Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Sock it to Me, Santa! by Madison Parker

We haven't done many book reviews, but every now and then we come across a book we fall in love with and keep thinking about over and over.

In the interest of complete disclosure, I was one of the beta readers before Madison released this wonderful short story. When she sent me the manuscript I read it through and wondered, Why does she need a beta reader? I don't see anything I can suggest to make this any better.

But I did make one suggestion and she worked with it and made a change in something! Can you believe that? So naturally this is now my NUMBER ONE favorite story of all time and will remain so for all eternity!! LOL!!

Blurb:
Ryan is assigned to Jamie Peterson for his class's secret gift exchange. If word gets out that he has to make a handcrafted gift for flamboyant and openly gay Jamie, Ryan will be the laughing stock of the school. It's a good thing no self-respecting boy would be caught dead in a craft store, because otherwise he'd be at risk of being spotted when his mom drags him to her weekly craft workshops. He hopes Jamie will appreciate all the trouble he's going to for this assignment. Finding the perfect gift is gonna be tricky. Jamie deserves something good, though, after all the crap he has to put up with at school. At least, Ryan tells himself that's the reason he's putting so much thought into the gift. It couldn't be that he has feelings for Jamie, could it?

There is so much to love about this story, which falls in the Young Adult category. But if you think ONLY young people would enjoy this story, you're very mistaken. All you need to appreciate this story is a heart. And even if your heart is somewhat closed, after you read this story you'll find it a little more open than before.

This is a story we're planning to give to Jake (our high school next-door-neighbor) and his boyfriend, Brady. I can't wait to hear what they think of it.

BUT, this is a story we plan to give as a gift to our adult friends also. It recalls some things everybody who has been to high school can relate to. How do I fit in with other people my age? If I befriend this certain kid, is that going to damage my image as one of the "cool kids"?

What's more important to me? Doing the right thing, or maintaining my carefully cultivated image as "one of the in-crowd"? And what the hell do I do when I think I might want to be boyfriends with this emo-type, flamboyant kid? Does that mean I might be gay? 

And why am I attracted to this "certain kid," who only has girls for friends, and, get this, LOVES TO KNIT? What does all this mean?

Well, I won't give anything away, but the resolution of these dilemmas is not exactly smooth sailing. The author does a really good job of getting into the heads of both these boys and their personalities and character. She has either spent a lot of time observing boys this age, or she's really a teenage boy masquerading as an adult! LOL! This story is like those wonderful Christmas bells you hear -- the ones that have a beautiful tone and ring true!

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Madison has graciously offered a giveaway of her story to one lucky commenter. Just leave a comment along with your email addy and we'll be announcing the winner this Friday.

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Even if you've already read the story, it would make a wonderful gift! Here's a direct link to Madison's site: Sock it to Me, Santa!.

If you've already read this story, feel free to let us know what you thought. Just remember, no spoilers, please. Thanks!


Oh, oh, oh... Matty made me mention something about Madison's upcoming debut novel (Play Me, I'm Yours) because one of the characters is reportedly a "speedo-sporting stud"!! Matty is also hoping this book is illustrated! It's scheduled to be released in April 2013, but Matty says that's not fast enough and Madison should bribe the publishers to move it up -- to tomorrow, please! LOL!
Now I need to learn a little more about knitting a sock monkey! I want one so bad!! I've never knitted before, but this story made me want to! ;)

47 comments:

  1. Please count me in! I've heard nothing but good things about this story, and, well, knitting!

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  2. Good Morning guys. Brad, I'm with Matty, I want to read Madison's next book now! It takes a deft hand (or talent) to pack so much feeling & so many messages in a novella. I might have thought that Ryan was unlikable but his internal struggle is so well-written that I wanted to hug him & tell him it'll be alright. Madison drew Ryan so you could only feel sympathy. I adored Jamie, he is a big ray of sun for me. Ryan's mom is pretty cool. It had humor & heart and I wanted to savor it slowly but it was too good.

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    1. Thank you, Mary! I tend to enjoy emotional reads best, so I'm glad to hear that came through in my writing. I also really like my heros to be flawed. I even tend to have a soft spot for the bad guys. In my novel, PMIY, I got about 70% of the way through writing the story and thought, "He's not bad enough. I like him too much!"

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  3. Me me me please! LOL Hmm knitting, always one of those things I have wanted to try but have never sat down and learned. Im always doing something else it seems. I dont know if my ADD would let me sit still for that long. Curious to find out though.

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    1. Hey Karen, Matty was telling me that if he's doing something that requires a lot of concentration, he can stay with it inspite of his ADHD. But he said it has to be something he's really, really interested in. He was explaining that it actually helps him concentrate his mind.

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  4. I got this book last week bc of stuff said here and I tell you, it was totally worth it. I adored Jamie to pieces and will admit I gave a little girl like squeal when I saw he was a fellow knitter. I have a biased love of any character that is into the fiber arts like I am. But that wasn't the only reason I loved him...his heart and his courage were beautiful. And Ryan's struggles were a bit heart wrenching. Ms. Parker packs a punch in this short but extremely well written holiday tale!

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    1. Oh! I forgot to say! Anyone who wants to learn to knit really should try it. I promise it's not hard. Even if you have a short attention span. If I can teach my sister, anyone can learn. And if she can do it, anyone can. With her ADD, she sometimes only works a few rows but its also calming to her and she usually finds it just interesting enough to hold her attention without being so complicated that she gets frustrated. Just sayin'!

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    2. I teach high school, and they really do have knitting clubs! At first, that really surprised me, because I thought knitting was for old ladies, LOL. But no, it's for everyone! Some of my kids would eat lunch in my room and just sit and knit and chat, and it totally made me want to learn!

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    3. When I was in high school forever ago, I used to get a lot of crap for knitting and crocheting. A little more than ten years removed, I'm glad to see that this has changed!

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  5. I LOVED this story!! There are so many things I want to say, but here are just a few.

    I adored Jamie. I loved that he had that soft-spoken, sweet nature but underneath was incredibly brave and knew exactly what he wanted. I liked that he wouldn't settle for Ryan's indecisiveness. And he appreciated the tie. Loved. him.

    And I agree with Mary, Ryan could have easily come off as shallow and unlikable, but he didn't at all. As a reader, you pull for him the entire way.

    I loved all the characterization and detail that was packed into a short story. It made me smile when Ryan noticed that Jamie, for example, always closed his locker with his toes (especially since Ryan totally does not have a foot fetish).

    I wasn't ready to give these characters up. I wanted to meet Jamie's family. I wanted Jamie to meet Ryan's mom and sister. I wanted to know how long Jamie had been noticing Ryan and see their relationship evolve.

    I can't wait to read more by Madison. Beautiful, beautiful story.

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    1. I agree with Ann Marie. I want more. Madison, we need a sequel to keep us going till April! No pressure lol.

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    2. LOL, Ann Marie. Ryan totally does not have a foot fetish. *wink, wink*

      Well, guys, I actually do have a few ideas brewing for a sequel. I'm thinking Ryan goes over to Jamie's house and somehow makes a bad impression on Jamie's dad. And in a desperate attempt to turn things around, he commits to doing something he really shouldn't. Oh, Ryan, you're so awkward. :-p

      What would you like to see in the sequel? I think Ryan and Jamie babysitting Dakota must happen for sure!!

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    3. I'd love to see what is rarely done unless you see glimpses of the couple in the next book of a series. I want to see the reality of every day life for them after the HEA or HFN. I read a review of a book like this & the reviewer said that there wasn't a big conflict etc but my comment was sometimes I just want more - to see how they work together, intertwine their lives together. It's like one long epilogue lol.

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    4. Ooh Madison, I'm up for anything you want to give us. Awkward Ryan and babysitting would be awesome!

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    5. How about Jamie teaching Ryan to knit!

      I'd love to read that scene.... Ryan would be thinking he's too manly to knit until Jamie, for teaching purposes only LOL, had to sit behind Ryan and put his arms round him with one hand on each of Ryan's on the needles... *sigh*

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    6. Ahahahaha!! LOVE IT. Maybe that's when Dad walks in...awkward!

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    7. Yes! Maybe Jamie's Dad is a serving marine or navy SEAL. He can kill with his bare hands!!!

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    8. Or, if you will, his bare feet!!! O.o

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  6. I love looking at pictures of sock monkeys the way Brad loves looking at kitty pictures! I have actually made several monkeys. I'm not so good with a sewing machine, so I crocheted mine. My first monkey, Barnaby, found a good home with a friend. My next three (Jasper, JoJo, and Claude) I just couldn't bear to part with, so they are in my foyer and greet me whenever I come home. Here's a pic: http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8348/8246300733_2a99bc0151_z.jpg.

    The two on the outside were created using this free pattern: http://quesera.ojaru.jp/osaru-pattern.html

    Traditionally, sock monkeys are made from a pair of socks. There are many free tutorials online, but this one is my favorite (and gave me the idea for the "heart" scene): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kM9EhGSshCE&feature=related

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  7. I read this the other day and LOVED it! It was so sweet, perfect book for young adults, and adults too. Great Christmas story ;)

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  8. Hi Bradley,
    Lucky you getting to beta-read this amazing story! I read it this past weekend and immediately contacted Madison to let her know how much I enjoyed it. Simply adored the 2 MC's. And for a short story it contained such a full range of human emotions. I am looking forward to a sequel, please?

    As for Madison's upcoming novel, if there is a speedo-wearing stud in it, we can only hope her inspiration was drawn from Matty!

    Thanks again, Madison, for a brilliant story.

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    1. Hi Susan. Madison sent Matty a pic of a guy in speedos that inspired her character. You can see it on Matty's goodreads profile page. Very hot, I might add! ;)

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  9. When I asked Brad to beta read the story, his response was something along the lines of Sure, I'll give it a shot. What is a beta reader? LOLOLOL. Brad did an excellent job though! His insights were very helpful in making sure the dialogue was authentic. THANK YOU, Brad! xoxo

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    1. Hey Madison! It was fun being a beta!

      Everyone, when I agreed to do this, Madison wrote me back and said, "Hi, Brad! Thanks for agreeing to beta! Especially since you don't know what you're getting yourself into, LOL..."

      But it was a lot of fun. I had to sit down and put an editor's pencil behind my ear, make sure I had a full mug of coffee, and warned Matty he couldn't interrupt me.

      Then I had to go into my serious adult mode, which included furrowing my forehead, narrowing my eyes, leaning close to the computer screen, and concentrating like heck. I also felt like I needed to be smoking a pipe or something! LOL

      Well, that "serious" attitude didn't last but about 3 minutes because I just melted into the story. And the humor! OMG. Just priceless.

      It really was a lot of fun.

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    2. I think it's a huge compliment to be asked to beta read. While it will be for public consumption later, the author is trusting you with something I think is very intimate at that moment.

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    3. LOL, Brad!!! I can see you and Matty doing some role playing where you are the Boss in "serious adult mode" with a frown and horn-rimmed glasses and he is your Personal Assistant. Perhaps he's made a mistake that's lost the company a contract and discipline is required!! ;D

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    4. Hahaha! Brad, you're so adorable. When I try to picture you in "editor mode", I just see Billie Joe Armstrong with a pencil tucked in his ear. ;-)

      And yes, Mary, you're absolutely right.

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  10. I bought this book last Friday when Mary mentioned it here. I love it!! For a short story it has so many details, like Ryan suddenly starting to notice Jamie everywhere! We've all experienced that, I'm sure. I loved Ryan's family too.

    I'm so glad you're planning a sequel, Madison. Also, I love the cover Those are Jaimie's socks!
    So often covers seem generic and not linked to the story so this is perfect!

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  11. Forgot to say, well done, Brad on the beta reading! Also, it's always nice to hear a mention of Jake and Brady. ♡

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    1. Thanks, Alder! I enjoyed doing it.

      Oh, we've been meaning to do an update about Jake and Brady. They're moving along just fine. We have a couple of humorous things we can share, too.

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  12. Hell, the Dr. Seuss font on the cover would have drawn me in by itself...but the whole thing really does sound wonderful!

    Trix, vitajex(at)aol(Dot)com

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    1. I'm glad you picked up on the Dr. Seuss font! I really wanted to quote some Dr. Seuss in the story, but I didn't want to infringe on any copyright. I ended up making a vague reference to the quote:

      "Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don't matter and those who matter don't mind."

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  13. Sounds like a really sweet story. I would love to read it so please enter me in as well.

    whelan051665@hotmail.com

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  14. A lot of my friends on GR have given this book a really good review, so please count me in.

    zebrareindeer [at] gmail [dot] com

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  15. Nice review, B. It sounds really like an excellent read. :)

    - Shell H

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  16. Really really liked this book! I got it last week and it's just a perfect Christmas story.

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  17. This is on my TBRs and it's the December Book of the Month on the Goodreads YA LGBT books group, so I'm going to read it. Plus the excerpt she put up on our group is excellent. But you could save me a few bucks by picking my name for the free copy *blinks winsomely at Brad and Matt*

    You know where to find me should the blinky thing work.

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  18. Sounds like a great story :) with all the snow we've gotten this week, I'm in the mood for some christmas themed reading.

    januarymoon9 (at) yahoo (dot) com

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  19. Love christmas stories and this one sounds great fun, must be the awesome beta-ing!
    Off to check out the speedo wearer now!

    Suze
    Littlesuze at hotmail dot com

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    1. Ooohh, he's yummy. :-) Not a hair on his body from the neck down!

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  20. Aww, if you recommend it, guys, count me in for it. =)

    Adara (at adara ohare .com)

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  21. I love this book! I read it in one sitting and have actually already re-read it a few times. I also had my 15 year old son read it. I think it's a great story with a wonderful lesson!

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  22. Aww, thank you, Christy! I love that you shared the story with your son. :-)

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  23. Sounds like an amazing story. Adding it to my kindle :)

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  24. Sounds like an awesome story, please count me in. You should definitely learn to knit and knit a sock monkey to share with us!

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