Thursday, December 28, 2017

Outside the Lines by Anna Zabo

First off, I'm so sorry I've been a bit MIA on here. I hope to get back into the swing of things in the New Year!! If you celebrate Christmas, I hope it was wonderful. And Happy New Year!! 

Outside the Lines by Anna Zabo
Review by Lauren
Source: copy from Netgalley; all opinions are my own
Official Summary (add on Goodreads)Miniature artist Ian Meyers has one week to rebuild his damaged set. Needing help, he goes to End o’ Earth, the local comic and gaming shop. Owner Simon Derry pushes all of Ian’s buttons, and he also has steady hands and the skills Ian needs.
Before they can even grab a beer, Ian meets Lydia Derry, Simon’s wife. If Ian had any interest in women, he’d suggest a threesome, but then Simon explains that he and Lydia are polyamorous, and if Ian wants Simon, neither of them will complain. If anything, Lydia encourages the relationship.
Ian’s all in, and it’s fantastic working with Simon to piece together his set and then take each other apart at night. His friendship with Lydia grows too. The only problem is, the more time he spends with Simon, the more he wants everything Simon already has with Lydia: A house. A cat. A commitment. So Ian runs, and shatters the trust he has with them both—right when they need him the most. Piecing their relationships back together might prove harder than a smashed set.

Review: This is the 22nd novel in the Bluewater Bay series, but believe me, they can all be read as stand-alones. In fact, most of the books are written by different authors throughout. Outside the Lines is actually the second to last in the entire series, and it’s one that I really enjoyed. The TV show Wolf’s Landing is filmed in Bluewater Bay, so the famous and the not-so-famous cohabitate, and that’s the overall focus of these books. Outside the Lines is about Ian, who makes miniature sets for the show, and Simon and Lydia Derry – a polyamorous married couple. While Simon and Lydia are married, being poly means they are welcome to pursue other relationships too and that’s what Simon does with Ian. I thought the whole relationship between the three main characters was handled really well and with a lot of respect, and it helps explain how a poly relationship works. There is some brief angst/drama, but it just helps them all become a stronger unit. Also, I should note that Simon and Ian are in a sexual relationship, but Ian isn’t in one with Lydia as he’s gay – he does however grow to love and care for Lydia as a friend/family member.

Monday, December 11, 2017

Romance Redefined by SJD Peterson

Romance Redefined by SJD Peterson

Review by Lauren

source: copy from publisher; all opinions are my own

Official Summary (add on Goodreads): Opposites attract, but are some differences too drastic for a romance to survive?

On the surface, Benson Howard Winthrop III and Hugh Bayard have a lot in common: they’re young, handsome, and blessed to be one of the wealthiest couples in the country. Surely they have everything anyone could want. But Ben is no longer satisfied with their long-running relationship. Hugh’s need to control every situation is suffocating him, and Ben needs to know if he can make it on his own merits by following his passion.

But Ben’s mother isn’t about to let her son live in a rundown apartment as a struggling actor. She’s determined to get him back to his rightful place at the top of the social ladder—and back with Hugh.
Rekindling their romance will require more than doing what’s expected. Ben and Hugh need to understand and embrace each other’s differences. They’ll have to support each other even when one makes a decision the other doesn’t agree with. For their passionate love to grow, they will need to redefine the meaning of romance… only then can they find true happiness.

Review: I really loved the premise of this one! Ben has loved Hugh for years, and it's obvious he would still be with the man if he thought Hugh could give him what he wanted. What that is is essentially emotion - and attention. Hugh closes himself off, even with Ben, and he doesn't always treat Ben how someone should if they are really in love. Also, Ben has dreams of his own and he wants the chance to pursue them on his own terms, instead of just using family money to get what he wants. What made me not love this book quite as much is that I didn't think there was enough of Ben and Hugh working on their relationship. Yes, they are in each others lives throughout the book and getting pulled back into each other's orbit, but it didn't seem like the bigger conversations and/or revelations happened until later in the book and I would have liked it more throughout. Regardless, I did really enjoy this one! It's an intriguing look at a relationship - a bit of a second chance romance, if you will.

Friday, December 8, 2017

All of the Above by Quinn Anderson

All of the Above by Quinn Anderson

Review by Lauren

source: copy from Netgalley; all opinions are my own

Official Summary (add on Goodreads)Brendon isn’t in a rut, per se—he just always seems to be in-between things. Jobs. Degrees. Boyfriends. He never finishes what he starts. The perfect path is out there somewhere, and if he can just figure out what it is, he’s certain everything else will fall into place.

The last thing he expects is to meet his soul mate in the pages of a magazine quiz. “Who Is Your Perfect Man?” by Matthew Kingston seems like a road map to his future husband: the author himself. Brendon may not have his life figured out, but if Matt is as romantic as his quiz, Brendon can check “true love” off his to-do list.

When Brendon fakes a meet-cute between them, Matt proves to be as wonderful as he hoped. The more Brendon gets to know him, the harder he falls. But Brendon has a confession to make: how can he explain to Matt that he arranged their “fated” meeting? Brendon can’t tell if he’s found his soul mate, heartache, or all of the above.

Review: I gave this one 3 stars on Goodreads, and I often find those middle of the road reviews to be the most difficult to review sometimes. I liked aspects of All of the Above, but it was definitely not a favorite of mine and it's not something I could really recommend to just anyone. I think the whole "meet cute" idea is kind of fun, though the fact that Brendon orchestrated his could be seen as a bit creepy. Granted, I don't think he does anything too out of the box and he's obviously a good guy. I think my biggest issue with the book is that these two just didn't really seem to go together for me. There is an intriguing part later in the book where the two of them tell each other the things they don't like about each other (it's kind of the middle of an argument, so it's not out of the blue) and I was thinking "Yeah, they are kind of right...why do they like each other so much?" It's definitely a cute read, but again, it didn't really click with me.

Monday, December 4, 2017

Life on Pause by Erin McLellan

Life on Pause by Erin McLellan

Review by Lauren

source: copy from Netgalley; all opinions are my own

Official Summary (add on Goodreads): Niles Longfellow is a nerd, and not the trendy type of nerd, either. He wears a historically accurate homesteader costume to work every day, has a total of one friend, and doesn’t know how to talk to guys. So when he gets a flat tire and the hottest hipster ever stops to help him, all Niles can think is that he’s wearing his stupid cowboy getup. Normally, Niles feels invisible to other men, but he’d take that invisibility any day over Rusty Adams seeing him in suede and fringe.

Rusty moved to Bison Hills to help his sister raise her daughter, and nothing is more important to him than that. He’s also fresh off a breakup, and isn’t prepared for anything complicated. But then he meets Niles. Rusty sees Niles as more than a clumsy, insecure guy in a costume. He sees a man who is funny, quirky, and unexpected.

Nothing about their connection is simple, though, especially the lies and insecurities between them. Niles doesn’t know if he can trust Rusty with his heart, and when Rusty’s sister decides to move away, Rusty doesn’t know if he can stay behind.

Review: I really loved both Niles and Rusty, together and as individual people. Life on Pause did have a lot of drama, but I felt that it was realistic and handled well. Niles has very low self-esteem so it's difficult for him to think that Rusty might actually want to be him, as opposed to someone else.

As for Rusty, he's very much a part of his sister and her daughter's lives. He helped raise his niece and with the idea of them moving, Rusty isn't entirely sure if getting into a relationship with Niles is a good idea. Neither of the guys wanted to hurt each other, and they were often trying to keep themselves from being hurt, but it's almost inevitable in a relationship. There were moments where I wished the two would talk more to each other and just be honest. It might have helped alleviate some of the drama, but at the same time, a lot of what occurs does help the two of them grow. When Rusty and Niles work, they work well together. I liked how the two of them did open up about certain aspects of their lives as they grew their relationship.

Another aspect I really liked about Life on Pause are the secondary characters, from Rusty's family to his co-worker/ex-boyfriend, to Niles' best friend. It added a lot of layers to the story so that while the relationship aspect was fraught with difficulties, the book wasn't entirely about Rusty and Niles' love life. This is the only book I've read from McLellan so far, but she's someone I'll keep an eye out for in the future!

Friday, November 17, 2017

Skin by Christian Baines

Skin by Christian Baines

Review by Lauren

source: copy from Netgalley; all opinions are my own

Official Summary (add on Goodreads): Kyle, a young newcomer to New Orleans, is haunted by the memory of his first lover, brutally murdered just outside the French Quarter. 

Marc, a young Quarter hustler, is haunted by an eccentric spirit that shares his dreams, and by the handsome but vicious lover who shares his bed. 

When the barrier between these men comes down, it will prove thinner than the veil between the living and the dead…or between justice and revenge. 

Review: Honestly, I'm not sure what I'd rate this one if I had to. It was definitely not what I expected at all, but it's also a fascinating premise at the same time. I really felt for Kyle whose lover is murdered one night. He's not sure how to keep his memory alive, turning toward some of the spiritual stories he was told about New Orleans.

Marc is someone that made me equally upset and mad. Upset because he's with an abusive lover - though not boyfriend - and he's essentially being used. This makes you mad on his behalf, but it also makes you wonder why he doesn't just leave. Granted, I understand that that's a big question. Where would he go? He doesn't have anyone else. He's almost okay with what he's being given, even if it's awful and heartbreaking. So yes, I'm madder on his behalf than anything because it's horrible that he's found himself in this situation.

The book goes back and forth between Kyle and Marc, and eventually things start to come together, but not until near the end. In fact, I didn't understand why the book was called Skin until the last page of the book and boy is it freaky! There isn't much to say about this one without giving things away, so I'll end it about here. It was an intriguing read but not necessarily one that completely hooked me.

Monday, November 13, 2017

Vanilla by Billy Merrell

Vanilla by Billy Merrell

Review by Lauren

source: copy from ALA17; all opinions are my own

Official Summary (add on Goodreads): Hunter and Vanilla become boyfriends before they're even teenagers, and stay a couple even when adolescence intervenes. But in high school, conflict arises -- mostly because Hunter is much more comfortable with the sex part of sexual identity. As the two boys start to realize that loving someone doesn't guarantee they will always be with you, they find out more about their own identities -- with Hunter striking out on his own while Van begins to understand his own asexuality.

In poems that are romantic and poems that are heartbreaking, Vanilla explores all the flavors of the spectrum -- and how romance and love aren't always the same thing.

Review: I have such a hard time reviewing books that have controversy surrounding them because I'm not someone who wants to get enmeshed in all the drama. Regardless, here we go! This book is about Vanilla and Hunter who have been dating for years, but now that they are a bit older, Hunter wants to take the romance to a new level. It makes sense. I think most teenage boys have sex on the brain and Hunter really does love Vanilla. Where the controversy comes in for this is that Vanilla is asexual. Here's the thing though - Vanilla doesn't realize he's asexual until near the end of the book. This means that when Hunter is pushing for more, he doesn't realize that Vanilla isn't just nervous. He tells Vanilla that he'll want it eventually, because he isn't thinking "hey, my boyfriend might be asexual" and I can't blame him. It's not a sexuality widely talked about and I think this book shows that. I feel like it might have helped if Vanilla had applied asexuality to himself a little earlier in the story, but everyone's coming out experience is different. Sometimes you just don't know how to label your feelings, you know?

I was a little iffy on the names though - everyone has a bit of a nickname in the book, so you know, Vanilla isn't actually the kid's name. People have issue with this too because it makes it sound like Vanilla is only called that because his sexuality is so vanilla, but I feel like Hunter explains in the book that that's never why he called his boyfriend that. Also, the book is told in verse - and it's mostly Vanilla and Hunter's point of views - so that might make some aspects of the story difficult to really understand. Maybe aspects of the book are getting lost in translation, if you will. I don't know.

Obviously if the book upsets you, stop reading it, but I also know that some asexual men and women have reviewed the book in a positive manner so it's one of those "you do you" type of books. I liked it - though I almost wish it was a regular narrative and not in verse just because of the nature of the subjects talked about.

Friday, November 10, 2017

Lace-Covered Compromise by Silvia Violet

Lace- Covered Compromise by Silvia Violet

Review by Lauren

Source: copy from Netgalley; all opinions are my own

Official Summary (add on Goodreads): Adam Kingston expects to inherit his father’s multinational conglomerate. When he finds out half of it went to Nate Thomas—an annoying man whose dreams for Kingston Corp.’s future clash with Adam’s need to stave off financial disaster—Adam is furious. He’s willing to do whatever it takes to wrest control of Kingston Corp. from Nate.

Nate may be soft-spoken, but he refuses to be swayed by Adam’s arrogant demands. When Nate accidentally drops a pair of his lacy panties in front of Adam, there’s no mistaking Adam’s interest. Nate hadn’t realized Adam was bisexual, but now that his secret is out, Nate is willing to use Adam’s lust against him if it means protecting the welfare of the company he loves.

For Adam and Nate, hatred and desire are closely linked. Their inability to compromise threatens the company and could expose their tightly held secrets. But as they work together to develop a plan to save Kingston Corp., they begin to realize there might be more to their relationship than anger and lust.

Review: This was a really quick read for me, and I did enjoy it, but I thought I’d do a quick Pro and Con list for you today! Basically, I’d definitely read something else by this author!


-I love romances with enemy to lover
-I think they handled Nate’s kink well.  They really showed that different things make people feel good, and that there are people out that there that will be attracted to that. I liked the back-story of how Nate started to change how he dressed.
-I appreciated that Adam was bisexual and it didn’t end with him saying he was gay all along or anything like that. He’s still bisexual.
-I think the business side of the book was handled well, at least in terms of how everything in Kingston Corp. is settled.


-Adam has anxiety and panic attacks, and I wish this was developed or shown more since it’s one big reason that he’s wary about ever being in an actual relationship.
-Adam and Nate don't always communicate well, unless they are arguing and basically not compromising. It gets a bit better as the book goes on, but more growth would have been nice.
-Also, this book is only in Adam’s point of view and having both might have helped!

Monday, November 6, 2017

Wheels Up by Annabeth Albert

Wheels Up by Annabeth Albert

Review by Lauren

source: copy from Netgalley; all opinions are my own

Official Summary: Lieutenant Dustin Strauss is a reformed man. No longer a twentysomething hell-raiser, he's his SEAL team's new XO-and a man with a secret. Or seven. He's kept his bisexual identity under wraps for years, along with his kinky side and a fondness for the military-themed semianonymous hookup website Joe4Joe. His latest chat buddy is more than a sexy online distraction-they're taking their very not-safe-for-work relationship into real time. 

Petty Officer Wes Lowe has a smart mouth, a take-charge attitude and an uncanny ability for making things go boom. The life of an enlisted man isn't always enough to satisfy him, but one wild, no-questions-asked weekend with his online love comes close. When a transfer order comes in, Wes feels ready and centered. He'll make a good impression on his new SEAL team and keep his growing feelings for Dustin on the down low.

But as they log more time online and some very real emotions surface, Dustin and Wes struggle to pretend they're just a harmless fling. And when his commander introduces Dustin to his team's newest member, they're in for the shock of a lifetime...and a crushing disappointment: their difference in ranks means even a friendship without sexual contact could end their navy careers for good.

With their hearts on the line, Dustin and Wes may not survive their next mission, let alone find a way toward a future together.

Review: This is the fourth book in the Out of Uniform series and it was great to get Dustin's story, whose younger brother has his own book (At Attention). Dustin is bisexual but he's never told anyone in his life. He has a gay brother and best friend, so he knows that people would support him. However, he also knows that he's going to disappoint his dad who always tells him at least one son will carry on the family name, settle down and have kids. Instead, he focuses on his military career and ends up making a connection with Wes Lowe on a hookup website called Joe4Joe. Through their time chatting, the two learn a lot about each other and it becomes more than just hooking up. In fact, Wes reaches out to meet up in person when Dustin is in D.C. They have a great time - despite Dustin's nerves - but soon they are back on opposite sides of the U.S. Well, until Wes ends up joining Dustin's team out in California and the two can't even act like friends as Dustin is in charge of Wes and that's fraternization.

Obviously the two eventually end up chatting again more and secretly meeting up at Dustin's condo. Part of it is the physical relationship, but a lot of it is the friendship. They know things about each other that nobody else does, or at least not as well. They are there for each other when they need to be, especially when Wes' sister is back in the hospital for a heart condition she was born with. If you've read the previous books in the series, then I should note that this one has a bit of kink but nothing all that outrageous. I think it would be fine even for people that have never read about it in a romance. I thought the dynamic worked, and it showed different sides to Wes and Dylan. This is a part of them they don't share with other people; only with each other.

I really enjoyed Wheels Up, and I definitely can't wait for more in this series!!

Friday, November 3, 2017

Antisocial by Heidi Cullinan

Antisocial by Heidi Cullinan 

Review by Lauren

source: copy from Netgalley; all opinions are my own

Official Summary (add on Goodreads): Xander Fairchild can’t stand people in general and frat boys in particular, so when he’s forced to spend his summer working on his senior project with Skylar Stone, a silver-tongued Delta Sig with a trust fund who wants to make Xander over into a shiny new image, Xander is determined to resist. He came to idyllic, Japanese culture-soaked Benten College to hide and make manga, not to be transformed into a corporate clone in the eleventh hour. 

Skylar’s life has been laid out for him since before he was born, but all it takes is one look at Xander’s artwork, and the veneer around him begins to crack. Xander himself does plenty of damage too. There’s something about the antisocial artist’s refusal to yield that forces Skylar to acknowledge how much his own orchestrated future is killing him slowly…as is the truth about his gray-spectrum sexuality, which he hasn’t dared to speak aloud, even to himself.

Through a summer of art and friendship, Xander and Skylar learn more about each other, themselves, and their feelings for one another. But as their senior year begins, they must decide if they will part ways and return to the dull futures they had planned, or if they will take a risk and leap into a brightly colored future—together.

Review: I'd only read a couple reviews of Antisocial before reading the book - and they were mostly positive. I really liked the book, and I thought certain aspects were handled well. However, after reading the book, I realized that a lot of people have strong issues with the asexuality and love for Japanese culture in this book (many refer to it as fetishism). Now, this doesn't really change what I thought of the book when I read it, but I can see some of their concerns looking back, though not all of them. I still really enjoyed Antisocial and I thought the friendships were done really well - as well as the relationship between Xander and Skylar. Honestly, I think this is a case of read it for yourself - people might have issues, and they are good to keep in mind, but I would never tell someone NOT to read something just because myself or others have problems with it. 

At any rate, I ADORE Carry the Ocean and Shelter the Sea by this author and would highly recommend you check those out, if nothing else! 

Monday, October 30, 2017

True Colors by Anyta Sunday

True Colors by Anyta Sunday

Review by Lauren

Source: copy from Netgalley; all opinions are my own

Official Summary (add on Goodreads):  Oskar used to be Marco’s best friend. His everything. His sunshine yellow.

But that was before. Before Marco stopped being a hot jock. Before he learned to live with scars and pain. And before Oskar tore their friendship apart.

Now the boy next door has returned home, determined to rekindle his friendship with Marco, and Marco’s more afraid than ever. Afraid of getting hurt. Afraid of being humiliated.

Afraid of falling in love.

Can Oskar find a way through Marco’s fear, back into his heart?

Review: Marco’s mom used colors to describe days, back before the accident that stole her life and scarred Marco both physically and mentally. Now Marco uses colors to describe people. Oskar, his best friend, was always yellow, until Oskar broke their friendship and eventually left their town. But Oskar is back and Marco can’t stop old feelings from coming back: friendship, hurt, and possibly love.

Oskar is out and proud, bringing a boyfriend when he comes back home. It’s obvious that Marco has always loved Oskar – and more than just a friend- but he’s terrified of coming out. He’s also terrified of being hurt by the same person again. It’s so easy to feel for Marco. He’s gone through a lot, and once readers find out what happened between the two friends, it’s even easier to understand Marco’s anger and trepidation about letting Oskar back into his life. In any capacity. The two of them have connections beyond memories though – Marco is close to Oskar’s sister and Marco’s father invited Oskar to be in his yearly play, with the hope that he two men would become friends again.

This book is emotional, but there are also a lot of lighthearted moments throughout. Marco and Oskar are slowly reconnecting and finding that maybe there is something still between them. It’s definitely a slow-burn romance, but completely worth the wait.

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Etsy Pride: All Things Dorian Gray

Oscar Wilde is a quintessential queer author - and one I just love - and his book The Picture of Dorian Gray is one of those books that people assume had queer characters. It was illegal at the time to be gay, so it's not stated outright, but I agree. I think that's what Wilde was going for with some of the characters. Therefore, for today's Etsy Pride, I'm going to share some Dorian Gray items I found on Etsy!

The Picture of Dorian Gray Scarf - buy here


From Shop UniversalZone

I love scarfs, so having one featuring one of my favorite books would be amazing!

The Picture of Dorian Gray Book Matches- buy here


From Shop HereForevermore

Candles are fantastic, and it's officially candle season! These would make a great stocking stuffer or party favor!

Dorian Gray Writing Gloves - buy here


From Shop Storiarts

How cool are these? I'd love some writing gloves as my hands are often cold!

The Picture of Dorian Gray Checkbook Cover- buy here


From Shop Time2BeHappy

This is so cool! I've never thought about getting a cool checkbook cover, but I like it!

The Picture of Dorian Gray Floating Quote - buy here

$34 or $44 (two sizes)

From Shop BurntBranch

This might be my favorite item here! I love how cool the floating quote looks. If I had my own house, I'd get more than one quote and have them in various rooms. One day!

Friday, October 20, 2017

The Con X: Covers Released Today!

It's Friday! It's also the release day of The Con X: Covers by Tegan and Sara. Ten years ago, twin sisters Tegan and Sara released their album The Con (which is seriously one of my most favorite albums ever) and now they are re-releasing that album but with other bands and artists covering the songs. I didn't realize this was happening until they talked about it at their over the summer and I've been eagerly waiting ever since! They are also touring their album, acoustically, and I'm so jealous of anyone who is able to see them. Unfortunately, they weren't touring close enough to me to see them live again, but if anyone reading this does go to a stop on their tour, I'd love to hear all about it.

Need another reason to buy this album? All proceeds will benefit the Tegan and Sara Foundation which focuses on helping LGBT girls and women.

To make sure this is up to date, go here
Before I leave you, I'll share the track list below. Tell me, what song are you most excited to hear? Do you listen to Tegan or Sara, or do you like any of the cover artists?

1. Ruth B. - "I Was Married"
2. MUNA - "Relief Next to Me"
3. Shura - "The Con"
4. Mykki Blanco - "Knife Going In"
5. PVRIS - "Are You Ten Years Ago"
6. Ryan Adams - "Back In Your Head"
7. City and Colour - "Hop a Plane"
8. Kelly Lee Owens - "Soil, Soil"
9. Bleachers - "Burn Your Life Down"
10. Hayley Williams of Paramore - "Nineteen"
11. Sara Bareilles - "Floorplan"
12. Shamir - "Like O, Like H"
13. Trashique (GRIMES X HANA) - "Dark Come Soon"
14. CHVRCHES – “Call It Off”
Digital Bonus Tracks
15. Cyndi Lauper – “Back in Your Head” (Bonus Track)
16. Bleached - "One Second" (Bonus Track)
17. Vivek Shraya - "I Take All the Blame" (Bonus Track)
18. Tegan and Sara - "Miami Still" (Bonus Track Demo) 

Monday, October 16, 2017

National Coming Out Day: A Belated Note

This past Wednesday, October 11, was National Coming Out Day. I wrote a little something on Twitter, but I do apologize for being late in writing something here. I just wanted to say "congratulations" to everyone who has ever come out as LGBT+ but that just because you may still be "in the closet" or however you want to phrase it, that doesn't make you any less LGBT+ or any less important to the LGBT+ community as a whole. You're still part of us, and we're here if you need us. And I'm an individual within that collective 'us' and I mean that all the same. I'm here to talk, to listen, if you need it.

You don't need to be out to feel legitimate, though I know many might make you feel that way. There are many reasons that people don't come out - or only come out to a select few. Sometimes it's because they live with or around people who would physically, emotionally, verbally, harm them. Sometimes they don't have a specific reason, but they know that it wouldn't be accepted, that it would harm them more than help them in some way. It doesn't matter. You don't have to tell anyone why you don't want to come out. It's okay. I wish that everyone who wanted to come out could, because I hate that so many have to live in fear. But sadly, that's still our world. So much progress has been made but not for everyone, and not everywhere. If you feel like you can't come out, but you are desperate to talk to someone, please reach out somewhere. Find a local chapter of GLSEN, talk to someone online, reach out to the The Trevor Project, or any other safe space you can find - even if that safe space is the internet.

October we celebrate LGBTQ History Month. This is your history. Our history. And I want you to be part of it your entire life, in whatever way you whatever way you want. It's up to you. But we're here for you, me included, in any way you need...and any way we can. So be safe, take care of yourself, and remember that coming out is what you make it. Nobody can tell you how to do it or when. You're part of this community, this history. And we love you. Always remember that.

Please feel free to share your thoughts in the comments and/or share this post if you think someone could use it.

Thank you to everyone who has ever read, commented, shared, or done anything else to support Let's Get Beyond Tolerance. I know you're there, and thank you.

Friday, October 13, 2017

Mini Review: All Wheel Drive by Z.A. Maxfield

All Wheel Drive by Z.A. Maxfield

Review by Lauren

Source: copy from Netgalley; all opinions are my own

Official Summary: Healey Holly is battered, depressed, and looking to go to ground in his childhood home. He wants to rent the garage apartment, but it’s Diego Luz’s place now, and the last thing Diego wants is to share it.

Diego is recovering too—from the accident that put him in a wheelchair and the death of his mother shortly after. The garage apartment is where he’s keeping his mother’s things, and as long as they’re up those stairs and he’s down on the ground, there’s no way he can deal with his loss. And that’s just how he likes it.

Healey believes in science. Diego believes in luck. It will take a blend of both, and some prayer thrown in besides, for these two to learn that it’s the journey and the destination that matters.

Review: While I enjoyed this one to a degree, it's definitely not a favorite. It's actually been a little while since I've read this and I can remember aspects of it, but nothing terribly concrete. I do think Healy and Diego are both intriguing characters, but sometimes it felt like too much work for the two of them to be together. Most of this comes from Diego who constantly seems to be pushing back at Healey, even as they grow closer. Both guys are dealing with a lot, as can be seen in the summary, and I feel like the author handled everything well. While Diego's family isn't close by, family is still an important part of each man's life and I loved that. I like when characters have close friends or family around them. This isn't a bad read, by any means, but not something I'd re-read. 

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Cover Up by L.A. Witt

Cover Up by L.A. Witt

Review by Lauren

source: copy from Netgalley; all opinions are my own

Official Summary: After ten years of blissful marriage, Navy Pilot Nate Chandler is divorcing his cheating husband. Single for the first time in years, Nate is numb to all emotion and kisses any chance of another relationship goodbye.

Not only is Nate struggling to get through this divorce, but his body is branded with a permanent reminder of his failed marriage: a matching tattoo with his ex. Searching for a place to cover up his old tattoo, Nate finds himself at the Skin Deep, Inc., where he meets the young and charming cover-up tattoo apprentice, Lucas Brandt.

From just flirty glances to steamy hot encounters, Nate and Lucas dive headfirst into a fling of hookups. But worried that he’ll forever be Nate’s “cover up” rebound relationship, Lucas fears that their love won’t be anything more than just skin deep. What was once just a casual attraction, Lucas now hopes to turn into a real relationship. But will he be able to convince the still tender-hearted Nate to fall in love again?

Review (add on Goodreads): Cover Up is the third book in the Skin Deep, Inc. series where Navy and Tattoo artists meet and fall in love. What I loved about Cover Up is that readers already know Nate and Lucas. They have both been in previous books. Granted, it's okay if you start with this one because everything you must know about them is included here, like the fact that Nate is divorcing his husband after ten years for cheating on him (regularly) and that Lucas is much younger and yet twice divorced (from women). They meet when Nate goes to the tattoo shop to see about getting a matching tattoo he had done with his husband covered up. Of course, this first meeting leads to the two of them falling into bed with each other. Lucas is used to hook ups and he's okay with that. Nate is more the one-man only type of guy but after his husband, he hadn't felt attracted to anyone in awhile. Seeing Lucas and wanting him leads him to go with the flow and see what happens. Granted, this turns into more than a one night stand and soon the two of them are seeing each other as much as possible.

Despite the age gap, I really liked the relationship between Nate and Lucas. Nate is reeling from a divorce, and he's desperate to find a way to let him forget, but Lucas has been divorced twice already and knows that these things can take time. He doesn't push Nate - until it's really needed - and Nate is a sweet guy who tries to take care of Lucas too, like bringing him lunch at work since Lucas works three jobs. The couples from the previous books do appear in Cover Up, which I always love. It's like getting mini sequels, allowing you to see where they are now in their relationship.

Cover Up is definitely about taking chances and finding love again when your heart has been broken. I recommend all of these books!

Monday, October 9, 2017

Five Dares by Eli Easton

Five Dares by Eli Easton

Review by Lauren

source: copy for review; all opinions are my own

Official Summary: Andy Tyler has been the class daredevil since middle school. Over the years, he’s convinced his best friend, Jake Masterson, to perform some dangerous-looking stunts with him. But the dare they attempt on the night of their college graduation goes sideways. The firecrackers explode too soon and both of them end up with badly burned palms.

But hey, nothing gets the “terrible two-o” down for long, and they recuperate in style at Andy’s family cottage in Cape Cod . As the weeks go by, both Andy and Jake grow frustrated over the inability to use their hands for all sorts of daily activities—including getting off. So Andy begins a new series of dares that don’t just cross the friendship line, they obliterate it.

But what might be mere sexual relief to Andy is serious business to Jake, who only recently got over years of secret pining for his straight best friend. Inevitably, the burns heal, summer ends, and hearts are broken. To fix things, Andy will have to face the greatest dare of all.

Review (add on Goodreads): Five Dares has an interesting premise, I will admit, but I love friends to lovers romances so I had to check it out. I ended up really enjoying this one. Jake has been in love with Andy for years, but he hasn't even come out to his friend. He wants things to stay the same and he's afraid that if he does admit he likes guys, that's one step closer to blurting out his feelings for Andy. Now - before you start wondering if this is a gay for you type of romance, it's not. Yes, Andy does end up admitting his own feelings for Jake (shouldn't be a spoiler; it's a romance after all!) but he also states that he's bisexual. I always appreciate characters that are bisexual too; it's not always gay or straight, you know? More books should explore that aspect of sexuality.

Five Dares is a fun read - obviously the main dare that really pushes the guys together is based around sex, but there are flashbacks to when they are growing up and you learn about the other dares Andy comes up with. These range from a bit gross to putting-your-life-in-your-hands. It really shows the dynamics of Andy and Jake's friendship and I thought they really tied in well with the story (read it and you'll understand!)

Monday, October 2, 2017

Rainbow Roundup: It's Finally October!!

It's October, and I for one, am very excited. Fall is my favorite season - October is my favorite month - and Halloween is my favorite holiday. So basically I ADORE this time of the year. What about you? 

Not too many today, but hopefully that means you can check more of these out! Have you read any of these books - do you want to? 

Sinfully reviewed The Hike by John Inman (M/M thriller)

Happily Ever Chapter has reviews of Leo Loves Aries and Scorpio Hates Virgo by Anyta Sunday (M/M)

Kyla's Library reviewed They Both Die at the End by Adam Silvera (YA, m/m)

The Regal Critiques reviewed Tash Hearts Tolstoy by Kathryn Orsmsbee (YA, asexual MC)

Books Like Wolves reviewed Queens of Geek by Jen Wilde (YA, Lesbian/Bi characters)

Thursday, September 28, 2017

Spinning by Tillie Walden

Spinning by Tillie Walden 

Review by Lauren

source: copy from publisher; all opinions are my own

Official Summary (add on Goodreads): It was the same every morning. Wake up, grab the ice skates, and head to the rink while the world was still dark.
Weekends were spent in glitter and tights at competitions. Perform. Smile. And do it again.
She was good. She won. And she hated it.

For ten years, figure skating was Tillie Walden's life. She woke before dawn for morning lessons, went straight to group practice after school, and spent weekends competing at ice rinks across the state. It was a central piece of her identity, her safe haven from the stress of school, bullies, and family. But over time, as she switched schools, got into art, and fell in love with her first girlfriend, she began to question how the close-minded world of figure skating fit in with the rest of her life, and whether all the work was worth it given the reality: that she, and her friends on the figure skating team, were nowhere close to Olympic hopefuls. It all led to one question: What was the point? The more Tillie thought about it, the more Tillie realized she'd outgrown her passion--and she finally needed to find her own voice.

Review: I love graphic memoirs; it's such an interesting way to learn about a person. Spinning is about the time in Tillie Walden's life when she was a figure skater. She wasn't aiming for the Olympics, but she did practice before and after school and took part in competitions. After awhile though, she started to realize that figure skating wasn't necessarily her lifelong dream. She was falling more in love with art. She was also falling for girls, something that she didn't let anyone in her figure skating life know about.

Spinning is a thick novel, but it reads quick. The artwork is done in black and white, with some strategic yellow here and there. It's easy to read and I think a lot of teens could relate to Tillie. You don't have to like someone of the same sex, or even be involved in something so intense as figure skating. Spinning, at its heart, is about learning who you are and growing into the person you want to be.

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Call Me By Your Name: Movie Trailer

I can't quite remember when I read Call Me By Your Name by Andre Aciman, but I'm pretty sure I was in high school. I do know it was something I'd gotten from the library, though, and it was a great novel. It's been years now since the first - and only - time I've read this book, but when I heard it was becoming a movie, I knew I'd have to see it. It's released date is November 24, so I suppose it's not too terribly long to wait. I'm just hoping that a theater near me will be playing it.

Have you read this book? You can find more about it on Goodreads. I do recommend - and I hope I find time to re-read the book soon, even if that's not before the movie comes out.

As for the movie, I thought I'd share the trailer and hear your thoughts, whether you've read the book or not. Would you see the movie? Learn more on IMDB.

Friday, September 22, 2017

Rank and File by L.A. Witt

Rank and File (Anchor Point #4) by L.A. Witt

Review by Lauren

Source: copy from Netgalley; all opinions are my own

Official Summary (add on Goodreads - released September 25): Senior Chief Will Curtis is as straitlaced as they come. While his fellow Sailors have partied their way through their enlistments, he’s had his eye on the prize—making master chief and retiring after thirty years of service.
Lieutenant Brent Jameson is a Navy brat turned Annapolis grad. He’s lived and breathed the military his whole life, and he knows he’s destined for great things—once he’s done paying his dues at the bottom of the ladder.

When their paths cross, both men know better than to give in to temptation, but that doesn’t stop them. It also doesn’t keep them from coming back for more, even though being discovered would sink their careers. Something has to give—Will can retire, Brent can resign, or they’ll both face court-martial.

But there’s also the option neither wants to acknowledge: jump ship and walk away from each other instead of ending their careers over a fledgling relationship. And they should probably decide before they fall in love.

Except—too late.

Review: I love the Anchor Point series, and Rank and File is probably one of my top favorites out of the four so far. Senior Chief Will Curtis has been in the Navy for a lot longer than Lieutenant Brent Jameson, but their titles mean that, technically, Brent has rank over Will. It doesn’t exactly seem fair, but it’s the main reason Brent and Will can’t be out together. They meet each other in a slightly awkward situation, but it doesn’t take long before the attraction for each other kicks in. Another chance meeting leads to them hooking up for the first, and what is supposed to be the last, time. Of course, this just leads to them sneaking back and forth into each other’s apartments.

Throughout these clandestine meetings, the two really get to know each other and lust definitely turns into love over time. Of course, there is still the issue of them not being allowed to date. As the summary states, Will could retire – he’s closer to that time – or Brent could resign. Obviously neither of these options seem great since they have both worked a really long time to get where they are, and Brent especially has a lot to lose by giving up his Navy career. I loved Will and Brent together, but there is always the undercurrent of when things are going to blow up, so to speak. Readers will definitely be rooting for some way for the two of them to make it work, and still be happy with their jobs and each other.

Personally, I don’t mind drama in a book, especially when it feels warranted and not too overdone. However, Rank and File doesn’t really have much in the way of drama, at least when it comes to Will and Brent. They understand perfectly the situation they created for themselves, and while they might not be happy about the seemingly inevitable conclusion, they don’t take that out on each other. Definitely a mature relationship that worked well! I can’t wait for Anchor Point #5!

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Happy Bisexual Awareness Week!

photo source
It's Bisexual Awareness Week! This is an important week because so many people don't believe that bisexuality exists. This includes people in the LGBT+ community. It's horrible that an already marginalized group has to keep "proving" their existence. So, as someone who identifies as bisexual, let's celebrate those out there under the B umbrella of LGBT+.

In honor of this week, I thought I'd share this post I found on Arctic Books - 25 Books With Bisexual Protagonists. There are so many books on the list that I need to get my hands on - including two that I own but need to read ASAP; those are They Both Die at the End and The Gentlemen's Guide to Vice and Virtue.

Anything on the list you've read, or want to read?

Monday, September 18, 2017

The Quarterback by Mackenzie Blair

The Quarterback by Mackenzie Blair

Review by Lauren

Source: copy from Netgalley; all opinions are my own

Official Summary (add on Goodreads): Matt Lancaster is the star quarterback at Bodine College, a small Southern Division II school with an ultra-conservative Dean of Athletics. Matt is also very much in the closet, and he thinks he’s kept his secret well hidden. Until his best friends take him to a happy endings massage parlor and request a male masseuse for him.

In walks Trevor Kim, a gorgeous, pierced, tattooed fellow Bodine student who does massages—without happy endings—to pay for school after his family kicked him out for being gay. Trevor takes one look at Matt and breaks all his own rules about mixing business with pleasure.

Matt needs to keep his scholarship, win the National Championship, and survive his asshole father. Instead, he falls in love. Trevor needs to accept that the football god is meant to end up with him rather than a perky cheerleader. It’s time for a happy ever after for both of them.

Review: Oh, I really loved this one! The relationship, so to speak, between Matt and Trevor starts off in an unconventional manner but it leads to them both wanting more. Matt is finally learning to deal with his own sexuality, even if he’s afraid to let people know about it. He has a lot on the line – a jerk of a father who could take his sisters away from him, a conservative college that might not care he’s the star quarterback if he’s gay and he needs his scholarship to graduate. There is a lot to lose for Matt. On the other hand, Trevor has already lost a lot, including his own parents. It’s tough sometimes for these two to see the other side. Matt isn’t always sensitive to what Trevor has gone through, and Trevor sometimes forget what Matt is dealing with and how it could harm his future if he comes out too soon.

Despite it not always being easy, these two do work well together, and they have some wonderful friends that make great secondary characters. I loved seeing them push the two guys together when it might seem like their stubborn natures will keep them apart. Plus, they have some hot chemistry, so there are plenty of sexy times…don’t worry!

While neither of the guys have great parents in their lives, they do have extended and “adopted” family that make it known they will always be there for them. I loved this, because even when parents show that their love has limits, there are people out there who will be there for you and love you just as you are. It was great that both Matt and Trevor were able to find and/or realize this by the end of the book.

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Rainbow Roundup: LGBT+ Book Giveaways

This is a Rainbow Roundup of sorts - I'm sharing LGBT+ book giveaways on Goodreads. It's been awhile since I've done this, so I figured it was about time!! I'm putting who the giveaways are open to, but even if it's not your country, check out the link to see the summary and if you want to add to your to-read list!

The Bravest Thing by Laura Lascarso - enter here - open to U.S.

All-Out: The No-Longer Secret Stories of Queer Teens Throughout the Ages, an anthology with authors such as Shaun David Hutchinson, Kody Keplinger, and Alex Sanchez - enter here - open to U.S. and Canada

Call Me By Your Name by Andre Aciman - enter here - open to U.S.

Mondays With You by K.J. Lewis - enter here - open to U.S.

Autoboyography by Christina Lauren - enter here - open to U.S.

Romancing the Inventor by Gail Carriger - enter here - open to U.S.

Like Water by Rebecca Podos - enter here - open to U.S.

Club Arcana: Operation Janus by Jon Wilson - enter here - open to U.S., Canada, Great Britain, and Australia

Monday, September 11, 2017

Gone for You by Riley Hart

Gone for You by Riley Hart

Review by Lauren

Source: personal copy; all opinions are my own

Official Summary (add on Goodreads): Oliver Hayes wears his heart on his sleeve, and his friends never let him forget it. Every Friday night spent at Wild Side, their favorite West Hollywood bar, Oliver’s lack of hookups becomes the hot topic. It’s not that he doesn’t want a good time. He just wants it to mean something, which is a lofty goal when he’s still pining after his childhood crush, Matt, who left ten years ago to start a new life in New York City.

Matt Daniels has always felt most at home seated at a piano. He might not have entirely fit in with his family and friends, but he was always able to find himself in music. Or at least he did before he gave up his dream a lifetime ago. Now, he has a successful modeling career and should be enjoying every second of it. Yet nothing feels right, and Matt fears he’s losing himself.

Just when Oliver decides to get over Matt for good, Matt waltzes back into LA. As Matt struggles to understand what he’s missing in his seemingly perfect life, he falls right back into leaning on Oliver for support. Things aren’t what they used to be between them, though. They tumble into bed together, and it’s hard not to continue ending up there. For the first time in years, Matt’s inspired to compose again, reigniting a spark he thought long extinguished.

But as always, Oliver can’t keep his heart in check, and soon Matt realizes he’s gone for Oliver too. The biggest question is, can he fully give himself to someone if he still hasn’t figured out how to love himself?

Review: Gone For You is one of those books that I might rate a bit lower after time, as it’s taken me awhile to write this review. Not that it’s a good read by any means, but it’s not terribly memorable. I felt bad for Matt who is desperate to make something of himself, but on his own. He’s always relied on his best friend Oliver but he doesn’t want to do that, so he takes off for New York after high school graduation. I could understand this and I did root for Matt to find his passion. At the same time, I felt bad for Oliver too. He’s been in love with Matt for years – and even with Matt across the country, he’s still holding a candle for him. I love when friends turn into more, so I did root for the two of them to figure it out and make it work.

I thought the book was well written and I did appreciate some of the other aspect of the book – like how you can choose your family sometimes. Another theme in the book is physical beauty, as Matt finds work as a model, but it’s not something he’s completely okay with. He uses it for his job, but he has anxiety about people looking at him at the same time. He doesn’t think he can offer much else, and I thought Hart did a good job exploring this. It’s not something that just affects women.

All in all, I’d definitely read more by Hart. This wasn’t my favorite m/m book but it was still a pretty solid read. 

Thursday, September 7, 2017

My Coming Out Story

Hey everyone! I hope you're having a great week. I meant to have this posted earlier in the day, so sorry about that.

Anyway, I'm currently sharing my coming out as bisexual guest post over at My Pixie Blog. Feel free to comment over there if you wish - I keep checking back, and I'm sure Charlotte (whose blog it is) would love to see some new names!

You can find my post here.

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Risky Behavior and Suspicious Behavior by L.A. Witt and Cari Z.

Risky Behavior by L.A. Witt and Cari Z.
Review by Lauren
Source: personal copy; all opinions are my own
Official Summary (add on Goodreads): It’s day one of Darren Corliss’s career as a detective, and not only has he been assigned a notoriously difficult partner, but the guy might also be a pill-popping dirty cop. Internal Affairs needs proof, and Darren gets to be their eyes and ears whether he wants to or not.
Detective Andreas Ruffner doesn’t play by the rules, and he doesn’t play well with others. With bodies piling up and a list of suspects who are way above his pay grade, the last thing he needs is a wet-behind-the-ears kid for a partner. Or babysitter. Not even if that partner is easy on the eyes.
As Darren gains Andreas’s hard-won trust, they both realize there’s more than just mutual suspicion simmering beneath the surface. But their investigation is heating up as quickly as their relationship, and Darren has no choice but to go along with Andreas’s unorthodox—and borderline unethical—methods. As IA puts the squeeze on Darren to give up the man he’s falling for, he has to wonder—is Andreas the only cop left in this town who isn’t dirty?
Review: I’d seen this book around, but for whatever reason, I didn’t request it when I saw it available for review on Netgalley. However, I purchased a copy not too long ago and decided to finally check it out and oh boy, I do recommend! I love m/m romances that also combine other genres – especially mysteries. That isn’t to say I don’t like straight up contemporary romances, because I do, but sometimes it’s nice to have other things going on. This is one of those age-gap romances that I seem a bit addicted to lately. Darren Corliss is a young detective partnered with Andreas Ruffner whose partners never seem to stick around long. He has a bad reputation for being unagreeable – among other things. Darren isn’t going to back down easy though, and it soon becomes clear that the two guys can trust if each other, if not anyone else in the police department.
People in the department think Andreas is a dirty copy, but Andreas is certain that a lot of other people are actually the dirty ones. He brings Darren in little by little as he starts to get to know and trust him. The two are attracted to each other – Darren is gay and Andreas is bisexual – but it takes a bit of time before they give into said attraction. The mystery definitely powers most of the book, but that’s not a bad thing, unless you really want a lot of romance. However, there is a sequel that continues to follow Darren and Andreas – so you get more!
Dual Book Reviews: Risky Behavior and Suspicious Behavior #mmromanceCLICK TO TWEET
Suspicious Behavior by L.A. Witt and Cari Z.
Review by Lauren
Source: copy from Netgalley; all opinions are my own
Official Summary (add on Goodreads): Detective Darren Corliss is hanging by a thread. In between recovering from a near-fatal wound and returning to work at a hostile precinct, he’s struggling to help care for his ailing brother. His partner and boyfriend, Detective Andreas Ruffner, wants to help, but doesn’t know how. And with his own family crises brewing, Andreas is spread almost as thin as Darren.
For cops, though, life takes a backseat to the job. When a stack of unsolved homicides drops into their laps, Andreas and Darren think they’re unrelated cold cases. But when a connection surfaces, they find themselves on the tail of a prolific serial killer who’s about to strike again.
Except they’ve got nothing. No leads. No suspects. Just a pile of circumstantial evidence and a whole lot of hunches. Time is running out to stop the next murder—and to pull themselves back from their breaking points. 
Review: After the case in Risky Behavior, Darren and Andreas are due for some down time, but that doesn’t happen when they realize that some unsolved murders over the years might actually be the work of a serial killer. It’s early on that they think they have their man, but they can’t do anything without evidence, so much of the book is figuring out how to prove who the killer is before they kill again. It’s a high stakes operation, once again, and it definitely lends itself to some fast reading. I love the mystery and suspense in these! I also like the added side stories, especially concerning the detectives’ families. Readers are introduced to Darren’s brother in the first book but his condition – early onset Alzheimer’s disease – is getting worse and it wears on Darren. As for Andreas, readers finally get to know more about his exes and children, causing some “aww” moments for Darren, who gets to see a different side to Andreas when dealing with his kids, especially his youngest who is only four.
These are some great books! I’d read L.A. Witt before and loved her work, but never anything from Cari Z. so it was cool to see their collaboration. It’s not often m/m books have direct sequels – following the same characters – so I do recommend this series for that alone. I can’t wait for the third book – due out January 1, 2018.