Dearest reader, as I mentioned I dedicate Heidi Cullinan’s latest book, Antisocial, its own post. Release day of this great book is August 8.
My blog tour post with a spotlight on Japan’s shrines can be read here. Don’t miss this post out for a giveaway. Also have an eye of the other blog participant’s posts, listed in the post.
But right now: focus on this review. Happy reading, my lovely reader. 🙂
*~~*ARC kindly provided by the author to me in exchange for an honest review *~~*
Heidi Cullinans books contain always a magical story, one you can find yourself in, one which is sometimes sad and heartbreaking but also so sweet and great. The same goes for Antisocial.
It’s a different book than the other by her, still it’s totally Heidi Cullinan. When I saw the cover I had to stop, I was mesmezised and couldn’t look away. In fact I watched the cover over and over again, took a look at the details. The cover is really something different, something which stands out on a bookshelve, not only because it is drawn in mangastyle. Natsuko, the artist who draw the cover, did a fabulous job, it’s no wonder, people may recognize the style from several Yuri on Ice drawings. But enough of this. Follow the link of the artist to the website. The cover stands out and take your attention, and so does the book, the content.
What I really loved about the book was the topic, but also the cultural connection. Antisocial takes place in America, but it has a huge Japanese culture included, and damn, my heart was screaming of joy, I had a big grin on my face, getting bigger and bigger with every mention of a particular Japanese manner, a manga or anime mentioned in the book. 🙂 Because I am a fan of the Japanese culture for almost 20 years, I could really relate to things, and Heidi did such a great job in her research and made it really understandable and hopefully pleasurable for the non-informed reader. It educates but isn’t over the top, at least this way the way I experienced it.
The two character Skylar and Xander were amazing. Simple as that. I can’t say what I expected when I read the blurb but truly not this, not this depth. Over the book, the full nearly 400 pages long, there is such a huge character development. Unexpected but at first but then not. Not only Xander gains so much from Skylar – he grows and he comes out his shell – Xander is later also Skylar’s anchor, the important person who guides him. I would never expected that this character, this figure would need him as much as Xander needs Skylar. It’s a symbiosis and it’s pure and beautiful.
The book is full of interesting minor character, we have a huge scale of individuals, sometimes you have to pause a bit and reflect about them because they have so much information to give, still it’s not enough. It’s really awesome how Heidi Cullinan gives them their own voices, with a few descriptions and actions, their own experiences and a way they feel real to the reader. I guess Heidi could take any of this character and write a novella or own book. I admit I was very intrigued by Zelda. They (genderneutral pronouns are used) were faszinating and had really interesting thoughts. 🙂 But they care for Xander and despite a grumpy, moody behaviour they are sweet in their own way. 🙂
I also had to laugh a bit because of the name. I am not sure if the author planned this, if it was her intention but with naming they Zelda it’s like making a small pun.
[Note: the game the name comes from is called Zelda, a lot of people misname the game’s hero, Link, for Zelda, which is the princess to rescue].
Maybe it’s just coincidence and only the name was fitting because of the nerdy topic (naming a child after a video game), but I had to giggle about this potential pun. xD
If you expect heavy, hot and steamy graphic scenes, despite this is a book is about an artist and his drawings (kinda ironic ;)), there is no display of the affection in the “conservative” way. Means: you have high sensual encounter but in a different way. They are displayed with small touchings, no (french) kisses or only light pecks and the focus is on the person. I would dare say to call it “sensual sexual encounter”. To describe it without revealing too much of the particular scenes is a bit tough, so I keep it this vague.
It’s maybe a bit strange for the reader but I have to say: give it a try. Really. Open your mind for unconventional things like this.
The scenes are full of emotion and so hot, because they go right into the heart, touch you. And I only mention that brushes and paint can be used very creativity. 😉 Hot, really hot. :3
[Note: this isn’t in any meant as insulting, never planned to be ace-,grey- or demiphobic. With “unconventional” I mean the way of how “daily objects” are used in a sexual scene, the way how the character share their bond, nearly without touching each other or only lightly. On the other hand you don’t have to fear BSDM or a kinky use of those objects if you were wondering, too.]
The book is full of events, effecting the character’s lives and it’s a bit diffcult to catch everything in a review. I also won’t to give too much away. It’s really a journey you go with the character, the character development is amazing, you see it through the pages. The cultural mixes and the nerdy topic, also the different spectrums in sexuality shown by different character (we have gay, cishet, gray, ace, demi…) gives the book its depth.
I guess for some people this book isn’t fitting, because of the spectrum of sexuality or because they can’t relate to the Japanese topic and all the works etc. named. But everbody who loves this, everbody who is eager to explore new things, for those it’s an amazing book and simply beautiful.
5 out of 5 stars for this. Grab your copy, dive into this.
Author: Heidi Cullinan
Genre: M/M Romance, a-, gray-, demisexual, new adult,
less/no graphic sexual encounter
Release Date: August 8, 2017
Lenght: 341 pages
Cover Art: Natsuko
Cover Design: Kanaxa
A single stroke can change your world.
Xander Fairchild can’t stand people in general and frat boys in particular, so when he’s forced to spend his summer working on his senior project with Skylar Stone, a silver-tongued Delta Sig with a trust fund who wants to make Xander over into a shiny new image, Xander is determined to resist. He came to idyllic, Japanese culture-soaked Benten College to hide and make manga, not to be transformed into a corporate clone in the eleventh hour.
Skylar’s life has been laid out for him since before he was born, but all it takes is one look at Xander’s artwork, and the veneer around him begins to crack. Xander himself does plenty of damage too. There’s something about the antisocial artist’s refusal to yield that forces Skylar to acknowledge how much his own orchestrated future is killing him slowly…as is the truth about his gray-spectrum sexuality, which he hasn’t dared to speak aloud, even to himself.
Through a summer of art and friendship, Xander and Skylar learn more about each other, themselves, and their feelings for one another. But as their senior year begins, they must decide if they will part ways and return to the dull futures they had planned, or if they will take a risk and leap into a brightly colored future—together.
Author Bio – Heidi Cullinan
Heidi Cullinan has always enjoyed a good love story, provided it has a happy ending. Proud to be from the first Midwestern state with full marriage equality, Heidi is a vocal advocate for LGBT rights. She writes positive-outcome romances for LGBT characters struggling against insurmountable odds because she believes there’s no such thing as too much happy ever after. When Heidi isn’t writing, she enjoys cooking, reading, playing with her cats, and watching television with her family. Find out more about Heidi at heidicullinan.com.
Praise for Heidi
Heartwarming and achingly beautiful —USA Today
Emotionally heartwrenching…with self-deprecating humor. — Romantic Times
Cullinan balances … love-conquers-all romance in a context full of real contemporary challenges. — Publisher’s Weekly
I fell in love with the sheer beauty of the writing. — Dear Author
Cullinan reached inside and pulled out ALL the feelings: fear, guilt, sadness, anticipation, happiness, love, lust, bitterness, loneliness, togetherness, and coming of age. — The Book Pushers