi-arranged engagement and a disconcerting romantic tangle with William, Sebastian escapes London to look after his manor, only to face mysterious thefts, a headless ghost, and the arrival of his fiancé, her brother, and his family. Sebastian’s new estate sits on the south coast, England’s most vulnerable location, and Napoleon has set his sights on conquering the area. Amid this growing turmoil, Sebastian must sort out his feelings for his fiancée’s brother and keep his home safe . . . and determine if he has the courage to reach for his own happiness in the process.

My Review:
Sebastian is a newly entailed Duke following the untimely deaths of his uncle and cousin. From his remote northern estate, he’s thrust upon the London scene as one of the biggest “catches” of the season. A widower who recently lost his young son, Sebastian hopes to marry quickly and get settled in his new duties; his focus has always been outward, caring for his estates and the people who work them. Not a romantic, he expects to have cordial relations with his wife-to-be, Dorothea, his dead cousin’s fiancé. She’s a beautiful woman, yet Sebastian isn’t attracted, much. He’s really not sure why–or why all the men around him act like such lecherous fools…

Then he meets William and Sebastian’s unhappy to sense an attraction to another man. William is an army Captain, newly returned from duty in India where he was injured. He’s recuperating and spending time with his younger sister, Dorothea, who it seems will soon wed a Duke.

Yes. That Duke.

Sebastian and William had shared some lovely moments before learning that they were to be joined as brothers-in-law. William, who understands his sexuality, is attracted to Sebastian and playful in his banter without being overt. Sebastian just senses an instant connection to William–he’s much more down-to-earth than the London aristocracy-but knows his attraction is unnatural, unacceptable and illegal in these Victorian times. The more William approaches, he harder it is for Sebastian to step away, however. Dorothea knows her brother well, and suspects there is more than filial interest behind William’s attentiveness to her fiancé.

Still, the seal is broken. The attraction simmers so much that William is almost compelled to break off his sister’s engagement–ruining her chances for another match.

Sebastian is determined to deny this passion he feels for William, and to marry Dorothea, but in the mix we get a whole lotta drama. Sebastian’s new estate has become the scene of some untoward rumors. The few staff not scared off the ghost are afraid of Napoleon’s army invading. And his new neighbor, Sir Ambrose, seems determined to steal Dorothea away.

It’s a lovely trip into the past, with the added bonus of a steamy romance. Sebastian is so determined to do right by everyone but himself–and William is unwilling to let go a man with whom he can share himself completely. Supporting characters help to round out the story in ways that were fun and surprising. I adored Sebastian’s cousin Penelope, and her mother–both of whom were outspoken women. Dorothea’s almost mercenary desire to marry Sebastian was at reasonable–considering Sir Ambrose’s unwelcome advances.

The resolution of the ‘ghost’ had just enough breadcrumbs such that I could predict the culprit and still enjoy the revelation. And action picks up steadily, a whole espionage subplot takes over the climax leaving Sebastian being thoroughly bereft of love, for a time. It may sound like there’s broken hearts, but the end is a superlative HEA. In the upper crust of Regency London, it is the appearance of propriety that is important, and William and Sebastian are able to make a life that works for them without upsetting the social applecart. Dorothea’s reputation was also spared.

The steamy scenes were so well done, sexy not sloppy, and I’m always enchanted by ‘first times’. Sebastian’s complete naïveté of all things homosexual was nearly comical–getting picked up by a man and having a drink in a mollyhouse was a real blunder. One he was grateful that William saved him from. I enjoyed the slow burn of the romance. The characters were equally introspective, and cautious, about moving forward into relations fostering an exquisite sexual tension. The dialogue and language was appropriate for the period, which I treasured.

Interested? You can find THE DUKE IN DENIAL on Goodreads, and Amazon. I received a copy of this book via NetGalley for advanced review.

About the Author:

The Duke in Denial is her debut novel. You can find her on her website, Facebook and twitter.Alexandra Ainsworth lives on the south coast of England. An ardent Anglophile, Alexandra left her home in New England several years ago to move to the real England, spurred on by promises of good tea and green countryside. She still gets a thrill from living in the same country as all her favorite regency romance characters. 

Thanks for popping in! And, keep reading my friends! 🙂

 

Sneak Peek! FALL TO YOU by Lexi Ryan

SNEAK PEEK!

Hi there! Today I’m hosting a sneak peek of Fall to You by Lexi Ryan. This New Adult contemporary romance is the second book in the Here and Now series. It is not a stand-alone and is intended to be read following Lost in Me. Hanna’s story concludes in book three, All for This.

Disclaimer: The books are sexy. Mature Audiences only! And the except below…well, it’s a sexy non-sex-scene. If you like ’em hot, read on!

To give you a sense of what’s happened, Hanna suffers a fall and serious brain injury. When she wakes up, she learns that she’s got amnesia erasing her memories of the past year. She also learns she’s engaged to her childhood crush, and dating a sexy rock star. Problem is they are two different men….

FallToYou Amazon GR SWNew Adult Contemporary Romance
Available June 2, 2014
Pre-order on iBooks

About This Book:

Torn between two men…
When I woke up after the accident, I couldn’t remember anything from the last year—including my relationship with Max Hallowell or anything about Nate Crane. Now my memories are returning, but instead of answering my questions, they’re leaving me with more.

The man who broke my heart and wants to be my future…
Max is all I ever wanted, and now he wants to marry me. He’ll do everything he can to fill my life with love, family, and security. I need those things now more than ever. But can I trust him?

The man who stole my heart and wants to let me go…
Nate never made me promises, and I never asked him to. I’d been on the rebound, looking for a distraction, and he made me feel beautiful and wanted when I needed to feel those things most. He says he has to let me go, but what if I can’t let go of him?

With every revelation and every passing day, I feel more like Alice down the rabbit hole. I’m falling. Who will catch me?

Sneak Peek:

Three Months Before Hanna’s Accident
Nate:
I haven’t slept all night with a woman next to me since before my son was born, yet here I am, holding her like I’m some closet romantic who doesn’t plan to send her on her way in a couple of hours. I loved every fucking minute of sleeping with her in my arms. I love how she reached for me in her sleep, how she rubbed her ass against my cock as if trying to wiggle a puzzle piece into place. And maybe a puzzle is the right analogy, because her body fits so damn perfectly against mine that I feel like something’s missing when she rolls away.

She’s on her back now, a hand reaching out, fingers resting on my bicep as if she’s afraid I might escape. The women I take to my bed tend to react that way, but I know it has little to do with my mad bedroom skills. For them, it’s about status, a notch in their bedpost of celebrities. What’s it about for Hanna?

The air conditioner cycles on, parting the curtains and bathing her in morning light that reminds me I should be urging her out of my bed. Only I don’t want her to go anywhere. I’m too enthralled by the dark smudge of her lashes against her cheeks and the soft parting of her full lips. She has these faint freckles across the bridge of her nose, another detail in this study in contrasts—the sweet, insecure virgin who doesn’t understand her own appeal and the wanton goddess who sucked me so hard and pulled my dick so deep she’s no doubt ruined me for all other blowjobs. And the way she responds when I touch her…

Hanna’s a virgin, but she was made for sex. Damn, how I envy the man who will get to introduce her to that pleasure. Will it be the ex? Max?

Something flames in my gut at the thought, but I ignore the flare of jealousy. She still loves him. I’m nothing more than the rebound guy, and I should be glad for that because I can’t offer her more than this.

“Mmm,” she moans, her eyes fluttering open and closed again as if she can’t quite convince them to greet the day. “What are you looking at?”

“You.”

She pats her hair before tugging the sheet up to cover her bare breasts. “Not much to look at before coffee. I’m probably a mess.”

“A beautiful mess,” I growl, tugging the sheet back down. “Don’t interrupt me. I was trying to play connect-the-dots with your freckles.”

She raises a brow but doesn’t try to re-cover herself. “How’s that work?”

“Well, they obviously start here,” I murmur, touching the bridge of her nose. “Then they pick up again here…” I drag my finger down her nose, over her soft lips, and to her collarbone, where a few more freckles are sprinkled.

“Not much of a treasure hunt.”

“Oh, you see, the amateur might think that’s the end of the trail, but I am an expert at connect-the-dots, and I don’t give up so easily.”

“Oh. Good. I was worried.”

I shake my head and press a quick kiss to her lips. “I won’t let you down. But are you ready for the next part?”

“I don’t know? Is it hangman? I’m not sure I want you playing hangman with my freckles.” Her smile damn near bowls me over.

“Still connecting the dots, but you see, it’s about intuition when the going gets tough like this, and for my intuition to work at its best, I need to stop searching with my fingers and take over with my tongue.”

She giggles. “Oh really?”

I climb on top of her, resting on my elbows, and she instinctively draws up her knees so my torso rests between her thighs. My cock aches, demanding that I slide up her body and get closer. Fuck. It wants more than to be close. It wants inside her. Tight and hot and deep. But I ignore it and lower my mouth to the freckles on her collarbone.

The taste of her skin on my tongue makes me hungry for more. I want to lick her clit again, to slide my tongue inside her until she loses control and rocks her hips in that sweet rhythm of fucking.

Instead, I trail my tongue down between her breasts and to the lone freckle beneath her sternum. “Found it,” I murmur before gently nipping her skin.

She arches toward my mouth. “Your tongue has a rather impressive intuition.”

“Oh, and it’s not even done yet.”

I’ll tell you…this book packs some serious heart. Oh, and heat, too!

My review to come in June!

About the Author
Once a college English professor, I now write full time. I live in rural Indiana, where, when I’m not writing, I get to hang out with my husband and two kids–a six-year-old boy and a two-year-old hellion, er, girl. Not surprisingly, reading and writing remain my favorite activities, though both come in bits and pieces these days, not the big hunks of time I enjoyed before I had children.
When I’m feeling virtuous, I like to go running (I use that word liberally. I’m really, really slow) or do yoga. Don’t worry, I’m always careful to balance out such activities with a hearty serving of ice cream or a chocolate martini.

Website | Facebook | Twitter

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Cephalopod Coffeehouse April 2014–THE MOUSE AND THE MOTORCYCLE…

0ed81-coffeehouseWelcome one and all to the Cephalopod Coffeehouse, a cozy gathering of book lovers, meeting to discuss their thoughts regarding the tomes they enjoyed most over the previous month.  Pull up a chair, order your cappuccino and join in the fun.

It’s kinda funny how all the stories of my childhood are being re-packaged and sold to my children. Smurfs. Alvin and the Chipmunks. Transformers. There’s even a Thundercats movie coming out soon. Nostalgia marketing–that’s what I call it. I know it happened to my parents, as well. The New Adventures of Rocky and Bullwinkle, and The Flintstones movies spring to mind. So, anyway in the spirit of reclaiming my youth–which is of utmost importance now that I’m frighteningly close to 40–I re-read a classic from my childhood library: THE MOUSE AND THE MOTORCYCLE by Beverly Cleary.

mmcoverIn fact, the copy I turned to was the dead-tree edition I had purchased at a book fair in 1981. The price: $1.75. My name is even written inside the cover so none of my sisters could claim the book for herself! As you can see, it’s a bit battered and the pages are yellowed. Yet, my 5 y/o still sat enraptured as we read a chapter each night before bed.

My review:

This children’s classic, published in 1965, introduces the world to Ralph, a young mouse whose family lives behind the knothole in Room 215 of a fleabag hotel in California. In true Kid-Lit fashion, Ralph’s father is dead–poisoned by an aspirin tablet–and Ralph’s mother is understandably a nervous sort.

The newest occupant of Room 215 is a young boy–maybe 12 or so. Keith is a boy’s boy: he collects cars, and saves his allowance, and likes to take hikes. The first day he he leaves his beautiful red motorcycle on the nightstand while he and his parents see the ‘sights’. It’s too much for Ralph to resist.

He climbs aboard and drives the motorcycle around and around the table top until the ringing phone startles him and he and the motorcycle topple off into the wastebasket. Good thing Keith finds him before the chambermaid does. The two strike up a friendship–as only two males who appreciate fine machines can–and it’s a heartwarming tale of compromise.

Keith provides Ralph’s family with ‘room service’ bringing scraps from his meals back to the knothole. Ralph rides the motorcycle to amuse Keith, and himself. Complications occur when Ralph loses the motorcycle in the laundry, but big-hearted Keith forgives him. Especially when Ralph risks his life to find an aspirin tablet late one night after Keith strikes up a fever. (The book was written before Reyes Syndrome had been discovered…)

What I most enjoy about sharing these older books with my kids is finding the life lessons so clearly outlined in language that we rarely use with children today. There is no ‘dumbing down’ when Ralph and Keith undertake some pretty deep conversations. And they provide good moral examples. Ralph makes mistakes, for which he is sorry. Keith has to decide to forgive his friend, even if he’s still upset over the loss of his toy. We had read the Trumpet of the Swan before this, which allowed us to talk about concepts like Freedom v. Safety and what it meant to overcome a perceived handicap. Pretty intense questions for young kids, but I was surprised at how he responded to these themes.

Anywho…thanks for popping in. Make sure to stop by the posts of my fellow Coffeehousers. You’ll likely find a great breadth of reading material to consider. And, as always, keep reading my friends!

1. The Armchair Squid 2. My Creatively Random Life
3. Wishbone Soup Cures Everything 4. Valerie Nunez and the Flying Platypi
5. Huntress 6. Servitor Ludi
7. MOCK 8. StrangePegs — Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH
9. Words Incorporated 10. Agatha Friggin’ Christie
11. Ed&Reub 12. The Writing Sisterhood
13. Read, Write, Repeat 14. V’s Reads