Tuesday, December 06, 2016

Review: Throwing Stones by Robin Reardon

throwing stonesTitle ~ Throwing Stones

Author ~ Robin Reardon

Publisher ~ IAM Books

Published ~ 13th November 2015

Genre ~ Contemporary M/M Romance, Young Adult





What if you fell in love with a Pagan?
And what if you were both gay? What would happen next?

Something is drawing seventeen-year-old Jesse Bryce toward the community of Pagans who live in "the village," just outside his rural Oklahoma town. Maybe it's that he has a crush on Griffin Holyoke, a tall, dark-haired boy with a tree tattooed all up his back. Or maybe it's that the Pagans accept Jesse for who he is, unlike his family—or his church, where he hears that being gay is a sin.

After a man from the village is murdered while trying to prevent an assault on a girl from the town, Jesse's confusion at the town's unsympathetic reaction inspires him to set a mission for himself: to build a bridge of acceptance between the town and the village.

As Jesse defies his parents and continues to visit the village, he witnesses mysterious rituals that haunt him with their beauty and intensity. And he falls in love with one enigmatic, mercurial Pagan who opens his eyes to a whole new world.

This first-person story explores what can happen when we make conclusions about others based on too little information, or on the wrong information. Whether we're misunderstanding each others' religions or each others' sexual orientation, everyone benefits from learning the truth. And everyone benefits from forgiveness.

Cheryl’s Review

I found this book by accident, or so I thought, but I believe that coincidences are rarely coincidental. There are many themes in this book and some of them are important to me in where I am today. The book certainly made me think deeply about many things.

First things first. The cover definitely grabbed me. It wasn't what made me buy the book, that was the blurb, but it is pleasing to the eye and fits in with the story very well. Stones play a big part in it in many ways - physical, metaphorical and, I suppose to some, metaphysical. This brings me to one of the few negatives about the book, and to be fair it's not about the book itself at all, and I didn't know about it until I came to post the review. This is why I haven’t taken off any stars for it.

The book is listed as "paranormal". I suppose, in some senses it is, in that there are some things that are likely to be outside the range of experience of many people. However, things such as energy work, scrying, spirit animals etc. are not outside the experience of many Pagans and to describe them as "paranormal" niggles me. I can't say I'm offended because it would take a LOT more than that to offend me but from someone who has taken time and care to present Pagans as "normal" people this was disappointing, especially so because when reading the book I was touched so many times with how the pagan practices were presented as "different but normal", and not inferior to Christianity as is often the case. However, to designate "normal" practices as "paranormal" and putting them in the same category as werewolves, ghosts and vampires wiped away some of that goodwill.

That being said, on the whole the treatment of Pagans in this book was exemplary. Too often we see Pagans and their rituals depicted in a negative light and it was refreshing to find a defender who does a great job in presenting Pagans as merely people who live their lives differently. Griffin, in particular was a fantastic character, and I wish I'd known him when I was younger. Ronan is slightly more difficult to warm to but he really comes through when it matters.

Jesse, the main character is interesting and complex. He certainly has a complex life. I like how the author deals with his struggles, but doesn't dwell on them. Yes he's bullied at times, he has bad words sprayed on his locker and his family react badly to his coming out, but these things are incidental and told in a practical rather than angst-ridden way. It seems to me that, on the whole. Jesse is a well-adjusted, sensible  and sensitive boy and I was rooting for him from the start.

There is a very rich cast of supporting characters from (surprisingly) the local vicar to the head of the Pagan community, and all have their own voices. I particularly liked Jesse's mother. What a woman - human, flawed but strong and loving. That's the kind of mother I hope I am to my children (although I did react much better to their coming out).

There are some slight issues with the editing but they didn't really detract from the story and I doubt the average reader who isn't an author with editing rammed into every corner of their brain, would notice. After all even JK Rowling is guilty of the odd slip as even my young son noted once while reading Harry Potter.

As I've mentioned, there are many themes in the story and some of them only become apparent after finishing the book and looking back. One of the particularly strong ones is the mirroring of Jesse’s family’s reaction to his coming out and the reaction of the townies to the villagers.  It is one of those books that, having finished, begs to be read again with different eyes. I shall certainly be doing that.

There are so many delightful scenes and elements it's hard to choose a favourite but I have to say that every scene that takes place in the tree-house is delightful. Yes, there will be some who will complain about sex in a Young Adult book, but that's not what it was about at all, it was about a connection of two souls in two very different people. As much magic happened here as anywhere else in the book.

On the whole I would totally recommend this book to anyone who likes young adult contemporary romance with a twist. If you're interested in a peek into a different way of living then give it a whirl but I would not, however, describe it as paranormal.

Purchase Links



Meet Robin Reardon

Robin Reardon is an inveterate observer of human nature, and her primary writing goal is to create stories about all kinds of people, some of whom happen to be gay or transgender--people whose destinies are not determined solely by their sexual orientation or identity. Her secondary writing goal is to introduce readers to concepts or information they might not know very much about. See the "Digging Deeper" sections on most of the individual book pages for links to background information and research done for the novels.

Interests outside of writing include singing, nature photography, and the study of comparative religion. Robin writes in a butter yellow study with a view of the Boston, Massachusetts skyline.




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Sinfully Santa’s Question: Have you ever discovered a book by accident that turned out to be a wonderful surprise? Tell us which book and why?

Answer Santa’s question by leaving your answer in the comments on the post, enter the draw below to open more chances to win. With a bit of luck you maybe chosen to win any M/M romance Kindle ebook from your wish list!

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  1. A few years ago I came across the German version of Night Watch by Sergei Lukyanenko. The book might not be the best in its genre but it gave me a glimpse into the world of Urban Fantasy. I liked that the not everything was black and white for the characters, even though they were portrayed as either belonging to the light or the dark. The setting being in Russia was also quite interesting. To sum it up, thanks to Night Watch I still enjoy Urban Fantasy a lot. Without the book I might not have got there at all.

  2. I bought my first Justine Sebastian's book, Bitter Sweets, on a whim because I loved the cover, and it turned out to be a wonderful surprise. I fell in love with her writing, and I've bought everything she's written since that first one. She's an incredible writer with a very different twist in her stories, and that's why I love her books so!

  3. Avery Cockburn's Glasgow Lads series. I do like stories set in Scotland (well, who wouldn't!) and I like football, but YA/NA is not my go-to genre. So, it was pretty much a gamble to start on the prequel novella. Turned out, not only I love the novella, I love the whole series! :)

  4. Like a month ago I found out by chance Killing Time at the Lingerroot by John C. Dupré. The premise sounded interesting but I wasn't sure about it. In the end, I gave it a chance... and it turned out to be a great book, I loved it. I would like to read more from this author.

  5. All the time. I "troll" the library's new book shelf and find new to me authors and series all the time that I enjoy.

  6. I never thought I would be into m/m, but I was reading the Black Dagger Brotherhood series by JR Ward and I am anal about starting in the beginning of the series and working through them all. I usually don't pay attention to what the book is about. I don't read synopsis's or blurbs unless I'm in a reading funk. Anyway, I hit book #11 Lover at Last, my very first m/m. Bam, I'm hooked!

  7. Golden Boy by Abigail Tarttelin - I just stumbled on it wandering around goodreads. Had it on my TBR list for a long time, then got the audiobook. And it was wonderful! Each character had their own narrator.

  8. There are a number of new-to-me-authors whose books I read solely because I liked the cover ... though I'm not sure that can consider an "accident". I do have a personal challenge last year, in which I decide to read genre/theme I don't personally like ... and end up liking the books I chose. Can that count?

  9. Not really... I mostly get interested in a book after I read about it on a blog.

  10. Keira Andrews Amish series with David and Isaac. I didnt get good feels for it when book 1 came out so was always putting it back on the shelf so to speak. Then I won a copy from the author. Again I put off reading it for a while but eventually plucked up the courage - was hooked and have devoured the other books since!!!

  11. When I first saw author Talia Carmichael's name, I confused her with Ariel Tachna. I bought Detour and loved the series.

  12. Several free books I've come across introduced me to stories and authors I certainly would've missed out on, like Without Sin by J. Tomas (great coming of age), The Way You Are by L.J. Mile and Touch by Usagi Kita (emotional issues and sweet characters), Resistance by Lola Carson (hot and a keeper), and I found Remember My Name by Chase Potter through a review by Jay Bell. Like Bell, Potter is one of my auto-buys now! Both write beautifully.

  13. It has to be the first book I read that had a lgbt couple in it, I was surprised how much I enjoyed their part of the story far more than the M/F couple and I then went on to discover M/M books.

  14. I read so many books, I can't honestly remember.

  15. I would have to say it was when I found Alexa Land's Way Off Plan right after it was first published. I love her writing so much that I buy everything as soon as it comes out!

  16. I found a Lu Harper trilogy and loved it. It was paranormal.

  17. Yes, but it happened much more often before I opened a good reads account ( and created a digital TBR pile ). Now I'm usually putting books on the pile ( from recommendations) and only reading books on the pile. But the last one I remember it happening was Hunger Games, I have no idea why I picked up that audio book, but noone around me was reading it. I just remembered picking up a Kelley Armstrong book randomly...and then just racing through the next 10 books

  18. I love Reardon's work, and it looks like you do too. Nice review. As for a surprise, a recent one was Blue on Black, a steampunk that really scored for me.
    Purple Reader - TheWrote [at] aol [dot] com

  19. I would have to say one of the times ( there are many) I was pleasantly surprised was when I kept seeing The Captive Prince on all these "best of" lists. I checked it out even though I'm usually lured in by a hot cover ( I know )and it turned out to be a fantastic read that I had to not so patiently wait for the rest of the trilogy!!!