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When his mother goes out to party one Saturday night and doesn't come back seven year old Ishmael Hood is taken in by his estranged uncle Henry and Henry's live in boyfriend Sam As this unlikely trio begins to build a new life together they encounter both support and hostility in the small Mississippi town where they live Seems like just about everybody has an opinion on the matter—and they're not shy about expressing it While this blossoming little family finds its feet outside forces—and ghosts from the past—threaten to tear it apart Henry still trying to deal with the tragic death of his parents finds himself hard pressed to open his heart to this needy child Just as a little shine begins to come back into their lives Ishmael's mother returns and their world is thrown into chaos


10 thoughts on “Get Your Shine On

  1. says:

    What you’re guaranteed to get when you read Nick Wilgus books a huge slice of southern life heart tugs that cause all the tears and pretty much the most lovable kids in books today“Get Your Shine On” could actually just be an extension of Wilgus’ other series Sugar Tree It is surprisingly similarand that might have annoyed me in other cases but I wasn’t entirely bothered by that Because I liked so much about the Sugar Tree books I love the southern charm the southern hardship the southern struggle I love the kids in these booksboth born with defects of some kindbut so very adorable and huggable And I’m outraged by the “that’s not fair” circumstances facing these men in their livesAnother commonality between Wilgus’ worksthey’re not uite romances Yes there men in love But the true love story is between “father” or father figure and sonNow about Get Your Shine Onthere are some difficult themes hereThere’s an exisiting relationship that has had some trouble in the past which led to a fear to completely trust from one MC to the otherThere’s family lossand tragedyand some really dark secrets revealedThere’s bigotry and hateThere’s depression and a myriad of rough emotionsBut above all else there’s lovelove between Henry and Sam the couple Love between Henry and Sam and the young boy Ishmael Love for an old dog Love for a church Love for a town And the love isn’t easybut I think that’s what makes it worth itAgain like the author’s other books the side characters start out funny or interesting or infuriating But they take a turn towards over the top and I generally skimmed parts that didn’t focus on our main couple and their ‘son’ The parts with Larry Sam’s brother especially got old and annoyingDespite this I cried I laughed I hurt and I healed Recommended reading if you’re in the mood to be emotional but can overlook some irritating side stories


  2. says:

    Nick Wilgus doesn't write romance I knew that going in so I didn't expect this book to be all romantic If you're not familiar with Nick's books read the first sentence again and then read all of his books anywayWhat Nick writes are Southern stories pulled from real life The characters he creates are real They exist somewhere in similar fashion in some small town in Mississippi You've met them You've heard them You've seen them in churches in schools in all the places So romance this is not Oh sure it features two men in love in an established relationship living together facing all the homophobic crap the good Southern bible thumpers are wont to dish out because you know the bible says so without ever really thinking about how cruel they are to othersYou know if you use the bible to hurt someone you're doing religion wrongAnyway in this book which is somewhat similar to Nick's Sugar Tree series we have Henry Hood who a few years after losing his parents in a tragic indicent is suddenly faced with having to take care of his 7 yo nephew Ishmael Ishy for short after the boy's mother disappears Henry's BF Sam who runs the local grocery store owned by his family is all for taking care of Ishy and after a few mishaps they establish a routineOf course this happening in a small Southern town the good folks in town are not impressed Henry's sister is labeled white trash Henry is kicked off the music group from church he's labeled a pedophile because obviously that's what gay men are and there's some blackmail from the good sheriff who wants to figure out what really happened when Henry's parents diedHenry's sister the drug addict is also a homophobe who doesn't want Henry and Sam to take care of the boy Not that she has much choice seeing how she's in jail And will be there for some time As always Nick Wilgus includes some difficult themes in his book but despite those difficulties there is one shining light LoveLove for a child love between two men love for your parents your church your town Love for you from others love that supports Love that isn't always easy love that faces hardships and bigotry love that wins in the endYes there's heartbreak too Nick Wilgus ripped my heart into pieces and then he patched it back together His stories are so amazingly real with such realistic characterizations and while I ranted against the unfairness of all the things in this book I also rejoiced at the good people at the core of it We must WE MUST seek the goodness in people We must seek to understand their motives and their reasons if we want to forge relationships build on acceptance and trust We must remember that at the end of the day we are all only human imperfect in our words and deeds Nick Wilgus allows his characters to do that There were tears of course Dark secrets come to light and open a chasm of pain There is unfairness and bigotry and you just want to scream in anger at it all But there is love so much love too And love always winsThis is not a romance But it is a book you should read Highly recommended I received a free copy of this book from its publisher A positive review was not promised in return


  3. says:

    45 starsGet Your Shine On isn’t a part of the Shaking The Sugar Tree series it’s different but somehow the storyline is similar two guys caring for a little boy Not that I minded Loved how Henry and Sam take little Ishy Henry’s nephew under their wings to give him warmth and security and love so much love “You’ve got no shine” I said“What’s that Uncle Hen?”“Shine? You know When you’re happy you shine Your face shines But you—you’ve got no shine It’s like someone came along and took it away You’ve got to get your shine on kiddo” I love Nick’a writing style every time I read one of his books it feels like coming home I like the southern charm in Nick’s stories they always radiate the love he feels for his home and the people living there even though it seems there’s always a bunch of religious fanatics hanging around Do those people grow on trees over there in Mississippi? Yes there is hatred bigotry ignorance and prejudice but Henry and Sam don’t take the easy option and move away but rather try to live their life and care for Ishy and ‘get their shine on’The story has a great cast of secondary characters Sister Ascension Larry Sam’s brother I’ll never see a jar of peanut butter the way I did before and the dirty old man Mr Cotton and his songs “Things are changing” I said“I only wish I could be around to see it That was the thing about disco Hen You could see it—you could see the love Everybody pumping and grinding and dancing and getting down There was no black no white no gay no straight We was going to change the world” All in all Get Your Shine On was a really great book it was emotional it was painful yes but there’s always hope shining through and love so much love Highly recommended


  4. says:

    This was not an easy book to read at all Not at all There's racism and homophobia and child abuse galore but there's also a lot of heart and a really great family amusing situations and a lot of great writing Yes there are many similarities to Nick Wilgus's previous books in this genre but as I read on into the book I stopped thinking about and comparing it with his previous work and started to take it for what it was completely amazing with characters that take on a life of their own I'm going to have to put this book in the top five that I've read this year so far if not the top 3 I'm also going to have to thank the author for taking the time to write about such difficult subjects and situations while still making us think and laugh and feel I certainly felt a lot I was either angrily cursing people out in my head laughing smiling or crying uncontrollably especially during the last 20% of the bookReading this book was hard but it was also a pleasure Thank you Nick Wilgus


  5. says:

    Henry never expected he’d be able to raise a kid Sure he and Sam talked about it but in the way you talk about ‘someday’ things His town isn’t exactly at the forefront of the euality movement and to be frank Henry is still a bit of a mess from his mother and father’s death So no child rearing in Henry’s future that’s for sureThen his druggy sister Sarah takes herself off for a weekend of partying and decides to leave her seven year old son alone at home And come Tuesday she is still not back and Henry gets a call from Sarah’s neighbor demanding he come deal with the child So now Henry and Sam have to look after Ishy deal with a community that is rapidly showing its not so hidden colors and hope that they can handle the fallout from some old terrible secrets coming to light For something that was never really supposed to happen Henry sure does have a lot of work ahead of himI was going for an elouent review full of fancy words and phrases that only get pulled out once in a blue moonand well an hour and god only knows how many attempts later I give up There is no elouence to be found in me on a Sunday morning So you are just going to have to suffer thru my usual nonsensical bouts of suee and gleeBecause hot damn was this a good book Like it totally blew me away I haven’t read anything by Nick Wilgus before and at this point I’m thinking of going out and buying everything he has written if you know I wasn’t completely and absolutely brokeThe characters here were so well written Even the ones I loved to hate were well done Or maybe I loved them so much because they were written in such a way that it felt real These are not caricatures but characters who came pretty damn close to resembling a fair few of my former acuaintances They have some big damn issues homophobia bigotry willful ignorance of the world outside their own little town but they are not evil They like everyone have good sides and bad sides It is just too bad that their bad sides are the ones getting all the sunThe part of me that ran fast away from organized religion wants to paint these characters as ‘your typical Christians’ Heaven knows I have my issues with large portions of the community But in this book we are also reminded that there is the other side of the coin Sister Ascension is a perfect example of this Her Coke bottle glasses and stern face made her seem somewhat forbidding like a giant grasshopper But she is anything but your stereotypical nun –all stern and closed off She is in fact rather kick ass And I loved that she continually showed love and genuine warmth towards everyone Even the Evil Church Lady Miss Stella who I wanted to spork on several dozen occasions during this bookAnd the religious aspect was hardly even a fraction of why I loved this book If you really want to get down to it I loved this book for the reality of life on both sides of the goodbad field Characters are motivated by past eventsprejudices but they grow change react like anyone else would in life Actions have conseuences even if unfair ones and the life in this little town is a revolving ball of political social and personal strugglesThe truths we learn are sometimes hard to handle The choices forced upon Henry are sometimes cruel The first scene at the courthouse brought me to tearsThere is so much wrapped up in this story It is not simply the story of a man who is thrust into taking care of a child Or about a man who must come ‘out’ into the open about his relationship with his boyfriend even though it is pretty much an open secret to everyone in town At times it feels like the universe sat down and decided that Henry’s life was not uite interesting enough so it threw the book the bookshelf and half the library at Henry to liven it upIt was just a really great book I don’t know how else to say it It was real and painful and beautiful It was also amusing –though gods only know how worse I would have been at parenting shudders This book was provided free in exchange for a fair and honest review for Love Bytes Go there to check out other reviews author interviews and all those awesome giveaways Click below


  6. says:

    This was a very difficult book to read and rate The push and pull of things going for the better or worse was exhausting and draining I lost count how many times I wanted to stop reading saw red or sobbed I know a very dark side of humanity existed; I just didn't know it would be that awful The author sure did inject a lot of societal issues which need to be addressed in reality even at present Religion bigotry racism marriage and euality homosexuality just to name a few I thought all of these were just overwhelming to be introduced as hurdles which Henry's family need to fight And Henry's not even the overzealous fighting kind It pained me to see him go through all those obstacles feeling helpless But I get it This was a call to action Nick Wilgus sure did make his point loud and clear in this bookIn spite of the angst and drama it is still a beautiful book Ishy melted my heart The many secondary characters introduced were very crucial to the development of the story no matter what the role they played But I thought Sam's character was somehow lacking despite his constant presence in Henry's life I would have appreciated Henry and Sam moments even when their love story wasn't the focus of the bookStill this was undeniably a solid read So I'd give this 4 stars


  7. says:

    In Vinegar Bend Henry Hen Hood and Sam Rakestraw are the only out gay men They have been together since they were 12 years old and a couple since 10th grade Most of the town either doesn't know doesn't care or if they do they make their feelings known None of this bothers Hen and Sam till Hen's sister Sarah abandons her son Hen's nephew Ishmail Ishy Suddenly a family is born How the two men deal with the sudden addition and the notoriety that comes with Ishy is the crux of the story This is by far one of the best books I have read this year In fact it is one of the best books I have ever read Mr Wilgus is an amazing writer If you are interested in how things are felt or how things are done in the south his stories are a primer As I was reading I felt my gut clinch because I knew exactly what he was writing about At the same time you can feel the fortitude of southerners The story is filled with humor and love The characters are complex and cover the entire spectrum of humanity The relationship between Hen and Sam makes me wish we could all be that lucky Warning keep the tissues close Thank you Mr Wilgus for writing this and for sharing your talent with us


  8. says:

    5 Betterer shining starsDear oh dearYou have got no shame Mr Wilgus No shameUsing children in your books like it's no body's businessThank goodness you can write so god damn splendidly that you can do whatever you fancy and it will be gold Pure goldThis is my third book of Nick Wilgus and the third one to get 5 stars how crazy wonderful is that?If you read Shaking the Sugar Tree and loved it you will sure to love this one if you did not I'm not sureThis book has A LOT in common with the Shaking series it's in Mississippi a honest to god the most sweet boy with some special needs two great men in love eccentric side characters crazy family members homophobicnarrow minded ppl and a little bit of political POV thrown into the mixI loved it all I think Wilgus is pardon my French fucking brilliant


  9. says:

    Head this warning well I cried so hard my son came downstairs to see what the matter was lolLike with Shaking the Sugar Tree it took me a few chapters to really get into this one But once I did it was hard to stop Hen is strange guy to make into a hero yet that's exactly what he becomes along with Sam who at times made me wonder about his priorities This couple show us the true meaning of FamilyIshy will keep you smiling when he is not breaking your heart into smithereens This is much than a romance story although for me Sam is pretty romantic in his own way There is so much story going on here and all of it felt far to real In fact part of the appeal for me is that the people portrayed in this story are real They are not cookie cutter perfect and they don't have money in the bank or even well paying jobs but they struggle and shop at the cheapest places just like real people do With all the strides we are making in euality I tend to forget that there are people that still struggle to be allowed to live their lives due to the places they live in and the small minded people they live amongst While this story shows us some of the bigoted people others have to live with it also shows us that even in small old fashioned towns there is still love and acceptance to be found Sister Ascension is a wonderful character and one of my favorites in this storyDespite the rather dark themes this is a story full of hope and love it also shows that even the worse people can surprise you A very fullfiling read I hope we can rejoin this family soon to see how they are getting on But why is there a short haired blonde kid on the cover when Ishy has long dark hair?


  10. says:

    YAY Loved it REVIEW COMING SOON Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words I can't post my full review yet so I'm going with just a few words Nick Wilgus is one of my fave authors everything he writes is gold to me even if the first book I read Shaking the Sugar Tree was hard to me to understand due to his choice of language Now I'm used to it and I can't have enough of his stories they all are emotionally beautiful and so real Get Your Shine On was no exception simply perfect Highly recommendedFull reviewNick Wilgus is one of my favorite authors I have a soft spot for his Sugar Tree series so every time I know he’s releasing a new book I start to hyperventilate Even if his books are not the usual mm books I read most of all even if his writing is hard to read for me I’ve learned to simply love them and wish for and of his charactersGet Your Shine On was another winner to me I didn’t read the blurb because I didn’t care what it was about I just cared that it was out I wasn’t expecting this kind of story so much sometimes too much emotional for me and I wasn’t ready for it Especially halfway through it when we get some heavy angst I so hoped until the end that it wasn’t like I suspected to be and when my suspicions became reality they were hard to take; the central part was melting I had to stop a couple of timesThe style and the language are the ones we used to find in the Sugar Tree series so if you liked that books you absolutely can’t miss this new one I enjoy Nick Wilgus’ writing so much especially because he talks about children the not so lucky ones the same ones that break my heart in almost every scene I read He writes so beautifully about imperfect characters in fact there is no one perfect character in all of his books For example at the start of Get Your Shine On I despised Henry the MC so much I didn’t like how he approached his nephew Ishy he didn’t get the boy at all and often he was too hard to the little one to my liking But Wilgus is great at creating well developed characters some of them will grow in the book and become better people for other character there will be no hope sadly Each one of them is well portrayed from the details to their backgroundWhat I appreciate the most cause it’s real but at the same time I can understand it could be not easy to accept is a specific uality of this author so present in this book too His books are full of crap the MCs usually have to take it from everyone There are a lot of homophobic people too many times the word pedophile is said and it is just one of the nasty things that flew in the books It’s a trait of his writing that can leave the reader puzzled the first time but later will be understood as the true way to show us a world that truly exists Moreover the icing on the cake is that all of this is surrounded by a ton of laughter There are so many funny scenes that balanced the angsty and heavy and sad partsAs you can see I haven’t talked about blurb plot or characters it will be your pleasure to discover them I’m sure I just want to mention my favorite character apart from the little Ishy that filled my heart every time he smiled because she deserves it She is Sister Ascension She was the best so fierce in her wanting to help Hen and his new family Religion and I have a tough relationship and I can’t tell you how much I appreciated the author for giving me a nun as the most positive person in this bookI want to recommend Get Your Shine On cause it was emotional funny too many times really over the top I can’t have enough of Wilgus’ worksCover art by AngstyG It’s not my favorite by this artist Not a bad cover at all but not so eye catching I like it but nothing But at the end you could have give me a blank cover for this book I wouldn’t have cared