This Book Is Brilliant. This Book Is Flawed. Calling Pomegranate. #amreading #review

This book is brilliant. The end. This book is flawed. The end. This book is real. The end. There are so many ways I could start this review and so many ways to end it. Over the months that I took to read it, I’ve written tons and tons of reviews in my head. This book was infuriating, frustrating, amazing, brilliant and beautiful. It took me a very long time to read, in part, because I had to take immense breaks from the hyper-realism portrayed between its pages. Every line is so vivid that I could see it all in my mind perfectly and it was at times overwhelming.

This book took me from hating the characters, to liking them, to growing to love them, to aching for them, but, more importantly, it then took me one step farther into forgetting that they weren’t real people. I admit this wasn’t the easiest read in the world, but the writing was so compelling that I kept on with it. The reason I say that is because it took about 25% of the book for me to stop disliking the protagonist, Sean. This was complicated by the fact that it’s Sean’s head we’re in and not liking him is a tough thing. But the thing is, Sean didn’t like himself, and that is an uncomfortable mind to be inside. It took, probably, another 25% to let go of that dislike and to move into a place where I was willing to like him. That was kind of amazing to me and a testament to this author’s skill. She moved me from one place to another with this character and did so in some pretty unexpected ways. There were some things I wasn’t sure I’d ever get past, and by the end I absolutely had.

Sean did so many fucked-up, human, annoying, wrong-headed things that hurt people, but most especially himself. At first, I couldn’t understand why he did such awful things, but as the book unravels, as you see him in more and more situations the understanding arrives. Though it doesn’t erase the desire to reach into the book and shake him.

The prose is amazing. The scenes are rendered so clearly that it’s like walking through a film, or being a ghost in the scene, living it with them. Or perhaps it is most like being actually inside Sean’s head, existing as Sean, or like you’re his best friend, more intimate even than his best friend, hearing his every thought, seeing everything in his unique way. That is, of course, what truly wonderful first person POV writing allows, and Ms. D’Souza manages it amazingly.

This next bit will cover the book’s biggest flaw: too many sex scenes. It stuns me to even write those words because I adore sex scenes. And for about the first 70% of the book there wasn’t a single sex scene that, when I looked at it honestly, I felt I’d drop. Even though there were an overwhelming number of them, sometimes one after another. Each one did a specific thing that was important for the reader and for the character. They moved the story along and there was an overarching theme to the sex scenes. However, when the theme is finally completely understood by both the reader and the character, I felt like some of the scenes became redundant. (Though they were always beautifully rendered, always intensely intimate.) Several could have been cut. There were several points when I actually thought, “Oh, man, not sex AGAIN.” And that’s a very bizarre thing for me to think because I’m a huge fan of the sex scene in books and like lots of them. I can honestly say I’m not sure I’ve read another book in my life with as many sex scenes as Calling Pomegranate contains. And, again, most of them were needed and important and accomplished something specific for the characters/plot/emotional arc.

The book is long and it was a time investment for me. It took me months to read it because of the above mentioned sex scenes–as a mom with a nosy kid, as a person who is usually reading in a place like my kid’s gymnastic’s lobby, there aren’t that many places I’m totally comfortable reading sex scenes, and my reading time is often limited, so I’d have to leave this book aside for long swaths of time.

Back to the good things: there are several reveal scenes in the book that are breathtaking in their humanity and emotional impact on the readers and characters. This book took me on a journey into these characters lives in a really intense, emotional way. And, just as one of the themes in the book suggests, growing to know these characters changed things for me. I went from thinking Sean was an asshole and that Cary was frustrating, from thinking that their sex was brutal and fucked-up, to finding the dark, sweet heart of their humanity, to understanding them and loving them like they were real people, to having understanding of their motivations like I do for my closest friends. And, well, that’s a damn triumph.

I’m severely disappointed that this book has such a limited audience. It’s a sad testament to the fact that some brilliant books will never get the audience they deserve. This isn’t an easy book to read, but it’s a book worth reading. There aren’t many people who can write like this. It’s a shame that so many people will miss out on reading Ms. D’Souza’s prose.

At the same time I understand why it might be less accessible to some people. It’s full of references and fannish love of music, movies, books. It’s got characters who are obsessed with these things in a way that goes deeper than the average joe and they use this fannish love to communicate with each other. There’s a nerdiness here that some readers might loathe and others might see as shallow–because you have to know what it is to love some media deeply to really understand how using that media to communicate can work and buy it as a valid form of communication of emotion and meaning between characters.

Regardless, it’s brilliant and I’m a little angry that I’ve had this intense reading experience and I doubt that many others will end up sharing it with me. If you do read it, let me know. I’d love to discuss it with you.


Buy it!




The Next Big Thing Blog Hop – Leta Blake, Dancing Shoes


Amelia C. Gormley, the author of the wonderful Impulse Trilogy, tagged me to participate in The Next Big Thing Blog Hop, which was incredibly kind of her! Thanks, Amelia!

What is the working title of your book?

The original working title was Spanish Dancing Shoes, but over time it’s been shortened to just Dancing Shoes.

Where did the idea come from for the book?

Keira and I have been working on our fairy tales series for the last year. After completing Earthly Desires, and while Keira was hammering out the details of Ascending Hearts, our upcoming tale based on Jack & the Beanstalk, I started reading the story City of Blind Delights by Catherynne M. Valente. Something about it sparked a whole fairy tale world in my head–nothing like the world of her story, but a world all the same. That all came together while reading The Twelve Dancing Princesses to my daughter at bedtime, and inspired by both, the flow of the book came easily at first.

What genre does your book fall under?

Fairy tale romance/erotica.

Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie?

I don’t have any particular actors in mind, but I did create this Pinterest inspiration board to help guide my focus while writing the story.

This is Matteo.

And this is Ópalo. Well, except that his hair is actually pink feathers.

What is a one sentence synopsis of your book?

In an effort to discover where his sisters disappear to at night, Matteo follows them to a new world and finds a new life he never expected.

Will your book be self published, published by a small press, or represented by an agency?

Assuming that all goes according to plan, the book will be published by Ellora’s Cave as part of Keira’s and my Tempting Tales series.

How long did it or how long do you anticipate that it will take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?

Too dang long! Haha! But there were several reasons for that. First, I stopped in the middle of the book to work on a long-running work in progress and that got us off track for a little while. Then we thought we’d really like to have a Christmas tale out this year, so we made a stab at that for a month or so, but in the end it was just not viable and we basically scrapped it. Third, the book was fighting us because it wanted to be longer than the novella length first two books in the series. Once we gave in to how long the book wanted to me, the characters really opened up and started sharing more with us. So, all in all, a first draft took about six months.

What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?

You know, I’m not sure I’ve read another book quite like this one. We are trying to keep each book in our series unique. I suppose that in terms of the kind of fairy tale world, the romance, and the sexual nature of the book, the closest really would be the other two in our series, Earthly Desires (inspired by The Light Princess) and Ascending Hearts.

Who or What inspired you to write this book?


I believe I covered that above to a large degree, but I wanted to give a quick nod to Jim Henson’s The Storyteller series for giving me the kick in the behind I needed to start writing and working on this series with Keira. I’ve had several ideas for fairy tale reworkings for years, but last winter I indulged in a rewatch of The Storyteller as a kind of Christmas-comfort-winter-warmth and it lit me up inside with all kinds of ideas. I’m sure Jim Henson never intended someone to get inspired by his show and write a lot of gay romance and erotica, but that’s what happened. We owe it all to Jim Henson. Haha!

What else about your book might interest the reader?

I think it is imaginative and surprising. If you’ve read other reworkings of The Twelve Dancing Princesses, I can guarantee you that this one is different in substance and style. It’s a sweet, spring book, and I’m hoping we can have it out in April or May, because it just seems like the kind of thing people should read when flowers are blooming.

This is where I was supposed to link to four more blogs. But I’m only posting a link to one (wonderful! awesome!) blog. Apparently, otherwise, the buck stops here, because everyone I asked except Nisha-Anne–and I asked a ton of people–have already done this and so, just like in P.E. class when I was a kid, I was the last chosen for the game. *sniff sniff* Haha! No worries. I suppose that it had to eventually peter out. I’m just disappointed that I couldn’t round up even more participants. Oh well! Thanks, Amelia, for this opportunity! It’s better to have been chosen last than never to be chosen at all?

Check out Nisha-Anne D’Souza on January 2nd! She’s the author of the book Calling Pomegranate and a brilliant woman. I’m sure that her work in progress is going to be worth waiting for!