Friday, December 30, 2016

Novellas: Scrooged Over and All I Want for Christmas...Is No Christmas

All I Want for Christmas...Is No Christmas by Colton Aalto

Review by Lauren

source: copy from publisher; all opinions are my own

Buy from Amazon (amazon associates link)

Official Summary: Visit Goodreads 

Review: Alec is in Aspen for the holidays, earning money by having sex with people. He's been doing this since he was kicked out by his parents. It isn't what he wants, but it allows him to pay for college. However, he ends up being arrested in Aspen and he thinks his job has finally been found out. What is worse is that his best friend's cousin, Hayden, is the one interrogating him. This was a fun read. It wasn't quite what I expected, and I think it could have made a better novel as there were aspects of the book that weren't quite resolved. I'm also not sure I can totally get behind the sudden romance, but it's not terrible!


Scrooged Over by David Connor

Review by Lauren

source: copy from publisher; all opinions are my own

Buy from Amazon (amazon associates link)

Official Summary: Visit Goodreads 

Review: Deke and Dudley have their own radio show. Deke hates the holidays and Dudley loves them. They make a bet to see how many people they can get to call in or create videos saying if they love/hate Christmas. If Deke wins (more people hate it), he gets to set Dudley up on a blind date, and if Dudley wins (more people love Christmas), he gets to set Deke up on a blind date.

This was a cute read. I felt really bad for Dudley though, because a lot of his Christmas plans go wrong and you can tell how frustrated how he gets. Christmas can be stressful but nothing seems to work out for Dudley and he loves it so much, it's a bit disheartening. Of course, the book does end well. This novella has some fun humor in it though, as Deke and Dudley spar a lot on the radio. I love humor in books!

Thursday, December 29, 2016

Holiday Novellas: Traditions, Simple After All, The Stockings Were Hung

I know Christmas has passed, but that doesn't mean you can't still read holiday themed reads! I'm back with a few more novella reviews!



Traditions by Ann Anderson

Review by Lauren

source: copy from publisher - all opinions are my own

Buy on Amazon (amazon associates link)

Official Summary: Visit Goodreads

Review: Traditions was a cute read, but it was definitely a predictable one. Mark and James have been dating for years, but after being overwhelmed during Christmas at Jame's parent's house, Mark hasn't been since their first year. This year, he surprises James by attending the big celebration. It's obviously a sweet gesture on Mark's part and you could tell the two made a good couple. They could easily read each other. Like I said, the overall story is pretty easy to guess, but I still won't ruin it for you if you want to read.

Simple After All by Yolande Kleinn

Review by Lauren

source: copy from publisher - all opinions are my own

Buy on Amazon (amazon associates link)

Official Summary: Visit Goodreads

Review: This is one of the longer novellas and I really loved it. It's about Noah, a fairly grumpy man, who attends his family's huge Christmas gathering every year because he loves them. His sister often brings along a friend every year, and this time, she brings along Riley. Despite Noah's outward nature, Riley believes there is more to the man than meets the eye and slowly they start to get to know each other over the holiday week. It's a relatively quick romance, but I really did love these two together. It's the whole "opposites attract" idea and it works!

The Stockings Were Hung by Cassie Sweet

Review by Lauren

source: copy from publisher- all opinions are my own

Buy on Amazon (amazon associates link) 

Official Summary: Visit Goodreads

Review: This was a nice read, but I have to say that the reasoning for Drew moving away, and subsequently breaking Hill's heart, just didn't work for me. I think he should have talked to Hill about things and be more honest. Regardless, second chance romances are a guilty pleasure of mine, if you will, so it was nice to see the two start to open up a bit. It ended in a good spot too, I thought. Nothing too unrealistic. All in all, a good story.

Monday, December 26, 2016

Wrapped Together by Annabeth Albert


Wrapped Together by Annabeth Albert

Review by Lauren

source: copy from Netgalley; all opinions are my own

Official SummaryFor a stationery store owner, the holidays are great for business. But for Hollis Alcott, Christmas reminds him of the tragic events of three years past, and the last thing he wants to do is take part in Portland’s over-abundance of festive cheer. But Sawyer Murphy, a hunky gift shop owner whose brother is married to Hollis’s sister, has made it his mission to pluck Hollis out of his holiday blues. And his plan is beginning to work. Wrapped in the warm glow of newfound passion, the former business rivals hit up Portland’s finest holiday traditions—and Hollis’s icy attitude begins to melt like snowflakes on his tongue. But he isn’t sure he can trust anyone with the only gift he has—his heart—without breaking it like an antique ornament. Unless he can find the courage to take a leap with the one lover he never expected . . .

Review: This is the 5th novel in the Portland Heat series, but I think it's only the second one that I've read. I definitely need to read the others though, because Albert is a fantastic writer and creator of characters that you just grow to love. The only small, tiny negative I'd have about Wrapped Together is that it's just not long enough! Alas...I did love what I was given.

This book is about Hollis Alcott and Sawyer Murphy. Hollis' twin sister is married to Sawyer's twin brother, and people have been pushing these two together for years. Despite growing up as friends, they are very different people and Hollis mostly keeps to himself, especially after the tragic death of his parents. Sawyer, on the other hand, is more out and proud, bringing around guys all the time. Hollis tries to squash any feelings he has for Sawyer, but it's difficult.

When Sawyer makes it his Christmas mission to bring the joy of the season back into Hollis' life, Hollis realizes that he really does want to be with Sawyer, not to mention all the happiness he's been missing. However, Hollis thinks he knows Sawyer. Anything the two of them have will just end, because Sawyer can't stay committed to anything.

I loved both of these characters, despite their vast differences. I thought it was wonderful how Albert showed aspect of these men that the other hadn't realized existed. It just goes to show how pre-conceived notions aren't always right, no matter how long you have known someone.

Wrapped Together was such a sweet novel, and perfect for the holiday season! Definitely worth reading!

Want to read Wrapped Together? Get it from Amazon for $1.99

Merry Belated Christmas and Happy Hanukkah to those that celebrate! Happy Monday to those that do not! I will be around this week with a few posts so don't forget to check back and comment! I'll be visiting your blogs too!

Friday, December 23, 2016

LGBT + Christmas = ? by Catherine Hume


Christmas and the Christmas holidays can be a time of hope, a time for family and a time of new beginnings.  However, for LGBT+ people, Christmas and the Christmas holidays can be a time of loneliness, rejection and worry.  What can we do if we do not have loving families with whom to spend Christmas and the holiday season?

It has been said that as LGBT people, we make our own families.  Many of us have good friends we can call upon, spend Christmas Day with, or even the whole holiday season.  However, if this is not possible, we must look for alternative ways to spend Christmas Day and the days around it. 

Some of us can gain extra hours at work over Christmas.  Employers often give the main celebration days such as Christmas Day and Boxing Day as vacation days to people who have children, and that means these days can be ours for the taking, along with the higher rates of pay given for working these days.  Working Christmas can be fun – I’ve worked many Christmases.  There is often less work and more of a relaxed atmosphere over the Christmas period, as well as boxes of chocolates and biscuits for the staff to munch through.

In most towns and cities, there are free meals offered to people who will spend Christmas alone.  Some of these meals are attended by people who have drink or drug problems and are resident in the local homeless person’s hostel.  If this is not your thing, see if your local LGBT services are offering a Christmas meal or get-togethers over the holiday period.  Socialising network sites such as Meetup.com have groups in most towns and cities and most of these groups will have socialising events during the holiday period.

You could spend the holidays volunteering, perhaps at a homeless person’s shelter, or at an animal sanctuary.  Christmas is often about giving as well as receiving.

If you are Christian or simply wish to go to church, most churches are open over the Christmas period for Carol singing and Nativity services.  In most towns and cities, there are churches that welcome LGBT people, and some churches are mainly LGBT.  You can find LGBT churches in your local area by a quick internet search.  However, you can also spend time on your own, thinking about your own beliefs and how you wish to carry them out in the coming year.

The holidays can be used as a time to think about yourself and what you wish to achieve in 2017.  Think about what your hopes and dreams are and how you can realize them or work towards them in 2017. 


However, you spend this Christmas and holiday time, make sure you take care of yourself.  Happy Christmas and happy holidays.

Post written by Catherine Hume, check out her blog
Original photo from Unsplash

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Glass Tidings by Amy Jo Cousins


Glass Tidings by Amy Jo Cousins

Review by Lauren

source: copy from Netgalley; all opinions are my own

Official SummaryEddie Rodrigues doesn’t stay in one place long enough to get attached. The only time he broke that rule, things went south fast. Now he’s on the road again, with barely enough cash in his pocket to hop a bus south after his (sort-of-stolen) car breaks down in the middle of nowhere, Midwest, USA.

He’s fine. He’ll manage. Until he watches that girl get hit by a car and left to die.

Local shop owner Grayson Croft isn’t in the habit of doing people any favors. But even a recluse can’t avoid everyone in a town as small as Clear Lake. And when the cop who played Juliet to your Romeo in the high school play asks you to put up her key witness for the night, you say yes.

Now Gray’s got a grouchy glass artist stomping around his big, empty house, and it turns out that he . . . maybe . . . kind of . . . likes the company.

But Eddie Rodrigues never sticks around.

Unless a Christmas shop owner who hates the season can show an orphan what it means to have family for the holidays.


Review: Let me preface this review by saying that I really love this author and some of her other novels, but Glass Tidings just didn't work for me all that much. There is some age difference between Gray and Eddie, though I couldn't ever really figure out how much. Age differences in romance don't bother me if they are done well, but I just felt like Eddie was too much of a kid for Gray and therefore, it didn't entirely ring "true" for me.

Also, the reason that Eddie is stuck in town is due to a hit and run that he witnessed. I thought this aspect would play more of a part, but it didn't. Sure, it's mentioned throughout and there were some parts of this story line that I did not see coming, but all in all, it just seemed like a convenient way for the two guys to meet.

Regardless of my qualms, I did finish the book, so it wasn't terrible and I did really enjoy parts of the story. I thought Gray and Eddie's love of books was really cute, and I liked how both characters grew throughout the novel. All in all, I gave this 3 stars on Goodreads.

Want to read Glass Tidings? Get it from Amazon for $17.99

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Novella Reviews: Resolutions and Krampus Hates Christmas

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I'm back with a couple more novella reviews from the Bah Humbug Advent Calendar, courtesy of Dreamspinner Press.

Resolutions by Emma Keene

Review by Lauren

source: copy from publisher; all opinions are my own

Official SummaryAs an advertising executive, it’s Logan’s job to sell people holiday cheer, and he’s good at what he does. But deep down, Logan hates everything about Christmas, so he worries that his crush on the hot baker who loves the holidays is a recipe for disaster.

Last year, Logan saw Ryan at a holiday party Ryan was catering, and the attraction was instant. In a drunken moment, Logan made it his New Year’s Resolution to ask the pastry chef out. But another year has slipped away, time is running out, and Logan’s assistant demands he collect on his resolution. Can Logan find the confidence that usually comes so easily to him? And if he does, will Ryan have any interest in spending the holidays with a man who doesn’t share his enthusiasm for the season?


Review: While I enjoyed this one, it definitely wasn't my favorite. The basic idea is that Logan makes a drunken New Year's Resolution to ask out caterer Ryan, when he meets him at a holiday party. The book starts almost a full year later and Logan still hasn't done it. His office secretary pushes him to do it, telling him that he needs to at least try, even if Ryan says no. I understand the reluctance to ask out a near-stranger. Logan doesn't want to be let down. However, there is an aspect of this story that just didn't ring true to me. I can't see it happening in real life - but then again, maybe it could? Like I said, it 's a good read, but more of the short and sweet variety than anything truly amazing.

Want to read Resolutions? Get it from Amazon for $1.99


Krampus Hates Christmas by Andi Van

Review by Lauren

source: copy from publisher; all opinions are my own

Official SummaryKarl Kringle hates the modern-day Christmas. He was born to be Krampus, but the Holiday Council refuses to let him help his brother Nick—aka Santa Claus—with the Naughty List until he finds his holiday spirit. To meet that challenge, he’s turned human and dumped in a strange apartment.

Lewis Weatherby loves the holidays and always has. Not only do his parents own a pumpkin patch and tree farm, he’s also inherited a Christmas-themed shop. All he wants from Santa is the man of his dreams, and the Big Guy might’ve just delivered. Lewis’s new neighbor Karl is gorgeous, sweet, and has a fantastic sense of humor—if his jokes about being Krampus are any indication.

Soon getting home is less important to Karl than what will happen when Lewis inevitably realizes the truth behind his jokes. He’s finally starting to understand the real joy of the season—now he just has to figure out how to hold on to it.
 


Review: This is one of the longer novellas and for that, I was really happy, because it benefits from a slightly fuller story and it's definitely one of my favorites in the collection. I highly recommend it!

Karl Kringle looks a bit like an animal, fur and hooves to match. He's Nick Kringle's twin brother - Santa Claus to most people - and he's supposed to help Nick every Christmas by taking care of the naughty children. The council won't let him though. So Nick's husband sends Karl to live in the apartment building he owns until Krampus Day, disguising him as a human, in hopes that he will find his Christmas spirit.

It's here that Karl meets his neighbor, Lewis, and they soon start a friendship that leads to more. It's easy to feel concerned about this relationship though, since Lewis doesn't know Karl's full story and Karl is unsure if Lewis will stay with him when he once again takes on his "animal-esque" appearance. 

I loved these two together though! Lewis loves Christmas and it's nice to see Karl slowly develop more of a love for it, helping out with Lewis' shop and decorating a Christmas tree. Family plays a big part in this novella and I thought it was done really well. I'd love to read more about Karl and Lewis in the future! It was a fun, imaginative story!

Want to read Krampus Hates Christmas? Get it from Amazon for $3.99

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Novella Reviews: Iced and #ChristmasHatesYouToo


Bah Humbug is the Dreamspinner Press Advent Calendar. You can buy the whole calendar, or you can buy the individual novellas. I'm here today to share a couple novella reviews; not all the titles have their own cover, but if they do, I'll share it!

Iced by Jon Keys

Review by Lauren

source: copy from publisher; all opinions are my own

Official SummaryKeith Walker, a mall bookstore employee, is struggling to get through another miserable holiday season while trying to preserve a crumbling long-term relationship. One of his few comforts is his morning coffee made by a good-looking, younger barista. Austin Novak felt an attraction when Keith started frequenting the coffee shop, but he doesn’t think the older man has any interest in him or his graphic novel collection.

A Christmas week snowstorm buries the city and locks Keith’s car into its parking spot. Keith decides to show Austin his gratitude for helping free the car from the ice with a dinner invitation. The meal becomes complicated when Austin meets Keith’s boyfriend, Shawn, and things go downhill from there when Shawn announces he’s heading to CancĂșn with his coworkers. Keith is caught between keeping his boyfriend happy and keeping his job. But Keith might not need a plane ticket to find the happiness that’s been missing from his life.


Review: I really enjoyed Iced. It's a simple story, with Keith having a crush on the barista, Austin. One night it gets so cold and icy, his car is stuck in the mall parking lot, and Austin comes to his rescue. As a thanks, he invites him over to dinner, where they find Keith's boyfriend Shawn with his best friend. It's obvious the two are a little flirtatious and Austin is angry on Keith's behalf.

I thought Keith was a really good guy, but he definitely lets people walk over him. Austin is more outspoken and he does care for Keith, but ultimately, he just wishes that Keith wasn't with Shawn - who is obviously bad for him. As it's a novella, you don't get a ton of character growth, but when it comes to Austin and Keith, there isn't much they need to change. Keith just needs to stand up for himself more. It's a good, quick read!

Want to buy Iced? Get it from Amazon for $1.99


#ChristmasHatesYouToo by E.F. Mulder

Review by Lauren

source: copy from publisher; all opinions are my own

Official SummaryBorn December 25, Noel Beebe is tired of having his birthday overshadowed by all things Christmas. While looking for love on social media, he comes across a prospective new beau just in time to celebrate the Big 3-0, someone who encourages him to take back his day and say thumbs down to Christmas! On a trip to the Big Apple, Noel does just that, flipping off the Rockefeller Center tree and demanding his coffee in a nondecorative paper cup as a fun birthday prank. His act of defiance is caught on video and soon goes viral, leading to a backlash all over the Twitterverse, Internet, and TV. Suddenly what Noel thought would be his best birthday—and even Christmas—yet is shaping up to be his worst. Can his family and his potential boyfriend prove to the world that Noel isn’t the Scrooge he’s been labeled?

Review: I really loved this novella! Noel (rhymes with Joel, not No-El) isn't a big fan of being born on December 25th. It just means that his birthday gets mixed in with Christmas and it's not really celebrated all on its own. When he ends up going out on a date with someone he met via Twitter, they persuade him to have a little fun and pronounce his hatred of Christmas wherever they go. For example, when visiting a coffee shop, Noel will loudly say how he hates Christmas and he doesn't want a holiday cup, he wants a regular cup! The man he's out with video tapes most of these interactions and puts some up on his Twitter feed. Unfortunately, Noel's videos go viral.

Suddenly, he's all over the news. The hashtag "#ChristmasHatesYouToo" is used over and over. Everyone in the world seems to think that Noel is an awful person who hates Christmas and somehow, America. It's ridiculous, but it's definitely upsetting and Noel doesn't know what to do to show that he really doesn't hate all these things. It was just for fun.

It's ultimately up to Noel's potential boyfriend, friends, and family to "clear" Noel's name. All in all, it's a really cute read. I thought the premise was kind of fun - I could definitely see someone doing something similar to Noel all in good fun and having it blown way out of proportion.

Want to read #ChristmasHatesYouToo? Buy it from Amazon for $3.99

Monday, December 19, 2016

Blog Tour for His Needs by Kris T. Bethke (Excerpt)



Hi there! I’m Kris Bethke, and I’ve stopped in to talk about my latest release. His Needs is a holiday novella featuring two men who have been in each other’s lives since childhood, but have yet to take that next step. Travis Kinslow has long wanted Noah Mastriano, but Noah didn’t know. When they finally get together, everything settles in their world. But first they have their first real date.

Enjoy the excerpt and Happy Holidays!

Excerpt:

“You look really nice.” Noah’s voice was close, as if he were only a foot or two behind me. That was confirmed when he tugged on the hem of my sweater. “I love this color on you.”
I knew that. It was why I’d chosen the dark blue cabled sweater in the first place. Well, that and because it was a bit loose and comfortable. I’d managed to put on a pair of older, soft jeans. They were a little bit baggy and worn with age. I needed a loose shirt as well, as my side was still a mess of bruises and any sort of pressure on them made it uncomfortable. But I’d had several sweaters to choose from. I’d gone with the navy because he had complimented me before when I’d worn the color.
“Thank you,” I said quietly after I shut off the water. I set the pitcher on the counter, then quickly opened the roses and placed them inside. Noah took the cellophane and threw it in the trash, and then he came back to fuss with the roses a little until he was happy.
He stepped up close to my left side, and one of his hands landed on my waist. “You really like them? I worried it was too much.”
His gaze searched mine, looking for the truth, and I smiled and wrapped my arms around him, pulling him into a hug. I would have loved to squeeze him tightly, but my body wasn’t quite up to that yet. Instead, I kissed the top of his head, and then, when he tilted his face back to look at me, leaned down far enough to give him a gentle, soft kiss on the lips.
“I love them.” I leaned in again. One taste was not enough. I needed more. The first kiss had been chaste, nothing more than a lingering peck. This time I pressed for entrance, and Noah responded beautifully. He pushed into my arms, his mouth opening, and his tongue snaking out to meet mine.
I cupped his head, tilting his mouth for a better fit. He sighed and then made a hungry noise. He kissed me back hard, his lips and teeth devouring, and I moaned low in my throat. He tasted so good, like mint and coffee and him, and I wanted to eat him up.
Suddenly Noah pulled back, turning his head to the side to break our kiss. My mouth landed on his jaw, and I nibbled his skin even as I asked, “You okay?”
“Yeah,” he panted. “Just fine. Hard as fuck and wanting you. But fine.”
I groaned and tried to pull him closer. The instant I felt his resistance, I froze. “Noah?”
He closed his eyes and exhaled sharply, but he slid his fingers up my neck and into my hair. He massaged my scalp, and then took a slow, deep breath before opening his eyes and giving me a serene smile.
“Want you,” he murmured, pushing a bit closer. “But lunch and shopping and date first, yeah?”
I laughed, kissed him quickly, and then made a show of stepping back and lifting my hands in surrender. “Absolutely.”

Buy Links:




Blurb:

When State Trooper Travis Kinslow is injured right before Thanksgiving, the only positive is that for once he won’t be working during the holidays. Since he has no family, Travis was absorbed into his best friend, Joe’s, and he considers them as good as his own. Everyone except Joe’s brother Noah. Travis has been in love with the younger man for much of his life, but he’s always kept his distance.
As an ER nurse, Noah is a caretaker by nature. When his brother’s best friend is hurt, he’s happy to help Travis while he heals. He’s only ever allowed himself to think of Travis as the next best thing to an older brother, but by the light of the Christmas tree, Noah finally sees Travis’s true feelings. And in that moment, everything changes.

When faced with opposition and a Christmas nothing like they imagined, will their hopes for the future be enough to carry them through?


Author Bio:

Kris T. Bethke has been a voracious reader for pretty much her entire life and has been writing stories for nearly as long.  An avid and prolific daydreamer, she always has a story in her head.  She spends most of her free time reading, writing, or knitting/crocheting her latest project.  Her biggest desire is to find a way to accomplish all three tasks at one time.  A classic muscle car will always turn her head, and naps on the weekend are one of her greatest guilty pleasures.  She lives in a converted attic with a way too fluffy cat and the voices in her head.  She’ll tell you she thinks that’s a pretty good deal. Kris believes that love is love, no matter the gender of people involved, and that all love deserves to be celebrated.


Find her on her site https://kristbethke.com or on Twitter twitter.com/kristbethke

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

M/M Christmas Titles Released in November

As it's about the middle of December, a lot of you are probably thinking CHRISTMAS almost non-stop. I'm currently reading a bunch of novellas from Dreamspinner Press, and you can check them all out here. The whole collection is Bah Humbug and you can buy it for $64.99. Now, that sounds like a lot - BUT you can also buy individual stories for $1.99 or $3.99 - I assume the $3.99 stories are the longer ones, because some really are longer! I'll start reviewing those ASAP, with probably two stories per post. I'm not reading/reviewing them all - just the ones that sounded interesting to me!

Anyway, if you are looking for something Christmas-themed to read NOW, I wanted to share some m/m novels that came out in November that I think sound great. I'll share December/January picks soon! I'm linking you to Goodreads if you want to add these titles to your to-read list, but I'm also using my Amazon Associates links if you want to buy a copy!

What do you want to read?



A Family for Christmas by Jay Northcote 

Check it out on Goodreads

Buy on Amazon for $2.99


A Christmas Kiss by Annabelle Jacobs

Check it out on Goodreads

Buy on Amazon for $2.99


Walking on Thin Ice by Jocelynn Drake

Check it out on Goodreads

Buy on Amazon for $2.99

Sunday, December 11, 2016

LGBT+ Book Reviews Around the Blogosphere


Not too many LGBT+ book reviews around the blogsosphere, but hopefully you will enjoy these! I'm using amazon associates, so if you buy any of these from my site, I get a small percent! Thanks for the support.

Bad Boy by Elliot Wake - Review by Rebel Mommy Book Blog: Buy HERE 

Outside the Lines by A.R. Barley - Review by The Nocturnal Library: Buy HERE 

Of Fire and Stars by Audrey Coulthurst - Review by Kissin Blue Karen: Buy HERE 

Beast by Brie Spangler - Review by Tales of the Ravenous Reader: Buy HERE

Friday, December 9, 2016

Clickbait by E.J. Russell


Clickbait by E.J. Russell

Review by Lauren

source: copy from Netgalley; all opinions are my own

Official SummaryAfter the disastrous ending of his first serious relationship, Gideon Wallace cultivated a protective — but fabulously shiny — outer shell to shield himself from Heartbreak 2.0. Besides, romance is so not a priority for him right now. All his web design prospects have inexplicably evaporated, and to save his fledgling business, he’s been compelled to take a hands-on hardware project — as in, his hands on screwdrivers, soldering irons, and needle-nosed pliers. God. Failure could actually be an option.

Journeyman electrician Alex Henning is ready to leave Gideon twisting in the wind after their run-ins both on and off the construction site. Except, like a fool, he takes pity on the guy and offers to help. Never mind that between coping with his dad’s dementia and clocking all the overtime he can finagle, he has zero room in his life for more complications.

Apparently, an office build-out can lay the foundation for a new relationship. Who knew? But before Alex can trust Gideon with the truth about his fragile family, he has to believe that Gideon’s capable of caring about more than appearances. And Gideon must learn that when it comes to the heart, it’s content — not presentation — that matters.


Review:

Gideon Wallace is a tech geek, whose first real relationship scared him away from anything beyond a two-date limit. However, he’s suddenly desperate for work, his web design prospects drying up, so he takes on a hardware job that will hopefully lead to working on the company’s website. This job leads him right to Alex Henning, who he’s already made a bad impression in front of, and whose large size freaks Gideon out, reminding him of his ex.

As for Alex, he’s a hardworking young man whose sister is one of Gideon’s roommates. He’s had a crush on Gideon for years, but Gideon doesn’t remember him at first, not having been around him much. Alex would like to get to know Gideon better, but his dad’s memory is failing and he feels too much obligation to take care of everything and everyone to make himself happy.

However, a deal is made where Alex helps Gideon finish his project by the deadline if Gideon will go out with Alex three times and this brings the two closer. I really liked the dynamic between these two, despite them being very different. Alex wants to have a relationship, but he also feels guilty if he’s not around to help his mom, and Gideon is too afraid to try a relationship after the way his first ended. Despite this, the two find they like hanging out together, Gideon more so than Alex, as Gideon is the one who has more prejudices he has to face. I liked that the author focused on this aspect of Gideon. It didn’t mean he was a bad person, but he did picture himself with someone more white collar and successful; someone more on his intellectual wavelength. So being with a blue collar guy like Alex has him rechecking things he used to believe. Alex is aware of this though, and he does push Gideon to see things different and I liked that.

I also really liked the added diversity of Gideon being white and Alex being black. Alex comments on his race a few times, thinking Gideon is judging him on it, but that is one thing that doesn’t affect Gideon. Race didn’t matter. It was other aspects that he had to work around, and I liked that. It showed that people have different pre-conceived notions or prejudices apart from race that they have to deal with.

While the two ultimately do become physical, this is actually a book that doesn’t deal too much with that side of the relationship. You really get to know the two main characters, and they learn to work together as well. Gideon has his past to deal with, from his ex-boyfriend to his parents, while Alex has his dad’s condition that has mostly been kept a family secret. I liked getting to know Gideon and Alex separately and together, and I thought the author did a good job exploring more than their relationship in the book - though I did like their relationship and I appreciated that it wasn’t always easy. It felt realistic overall. 

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Just Drive by L.A. Witt


Just Drive by L.A. Witt

Review by Lauren

source: copy from Netgalley; all opinions are my own

Official SummaryFor Sean Wright, driving a cab in the tiny Navy town of Anchor Point isn’t an exciting job . . . until he picks up just-dumped Paul Richards. A drive turns into a walk on the pier, which turns into the hottest hookup Sean’s had in ages.

After a long overdue breakup, Paul can’t believe his luck. Of all the drivers, he’s picked up by the gorgeous, gay, and very willing Sean. Younger guys aren’t usually his thing, but Paul can’t resist.

One taste and neither man can get enough . . . right up until they realize that Paul is Sean’s father’s commanding officer and the last man Sean should be involved with.

With two careers on the line, their only option is to back off. It’s not easy, though; the sex and the emotional connection are exactly what both men have been craving for a long time. But Paul has devoted twenty-four years to his career and his dream of making admiral. If he’s caught with Sean, that’s all over. He has to choose—stay the course, or trade it all for the man who drove off with his heart.


ReviewJust Drive is the first in the Anchor Point series and it was definitely a good one. The overall plot concerns Paul, a career Navy man, and Sean, a twenty-something whose father is a career navy man. One night Sean picks up Paul outside a hotel, as he’s an Uber driver of sorts, and Paul’s first- and only words for a while- are “just drive.” So Sean does. There is a pretty immediate attraction on Sean’s part and the two do end up getting physical. They tell themselves they need to stop though, mostly because Sean is half Paul’s age. More issues arise as they keep meeting up, addicted to the physical aspect of their relationship, while also starting to like the person underneath. The official summary of the book gives away more details about how the plot, but I’ll just say that the drama was definitely realistic and deals with more than just the big age gap.

When it comes to novels, I don’t really mind age gaps. I will admit that seeing this in real life often throws me off, but I personally know people who are with someone a lot older than them, so I know that it can work in some cases. It was obvious that Sean and Paul had a connection, and I did appreciate that Witt showed them having conversations and sharing the hard times in their lives – Paul pretending to be straight for so long; Sean’s life being dictated by the Navy as he moved around the world – as it allowed me to see how the two fit apart from the physical.

Despite getting to know Paul and Sean fairly well, I still felt like things moved a bit quick. Regardless, the end worked well for me. I thought things came to a natural conclusion and decisions were made with care. I don’t want to say too much as I do want you to go along for the ride without too many preconceived notions of what Just Drive will deliver. I will say that I loved these characters and getting to learn about their backgrounds, and I thought the premise was interesting – not only with the age gap but with the military aspect too. I’ll be curious to see what the next Anchor Point novel has to offer. 

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Guyliner by J. Leigh Bailey


Guyliner by J. Leigh Bailey

Review by Lauren

source: copy for review; all opinions are my own

Official SummarySeventeen-year-old Connor works his butt off to maintain the golden-boy persona he’s created. He has the grades, the extracurriculars, the athletics, and a part-time job at his dad’s shop… every detail specifically chosen to ensure the college scholarships he needs to get the hell out of the Podunk town where he lives. The last thing he needs is an unexpected attraction to Graham, an eyeliner-wearing soccer phenom from St. Louis, who makes him question his goals and his sexuality. Sure, he’s noticed good-looking boys before—that doesn’t have to mean anything, right?—but he’s got a girlfriend. There’s no room on the agenda for hooking up with Graham, but the heart doesn’t always follow the rules.

As he and Graham grow close, other aspects of Connor’s life fall apart. Family pressure, bad luck, and rumors threaten to derail his carefully laid plans. Suddenly the future he’s fighting for doesn’t seem quite as alluring, especially if he has to deny who he really is to achieve it.


ReviewI’ve read- and loved – a few books by Bailey, but the characters were all usually college-aged. In Guyliner, our main characters are juniors in high school, and I really liked that dynamic. It meant that family played a larger role than is sometimes so in adult novels. This book focuses on Connor and Graham, who ultimately fall for each other. The road there takes some time though.
Connor is known as “The Golden Boy.” He’s a star baseball player, gets perfect grades, is good to his siblings, and has a cute and respectable girlfriend. As for Graham, he’s new to the town and is the “Guyliner” in the title. He’s out and proud, a star soccer player, and is often found saying way too much when bullies get in his way.

Connor notices Graham right away, and it’s clear from the beginning that Connor has had feelings about guys before. He’s always ignored them until Graham, though. His girlfriend, Allyson, is great, one of his best friends, but the two of them are hardly physical. She’s okay with that though, and she calls Connor out when he tries to kiss her, knowing that he’s not being true to himself. She doesn’t suspect he’s gay, but she does know that he’s trying to put on some sort of act.

When Connor and Graham are forced to spend Saturday afternoons cleaning out a sports shed in lieu of normal detention, the two start to get to know each other better. They even spend a monumental weekend in Chicago with Graham’s parents that leads to a lot of truth telling from both of them. Graham has already been through something traumatic that has made him determined never to hide his sexuality again, and it’s definitely heartbreaking. It’s easy to see why he won’t hide just for Connor, even if he does want to be with him.

This is definitely a great book for teens, but I think adults would enjoy it too. It’s not full of too many physical moments, but what is there is done well. I thought the characters were fully-formed and I loved getting to know each set of parents and families, as well as their friends. Even the secondary characters seemed to be multi-dimensional and I always appreciate that. The romance is the surrounding topic of the book, but since this is more about accepting oneself and being true to who you are, don’t expect too much of a relationship until the end. I don’t mind coming out stories – because I do think they will continue to be needed – but they do make me wish I had another book that really explored the two characters together.

Regardless, Guyliner was a good read. I’ll continue reading this author for sure! 

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Looking Toward 2017...

Hello everyone!

How was your Thanksgiving, if you were in the U.S.? Personally, I'm glad it's over. I'd much rather focus on all the fun Christmas events coming up. I'm not a big fan of Thanksgiving day. I did get to see Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them for a second time though - my parents came along and they really loved it! I knew they would though, as they really loved the HP movies too. Seen any good films lately?

I thought I'd do a little mini update post since I haven't posted in a week. I'm reading a lot of LGBT+ fiction though, so there should be more book reviews posted soon!

Right now, though, I wanted to see what you would like to see in 2017:

I'll continue reviewing books, etc. but what else do you want?

Should I bring Etsy Pride back?
Do you like the author Top Ten Tuesday posts?
Do you want more LGBT+ news? Other entertainment related posts? (I do want to add more about music, movies, etc.)

Please share your thoughts!

-Lauren

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Big Gay Fiction Giveaway: Free Books!


I wanted to make sure that all of you knew that between now and November 27, you can claim complete LGBT+ novels, short stories, and sample chapters from 80+ authors. I've already visited and grabbed the ones that I wanted, and you should definitely do the same! Visit here to see what is up for grabs (and remember, it's FREE!!) All you do is click the books you are interested in and it will take you to a page where you have to put in your name and email - for the author's newsletter. It will also let you know if you are getting the whole novel, a short story, or just a sample. All worth it. 

The books I've already read and you should too:

The Thing I Didn't Know I Didn't Know by Brent Hartinger

Buzz by E. Davies

The books I claimed for free:

Helping Hand by Jay Northcote

Play On by Avery Cockburn (I've read the first book in this series, but this is the novella that starts it all)

Dangerous Ground by Josh Lanyon

Friends Like You by Beau Bishop

Incognito by L.A. Watson

Taking Chances by S.K. Grayson

Please Note:

It looks like all the books are m/m BUT there are a variety of genres, so there is something for everyone that likes m/m fiction. Definitely think about grabbing some of these - either the ones I've already read/loved, the ones I chose for myself, or any of the many others! 

Happy Thanksgiving to those in the U.S.!!!

Monday, November 21, 2016

LGBT+ Book Reviews Around the Blogosphere

Happy Monday everyone! Today, I have some LGBT+ reviews that I found around the blogosphere these past couple weeks. Please send me your links if you read/review any LGBT+ books and I will share them in my future round up!

-Lauren


Hotline by Quinn Anderson - Review by Rebel Mommy Book Blog

Black Snow by EAB - Review by Metaphors and Moonlight

As I Descended by Robin Talley - Review by Bookwyrming Thoughts

Beyond Magenta: Transgender Teens Speak Out by Susan Kuklin - Review by The Nocturnal Library

It Looks Like This by Rafi Mittlefehldt- Review by Diva Book Nerd

Of Fire and Stars by Audrey Coulthurst - Review by Lisa Loves Literature

Friday, November 18, 2016

Daring Fate by Megan Erickson


Daring Fate by Megan Erickson

Review by Lauren

source: copy from the author; all opinions are my own

Official SummaryI wake up chained to the wall of a dark cell aware of two things: I failed my sister, and I smell my enemy.

When I’m taken to meet Dare, the alpha of the Silver Tip pack, I’m sure I’m about to lose my throat. The last thing I expect is for the Alpha to recognize me as his fated mate. No way is he going to let me go now, and I still have to find a way to rescue my sister.

As I plot my escape to save her, I find that if I leave, Dare could be killed by power-hungry members of his pack. And now he’s more to me than my fated mate—my heart is involved. With time ticking by on my sister’s life, I have to make a choice I never thought I’d face—my sister’s life or my mate’s? That’s if I can survive the undead shifters intent on killing me first...


Review: I really don't remember the last time I read a shifter novel. I don't mind paranormal stories, and I used to review a lot of them for Romantic Times magazine. However, it's definitely been awhil since I've read one, so I was really excited when I saw that Megan Erickson was looking for people to review the first in her new shifter series. I'm a huge fan of Erickson's m/m fiction and this falls under that, so I was pretty sure I was going to love it, regardless of the genre or overall story line. And I was right.

One of the biggest themes of Daring Fate is family. Reese made plans to leave the place he's called "home" for years, because it's definitely not a safe place to be. He got his brother, Jude out, but when he went back for Selene, he was beaten up and left in the wild. This is where the Silver Tip pack comes in, a group of Weres who are seen as enemies to werewolves like Reese. However, these Weres are not as bad as Reese was led to believe. And it helps that as soon as Reese meets the Alpha of the pack, Dare, they realize they are True Mates. Not everyone gets a True Mate, and Reese only knows about them because his parents were, so it was definitely interesting learning about this along with the two guys. Regardless of the growing bond with Dare, Reese cannot and will not forget about his sister. He's not sure he can trust Dare at first...and then he just doesn't want to hurt Dare's pack by bringing him into his plan.

I don't want to give away too many details of this story, because it was a very unique story of shifters. I've never read a book about Weres, and I assume Erickson created them herself - they are different from werewolves, like Reese and his family, though they do have similarities. I also really liked the various things that come along with being a True Mate too. It was easy to get to know Reese and Dare, and I felt for both of them. Neither know how to react to the other, and while their physical need for each other is apparent, they have a lot to deal with in terms of emotional collections and trust.

This is definitely an adult read in terms of the physical relationship between Reese and Dare, but it very much as an overarching story too, and I loved getting to know the secondary characters, like Bay, Dare's brother. The next book will be following Bay and I can't wait!

Monday, November 14, 2016

Blank Spaces by Cass Lennox


Blank Spaces by Cass Lennox

Review by Lauren

source: copy from Netgalley; all opinions are my own

Official SummaryThe decision to stop dating has made Vaughn Hargrave’s life infinitely simpler: he has friends, an excellent wardrobe, and a job in the industry he loves. That’s all he really needs, especially since sex isn’t his forte anyway and no one else seems interested in a purely romantic connection. But when a piece is stolen from his art gallery and insurance investigator Jonah Sondern shows up, Vaughn finds himself struggling with that decision.

Jonah wants his men like his coffee: hot, intense, and daily. But Vaughn seems to be the one gay guy in Toronto who doesn’t do hookups, which is all Jonah can offer. No way can Jonah give Vaughn what he really wants, not when Jonah barely understands what love is.

When another painting goes missing, tension ramps up both on and off the clock. Vaughn and Jonah find themselves grappling not just with stolen art, but with their own differences. Because a guy who wants nothing but romance and a guy who wants nothing but sex will never work—right? Not unless they find a way to fill in the spaces between them.


Review: I absolutely loved this story and I can't wait to read more by Cass Lennox. This is the first in the Toronto Connections series, so I'll definitely be reading on!

Anyway, this book is about Vaughn and Jonah, two vastly different people who just happen to both be gay and whose jobs intertwine. Vaughn works at an art gallery and when one of the painting goes missing, Jonah and his partner visit the gallery to determine if their insurance company needs to pay them. The theft seems suspicious, so they are waiting until they hand over a lot of money, as this is not the first time pieces have gone missing from the gallery.

Vaughn is well-dressed, comes from money, and doesn't like sex. It was obvious to me that Vaughn was asexual, but Vaughn doesn't have a word for it until later in the book. He just knows that sex isn't for him. He's still attracted to guys and would love to have a relationship, but he doesn't think anyone would be with him if they couldn't have sex. As for Jonah, he's a kid who grew up in the foster system and is desperate to make money and have a good life. He's also obsessed with sex, going out all the time and getting off with strangers. He's not dating. It just makes him feel better. It's a release for him.

Like I said, these are two very opposite men. I wasn't really sure how it would work, but it does. I won't say everyone will love their relationship but I liked that Lennox portrayed a modern relationship. It works for them. That's all I'll say on that. The theft mystery was really interesting and I was curious as to who was stealing them. It was a nice addition to the story. There are other secondary characters and story lines that are portrayed well in this book too. It was nice that it wasn't all focused on the relationship, as it made everything seem more real. Also, everything Jonah deals with is a good thing in terms of making him see how Vaughn could be a real asset to his life.

Overall, I really loved this one. I think it's great that more authors are exploring asexuality in books. There are varying types of asexuality and I think Lennox explained that well.

Friday, November 11, 2016

Timekeeper by Tara Sim


Timekeeper by Tara Sim

Review by Lauren

source: copy from Netgalley; all opinions are my own

Official Summary: The official summary gives away something that I keep secret in my review, so I'll just direct you to Goodreads if you want to read.

Review:

I absolutely loved this book. It's been on my wishlist for a long time, so I was really excited that I was given the chance to read/review a copy from Netgalley. This is definitely one that I need to personally own in a physical copy though.

The basics of this story is that a 17 year old named Danny Hart is a clock mechanic who lives in London, England. Clocks are what control time, and the mechanics are men and women who can feel time and make sure that the clocks are always correctly running. If a clock tower breaks down, it can Stop a town. Nobody can enter or exit. This is what happened to Danny's father, and it's been three years since they've seen him, as he's stuck in one of these Stopped towns.

The mechanics are trying to build a new tower that will hopefully restart the town, but a lot of people are protesting it. Danny is desperate to work on the tower, as he desperately wants to rescue his father. Unfortunately, a previous accident keeps Danny away from the tower. Instead, he visits other towns and repairs clocks. This brings him to Enfield, whose clock tower keeps losing numbers, hands, and even has cracks appearing in its face. What's happening to the tower?

This is when Danny meets Colton. I don't want to be too specific about this character. I know other reviews might, but I want to avoid as many spoilers as I can. I loved the character of Colton though, as well as Danny, and when the two of them find themselves attracted to one another, I really rooted for their romance to work! Despite taking place in Victorian London, homosexuality isn't vilified. Some don't care, while others are supportive. The author's note explains more about why she decided to do this, but I'm glad she did! It makes same-sex relationships one less worry that these characters must deal with.

Timekeeper is such a unique, fascinating story. I'm so glad it's a trilogy so I can read more about these characters! As for Timekeeper itself, it's a great story in and of itself, though you'll want to continue the series, believe me! There is plenty of romance, suspense, steampunk, and more. Please get a copy - ASAP!

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

W.O.W.: The Gentleman's Guide to Vice and Virtue by Mackenzi Lee


Waiting on Wednesday is hosted by Breaking the Spine

The Gentleman's Guide to Vice and Virtue by Mackenzi Lee

Due Out: June 20th, 2017

Goodreads link: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/29283884-the-gentleman-s-guide-to-vice-and-virtue

Official SummaryAn unforgettable tale of two friends on their Grand Tour of 18th-century Europe who stumble upon a magical artifact that leads them from Paris to Venice in a dangerous manhunt, fighting pirates, highwaymen, and their feelings for each other along the way.

Henry “Monty” Montague was born and bred to be a gentleman, but he was never one to be tamed. The finest boarding schools in England and the constant disapproval of his father haven’t been able to curb any of his roguish passions—not for gambling halls, late nights spent with a bottle of spirits, or waking up in the arms of women or men.

But as Monty embarks on his grand tour of Europe, his quest for a life filled with pleasure and vice is in danger of coming to an end. Not only does his father expect him to take over the family’s estate upon his return, but Monty is also nursing an impossible crush on his best friend and traveling companion, Percy.

Still it isn’t in Monty’s nature to give up. Even with his younger sister, Felicity, in tow, he vows to make this yearlong escapade one last hedonistic hurrah and flirt with Percy from Paris to Rome. But when one of Monty’s reckless decisions turns their trip abroad into a harrowing manhunt that spans across Europe, it calls into question everything he knows, including his relationship with the boy he adores.

Why I Want to Read: Despite the fact that I have to wait until next June to get my hands on this one, I had to share it because I'm so excited! It sounds fantastic. I love LGBT+ fiction - of course- but I also love the fact that this sounds like a historical fiction adventure story of sorts, and I'm so curious to see where Monty and Percy find themselves on their tour of Europe! I also just love the sound of Monty - how he's not afraid to be himself and do what he wants, despite his family's expectations.

What do you think? Anything you are waiting on this Wednesday?