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: ( http://sylvre.rainbow-gate.com/ ) 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: https://authors-speak.rainbow-gate.com/2016/08/panel-discussion-at-fictional-badass-association-annual-convention-2016/

Shira Anthony:  (http://www.shiraanthony.com/) 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: (http://www.sarahmadisonfiction.com/) 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: (http://www.grace-duncan.com/graces-blog) 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: (https://www.jscottcoatsworth.com/) 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: (http://www.carolecummings.com/) 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: (http://angelmartinezauthor.weebly.com/) 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: (https://www.facebook.com/Ninja.Gus?lst=100002021652720%3A1007654926%3A1490540827) 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: (https://rhysford.com/) 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: (http://www.geoffsymon.com/) 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! 

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Rainbow Roundup: You're Welcome...Queens of Geek


Rainbow Roundup is where I share LGBT+ book reviews and posts. If you ever want me to share something from your blog, let me know!

Jo's Book Blog reviewed We Are Okay by Nina LaCour (YA)

Sparkling Letter reviewed You're Welcome, Universe by Whitney Gardner (YA)

Jo's Book Blog also reviewed At the Edge of the Universe by Shaun David Hutchinson (YA)

Novel Ink reviewed Queens of Geek by Jen Wilde (YA)

Crushing cinders reviewed The Inexplicable Logic of My Life by Benjamin Alire Saenz (MC's father is gay)

YA Bibliophile reviewed You're Welcome, Universe by Whitney Gardner (MC has two moms)

In Bed With Books reviewed Labyrinth Lost by Zoraida Cordova (YA)

Writing My Own Fairy Tale reviewed Queens of Geek by Jen Wilde (YA)

Friday, March 17, 2017

Fair Chance by Josh Lanyon


Fair Chance by Josh Lanyon

Review by Lauren

source: copy from Netgalley; all opinions are my own

Official SummaryEx–FBI agent Elliot Mills thought he was done with the most brutal case of his career. The Sculptor, the serial killer he spent years hunting, is finally in jail. But Elliot's hope dies when he learns the murderer wasn't acting alone. Now everyone is at risk once again—thanks to a madman determined to finish his partner's gruesome mission.  
When the lead agent on the case, Special Agent Tucker Lance, goes missing, Elliot knows it's the killer at work. After all, abducting the love of his life is the quickest way to hurt him.  
The chances of finding Tucker are all but impossible without the help of the Sculptor—but the Sculptor is in no position to talk. Critically injured in a prison fight, he lies comatose and dying while the clock ticks down. Elliot has no choice but to play this killer's twisted game and hope he can find Tucker in time.
Review: This is the third book in the All's Fair series. For whatever reason, I must not have realized this when I requested the book from Netgalley as I have not read the previous two. Regardless, I think you can read Fair Chance on its own and still follow the story just fine. I might have to go back and read the first two at some point though, as I really do like Josh Lanyon's writing.

Anyway, back to Fair Chance! Elliot Mills is an Ex-FBI agent who is still stuck in the midst of a case as the serial killer he helped catch, while in jail now, is still toying with him. The Sculptor won't talk to anyone but Elliot, and when Elliot goes to visit him in jail, he's given information that may or may not be true, but if it is true? It changes the game...and not in any way the FBI is happy about.

Special Agent Tucker Lance is Elliot's partner and none too thrilled that Elliot is still involved in the case. He wants him to be separate from all of this. However, when Tucker ends up going missing, Elliot is determined to do everything he can to figure out just where Tucker went and if it's at all connected to The Sculptor.

This was an exciting read with plenty of suspense and mystery. I thought I had an idea of what was happening, but then new information was revealed and things change again. I love this in a good mystery! It keeps the reader on their toes and that's never a bad thing. I thought the characters were well-rounded and wonderfully written. It was easy to get into Elliot's head and feel his fears and emotions, especially when Tucker goes missing.

While this book is mostly a mystery, there is a bit of romance and it all balances itself out well. Definitely recommended!

Want to read? I'm an amazon affiliate; I get a small percent of any sale. Check out Fair Chance in print or as an e-copy.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Guarding Mr. Fine by HelenKay Dimon



Guarding Mr. Fine by HelenKay Dimon

Review by Lauren

source: copy from Netgalley; all opinions are my own

Official SummaryAs an agent with the CIA’s special activities division, Seth Lang lives for risk—and yet he’s stuck playing bodyguard to the U.S. consul general in Munich. Although Seth’s last assignment nearly killed him, babysitting some desk jockey in a suit sounds way too easy. But when he lays eyes on the new top man, tactical expert Rick Fine, Seth’s thrilled to see just how hard this job is going to get. Mr. Tall, Dark, and Quiet has a body worth guarding—and he requires hands-on attention day and night.
 
Dispatched to a German consulate to expose the murder of his predecessor, Rick finds himself in an extremely vulnerable position. He needs a man like Seth—in so many ways. This mission will inevitably plunge them both into jeopardy, but each new threat only brings them closer. Rick just hopes that he can keep his deepest, darkest secret hidden—or else risk imperiling a relationship they’re both fighting for their lives to protect.


Review: Guarding Mr. Fine is the third book in the Tough Love series, and while I've loved them all, I think this might be my favorite. I just loved the relationship between Rick and Seth. There is a big secret that involves both of them - which only Rick is aware of - but it's a secret that makes sense to be kept, at least while the mission is happening. It adds drama to the end of the book, but nothing unwarranted or too over the top.

As for the rest of the book, this is essentially a mystery novel, and I loved that. Sure, it has plenty of romance, but it also has suspense and intrigue. Rick is sure that the former ambassador to Germany was involved in something shady and that his death is more than a suicide. He has to keep this theory mostly a secret though, so that if something is going on, they aren't spooked and hide away. It soon becomes clear that Rick is correct as someone tries to take Rick out. They don't know Seth though. He's been in the CIA for years and he's an excellent "body guard." He may have feelings for Rick, but that doesn't distract Seth. It might just make him more determined to bring down whoever would dare kill Rick.

Definitely a great read! I'll include links to the other books in the series below in case you want to read in order!

Check out the Tough Love series on Amazon - I'm an affiliate; I get a small percent of any sale.

Mr. and Mr. Smith - check it out
The Talented Mr. Rivers - check it out
Guarding Mr. Fine - check it out 

Monday, March 13, 2017

Working It by Christine D'Abo


Working It by Christine D'Abo 

Review by Lauren

source: copy from Netgalley; all opinions are my own

Official Summary: Nolan Carmichael is getting a fresh start—new career, new company, new life. The only problem is, he liked his old life just fine . . . until an accident robbed him of his health, his job, his self-confidence, and his ability to go out in public without having anxiety attacks.

Zack Anderson has scared away his last four administrative assistants. So when he hires Nolan on a whim, he’s not too worried, since Nolan will be gone within the week anyway. Two weeks later, Nolan has made himself indispensable, completely reforming Zack’s schedule, life . . . and libido.

But in a company already torn by internal politics, one wrong step could ruin both their careers. And not only are they working to reopen Ringside Gym, Zack’s retreat when he was a troubled teen, but they also can’t help themselves falling for each other. If only the rest of their lives could go as smoothly as things do when they’re alone together.
 


Review: Oh, I really loved this one! I really loved Nolan and Zack. They both have issues they are working through -Nolan has extreme anxiety attacks and Zack has a definite attitude/anger issue - but these aren't things they are willing to let hold them back. When Nolan gets the job as Zack's assistant, he's determined to do the best he can and show his sister that he can make it on his own. As for Zack, his surly demeanor has obviously started to change after working with Nolan.

Working It is essentially a story of moving forward after tragedy, finding a reason to change your life, and going after one's dreams. Since Zack is essentially Nolan's boss, he knows that he shouldn't start anything with him, but he can't help but be drawn to him. I'm a big fan of drama in books and relationships as long as it's not drawn out by not talking or is something completely unrealistic. I thought the drama was done really well in this book and it just made me root harder for Zack and Nolan to be with each other, and to have their future be what they always imagined. I do recommend, and I'm curious to read the second book in this series!

Want to read? Check it out on Amazon, where I'm an affiliate and get a small percent of any sale.

Saturday, March 11, 2017

Block and Strike by Kelly Jensen


Block and Strike by Kelly Jensen

Review by Lauren

source: copy from publisher; all opinions are my own

Official SummaryJacob Kendricks is three months out of prison, estranged from his daughter, and ready to get his life on track. Taking care of the bum curled up on his doorstep isn’t part of the plan. When he realizes the man has been assaulted, Jake takes him to the hospital, where he learns that Max is his downstairs neighbor… and that he could really use a friend. Keeping Max in the friend-zone would be easier if he wasn’t so damned cute.

Maxwell Wilson has been bullied for years, and the only person who ever cared lives too far away to come to his rescue. Now his upstairs neighbor is offering support. Max remains cautious, suspecting he is little more than a project for the handsome Jake. When he learns Jake has had boyfriends as well as girlfriends, Max has to reevaluate his priorities—and muster the courage to take a chance at love.

Just when a happy future is within their grasp, life knocks them back down. A devastating blow leaves Max lower than ever and Jake wrestling with regret. They both have to find the strength to stand on their own before they can stand together.


Review: Block and Strike was a really good read, full of emotion and even a little suspense. I liked that both of the main characters had heartache and drama in their past but they didn't let that define their future. They both worked hard to make things better for themselves. With this inner strength, they were also able to be there for each other when needed. They didn't fix each other, but they were able to help each other a great deal.

Jacob is fresh out of prison for something he'll always regret, but he has a fairly sunny disposition. He's a hard worker and while he has anger problems, he's working on them. As for Max, he's had a rough life and a prickly exterior, but there is definitely more to him below the surface. Meeting Jacob helps him slowly come into his confidence, and it was really great to see!

This book features various secondary friends and family members that just added to the overall story. Max and Jacob aren't living in the void - there are people around them that care a great deal. I loved the emotion in this one too. It brings you into the story, and you end up caring very deeply for these men. You want them to get a happily ever after - together or apart. Definitely a good one!

Want to check it out on Amazon? I'm an affiliate, so I get a small percent of any sale.

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Sound Proof by C.A. Blocke


Sound Proof by C.A. Blocke

Review by Lauren

source: copy from Netgalley; all opinions are my own

Official SummaryWhen Chris is unceremoniously dumped by his longtime girlfriend, his best friend Thomas picks up the pieces and remind there's more to life than his lost relationship. In the process of letting go of a relationship that wasn't what he thought, Chris slowly comes to realize that everything he's ever wanted may have been right beneath his nose the whole time…

Review: First off, this isn't a gay for you novel, so you're worried about that, don't be. Chris is actually bisexual and he's hooked up with his best friend Thomas years before when they first met. However, when he's dumped by his longtime girlfriend, feelings start to come up between the two again. I didn't hate this one but it definitely wasn't my favorite book. I could say things moved quick, but with their history, it wasn't too bad. I suppose the book is more of a novella than a full-length novel too, so that aspect didn't really help things feel realistic either. I did find Thomas' main job interesting - he does voice over, so that includes anime and audio books and reading a bit about that was cool. I'm not really sure what I'd rate this one, if I was going to rate it, but let's just say it was more of a miss than a hit for me.

If you're interested, though, you can check it out on Amazon. I get a small percent of any sale, as I'm an affiliate.

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Top Ten Tuesday with Author Elyse Springer

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by The Broke and the Bookish
Top Ten Books I Have Lied About by Elyse Springer

10. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hollows: As a diehard Harry Potter fanatic, I’m pretty sure I’m supposed to love this book. I’ve told people over and over that I did. But confession: it’s my least favorite in the series. I’ve read it exactly once, on the day it came out. Sorry, JKR, but I’ll use my imagination to decide how Harry defeats Voldemort! (I do like The Cursed Child, though, so at least that awful epilogue is redeemed slightly.)

9. The entirety of A Song of Ice and Fire: I’ve read the first few. I know they’re popular. But my god are they boring. They’re too long, and I got sick of the needless character death after the first 50 or so gruesome on-page offings. But every geek on earth seems to love them, so I pretend like I do.

8. Twilight: YES I READ THEM ALL. I admit it! I didn’t like them, but for some reason I couldn’t put them down.

7. The Scarlet Letter: I wrote three term papers on this at university. I have never once read it. (The lowest grade I got on one of those papers was a B+, though.)

6. Fanfiction: Maybe it doesn’t count as a “book”, but some of these fics are pretty epic. I generally don’t fess up to reading fan fiction, but the fact is that I love a good novel-length fic. (But I don’t actually have a preferred fandom… I’ll read anything good.)

5. Anne Rice: Mostly the only person I lied to about these was my mother. I started reading these books at age 12, at which point my mom decided I was too young to continue. Of course that only made me more eager to sneak them out of the public library!

4. Every book assigned in high school English: I have a degree in English lit, but I also have a pretty serious disinterest in anything written in the 1800s or early 1900s. The only two books I read in high school were “Of Mice and Men” (aka the shortest one) and “The Canterbury Tales” (aka the reason I specialized in Medieval Literature). Thank goodness for Sparknotes.

3. “Bodice rippers”: I love them. I really, really do. I want romance tropes and terrible euphemisms for male anatomy and improbable plots.

2. Animorphs: I read these when I was in third grade. I also read them about three months ago. Why are these books so good?!

1. Every book I was ever asked about while working in a bookstore: I worked in a bookstore for three years. People came in constantly, asking, “Do you recommend this book?” Me: “Oh, absolutely! It’s fantastic, I loved it!” or “I’ve heard such good things about this one!” Yeah, I lied. A lot. 

About the Author:

Elyse is an author and world-traveler, whose unique life experiences have helped to shape the stories that she wants to tell. She writes romances with LGBTQIA+ characters and relationships, and believes that every person deserves a Happily Ever After. When she’s not staring futilely at her computer screen, Elyse spends her time adding stamps to her passport, catching up on her terrifying TBR list, and learning to be a better adult.
You can find Elyse online at:

Sunday, March 5, 2017

First Openly Gay Disney Character

source
I'm sure I'm not the only person here who is excited for the live action film, Beauty and the Beast. I didn't think I could get anymore happy about this film but I was wrong! The other day I found out that LeFou (played by Josh Gad in the new film) will be Disney's first openly gay character. I am absolutely thrilled about this news.

Disney is probably the number 1 entertainment for kids growing up - it was for me at least - so I think it's about time they decided to have a gay character that kids could see, and on the big screen no less! You can read more about this in an article on Nylon, which is where I learned the news.

Of course, this news isn't without its critics. In fact, a movie theater in Alabama has stated they will no longer be showing the film due to it having an openly gay character. It's ridiculous, I know, but they are crediting religion for their decision. You can read more about their decision, and other people's thoughts, on CNN.

What are your thoughts about this announcement? Are you as excited as I am? Leave your thoughts - but be courteous!

-Lauren

Thursday, March 2, 2017

Rainbow Roundup: Reviews, Book Look, and More!


I'm back with another Rainbow Roundup! I hope you enjoy all of these links - and maybe find some new books (and TV shows). One link includes a giveaway, I have a link for a Book Look, and a post about LGBT+ characters on TV. Let me know what you think!

Metaphors and Moonlight reviewed The Pedlar and the Bandit King by Kirby Crow (gay, fantasy, high fantasy)

Sparkling Letters reviewed The Inexplicable Logic of My Life by Benjamin Alire Saenz (YA Contemporary- MC has a gay father)

Pure Imagination reviewed Simon Vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli (YA Contemporary - main character is gay)

Books for a Delicate Eternity reviewed Our Own Private Universe by Robin Talley (YA contemp- f/f novel)

Diva BookNerd reviewed History Is All You Left Me by Adam Silvera (YA contemporary, features gay/bi characters)

Chiara Sullivan wrote a post about her favorite TV Shows with LGBT+ Characters 

In Wonderland has a guest post from Carrie Mac, author of 10 Things I Can See From Here (post includes giveaway)

No Bent Spines shared a Book Look for History Is All You Left Me by Adam Silvera (a book look is an outfit that matches the book cover)

Monday, February 27, 2017

Looking for Book Reviewers!!


Hey everyone - I'm still looking for people to read/review this book, so I'm re-posting the post I had up last week. Please get in touch at lauren51990 AT aol DOT com if you are interested! Otherwise, I hope you had a lovely weekend!

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

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

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

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

“Road trip!” 

Otto Digmore is a 26-year-old gay guy with dreams of being a successful actor, and he’s finally getting some attention as a result of his supporting role on a struggling sitcom. But he’s also a burn survivor with scars on half his face, and all indications are that he’s just too different to ever find real Hollywood success. 

Now he’s up for an amazing new role that could change everything. Problem is, he and his best friend Russel Middlebrook have to drive all the way across the country in order to get to the audition on time. 

It’s hard to say which is worse: the fact that so many things go wrong, or that Russel, an aspiring screenwriter, keeps comparing their experiences to some kind of road trip movie. 

There’s also the fact that Otto and Russel were once boyfriends, and Otto is starting to realize that he still might have romantic feelings for his best friend. 

Just how far will Otto go to get the role, and maybe the guy, of his dreams? 

Thursday, February 23, 2017

When Did 30 Become A Big Deal? by Alessandra Ebulu


When Did 30 Become A Big Deal? by Alessandra Ebulu

Review by Lauren

source: copy from Netgalley; all opinions are my own

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

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

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

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

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

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