Little Squirrels Can Climb Tall Trees

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Title: Little Squirrels Can Climb Tall Trees
Author: Michael Murphy
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Cover Art: Anne Cain
Amazon Link
Genre: Contemporary
Length: 196 pdf pages
Rating: 4 out of 5 rating stars

A Guest Review by Feliz

Summary Review:  This was a somewhat unusual yet very entertaining  boy-meets-boy story teeming with funny one-liners.

The Blurb: Kyle Miller is a rare breed. Though born to conservative parents and raised in small-town Oklahoma, Kyle realized young that he had to escape rural America. Now he’s living in New York City, working as an ER doctor, and paying off his massive student loans. He’s never been on a plane and never seen a movie, but he is worldly enough to recognize attraction when it smacks him in the forehead. Not that he knows how he managed to crack heads with Joseph, who’s a good foot shorter than Kyle’s six and a half feet.

Joseph is Kyle’s polar opposite in other ways too, well-off where Kyle is poor, and self-assured while Kyle is insecure. He’s also determined to show Kyle what a great guy he is and bring the confidence Kyle shows in the ER out in his everyday life. But Kyle’s hectic work schedule and inexperience with relationships won’t make for an easy romance.

The review: This book is written in Joseph’s first person POV, and whether you like it or not will depend heavily on whether you can take to his voice, as he was certainly one of the most obtrusive, annoying, chatty narrators I’ve ever come across.  He had a constant inner monologue running which, although generally centered around male body parts (his own and Kyle’s) and sex in general, tended to get a bit erratic at times. He’d persevere on some topic, turn it over and over and look at it from every thinkable angle and –wupps, he’d be somewhere else entirely, running in circles around his new item of interest, getting wound up in it until he’d have flogged it halfway to death and STILL not stop. Here’s an example from the very beginning, Joseph’s first encounter with Kyle in their gym’s locker room:

 …Dicks. Loved the things. Loved ’em. Couldn’t get enough of them. What’s not to love? They were predictable in their design, consistent in their behavior. Oh yeah, loved those dicks. And then there was this one. Shudder. Was I having an orgasm? Oh, crap! No! Breathe!
Okay. You can do this! You’re gonna make it! Come on!
I instructed myself with every ounce of self-control I could muster. But he just kept standing there, seemingly playing with his low-hanging balls as he talked. I mean, really! Who can talk presidential politics while prying their sweaty nuts away from their penis? Well, clearly this guy! That’s who! He seemed to be
doing remarkably well at it. It was me who was having all kinds of problems. It was me who was one breath away from hyperventilating. It was me who was one hair away from dropping to my knees and wrapping my lips around the most delectable penis I’d ever seen. And remember, I was a professor of penis, a connoisseur of cock, a devotee of dick, an epicure of erections. I had made it my life’s work to worship the male member. And what a member this one was…

I apologize for this big chunk of quoted text, but I thought all of it necessary to give an example of Joseph’s tone of voice. Mind you, this quote is taken from what I can only call an ode to penises in general and Kyle’s dick in particular that took up most of the first chapter. At first, I was amused and then increasingly bemused as I followed the ramblings of a guy who was apparently so incredibly full of himself that he seemed to be unable to look beyond the tip of his own…well, dick, while we’re at it. The writing was fast-paced and quite funny, don’t get me wrong, but less could’ve been more here.

Actually, the latter goes for this book in general, it could’ve profited greatly from a tighter and less repetitive narrative, in my opinion, and not only in regard to Joseph’s inner monologue.
(One example that immediately comes to my mind is the description of a medical emergency Kyle, as an ER doctor, had to deal with in a later part of the book—as far as I can tell, the medical details were absolutely textbook correct, but that was also the problem I had with that chapter, as it read like a showcase for perfectly googled research.)

And what I mentioned in the summary review, the funny one-liners? Same here. I like some humor in my reading just as much as the next reader, but if one gag comes hot on the heels of the next, even the most sparkling wit loses its impact on me. Slapstick-like comedy isn’t exactly my thing, though others might very well feel differently.

Anyhow, back to the book. Thankfully, Joseph’s inner voice eased a bit over the course of the next few chapters, especially once the banter between him and Kyle really took off. Kyle may have had a restricted, bigoted upbringing, he may be inexperienced when it comes to sex and have overall low self-esteem, but he most certainly pulls off coy with the best of them.
I really liked how the two of them went about getting into each other’s pants, they were both so unapologetically and refreshingly carnal. And even though they only got it on at their second date, they didn’t wait out the whole butterflies and flowers thing either. Romance and emotions took a backseat to practicality, erotic compatibility and establishing a fast friendship that I could believe made a good base for a lasting relationship and eventually, love.

As much as I disliked Joseph initially, he grew on me over the course of the story, and Kyle was a great, likable guy right from the start anyway. I ended up enjoying this book a lot more than I’d been apprehending going from its beginning, and I’d recommend it to anyone who wants to read a sweet though entirely un-mushy love story and can overlook excessively chatty flamboyancy in storytelling.

 

 

 

8 thoughts on “Little Squirrels Can Climb Tall Trees

  1. Danaura13

    I find my ratings usually in alignment with ones on here, though there are a few that I loved that were rated mediocre. On this, however, I could barely finish it. I hated the dialogue and found it so stilted and awkward. There were really awkward inconsistencies that kept throwing me out of the story, and I *really* wanted to love this one.

    I agree on the one liners and the slapstick like nature. Done well, I love it, but here I found it grating. I think I was so annoyed from the beginning that it never reached that stage where I could fall in love with it like I hoped. Good review though…Maybe sometime I’ll take another peek at it!

  2. Feliz

    Hi danaura,

    I agree, the first part was tedious to read, and the dialogue was stilted,but for me, the turn to the better came once the two stopped playing it up all the time and realized that there could be really something between them.
    (Curiously, I actually know people who talk like this, it’s a matter of self-defense for them, so I could relate to some degree)
    However, opinions are likely to differ on this book. Thanks for stopping by :smile:

  3. Michael Murphy

    Feliz,

    Thank you for your positive review of Little Squirrels. This was my very first book and I know that it is far from perfect. I appreciate having feedback because I want to know about what didn’t work so that I can watch and fix those problems in any future writing. Thank you for reading my first book.

    Mike

    1. Feliz

      Hi Michael,
      thaks for stopping by! I forgot to say that I actually liked your prologue to this book much better than the book itself ;-) it was so honest and… wise, somehow. (I’m very much into books where you can “feel” the writer behind the writing)
      now a book you’d write in the same style as you wrote that prolog, I’d read anytime! :grin:

  4. Wave

    I liked this book because it was so different and I thought it was refreshing. LOVED the humour (although at times it was a lot and the pace initially was frenetic) :eek: but I really cared about the MCs, which for me is always a win/win.

    I love meeting new authors through the pages of their books and I will definitely pick up another book by Michael Murphy whenever he gets around to writing it. :cool:

    1. Feliz

      Hi Wave,

      yes, same here. As I said, I ended up liking it much better than I thought I would. It was certainly different. And yes, if this autor were to write another book, I’d like to read that, too :grin:

  5. Eden

    OMG! I got such a kick out of Joseph! My thoughts spin that fast when I’m in nervous, manic mode, so I related. I loved the banter between these two, and some passages had me laughing out loud. What a fun read!

  6. Jeffrey

    I’m really late to the party but I just finished reading this book. I thought the beginning of the book was great. The interactions between Joseph and Kyle where a wonderful read.

    But then I got to chapter 19 (about 3/4 of the way through the book) and it felt completely different. The writing felt very stiff and rushed. At times it just appeared to be an information dump to let us know the author really had been in Key West and Hawaii (or to cover for the fact he had never been there). With no real basis in the story, Joseph and Kyle were suddenly becoming best friends with people, exchanging contact info, and planning to meet up again. Some of those people never even had names. The plane ride to Hawaii while complete possible seemed out of place to me in the wider arc of the story. Then there was the conversation with Mano in the hotel room that both felt like it was going to go in a direction it didn’t and felt like it would never happen to Joseph and Kyle. And then Mano appears later in the book and it didn’t feel real based on what had been established earlier.

    While I loved the first 3/4 of the book, the ending left me feeling unsettled. On the strength of the beginning of the book, I do intend to keep reading this author.

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