Saturday, August 12, 2017

Blog Tour ~ Antisocial by Heidi Cullinan (Reviews + Excerpt + Giveaway)

Blog Tour ~ Antisocial by Heidi Cullinan (Reviews + Excerpt + Giveaway)


Release Date
August 8

Blurb
A single stroke can change your world.
Xander Fairchild can’t stand people in general and frat boys in particular, so when he’s forced to spend his summer working on his senior project with Skylar Stone, a silver-tongued Delta Sig with a trust fund who wants to make Xander over into a shiny new image, Xander is determined to resist. He came to idyllic, Japanese culture-soaked Benten College to hide and make manga, not to be transformed into a corporate clone in the eleventh hour.
Skylar’s life has been laid out for him since before he was born, but all it takes is one look at Xander’s artwork, and the veneer around him begins to crack. Xander himself does plenty of damage too. There’s something about the antisocial artist’s refusal to yield that forces Skylar to acknowledge how much his own orchestrated future is killing him slowly…as is the truth about his gray-spectrum sexuality, which he hasn’t dared to speak aloud, even to himself.
Through a summer of art and friendship, Xander and Skylar learn more about each other, themselves, and their feelings for one another. But as their senior year begins, they must decide if they will part ways and return to the dull futures they had planned, or if they will take a risk and leap into a brightly colored future—together.

Price/ISBNS

Ebook: $5.99
Print: $19.99

Buy Links:  Amazon US ebookAmazon US paperbackAmazon UK ebookAmazon UK paperbackBarnes & NobleiTunesKoboScribd, Smashwords


Cover art by Natsukoworks
Cover design by Kanaxa Designs

Excerpt

Chapter One

The painting, three by four feet and propped on an easel in the center of the room, arrested Skylar Stone, emptying every thought from his head, save one. This piece of art was the most incredible thing he’d ever seen.
He paced a semicircle around the canvas, unconsciously hooking his index finger into his collar to loosen his tie, as if looking at this painting required more room to breathe. It assaulted his senses and made him too dizzy to think. How did it possess so many colors and yet seem kind of purply blue? There was gold in there, somehow, and red, and…God, everything. What was the figure in the foreground? A man? A dog? A boulder? Somehow it was all three. A hulking mass of darkness looking out at…stars. Or perhaps it was someone lying on a blanket. Or it was a gargoyle looking over a city. A city on fire.
Or maybe it was a city being formed?
It looked like a child had painted it. Or a grand master. It took Skylar’s breath away.
“I said, can I help you?”
Blinking, Skylar turned toward the speaker, a mousy, scrawny, hunched male student with a permanent glower stitched on his face. He wore a dark-blue apron stained with paint, several brushes sticking out of the right-side pocket. The plaid shirt the apron protected was frayed at the collar and cuffs, and it fit the man so poorly it looked like he’d dressed in his father’s closet. His jeans were equally worn, and his tennis shoes sported soles flopping open at the toes.
The man glared at Skylar with dark-brown eyes peering from a shag of slightly curly, too-long bangs as he waited for Skylar’s reply.
Skylar cleared his throat and struggled to find his usual confidence, feeling clearer with the artwork out of a direct line of sight. “Sorry. That painting is so gorgeous it knocked me off my game a little.” Digging his smile out of his stupor, he crawled back into what his fraternity brothers called Silver Stone Mode and stuck out his hand. “Skylar Stone. I’m the risk manager for Delta Eta Sigma. I’m looking for Mr. Xander Fairchild. Can you tell me where I might find him?”
The mousy guy didn’t accept the handshake, and if anything, his scowl deepened. “What do you mean, the painting is gorgeous?”
Skylar turned back to it, rubbing the smooth line of his chin with his thumb and forefinger. “I mean that the painting is gorgeous. I feel like I could look at it for hours.”
“The paint is too thick, and the brushstrokes are a mess.”
“That’s kind of what I like, though. The thickness. The roughness. It feels almost 3-D. I don’t know anything about art, so I wouldn’t know a brushstroke if you hit me with it, but I love this painting. Do you know who did it?”
Scowling Guy snorted. “Me.”
“Wow. Really? That’s fantastic. I can see someday I’ll be forking over an arm and a leg for the right to hang your work in my living room.”
The artist hunched his shoulders and glared harder. “What do you want?”
Right, no more compliments. Skylar got down to business. “Like I said, I’m here to see Mr. Fairchild. Do you know where I can find him?”
“You already did. Now tell me what you want, so I can tell you no and get back to work.”
“You mean—you’re Xander Fairchild?”
“Yes. And you’re one of the frat boys who spray-painted penises all over my mural.”
Here, finally, Skylar found his groove. “No. I’m one of the officers of the fraternity where three members are on probation for vandalizing your work. I’m here to apologize on behalf of Delta Eta Sigma and see what we can do to make amends for our brothers’ inappropriate behavior.”
“There’s not much you can do. It can’t be replaced. I’d have to repaint the whole thing, and it’ll never be the same as the first time. It’ll always be a copy, which means it’s going to suck. I told the dean to take it down and forget it. I’ll do another mural somewhere with less chance of roving drunken monkeys. Or I won’t do it at all. I have my portfolio and BFA project to think about.”
That news disillusioned Skylar on multiple levels. He’d assumed he could sentence the freshmen to eons of community service beginning with cleaning, but hearing the mural was ruined meant things were more serious than he’d been led to believe. Also, he’d liked that artwork. It was on the wall of Gama Auditorium, which meant he passed it every time he walked into school, and he walked almost every day. It made sense, he supposed, that he’d liked the mural so well, since it was by the same artist as the painting in front of him. He liked the painting so much better, though. The mural had been stylized, designed to represent Benten College more than being art. It depressed Sky to think it would be removed, not repaired.
He realized he was woolgathering, not focusing on his mission, and he cleared his throat. “I’m sorry to hear the mural is ruined. That will change our punishment of the offenders, though I can’t imagine that’s much recompense for having your work destroyed. At the very least, I’d like to apologize on behalf of Delta Eta Sigma. As someone who enjoyed your mural, I will miss seeing it every day.”
Xander turned away and wrestled the lid off a paint can. “Whatever.”
Normally Skylar would enjoy the challenge of someone so difficult to smooth over, but he wasn’t on his game today. “Are you sure the mural can’t be saved? Because believe me, these two have days of community service ahead of them. If that can’t be done, maybe there’s some particularly grueling work they can do here in the studios?”
“You think I want them in here? Anyway, why are you asking me? I did the mural as a sophomore special project. I don’t have any authority over what happens to it. That said, if you try to stick me in a room full of frat boys grousing about their punishment—”
Skylar held up a hand. “Hey—first of all, I’m asking you because you’re the artist. Yes, we’re in discussion with the head of the art department, and the Interfraternity Council, as well as campus security, but your thoughts on this situation are also important. Second of all, no one will be sticking you with anything. These two are facing all manner of charges and suspensions, and at this point they’re doing nothing but groveling. We take this seriously. That’s why I’m here, asking how Delta Eta Sigma can make it up to you.”
Xander had the lid off the paint can and waved it angrily at Skylar. “Nothing. Thanks for the effort. Talk to the building secretary about donating money for paint or something, but don’t let your goons clean any of my brushes. Meanwhile, I need to get back to work.” After dunking a fat, wide brush in the can, he wiped it on the rim and aimed it at the canvas.
Skylar frowned at him. “What are you doing?” When he realized the brush was about to slide across the top of that night sky, he didn’t think, only knocked it out of Xander’s hand, sending it clattering to the floor.
Christ!” Xander faced down Skylar with his fists clenched. “What the hell is your problem?”
Skylar felt queasy and slightly shaky. “You were going to paint over it.”
“Yes. It’s a piece of shit, and I need the canvas.”
Piece of shit? “It’s stunning. If you don’t like it, sell it and buy a new canvas.”
Xander’s nostrils flared. “Like I said, you can leave now.”
Skylar should have. He’d done what he’d come to do—he hadn’t succeeded, but if he wanted to achieve his goal, he’d need to leave, regroup, and try again another day. But he couldn’t leave and let the painting be ruined, so instead of walking out the door, he reached for his wallet. “How much do you want for it?”
This only enraged Xander further. “I said, get out.”
Skylar thumbed through his bills. “I only have forty-five on me, but I’ll go to the nearest ATM and get the rest of whatever price you name. I want to buy the painting, Mr. Fairchild.”
“I’m not letting you take this back to your stupid frat house so you and your brothers can use it for a dartboard.”
Skylar lowered his wallet and swallowed the impulse to give in to temper. “I have no such intent. I would never use a piece of art so callously. I gather you don’t have a high opinion of Greek life, which I’m sorry to hear.” Gears turned, and Silver Stone Mode ground back to life. “You don’t seem to have much regard for your own skill, either, if you’re so unwilling to sell your work. As far as I’m concerned, you belong in a gallery.”
Xander blinked at Skylar. For a moment he looked vulnerable, almost eager, his veneer cracking at last. Just as quickly, however, his owlish demeanor was back. He set his jaw as he picked the brush up from the floor. “This is my painting. I can destroy it if I want to. I can paint over it, use it as a coffee table, chuck it against the wall. It’s not going to hang in a gallery. The closest thing to that I’ll be seeing anytime soon is my senior art show, and there’s no way in hell I’m letting that get laughed down.”
“What’s to laugh at? I love the painting. The idea of a room full of your work sounds perfect.”
“Oh yeah? Tell me why you like my work, then.”
Skylar turned to the painting. The power of it hit him every time he looked at it, and he felt self-conscious attempting to articulate why when Xander was so derisive. He considered giving up and leaving. He’d delivered the apology and started trying to engender goodwill. The rest of his work would be done with research and carefully orchestrated gestures. But he really did hate the idea of this painting being covered up.
“I don’t know. It gets me, right in the gut. It’s so many things at once. It makes me feel aching and lonely but not desolate. This guy who has lost everything and retreated from the world, maybe even hates it, still has hope he can find his niche.” He sighed and gestured with his hand. “I don’t know anything about brushstrokes or forms or whatever. All I know is I’d hand over a lot of money to take this home with me. I wouldn’t use it as a dartboard. I’d hang it in my room, and I’d stare at it while I lie in bed.” He rolled his eyes at himself. “Now you’ll tell me how off my interpretation was. But it’s why I love it.”
Xander looked pale, almost trembling, like someone had slapped him in the face. He stared at Skylar with that same vulnerable, aching expression. Then he turned away. “Take it.”
Skylar frowned. “Take what?”
Xander made shooing motions at him. “The painting. Take it. Take it and go.”
The painting? Skylar pulled out his money again. “Here, let me pay—”
Just take it.” Xander put down the paintbrush, hauled the painting off the easel, and thrust it at Skylar. “It’s yours. Go away.”
Skylar struggled to accept the painting without dropping his wallet. “I really would pay for it. I want to pay for it.” He needed to.
“We don’t always get what we want. You have the painting, and you’ve apologized for the frat. I accept. There, see? Everyone’s happy. Go have a kegger or something.”
Xander didn’t look happy. He looked upset. Skylar was too. It bothered him to pay nothing for the painting. He didn’t like that Xander was so dismissive of Delta Sig, as if they were some reboot of Animal House. Though he supposed with the mural incident they looked like it, dammit. Skylar wanted to tell Xander about the two friends who had founded Delta Eta Sigma while caring for the sick, about Delta Sig’s connection to the Boys & Girls Clubs of America and how much service they did a year. He wanted to talk about how his housemates truly were his brothers, how the social network the Greek life provided was as fundamental if not more so than his own family upbringing.
He would have, but Xander took off his apron and disappeared out of the studio and down a hallway. The door closed behind him with a quiet snick.
Skylar stared at the place where he’d disappeared, letting the quiet ring in his ears. Pulling his business card out of his wallet, he spied a backpack at the foot of the easel and slipped the card into an open flap. Then he tucked his wallet into his pocket, the painting carefully under his arm, and wove his way out of the building and down the hill toward Delta Sig.






4 Stars

There were aspects of this book that I absolutely loved and some that well, frankly, bored me to tears. I absolutely loved Xander and Skylar, but I'm not a fan of Manga or Anime and this book is filled with quite a bit of detailed conversations/talks on/about the subject and I just don't understand it and it really doesn't interest me.

I did love the relationship and romance portion of the story. Xander and Skylar fit one another well and although they do have things in common they come from completely different backgrounds, yet those differences complimented one another. I loved the patience and understanding they showed to each other. They were accepting of the others limitations and I absolutely loved watching them explore and even work past some of those barriers.

This story is well-written, but it was a really long book and as I said, a lot of it dealt with Manga. While that's not for me, I know plenty love it and will find this portion of the story fascinating. The author is obviously very well educated on the subject and it comes across in her writing.

This story also had some great secondary characters as well that were an amazing support system for both Skylar and Xander. Skylar and Xander had amazing chemistry and the intimacy between them was sweet and loving. I'd definitely recommend this story!

*copy provided to me by the author/publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review*




4 Stars!!!

This is my first ace book and while I've read a bit about it, I had no clue what to expect. I think Heidi Cullinan did a fantastic job with that and showing us the kind of intimacy that would work for both Skylar and Xander.

I adored Skylar and Xander. My heart broke I don't know how many times for Skylar, the sweet, poor little rich boy that was looking for love, for acknowledgment, for something that showed that he mattered. And then again for Xander, when his mother didn't put his needs nowhere near the same level she did with his stepfather and siblings. Skylar was steadfast and awesome and I just couldn't get enough of how perfect he was with Xander. Xander was grumpy and possessive. Xander was like Skylar' perfect counterpart, they just complemented each other. Where Skylar was outgoing, Xander was introverted, where Xander was more fierce, Skylar was charming. And really, both were a force to be reckoned with when they were trying to help each other and their little group of friends and family. I especially loved whenever Xander rushed to Skylar's defense, LOL, he was all fire and brimstone, no signs of shyness there.

I loved the secondary characters, Pamela, Unc, Sara, Cody and Zelda, especially. I wasn't too sure of Zelda at first, but they grew on me. I hated Skylar's parents, especially Leighton, who was despicable! And even if Xander's mom had a nice turnaround there in the end, I wasn't too fond of her for most of the book, or of her husband, who was horrible, too.

All in all, Antisocial was a great read, although perhaps there were a few instances in which I was a tad bored with all the Manga details, but overall, it's a sweet, angsty ace romance that left me with a smile on my face and let's be honest here, you just can't go wrong with a Heidi Cullinan book. Very recommendable!

*** Copy provided to the reviewer via NetGalley for my reading pleasure, a review wasn't a requirement. ***






Thanks so much for having me today!

My new novel Antisocial is a new adult gay and asexual romance set in a fictional college in upstate New York between a one-percenter fraternity boy and a highly antisocial artist. One encounter with Xander Fairchild’s artwork is enough to turn Skylar Stone’s carefully orchestrated life upside down, unlacing his secrets and inviting him into a secret anime-soaked world with a new set of friends. It also has a number of Japanese culture elements, and at one point Xander teaches Skylar a little bit of Japanese. Earlier in the tour I gave part one of a mini Japanese lesson, introducing you to the idea of the language as a syllabary not an alphabet, (though because it’s easier for westerners to understand, we’ll continue to call them alphabets in this lesson) and I showed you my meager skills at writing hiragana, one of the three alphabets of the Japanese language. Today I’m going to teach you a little about katakana, another one of the “alphabets.”
Whereas hiragana is the main alphabet, katakana is a “newer” alphabet (though still older than the United States) used mainly for spelling foreign words and names. It has all the same sounds—forty-six—as hiragana, and it also has diacritics, but the shapes of the letters are different. As I did with hiragana, I’ll write them out for you. Just remember once again that I’m an incredibly green Japanese learner and you should not be using me as any kind of an example.

If you go back to the post at Birdie Bookworm and look at my writing there, you’ll see the similarities and yet see the differences as well.
Hiragana is the base language, but as we’ll learn in a third part of this lesson later in the tour, words which can be spelled in hiragana often get turned into kanji, the third “alphabet,” or they’re a combination of hiragana and kanji. I felt this was a very unfair aspect of learning Japanese, that just when I’d begun to memorize the letters they all began turning into kanji, of which there are thousands. Katakana words, however, will never become kanji. They’re always spelled out.
And for any westerner hoping their name would look great in kanji? Sorry. Your western name will only be written in katakana, and it will likely be missing many of your familiar sounds. Here, for example, is my name in katakana.

ハイデイ・クリアン

The first part of my name comes out okay: Ha i de i. It would be pronounced a little differently, but it would be close enough to sound like my name. Cullinan, however, is a huge problem. There are no L’s in Japanese, anywhere. The best I can do is try with an R: Ku Ri Ah N. I could also spell my name without that last “I” sound and use a dash to indicate it should be a long vowel—my Japanese teacher okayed this spelling, but I think when it comes to names it’s more flexible.
When you see Japanese written, you see a mixture of all three alphabets: hiragana, katakana, and kanji. I keep teasing you by talking about kanji—they’re definitely a lesson in their own, but to sum them up, they’re borrowed characters from Chinese which comprise a whole word and usually have two sounds they can make, sometimes more. They’re complicated to learn and involve some memorization and some unpacking of base kanji to make more complicated kanji.
Oh, and Japanese writing doesn’t have any spaces in it between words. And it’s often written up and down.
Here’s some nice simple katakana for you, though. Some Japanese for you to take to go!

パジャマ  pajama
シャワー  shower
ラザニア   lasagna
ドーナツ   donuts
ューリ       Yuuri (As in, Yuri!!! on Ice)

Now, regarding that last example, you might ask, Heidi, why is Yuri Katsuki’s name spelled in katakana in the title? And why did you add the extra U there? Well, Yuri Katsuki does have a kanji for his name, and they use it on his badge in the first episode (yes, I’m that much of a nerd). As for why they use katakana in the title, I don’t know. I don’t know why that and not hiragana. Why I added the U is because in translating the name as written there with katakana, the dash means there are two U sounds, so technically it should be written with two Us—see Tumblr for lengthy arguments about this. (God save you if you bring up Victor/Viktor.) The prevalent theory as for why the show creators chose to use only one U in the spelling was in hopes it would help them reach a more international audience, to have a more westernized spelling of Yuri’s name. As you can see, it seemed to work, or something did at least.
I hope you’ve enjoyed your Japanese lesson, and I hope you enjoy Antisocial too.



A single stroke can change your world.
Xander Fairchild can’t stand people in general and frat boys in particular, so when he’s forced to spend his summer working on his senior project with Skylar Stone, a silver-tongued Delta Sig with a trust fund who wants to make Xander over into a shiny new image, Xander is determined to resist. He came to idyllic, Japanese culture-soaked Benten College to hide and make manga, not to be transformed into a corporate clone in the eleventh hour.
Skylar’s life has been laid out for him since before he was born, but all it takes is one look at Xander’s artwork, and the veneer around him begins to crack. Xander himself does plenty of damage too. There’s something about the antisocial artist’s refusal to yield that forces Skylar to acknowledge how much his own orchestrated future is killing him slowly…as is the truth about his gray-spectrum sexuality, which he hasn’t dared to speak aloud, even to himself.
Through a summer of art and friendship, Xander and Skylar learn more about each other, themselves, and their feelings for one another. But as their senior year begins, they must decide if they will part ways and return to the dull futures they had planned, or if they will take a risk and leap into a brightly colored future—together.


Heidi's Bio

Heidi Cullinan has always enjoyed a good love story, provided it has a happy ending. Proud to be from the first Midwestern state with full marriage equality, Heidi is a vocal advocate for LGBT rights. She writes positive-outcome romances for LGBT characters struggling against insurmountable odds because she believes there’s no such thing as too much happy ever after. When Heidi isn't writing, she enjoys playing with new recipes, reading romance and manga, playing with her cats, and watching too much anime. Find out more about Heidi at heidicullinan.com.

Praise for Heidi Cullinan

Heartwarming and achingly beautiful —USA Today
Emotionally heartwrenching…with self-deprecating humor. — Romantic Times
Cullinan balances ... love-conquers-all romance in a context full of real contemporary challenges. — Publisher's Weekly
I fell in love with the sheer beauty of the writing. — Dear Author
Cullinan reached inside and pulled out ALL the feelings: fear, guilt, sadness, anticipation, happiness, love, lust, bitterness, loneliness, togetherness, and coming of age. — The Book Pushers


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5 comments:

  1. I would create a picture of all my cats. (jozywails@gmail.com)

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  2. Abstract art that only I would understand. People could decide for themselves what they see in it.

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  3. A picture of my cat. colby69@verizon.net

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  4. I would create a picture of this great day.

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  5. Floral watercolors - I've been wanting to take an online class (actually - will be in a few months time) Cannot wait to try my hand at it. Also cannot wait to read this one, on my TBR list. Congrats Heidi on your release! clworkman4 at gmail dot com

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