Monday, October 3, 2016

Blog Tour Review: Pictures of You by Leta Blake

Pictures of You
‘90s Coming of Age, #1
by Leta Blake
Release Date:  9/19/2016
Genre:  Gay New Adult, Coming of Age, with Romantic themes

Growing up gay isn’t easy. Growing up gay in Knoxville, Tennessee is even harder. 

Eighteen-year-old Peter Mandel, a private school senior—class of 1990—is passionate about photography. Peter doesn’t have many friends preferring to shoot pictures from behind the scenes to keep his homosexuality secret.

Enter Adam Algedi, a charming, worldly new guy who doesn't do labels, but does want to do Peter. Hardly able to believe gorgeous Adam would want geeky, skinny him of all people, Peter's swept away on a journey of first love and sexual discovery. But as their mutual web of lies spins tighter and tighter, can Peter find the confidence he needs to make the right choices?

Join Peter, in the first of a four-part coming of age series, on his search to love and be loved, and, most of all, how to grow into a gay man worthy of his own respect.

I miss my childhood while reading this book. I grew up in the 90s without internet and cellphone, and it was AWESOME! At least I thought so. How did we survive it? Sometimes I wish I can go back in time so that I can raise my babies without such evil modern technology. But then... I wouldn't have my kindle and my ebook and Goodreads! 

This is the first book of the series and despite me feeling more frustration than happiness, I can see so much potential for the author to explore. For our main protagonist, Peter, life isn't easy especially in high school and being gay. I wish I have a time machine for Peter so that he can come to our time and be out and proud joining the Rainbow Parade. 

We also have Adam, who is Peter's best friend. I'm not sure am I suppose to be sorry for Adam or hate him for the way he treat Peter. Adam is seriously confused bisexual and he makes me seeing red most of the time. He had Peter and he had a girlfriend. WTF? Is his character suppose to be redeem later? I'm not sure. I kinda wish for Peter to have a clean slate once he graduated from high school. Probably finding another guy who appreciate and love him unconditionally. 

I thought I swore off YA because I can't deal with teenage angst and this book choked full of such drama. If not because for my love of M/M, I don't think I can survive the entire read. I hope the remaining of the books and the story that unfold will be worth it.

“Should I apologize for earlier?” Adam asked, turning down the stereo.
“It isn’t your fault she showed up.”
Adam grinned at me. “I meant, should I apologize for the kiss, but I guess the answer is ‘no.’”
I twitched nervously in my seat and took a deep breath “I’m gay.”
“No shit.”
I stared. “What?”
“I mean, yeah. You’re gay. I figured that out.”
“So—” I stopped. “Wait. How?”
“I can always tell. I don’t know how.”
“But I thought you said you weren’t gay.”
“I never said that.” Adam frowned. “Honestly, I don’t know what I am.”
My heart trip-hammered for a ton of reasons, but the scariest of them was hope. “What’s the deal then? Uh, with us?”
“Us? We’re friends. Like I said, friends kiss.”
My hope settled into a knot of anxiety.
“Then why hasn’t a friend kissed me before?”
“I don’t know. I mean, who wouldn’t want to kiss you?”
To me, it was definitely more of a question of who would want to kiss me, and, more specifically, just exactly why he had. Especially when I knew how everyone else would view me once we got to school. Maybe living all over the world hadn’t taught him the social skill of self-preservation required to make his way in a small city like Knoxville.
I decided to tell him. He really did deserve to know, and besides, if it was going to be an issue, I wanted to be hurt now, not later.
“I’m a huge loser, you know.”
Adam glanced over at me like I was insane. “What?”
“I’m not popular. In school. In life. In anything.” I turned my head and looked out the window, worrying my lower lip. “I just thought you should know. I mean, you don’t want to start out at a new school being friends with someone who’s just going to drag you down.”
Adam actually laughed. “You’re crazy. Did you know that?”
My throat tightened. It hurt he wasn’t taking me seriously. “I’m telling you why I’ll understand when you decide we can’t be friends anymore.”
“Look, you haven’t even started at this school and you’ve already decided that as a friend you’re not worth being first string? What’s up with that?”
I shrugged. “I’m just being realistic. I mean—look at me.”
In my peripheral vision I saw Adam do just that. He looked at me long enough that I worried about the car staying on the road. “Yeah. I’m looking. I still like what I see.” He lifted his hand to the back of my neck and squeezed. “I’m serious.”
A strange rush of emotion flooded my stomach and chest, and I wanted to tuck my face between my knees. Instead I just crossed my arms and frowned.
Adam brushed his fingers through my hair, catching in my frenzy of curls. It felt intimate and almost more real than the kiss. I shivered when he let go to grip the steering wheel again.
“But enough of that,” he said sternly. “Get my book bag out of the backseat. I’ve got a surprise for you.”
Happy to be leaving the uncomfortable topic of my gay dorkitude behind, I reached around and grabbed the blue, nylon book bag.
“Open the front pocket.”
I unzipped it, fished around, and pulled out a driver’s license. It was Mo’s, and I had to stifle a laugh at the typical bad license photo that made him look like a serial killer.
“I’ve got a fake ID that Sean got for me, but I liberated that one for you.”
I tapped the picture. “You think this will get me into the club? I look nothing like your brother!”
“Don’t be such a defeatist! You just hold your thumb over the picture when you show them your ID.”
“Adam, that isn’t going to work.”
“We can always try,” he said, lifting his shoulders dismissively.
“They’ll confiscate the ID. How’s Mo going to feel about having to get a new license made?”
That got through to him. “Oh. So, huh. I guess that won’t work after all.”
I snorted. “Uh, no.”
Adam just smiled. “We’ll figure something out.”
“We could see what’s going on at the under-21 shows on The Strip.”
“No. I want to go to Tilt-a-Whirl. I read it’s the best gay bar in town and has, and I quote, ‘the best drag queens in the area.’”
“If the area is East Tennessee, then yeah, it probably does. And why do you want to go to a gay bar so much? I mean, this is a small city. Word gets around.”
Adam narrowed his eyes. “This last-minute resistance is futile, padawan.”
“Trek and Wars in the same breath. That is very wrong. Very, deeply, truly wrong.”
“It is,” Adam readily agreed.
“You’re a total dork.”
“Shh. It’s a secret. Don’t tell the jocks when school starts. I wouldn’t want my nerdiness to drag us down and all.”
I started to laugh, but stopped, struck by an uncomfortable thought. I picked at my blue jeans a little, toying with a loose thread, before asking quietly, “So the kiss is a secret?”
Adam looked over in obvious surprise. “Of course. I mean, like you said, this is a small city.”
“And it’s the South. And the Bible Belt. And generally homophobic, yeah.”
I bit down on my lip. I didn’t know what I was expecting. It wasn’t like he was wrong. We couldn’t be boyfriends—not here, not now. Not out in the open or anything. It was just that I wanted so much more already. And he’d kissed me.
Adam’s hand clasped the back of my neck again. “Hey, listen. You’re my friend. And you happen to kind of turn me on with your glasses, and your camera, and the way you walk.” He gripped his fingers in my hair again and gave my head a little shake. “That’s enough, isn’t it?”
“Yeah. So—the drag show. How do we get in?” I hoped my voice sounded light because if in Adam’s world friends kissed, I didn’t want to do anything to ruin our friendship before I found out what else he thought friends might do.

Author of the bestselling book Smoky Mountain Dreams and the fan favorite Training Season, Leta Blake's educational and professional background is in psychology and finance, respectively.

However, her passion has always been for writing. She enjoys crafting romance stories and exploring the psyches of made up people. At home in the Southern U.S., Leta works hard at achieving balance between her day job, her writing, and her family.

You can find out more about her by following her online:

Guest Post 

Pictures of You introduces Peter Mandel, class of 1991. He’s young, he’s gay, and he’s living in the world before the internet. Do you remember that world? Despite having grown up in it, sometimes I don’t. Let’s refresh our memories!

A Brief Time Capsule of 1991

It cannot be stressed enough, there was no internet!

I know, right? 


Back in 1991, if we wanted to go to a movie, we had to do one of two things: consult our printed newspaper listings or call the theater to listen to a recording ramble off all the movies and their respective times. Since most theaters had a maximum of six auditoriums, this wasn’t as daunting as it would be today with the advent of multiplexes. 

In 1991, if we wanted to listen to music, we had to submit ourselves to the DJs whims and turn on the radio. Or we had mixtapes, CDs, and cassette tapes of our favorites. But since getting that one song you loved from the radio required plunking down dollars for the whole album, your choices were less vast than they are today. Mixtapes ruled the teenage world as a way to sample new bands/material, and to express yourself to your pals. 

People dressed like this. ON PURPOSE. Cuffed acid washed jeans were the coolest, man, and tucking your button-up shirt in over a turtleneck was absolutely rad. 

(Everything I Do) I Do It For You by Bryan Adams was #1 on the Billboard Charts on the day when we meet Peter Mandel. It was from the (horrific) Kevin Costner movie Robin Hood. (BTW at 2:12 there is a very gay moment between Christian Slater and Kevin Costner. Like whoa.)

In addition to the lack of internet, people didn’t carry cell phones. If you weren’t near a landline or you didn’t have quarters for a call, you were screwed. Looking back, I miss this time. It felt like there was more space to breathe back when leaving the house meant leaving behind any way to reach me until I returned. 

Finally, I’d like to say that 1991 was still weathering the AIDS crisis. AZT, the first drug to have any real effect on HIV progressing to AIDS, had not been invented until 1989, and it wasn’t nearly as effective as later drug therapies would turn out to be. Understanding of concepts like polyamory were rudimentary amongst the general public, if not completely unheard of. Being out and gay in high school or even in college was even more threatening than it is today. 

All of these things contribute to the atmosphere Peter lives in during this series and the choices that he will make. Come visit the 1990s with Peter! Follow him on his journey to become a gay man worthy of his own respect!

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