Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Summer Stock by Vanessa North

Summer Stock by Vanessa North

Review by Lauren

source: copy from Netgalley; all opinions are my own

Official SummaryTabloid scandals have driven TV star Ryan Hertzog to North Carolina’s Outer Banks, where he’s hiding out doing summer stock at his cousin’s seaside theater. When a hookup with local handyman Trey Donovan results in Ryan being photographed butt naked, he vows to keep his pants on and his hands off Trey. How was he supposed to know Trey would turn out to be the summer stock set builder?

Trey isn’t looking for a relationship; he’s still recovering from the emotional fallout of an abusive marriage. But Ryan’s laughter draws him in again and again, and he’s not about to say no to fooling around.

As the summer heats up, the paparazzi catch Ryan in increasingly compromising situations. Ryan might be too much drama for a summer fling—and Trey might be just an intermission from Ryan’s Hollywood life. But if they take their cues from Shakespeare, all’s well that ends well.

Review: I think it's safe to say that I love Vanessa North. The first book I read by her, Blueberry Boys, was fantastic and I loved Summer Stock just as much. It's really easy to love both Ryan and Trey. While Ryan is back in his hometown working on Shakespeare plays because of his bad boy antics in Hollywood, he's not a bad guy. He doesn't take himself seriously and he's more than happy to play the secondary character instead of the lead. 

However, when his best friend ends up in rehab, he knows that he needs to
 stay out of the press and get his life back on track before taking on Hollywood again. 

As for Trey, he works on the sets every summer for Shakespeare by the Sea. He used to be married, but that relationship was abuse and his ex is now in jail. Despite this, he's open to the possibility of seeing Ryan after they have what was seemingly a one-night stand. 

However, he still has issues in his past that he has to deal with and he seems to unintentionally sabotage their relationship because he doesn't feel good enough. It was sad to see, though perfectly understandable at the same time. 

I loved seeing Ryan and Trey open up to each other and realize that they can be a good match. It's not easy and it doesn't take just the summer, but it's great when it finally all comes together! Highly recommended! 

Monday, May 29, 2017

The Penalty for Holding by Georgette Gouveia

The Penalty for Holding by Georgette Gouveia

Review by Lauren

source: copy from Netgalley; all opinions are my own

Official SummaryWhen the quarterback of the hapless New York Templars is injured, backup QB Quinn Novak takes the team to the playoffs. There he attracts the attention of two other quarterbacks who’ve been rivals since high school – Mal Ryan of the Philadelphia Quakers and Tam Tarquin of the San Francisco Miners. Quinn begins a volatile relationship with the narcissistic Mal and a loving one with the open-hearted Tam, keeping each secret from the other.

What he doesn’t know is that the two have a complex sexual history of their own. Quinn will have to overcome a thorny present as well as a troubled past if he hopes to have a promising future.

Review: I gave this one two stars, but sometimes I think that's too nice. The Penalty for Holding is a difficult book to review. It's definitely a book that went in a direction I was not expecting. I will say that I didn't like the way it was written though - and the pace of the book was a bit too jumpy. There were moments in the book that seem to come out of the blue, without any specific explanation. I wasn't a fan of the ending either, because I just felt like it gave a bad representation of being gay. I can't really explain without spoiling the book, so I'll leave it at that.

There is also a case of domestic violence between two gay men that could have been great, but it was very lackluster. The topic wasn't focused on enough or fully addressed in the book, though there's a sense it will be in the future. It's a tricky topic, and it just didn't work for this book.

Obviously I finished the book, so it wasn't completely awful. There were moments that I enjoyed. I just felt like nothing really worked out in the way that I hoped/wanted. Definitely not something I can recommend, I'm afraid.

Friday, May 26, 2017

Loose Cannon by Sidney Bell

Loose Cannon by Sidney Bell

Review by Lauren

Source: copy from Netgalley; all opinions are my own

Official SummaryReleased after five years in the system for assault, streetwise Edgar-Allen Church is ready to leave the past behind and finally look to his future. In need of a place to crash, he's leaning on Miller Quinn. A patient, solidly masculine pillar of strength and support, Miller has always been there for him—except in the one way Church has wanted the most.

With his staunchly conservative upbringing, Miller has been playing it straight his whole life. Now with Church so close again, it's getting harder to keep his denial intact. As they fumble their way back to friendship after so many years apart, Miller struggles to find the courage to accept who he really is. What he has with Church could be more than desire—it could be love. But it could also mean trouble.

Church's criminal connections are closing in on the both of them, and more than their hearts are at risk. This time, their very lives are on the line.

Review: Loose Cannon was a good read, though it did feel a tad too long. Granted, I think that was due to the fact that it's setting up for the sequel. I'm not sure who the sequel will focus on exactly, but my guess is Ghost, who Church knows from a rehabilitation place called Woodbury (the title of the series). 

Besides this, I was very much interested in Church and his friendship with Miller. Of course, it leads to more, but it's not easy to for either of them. Church doesn't feel good enough, and Miller has a lot of ingrained homophobia from his late father - even though he knows there is nothing wrong with being gay and has no qualms about Church being so.

There is a mafia-esque aspect to the story that while still realistic in a sense, brings this story into a different genre than just realistic contemporary. At least in my opinion. All in all though, I liked this one!

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Guest Movie Review: Personal Shopper

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

My!  Hasn't Kristen Stewart grown?!

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, May 22, 2017

Rainbow Roundup: Noteworthy, Finding Nevo, and More!

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

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

Crushingcinders reviewed Noteworthy by Riley Redgate as well

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, May 19, 2017

Etsy Pride: Hair Ties and Cat Shirts!

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

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

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

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

Monday, May 15, 2017

Back Piece by L.A. Witt

Back Piece by L.A. Witt

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

Friday, May 12, 2017

Cask Strength by Layla Reyne

Cask Strength by Layla Reyne

Review by Lauren

Source: copy from Netgalley; all opinions are my own

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Faking It by Christine d'Abo

Faking It by Christine d'Abo 

Review by Lauren

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sunday, May 7, 2017

Twitter Follower Giveaway!

Hey everyone!

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Relationship Status by K.A. Mitchell

Relationship Status by K.A. Mitchell

Review by Lauren

source: copy from Netgalley; all opinions are my own

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, May 1, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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