Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Guest Movie Review: Personal Shopper

photo source - do not own
Hey everyone! I have Catherine Hume back again with another guest post. This time she's reviewing the movie Personal Shopper, which stars Kristen Stewart. Give her a big welcome and comment below! To learn more about the film, go here.

My!  Hasn't Kristen Stewart grown?!

I've just seen the art house film Personal Shopper starring Kristen Stewart, and I can say her abilities as an actor have clearly flourished.  Admittedly I may be behind the curve because I've only seen Kristen Stewart in the Twilight films (my best friend fancied Stewart), and I know I wasn't the only one who found Stewart's acting in the Twilight films wooden - so wooden that Bella Swan may as well  have been played by a peg on a stick.  Watching Stewart's performance in Personal Shopper was a welcome surprise.  In this film, Stewart's acting was realistic, nuanced and human.

Personal Shopper is "another Black Swan" as my beautiful husband called it.  There were several storylines in this film.  The most the viewer can follow easily are that Kristen Stewart plays Maureen, an American in Paris, a personal shopper, whose twin brother Lewis died of a condition she also has.  Then we find that Maureen and Lewis were both mediums and Maureen is trying to exorcise the house he lived in.  Then it all gets a bit complicated - another Black Swan.  What is real and what is perhaps not becomes confused and like Black Swan and that other famous gay/bisexual film The Talented Mr Ripley, at the end of the film the viewer is left with more questions than answers.  Perhaps this is what defines a film as a good art house film?

As LGBT people, we know that when we are not constantly looking over our shoulders for lesbo/homo/bi/transphobia our minds are freed to excel.  Maybe this is what happened with Kristen Stewart?  She is no longer the wooden, blank actor who played Bella Swan so miserably but an actor in the truest of senses. 

In Personal Shopper Maureen's sexual orientation is not discussed.  However, throughout the film, all I could think when I looked at Stewart's various outfits was, "You're looking very Shane today!"  (L Word fans, welcome.)  That little pony tail Stewart wears that is similar to the one Shane rocked at the end of Series 4.  That slouch beanie that is welded to Shane's head for half of Series 6.  The vest tops under T-shirst and NO BRAS.  Shane.

With this being an art house film, it's possible it's slipped under your radar.  My advice:  seek it out!  For me, this film was a nice surprise, and as a bi woman I thought it was great to see Kristen Stewart doing so well in such a rich and complex film.

Monday, May 22, 2017

Rainbow Roundup: Noteworthy, Finding Nevo, and More!

I'm back with another Rainbow Roundup. Check out all the LGBT+ posts and book reviews below. Anything look interesting? I'm so glad you all are enjoying these!

Books for a Delicate Eternity reviewed/discusses Noteworthy by Riley Redgate (YA, bisexual MC, etc.)

Crushingcinders reviewed Noteworthy by Riley Redgate as well

Books for a Delicate Eternity also reviewed Finding Nevo by Nevo Zisin (LGBT+ memoir)

Readers in Wonderland talks about 5 LGBT+ Books They Need to Read

It Starts at Midnight has a guest post from author Julie Ember about The Seafarer's Kiss (F/F romance)

Pink Polka Dot Books interviewed Cale Dietrich, author of The Love Interest (YA, M/M)

Night Owl Book Cafe reviewed The Upside of Unrequited by Becky Albertalli (MC's sister is a lesbian)

Happily Ever Chapter reviewed My Fairy Godmother is a Drag Queen by David Clawson (YA, M/M)

Friday, May 19, 2017

Etsy Pride: Hair Ties and Cat Shirts!

I thought it was about time that I did another Etsy Pride! Hope you enjoy!

Do you use these fun hair ties? Now you can get a Pride Hair Tie set for around $3. It's being sold by BuiltByBesties.

Have pride? Love cats? Check out this Purride t-shirt starting at $24.99 and made by OhMyPawd.

I never want to overload you with items at one time, so we'll leave it at two! What do you think of these items? Would you buy for yourself, or someone you know?

Monday, May 15, 2017

Back Piece by L.A. Witt

Back Piece by L.A. Witt

Review by Lauren
source: copy from Netgalley; all opinions are my own
Official Summary: Colin Spencer is a tattoo artist with a past he’d prefer to keep a secret. Actually, he has a few secrets that he’d rather people didn’t know about, which is why Colin doesn’t do commitment. But when a shy sailor approaches him at the gym, Colin finds this guy pushing all his buttons.
Growing up in a conservative family, then escaping with the Navy, Daniel Moore is an unsure virgin who feels like he can’t share his true self with anyone. Seeing Colin—and his tattoos—at the gym are the sign Daniel needs to finally get those tattoos he’s always wanted, and maybe try his hand at flirting.
As Colin and Daniel spend more time together, their awkward hesitations turn into a deep passion neither expected. But with both men harboring secrets, will their relationship be able to survive their insecurities and become something beautiful?
Review: I've read other books by Witt in the past, and they are definitely an author I love. Back Piece was just another book full of great characters and if you like men in uniform, Daniel is in the Navy! 
In simple terms, this book is about Colin Spencer who is a tattoo artist with a lot of difficulties in his past that will always affect him. As for Daniel, he joined the Navy to get away from his family - who he loves, but they don't know he's gay. Because of his upbringing, Colin has never really been with a guy, so when he meets Colin, he's definitely nervous to know that Colin has a lot more experience than he does.
What I loved about these two guys is that neither of them made each other feel bad about their past or shortcomings. Colin was patient with Daniel when it came to the physical nature of their relationship and he didn't want Daniel to come out to his parents until he was truly ready. At the same time, Daniel listens to Colin's confessions and revelations about his past without judging him or making him feel bad. They definitely work together well.
Back Piece is an enjoyable read. I felt like you really got to know Colin and Daniel -and the secondary characters in their lives - and it was a nice balance between the overall story line and the romance between the two.

Friday, May 12, 2017

Cask Strength by Layla Reyne

Cask Strength by Layla Reyne

Review by Lauren

Source: copy from Netgalley; all opinions are my own

Official Summary: Professionally, the FBI team of Aidan "Irish" Talley and Jameson "Whiskey" Walker is as good as it gets, closing cases faster than any team at the Bureau. Personally, it’s a different story. Aidan’s feelings for Jamie scare the hell out of him: he won’t risk losing another love no matter how heart-tripping the intimacy between them. And loss is a grim reality with the terrorist Renaud still on their trail, leaving a pile of bodies in his wake.

Going undercover on a new case gets them out of town and off the killer's radar. They're assigned to investigate an identity theft ring involving a college basketball team in Jamie's home state, where Jamie's past makes him perfect for the role of coach. But returning to the court brings more than old memories.

As secrets and shocking betrayals abound, none may be more dangerous than the one Jamie’s been keeping: a secret about the death of Aidan’s husband that could blow his partner's world apart and destroy forever the fragile bonds of trust and love building between them.

Review: This is actually the second book in the Agents Irish and Whiskey series. I feel like I've been saying this a lot, but I requested it not realizing there was a book before this one - with the same  characters. While it's something I'd like to read at some point, I didn't feel lost starting with the second book. There is an overarching mystery that the author does a good job filling you in on, and then there is a more prominent mystery that is unique to this particular book. As for Irish and Whiskey, this is the book where the two finally start to admit to more than physical attraction for each other. Well, Whiskey has long fallen for Irish, but after losing his husband, Irish isn't so sure he can handle getting too close to anyone else.

I thought the partnership between these two men was great. Yes, they had the romance element, but in general, they fit well together. They always had each other's back and genuinely cared about the other's safety and well being. The mysteries in the book were well done and I never really knew what was happening throughout. It kept me in suspense and happy to read. The overarching mystery has new layers added to it in this book, which will be focused on in the third book. As for the mystery for this particular book, everything is revealed and wrapped up, so all in all, there isn't much of a cliffhanger. Granted, I still can't wait for the next book!

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Faking It by Christine d'Abo

Faking It by Christine d'Abo 

Review by Lauren

source: copy from Netgalley/publisher; all opinions are my own

Official SummaryMax Tremblay should be happy. His night club, Frantic, is one of the most popular gay clubs in Toronto, and his childhood refuge, Ringside Gym, is well on the way to reopening. But when he finds yet another drunk in the alley beside the bar, Max isn’t sure this is the life he truly wants.

Grady Barnes has it all. He’s rich, famous, and wants for nothing. Well, nothing but a good relationship with his father. When he discovers that his father is going to force him into an arranged marriage, Grady has had enough. He tracks down Max, the man who got him to safety after a night of overindulgence, and makes him a proposal: pretend to be his fiancĂ© for two weeks and he’ll invest in Ringside Gym.

When the pair travel to Vancouver to attend a family wedding, the flames of their mutual attraction ignite, and they discover that the only difference between pretend and reality is how well they can fake it.

Review: Faking It is the second book in the Ringside Romance series and I loved it just as much as the first. You could read these out of order, but I suggest reading them all because they are great, plus the first couple appears a bit in Faking It so it's nice to know who they are and how they got together.

With Faking It, we got the whole "fake fiance" trope. I tend to see this more in things like Hallmark films than in books. We all know that the book will end with the two characters actually getting together, but isn't that true of almost all romance books? Basically, the trope didn't bother me. It wasn't like Max and Grady had it easy.

I loved getting to know Max more - he's in the first book a bit - and meeting Grady for the first time. Both of them have very different backgrounds and stations in life, but they understand each other too. Max wants someone to take care of him sometimes, and Grady wants to be the one who is trusted to take care of someone. They both have "problems" so to speak with their fathers, though Grady's is more long-running and contentious.

I thought it was great how the author showed the two characters getting to really know each other while faking their engagement. The book showed that while it may have been quick, it's possible to love someone in a short span of time.

I can't wait for the third Ringside Romance book! Definitely check these out so you're all caught up for the next release! 

Sunday, May 7, 2017

Twitter Follower Giveaway!

Hey everyone!

I wanted to let you know that I finally reached 3k followers on Twitter and that means it's Giveaway time!

The prize is $25 USD paid to you through PayPal. If you have PayPal, you can enter, but if your currency is not USD, please note it might not equal the same amount.

You have until May 31 to enter and all you have to do is follow me on Twitter and RT the giveaway post (it's pinned to the top). Find me here.

Sorry for the lack of posts last week! I try and get in about three every week, if I can. I'm reading a lot of LGBT+ books at the moment though so be ready for more posts to come up!

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Relationship Status by K.A. Mitchell

Relationship Status by K.A. Mitchell

Review by Lauren

source: copy from Netgalley; all opinions are my own

Official Summary: Ethan knows firsthand that long distance is hard on love. If Wyatt is spending his summer at an internship in Pittsburgh, that's where Ethan will be. Even if it means inventing his own career goal just to find a reason to stay with his boyfriend. He didn't expect they'd be living in a hot, crappy apartment, with work schedules that keep them apart more than together. 

Wyatt's past has taught him to keep his head down and focus on living through the day. Loving Ethan has him looking to the future for the first time; he's just not in as big of a rush to get there. It's hard to trust in happiness when life has been busy kicking you in the nuts. 
Together they're getting the hang of real life, when a new responsibility for Wyatt throws everything off balance. Ethan's doing everything he can to prove he's in this forever, while Wyatt is torn between a future with Ethan and a debt to the past. Too bad they didn't cover this in college.

Review: This is the third and final book in the Ethan and Wyatt series. What I love about this series is that each book follows the same couple; normally with m/m authors, the books in a series are just companion novels. Each book has a different couple. Relationship Status has developed couple Ethan and Wyatt living together for the first time while they both do summer internships. 

Wyatt got his first, and not wanting to be left behind, Ethan found something too. Again, since we've been following the same couple, this book isn't about them falling in love. They're already there and this is the continuation of their story, which I love. It shows the highs and lows of being with someone, learning to deal with their problems and successes. 

Relationship Status isn't terribly long - more like a novella than anything - so I finished it one evening. I thought the physical affection was balanced well with the narrative, so it's not just a book full of sex. There is a story line, with ups and downs, and that's always appreciated! While not my favorite series ever, I do think these are good books and I'd recommend them to anyone interested! 

Monday, May 1, 2017

Lee Bantle's David Inside Out: What Does Marriage Equality Mean to You?

David Inside Out by Lee Bantle was released in paperback last week. One of the additions to the book is a Question and Answer section with the author in the back of the book. To help promote the release, we'll be sharing some of these questions and answers - as well as giving you the chance to answer them too! Check out the book on Amazon here and even visit Lee Bantle on his website.

In the novel David Inside Out, David grew up before the Supreme Court declared same-sex marriage legal in all fifty states.  Though he was romantically drawn to boys, David never imagined that he could one day marry a man.  

How his world would have changed when the Obergefell decision came down!  The highest court in the land recognized the "equal dignity" of same-sex couples. David could now imagine a romantic life that included marriage.   His identity was affirmed. 

How did the Supreme Court decision embracing marriage equality affect you?

It would be great if this could be a forum where everyone of all stripes answered this question.  We're going to save all your posts in a 2017 time capsule. Write your answers for posterity. 

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Rainbow Roundup: Graphic Novel and More!

Novel Ink reviewed the audiobook of Timekeeper by Tara Sim (YA, M/M)

Oh My Books! reviewed Blue Is the Warmest Color by Julie Maroh (graphic novel, f/f)

Happy Indulgence reviewed Queens of Geek by Jen Wilde (YA)

Lisa Loves Literature shared a book blitz/giveaway for The Rainbow Clause by Beth Bolden (Adult, M/M)

Boricuan Bookworms reviewed If I Was Your Girl by Meredith Russo (YA, Transgender)

Book Haven reviewed Radio Silence by Alice Oseman (YA, bi character, possibly asexual character)

Friday, April 21, 2017

Wake Up Call by J.L. Merrow

Wake Up Call by J.L. Merrow

Review by Lauren

source: copy from netgalley; all opinions are my own

Official Summary: South London mechanic Devan Thompson has gone to Porthkennack to track down someone he’s been waiting all his life to know. But Dev’s distracted from his quest by Kyle, a broodingly handsome local of only a few months, who’s already got a reputation as an alcoholic because of his strange behaviour—including a habit of collapsing in the street.

Kyle Anthony fled to Porthkennack to escape from the ruins of his life. Still raging against his diagnosis of narcolepsy—a condition that’s cost him his job as a barrister, his lover, and all chance of normality—the last thing he wants is another relationship that’s doomed to fail. But Dev’s easy-going acceptance and adaptability, not to mention his good looks, have Kyle breaking all his self-imposed rules.
When disaster strikes Dev’s adored little sister, Kyle steps up to the plate, and Dev sees a side of his lover he wasn’t prepared for: competent, professional—and way out of Dev’s league. With one man determined that they don’t have a future, and the other fearing it, life after Porthkennack is starting to look bleak for both of them.

Review: As I went on Goodreads to grab the official summary, I realized that this is the first book in the Porthkennack series (which is the name of the town). However, each book is written by a different author. I thought that was kind of cool, so I figured I'd mention it! Anyway, back to Wake Up Call. I thought this was a really interesting story. I appreciated that the secondary characters had their own story lines. It created a community for Devan and Kyle, and it wasn't just about their burgeoning relationship. There is Ceri, a local waitress, who Dev befriends. There is also Dev's mate who comes in later in the story, as well as Dev's foster sister. Kyle didn't have as many characters around him, but readers do get to know a bit about his colleagues and his own family. At any rate, Kyle is supposed to be more closed off. He was a barrister (aka lawyer) before quitting and renting a cottage in Porthkennack because of a medical diagnosis of narcolepsy and cataplexy. In really simple terms, he can often - and quite suddenly - fall asleep. This scares Kyle, understandably, and he feels like everything he worked for is going to disappear. He's not in a great place when he meets Dev.

One thing that really made the book feel authentic to me is the dialect. Merrow doesn't shy away from showing readers how Dev speaks, including various slang, etc. This book is set in Europe, so there could be words or phrases the average American won't recognize, but I didn't think it was too difficult. Context usually helps. Regardless, I thought this was done well by the author and it helped show how different Dev and Kyle are, in terms of the "social ladder" so to speak. Dev is a mechanic and Kyle is a lawyer. They had very different upbringings. All these differences are issues they must face, but it wasn't done for unneeded drama. All in all, I thought the book was done well, and I'd be curious to see how the other authors handle the town of Porthkennack. 

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Home Fires by Kate Sherwood

Home Fires by Kate Sherwood

Review by Lauren

source: copy from Netgalley; all opinions are my own

Official Summary: Trouble comes to Mosely, Montana, from the outside world. When the residents of Mosely are left on their own, they can make things work. Sure, there’s always been a militia operating up in the hills, but they were small-scale—just survivalists doing their thing—until organizers came in from out of state. Now Jericho Crewe and the rest of the sheriff’s department are facing down a heavily armed band of fanatics, and the feds are busy elsewhere.

The odds are hopeless, but Jericho swore an oath to serve and protect the citizens of Mosely. He won’t walk away from that, even if Wade Granger’s begging him to run away somewhere and finally be together the way they always should have been.
But this time, it’s Jericho who refuses to leave Mosely, even if staying kills him.

Review: This is the fourth, and I believe final, book in the Common Law series. I never want to say too much about a book - especially one taking place later in a series - because I don't want to ruin anything for prospective readers. Therefore, I will simply state that I loved this book and I am a huge fan of the series in general. None of the books are terribly long, though each has its own set conflict or story arch, so it works well! You could definitely binge all these books in a quick amount of time!

I love the characters of Jericho and Wade - how they are seemingly on opposite ends of the wall, but they are still drawn to each other. We also get a different side of Wade in this one which I appreciated it. All these characters have layers, and each book just seems to peel back more and more about them. I appreciate well-written characters and Sherwood definitely delivers that! I highly recommend the Common Law series. While I think this might be the last in the series, there is something about the end that makes me think we could get a new sort of series and I really hope that's true! I'd grab it in a heartbeat. 

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Necessary Medicine by M.K. York

Necessary Medicine by M.K. York 

Review by Lauren

source: copy from Netgalley; all opinions are my own

Official Summary: In the high-intensity world of hospital residency programs, there's no room for romance. So it's a good thing for first-year surgical resident Neil Carmona that his crush on the gorgeous cardiologist Eli Newcombe is sheer fantasy. Not only is the sexy doctor Neil's superior, he's also recently divorced. 

As Neil's skill as a surgeon grows, so does his friendship with Eli, and his silent, hopeless longing for more. It isn't until Neil's final year that Eli at last admits his own deepest desires. But Neil's joy is short-lived: Eli has no intention of pursuing a relationship. Their positions in the hospital would make it unethical, even if he was emotionally ready for someone new. 

Wounded and furious, Neil is determined to forget about Eli once and for all. But when a near-tragedy strikes, a new question arises: Is a life without love—without Neil—a greater risk than laying his heart on the line?

Review: When the book starts, Neil is a medical student and then he's an intern, and then a fellow. The book moves through the years a bit, but I found it easy enough to follow so I was never confused as to where Neil was in his journey to becoming an attending doctor. As for Eli, he's a cardiologist who Neil first sees in medical school, when Eli is there to give a speech. Once Neil is working at the hospital, he's path crosses with Eli more and more often. While Neil has been harboring a crush on Eli for years, he doesn't think the feeling is at mutual since Eli has an ex wife and has never once mentioned being bisexual. As such, Neil tries to enjoy their budding friendship without getting too attached, and it works for awhile. 

Obviously Eli has feelings for Neil too. I don't think that's a spoiler as it's in the summary, and that's just how these stories go, right? At the same time, Eli isn't willing to risk either of their jobs or reputations by acting on those feelings and it definitely upsets Neil. This makes sense though; Neil has had these feelings for years and when he finally realizes that they are reciprocated, he's pushed away. Despite this, things do end up okay for the two, but I don't want to go into too many details and spoil the whole story. The details are the story after all.

One thing that I will note though is that the book felt a bit too long, as the author focuses a lot on the medical aspect of the story. While I understood most of the details, it did feel like a bit much in parts. Granted, the author is a medical student so it does make sense. While some of the descriptions could have been left out, having some does make the hospital and its inhabitants feel that much more realistic. What tends to suffer from these details is that the actual romance doesn't really appear until maybe halfway through the book. I was never bored reading the book, but I was definitely more interested in the relationship aspect of the book. 

Necessary Medicine is York's debut, but hopefully she'll write more! 

Thursday, April 13, 2017

At Attention by Annabeth Albert

At Attention by Annabeth Albert

Review by Lauren

source: copy from Netgalley; all opinions are my own

Official Summary: It's a bit long, so check it out on Goodreads

Review: At Attention is the second in the Out of Uniform series and just as good as the first. In this book we have Apollo who lost his husband a couple years ago and is now raising their twin daughters on his own. He never saw himself as the settling down type until he met his husband, so he's not exactly looking for someone else to fill the role of companion or lover. However, when his best friend pushes his younger brother, Dylan, on him for the summer, things begin to change. Dylan is in town to help Apollo with the girls and to work at a summer camp. While Dylan has always had a crush on Apollo, he tries to get a handle on his feelings and just be the helpful person that Apollo obviously needs. Of course...this doesn't last that long.

Eventually, the two do start up a relationship of sorts, though it's not really defined as such and kept a secret from anyone. Dylan is only here for the summer, so Apollo can rationalize getting involved when he knows it's just physical and there's an end date. This is before feelings enter the equation and they definitely do! For one thing, Dylan has feelings from the start, even if he tells himself he's okay with just the summer. As for Apollo, he starts to realize how much he truly likes Dylan and it's obvious that Dylan fits well in the family, since the girls also adore him. 

This is another great read by Annabeth Albert, and I highly recommend the whole series. The characters were realistic and well done, and I thought the evolving relationship between Apollo and Dylan was done very well. I can't wait for the third book, whose main characters appear in At Attention! Get to know them now! 

Monday, April 10, 2017

Growing Pains by Cass Lennox

Growing Pains by Cass Lennox

Review by Lauren

source: copy from Netgalley; all opinions are my own

Official SummaryGigi Rosenberg is living his best life: performances in the big city, side gigs at a dance company, a successful drag act, and the boy of his childhood dreams who now adores him. Even if the boyfriend part isn’t the sparkly ride of passion he expected it to be, life is sweet. So when his sister’s wedding calls him back to his hometown, he sees an opportunity to show the hicks from his past how wrong they were about him. Only, his boyfriend isn’t quite on board.

Brock Stubbs left their hometown and his parents behind for a reason, and the prospect of facing them again is terrifying. He swore he’d never go back, but Gigi has made it clear refusal isn’t an option, and Brock will do nearly anything for him. There’s just one deal-breaker of a problem: Brock promised Gigi he was out to everyone, including his parents. He lied.

It’s magical to run into the sunset together, but staying the course takes work. For Gigi and Brock, going home feels like the finale of a long, disappointing year. Sometimes love isn’t all you need.

Review: Growing Pains is the third in the Toronto Connections series and I absolutely loved it. I really liked the first two, but this is probably my favorite of the bunch. Gigi and Brock have a pretty big role in the second book - Finding Your Feet - but this book is all about them. The two have been dating for awhile now, after a high school history that left Gigi heartbroken, and things seem to be going well. That is until the two are supposed to go back to their hometown for the wedding of Gigi's sister. Brock is pretty adamant that he doesn't want to be there.

The thing with Brock and Gigi that might bother some is that they don't always communicate. However, there are reasons for this and they work for me, so hopefully you won't be agitated by that. The two fight a lot over the weekend, but truths are slowly revealed and hurts are addressed. While they might not be getting along all the time in the present, there are chapters that show their love story coming together in the past - and moments in the present that remind them and the readers that they are meant to be. There is drama - and some of it is quite serious (though that's not between our two main characters) and it definitely broke my heart a little. I loved these two together, and I thought their journey was written well!

Friday, April 7, 2017

Don't Feed the Trolls by Erica Kudisch

Don't Feed the Trolls by Erica Kudisch

Review by Lauren

source: copy from publisher; all opinions are my own

Official SummaryGaming while female is enough to incur the wrath of the dude-bros, and they’ve come for me. Instead of fighting back, I’ve created an alternate account. Male name, male pronouns. And I’ve met this girl. I’ve always liked girls, and Laura’s adorable and smart and never gives up, and she likes me back. Or rather, she likes the man I’m pretending to be. But I can’t tell her I’m a woman without the mob coming after her too.

And besides: I might not be a woman, not really.

The truth is, I don’t know what I am anymore. I’ve spent my whole life being told how I’m supposed to act and what I’m supposed to be, but none of it feels right. And my lie is starting to feel truer than anything I’ve ever been.

There’s a convention coming up, but the closer it gets, the more I have to choose: lie or fight. But if I don’t stand my ground as a girl, am I letting the haters win?

Then again, those aren’t the only two ways to live.

Review: I was invited to take part in the blog tour for Don't Feed the Trolls and I was very much excited. First off, how fun/awesome is that cover? Right? Right! Now, to the story! To be honest, I've never been a gamer. Despite this, I definitely heard a lot about #gamergate and how people were basically harassing female players...for being female. It was crazy and seriously messed up and I like the author's take on something similar happening to her MC. What adds a bit of a twist is that Daphne - or as she eventually goes by Daphnis - isn't even sure if she completely identifies as a woman. There is some mention of other people being transgender, but Daphnis isn't given a label for how she feels and eventually expresses herself. I liked this though! Not everyone wants or even feels comfortable with labels.

As for the gaming aspect of the book, there were definitely some parts that I wasn't 100% sure on - usually when characters are discussing games/gaming- but besides that, it really wasn't that confusing. Maybe that doesn't make a lot of sense, but basically, even with the things I didn't really know, the author kept me from getting lost, and that's obviously something I appreciated a lot.

This book is great for people that are gamers, but it's also nice for anyone that feels "different" or loves geeky culture. After all, a big part of the book takes place at a convention! There are characters of all sorts of backgrounds in this book, so it's full of diversity! Whether it's gender, sexuality, or race - a lot of people will find themselves represented in this book.

A lot of people reading this review probably engage in some sort of online culture, whether that's gaming or not, so I think this book is important for all of you. Trolls exist everywhere online and when it comes down to it...don't feed them. They aren't worth it. This book is worth it though!

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Danced Close by Annabeth Albert

Danced Close by Annabeth Albert

Review by Lauren

source: copy from Netgalley; all opinions are my own

Official SummaryNewly clean and sober, Todd's taken a shine to his job at Portland's most talked about bakery. It's not just the delicious desserts they sell, but the tasty treats who keep walking through the door. That certainly includes Kendall Rose, a wedding planner with eyes the color of brown sugar and skin to match. Todd doesn't try to hide his attraction to Kendall's elegant confidence and unique style, even as he worries about exposing the secrets of his past. 

For Kendall, the attention is just part of the anything-goes Portland he's grown to love. But he's still looking for that special someone who will embrace all of him—including his gender fluidity. So he takes a chance and asks Todd to be his partner in a dance class leading to a fundraiser. When the music starts and he takes Todd in his arms, Kendall is shocked at how good it feels. Turns out taking the lead for once isn't a mistake. In fact, it might be time to take the next step and follow his heart ...

Review: Danced Close is just the latest in the Portland Heat series, though you don't have to read them in order. I've missed the first few - though I do want to read them at some point - but the latest additions have all been great. While a fairly quick read, I still really enjoyed Danced Close and felt like I got to know the main characters, Todd and Kendall, well. That's always the biggest thing for me!

As for the story, I really liked how different the two guys were. Todd is a recovering addict, but he's getting his life together and doing well at the bakery. As for Kendall, he's a wedding planner that is genderfluid. His pronouns are "he" but that doesn't mean he won't dress in feminine clothes or wear makeup. Todd is more than okay with that - so it works pretty well from the start. The two really get to know each other while taking dance lessons for an event Kendall has coming up. His ex will be there and he wants to show off, and with Todd as his dance partner, the ex is sure to be jealous. This was a fun read - with some more important/serious topics touched on!

Monday, April 3, 2017

Insight by Santino Hassell

Insight by Santino Hassell

Review by Lauren

source: copy from Netgalley; all opinions are my own

Official SummaryGrowing up the outcast in an infamous family of psychics, Nate Black never learned how to control his empath abilities. Then after five years without contact, his estranged twin turns up dead in New York City. The claim of suicide doesn’t ring true, especially when a mysterious vision tells Nate it was murder. Now his long-hated gift is his only tool to investigate. 

Hitching from his tiny Texas town, Nate is picked up by Trent, a gorgeous engineer who thrives on sarcasm and skepticism. The heat that sparks between them is instant and intense, and Nate ends up trusting Trent with his secrets—something he’s never done before. But once they arrive in the city, the secrets multiply when Nate discovers an underground supernatural community, more missing psychics, and frightening information about his own talent.

Nate is left questioning his connection with Trent. Are their feelings real, or are they being propelled by abilities Nate didn’t realize he had? His fear of his power grows, but Nate must overcome it to find his brother’s killer and trust himself with Trent’s heart.

Review: I've read a book by Santino Hassell and Megan Erickson, but this is the first book I've read by Santino on his own. Granted, he has a lot of other books - and I need to read them pronto because I really loved Insight. I'm so glad it's only the first in a series. At any rate, Insight is a great book - while there is an M/M romance, that's not the only focus. It's also about psychics and there is mystery and suspense! I loved it all and I was so fascinated by this Community. I definitely didn't trust them, but I wasn't sure how they were involved in the murder of Nate's twin brother.

While there is a second book, Insight works pretty well as a standalone. There are things you'll want to learn and it makes you excited for the sequel, but all in all, it wraps up a lot so you aren't left with a huge cliffhanger. As for the romance, I loved that too! Nate never really felt worthy of someone's attention and it was difficult to get close to someone as an empath, where he could feel everyone's emotions. Things are different with Trent though and they make it work, despite the crazy that unfolds around them. I definitely rooted for these two!

Saturday, April 1, 2017

Autism Awareness Month: Usborne Books

Hey everyone - sorry I've been a bit MIA this week. I have a bit of news today - not LGBT+ related but more personal. I'm now selling for Usborne books. It's not just books for kids. There are books/activities, etc. all the way through middle grade and even kids in high school could enjoy some of the series.

At any rate, I wanted to pass this along in case any of you are looking to buy for kids in your life! You can check out my shop here. I'm happy to answer any and all questions!

I'm also looking for people to host Facebook parties. It's set up in an event and you don't do much work apart from inviting people. Sales that are made through you party gives you free books and other 50% off books!! If people either HOST or SIGN UP to host a party in the month of April, I'll donate $5 per party to Autism Speaks so definitely think about it!

I included an image up top for some Easter-themed books, but I'll end with books that are suggested for autism.

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Top Ten Tuesday With Author Elizabeth Noble

My Favorite Top Ten Authorly Friends by Author Elizabeth Noble

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by The Broke and Bookish

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

Lou Sylvre: ( ) Lou was one of my first author friends. We’ve worked on some promotional stories over the years involving characters from our books. Our latest installment of the Panel Discussion at Fictional Badass Association is here:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Gus Li: ( Gus is another great guy. He’s not only a writer, but an artist. A few years ago at a convention he gave me little keychains he made of characters from his books. Gus is the world’s biggest lover of foxes.

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

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

About the Author and Author Links:

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

Monday, March 27, 2017

The Otto Digmore Difference by Brent Hartinger

The Otto Digmore Difference by Brent Hartinger

Review by Lauren

source: copy from author; all opinions are my own

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, March 23, 2017

A Film Review: Beauty and the Beast

Beauty and the Beast Film Review by Lauren

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

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

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

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

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