Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Back to You by Chris Scully

Back to You by Chris Scully 

Review by Lauren

source: copy from Netgalley; all opinions are my own

Official SummaryJournalist Alex Buchanan has come home to the remote British Columbia town he grew up in, but only because his estranged father is dying. For Alex, the homecoming holds a mix of memories, mostly bad. The only bright spot is reconnecting with Benji Morning, the childhood friend he never truly forgot. As boys, the strength of their bond had frightened Alex. But now that he’s confident in his bisexuality, he’s drawn back to quiet, soft-spoken Ben.

Ben isn’t the same boy Alex left behind, though. His life has been overshadowed by the disappearance of his sister two decades earlier, and now a new break in the case threatens to undo the peace he’s worked so hard to attain.

As Alex struggles to repair the relationship with his father before it’s too late, he finds himself caught up in a twenty-year-old mystery, a story he never expected, and a shocking truth that could affect his and Ben’s future together.

ReviewI really love m/m romance, but I also like when there is an added genre on top of it because then you not only get the romance, you get a fully fledged story apart from the two main characters. In Back to You, Alex comes home after receiving a phone call from his sister telling him their father is dying. Alex isn't on good terms with his dad, but he goes thinking he could write an article about it. Of course, once he's home again, he has to reach out to his childhood friend, Ben, who kissed him right before Alex' family moved at the age of 13. He hasn't seen or spoken to Ben since, but he's always held a flame for him.

I love friends to lover romances, and it was really nice to see Ben and Alex getting to know each other again after all the years in between. I also appreciated that while Ben is gay, Alex is actually bisexual, and nobody shames him for that and says he can't be. Bisexuality is valid too and I love when authors have characters that are bi.

As for the other aspect of this book, there is a 20-year mystery of what happened to Ben's older sister, who disappeared one day. Alex decides to help investigate, unsure if he really wants to know the answers. It was a really good mystery -I was fairly surprised by the outcome, but it's a good one! It definitely ends on a hopeful note for most people involved. 

All in all, this was a good one!

Monday, June 19, 2017

Chief's Mess by L.A. Witt

Chief's Mess by L.A. Witt 

Review by Lauren

source: copy from Netgalley; all opinions are my own

Official Summary (add on Goodreads): Anthony Talbot is in Anchor Point to visit family, but after two days of strife, he needs a break. A local gay bar is calling his name.
When Chief Noah Jackson sees that red head stroll into the club, he immediately wants him. They’re perfectly matched, and before long, they’re burning up the sheets. Noah can’t get enough. Anthony can’t stay in Oregon for long, but as soon as he leaves, he’s counting down the days until he can fly back for more. And between his increasingly frequent visits, there’s always phone sex, sexting, webcams . . . anything they can get.

But Noah’s got a carefully crafted façade, and Anthony can’t help noticing the slowly forming cracks. The scent of alcohol in the middle of the day. The extra drinks at dinner. The hint of red in his eyes. Anthony knows what it means. He doesn’t want to believe it, but he’s seen this before, and there’s no denying it. If Noah doesn’t get his downward spiral under control, he’s going to lose both his career and the first man he’s ever really loved.

Review: Chief's Mess is the third book in the Anchor Point series, which features a bunch of Navy men falling in love. I'd suggest reading the books in order, or at least the second one before you start Chief's Mess since the couple in the 2nd book appears a few times in this one. At any rate, I really love Witt and her novels so I'd suggest reading all these books just because of that!

Anyway, back to Chief's Mess. I will say that this is probably my least favorite of the three books out so far, but that doesn't mean I didn't like it. I think my main - and really only - issue is that there is so much of their physical relationship throughout the book and sometimes I wanted a bit more. Now, I think the book is written well and you definitely get to know the two guys - Anthony and Noah - but every now and then I just wanted a bit more of the everyday, emotional side of their relationship. Besides that, this was a good one.

Anthony meets Noah in a bar while in Anchor Point with his sister. It's supposed to be a one night stand - and that turns into a week-long thing while Anthony is still in town. However, once Anthony leaves, they both realize they want more and that begins their long-distance relationship. Because they are able to see each other fairly regularly, it works. They get closer and it soon becomes more than the sex for both of them. They are genuinely falling for each other. However, Anthony is starting to notice that Noah drinks...a lot. He's not sure if it's really a problem or if he's projecting his sister's ex onto Noah.

All in all, I love the Anchor Point series. While I might have wished for a little less physical and a little more emotional, I feel like you still get enough of the emotional to make you fall for these guys. I definitely rooted them on! I can't wait for the fourth novel!

Friday, June 16, 2017

Pride Month: Book Deals + LGBT Book Giveaway

Riptide Publishing has been having some great sales in honor of Pride Month. Each week there are 50% off books on a different letter of LGBT. First it was books with lesbian characters and then books with gay characters. Until June 19, you can get half off on books with bisexual characters. Just visit Riptide here.

I've been eyeing all the books throughout the month but I bought my first one yesterday, so I know it features a bisexual character. The one I chose was Risky Behavior by L.A. Witt and Cari Z. I've read books by Witt before and love them, so I'm excited about this one! Of course the summary sounds great -and there is a sequel due out soon I believe!

I also wanted to let you know that I'm hosting a giveaway on Twitter for Pride Month-

Visit my Twitter page (the giveaway is pinned to the top). If you follow and RT the original tweet you can enter to win ANY #LGBT book up to $15. Open to anyone who can receive books from The Book Depository.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Heels Over Head by Elyse Springer

Heels Over Head by Elyse Springer

Review by Lauren

Source: copy from Netgalley; all opinions are my own

Official SummaryJeremy Reeve is one of the best divers in the world, and he’s worked hard to get where he is. He intends to keep pushing himself with one very clear goal in mind: winning gold at the summer Olympics in two years. That medal might be the only way to earn his father’s respect as an athlete.

Brandon Evans is everything Jeremy isn’t: carefree, outgoing, and openly gay. With his bright-blue eyes and dramatic tattoos, he’s a temptation that Jeremy refuses to acknowledge. But Jeremy can’t ignore how talented Brandon is—or that Brandon has no interest in using his diving skills to compete.

They’re opposites who are forced to work together as teammates, but Jeremy’s fear of his own sexuality and Brandon’s disinterest in anything “not fun” may end their partnership before it begins. Until a single moment changes everything, and they help each other discover that “team” can also mean family and love.

Review: I will admit that some people who read this might get really annoyed and frustrated with Jeremy. However, I think his attitude about certain things is reasonable. He doesn't have a great family life - his dad and brothers always make fun of his diving. He's a great diver though, and he's desperate to finally get that Olympic gold medal in hopes of making his family proud. Everything seems to be going smoothly, until his coach takes on a new diver named Brandon. Brandon's good, but he's not as disciplined. He's only been diving for two years.

Jeremy is prickly in the beginning but he soon accepts Brandon as a friend, and more. While Jeremy is definitely gay, he's terrified of people knowing. This makes Brandon have to hide their relationship, which he doesn't like, but he does it to stay with Jeremy. Obviously there is drama and issues surrounding this situation, as well as Jeremy's often single-minded focus on diving. This leads to hurt feelings between all involved. I don't want to say much because it would spoil the book, but I found the diving aspect of the story was really fascinating and I liked Brandon and Jeremy together when things were working well. I did feel bad for both of them, oftentimes more for Brandon who is trying so hard to be what Jeremy wants, but I understood the issues that Jeremy was facing and I was rooting for him to address those.

This is a relatively long read, but it went by pretty quick!

Monday, June 12, 2017

Goodbye Days by Jeff Zentner

Goodbye Days by Jeff Zentner 

Review by Lauren

source: copy from BloggingForBooks; all opinions are my own

Official SummaryOne day Carver Briggs had it all—three best friends, a supportive family, and a reputation as a talented writer at his high school, Nashville Academy for the Arts.

The next day he lost it all when he sent a simple text to his friend Mars, right before Mars, Eli, and Blake were killed in a car crash.

Now Carver can’t stop blaming himself for the accident, and he’s not the only one. Eli’s twin sister is trying to freeze him out of school with her death-ray stare. And Mars’s father, a powerful judge, is pressuring the district attorney to open a criminal investigation into Carver’s actions.

Luckily, Carver has some unexpected allies: Eli’s girlfriend, the only person to stand by him at school; Dr. Mendez, his new therapist; and Blake’s grandmother, who asks Carver to spend a Goodbye Day with her to share their memories and say a proper goodbye to his friend.

Soon the other families are asking for a Goodbye Day with Carver, but he’s unsure of their motives. Will they all be able to make peace with their losses, or will these Goodbye Days bring Carver one step closer to a complete breakdown or—even worse—prison?

Review: This book has a very intriguing question at the heart of it: if someone gets in a car accident due to texting, who's to blame? The person who texted - knowing they were driving - or the driver who tried to text back, while driving? Well, the main character in Goodbye Days, Carver, is the first half of that question. He texted one of his three best friends - knowing they were driving - and they got into a car accident, killing all three of the young men. Now Carver is afraid that charges will be pressed against him and he'll end up in jail. He's got a great lawyer, and he's finally seeing a psychiatrist, but the guilt eats away at Carver day after day.

While this sounds like a heartbreaking book - and it can be - it's also full of humor and hope. There are flashbacks to Carver meeting his three friends, as well as ordinary moments of them just having fun. The relationship between all three boys felt very realistic and I loved getting a glimpse of the life they all had BEFORE. 

I have yet to read The Serpent King by this author, but it's one I do want to get to soon. I highly recommend reading Goodbye Days whether you read the author's debut or not. They aren't connected, so no need to worry about that. I found this book to be upsetting and wonderful, often all at the same time. I wanted to yell at some of the adults in Carver's life for not understanding that he is a child too. I thought the idea of doing a Goodbye Day with the various parents/adults of the boys lost - Blake, Eli, Mars-  was a really brilliant idea. 

Some were much harder for Carver than others, but he starts with saying goodbye to Blake with Blake's grandma, who loves Carver and would never blame him. This goodbye day is obviously my favorite. I think all of them helped Carver heal a little bit though, even if it opened up some of the wounds at the same time. 

Very good; I recommend! I'm sharing this review here because one of my Carver's friends is gay, and there are a couple really wonderful moments in the book! 

Friday, June 9, 2017

Straight Expectations: The Story of a Family in Transition by Peggy Cryden

Straight Expectations: The Story of a Family in Transition by Peggy Cryden

Review by Lauren

source: copy from Netgalley; all opinions are my own

Official SummaryEver since they were young, Peggy Cryden noticed her children's gender expression did not correspond with society's expectations of their biological gender. In this moving and honest memoir, Peggy details the experiences and challenges of raising both a gay son and a gay, transgender son and shares her family's journey of adversity and growth, which has helped inform her work as a psychotherapist.

Review: I'm glad to have been given the chance to read this book. It was a very well done memoir. The writing style was easy to read and follow. It's almost conversational. In the beginning, it does focus a lot on Cryden's own life growing up, and while this was interesting, I still found myself more eager to hear about her sons. After all, that was the aspect of the book that made me most interested in reading Straight Expectations!

It was heartbreaking to hear about all that her two sons had to endure growing up, but it was also great to see how they grew and become wonderful young men. The book focuses on a transgender son, a gay son, a son with OCD and a eating disorder, and more. The author doesn't shy away from these topics. She's open and honest. This is a good book to read whether you know a lot about LGBT+ youth already or not. 

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

It Could Happen by Mia Kerick

It Could Happen by Mia Kerick

Review by Lauren

source: copy from Dreamspinner press; all opinions are my own

Official SummaryThree misfits, mismatched in every way—Henry Perkins, Brody Decker, and Danny Denisco—have been friends throughout high school. Now in their senior year, the boys realize their relationship is changing, that they’re falling in love. But they face opposition at every turn—from outside and from within themselves. Moving to the next level will take all the courage, understanding, and commitment they can muster. But it could happen.

Henry is a star athlete and the son of religious parents who have little concern for the future he wants. Brody is a quirky dreamer and adrenaline junkie, and Danny is an emo artist and the target of bullies. Despite their differences they’ve always had each other’s backs, and with each of them facing a new and unique set of challenges, that support is more important than ever. Is it worth risking the friendship they all depend on for the physical and romantic relationship they all desire?

Review: When reviewing this on Goodreads, I couldn't really rate this book because it was more of a 3.5 than a 3 or a 4. It's a good read. I liked the relationship between the three guys and how they became each other's family. I thought the adults in the book spoke in a weird, sort of stilted manner though. It didn't feel entirely realistic. All in all, it was a good story though. It was interesting to see how the three guys made their relationship work while still in high school.