• manga,  Uncategorized

    MANGA: Nitamono Doushi no

    Nitamono Doushi no – Kanbe Gorou

    It began with a mistake. When Tanaka and Nakata are given each other’s papers back, they come to a horrible realization…

    They have almost identical names. And test results. And body types. And taste in fashion. And sports scores. And hobbies. The list goes on, and as annoying as it is, at least they know they always have each other.

    And maybe, just maybe, their similarities run even deeper.

    I was expecting a light-hearted comedy of errors. What I got was an angsty unrequited love that made my heart ache.

    Like Two Peas In A Pod is told from the POV of Nakata, the more introverted of the two. He and Tanaka formed a friendship because of how similar they were. This friendship was tested when Tanaka started dating a girl.

    Nakata’s fervent longing for the oblivious Tanaka was just a sad, sad thing. I really felt sorry for him, especially when they started drifting apart. I liked how the the mangaka drew the heartbroken expressions he tried to hide.

    Best girl is Futaba, Nakata’s new friend, who noticed his pained expressions every time he watched Tanaka and his girlfriend together. She helped him through these trying times and encouraged him to confessed. It was only later that she realized, he loves the boy, not the girl. She was super cool with everything.

    Meanwhile, I wanted to strangle Tanaka for being so dense. Not so sure he’s the guy for Nakata. It wasn’t until the very last scenes, when they switched seats, that I was convinced that, maybe, these two would work.

  • book,  Uncategorized

    REVIEW: The Venetian And The Rum Runner by L.A. Witt

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    The Venetian And The Rum Runner – L.A. Witt

    New York City, 1924

    Once their paths cross, their worlds will never be the same.

    Danny Moore and his crew only meant to rob the hotel suites of rich guests. He wasn’t supposed to find himself in gangster Ricky il Sacchi’s room. And il Sacchi wasn’t supposed to wind up dead. Now Danny has the attention of another notorious gangster.

    Carmine Battaglia is intrigued by the Irish thieves who would have made off with a huge score if not for il Sacchi’s death. They’re cunning, careful, and exactly what he needs for his rum running operation. But Danny’s already lost two brothers to the violence between New York’s Irish and Sicilian gangs, and he’s not about to sell his soul to Carmine.

    With a gangster’s blood on his hands, Danny needs protection, whether he likes it or not. And that’s to say nothing of the generous pay, which promises to pull him and his crew—not to mention their families—out of destitution.

    Working together brings Danny and Carmine to a détente, then to something so intense neither can ignore it. Something nearly enough to make them both forget the brutal tensions between their countrymen.

    But the death of Ricky il Sacchi hasn’t been forgotten. And someone is determined to make Danny bleed for it.

    The Venetian and the Rum Runner is a 144,000-word gay historical romantic suspense novel set during Prohibition and the Roaring Twenties.

    CW: graphic violence, PTSD 

    The Venetian and the Rum Runner is a historical mafia novel set in the Prohibition era. This is different from L.A. Witt‘s usual contemporary offerings but it has her trademark style of making the MCs go through hoops of fire before giving them their very hard-earned happy endings.

    The story brings together two men who were traditionally enemies. Danny Moore, leader of a gang of Irish thieves, found himself a wanted man when he inadvertently killed an Italian mobster. Having heard of the incident and duly impressed with the gang’s ingenuity in pulling off their heist (also grateful for reasons later revealed) Carmine Battaglia sought out the gang to hire them for rum running in exchange for his protection.

    Understandably, Danny and his gang wanted nothing to do with it at first. Italian mobsters were the reason Danny’s brothers were dead. Until pressing needs forced his hand and he reluctantly accepted the job. And so begins a very profitable business relationship and a simmering attraction that neither men expected.

    This is a long book. It took me a while to get into the first few chapters of the story but the rich atmosphere and the authentic vibe kept me hooked. I loved the 1920s setting. The writing effortlessly took me to that glamorous era of smoky speakeasies and creative alcohol consumption.

    There was a whole lot of black market items being moved around because people were thirsty and thirsty people were desperate. Alcohol was prescribed as “medicine”. People disguise the stuff in tea cups. Hidden compartments and escape hatches were at the ready in case of a raid. These parts alone were super interesting. It was pretty well-researched. The rich historical details really made the 1920s come alive.

    I had fun reading about the various clever schemes Danny and his gang came up with for their rum running activities. The story did a good job providing ample page-time for the lads. Although I must say that the best character is Danny’s bestfriend, James the priest. He gave the most sensible advise I’ve ever heard from a priest. There’s also a twist involving him that I never, ever expected. I hope he gets his own story because this holy man has a lot to tell.

    The romance was a slow, slow burning flame, full of longing looks and heated gazes that you can FEEL from across the room. In an age of secrecy and circumspection, the two would be like, “am I just seeing what I wanted to see?“. And I wanted to scream, yes, he IS looking at you like that!

    Danny and Carmine kept it strictly business for most of their interactions. But the tension between them was so palpable, had there been a third person in the room, they would certainly have no doubts about what these two men wanted.

    This had dual POV but I felt it was more Danny’s story than Carmine’s. Carmine spent most of the time in his office. He had no qualms doing business with Irishmen. He was also accepting of his attraction to Danny from the get go. There wasn’t much development to his character but I liked him all the same.

    It was Danny who had the most progression. He had to deal with his remaining brother who disapproved of his chosen path. He had to fight his attraction to an Italian. He had to reconcile with his core beliefs. When he did, he made the first move. That scene! I had to hold my breath because it was a beautiful wordless declaration done so excruciatingly slow and careful and gentle and sweet.

    Later on, the story took a tragic turn and stakes were raised even higher. This is what I loved most about L.A. Witt. She always creates these no way out scenarios that seem virtually impossible for her boys to get out of, much more, have a happy ending. Then she would have them pull off these daring, deadly maneuvers where they escape by the skin of their teeth.

    Danny and Carmine did just that and even found a way to be together. Although I wasn’t as satisfied with the resolution as I would have liked. It was a realistic HFN, given the time period and the situation but I couldn’t help wishing for something different, perhaps something with less goodbyes.

    According to the author, The Venetian and The Rum Runner was inspired by a conversation with Michael Ferraiuolo. He’s also the one who narrated it. He is my all time favorite narrator and he really poured all his talents in bringing the characters and their accents to life! His bad guy voices were especially nastily good. I definitely recommend experiencing this fabulous intoxicating historical in audiobook form.

    4 Stars – minor quibbles but I loved it to bits

    Soundtrack: Run
    Artist: Hozier
    Album: Hozier

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  • song,  Uncategorized

    SOUNDTRACK: Run by Hozier

    Soundtrack to The Venetian and The Rum Runner by L.A. Witt

    I chose this Hozier ballad for a book about an Irish gang working for an Italian mobster because the singer explained that this is a song based on a James Joyce quote about Ireland. I also relate the lines “Rare is this love, keep it covered / I need you to run to me, run to me, lover / Run until you feel your lungs bleeding” to Danny being magnetically drawn to the Italian mobster despite all that he stood for and Carmine offering protection to the hostile Irishman who made his heart beat faster.

  • quote,  Uncategorized

    Rare is this love
    Keep it covered
    I need you to run to me, run to me, lover
    Run until you feel your lungs bleeding

    Oh but the farrow know
    Her hungry eyes, her ancient soul
    It’s carried by the sneering menagerie

    Know what it is to grow
    Beneath her sky, her punishing cold
    To slowly learn of her ancient misery

    To be twisted by something
    A shame without a sin
    Like how she twisted the bog man
    After she married him

    Rare is this love, keep it covered
    I need you to run to me, run to me, lover
    Run until you feel your lungs bleeding

    But in all the world
    There is one lover worthy of her
    With as many souls claimed as she

    But for all he’s worth
    He still shatters always on her earth
    The cause of every tear she’d ever weep

    Rushing to shore to meet her
    Foaming with loneliness
    White hands to fondle and beat her
    Give her his onliness

    Rare is this love, keep it covered
    I need you to run to me, run to me, lover
    Run until you feel your lungs bleeding
    Rare is this love, keep it covered
    I need you to run to me, run to me, lover
    Run until you feel your lungs bleeding

    Rare is this love, keep it covered
    I need you to run to me, run to me, lover
    Run until you feel your lungs bleeding
    Rare is this love, keep it covered
    I need you to run to me, run to me, lover
    Run until you feel your lungs bleeding