Monday, August 28, 2017

All the Dirty Parts by Daniel Handler

All the Dirty Parts by Daniel Handler
Review by Lauren
source: copy from Netgalley; all opinions are my own
Official Summary: Cole is a boy in high school. He runs cross country, he sketches in a sketchbook, he jokes around with friends. But none of this quite matters, next to the allure of sex. "Let me put it this way," he says, "Draw a number line, with zero is, you never think about sex, and ten is, it's all you think about, and while you are drawing the line, I am thinking about sex." Cole fantasizes about whomever he's looking at. He consumes and shares pornography. And he sleeps with a lot of girls--girls who seem to enjoy it at the time and seem to feel bad about it afterwards. Cole is getting a reputation around school--a not quite savory one--which leaves him adrift and hanging out with his best friend. Which is when something startling begins to happen between them--another kind of adventure, unexpected and hot, that might be what he's been after all this time. And then he meets Grisaille. 
Review: I was really curious about this one, having never read anything by Handler - including his work as Lemony Snicket. However, the writing style is a bit difficult to follow. There are not quotations around people speaking, which isn't a big deal, but this combined with the often short scenes, made the book feel a bit too jumpy and hard to follow. I should note that I was reading an e-ARC, so perhaps a finished copy - especially in novel form - might have been the best bet for me. As for the actual book, there really isn't a story per se. It seems to be more of a look into a high school boy's life.
In All the Dirty Parts, readers get Cole, who loves sex. He thinks about it, talks about it, and has it. Nothing about this is terribly shocking when it comes to teenagers, and I appreciate the honesty Handler shows regarding that. However, there didn't seem to be much beyond that. Yes, he does fall for a girl that almost seems like the female equivalent of him, but he still has issues with seeing females and sex the way he seems males and sex. Basically, it's a case of double standards, and I'm not sure Cole really learns enough by the end of the novel.
I did find his non-relationship with his best friend, Alec, intriguing. Both of them have always watched porn and talked about it, but eventually, they begin incorporating sex into their friendship. It's a non-relationship though because Cole doesn't want anymore than that. He's not gay, and maybe he's not. It's just sex for him. But it's a dynamic in their friendship that doesn't work when Alec develops actual feelings. All in all, this was just okay for me. I probably finished it more because it was short than because I really enjoyed it throughout. 

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Etsy Pride: One Benefits a Good Cause

I think it's about time for another Etsy Pride - if you aren't aware of what this means, it's a feature where I share LGBT+ and rainbow themed pride items that you can buy on Etsy.

Before I get there though - do you have an account on Ebates? You can get cash back on so many online purchases - anything on Etsy actually counts- and if you sign up for an account with my link, make a $25 purchase one of the thousand online shops, you'll automatically get $10 (I'll get money too so win-win). My link is here.

Rainbow Pride LGBT Lip Scrub from Etsy shop Deluxe Diva Delights - the flavor is sherbert and you can get it for $9.99.

How fun is this? I really like the colors throughout. Proceeds for this lip scrub go to survivors and families of the victims of the Orlando Pulse Night Club shooting. Great cause!

I know most of you like to read, so how about this Rainbow Heart book tote? It's from Etsy shop Snarky Pink Tees and you can get it for $24.95 - there is a choice of a canvas or a black tote.


How fun are these? Would you choose one of these items for your own collection?

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Rainbow Roundup: Gentlemen's Guide to the Edge of the Universe

I have been reading a lot of LGBT+ books, so I promise more reviews are coming - as well as some other fun posts!

For What It's Worth reviewed The Gentlemen's Guide to Vice and Virtue by Mackenzi Lee (BI MC, YA, Historical Fiction)

Arctic Books reviewed At the Edge of the Universe by Shaun David Hutchinson (YA, sci-fi)

Kissin Blue Karen reviewed Release by Patrick Ness (YA, Gay MC)

Wonderland's Reader reviewed The Gentlemen's Guide to Vice and Virtue by Mackenzi Lee (Bi MC, YA, Historical Fiction)

Happily Ever Chapter reviewed Takeover by Anna Zabo (Two Gay MC's, Adult)

For What It's Worth also reviewed Last Seen Leaving by Caleb Roehrig (YA mystery, Gay MC)

Monday, August 14, 2017

Dirty Deeds by HelenKay Dimon

Dirty Deeds by HelenKay Dimon
Review by Lauren
source: copy from Netgalley; all opinions are my own
Official Summary (add on Goodreads)Alec Drummond didn’t make his billions by playing nice—or by playing much at all. When it comes to pleasure, Alec only has time for whatever’s quick and easy, which is exactly what he gets from his company’s hot new computer genius. But Gaige Owens isn’t some pushover. He pushes back, and it’s giving Alec a rush. The question is, could Gaige be the one who’s leaking trade secrets? Just to be safe, Alec keeps him close at hand . . . night and day.
Gaige never thought he’d roll over for a man like Alec again, but who could resist sex this mind-blowing? Then there’s the draw of Alec’s mysterious side: his cutthroat ambition, his covert CIA connections, and the murder in his past. For Gaige, a deeper look proves an irresistible temptation. But when Gaige and Alec are stripped of their defenses by an unseen danger, everything they don’t know could bring them closer together—or tear them apart. Only one thing is certain: Before it’s all over, someone’s going down.
Review: Dimon has a trilogy called the Tough Love series (links to my reviews – Mr. and Mr. SmithThe Talented Mr. Rivers, and Guarding Mr. Fine) and while you don’t need to read those before starting Dirty Deeds, Alec Drummond is a character that appears. If you have read the Tough Love series, then you definitely need to continue with this one. This book (including the previous series) is full of suspense, mystery, weapons, and possible injury. Alec is the head of a billion dollar company, and he doesn’t get along with most people, his brothers the main exceptions. He helps the CIA when it suits him, but he’s not happy when CIA agent Seth has Gaige Owens enter his work and hack into his system. Now Gaige is being forced to work for Seth, and Alec doesn’t trust either of them, so he’s keeping a close eye on Gaige…so close, Gaige is staying at his place.
Alec and Gaige are different in ways, but oh so wonderful for each other. The chemistry is intense and it doesn’t take long for their “work” relationship to turn physical. Neither of them expect to truly trust each other though, but as the book continues, it becomes clear that they might be the only people either of them can truly trust. After all, neither of them appreciate being told what to do by the CIA.
Dimon is a great author, and I will happily keep reading her work. You’re to fly through these pages! It’s a perfect mix of plot/mystery and romance/passion. Give me the sequel already!
On a different note, I’m celebrating 10 years this month so I’m doing random giveaways and I want to make sure you know about them.
Twitter Giveaway: Follow me and RT original link to win anything Harry Potter related $12 and under from The Book Depository. Open INT’L if TBD ships to you. Ends August 16th. Enter here – it’s the pinned tweet at the top!
Instagram Giveaway: Follow me, like the post, and tag a friend in the comments to enter to win a book (extra entry if you share the post and leave another comment). Two winners – each person gets one book of choice – and it’s open to U.S. only. Giveaway ends August 31. You can win Pop Goes the Weasel, Black-Eyed Susans, or the novel version of Broadchurch. I’ve read and enjoyed all of these (they are all mystery novels!). Post to enter here.

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Permanent Ink by Avon Gale and Piper Vaughn

Permanent Ink by Avon Gale and Piper Vaughn

Review by Lauren

source: copy from Netgalley; all opinions are my own

Official SummaryAt twenty-three, Poe Montgomery is going nowhere. He still lives in his father’s basement and spends most of his time tagging with his friends. When an arrest lands him in debt, Poe accepts the front desk job at Permanent Ink, the tattoo shop owned by his father’s best friend, Jericho McAslan. Jericho is nearly twice Poe’s age, but with his ink and prematurely graying hair, he quickly takes the starring role in Poe’s hottest fantasies.

Jericho is known for his ability to transform poorly designed tattoos into works of art, but he was once as aimless and misdirected as Poe. Wanting to pay it forward the way someone once did for him, Jericho makes Poe his apprentice and is determined to keep things strictly professional. Easier said than done when Poe makes his interest—and his daddy kink—abundantly clear.

Jericho can’t resist Poe or their intense chemistry for long. But between the age gap, tension with Poe’s father, and Poe’s best friend calling him a sellout, they’ll need to ensure they’re both on the same page before they can rewrite their rocky start into something permanent.

Review: I really liked this one! Despite not having any tattoos myself, I find them fascinating and I enjoy books that focus on them. Poe ends up getting an apprenticeship at Jericho's tattoo shop, because Jericho got a second chance as a young kid and he wants to help someone else. Poe isn't that grateful or interested in the beginning, but he already likes to draw and paint with graffiti, so it isn't long before he realizes what a meaningful art form tattooing can be. Of course, around this same time, Poe and Jericho realize they are both attracted to each other. Not only do they have a big age gap - but Jericho is Poe's dad's best friend. Complicated? Yes, indeed.

Of course, it wouldn't be a romance if these two didn't get together and they do! Their chemistry is fantastic and while Poe likes to use the word "daddy" when it comes to sex, he's not looking for another father figure in his life. I liked that the authors explored this dynamic. Because Jericho is older than Poe, he finds himself wanting to steer Poe in a certain direction and he has to realize that he's Poe's boyfriend. He can't tell him what to do. 

I also really liked the relationship between Poe and his best friend Blue (yes, it's his real name). Not that it was entirely healthy, but it was portrayed well. Poe is finally finding stability in his life, but Blue's not and it leads to a lot of issues between them that affect more than just them. 

Finally, I should note that yes, Poe's name comes from Edgar Allan Poe and I think it's fantastic. In fact, Poe uses Raven as his graffiti name and tends to paint a lot of skulls and ravens. 

Apparently this is the first in the Art and Soul series, so I'm curious to see what comes next! 

Monday, August 7, 2017

Making It by Christine D'Abo

Making It by Christine D'Abo 

Review by Lauren

source: copy from Netgalley; all opinions are my own

Official Summary: Devan knows exactly what he wants from life: a good career, a husband who loves him, and a child to call his own. He’s working at the perfect job, and has found the man of his dreams in Eli. That only leaves one box left to tick. When his friend offers to be a surrogate mother for Devan and Eli, he’s convinced all his dreams have come true.

Eli has been fighting his entire life. Fighting to keep his sick mother safe, fighting his frustration, and fighting daily as an up-and-coming MMA star. The one thing he can’t fight is the feeling that he’s made a terrible mistake agreeing to be a father with Devan. On the worst night of their lives, Eli knows Devan is better off without him, and leaves.

When Eli returns three years later he comes face-to-face with Devan and a son who might be his. Devan has moved on with his life, but seeing Eli once again reignites forgotten passion. Yet if Eli wants to make it work with Devan, he must decide if he’s ready for the biggest fight of his life.

Review: This is the third book in the Ringside Romance series. While I did enjoy Making It, it's probably my least favorite in the series. I just felt that things moved a bit fast. I love a second chance romance, but Devan seemed to forgive a little too easily when it comes to Eli walking out on him three previous prior. I did appreciate Eli's friends being honest with him about how he didn't treat Devan right. That's one thing that Eli definitely knows, but he's trying to prove to Devan that they can still be together. Of course, that's still difficult when Eli is an up and coming MMA fighter who nobody knows is gay. 

I do love both guys and I want it to work, of course, but I guess I hoped there would be a more of a wait or Eli would have to do more to prove himself. At any rate, this is a fun series, and I would still recommend you check them all out. You can read them out of order, but you see the previous couples in each  subsequent book so reading them in order would help you understand them more! 

Interested in the other books? Working It is the first in the series (my book review here) and Faking It is the second in the series (my book review here). 

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

We Now Return to Regular Life by Martin Wilson

We Now Return to Regular Life by Martin Wilson

Review by Lauren

source: copy from ALA 17; all opinions are my own

Official Summary (add on Goodreads)Sam Walsh had been missing for three years. His older sister, Beth, thought he was dead. His childhood friend Josh thought it was all his fault. They were the last two people to see him alive.

Until now. Because Sam has been found, and he’s coming home. Beth desperately wants to understand what happened to her brother, but her family refuses to talk about it—even though Sam is clearly still affected by the abuse he faced at the hands of his captor.

And as Sam starts to confide in Josh about his past, Josh can’t admit the truths he’s hidden deep within himself: that he’s gay, and developing feelings for Sam. And, even bigger: that he never told the police everything he saw the day Sam disappeared. 

As Beth and Josh struggle with their own issues, their friends and neighbors slowly turn on Sam, until one night when everything explodes. Beth can’t live in silence. Josh can’t live with his secrets. And Sam can’t continue on until the whole truth of what happened to him is out in the open.

Review: There really isn't a review that I could write for this book that would do it justice. I will say that you should go in knowing this book is told in Josh and Beth's point of views, but I felt like you got to know Sam through them, as well as what he went through. I think it was an interesting choice not to give Sam's point of view, but a good one. It would have been a vastly different novel if Sam was telling readers what he went through for those years he was missing. With Josh and Beth's story, it's still sad and upsetting, but they also bring a source of hope and light to the book. They both have different ways of viewing Sam and his disappearance, and it really shows that when something like this happens, it affects a variety of people in different ways. 

Like I said, this is a difficult book to review, so I'm not going to ramble too much. Just know that it's a 5 star read for me. It felt wonderfully realistic and the characters acted like real people - the good and the bad. Nothing is easy, not even a reunion of this sort because there is still the past to deal with. This book is about what happens when something miraculous occurs and then life continues. This is the "happily ever after" part of the book. I love the title - it's definitely suiting! Check this one out now - add it to Goodreads, order your own copy, ask your library for it. 

*this review is being shared here because Josh is gay, and it's an important aspect of the book*