”Listen and learn it, learn to tell it, and tell it to teach it.”
I think I’m just beginning to realize that no matter what I say about Suanne’s books, it will never be enough. I feel kind of unworthy to talk about her stories because they are just so, so, SO good and believe me when I say that in all the years of my existence I never read anything like them… EVER. There are books that are epic, there are stories that have wisdom, there are tales that take you to another world and narratives that make you think and feel, but there is nothing, I repeat nothing that even gets moderately close to how I feel when I read Suanne’s wonderful books.
I can try to describe them but all the words in the world won’t do them justice. Nothing I say will suffice. They are filled with so much humour, with relationships that are so real you can taste them on your tongue and feel them in your heart, they make you ache and bleed, but they also console you and hold you when you’re breaking down. They are pure joy and your darkest hour! They are all the good and bad things and all the nuances in between. They are life! In all its facets and with all its ups and downs. They feel like a living and breathing thing, like a beating heart you’re holding in your palms while you read it.
Suanne’s books are everything and even more and I can’t believe I just discovered them because quite honestly I can’t even imagine a life without them anymore. (I already dread the day when I’ll run out of them, because sooner or later I will. At least when I continue at this pace. *lol*) I love “An Exaltation of Larks” and I adore “A Charm of Finches” and if all of Suanne’s other books are that good I’ll probably die about a thousand deaths until I’ve read them all. It will be worth it though. XD
This said I decided to make this one of my long reviews because I have so many thoughts and feelings that need to be written down. I know this is going to be a huge mess with lots of emotions that will run all over the pages but it needs to get out. XD So to all of you who don’t want to be spoiled: You better stop reading now! I’ll only say one more thing before I go for the real deal: READ THIS SERIES!!! You won’t regret it, because it’s so damn good!!!! ❤
Warning: Don’t cross this border! There’ll be lots of emotions, even more feels and plenty of spoilers. Of course it’s up to you if you continue or not, but don’t say I didn’t warn you! 😉
Jav exhaled heavily. “Twenty-three years I had this perfect social life. Perfect date after perfect date. I’m really becoming aware of what an act it was. What a repertory of roles I played and none of them were really me. It’s kind of put me in a mini existential crisis. I have moment s when I don’t know who the fuck I am.”
My review about “An Exaltation of Larks” was an ARC review so I was careful not to spoil anything but since I read this without the aid of NetGalley I can finally gush about Jav!!! I love this man so damn much and I think that’s mostly due to the fact that we’re very similar. Jav experienced so many things, he was hurt, he was lost, he knows loss and pain and even though my experiences might be different than his, the feelings and emotions we share are still the same. I can relate to him and there were countless moments my heart truly ached for him. It was so beautiful to see his journey, to see that he finally accepted himself and was ready to fall in love with Stef. Jav is such a compassionate and wonderful man and it was so good to see that he was finally loved back!!! I just love the way he thinks and feels and when he zoomed out writing things in his head or used his journal I was like: This is me when I write! XD I adore him for always being there when someone needs him, the way he helped Geno out even though they were kind of at odds at the time and how nervous he was! He didn’t want to screw up and this only made me love him even more. ❤ I swear, when he opened up to Stef after meeting his aunt… Oh gods!!! I cried buckets reading that scene!! Jav was hurt so badly by his family’s actions and he suppressed it for so many years. I was so glad Stef was with him and was able to catch him when he fell. >_< This man deserves all the love and I just want him to be happy for eternity!!! <333
”Why do you do it?“
Jav’s shy smile unfolded. “Asking people what they do is boring. Asking why they do it is so much more interesting.”
A beat of silence that felt like a gamble, then Jav said, “I know what it means. I’m on my way.”
“Jav, I’m sorry,” Geno said. “About-“
“It’s all right,” Jav said. “None of that matters tonight. Let’s just get you the hell out of there. You stay with Ed. I’m coming.”
”This is how I was born to love.
The world can call me whatever label they want. I know who I am.
”Everyone just leaves,” Jav said. “I don’t get to say goodbye to anyone. I don’t get a say at all. They leave and I just sit around making up stories to explain why.”
”I didn’t choose this particular road, it kind of chose me.”
I never thought I’d love another character in “Venery” as much as I love Jav but then Stef came along and I had to revise my opinion. *lol* This man is perfect in every sense of the word! I even told Suanne as much! XD But I don’t mind because ahh he’s so great and I just adore him! I don’t know how he does his job but I’m glad there exist some Stefs in the world because they are needed! I mean he passed out after he saved a girl that wanted to kill herself and even scarred his left eyebrow when he fell. That’s a true hero right there!! Also can we appreciate his love for books?! I mean one of his first thoughts when he met Jav was ”Dude, if you don’t read, we ain’t got no future anyway.” *LOL* Of course he didn’t know that it was Jav’s book he was reading so yeah. XD There are so many things that make Stef special and his compassion, his calm nature, his way to deal with problems, they are just a few of them! =) Plus I loved how self-confident he is. Stef takes everything in stride and knows exactly who he is, which was wonderful and made him a perfect man for Jav! So at the risk of repeating myself: Stef is perfect! Period! <333
”Connect, he thought. I want to connect.
His heart closed around the thought like catching a firefly.
I’m lonely and I want to connect with someone. Mind and body. Something that means… something.”
”He was wearing a grey shirt today. It would fucking have to do. He went straight from work to the bar. No going home to shower, shave, pick a blue shirt and hang out in front of the mirror like a twink.
Dig me, dig my crappy shirt.”
”It’s all right,” Stef said. “You cry as much as you want.”
Max moaned and wept harder.
“I’m right here. I got you.”
”Sometimes,” Stef said slowly. “I come home with part of a case sticking to me, and I don’t want anyone or anything. I don’t want to be touched until I deal with it. But other times, the only way I can deal with it is being touched. Sometimes I can only shake off the echo of a sexual abuse story by making love.”
”Someone has to be in charge. I am Mos, rhymes with dos, and I’m in command here. I have the strength of two now.”
Geno’s story moved me so much I can’t even put it into words. This boy went through something no one should ever go through and even though it broke him, he came out of it stronger in the end. I don’t know how he did it but I agree with Stef: ”they didn’t get the best of him”. I’m not going to sugar coat it: The first 10% of this book were so damn hard to read, because we get a good glimpse at Geno’s ordeal and it was tough to read. Rape is horrible and for Geno… it was pure torture. What those men did to him, what he had to endure… I can’t even imagine what this must have done to him. There is this 17 year old innocent boy and they raped him until he almost died. T_T And believe me when I say that I want them all to rot in hell for it! To hurt a young boy like that! It’s unforgivable! Geno suffered so much! This poor boy! His twin died and he had to live with the aftermath, with knowing that his own brother brought him to them. I could understand why Mos came into being, why it was better to let it happen to someone else. >_< Carlito’s death, his own ordeal, the death of his father… gods it was just too much for him to endure. I have no idea how Geno managed to survive but he did it, he fought, he clawed his way back into life and he’s one of those characters that will stay with me forever. Whatever he’s doing now, I hope he’s happy! And that he’s still friends with Micah, because their friendship was everything. Two different generations that survived ordeals no one should ever have to survive and they still made the best of it. When they hugged and Geno cried in his arms I was crying with them. T_T
”All of it still hurt so much.
Lying in the dark, a soft, sleeping girl in his inked arms, he blinked through irritated tears and feared it would always hurt.”
”I’m all alone here.
He stood again, his view free of the bars but still feeling just as caged.
I want to go home.
I want all this to be happening to someone else. Why can’t this be someone else?“
Micah rocked him, a hand stroking Geno’s head. Inked numbers in his dusty skin. Strong arms and a stronger heart.
“Hijo querido,” he said. “You and I know what it’s really about.”
Jav & Stef:
„Hey there, handsome.“
Stef looked back.
Hey there, indeed.
A guy was at the top of the gallery’s stairs. Tall and built in jeans and a black blazer. Taking off aviator shades to show his face.
There is so much I want to say about those two men and I’m really afraid it will become an essay! lol* BUT oh boy!!! They were so great together!!! After everything Jav went through it was so good to see him in such a solid and healthy relationship! It was a great contrast to the heavy parts of Geno’s story and Suanne managed to find a balance which is searching for its match. (Suanne, did I ever tell you that I love you? No? Well, I do! ;-P) I loved to see their first meeting from Stef’s POV and haha his reaction to seeing Jav for the very first time was priceless! ❤ They were so truly and madly in love it was overwhelming and made me giggle like crazy. I loved how they got to know each other, how they accepted each other’s boundaries and talked things out! Yes, they spoke about their problems and fears and it was AMAZING!!! They were so attuned to each other they noticed the smallest gestures of discomfort from a mile away. XD And their conversation about how being bi feels for them! It felt so true and real that I found myself speaking to the pages saying: Yes!! Yes, that’s it! They were each other’s safe haven and whenever the sea got unsteady and tempestuous they could rely on each other. ❤ That moment Jav broke down in Stef’s arms?! Ahh it hurt so much but I was so happy he was with him guiding him through the rough sea! Those two men! I can’t get enough of them and I’ll make sure to read all the accompanying stories I can find. I need more of their happiness! So, so much more! XD
”Crying out loud, Landes, what?” he said.
Stef’s smile broke apart laughing. “Stop looking at me.”
“No puedo dejar de mirarte,” Jav said, tackling him. Because he was a fucking hot mess and couldn’t keep his hands off the guy.
”The attraction is tougher?” Jav said. “More tenacious?”
“Yes,” Stef said, his voice rising. “Tenacious. Exactly. It can take my weight. I can push on it hard, be rougher with it. It’s not a connection I overlap or fall into. It’s something I lean on. Hard.”
”I like you so fucking much,” Stef said. He’d never in his life said such a thing to a man.
“I like you, too,” Jav said, as if the words were bubbles on his tongue.”
”When Stef locked arms around Jav’s waist at the stove and leaned on him, Jav had to stop cooking and taste the moment. Close his eyes and hold it tight, unable to remember the last time he felt this content. This complete.“
”The last chapter.”
Stef blinked. “You lost me.”
“You’re the last chapter,” Jav said. “I went from the prologue to you. I skipped everything in the middle and now I’m in love with you and I don’t know what the hell I’m doing.”
A rush as everything in Stef’s body dilated, returned to normal levels, and then rose up. “Jesus Christ, Jav,” he said, rubbing his face. “I swear, I’m going to kill you or fuck you. Pick one.”
”You didn’t know I’d end up fucking for a living. Making me waste twenty years of my life when I could’ve been something to somebody…”
Then he was crying.
Stef pulled him in tight and stood still against the storm, his hand running in slow circles between Jav’s trembling shoulders. “You’re something to me,” he said. “You’re everything to me.“
”Mm.” Jav fitted his thumbnail into the scar across Stef’s eyebrow. “Man, I don’t know how you do what you do.”
“I don’t know how you write books.”
“I make up bullshit. Your work is so much more important. You know how men make love with each other and you know how men make war on each other.”
Stef, Jav & Geno:
”They got him.”
“It’s over.” Geno slid off the couch, onto the floor and into Stef’s arms. “It’s over.”
Stef caught him up tight, a hand on Geno’s head. “They got him,” he said, rocking their bodies side to side.
Now the three of them certainly had an interesting dynamic. Especially because Stef had a professional relationship with Geno and Jav’s relationship with him was rather a friendship. And once again I’ve to praise the fine nuances of Suanne’s stories. Their relationships to each other were so palpable and they felt real and true. I loved that Stef got all protective of Jav when he discovered that Geno had read his journal and therefore his personal thoughts but I also loved them both for still being there for Geno even though he violated Jav’s privacy. I always knew that Geno finding out about Jav and Stef’s relationship would end badly, but after everything he went through it was no surprise. Still, I’m glad they managed to sort things out in the end and I’m so happy Geno has those two as his friends now. Stef being there for him as his therapist was so important but I think Jav being his friend was at least as vital for his healing process as Stef’s therapy. ❤ You need friends in your life and with Jav and Stef at his side Geno kind of won the friendship lottery. =) True friendships between men! I think the bookish world needs more of them.
”I’m on guard, little brother.
You fought hard and brave. Rest your heart now. Don’t be afraid.
They’ll have to come through me to get to you this time.”
”Geno took a long swig of ice water and asked Jav, “Do you believe everything happens for a reason?”
“I do,” Jav said. “But not everyone gets the privilege of liking the reason. Of feeling the reason was worth the ordeal or the experience.”
Jav & Ari:
”Oh my god, T, are you crying?” Ari said. He called Jav T, for Tio. Spanish for uncle.
“Come on, I bet you have an absolute surplus of toilet paper now.”
“This is true. One box of cereal lasts forever and I only have to buy a half-gallon of milk.”
“See? You don’t miss me at all.”
“You’re right. Glad to have you out of my hair. Don’t ever come back.”
I still adore this uncle-nephew duo! =) Jav and Ari’s relationship was one of the best things about “Larks” and it continued to be amazing in “Finches”. They might have found each other under difficult circumstances but they made the best of it and formed a bond that will connect them forever. Also can we acknowledge how supportive Ari is?! That boy is still so young but he already knows what’s important in life! Their conversations were once again some of the best in the book and I had to laugh so hard when Ari told Jav that he shouldn’t have sex in front of his dog. *LOL* Poor Roman! I’m sure he appreciates Ari’s concern. ;-P
”I hope you find someone,” Ari said. “You deserve it. Male or female, it’s about fucking time you had someone you can be yourself with.”
Jav & Gloria:
”When Jav lost Flip, he found in Gloria the one person who loved him unconditionally. The woman who had taken him in when his own people cast him out. He went to court and legally changed his surname to Landes. He would never think of her as his mother. He chose her name because it was the thing he respected most in the world.”
As you can see my relationships and ship section is huge this time around and the reason for it is that Suanne writes them like no other! I mean for instance Jav and Gloria!! Gloria was probably the only person that cared about him when he was alone and lost and even though to help him to become an escort might have been kind of harmful for Jav on the long run it was still something he enjoyed to do when he was younger. Gloria guided and comforted him. She provided a safe haven and helped him to help himself so for that alone she deserves respect. Plus she’s his voice of reason and a very wise woman. I love that they still have contact and that she’s the first person he comes to when his heart is troubled. ❤
”You’re right. As usual.”
“Often wrong, never in doubt.”
“Which is why I love you.”
”Love doesn’t always play nice. Love plays games you haven’t had to deal with before. Love is going to serve up a buffet of emotions you neatly avoided for decades.”
Alex, Jav & The Larks:
”And if you met someone, and it feels easy and you’re waiting for the axe or the shoe or the whatever to drop, it’s because you think you don’t deserve easy. What did I tell you about that?”
“Yeah, I know,” Jav said, exhaling.
“I’m worth more and I deserve it.”
“Damn right you do.”
Ahh the tension between Alex and Jav is still tangible. I can’t help but wonder if they’ll ever get over it or if it will be one of those relationships that will always have that special spark. Sometimes you meet people that draw you in and no matter how much you try to get some distance between you, it’s bound to fail. You’re drawn like a moth to the flame or like a moon that’s pulled into the orbit of a planet. So you either find a way to live with that involuntary attraction or you don’t and put some distance between you. And let me tell you this as someone who’s tried to live with it, it’s tough!!! I managed to do it for a few years but then the contact broke because it was just too much to handle. For both of us. >_< So I can’t help but wonder how the relationship between Jav and Alex is going to develop. Still, despite all the things that are going on between them and Val basically watching them like a hawk they are a family and support each other. Which is truly amazing! Val definitely has all my respect for forgiving Alex and Jav and for trying to give them space. This woman is a saint!!! Period!
”Well, maybe I’ll meet them someday.”
Jav smiled at the safe, gender-neutral pronoun. “Maybe you will,” he said. “If I don’t fuck this up.”
“Oh my God,” Alex said. “You’re still the same idiot.”
“The only one allowed in the room,” Jav said, laughing.
”Let go now,” Alex said, slapping Jav’s back, then his ass. “Or I won’t.”
Jav hugged them both. “Thanks for coming.”
“Wouldn’t miss it,” Alex said.
“We’re your family, dumbass,” Val said. “We’d do anything.”
Stav & Stef:
”Is this the guy you called me about the other day?”
“Dude, does he have a brother? Named Rav?”
“Where did he come from?”
“The fucking sky.”
Haha! I LOVED this sibling relationship!! Stav and Stef were so much fun to read about and they reminded me of my sister and me. I swear, we have conversations like the one above too and I love spending time with her and to be silly. We do that frequently and have been told that we’re like a comedy show when we’re together. (I swear sometimes it’s like people get their popcorn to watch us. Well, my brother-in-law actually did but that’s another story for another day. *lol*) So yes, I adored this sibling rep and could relate to it! Stav and Stef are two amazing people and even though Stav went through a lot of heavy shit she’s still a very optimistic and funny character! Which is remarkable! The world definitely needs more Stavs too! =))
“A Charm of Finches” was INCREDIBLE and I just couldn’t get enough of it. The many thoughts, ideas and feelings that went into this, the way Suanne managed to put this on paper! How she writes life the way it is and creates characters that feel like real people! (For me they actually are!) The heavy topics she’s addressing! With so much respect and care. I’m in awe of Suanne Laqueur’s mind and writing style and I’ll never get tired of advertising her books! Seriously, more people need to read her books because they are so, so, so GOOD! All the stars! All the stars, por siempre jamás!