Tuesday, August 30, 2016

LGBT+ Posts and Reviews Around the Blogosphere

Hello everyone,

It's been awhile since I've shared LGBT+ posts on other blogs so I figured why not today? If you ever have a post that fits under LGBT+, please let me know and I'd be happy to share it here!

**The Nocturnal Library reviewed the M/M Romance/Mystery novel, A Fallen Heart by Cate Ashwood. I haven't read this one but it sounds amazing!

**Alexandria on Heart Full Elves has a great discussion post titled "Girls don't want boys; Girls want more LGBTQ Characters in Genre Fiction." I already commented - you should too!

**Metaphors and Moonlight reviewed an m/m paranormal novel that seems to focus well on mental illness called Shatterproof by Xen Sanders. Sounds great!

**The Broke Book Bank reviewed the YA novel Highly Illogical Behavior by John Corey Whaley, which apparently has some LGBT+ content.

Friday, August 26, 2016

New Auction + Two Goodreads Giveaways

Ivory and Bone by Julie Eshbaugh is one that I haven't had the chance to read yet, but I do hear it has LGBT+ themes. I wanted to let everyone on here know that the book is now up for auction on the Leave a Mark blog. This book has been annotated by the author and you have a couple weeks to bid. The auction is open to U.S. readers, UNLESS you are okay paying for shipping if you are the highest bidder! Please follow the blog to be updated on future auctions.

I also wanted to fill you in on two LGBT+ books that are currently up for giveaway on Goodreads. Unfortunately, these are only open to U.S. readers.

Still Life Las Vegas by James Sie - open until September 26

Been Here All Along by Sandy Hall - open until August 30

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Party of One: A Memoir in 21 Songs by Dave Holmes

Party of One: A Memoir in 21 Songs by Dave Holmes

Review by Lauren

source: copy from BloggingforBooks; all opinions are my own

Official SummaryDave Holmes has spent his life on the periphery, nose pressed hopefully against the glass, wanting just one thing: to get inside. Growing up, he was the artsy son in the sporty family. At his all-boys high school and Catholic college, he was the closeted gay kid surrounded by crush-worthy straight guys. And in his twenties, in the middle of a disastrous career in advertising, he accidentally became an MTV VJ overnight when he finished second, naturally, in the Wanna Be a VJ contest, opening the door to fame, fortune, and celebrity—you know,almost


I watched a lot of MTV when I was younger, especially when TRL was popular (Total Request Live) where VJ's announced the top ten videos of the day and celebrities stopped by to be interviewed or play games. Despite watching TRL and other shows on MTV, I have to admit that I didn't recognize the name Dave Holmes. Maybe he wasn't on as much when I really started watching, but at any rate, he was an MTV VJ for a bit and then moved around helping out with other non-music related MTV shows.

Reading his memoir was a lot of fun though because each chapter is is name of a song and it chronicles Dave's life from before MTV to afterwards, when he had left the company and moved on to something new. Holmes is a great writer and he infuses a lot of humor into most of his stories. There are some more serious tales though, like being a young worker in NYC when 9/11 happened - this was his pre-MTV days. I find these stories interesting, as someone who was alive during 9/11. We all have that story of "where were you?"

As Dave is a gay man, I appreciated how he incorporated that in stories. He writes about being in the closet until college and how he tries to make it safer for other kids at his religious college to come out. He talks about his first boyfriend and others, until he tells you the story of meeting "the one" near the end of the book. This is definitely a book about Dave and his life and not just a who's who at MTV, so you should know that before you dive in. It's still an enjoyable memoir though and I appreciate it.

Finally, I want to mention the little extras that Holmes includes between some of the 21 chapters. Some of these are themed song lists, while another gives you a little inside information on some MTV guests - for those of you who like the juicy Celeb stories!

All in all, definitely a good one.

Monday, August 22, 2016

Two Giveaways!

I wanted to let everyone on here know about two giveaways that I'm helping with. The first is for a Pineapple themed prize pack (you can see the photo above). You get all of those items and you can enter on my ShootingStarsMag blog. It's open to U.S. and Canada, unless you are willing to pay for shipping!

The second is on the Leave a Mark Auctions blog. I'm trying to get more people to follow the blog, so you know when new auctions are posted, and to thank people for spreading the word/bidding/etc so the Auction blog will offer various giveaways. Another good reason to follow! Right now (U.S. only though) you can enter to win a Harry Potter themed solar light. It's amazing. If you can enter, I recommend you do!

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Boyfriend Material by K.A. Mitchell

Boyfriend Material by K.A. Mitchell

Review by Lauren

source: copy from Netgalley; all opinions are my own

Official SummaryPhysically, it’s easy for Ethan and Wyatt to be together—well, if “easy” means stolen moments when Ethan’s roommate is away, or sneaking away to a hidden nook in the library. Privacy is hard to come by in a dorm, but finding ways to connect is half the fun. 

Emotionally, though, that’s a different story. Wyatt isn’t sure if a relationship is something he can make last—years of having to hide his emotions have left him with a shaky sense of self-confidence. And when it’s time to head home for the holidays, their steamy on-campus connection may not translate so well to the real world…

ReviewI suppose at 92 pages, this would be considered a novella, and it definitely read fast. However, it wasn't a problem with Boyfriend Material because this is actually the second book in the Ethan and Wyatt series. You definitely should read that first, because it's a full novel that details the history of how these two came together, as well as important information about their background. Once you get to Boyfriend Material, it was nice to have an established couple that you already knew. It meant the story could explore other aspects of their relationship and Mitchell definitely did that!

The book takes place mostly during the holidays, starting a little bit before Thanksgiving. Ethan wants Wyatt to come to his house for the holiday, but that would mean meeting a lot of Ethan's family. Wyatt is quiet and not used to a lot of attention, so he's not too keen on the idea of being surrounded by a lot of people he doesn't know. Instead, he opts to visit his uncle for the holiday. The short time away just shows that Ethan and Wyatt both really love each other and all seems well...until Christmas approaches and the two have to then figure out what to do over a much longer break.

I enjoyed this one, because I do like when couples are already established but you understand how they came together. We get both because this is a sequel and that's a big deal for me because m/m novels tend to have companion books with a new couple instead of another book with the same couple in the forefront. And guess what? There will be a third too! Despite knowing the couple already, sometimes the physical nature of their relationship felt a bit much because the book was so short. It would have been nice if they had communicated more, though they do comment on the fact that Wyatt has a difficult time with this and Ethan is a fan of taking the easy way. Regardless, it was still a good novella, and I'm curious to see where Mitchell takes the boys next!

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Top Ten Tuesday: Author Edition with Megan Erickson

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by The Broke and the Bookish

I thought it would be a fun way to promote authors if I had them do the Top Ten Tuesday meme every now and then. 

Today, I welcome my first guest, Megan Erickson, who is one of my favorite authors. She writes fantastic m/m fiction if you're interested! 

Top Ten Books in a School Setting by Megan Erickson

It’s back to school time for most people in the US, whether it’s as a teacher, a parent, or a student. I’m a parent so I’m pretty much shoving my kids out the door with a joyful wave.

So for today’s Top Ten, I thought I’d do the Top Ten Books in a School Setting. I’m going to do a mix of New Adult and Adult so here we go!

If Only by AJ Pine: I adore this book. Jordan heads to Scotland for her senior year of college and meets a fellow student who kisses well and reads classics.

Upside Down by Lia Riley: Talia spends six months as an exchange student in Australia, where she finds herself and a broody Aussie surfer.

Last Will and Testament by Dahlia Adler: After the tragic death of her parents, Lizzie needs to clean up her act if she’s going to take care of her younger brothers. Her help? A professor. Sparks fly in this student/teacher romance.

London Bound by Nana Malone: Abbie strikes out on her own taking photography courses in London. There, she meets Lex, but they are both keeping secrets. Also, bonus points for a gorgeous cover.

Social Skills by Sara Alva: Such a gorgeous story about a painfully a shy college freshman who loves music, until he meets an outgoing hunk on campus. A special book I’ve read more than once.

Better Off Red by Rebekah Weatherspoon: Uh, vampire sorority sisters. Do I really need to say more? Okay, it’s also f/f!

In the Middle of Somewhere by Roan Parrish: Students aren’t the only ones finding love in schools. A college professor meets a local handyman in this gay romance.

Sutphin Boulevard by Santino Hassell: Friends to lovers gay romance between two teachers in a book with sexual tension so thick it’s hard to breathe sometimes.

To One Hundred by Melissa Blue: Another professor/student romance with fandom talk and other delicious geekery, as well as a touching romance about overcoming odds.

Hey, it’s my post, so for number ten, check out Make it Count by me, where a popular girl who is used to relying on her looks falls for a geek who sees more in her… too bad her boyfriend is his best friend.

About The AuthorMegan Erickson is a USA Today bestselling author of romance that sizzles. Her books have a touch of nerd, a dash of humor, and always have a happily ever after. A former journalist, she switched to fiction when she decided she likes writing her own endings better.
She lives in Pennsylvania with her very own nerdy husband and two kids. Although rather fun-sized, she’s been told she has a full-sized personality. When Megan isn’t writing, she’s either lounging with her two cats named after John Hughes characters or… thinking about writing.

Monday, August 15, 2016

Real World by B.A. Tortuga

Real World by B.A. Tortuga

Review by Lauren

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

Official SummaryDan White is trying to acclimate to civilian life after a long career in the military with multiple combat deployments.

Now he’s home in the Austin area, living with his brother Dixon, Dixon’s husband, Audie, and their two nine-year-olds. During the New Year celebration, Dan meets Abraham Weldon, and the connection is instant.

There’s a kiss. There’s a dance. There’s a proposition.

Then Dan finds out Weldon is bisexual.

And a dad.

With five kids. Five kids, one of whom is a blind fifteen-year-old.

Weldon has been in love twice in his life—with his high school best friend, Blake, and with his wife, Krista, who he met in a Dairy Queen as she was crying over a positive pregnancy test. Love number three hits Weldon like a hammer when he meets Dan.

But since Dan isn’t interested in a guy with kids, they might only get one night together.


Apparently, this is the second book, but it's a companion novel so it doesn't matter. I'm just pointing it out in case you DO want to start with the first book and then read this one. Real World is one that stands on its own though. I will say that it was difficult to follow the cast of characters at first, but once I got the hand of who everyone was, things went smoother. I'll share the main cast of characters later in this review to help you out before you jump into this one.

The basic story of Real World is about Dan who has just left the army and gone back to Texas. He's currently staying with his brother, Dixon, and his husband, Audie, as well as their children. The beginning of the book has Dan watching his brother perform at a bar and that's where he meets a friend of Audie's, whose name is Weldon (well, that's his last name, but most people call him Weldon). The two of them have a night together and while it goes well, Dan made it clear beforehand that he wasn't looking for a guy with kids...and Weldon has five.

Of course, this wouldn't be much of a romance if Dan didn't at least give Weldon a chance, right? It takes a bit of time, but eventually he tries his hand at romancing Weldon and even getting to know - and love - all of the children. I liked that it didn't immediately work for Dan. He's not someone who ever saw himself with kids, so it's understandable that he wouldn't want to jump into a relationship with a guy who has five. It's not always easy for either Dan and Weldon, but they work at it.

There are some of other side stories in the novel as well, but I won't go into it. I don't want to give all of the book away. In general though, I enjoyed this one. It felt a bit long at times, but I appreciated the realistic nature of the story and I really did fall in love with all the children!

Cast of Characters:

Dixon and Randi - father and daugther
Audie and Grainger - father and son
Dixon and Audie are married

Dan is Dixon's brother
Dan falls in love with Weldon
Weldon has five kids from a previous marriage to a woman - Weldon's bisexual
Jakob is the oldest, then Maddie, then Emma, then Kenzie, then Caleb (I'm pretty sure that is the order -Jakob is 16 and Caleb is 3, then 4 during the course of the novel)

Friday, August 12, 2016

2 LGBT+ Book Giveaways on Goodreads

I've read Robin Talley's two previous novels, so anything she comes out with has my immediate attention. I don't have a copy of this one, but I can't wait to read it!

You can enter to win 1 of 5 copies on Goodreads- As I Descended by Robin Talley

U.S. Only and Ends August 25

The Book is Released on September 6th!!

This was one of the ARCs that I HAD to get when I attended Book Expo America, so I was excited to meet the author and get it signed. He was really nice!

You have a chance to win 1 of 4 copies on Goodreads - Last Seen Leaving by Caleb Roehrig

U.S. Only and Ends TODAY: August 12

The Book is Released on October 4th!

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

The Losing Game by Lane Swift

The Losing Game by Lane Swift

Review by Lauren

source: copy from The Dreamspinner Press; all opinions are my own

Official SummaryWinchester Crown Court, October 2035: Richard Shaw leaves, a free man.

Grief-stricken and angry, Lucas Green is hell-bent on revenge against Richard Shaw, who killed his sister. Lucas has heard of a man who can help—the handsome and urbane owner of a boutique sex shop with a head for planning crimes. But Dante Okoro has a past he’s desperate to keep buried. Though Lucas piques his interest in more ways than one, Dante turns him away. Still, he wonders if he made the right decision….

An unexpected death brings Dante and Lucas together once more. This time they can’t ignore the chemistry between them. But courting a lover with lies is a dangerous game. Dante has been spying on Lucas, convinced he has plans to kill Shaw. Lucas has been spying on Shaw, waiting for the right moment to strike. If Dante admits his suspicions to Lucas, he’ll surely lose him. If he doesn’t, Lucas might do something reckless—and end up losing everything.

Review: I definitely thought The Losing Game would be more exciting and suspenseful than it ended up. It's not a bad book, per se, but if I was going to choose a rating, I'd go with a 3 or 3.5. I'd be curious to see what else Lane Swift has written or will written, but this one just didn't really work for me.

For one thing, it takes place a bit in the future and I could never really figure out why. It just didn't seem necessary, and unless I was missing some key aspects of the book, I think it would have been just fine set in the present day. I suppose this isn't a huge deal, but I suppose I thought it would play more of a part.

The aspect that I felt would be more suspenseful is Lucas Green wanting to kill Richard Shaw for hitting his sister on a bike, while he was drunk, and not really getting into trouble for it. He wants to kill Richard, make him pay. He's lost in grief and when he gets pointed in Dante's direction, he's hoping that Dante can plan him the murder so that he won't be caught in the end. While Lucas keeps trying to plan a way to get back at Richard, and Dante finds himself wanting to do more to help Lucas, it never really felt like the stakes were that high. I suppose I just wasn't that invested in the outcome of the story, so that was a bit of a let down. I wanted things to be more exciting!

Finally, there is tentative romantic relationship between Lucas and Dante. We all know it's going to happen, but again, it didn't entirely work for me. I liked the two of them together, but Dante does some things that definitely would have made me pause more than Lucas. However, I did really love Dante's relationship with his two adopted daughters! It was obvious how much he cared for them and the story of how they all ended up together was heartbreaking, yet beautiful.

Overall, not bad, but nothing that I'd want to read again.

Monday, August 8, 2016

Starting New by S.C. Wynne

Starting New by S.C. Wynne

Review by Lauren

source: copy for review; all opinions are my own

Official SummaryLife hasn’t been good to Francis Murphy. He’s survived twenty-one years of homelessness by hooking and taking handouts where he can find them. When the local shelter is vandalized, he’s forced to seek food at the Grace and Light Church, where he runs into the pastor’s son, Randy.

Randy Wright believes the best in others. He's immediately drawn to Francis, even though Francis is hardened and wary. When Francis is attacked by one of his johns, Randy and his family take him in and offer him temporary work. Randy always thought he was straight, but something about Francis has him yearning for more than just friendship, and realizing he might be bisexual.

Francis is attracted to Randy too, and Randy and his parents say they’ve always believed in gay rights. But talk is cheap. What are the odds that these Christian parents will remain open-minded when it's their own son in a relationship with another man?

Review:  Books that deal with religion can be hit or miss for me because I think it's a very personal choice. Even if people identify under the same religion, they don't necessarily believe all the same things or practice in the exact same way. However, I think Wynne did a good job featuring a Christian family in Starting New.

Francis lives on the streets, sleeping with people in order to earn money. He's gay, but he's never had an actual relationship. Sex is just a means to an end for him, most of the time. He does see the pleasure in it though, so when he meets Randy, he's not sure how Randy can see sex the way he does. Growing up Christian, while Randy has slept with a girl, he believes that sex should always mean something and you should have a connection with the person you are sleeping with. He tries not to judge Francis though, because he knows his life and how he didn't have much of a choice. But Francis has one now and Randy is determined to make him change his life for the better.

After Francis gets beaten up, Randy's parents take him in, offering him a place to sleep and food if he helps them rebuild a local homeless shelter. Francis isn't religious, but Randy's parents are true to their word and don't push it on him, despite Randy's father being a pastor at their local church. I appreciated that you could tell how much their religion meant to Randy's family, but that they also knew not to push their beliefs on Francis. Instead, they offered him help and kindness, like anyone should.

It doesn't take too long before Randy begins to develop feelings for Francis, the first guy he's ever felt this way about. His family preaches acceptance, even for those that identify as LGBT+, but it takes Randy back when he thinks he could be gay or bisexual. It made sense to me. You can genuinely be okay with other people but still be upset or concerned if those feelings start to apply to you. It's different, since Randy is an adult now. He always thought he'd marry a girl and have children. As for Francis, he's been drawn to Randy from the beginning, but he doesn't think he's good enough for him. The two definitely have a lot to deal with.

I'd say this was an NA read, as the two boys are 21 years old. It includes sex and other adult moments/topics, but it's also a good coming of age book.

Saturday, August 6, 2016

Leave a Mark Auctions Have Begun!

I wanted to make sure that you all knew that the Leave a Mark Auctions have started! You have until this Monday, August 8th at 9 p.m. EST! If we need a longer auction, please let me know. Otherwise, each auction will probably last about a week.

This first auction is a bit different...the book is NOT annotated, but it IS autographed.

It's an Academy Award Winning Movie...so what's the book it was based on?

Click to find out!

Spread the word!

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

How To Be You by Jeffrey Marsh

How To Be You: Stop Trying to Be Someone Else and Start Living Your Life by Jeffrey Marsh

Review by Lauren

source: copy for review; all opinions are my own

Official SummaryThis book is about how to finally give up on feeling bad about ourselves and discover the best person we can be.

An interactive experience, How to Be You invites you to make the book your own through activities such as coloring in charts, answering questions about how you do the things you do, and discovering patterns in your lives that may be holding you back. Through Jeffrey's own story of "growing up fabulous in a small farming town"--along with the stories of hero/ines who have transcended the stereotypes of race, age, and gender--you will discover that you are not alone, can deepen your relationship with yourself, and find the courage to take a leap that will change your life.

ReviewI've heard of Jeffrey Marsh, but I didn't know a lot about them when I was asked if I wanted to read/review this book. I immediately said yes though because I have a love for nonfiction books that are about getting to know yourself and finding the best you. I think we all need to spend more time with ourselves, finding the things we love, and learning to love who we are and who we can be. 

This nonfiction book focuses on a different topic for each chapter, ending said chapter with a fun do-it-yourself activity or assignment that helps you with the messages you just read about. For example, one chapter is about not trying to be perfect, because it doesn't exist. There is a space in the book where you write three ways you feel or treat yourself when you aren't perfect and felt you should be. At the end of the chapter, there are some questions about perfection that you are asked to answer. You can write in the actual book if you want, or grab a piece of paper and answer the questions! I like the interactive nature - I think that's good for anyone, but especially younger readers who might need these lessons a bit more than an adult who has had more time to adjust to life. Of course, there are plenty of adults who do think they should be perfect, etc. and this is great for them too! Grab a copy for yourself AND your kid. 

Marsh does a great job making sure that people realize this book is about them. They give personal stories about their life, which I appreciated, that showed what they'd been through and how they use these same "ideas and "lessons" in the book to make themselves better. But they aren't telling people to be them, they are telling everyone to be their true selves and that's a message we should all get behind!

Monday, August 1, 2016

Three Truths and a Lie by Brent Hartinger

Three Truths and a Lie by Brent Hartinger

Review by Lauren

source: copy for review; all opinions are my own

Official SummaryA weekend retreat in the woods and an innocent game of three truths and a lie go horribly wrong in this high-octane psychological thriller filled with romantic suspense by a Lambda Award–winning author.

Deep in the forest, four friends gather for a weekend of fun. 

Truth #1: Rob is thrilled about the weekend trip. It’s the perfect time for him to break out of his shell…to be the person he really, really wants to be. 

Truth #2: Liam, Rob’s boyfriend, is nothing short of perfect. He’s everything Rob could have wanted. They’re perfect together. Perfect. 

Truth #3: Mia has been Liam’s best friend for years…long before Rob came along. They get each other in a way Rob could never, will never, understand. 

Truth #4: Galen, Mia’s boyfriend, is sweet, handsome, and incredibly charming. He’s the definition of a Golden Boy…even with the secrets up his sleeve. 

One of these truths is a lie…and not everyone will live to find out which one it is.

Review: I've read almost all of Brent Hartinger's novels and this one is definitely a favorite of mine! First off, I'm excited that a book with prominent gay characters is being pushed so heavily by a major publisher. Times are changing, and to show we appreciate it, we have to buy these books. Order a copy, ask your library for a copy, tell people about the book.

Anyway, back to the actual story! This is told from Rob's point of view. He is staying in a cabin over the weekend with his boyfriend Liam, Liam's best friend Mia, and Mia's boyfriend Galen. It's supposed to be a nice time to hang out and get to know each other better. Unfortunately, things aren't that easy. First, there satellite phone goes missing and this is their only way to call for help if they need, since nobody's cell phone gets a signal. Then there's a mysterious fire, and on and on.

I was never sure what was happening. Is someone else staying in a cabin near them, playing tricks or is it something more deadly? What about the four people in the cabin? Can any of them be trusted? But why would they mess with their boyfriend/girlfriend/friend?

I would recommend just reading the book and getting lost in the story. Don't worry so much about the answers, because sometimes mysteries are better that way. You allow yourself to be taken by surprise and to enjoy the reveals. Of course, if you do want to read close and try and guess, be my guest! I hope the experience is still enjoyable for you!

Definitely another good read from Hartinger; it's perfect to read now if you don't like "spooky" stories in the fall, but you could always buy now and save for an October night too!