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Strings Attached (Tales from Ballena Beach Book 1) [Kindle Edition]

Nick Nolan
3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (134 customer reviews)

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Book Description

WINNER: ForeWord Magazine 2006 Book of the Year for Gay/Lesbian Fiction, 1st Place
From BOOKS TO WATCH OUT FOR by RICHARD LABONTE, Volume 4 number 1--Adolescence is a hazardous way of life for 17-year-old Jeremy Tyler; his father died in a mysterious accident when he was a child, and his mother has since descended into alcoholic hell and forced rehab; that's when he's sent from the Fresno slums of his childhood to the posh estate of his overbearing great aunt Katherine and her censorious husband7mdash;liberated from an economic prison, only to land in an emotional one--and is overwhelmed by the change. It's not easy for him to fit into the upper crust, particularly because he's trying to hide how much he's attracted to other boys. Jeremy's story of breaking free from the strands of dishonesty, deceit, and self-doubt has its parallels to the tale of Pinocchio, but Nolan's take is totally contemporary: think the TV series The OC--girls with mean cheekbones, well-built guys with snotty attitudes, and Jeremy in the role of heartthrob Ryan Atwood. He's a good-looking kid, with a sleek swimmer's physique--and the swim team's champ is out to get him. He dates one of the smart-set girls in an attempt to keep his hormones at bay--but that doesn't do him much good. Nolan's debut novel is a kitchen sink of genres--coming of age, coming out, mystery, romance, erotica, even a dash of the supernatural--that add up to an impressive story about the passage from boyhood to manhood.

Books In This Series (3 Books)
Complete Series

  • Editorial Reviews Review

    Book Description: Closeted teenager Jeremy is sent to live with wealthy relatives after his mother enters rehab. Struggling to fit into the posh world of Ballena Beach, Jeremy joins the high school swim team, dates a popular girl, and begins to think he may have landed in paradise—until his great aunt Katharine starts to dictate his every move … and a late-night phone call insinuates that his father’s accidental death was not so accidental after all.

    As Jeremy grows accustomed to the veneer of a fabulous life, so grows his need for answers—as well as the danger of immeasurable harm. Weaving together a murder mystery, sexual ambiguity, and characters with hidden identities and agendas , Nick Nolan offers readers a deliciously witty page-turner about the “puppet” who wishes only to be a real boy. Strings Attached is also a surprisingly heartfelt story about coming-of-age and coming out—not necessarily in that order.

    A Q&A with Author Nick Nolan

    Question: Tell us more about 17-year-old Jeremy Tyler, and how you created your lead character?

    Nick Nolan: I set out to create someone with a dazzling character arc; someone that people--gay or straight--could relate to and root for. And I've always loved the sort of conflict that arises with a "fish out of water" storyline--watching how someone adapts to a cataclysmic life change is fascinating. And one's teen years are inherently cataclysmic, so poor Jeremy is nearly overwhelmed. He goes from being poor and fatherless and hopeless to rich and fabulous and sought-after--but still miserable because he isn't being himself. I believe that he's a protagonist that most people will sympathize with.

    Question: Strings Attached touches on themes of betrayal, greed, wealth, lust, beauty, love, and temptation. That is a lot for a young man to deal with. Would you explain how you weave these into the plot?

    Nick Nolan: Lust is desire mixed with obsession, and many of the characters in this story can't separate the two--sometimes to their great detriment. Each of these elements is related: those in possession of beauty and wealth can tempt those without to lust and temptation and greed, but seldom to love. These are all tied-up inside the human experience of "wanting." In the book, Jeremy's father tells him--in a dream--that one needs to be selfish with respect to what one needs, but to pursue judiciously that which one wants--it's a paradox that few ever take the time to understand.

    Question: Your book is a loose reinvention of the classic Pinocchio story. Would you tell us a little more about your connection with the Pinocchio tale, and your decision to work it into your story? Who is struggling with 'strings attached'?

    Nick Nolan: Pinocchio is a great tale, which is why everyone remembers it; I think it reflects the pan-human desire to become a better version of ourselves--the wish to become our ideal. So I studied the original story, written by Carlo Collodi many years before that famous cartoon movie. His book seems like a fairy tale, but scholars will tell you that it is steeped in social commentary--and so is my book. Jeremy really is a puppet of the adults around him--with the exception of Arthur, who plays the Blue Fairy; Arthur anticipates his every need, and at the end of the book when we find-out his true identity we learn how important his contact with Jeremy truly is. I have a villain who echoes the original antagonist in Collodi's book, and I've made more plausible that wishing on a star business--I draw a parallel between that and the old Greek and Roman belief that the constellations were the gods, to whom they prayed for protection and guidance. And finally, there is a very believable twist on the original puppet's nose-growing; something similar happens when Jeremy lies...but that's a bit graphic for this interview.

    Suffice to say that the Pinocchio parallels are there, but the similarities are subtle--and the story stands on its own without revealing them. And as for who is struggling with "strings attached"... at first one thinks that these bind Jeremy only, and then it becomes clear later on that everyone, except Arthur, in the story struggles against them, because every major theme in the story--beauty, wealth, love, betrayal, lust, greed and temptation--has consequences, or "strings," attached to it.

    Question: Nick, who is your target audience? Who would enjoy reading your book?

    Nick Nolan: Initially my target audience was youngish gay men, but I've been pleasantly surprised that the appeal of Strings Attached crosses boundaries of age and gender and sexual preference... probably because it's a coming-of-age story; this particular genre endures because those years are burned into every adult's psyche. And who doesn't relate to struggle, and misfortune, and learning to stand up for yourself? Enjoying a good read has little to do with how old you are or whom you sleep with--everyone loves a page-turner when the hero stands victorious at the end.

    (This author Q&A is adapted from an author interview conducted by Juanita Watson, Assistant Editor of Reader Views, and is republished with permission.)


    WINNER: ForeWord Magazine 2006 Book of the Year for Gay/Lesbian Fiction, 1st Place

    Product Details

    • File Size: 477 KB
    • Print Length: 338 pages
    • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 0982555016
    • Publisher: AmazonEncore (February 23, 2010)
    • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
    • Language: English
    • ASIN: B0030AOBQQ
    • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
    • X-Ray:
    • Word Wise: Not Enabled
    • Lending: Not Enabled
    • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #19,077 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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    Customer Reviews

    Most Helpful Customer Reviews
    68 of 74 people found the following review helpful
    5.0 out of 5 stars Great coming-of-age/coming-out story with a clever mystery September 17, 2006
    Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
    Seventeen year old Jeremy Tyler is being given the "second chance" of a lifetime, moving from the Fresno home of his alcoholic, irresponsible single mom, to the Los Angeles area beachfront mansion of his rich Aunt Katherine. Aunt Katherine and her husband Bill also acted as surrogate parents to his father Jonathan, who died in an unfortunate accident on a winding mountain road when Jeremy was an infant. Jeremy wants to be a man of whom his aunt can be proud, just like his father, whom he resembles and shares many interests. He works on developing a good relationship with his interacial girlfriend, Reed, hoping that they will prove that an attraction he had to better looking, gregarious guys was just envy rather than an indication of sexual orientation. While his aunt and uncle are very kind to him, Jeremy becomes closest to Katherine's butler, Alfred, a somewhat mysterious gay man who is a former marine officer and seems to have an uncanny knack for anticipating everyone's needs. One day, Jeremy receives a call from his mother in rehab, warning him that he is in danger from Katherine's husband, Bill, and that it is likely he was responsible for his father's death. Jeremy doesn't know what to think, suspecting his mother is intentionally poisoning his mind against his aunt and uncle in order to retain her hold on him ... and to get her hands on the sizeable trust inheritance he'll see when he turns 18.

    A detailed, engaging and highly original first novel, including the ultimate dysfunctional family in a tale of coming out, coming of age, working toward a goal and responsibility. The author pushes a similarity to the original story of "Pinocchio," an unnecessary gimmick that fortunately doesn't add confusion to the already-complex nature of the story. Realistic, flawed characters, a fast pace and a developing mystery make this a real page-turner as well. Looking forward to more works by this talented author.
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    24 of 28 people found the following review helpful
    4.0 out of 5 stars A Page Turner February 27, 2007
    Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
    Jeremy Tyler is seventeen, poor and living in Fresno with his alcoholic mother. When she goes into rehab, he is shipped off to his wealthy great aunt Katherine's, who is intent on making sure that he knows the difference between Ivy-league and a bowling league. What we have here is a coming-of-age/coming out/mystery novel all rolled into one that never slows down. The plot does not drag, and there are enough surprises for the most jaded reader. The students at Ballena Beach High, where Katherine enrolls Jeremy, are perfect in every way: perfect bodies, perfect teeth, handsome faces. Teenage acne is as foreign as riding on public transportation. But perhaps that is as it should be since the author in his notes at the end of the novel says that the story is based on the fable of Pinocchio, the wooden puppet (hence the title) who becomes a real boy. Mr. Nolan, a former social worker, is presenting to the reader young Jeremy whom he describes as a "codependent" teen who wishes to become a real man. Had I not read the author's notes, I would have missed both the illusions to Pinocchio and the fact that I was to believe that the sweet Jeremy is "codependent," an amporphous term at best. If you were not aware of Mr. Nolan's reasons for writing this good first novel, it would not in any way affect your enjoyment of it.

    In addition to a good plot, the novel also has some characters who either are decent to begin with or who grow and become better: Arthur is an example of the former; Jeremy's mom and aunt, the latter. Like Alex Sanchez' series of RAINBOW novels, STRINGS ATTACHED deserves to be read by young people struggling with coming out and dealing with their sexuality.
    Was this review helpful to you?
    22 of 27 people found the following review helpful
    5.0 out of 5 stars Can't wait for another installment November 24, 2006
    Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
    Who is this guy? Yeah. Nick Nolan seemingly comes out of nowhere to serve up the can't-put-it-down read I've been craving. I often wonder when gay fiction will just be fiction (sans "gay") and this book takes us one step closer. Nolan has crafted a page turner that pulled me in with just enough intrigue and seduction that I didn't really want it to end. The book is a fun read, perfect for a long flight or lounging around over a weekend. The storyline, without giving it away, reminded me a bit of the noir essence from the works from Felice Picano, while also delivering the steamiest flesh from watching the OC (with the volume off). Nolan's attention to detail is refreshing--he knows what he writes. I noted that Nolan gives thanks to the late Paul Monette am certain had Monette lived to read this book he would smile upon finishing the last page, knowing that the depth and emotion he shared in his own works has indeed influenced others. Check it out.
    Was this review helpful to you?
    29 of 38 people found the following review helpful
    3.0 out of 5 stars pretty good April 15, 2007
    Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
    i give it 3-1/2 stars. the writing is simple and accessible. the story is pretty simple even tho it grows out of some pretty heavy issues: alcholism, drug trafficking, gay teenage identity. NONE of these "heavies" weigh the story down, however: this is NOT a depressing or sad book at all. indeed, i thoroughly enjoyed it and a few scenes made my palms sweat a little!

    my complaints:

    (a) it's a teen story "made" adult by the addition of sexual situations. puhleeze. the idea that these scenes make the book "adult themed" is ludicrous and homophobic. i'm not adverse to reading a gay teen "coming of age" book at all, but call a teen book a teen book and don't insult your reader's intelligence.

    (b) the end is a total writing cop out. ALL THOSE DAMN PAGES developing the story and the end is paltry, third-person, 5 page explanation. weak! REALLY weak!

    (c) my personal pet peeve: males are "blond". females are "blonde". DRAG QUEENS are allowably "blonde". ALL OF YOU SO-CALLED "EDITORS" OUT THERE MAKE A FREAKIN' NOTE OF THE LANGUAGE ALREADY! BUY A DICTIONARY!

    to end positively, i really did enjoy the book, and i think it's solid enough to justify the purchase.
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    Most Recent Customer Reviews
    5.0 out of 5 stars Strings Definitely Attached
    This book was written well, and it's an incredible story. Great character development and great literary references.
    Published 1 month ago by Joseph Herrera
    5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
    Brilliant - Couldn't put it down!
    Published 2 months ago by Clare MacCarley
    4.0 out of 5 stars A bit predictable, but a fast moving and engaging ...
    A bit predictable, but a fast moving and engaging plot that will make you not want to put the book down!
    Published 2 months ago by Stephanie
    5.0 out of 5 stars Exciting and dramatic m/m adventure
    I downloaded this book because of I wanted a KU audiobook and this sounded interesting. It took me a few chapters to get used to the narrators deep voice but once I did, I was... Read more
    Published 3 months ago by Cali Reader
    3.0 out of 5 stars Predictable
    Cliche and predictable though it's enjoyable if not taken to seriously. The end was anticlimactic but some of the journey was fun. Read more
    Published 5 months ago by Roxanna
    1.0 out of 5 stars One Star
    was not impressed with the book.
    Published 7 months ago by Judy D.
    4.0 out of 5 stars great read. I very much enjoyed it!
    I really enjoyed this book and read it quickly. Can't wait to read the sequel and see what happens to Jeremy and friends
    Published 8 months ago by Jason M. Morley-nikfar
    3.0 out of 5 stars Three Stars
    Was ok! Found it to be convoluted at times!
    Published 9 months ago by Fl. Granny
    5.0 out of 5 stars this was a very well written book about what it was/is like to "come...
    For those of us who are gay and those who have a gay relative, this was a very well written book about what it was/is like to "come out" as a gay person. Read more
    Published 9 months ago by Karl Baker
    2.0 out of 5 stars Not much to it
    No real character development. A lot of the characters actions don't seem to have any real motivation. Read more
    Published 9 months ago by Rick
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    More About the Author

    Multi-award winning author Nick Nolan was born into an Irish Catholic family in the suburbs of Los Angeles, where he grew up mowing lawns and washing cars. Nolan met his partner Jaime in 1987, fell in love, and began building a life together. After graduating with a BA degree in Psychology, Nick began working with homeless LGBT youth and, inspired by the works of author Paul Monette, started penning his first novel. Nolan's modern fairy tales now comprise the "Tales from Ballena Beach" series: STRINGS ATTACHED, which won ForeWord Magazine's 2006 "Book of the Year Award for Gay & Lesbian Fiction"; DOUBLE BOUND, which garnered both ForeWord Magazine's 2008 "Book of the Year Award for Gay/Lesbian Fiction" and the Reader Views "Reader's Choice Award for Gay & Lesbian Fiction"; and WIDE ASLEEP, which earned 1st Place in the international 2014 Rainbow Awards for "Best Gay Paranormal Romance". Nolan's BLACK AS SNOW became the #1 Amazon Kindle Bestseller in the UK following its release in 2010. Today Nick, Jaime and their two beloved retrievers divide their time between their home in the San Fernando Valley and a mountaintop cabin, where book #5 is a lively topic of discussion.

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    Is Amazon publishing gay fiction: AmazonEncore?
    Hi S.C.

    Here's a link to the official AmazonEncore page: . Briefly, AmazonEncore is's new publishing imprint, and they are very forward-thinking in their scope; they have published both my 'gay fiction' titles as well... Read More
    Jun 8, 2010 by Matt Adohr |  See all 7 posts
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