Monday, July 31, 2017

Barrel Proof by Layla Reyne

Barrel Proof by Layla Reyne

Review by Lauren

source: copy from Netgalley; all opinions are my own

Official Summary (Add on Goodreads): FBI agents Aidan "Irish" Talley and Jameson "Whiskey" Walker can't get a moment's peace. Their hunt for the terrorist Renaud seems to be nearing an end, until a fire allows him to slip through their fingers—and puts Jamie's life in danger. When Jamie is nearly killed, Aidan learns how many forms loss can take. 

Aidan says I love you just moments before learning that Jamie's been keeping a devastating secret about Aidan's late husband. How quickly trust and love can go up in flames. When Aidan requests a solo undercover assignment, Jamie hopes Aidan will find a way to forgive him. 

But the explosions are far from over. Aidan's cover lands him in the heart of the terrorist's conspiracy, and Jamie will have to put his life, his career and his freedom on the line to save the man who has become his entire world. Partners, always is a promise he intends to keep.

Review: Barrel Proof is the third and final book in the Irish and Whiskey series. The first is Single Malt, followed by Cask Strength. When I got Cask Strength for review, I didn't realize there was a book before it, but it was easy to follow and I found myself falling for this FBI duo. Again, I might not have read Single Malt, but the last two in the series - including Barrel Proof- are fantastic. It's full of mystery and suspense, as well as healthy does of betrayal. Obviously not wants to be betrayed, but Barrel Proof shows how some can be forgiven, while others are beyond that.

I like how each book has Aidan's and Jamie's relationship growing and becoming stronger. In Barrel Proof, they are faced with betrayal between the two of them and it tests their relationship. I love when authors have realistic relationships in books. It makes me fall for the characters - and their romance - that much more.

Of course, Barrel Proof (and the rest of the series) is more than just a romance. As I said earlier, there is a lot of mystery and suspense in this one. Lives are on the line. It's action-packed and a quick read. I would definitely recommend these books! 

Barrel Proof comes out next Monday, August 7th. Pre-order it now! 

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Rainbow Roundup: I Stand With Transgender Americans

I'm really saddened about the news that the U.S. government has banned transgender men and women from joining the military. This is wrong - it's highly un-American in my opinion - and I'm so sorry to everyone that identifies as transgender. I don't care if you wanted to join the military or not, if you are transgender, this is a horrible knock to your rights. I really want to do a post - or more - about this decisions. Whether you are transgender or not, American or not, please let me know if you want to share your thoughts. It doesn't have to be terribly long!

Now, on a lighter note...some LGBT+ posts around the blogosphere:

Ivy Book Bindings reviewed The Gentlemen's Guide to Vice and Virtue by Mackenzi Lee (YA, bisexual MC, historical fiction)

Novel Ink has a a post about her favorite books that feature f/f romances in honor of Pride Month - which was in June

My So-Called Chaos has a lovely post about Rainbow Outfits for Pride Month this past June

Books for a Delicate Eternity reviewed The Gentlemen's Guide to Vice and Virtue by Mackenzi Lee (YA, bisexual MC, historical fiction)

Diva Booknerd reviewed They Both Die at the End by Adam Silvera (mix of contemporary/science fiction, YA, bisexual MC)

Books for a Delicate Eternity reviewed The Art of Starving by Sam J. Miller (YA, gay MC)

Boricuan Bookworms reviewed Pounding Skin by L.A. Witt (Adult, Gay and Bi MC's)

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Bad Feminist by Roxane Gay

Bad Feminist by Roxane Gay

Review by Lauren

source: copy from e-library; all opinions are my own

Official Summary (add on Goodreads): In these funny and insightful essays, Roxane Gay takes us through the journey of her evolution as a woman of color while also taking readers on a ride through culture of the last few years and commenting on the state of feminism today. The portrait that emerges is not only one of an incredibly insightful woman continually growing to understand herself and our society, but also one of our culture.

Review: Bad Feminist is a book that I've heard a lot about, so I finally decided to check out this book of essays with an overarching theme of feminism. Gay has a good writing style, bringing in personal experience, research, and novels to make her point about various topics. While I'm not a POC of color, like the author, I could still read those essays and be empathetic toward Gay and other POC who don't get to see themselves in popular media or who are treated differently because of the color of their skin. However, I am a woman and feminism in the most simple terms is "equal rights between men and women" and that's something I could definitely relate to and understand. Despite this book being written by a female author, I think men can and should read it too. Feminism isn't anti-men, after all, and if people are anti-men and declaring themselves feminist, then they don't understand the overall goal of the movement. 

I liked that Gay states she's a bad feminist, because she doesn't always do the things she knows she should. One small example is that she likes to listen to hip hop/rap music that is very much anti-women. I think this is common for a lot of people, especially if you listen to the radio. You like the voice, the music, and yeah, the lyrics aren't great...but you can't help but nod or even sing along. It doesn't make you a bad person. Maybe it makes you a bit of a bad feminist, but nobody is perfect, and feminism isn't perfect. It's a movement for equality but not everyone follows it in the same way. This is probably the biggest reason it gets such a bad rap, from men and women. Gay talks about women who try to distance themselves from feminism, including big names in pop culture. They are asked if they are a feminist in interviews and they say no. I hate hearing this because they are letting the negative aspects of feminism keep them from saying "yes, I believe in equal rights between men and women." They shouldn't say "I hate men" or "women are better" because that's not feminism, and if they think it is, then that's kind of sad. 

Bad Feminist is a bit of an educational experience; it's full of interesting and intelligent essays. While I didn't love everything in the book, I could understand or empathize with most of it. I would certainly recommend people read it to get just one perspective on not only feminism, but inter-sectional feminism (this means you aren't a straight, white woman). 

I actually pre-ordered Gay's newest release, a memoir called Hunger, so that I could meet her and get it signed. Unfortunately, I was sick and couldn't attend, but I hadn't picked up my book so I got it from the store yesterday and while it's not personalized, it was signed, so I'm excited about that. I can't wait to read it! 

*I'm sharing this review here because the author identifies as LGBT+

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Sovereign by April Daniels

Sovereign by April Daniels

Review by Lauren

source: copy from Netgalley; all opinions are my own

Official Summary (add on Goodreads)Only nine months after her debut as the fourth superhero to fight under the name Dreadnought, Danny Tozer is already a scarred veteran. Protecting a city the size of New Port is a team-sized job and she's doing it alone. Between her newfound celebrity and her demanding cape duties, Dreadnought is stretched thin, and it's only going to get worse. 

When she crosses a newly discovered supervillain, Dreadnought comes under attack from all quarters. From her troubled family life to her disintegrating friendship with Calamity, there's no trick too dirty and no lever too cruel for this villain to use against her. 

She might be hard to kill, but there's more than one way to destroy a hero. Before the war is over, Dreadnought will be forced to confront parts of herself she never wanted to acknowledge. 

And behind it all, an old enemy waits in the wings to unleash a plot that will scar the world forever.

Review: Sovereign is the second book in the Nemesis series, which follows the transgender superhero Danny Tozer. Danny is male-to-female and when she was granted the powers of Dreadnought, her body finally mirrored the way she felt on the inside. Danny is great at her job, but she has a lot of anger for a teenager. She's been through a lot, even with superhero powers, and everything seems to be mentally and emotionally catching up to her, even if her physical strength just gets better.

I loved the first book, Dreadnought, so I was really excited to read the sequel. I thought this one was just as good. I love the intricacies of superheros, the villains, and everything that goes into making these books. Daniels has an amazing imagination. While this series is fully developed, with a lot of great information, there are never any info dumps. Things are revealed as needed and it works! As for Sovereign, I really loved the journey that Daniels takes Danny on in terms of her anger and past traumas. I felt it was handled well, and as realistically as possible when dealing with super humans.

If you haven't read Dreadnought yet, please do, and if you have, then I hope you'll continue with Sovereign. 

Monday, July 17, 2017

Something's Brewing at Joe's by S.J.D. Peterson

Something's Brewing at Joe's by S.J.D. Peterson

Review by Lauren

source: copy from Dreamspinner Press; all opinions are my own

Official Summary (add on Goodreads): The promise of a dream job lures Murphy to Tampa, but he arrives to the rude awakening that the offer is on hold. Now he’s got two choices: slink back to Michigan with his tail between his legs or stay and look for work. Things perk up when he goes into a coffee shop and learns the owner is looking for someone to renovate the apartment above it. He happily takes the job, only later realizing he’s met Joe Sterling, Kaffeinate’s proprietor, before… when they hooked up at a club Murphy’s first night in Tampa.

Murphy and Joe are both proud, passionate, and outspoken. Neither is looking for a relationship, though they can’t deny they go together as well as coffee and doughnuts, in spite of their tempers. But that’s before Joe learns Murphy will be working for the corporation he believes is harming local businesses and the environment—and if Murphy will be supporting it, Joe will want nothing to do with him, dooming any possibility of an unexpected happy ending.

Review: Going into this book, I expected a fairly straightforward romance, but there is actually a bit of suspense involved too, which was a nice surprise. This is a short, yet enjoyable read. Murphy is new to Tampa and agrees to help renovate an apartment until the business he moved there for is ready for him to begin. Before this renovation job, Murphy has what he believes to be a one night stand with a man named Joe, except he soon finds out that Joe owns the apartment and the coffee shop below it. Despite this surprise, the two slowly being a relationship. After all, Murphy won't always be working for Joe, and he's doing the renovation for free in order to live in the apartment. 

The problems begin when Joe realizes who Murphy is meant to be working for, which is headed by a man who has no respect for small businesses or the environment. Both men have strong personalities, and while Joe might get upset, Murphy isn't one to let someone else tell him what to do. This certainly leads them to butt heads here and there, but it wasn't overly dramatic in any way. It made the characters seem real and it allowed the two to navigate a relationship that was more than just the honeymoon phase. Obviously all relationships will have problems, so I appreciate when authors can show the characters dealing with an issue or two. 

Friday, July 14, 2017

The Pearl Thief by Elizabeth Wein

The Pearl Thief by Elizabeth Wein
Review by Lauren
source: copy from publisher; all opinions are my own
Official Summary: When fifteen-year-old Julia Beaufort-Stuart wakes up in the hospital, she knows the lazy summer break she’d imagined won’t be exactly like she anticipated. And once she returns to her grandfather’s estate, a bit banged up but alive, she begins to realize that her injury might not have been an accident. One of her family’s employees is missing, and he disappeared on the very same day she landed in the hospital.
Desperate to figure out what happened, she befriends Euan McEwen, the Scottish Traveller boy who found her when she was injured, and his standoffish sister, Ellen. As Julie grows closer to this family, she experiences some of the prejudices they’ve grown used to firsthand, a stark contrast to her own upbringing, and finds herself exploring thrilling new experiences that have nothing to do with a missing-person investigation.
Her memory of that day returns to her in pieces, and when a body is discovered, her new friends are caught in the crosshairs of long-held biases about Travellers. Julie must get to the bottom of the mystery in order to keep them from being framed for the crime.
Review: One of my all time favorite books is Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein. If you don’t know the book, I do suggest checking it out. The Pearl Thief is actually a prequel, of sorts, to Code Name Verity. One of the main characters in CNV is Julia, so it was great fun to see this young girl before she gets caught up in WWII.
The Pearl Thief has a slower pace, as it very much pays testament to the setting and time period. It becomes easy to see the places Julia does. Normally I’m not a fan of overly descriptive books, but I feel like Wein had a nice balance between the overall descriptions and the main focus of a man gone missing and Julia’s own stay in the hospital. One summer day, coming home from boarding school, Julia wakes up to find herself in the hospital. She’s been hit over the head but she cannot remember any details. Things start to come to her here and there as time goes on though, just adding to the mystery. Along with Julia’s possible attack, there is the issue of a missing man, who is currently in the employ of her family. The big question is whether the two are connected in any way.
I loved getting to know more about Julia, and after reading The Pearl Thief, I was dying to re-read Code Name Verity. Perhaps soon! Along with Julia, readers are introduced to the McEwen family who are Scottish Travellers and not always looked well upon. Julia becomes friends with Euan and Ellen, brother and sister, but some of the adults in the area are not as accepting and are quick to place blame on the family. Julia knows that they would never hurt her or anyone else, but it is not always easy to convince others of this fact.
Just one of the things I really loved about this book is Julia’s friendship with Ellen. It’s never explicitly stated, but I feel it was fairly obvious to see that Julia would be bisexual in this day and age. She is attracted to men, and even kisses a few, but she’s also very much attached to Ellen and the two end up trying out kissing on each other. It’s something that young girls sometimes do, but throughout the book, it just felt that the author wanted readers to realize that Julia liked boys and girls, even if it was never given a specific name by anyone. At any rate, I thought it was a lovely addition to a historical novel.
Definitely read Elizabeth Wein, whether you start with The Pearl Thief or another of her books.

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Pounding Skin by L.A. Witt

Pounding Skin by L.A. Witt

Review by Lauren

source: copy from Netgalley; all opinions are my own

Official Summary (add on Goodreads): Fighter pilot Jon Russell never sleeps with the same man twice. Known for his lack of shame when it comes to hooking up, Jon has no interest in commitment—even friends with benefits sounds like too much work.

Matt Huffman has slept with lots of women. He’s had loads of girlfriends. So why does the hot as hell pilot getting a tattoo as the result of a lost bet stop his breath? And how come he can’t stop thinking about him, even after he’s gone?

When Jon returns to Skin Deep the second time, he doesn’t want another tattoo. He wants to hook up with the gorgeous artist he spent hours agonizingly close to, and Matt wants to explore some curiosity about men. Fulfill the desire he can’t stop fantasizing over. And he wants to do it with Jon.

As their casual hook up becomes more than just skin deep, both Matt and Jon are faced with questions they don’t want to answer. Matt understands he’s bi—but are these feelings he has typical of hooking up with a man? Or is it only Jon that can make his heart pound? If Jon wanted nothing more than a fling, why does he find himself needing not just Matt’s body, but all of him? And can their relationship withstand the hardships that makes Jon avoid them in the first place?

Review: Pounding Skin is the second book in the Skin Deep, Inc. series. Both books in the series take one half Navy man and one half tattoo artist to create one explosive couple. I loved the first book, Back Piece, so I was very excited to read Pounding Skin. This book features Matt, who readers get to meet somewhat in Back Piece, and Jon, who is a Navy fighter pilot we are just getting to know. While these books can be read in any order, I'd recommend reading Back Piece first, because that couple is featured a bit in Pounding Skin and I imagine it would be nice to know their history. 

As for Pounding Skin, these guys have some great chemistry, in and out of bed. Matt has had many girlfriends, but he's never dated a guy. He's always said "I'm not gay" so it takes a specific incident to make him question that. He knows he likes girls, but maybe he's bisexual and not straight. As for Jon, he's mostly definitely gay, but he's not the relationship type like Matt has always been. When he starts "seeing" Matt, the two get along well and end up inviting each other to various work functions and the like, but nobody ever comes out and says "we're dating" or "we're exclusive." It's something Matt would like eventually, but is Jon the guy? And as for Jon, he's not sure he believes in long term love and commitment, not when it seems to end in heartache for those around him. 

I thought Witt did a great job showing the perspectives of both Matt and Jon. It's easy to understand where both of them are coming from, even as you root for them to work it all out and be together for the long haul. I love the mix of Navy and tattoo artist in this series, as Witt is happy to share details and background information about both businesses. These aren't just titles for the guys' romance - this is their life,  and that's clearly shown in this series. 

Pounding Skin is out today, so go get it! And don't forget to enter my Favorite Things Giveaway. It's a hop - so check out what other blogger's are offering. 

Sunday, July 9, 2017

Favorite Things Giveaway + More

This is only open to those in the U.S., I'm afraid, but if you are interested in entering my Favorite Things Giveaway (or hosting your own) please go here.


Also, if you or someone you know has written a YA manuscript, you can try entering this crowd-sourcing competition to get it published!


I've been reading a lot of LGBT+ books but I need to get reviews written and scheduled out, so that sort of explains the lack of posts recently! I've just mostly been behind on things in general, so I apologize for that, but I'm still visiting, and thanks for all the comments!

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Love and Other Hot Beverages by Laurie Loft

First off, Happy 4th of July to those in the U.S.! I'm going to see Wonder Woman - again - in a few hours and I'm excited because we're doing 3-D. It's a good movie! I do recommend it if you haven't seen it already. For those out of the U.S., I hope your week is going well. Any fun plans, either way?
Love and Other Hot Beverages by Laurie Loft
Review by Lauren
source: copy from Netgalley; all opinions are my own
Official Summary: After a rough breakup, Todd Addison wants time alone to grieve. While still dreaming of winning back his ex’s love, he moves across the country and finds work with a construction company. The last thing he needs is the cute office boy developing a crush on him, especially since he’s back in the closet.
Sebastián Nye can’t help feeling sorry for the obviously brokenhearted Todd. Though rebuffed repeatedly, Sebby chisels away at Todd’s resistance, determined to help him forget—a task potentially beyond anyone’s capabilities. He never meant to fall for the poor guy, but he does. Hard.
Desperate to hold on to Todd, Sebby hatches a sneaky plot guaranteed to end Todd’s heartbreak—if Todd doesn’t bail and ruin everything. Just when things can’t get more complicated, Todd’s ex wants him back. And Sebby’s abusive ex is just waiting to catch Sebby alone. Todd and Sebby must decide what’s worth fighting for, what’s worth sacrifice, and what’s worth compromise, or their relationship will begin and end with a broken heart.
Review: To be honest, if this wasn’t a review copy, I probably wouldn’t even write a review for this one. It has an average rating of 2 stars on Goodreads – though I only saw this when I went to say I’d finished. I ended up giving this one 2 stars too. It’s not a DNF so there was enough about the characters and the overall story that made me want to know how it all ended. However, most of the book rubbed me the wrong way.
For one thing, Todd has a very weird way of talking that tended to annoy me throughout the book. He’s a word guy, so it made sense within the story, but it still felt off and like he was trying too hard to sound smart. It’s a bit hard to explain, but it wasn’t working for me.
Another thing I didn’t like about the book is the weird direction it took between Todd and Sebastian – it kind of turned into a “maybe open relationship” sort of deal – and since that came out of the blue for me (based on the summary), it just didn’t work. I’ve read books with more than two people in the relationship but it all depends on how it’s done and the reasoning for it in Love and Other Hot Beverages was a negative for me.
I did care about the characters though. I wanted Todd to find someone who wanted him as much as he wanted them. I wanted Sebastian to find true love instead of exes that use and abuse him. So, it wasn’t all bad. I just can’t say I’d really recommend it in the end!

Saturday, July 1, 2017

Rainbow Roundup: From Vampires to Graphic Novels

I've been meaning to post this one for awhile, so some of the posts are a bit older. You should still check them out of course!

On a personal note, I went to Chicago last weekend for ALA - the American Library Association Conference. It was a lot of fun and I got some great books. I should have pictures and more to share soon!

Happily Ever Chapter reviewed Hell and High Water by Charlie Cochet (THIRDS #1) (adult, m/m romance)

Metaphors and Moonlight reviewed Real Vampires Do It in the Dark by Amy Fecteau (M/M, Adult, Paranormal)

My Thoughts...Literally! reviewed The Love Interest by Cale Dietrich (YA, m/m)

Books for a Delicate Eternity reviewed Release by Patrick Ness (YA)

Happily Ever Chapter also reviewed Heels Over Head by Elyse Springer (NA, M/M)

For What It's Worth reviews Mature Content by Megan Erickson and Santino Hassell (m/m, Gay/Bi characters, Adult)

Krista's Dust Jacket ALSO reviewed Mature Content by Megan Erickson and Santino Hassell

Literature Lynx has a post about LGBT+ Graphic Novels

Diva Booknerd reviewed Release by Patrick Ness (M/M, YA, Paranormal)