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.