Thursday, February 23, 2017

When Did 30 Become A Big Deal? by Alessandra Ebulu

When Did 30 Become A Big Deal? by Alessandra Ebulu

Review by Lauren

source: copy from Netgalley; all opinions are my own

Official SummarySanmi wakes up on the morning of his thirtieth birthday to alarming news: his best friend Bidemi reminding him of the pact they’d made when they were seven that they would marry each other should they still be single when they turn thirty. He brushes it off as a joke, but then Bidemi, whom he always thought was straight, begins to court him…

Review: When it comes to LGBT+ fiction, I really love the whole friends to lovers trope. When Did 30 Become A Big Deal? is a short novel that focuses on just that. Sanmi has just turned thirty and his best friend for 20 years, Bidemi, reminds him of the pact they made as kids. If neither of them were married by age 30, they would marry each other. Sanmi assumes Bidemi is messing with him, since he's never got the inkling that Bidemi is gay. But Bidemi is completely serious and he's willing to do whatever it takes to make sure that Sanmi sees him in a new light.

One of the things that I LOVED about this book is that it's set in Nigeria, so being out and open about homosexuality isn't safe. It's also exciting to read a book set in a different country, especially one I don't think I've ever read about. Sanmi and Bidemi are great friends and it was fun seeing the two of them grow closer in a new way. This isn't a gay-for-you novel, though I don't always mind those, in case you are worried about that particular trope.

There were a variety of side characters that really added to the story, like Sanmi's other best friend from work and both of the boy's parents. All of them are pretty supportive about Sanmi's sexuality and they don't seem to mind the idea of Sanmi settling down with his best friend.

This was a short and sweet novel, with some added humor, which is always a plus!

Interested? Check it out on Amazon here (I'm an affiliate: I get a small percent of any sale)

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Peter Darling by Austin Chant

Peter Darling by Austin Chant

Review by Lauren

source: copy from Netgalley; all opinions are my own

Official Summary: Ten years ago, Peter Pan left Neverland to grow up, leaving behind his adolescent dreams of boyhood and resigning himself to life as Wendy Darling. Growing up, however, has only made him realize how inescapable his identity as a man is.

But when he returns to Neverland, everything has changed: the Lost Boys have become men, and the war games they once played are now real and deadly. Even more shocking is the attraction Peter never knew he could feel for his old rival, Captain Hook—and the realization that he no longer knows which of them is the real villain.

Review: At 164 pages, Peter Darling is between a novella and a novel for me. While I would have loved to have more of the story - since I really loved it - I do think it works at its length since Peter Pan and Captain Hook have a lot of history already.

What I absolutely adore about this retelling is that Peter Pan is actually Wendy Darling. In Wendy's world, he knows he is a boy, but in the time he lives in, nobody else understands. He goes to Neverland as a child and loves it, since he's now in the body of a boy - newly named Peter Pan. He goes back home for ten years but in Peter Darling, he is back and determined to live the rest of his life in Neverland and as Peter.

Peter is still a fierce character in Chant's version. He likes to fight and wants to go after the pirates, especially Captain Hook, even though the Lost Boys have a new leader and are currently living in peace. The eventual relationship between Peter and Hook is done well, without moving too fast. Like I said before, they have a lot of history already, and in Peter Darling, there is a moment where they are trapped together, allowing them to get to see other sides of each other instead of the caricatures they saw each other as: Peter as the troublesome boy and Hook as the villainous pirate. The relationship between these two reveals that Peter is not only transgender, but he's also gay, which adds even more diversity to the book.

Despite thinking the length works, I would have loved to have more of the story as it's quickly become a favorite of mine. In fact, I gave it 5 stars on Goodreads! There is one physical moment but it's nothing terribly graphic, so if that's something that normally deters you from certain books, don't let it keep you from reading this one! Neverland is fully imagined and I loved the side characters - from the Lost Boys to the mermaids to the fairies, including Tink! This is one for Peter Pan fans and for those that don't know the original story well!

Interested? I'm an Amazon Affiliate, so any purchase gets me a small percent. Check out the book here!

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Our Own Private Universe by Robin Talley

Our Own Private Universe by Robin Talley

Review by Lauren

source: copy from publisher; all opinions are my own

Official SummaryFifteen-year-old Aki Simon has a theory. And it's mostly about sex. 

No, it isn't that kind of theory. Aki already knows she's bisexual—even if, until now, it's mostly been in the hypothetical sense. Aki has dated only guys so far, and her best friend, Lori, is the only person who knows she likes girls, too. 

Actually, Aki's theory is that she's got only one shot at living an interesting life—and that means she's got to stop sitting around and thinking so much. It's time for her to actually do something. Or at least try. 

So when Aki and Lori set off on a church youth-group trip to a small Mexican town for the summer and Aki meets Christa—slightly older, far more experienced—it seems her theory is prime for the testing. 

But it's not going to be easy. For one thing, how exactly do two girls have sex, anyway? And more important, how can you tell if you're in love? It's going to be a summer of testing theories—and the result may just be love.

ReviewAki is pretty sure she's bisexual but she's only ever kissed boys. Only her best friend Lori even knows she feels this way. When the two girls join their local church on a mission trip to Mexico, they both decide to make the summer one worth remembering by having a fling. Aki doesn't count on meeting Christa, a very pretty girl that Aki thinks is way too cool for her, until Christa makes it obvious she's interested in Aki too. The two begin getting to know each other, mostly in secret, as neither of them are out. Plus, Aki has her older brother and father on the trip and she definitely doesn't want them know. For awhile, Lori is the only one privy to the details of Aki's burgeoning summer romance with a girl. 

I've read Talley's first two books and loved them so I was really excited to read this book, since it seemed all about coming to terms with your sexuality and not just gay/straight, but bisexualiyt. There aren't that many YA novels that focus on being bi so it's exciting to come across one done so well. The setting of Mexico was used well, allowing these girls a place to escape normal life and get to know one another from the usual pressures of being a teen. I appreciated that Talley was matter of fact about the sexual aspects of their relationship, as it makes it a responsible read for real life teens. Despite the focus on safety, it's still a romantic and enticing read. I loved getting to know both Aki and Christa - and even when they found things they didn't love about one another, they were able to keep things moving forward. There were definitely lies or lies by omission, but nothing that was added for unneeded drama. 

One of the main things I really enjoyed about Our Own Private Universe is that it doesn't just focus on Aki and Christa. There is also Lori, Aki's best friend, who might not be the same girl Aki always knew. There is Drew, Aki's older brother, who has secrets and life-changing revelations of his own. There is Aki and Drew's father, who both are scared to talk to about important topics since he's their church's minister. They aren't sure how much religion and other personal beliefs will affect how he sees them when he discovers their various truths. Among these characters are other wonderful secondary ones who you really feel like you get to know. I'd personally love to have a book from Jake's perspective - a fellow teen on the trip who helps Aki really think about the world at large and not just the part she occupies. 

Definitely a good read. I would definitely recommend and not just for LGBT+ fans! There is much more to discover within these pages. 

Interested? Check it out on Amazon (I'm an affiliate; I get a small percent of any sale)

Friday, February 17, 2017

The Otto Digmore Difference: Want to Read/Review?

Happy Friday, everyone!

I'm currently working on a blog tour of sorts for Brent Hartinger. There aren't set dates you have to post, but we are looking for people to read/review Brent's next LGBT+ novel, The Otto Digmore Difference. If you've read his Russel Middlebrook series, then you will recognize Otto's name. Don't worry, you don't have to have read the other books to read this one. It's the start of a new series. We do have previous books available if you feel the need to check any of them out.

Brent has various e-copies of the book available, so if you are interested, please let me know and what format you would need the book in! While there aren't set dates for posting, we'd love to have things go up in March since the book comes out next week.

I have a list of emails already of bloggers who would like to know about future blog tours for LGBT+ novels. If you want to be added, please let me know! You are never obligated to help with any book. I just want a list of people who I know are interested in at least LGBT+ novels.

For more on the book, the official summary is below:

“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? 

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Rainbow Roundup: LGBT+ Around the Web

Hey Everyone! I'm back with some more LGBT+ blog posts and book reviews from other blogs/websites. I finally landed on a name for these and it's Rainbow Roundup! I hope you enjoy it and every time you see the title, you'll know what to expect.

An Odyssey Across the Shelves has a Rec' Em Thursday feature and one of them is about the m/m novel Collide by Riley Hart

No Bent Spines created a list of YA books with bisexual main characters. Know a book she didn't list? Let her know!

Rainy Day Ramblings reviewed The Cursed Queen by Sarah Fine (features an f/f romance)

Midnight Book Girl reviewed We Are Okay by Nina Lecour

Christy's Love of Books reviewed Bad Boy by Elliot Wake

In Tori Lex reviewed even this page is white by Vivek Shraya

Joyous Reads reviewed When We Rise by Cleve Jones

Novel Ink reviewed 10 Things I Can See From Here by Carrie Mac

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Top Ten Tuesday with Author Cass Lennox: Enemies to Lovers Romance

I'm so sorry this is posting late, but Happy Valentine's Day, everyone! I have author Cass Lennox today with her Top Ten Tuesday post (hosted by The Broke and the Bookish). Cass is the author of the Toronto Connections series. You can find my review of the first book Blank Spaces here and my review of the second book Finding Your Feet here. Definitely check them out!

Top 10 Favourite Enemies to Lovers Romances
by Cass Lennox

I love this trope so much. So much. Enemies to lovers is brilliant for chemistry, and sets up a first challenge for the relationship to work through. Despite reading and writing in the LGBTQIA+ corner of the genre, I have to confess something here. When I think of this trope, I think of a specific hetero movie scene: the house fight scene in Mr and Mrs Smith. Our two (unfairly hot) protagonists have realized they're secret agents working for different agencies, and they have hits out on each other. Twist! They've been married for years and didn't know they worked for opposing agencies! Whaaaaat?! Cue a ridiculous, destructive fight in their McMansion that ends with a searing kiss. Dang. There's apparently a very thin line between love and hate, and violence aside, it's a hot scene.

But, we're here to talk about books! Enemies to lovers can take form in a variety of ways - business rivals, criminal and law enforcement, players on opposing teams, a broken-up couple, two households both alike in dignity, etc etc. The below are simply some of my faves – there are loads out there and it was really difficult to choose just ten. The trope abounds in romance, and as there's no way I've read them all, I'm expecting great suggestions in the comments!

1. Empty Net, Avon Gale. This trope shows up a lot in the Scoring Chances series (part and parcel of sports romance territory), but oh man do the two guys in this hate each other at the start of this novel. The way Gale unpicks their rivalry and builds up their relationship is wonderful to read.

2. Icecapade, Josh Lanyon. A Christmas short about an ex-thief and an ex-Fed who, after years of cat and mouse, finally catch each other.

3. Slow Burn in Tuscany, Giselle Fox. High school rivalries never die out – or do they? Helped by a trip to Italy, these two women discover there’s more to each other than they thought.

4. A Seditious Affair, KJ Charles. A brilliant book in an incredible historical series, this is about a Radical and a Tory. Turns out politics need not completely divide us.

5. The Burnt Toast B & B, Heidi Belleau and Rachel Haimowitz. Things turn upside down for B&B owner Derrick when an injured stuntman, Ginsberg, moves in. So naturally he decides to drive him out through sheer incompetence. Too bad Ginsberg takes this as a challenge to help turn the B&B around instead.

6. Off Campus, AJ Cousins. I adored this. Two roommates who can barely stand each other slowly chip away at each other's defences.

7. Peter Darling, Austin Chant. A twist on a Peter Pan retelling, with a grown up trans Peter and a Hook who isn't as villainous as his reputation would make him out to be.

8. The Two Gentlemen of Altona, Lisa Henry and JA Rock. Another criminal and Fed story, but this one's hilarious and full of Shakespeare references.

9. The Distance Between Us, LA Witt. Two guys break up, but need to live together until they can get rid of the house. Enter sexy lodger Kieran, and suddenly sharing things doesn't seem so bad.

10. Hold Me, Courtney Milan. Two online friends (with potential for more) are passionate enemies IRL. Emphasis on the 'passionate'.

Monday, February 13, 2017

As I Am by A.M. Arthur

As I Am by A.M. Arthur

Review by Lauren

source: copy from Netgalley; all opinions are my own

Official SummaryWill Madden is healing.

Thanks to therapy and a growing support system, he's taking baby steps into a promising future. One of those steps leads him to an online chat room, where he quickly bonds with fellow PTSD sufferer Taz Zachary.

Despite their virtual connection, Taz is initially freaked out at the idea of meeting Will face-to-face. A sexual relationship may be the last thing on his mind, but his craving for human interaction—and more of the way Will makes him laugh—gives him the courage he needs to take the next step.

In person, the chemistry between them is undeniable. But Will is hurt when Taz doesn't seem to be in any rush to get him into bed. Still, acceptance, love and happiness all seem within reach for the first time in forever—until demons from the past threaten the future they both finally believe they deserve.

Review: As I Am is the third book in the All Saints series. I recommend reading them all, because I think it's a great series, but each one focuses on a different couple so you're welcome to read whichever one most interests you. For As I Am, the book focuses on Will Madden - who we meet in previous books - and Taz Zachary.

These two meet in an online chat room where the goal is just to talk, not to arrange hookups. They find quick friends in one another as they both suffer from PTSD. Eventually, the two decide to meet each other and that's really when the story takes off. I thought the background behind each character's PTSD was done really well. It was obvious that the author wanted to show that while the two could help each other, they couldn't completely heal one another. Just being in a relationship wasn't going to make everything okay. They would still have panic attacks and need other things in their life to help them heal.

Both Will and Taz are easy to love. They aren't perfect by any means, but I like that. They felt like real characters who were unfortunately carrying a lot of baggage. Their baggage just happened to go together well enough.

This book has a bit of a mystery attached, which was exciting! It gave the book a suspenseful tone, along with the budding romance and delving into the characters' respective pasts. As I Am is definitely a good read - as are all the other All Saints books.

Want to read? Check it out on Amazon - I'm an affiliate so I get a small percent of any sale. Want to check out books 1 and 2 of All Saints? The first book is Come What May and the second is Say It Right.