Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Top Ten Tuesday With Author Elizabeth Noble



My Favorite Top Ten Authorly Friends by Author Elizabeth Noble

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by The Broke and Bookish

All of these wonderful people are fellow authors, and some are good friends as well. Most are published by Dreamspinner Press and/or DSP Publications. They’re listed in no particular order.

Lou Sylvre: ( http://sylvre.rainbow-gate.com/ ) Lou was one of my first author friends. We’ve worked on some promotional stories over the years involving characters from our books. Our latest installment of the Panel Discussion at Fictional Badass Association is here: https://authors-speak.rainbow-gate.com/2016/08/panel-discussion-at-fictional-badass-association-annual-convention-2016/

Shira Anthony:  (http://www.shiraanthony.com/) Shira and I are both from Cleveland, Ohio. She grew up on the east side and I’m a west sider. We are able to get together a few times a year. We’ve also bunked together at a few workshops and conventions.

Sarah Madison: (http://www.sarahmadisonfiction.com/) Sarah and I have a lot in common. She’s a veterinarian, I’m a veterinary nurse. We both like and write paranormal mystery/suspense.

Grace Duncan: (http://www.grace-duncan.com/graces-blog) Grace is another person I’ve spent time with at conventions and workshops and shared hotel rooms with. She’s beta read for me. We both share a love of a good shifter or BDSM story. She’ll be on my blog March 31 as part of the tour for her latest book.

J. Scott Coatsworth: (https://www.jscottcoatsworth.com/) Scott is a great guy. I was able to hang out with him and Angel and Gus at an author workshop in 2016. Scott is the mastermind behind Queer Sci Fi and QueeRomance Ink. He’s got to be one of the most supportive authors I know.

Carole Cummings: (http://www.carolecummings.com/) Carole and I love scifi and speculative fiction! She’s my partner in crime in a writing project and we co-admin the Facebook group Genre Talk which highlights DSP Publications titles.

Angel Martinez: (http://angelmartinezauthor.weebly.com/) Angel is an all-round nice person and don’t make her giggle because she won’t stop! She’s another of my scifi friends and is heavily involved in the Queer Sci Fi Facebook group.

Gus Li: (https://www.facebook.com/Ninja.Gus?lst=100002021652720%3A1007654926%3A1490540827) Gus is another great guy. He’s not only a writer, but an artist. A few years ago at a convention he gave me little keychains he made of characters from his books. Gus is the world’s biggest lover of foxes.

Rhys Ford: (https://rhysford.com/) Rhys is someone I don’t get to see or talk to very often, which makes me sad. She’s one of these people who makes everyone around her feel special.

Geoff Symon: (http://www.geoffsymon.com/) I met Geoff at the Dreamspinner 2016 author workshop. He did a presentation on crime scenes. He doesn’t write fiction, but has a series of reference books for mystery writers.


About the Author and Author Links:

Elizabeth Noble started telling stories before she actually knew how to write, and her family was very happy when she learned to put words on a page. Those words turned into books and fanfiction that turned into a genuine love of M/M romance fiction. Being able to share her works with Dreamspinner is really a dream come true. She has a real love for a good mystery complete with murder and twisty plots as well as all things sci-fi, futuristic, and supernatural and a bit of an unnatural interest in a super-volcano in Wyoming.
Elizabeth has three grown children and is now happily owned by an adorable mixed breed canine princess and her sidekick, tabby cat.  She lives in her native northeast Ohio, the perfect place for gardening and winter and summer sports (go Tribe and Cavs!) and stargazing all year long. When she’s not writing she’s working as a veterinary nurse, so don’t be surprised to see her men with a pet or three who are a very big part of their lives.
Two of Elizabeth’s books have received Honorable Mentions in the Rainbow Awards.
Twitter: @elizabethnoble1

Monday, March 27, 2017

The Otto Digmore Difference by Brent Hartinger


The Otto Digmore Difference by Brent Hartinger

Review by Lauren

source: copy from author; all opinions are my own

Official Summary: “Road trip!” Otto Digmore is a 26-year-old gay guy with dreams of being a successful actor, and he’s finally getting some attention as a result of his supporting role on a struggling sitcom. But he’s also a burn survivor with scars on half his face, and all indications are that he’s just too different to ever find real Hollywood success. Now he’s up for an amazing new role that could change everything. Problem is, he and his best friend Russel Middlebrook have to drive all the way across the country in order to get to the audition on time. It’s hard to say which is worse: the fact that so many things go wrong, or that Russel, an aspiring screenwriter, keeps comparing their experiences to some kind of road trip movie. There’s also the fact that Otto and Russel were once boyfriends, and Otto is starting to realize that he still might have romantic feelings for his best friend. Just how far will Otto go to get the role, and maybe the guy, of his dreams?

Review: I read all of the YA Russel Middlebrook series - which began with Geography Club - and I was equally thrilled when the author brought Russel into his twenties in the more new adult trilogy. Now, Brent Hartinger is back with a series of books following Otto Digmore, one of Russel's high school boyfriends and current best friend. To ease the transition between Russel and Otto, The Otto Digmore Difference actually features a lot of both. For those that never read about Otto before, be assured that it's fine to just start here. You get enough background information on Otto and Russel to understand their relationship. For the sake of this review, though, I'll mention that Otto was a burn victim at the age of seven and has severe burns on half of his face as well as elsewhere on his body. Him and Russel met as camp counselors during high school and started a relationship, which ended up being long-distance when camp ended. The two drifted apart for awhile until they both landed in California - Russel for screenwriting and Otto for acting.

The two became fast friends once again, except when The Otto Digmore Difference starts, Russel has just recently married his husband Kevin. Now, on to the book! Otto has had fairly quick success on a TV show called Hammered but bad news suddenly feels like all Otto is getting. People are harassing him online about his looks, the person he was seeing ghosted him (just stopped talking to him), and now his best friend Russel is happily married without realizing that Otto still harbors feelings for him. Now before you worry - there is no cheating whatsoever in this book. Neither character would do that. That doesn't mean that Otto isn't jealous of Russel's happiness or feeling a bit hurt because he wasn't the guy that Russel - or anyone else - chooses.

The main narrative of this book is Otto and Russel going on a road trip together so that Otto can meet the director of a film that he really wants to star in. He's read the script, he auditioned for other people on the film, and they all agree he would be great. Unfortunately, the director had a family emergency and so Otto decides to go to him - with the director's permission of course - to see if he could land this dream role and use his scars for something other than a Freddy Krueger remake. The book is full of road trip cliches, and I say this lovingly, because it's something that Russel constantly brings up and thinks is wonderful. He's a screenwriter, after all. While not all the cliches are great - they do allow the two friends to get to know each other at these new stages in their lives. They aren't high school kids anymore, after all. I liked all that Russel and Otto experienced because while the road trip metaphor is one of adventure and self-discovery, that's exactly what I hope to find in most contemporary novels!

Otto is a great character. It's easy to feel bad for the things he has to deal with in his life, but at the same time, it's made known that Otto isn't always perfect. He can mess up too and has to be called out on it. The Otto Digmore Difference is a quick, fun read, and I really can't wait to read more about Otto in the next book!

I was given a copy of this book to read/review by the author, but all opinions are my own. I am working with the author on getting reviews for this novel so if you're interested, we'd love to hear from you! E-books only, I'm afraid, but you don't have to be a strict book blogger to ask for a copy! We just ask that you review it on your blog at the very least, and Goodreads and Amazon if you cross-post.

Want your own copy? I'm an affiliate for amazon, so if you use my links, I get a small percent. Check the paperback copy here and the e-book copy here.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

A Film Review: Beauty and the Beast


Beauty and the Beast Film Review by Lauren

I purchased the ticket to see the film; all opinions are my own

To be honest, Beauty and the Beast has never been one of my favorite Disney animated films. I always related to Belle and her love of books though. When I heard the film was going to be turned into a live-action movie and that Emma Watson would be playing Belle, I immediately knew I had to see it! This past Saturday I was finally able to watch the movie, after what seemed like years of waiting, with my mom and sister. By the time the credits rolled - and they are really cool looking credits - all three of us knew that we'd fallen in love with the story of Beauty and her Beast. I thought the acting was done well, and I loved all the songs. I'm a big musical fan so it was exciting to see mostly real people sing these beloved songs, including a few new ones that really added to the film! I especially loved the song that the Beast sings alone. It really makes you feel for the guy beneath the rough exterior. Dan Stevens did a great job as the Beast. It can't be easy to play that role, and I know he had to do a lot to bring the character to life, such as learning to use stilts. As for Emma, I thought she made a lovely Belle. She was smart and eccentric, and always a genuinely nice person. I thought her singing was lovely and I liked that it sounded like her - it made her seem young and approachable, like Beauty should be in my opinion.

T sets were just breath taking and I love that they actually created these rooms. I'm sure it really helped bring the whole world to life for the actors. The costumes were wonderful - matching the animated film without being corny. As for the secondary characters, I thought everyone was perfectly cast. Luke Evans was a handsome, yet overly irritating (in all the right ways) Gaston and his companion, LeFou was wonderfully played by Josh Gad (the voice of Olaf). If you heard any of the press surrounding the film, then you already know that LeFou was going to be shown as openly gay in the film and that this upset a lot of people. I thought it was great that Disney was going to finally have an openly gay character, but I understand the criticism that LeFou wasn't "one of the good guys" so to speak or that he was a stereotypical gay man. I can't speak for everyone, of course, but after seeing the movie, I believe that Josh and the film's creators did the character of LeFou well and made his character - gay or otherwise - one to rejoice! 

Finally, I have to mention the castle's inhabitants. In an animated film, it's easy to have a singing/talking tea pot and candlestick, but when bringing these elements in a live-action film, it's easy to see it being done wrong or coming across as corny. However, I think Beauty and the Beast did a great job. All of these characters felt and seemed like people, yet still containing their distinct look of a clock or dresser drawers. The voices for these characters were also fantastic additions to the cast and who included many people I love like Emma Thompson and Ewan McGregor. 

Beauty and the Beast was a fantastic addition to the Disney canon and it's one I'll definitely buy on DVD for my personal collection! 

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Rainbow Roundup: You're Welcome...Queens of Geek


Rainbow Roundup is where I share LGBT+ book reviews and posts. If you ever want me to share something from your blog, let me know!

Jo's Book Blog reviewed We Are Okay by Nina LaCour (YA)

Sparkling Letter reviewed You're Welcome, Universe by Whitney Gardner (YA)

Jo's Book Blog also reviewed At the Edge of the Universe by Shaun David Hutchinson (YA)

Novel Ink reviewed Queens of Geek by Jen Wilde (YA)

Crushing cinders reviewed The Inexplicable Logic of My Life by Benjamin Alire Saenz (MC's father is gay)

YA Bibliophile reviewed You're Welcome, Universe by Whitney Gardner (MC has two moms)

In Bed With Books reviewed Labyrinth Lost by Zoraida Cordova (YA)

Writing My Own Fairy Tale reviewed Queens of Geek by Jen Wilde (YA)

Friday, March 17, 2017

Fair Chance by Josh Lanyon


Fair Chance by Josh Lanyon

Review by Lauren

source: copy from Netgalley; all opinions are my own

Official SummaryEx–FBI agent Elliot Mills thought he was done with the most brutal case of his career. The Sculptor, the serial killer he spent years hunting, is finally in jail. But Elliot's hope dies when he learns the murderer wasn't acting alone. Now everyone is at risk once again—thanks to a madman determined to finish his partner's gruesome mission.  
When the lead agent on the case, Special Agent Tucker Lance, goes missing, Elliot knows it's the killer at work. After all, abducting the love of his life is the quickest way to hurt him.  
The chances of finding Tucker are all but impossible without the help of the Sculptor—but the Sculptor is in no position to talk. Critically injured in a prison fight, he lies comatose and dying while the clock ticks down. Elliot has no choice but to play this killer's twisted game and hope he can find Tucker in time.
Review: This is the third book in the All's Fair series. For whatever reason, I must not have realized this when I requested the book from Netgalley as I have not read the previous two. Regardless, I think you can read Fair Chance on its own and still follow the story just fine. I might have to go back and read the first two at some point though, as I really do like Josh Lanyon's writing.

Anyway, back to Fair Chance! Elliot Mills is an Ex-FBI agent who is still stuck in the midst of a case as the serial killer he helped catch, while in jail now, is still toying with him. The Sculptor won't talk to anyone but Elliot, and when Elliot goes to visit him in jail, he's given information that may or may not be true, but if it is true? It changes the game...and not in any way the FBI is happy about.

Special Agent Tucker Lance is Elliot's partner and none too thrilled that Elliot is still involved in the case. He wants him to be separate from all of this. However, when Tucker ends up going missing, Elliot is determined to do everything he can to figure out just where Tucker went and if it's at all connected to The Sculptor.

This was an exciting read with plenty of suspense and mystery. I thought I had an idea of what was happening, but then new information was revealed and things change again. I love this in a good mystery! It keeps the reader on their toes and that's never a bad thing. I thought the characters were well-rounded and wonderfully written. It was easy to get into Elliot's head and feel his fears and emotions, especially when Tucker goes missing.

While this book is mostly a mystery, there is a bit of romance and it all balances itself out well. Definitely recommended!

Want to read? I'm an amazon affiliate; I get a small percent of any sale. Check out Fair Chance in print or as an e-copy.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Guarding Mr. Fine by HelenKay Dimon



Guarding Mr. Fine by HelenKay Dimon

Review by Lauren

source: copy from Netgalley; all opinions are my own

Official SummaryAs an agent with the CIA’s special activities division, Seth Lang lives for risk—and yet he’s stuck playing bodyguard to the U.S. consul general in Munich. Although Seth’s last assignment nearly killed him, babysitting some desk jockey in a suit sounds way too easy. But when he lays eyes on the new top man, tactical expert Rick Fine, Seth’s thrilled to see just how hard this job is going to get. Mr. Tall, Dark, and Quiet has a body worth guarding—and he requires hands-on attention day and night.
 
Dispatched to a German consulate to expose the murder of his predecessor, Rick finds himself in an extremely vulnerable position. He needs a man like Seth—in so many ways. This mission will inevitably plunge them both into jeopardy, but each new threat only brings them closer. Rick just hopes that he can keep his deepest, darkest secret hidden—or else risk imperiling a relationship they’re both fighting for their lives to protect.


Review: Guarding Mr. Fine is the third book in the Tough Love series, and while I've loved them all, I think this might be my favorite. I just loved the relationship between Rick and Seth. There is a big secret that involves both of them - which only Rick is aware of - but it's a secret that makes sense to be kept, at least while the mission is happening. It adds drama to the end of the book, but nothing unwarranted or too over the top.

As for the rest of the book, this is essentially a mystery novel, and I loved that. Sure, it has plenty of romance, but it also has suspense and intrigue. Rick is sure that the former ambassador to Germany was involved in something shady and that his death is more than a suicide. He has to keep this theory mostly a secret though, so that if something is going on, they aren't spooked and hide away. It soon becomes clear that Rick is correct as someone tries to take Rick out. They don't know Seth though. He's been in the CIA for years and he's an excellent "body guard." He may have feelings for Rick, but that doesn't distract Seth. It might just make him more determined to bring down whoever would dare kill Rick.

Definitely a great read! I'll include links to the other books in the series below in case you want to read in order!

Check out the Tough Love series on Amazon - I'm an affiliate; I get a small percent of any sale.

Mr. and Mr. Smith - check it out
The Talented Mr. Rivers - check it out
Guarding Mr. Fine - check it out 

Monday, March 13, 2017

Working It by Christine D'Abo


Working It by Christine D'Abo 

Review by Lauren

source: copy from Netgalley; all opinions are my own

Official Summary: Nolan Carmichael is getting a fresh start—new career, new company, new life. The only problem is, he liked his old life just fine . . . until an accident robbed him of his health, his job, his self-confidence, and his ability to go out in public without having anxiety attacks.

Zack Anderson has scared away his last four administrative assistants. So when he hires Nolan on a whim, he’s not too worried, since Nolan will be gone within the week anyway. Two weeks later, Nolan has made himself indispensable, completely reforming Zack’s schedule, life . . . and libido.

But in a company already torn by internal politics, one wrong step could ruin both their careers. And not only are they working to reopen Ringside Gym, Zack’s retreat when he was a troubled teen, but they also can’t help themselves falling for each other. If only the rest of their lives could go as smoothly as things do when they’re alone together.
 


Review: Oh, I really loved this one! I really loved Nolan and Zack. They both have issues they are working through -Nolan has extreme anxiety attacks and Zack has a definite attitude/anger issue - but these aren't things they are willing to let hold them back. When Nolan gets the job as Zack's assistant, he's determined to do the best he can and show his sister that he can make it on his own. As for Zack, his surly demeanor has obviously started to change after working with Nolan.

Working It is essentially a story of moving forward after tragedy, finding a reason to change your life, and going after one's dreams. Since Zack is essentially Nolan's boss, he knows that he shouldn't start anything with him, but he can't help but be drawn to him. I'm a big fan of drama in books and relationships as long as it's not drawn out by not talking or is something completely unrealistic. I thought the drama was done really well in this book and it just made me root harder for Zack and Nolan to be with each other, and to have their future be what they always imagined. I do recommend, and I'm curious to read the second book in this series!

Want to read? Check it out on Amazon, where I'm an affiliate and get a small percent of any sale.