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.