Sunday, December 16, 2018

Make A Circle by Elliot Joyce – Warmest Wishes

Pagan punk musician Lucas is fully prepared to spend this Yule with the rest of the band and his beautiful bass guitar when Oliver, his boyfriend of almost a year, asks if he wants to join the rest of the Han family for their annual winter celebration. It comes as a shock since Ollie has gone to great lengths to keep the two apart, and Lucas always assumed he was the reason. Since they’re planning to be together long-term, Lucas can't say no to meeting Ollie’s parents, but he better brush up on his manners and his Mandarin because this is going to be a holiday season like no other—and it has some surprises in store for both of them.

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Advent Calendar Day 16

Buy Links

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Dreamspinner Press

Reviews by the Wicked Reads Review Team

One of the things I have really enjoyed about this year’s selection of stories in Dreamspinner Press’ Advent Calendar is the exposure to the holiday traditions of cultures I don’t typically get to read or think to seek out to read. Make a Circle is one such story. I enjoyed getting to learn about the tangyuan competition among the women in Oliver’s family, as well as watching Lucas struggle with making tangyuan alongside the youngest of the children. I found that scene not only endearing, but quite telling about Lucas as his frustration was with the dough itself and not with the fact that his skill level was equivalent to that of the children – something to be expected as it was his first time making it, but sadly a situation that has caused more than one adult male to lose his cool. Even if I hadn’t already liked Lucas, that simple scene would have sealed the deal for me and made me understand exactly why Oliver loved him.

Oliver, on the other hand, was a bit more difficult to get to know. Granted, having the story told from Lucas’ point of view made it easier to connect with him than with Oliver. However, at times, Oliver was so distant and aloof that were it not so obvious he was uncomfortable around his family, it would have made me question if he actually liked Lucas, much less loved him. But Oliver’s obvious affection for Lucas was easy to see when the two were alone and his explanation as to why he was so tense around his family helped explain his distance. My feelings toward Oliver softened over the course of the story as I saw him display the typical embarrassment at his parents’ doting attention, saw his discomfort when older family members misgendered him, and then saw him try to calm himself when those same family members apologized for doing so because of their bad memories due to old age. But ultimately it was Oliver’s emotional breakdown after his argument with his future brother-in-law that chipped away the last bits of my reservations. It was then that I realized Oliver was trying so hard not to let past family slights and prejudices bother him that he didn’t realize that he was shutting out his biggest ally and supporter, Lucas. I was so relieved when Oliver realized how his aloofness was affecting Lucas and that the two were able to talk it out, learn what was going on in the other’s head, and move forward as a united front, taking strength in one another’s presence as a couple should. Despite its short length, Joyce manages to pack a lot of emotion into the story and I loved how the ending pointed toward a long life together full of communication, compromise, and love.

ELLIOT JOYCE is a social-media obsessed, selfie-taking millennial and he’s proud of it. He can usually be found in his room playing D&D or in a theater lurking on the catwalks. Sometimes he even writes.

Other notable facts include the fact that he’s bisexual, he cannot juggle, and he regularly trips over thin air. Catch him on tumblr or really any social media, he spends enough time on it.

Connect with Elliot

Twitter  ~  Tumblr  ~  Blog  ~  Goodreads

Reviewers on the Wicked Reads Review Team were provided a free copy of Warmest Wishes: Make A Circle by Elliot Joyce to read and review.

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