Hello, everyone! I’m Lex Chase and a big thank you to Divine for letting me drop by as a part of the Some Assembly Required blog tour!
What is Some Assembly Required, you ask? In a fit of insanity, Bru Baker and I decided it was an awesome idea to write a meet-cute about two dead guys meeting in purgatory which happens to be a big box affordable home furnishings store known as CASA. You never knew what you were missing in your life until this book came along.
Our two dead guys in question are Patrick and Benji, Bru had talked about Benji in depth over at Gay List Book Reviews yesterday. While Bru may see it differently, in my head Benji is made of kittens and marshmallows he’s so soft and fluffy. He’s wholesome as hot apple pie. Now†Patrick on the other hand. He’s a different story.
Readers know me as the author that writes the Snarky Asshole with a Heart of Gold. Or not so much a heart of gold, but a capacity to be…less bad. I’m drawn to these guys for a number of reasons and they come in a wide array of varieties. From the Charming Scoundrel to the Embittered Bad Guy Who Lost His Way.
Patrick’s in the middle of that mess. Take the scoundrel and tack on the lost his way attribute. We never get a lot of Patrick’s backstory in Some Assembly Required. Oh, don’t worry, Bru and I know it by heart. We also changed it six million times in the course of writing the book.
We know Patrick has†roughly been haunting CASA for 10 to 15 years. Of course, time moves differently for him. We get glimpses from when he was once living, he was full of hopes, dreams, and ideals. He’s fiercely intelligent and highly educated. He has a rampant addiction to New York Times crossword puzzles. And fills them in†with a pen. But the Patrick†we see doesn’t give his full potential. He doesn’t even give a fraction of it.
He has a Ph.D. in Particle Physics and mentions in passing he was on the fast track to CERN†aka European Council for Nuclear Research. As a devout Man of Science, he was determined to find the Higgs boson “God Particle” as if it would prove without a doubt God existed. Of course, he was decapitated by a DEL TORO bookcase before he could.
For over a decade, Patrick has been trapped in CASA, hopeless, aimless, and lost. He got slapped with a hard dose of his new reality everything believed in†was wrong. He maintains his afterlife is better than seeing what lies beyond CASA’s front doors.
But then Benji shows up in the CASA cafe one fine day….And Patrick’s about to get served a new dose of reality that the heart is like CASA furniture.
It comes in pieces and there’s some assembly required.
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Everyone wishes they were dead when wandering the purgatory of a home furnishings store, but these guys actually are.
Benji Goss is the quintessential good guy. When his boyfriend dumps him and moves out, Benji obligingly keeps the catóeven though heís allergicóbecause his exís new place doesnít accept pets. Heís always joked the cat would be the death of him, but not in a way he expects when a feline mishap crushes him under a DEL TORO bookcase.
Snarky loner Patrick Bryant is in such a rut he barely remembers the life he used to lead. The last thing he recalls is being decapitated by a DEL TORO bookcase in a freak accident. As a spiritual CASA resident, he haunts the aisles of affordable Italian furniture, assisting fellow spirits in moving on to their final destinations.
When Benji appears in the CASA cafÈ, Patrick considers the naÔve spirit just the man to cure his boredom. Benjiís relentless optimism chips away at Patrickís sarcasm, making him question if thereís something beyond what he can see. But the heart is like CASA furnitureóthereís always some assembly required.
Review by Elaine White
Star rating – ★★★★★
Movie Potential – ★★★★★ (something similar to Warm Bodies)
Ease of reading – very easy to read and follow
Would I read it again – Definitely!
** I WAS GIVEN THIS BOOK, BY THE PUBLISHER, IN RETURN FOR AN HONEST REVIEW **
Confession: I don’t have many notes for this book. Normally, I mark highlights on my Kindle as I’m reading, to note down my thoughts, complaints or praises. I generally have about a page of highlights for every 50 or so pages of the story. Not with this one. In fact, I barely have one page and that is for one, very important, reason. This book was as close to reading perfection that you’ll ever find.
If you’ve read my reviews before, you’ll know that I write about plot and characters separately. I won’t be doing that here. There’s no need. Both were clever, sweet, charming and perfect in ways that mere words can’t describe.
I smiled through 80% of this book, spend another 10% worrying at my lip in concern for the characters and the last 10% trying so hard not to cry. I failed.
Right off the bat, I connected with Benji. Everything about him was familiar, relatable and wonderful. He had a great personality, a wonderful sense of human and his interactions with his mom, the cat, and the dog were all top class entertainment.
I started off a little frustrated with the constant CAPS mentions of the furniture, but it soon made perfect sense and stopped making such an impact. I was too engrossed in the story, the plot and the characters to care about the furniture. The story is just so original, intriguing and different to anything else I’ve ever read. I’ve read quite a few “ghost” stories in the M/M genre, but this one takes the top prize for originality and creativity. The storytelling was excellent, the writing style flowed and was easy to follow, without coming across childish and the whole world created within these pages became familiar, somehow.
Patrick was such an interesting character. Feisty and sarcastic, he often offered a break from the situation they faced every day. His chemistry with Benji was clear from the start and something that dragged me in, hook line and sinker.
Benji’s temper tantrum was so sad that I almost cried. I could relate to the hopelessness and the feeling that fear and selfless intentions had robbed him of a full life. It was gut-wrenching to read my own – deeply hidden and possibly never recognized – feelings portrayed in such clarity. But so inspiring. Benji is so different to the other characters, who are all unique in their own way, and the story of how he finds his feet in CASA is so important. CASA, with its extensive range of homicidal furniture, is his real journey, not just his relationship with Patrick though it’s just as intriguing.
But, Good God! That Charles and Kerry moment nearly killed me. Then the ending. Ugh! Tears from here to Sunday with both instances.
Overall: Utter genius and truly beautiful! I loved every minute. Instead of wishing there was more (though I’d love the same world with new characters, keeping Agnes, Henry, and Karen) I know that Patrick and Benji got the ending they deserved. This is a story about self-worth, hope, faith in the unknown and yourself, as well as taking chances. You won’t know the milk is sour until you try it. 😉
P.S The cover is beautiful and I really loved the chapter headings, which added a little sparkle of something extra, to the reading.
“The rays filtered through Benji’s dark hair, and Patrick would have made a joke about it, but Benji looked like an angel come to Earth.
Stay. Patrick wished inside his head.
About the Authors:
Lex Chase once heard Stephen King say in a commercial, ìWeíre all going to die, Iím just trying to make it a little more interesting.î Now sheís on a mission to make the world a hell of a lot more interesting.
Weaving tales of sweeping cinematic adventureódepending on how she feels that dayóLex sprinkles in high-speed chases, shower scenes, and more explosions than a Hollywood blockbuster. Her pride is in telling stories of men who kiss as much as they kick ass. If youíre going to march into the depths of hell, it better be beside the one you love.
Lex is a pop culture diva, her DVR is constantly backlogged, and she unapologetically loved the ending of Lost. She wouldnít last five minutes without technology in the event of the apocalypse and has nightmares about refusing to leave her cats behind.
Bru Baker got her first taste of life as a writer at the tender age of four when she started publishing a weekly newspaper for her family. What they called nosiness she called a nose for news, and no one was surprised when she ended up with degrees in journalism and political science and started a career in journalism.
Bru spent fifteen years writing for newspapers before making the jump to fiction. She now works in reference and readers’ advisory in a Midwestern library, though she still finds it hard to believe someone’s willing to pay her to talk about books all day. Most evenings you can find her curled up with a mug of tea, some fuzzy socks, and a book or her laptop. Whether itís creating her own characters or getting caught up in someone elseís, thereís no denying that Bru is happiest when sheís engrossed in a story. She and her husband have two children, which means a lot of her books get written from the sidelines of various sports practices.