Monday, May 28, 2018

It's Time to Say Goodbye

Hey everyone!

I know I haven't been around much, and I apologize for that. Unfortunately, I've decided to stop utilizing this blog. I will continue to write about LGBT+ topics - including lots of book reviews - on ShootingStarsMag. If you aren't already following me there, please do! I'd love to still keep in touch and as always, I'll be visiting your blogs and commenting. I'm not going anywhere - I'll just be posting strictly on ShootingStarsMag instead of on both blogs.

Why am I moving to just one blog?

1. I've been able to blog less and less here, and I don't want a blog that's only a few posts a month. I'd rather turn all my energy to just the one blog - where I blog practically five days a week, every week.

2. With all the new GDPR compliancy restrictions, it's been a bit stressful figuring out what I needed to do and then adding all those new things to ShootingStarsMag. I haven't done anything anything with this blog, and I'm not going to, as I will no longer be using it. I'm not deleting the blog though - you can still come here and look at old posts. I'll keep updating my blog list in the sidebar because it's how I keep track of new posts from bloggers I love. I don't want to figure out where else to keep these blogs (yes, I do follow most of them via Bloglovin, etc. - but this is seriously handier sometimes!)

Anyway, I just wanted to thank everyone for reading and/or commenting all these years. It's been great sharing my love for all things LGBT+ and that won't stop because I'll keep posting about it on ShootingStarsMag too.

Please follow me there?

Best (and remember - let's get beyond tolerance!!!)


Monday, May 14, 2018

Lock Nut by J.L. Merrow

Lock Nut by J. L. Merrow

Review by Lauren

source: copy from Netgalley; all opinions are my own

Official Summary: Read it on Goodreads if you're okay with some slight spoilers! 

Review: If you've been reading my blog for awhile now, then I know that I love the Plumber's Mate Mysteries series and Lock Nut is number 5. I do think these books are best read in order. Each one focuses on a new, complete mystery, but at the same time, you get to know more about some of the characters as you read the books - especially main characters, Tom and Phil, who are in a relationship. I love seeing their relationship grow and change through the books, which made it seem really realistic. As for the mysteries, Phil is a private investigator and Tom has a "power" of sorts that lets him feel the emotions of a person who has deliberately hidden something; so, say that something is a body - it would probably have a really strong, bad feeling attached to it (and it would feel guilty if the person felt bad). This power comes in handy in each book to help solve various crimes, but it's not necessarily something that Tom loves.

As the books progress, more and more people find out about this gift and they don't always understand that he's not a psychic in the "traditional" sense where he can see the future or find anything (it has to be deliberately hidden). Lock Nut's mystery surrounds a guy who has most likely been murdered, and Tom was just seen the previous day chasing him around Camden Market in order to deliver a package. Therefore, many believe that Tom is Tom and Phil do get involved, but in order to find out who the real culprit was, and boy, did I not see this one coming! Maybe it will be obvious to some - I can never say - but I do think the motive will surprise many, and that's just as interesting as the who, right?

One thing that I really loved about this book is all the mentions of Camden Market - where the deceased used to work - because this is somewhere that I actually visited when I went to London. It was nice to recognize the landscape and picture my time there. If you ever go to London, I recommend checking out Camden Market.

It looks like Lock Nut might be the final book in the series, but I'd really love to hear more about Tom and Phil and all their crazy adventures. I don't usually care if I have a physical copy of most e-books that I read, but I honestly wish I had actual copies of this series that I could keep on my shelves. I might have to invest in those! Hopefully that will tell you just how much I enjoyed these books! Read them!

Friday, May 4, 2018

Life of Bliss by Erin McLellan

Life of Bliss by Erin McLellan
Review by Lauren
source: copy from Netgalley; all opinions are my own
Official Summary (add on Goodreads)Nobody plans to accidentally marry their frenemy with benefits.
Todd McGower and Victor Consuelos do not like each other. They can’t have a conversation without insults flying, and Victor seems to get off on pushing Todd’s buttons. The fact that their antagonism always leads to explosive sex . . . well, that’s their little secret.
Victor has a secret of his own. His full-blown crush on Todd is ruining his sex life. He hasn’t looked at anyone else in months, and he’s too hung up on Todd to find a date to his cousin’s wedding.
In a moment of weakness after a heart-stopping night together, Todd agrees to be Victor’s fake boyfriend for the wedding. Victor will have his plus-one—which will get his family off his back—and Todd will get a free mini-vacation. It’s a win-win.
But pretending to be fake boyfriends leads to real intimacy, which leads to too much wine, and suddenly, Todd and Victor wake up with wedding bands and a marriage license between them. That was not their plan, but a summer of wedded bliss might just change their minds.
Review: When I requested to read Life of Bliss, I didn’t realize it was the companion novel to Life on Pause. Luckily, I’d already read the latter (my review here). If you have not, you could still read Life of Bliss as a stand-alone as it explains how Victor and Todd met each other (through mutual friends – Life on Pause is about them). I really like the friends to lovers and enemies to lovers tropes when it comes to romance, but what’s especially intriguing about Life of Bliss is that it mixes both of these. It’s almost enemies to friends – get married one drunken day – and then friends to lovers. For me, it really worked, and I definitely rooted for Todd and Victor to open up more and more to each other and make it work.
I really liked that Victor and Todd already had a history with each other. They worked physically together, so Life on Bliss was more about them opening up emotionally and realizing that they actually liked each other. I thought it was kind of fun to see them navigate a new marriage, after having drunkenly tied the knot (and signed the papers -so it’s legal). It’s not always easy for them as they are really different people, and Todd ends up moving away from the people and life he knows to live with Victor (it’s not very far, but it’s still a big adjustment).
As we’re officially into Spring, I think this book about a newly married couple is the perfect book to dive into!

Monday, April 30, 2018

White Rabbit by Caleb Roehrig

White Rabbit by Caleb Roehrig 
Review by Lauren
source: ARC from Karen at For What It’s Worth (thanks, Karen!)
Official Summary (add to Goodreads): Rufus Holt is having the worst night of his life. It begins with the reappearance of his ex-boyfriend, Sebastian—the guy who stomped his heart out like a spent cigarette. Just as Rufus is getting ready to move on, Sebastian turns up out of the blue, saying they need to “talk.” Things couldn’t get much worse, right?
But then Rufus gets a call from his sister April, begging for help. And then he and Sebastian find her, drenched in blood and holding a knife, beside the dead body of her boyfriend, Fox Whitney.
April swears she didn’t kill Fox—but Rufus knows her too well to believe she’s telling him the whole truth. April has something he needs, though, and her price is his help. Now, with no one to trust but the boy he wants to hate yet can’t stop loving, Rufus has one night to prove his sister’s innocence…or die trying.
Review: Oh, I just loved this one. White Rabbit is the second book by Roehrig (and I loved that one too – my review of Last Seen Leaving can be found here). I’m a big fan of mysteries, and it’s always exciting when there’s a YA release, because I don’t read a lot of them for this age group. Honestly, I never really guessed the ultimate culprit – I had some “maybes” as the truth was fast approaching, but overall, this one kept me wondering throughout the book.
It’s told solely through the point of view of Rufus, whose ex-boyfriend (well, secret ex-boyfriend) shows up wanting to talk…and then before he can say what’s on his mind, Rufus’ half sister April calls him. This sends Rufus and Sebastian to the party April is at, only to find nobody else there but April and her boyfriend, Fox Whitney…who is, you know, dead.
This book takes place over one really long night, and I thought it worked well. The reasoning for Rufus not calling the police right away made sense to me, and don’t worry, the police do ultimately become involved. Before this though, Rufus, Sebastian, and April set out to try and figure out just who might have killed Fox and tried to pin it on April. Oh, and Sebastian still needs to tell Rufus what’s on his mind.
I really liked Rufus and Sebastian together; it’s obvious they both really care about each other, and yes, Sebastian did some stupid stuff in the past and hurt more than just Rufus, but I could understand where he was coming from. There’s a scene later in the book, pertaining to Sebastian, that is especially emotional and lovely. I also really enjoyed the dynamics of Rufus’ family. His dad wants nothing to do with him, he has a sadistic older brother, and a younger sister (April) who seems to like him okay, but Rufus knows he can’t always count on her. It’s an interesting mix and it added a lot of intrigue to the story.
White Rabbit is full of lies, half-truths, and plenty of suspense. I’ll happily read anything Roehrig publishes at this point.
Still need to read Roehrig’s debut, Last Seen Leaving? Again, check out my review!

Monday, April 23, 2018

Medley by Layla Reyne

Medley by Layla Reyne

Review by Lauren

source: copy from Netgalley; all opinions are my own

Official Summary (add to Goodreads): Sebastian Stewart was never Mr. Dependable; he was more the good-time guy who only wanted to swim, party, and ink tattoos. Until he cost his team the Olympic gold four years ago. Bas is determined to do right this time around—by his medley relay team and his rookie mentee.

Jacob Burrows is in over his head. The Olympic experience—from the hazing, to the endless practices, to the unrelenting media—makes the shy nineteen-year-old’s head spin. He’s trying to be everything to everyone while trying not to fall for his gorgeous tattooed teammate who just gets him—gets his need to fix things, his dorky pirate quips, and his bisexuality.

When Jacob falters under the stress, threatening his individual races and the medley relay gold, he needs Bas’s help to escape from drowning. Bas, however, fearing a repeat of his mistakes four years ago, pushes Jacob away, sure he’ll only let Jacob down. But the only path to salvaging gold is for Jacob to finally ask for what he needs—the heart of the man he loves—and for Bas to become the dependable one.

Review: I love Layla Reyne, and I highly recommend her books. Medley is the second book in what I believe is a duology called Changing Lanes. Readers meet Sebastian - Bas - and Jacob in the first book, Relay, which focuses on two other members of their Olympic swimming team. First off, I love the setting of the Olympics. I know we just had the Winter Olympics, and swimming is a Summer sport, but it was still fun to read this book around actual Olympic time. While you can easily read just Medley, as events in Relay are explained/summed up, I do think both books are really good, so it's your choice! While I really liked Medley, and I would recommend the book, I do know that some readers might get frustrated with the back and forth between Bas and Jacob, though it's really just Bas' fault.

However, it made sense to me because Bas is trying to make up for something he did in the previous Olympics and not let his team down, while also trying to take care of Jacob, who is a first time Olympic swimmer. When it's obvious that Jacob wants more, Bas has a hard time saying no - because he wants more too. However, he also thinks he's going to ruin things for his teammates if he gives in too much, so it's a lot of pushing Jacob away, believing Jacob is better off without him anyway, since he has so much still ahead of him (there is a bit of an age difference here; Jacob is 19 and Bas is later 20's I believe).

Despite the back and forth, I was still intrigued by the story and I knew Bas and Jacob would get it together at some point. I'd say the first book is more 4 stars, and this is 3.5, but that doesn't mean I didn't highly enjoy both of them!!

Friday, April 20, 2018

Etsy Pride: Love, Simon Edition!

I'm back with another Etsy Pride! Today, I'm sharing some fun Love, Simon (or Simon Vs. the Homo-Sapiens Agenda) items that you can buy on Etsy today. I'd love any of these!! As always, these images are from Etsy; I do NOT own any of them.

Love, Simon t-shirt - you can buy this shirt for $15.29 from Seventh Society in Canada.

I love the look of this shirt. It's simple and understated, but I like that! Plus, the red color is bright and fun - perfect for the upcoming summer.

Simon Vs. inspired candle that smells like chocolate cookies! You can get a 9 oz. jar for $12.50 courtesy of Little Crow Candles of Florida.

I'm curious what a chocolate cookie candle would smell like, though it's obviously in honor of Simon's love of Oreos. I wish there was an image of the actual candle, but regardless, it sounds like a fun gift for any fan!

Custom Simon Spier Funko Pop from MK Workshop Treasures. Since this is custom made, it does cost $35, but honestly, that's not too bad!

I'm always in awe of people who make their own Funko Pops, and I love that they are often book characters - since they don't normally get their own Funkos. I'd love to have Simon for my collection, and it says Blue is on his way!

Simon Vs. Miniature Book Magnet - courtesy of A Magnetic Library based in Arkansas. One magnet is $4.50. 

How cute is this 3-D magnet? I love that it really looks like a book, with the pages on the sides and everything! Plus, it's not that expensive and you can get other books if you aren't a fan of Simon Vs. (or even if you are!) I think I need a few of these!! 

There aren't a ton of Love, Simon/Simon Vs. items on Etsy (YET), but there are some others so definitely go searching if none of these catch your eye! 

Would you purchase any of these, for yourself or a friend? Tell me! 

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Squared Away by Annabeth Albert

Squared Away by Annabeth Albert

Review by Lauren

source: copy from Netgalley; all opinions are my own

Official Summary (add to Goodreads): In the wake of tragedy, SEAL Mark Whitley rushed stateside to act as guardian to his sister’s three young children. But a conflicting will could give custody to someone else—someone Mark remembers as a too young, too hot, wild party boy. Even after six years, Mark can’t shake the memory of his close encounter with Isaiah James, or face up to what it says about his own sexuality.

Isaiah’s totally over the crush that made him proposition Mark all those years ago. In fact, he’s done with crushing on the wrong men altogether. For now, he’s throwing himself into proving he’s the best person to care for his cousin’s kids. But there’s no denying there’s something sexy about a big, tough military man with a baby in his arms.

As the legal details get sorted out, their long-buried attraction resurfaces, leading to intimate evenings after the kids are tucked in. A forever future is within reach for all of them, if only Mark can find the courage he needs to trust Isaiah with his secrets—and his heart.

Review: Squared Away is the fifth book in the Out of Uniform series and I just loved it so much! This book just really pulls at your heartstrings. Isaiah's cousin - who is more like his brother - and Mark's sister are married and when they die in a car accident, the two men are left with three kids. Except, there are conflicting thoughts via the wills as to who exactly is meant to look after them. Mark has a strong sense of duty and as a navy doctor, he doesn't let go of control well. He believes that he should look after the kids because it's his sister, he's older, and he still very much sees Isaiah as a teenager with a crush on him. Isaiah's a lot different than Mark gives him credit for though, and the book really does explore their slowly budding relationship.

One of the things that I really loved about Squared Away is that Mark is gray ace (which essentially is between asexuality and sexuality). Mark has never been interested in intimate relationships until Isaiah, which is why he's never had a relationship work in the past. However, being with Isaiah doesn't magically mean he wants to have sex with him all the time. I liked how the author explored Mark's sexuality, especially since he was trying to figure it out as the book went along as well. Isaiah was really sweet and patient, and he never pushed Mark for more. Just having Mark was enough for him, which should be how any relationship is, whether the couple has a lot of sex or not. That can be the the whole basis of a relationship after all.

There is a bit of drama, but I thought it was realistic in terms of the situation and the character's personalities, but I also really like how Mark and Isaiah try and work things out in as mature a way as possible - at least in front of the kids. Those kids are definitely the ones they worry about the most in all the chaos of finding them their new "forever family" if you will.

I do recommend this series. You can read these as stand-alones, but some of the previous characters do show up here and there throughout.