Friday, December 9, 2016

Clickbait by E.J. Russell


Clickbait by E.J. Russell

Review by Lauren

source: copy from Netgalley; all opinions are my own

Official SummaryAfter the disastrous ending of his first serious relationship, Gideon Wallace cultivated a protective — but fabulously shiny — outer shell to shield himself from Heartbreak 2.0. Besides, romance is so not a priority for him right now. All his web design prospects have inexplicably evaporated, and to save his fledgling business, he’s been compelled to take a hands-on hardware project — as in, his hands on screwdrivers, soldering irons, and needle-nosed pliers. God. Failure could actually be an option.

Journeyman electrician Alex Henning is ready to leave Gideon twisting in the wind after their run-ins both on and off the construction site. Except, like a fool, he takes pity on the guy and offers to help. Never mind that between coping with his dad’s dementia and clocking all the overtime he can finagle, he has zero room in his life for more complications.

Apparently, an office build-out can lay the foundation for a new relationship. Who knew? But before Alex can trust Gideon with the truth about his fragile family, he has to believe that Gideon’s capable of caring about more than appearances. And Gideon must learn that when it comes to the heart, it’s content — not presentation — that matters.


Review:

Gideon Wallace is a tech geek, whose first real relationship scared him away from anything beyond a two-date limit. However, he’s suddenly desperate for work, his web design prospects drying up, so he takes on a hardware job that will hopefully lead to working on the company’s website. This job leads him right to Alex Henning, who he’s already made a bad impression in front of, and whose large size freaks Gideon out, reminding him of his ex.

As for Alex, he’s a hardworking young man whose sister is one of Gideon’s roommates. He’s had a crush on Gideon for years, but Gideon doesn’t remember him at first, not having been around him much. Alex would like to get to know Gideon better, but his dad’s memory is failing and he feels too much obligation to take care of everything and everyone to make himself happy.

However, a deal is made where Alex helps Gideon finish his project by the deadline if Gideon will go out with Alex three times and this brings the two closer. I really liked the dynamic between these two, despite them being very different. Alex wants to have a relationship, but he also feels guilty if he’s not around to help his mom, and Gideon is too afraid to try a relationship after the way his first ended. Despite this, the two find they like hanging out together, Gideon more so than Alex, as Gideon is the one who has more prejudices he has to face. I liked that the author focused on this aspect of Gideon. It didn’t mean he was a bad person, but he did picture himself with someone more white collar and successful; someone more on his intellectual wavelength. So being with a blue collar guy like Alex has him rechecking things he used to believe. Alex is aware of this though, and he does push Gideon to see things different and I liked that.

I also really liked the added diversity of Gideon being white and Alex being black. Alex comments on his race a few times, thinking Gideon is judging him on it, but that is one thing that doesn’t affect Gideon. Race didn’t matter. It was other aspects that he had to work around, and I liked that. It showed that people have different pre-conceived notions or prejudices apart from race that they have to deal with.

While the two ultimately do become physical, this is actually a book that doesn’t deal too much with that side of the relationship. You really get to know the two main characters, and they learn to work together as well. Gideon has his past to deal with, from his ex-boyfriend to his parents, while Alex has his dad’s condition that has mostly been kept a family secret. I liked getting to know Gideon and Alex separately and together, and I thought the author did a good job exploring more than their relationship in the book - though I did like their relationship and I appreciated that it wasn’t always easy. It felt realistic overall. 

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Just Drive by L.A. Witt


Just Drive by L.A. Witt

Review by Lauren

source: copy from Netgalley; all opinions are my own

Official SummaryFor Sean Wright, driving a cab in the tiny Navy town of Anchor Point isn’t an exciting job . . . until he picks up just-dumped Paul Richards. A drive turns into a walk on the pier, which turns into the hottest hookup Sean’s had in ages.

After a long overdue breakup, Paul can’t believe his luck. Of all the drivers, he’s picked up by the gorgeous, gay, and very willing Sean. Younger guys aren’t usually his thing, but Paul can’t resist.

One taste and neither man can get enough . . . right up until they realize that Paul is Sean’s father’s commanding officer and the last man Sean should be involved with.

With two careers on the line, their only option is to back off. It’s not easy, though; the sex and the emotional connection are exactly what both men have been craving for a long time. But Paul has devoted twenty-four years to his career and his dream of making admiral. If he’s caught with Sean, that’s all over. He has to choose—stay the course, or trade it all for the man who drove off with his heart.


ReviewJust Drive is the first in the Anchor Point series and it was definitely a good one. The overall plot concerns Paul, a career Navy man, and Sean, a twenty-something whose father is a career navy man. One night Sean picks up Paul outside a hotel, as he’s an Uber driver of sorts, and Paul’s first- and only words for a while- are “just drive.” So Sean does. There is a pretty immediate attraction on Sean’s part and the two do end up getting physical. They tell themselves they need to stop though, mostly because Sean is half Paul’s age. More issues arise as they keep meeting up, addicted to the physical aspect of their relationship, while also starting to like the person underneath. The official summary of the book gives away more details about how the plot, but I’ll just say that the drama was definitely realistic and deals with more than just the big age gap.

When it comes to novels, I don’t really mind age gaps. I will admit that seeing this in real life often throws me off, but I personally know people who are with someone a lot older than them, so I know that it can work in some cases. It was obvious that Sean and Paul had a connection, and I did appreciate that Witt showed them having conversations and sharing the hard times in their lives – Paul pretending to be straight for so long; Sean’s life being dictated by the Navy as he moved around the world – as it allowed me to see how the two fit apart from the physical.

Despite getting to know Paul and Sean fairly well, I still felt like things moved a bit quick. Regardless, the end worked well for me. I thought things came to a natural conclusion and decisions were made with care. I don’t want to say too much as I do want you to go along for the ride without too many preconceived notions of what Just Drive will deliver. I will say that I loved these characters and getting to learn about their backgrounds, and I thought the premise was interesting – not only with the age gap but with the military aspect too. I’ll be curious to see what the next Anchor Point novel has to offer. 

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Guyliner by J. Leigh Bailey


Guyliner by J. Leigh Bailey

Review by Lauren

source: copy for review; all opinions are my own

Official SummarySeventeen-year-old Connor works his butt off to maintain the golden-boy persona he’s created. He has the grades, the extracurriculars, the athletics, and a part-time job at his dad’s shop… every detail specifically chosen to ensure the college scholarships he needs to get the hell out of the Podunk town where he lives. The last thing he needs is an unexpected attraction to Graham, an eyeliner-wearing soccer phenom from St. Louis, who makes him question his goals and his sexuality. Sure, he’s noticed good-looking boys before—that doesn’t have to mean anything, right?—but he’s got a girlfriend. There’s no room on the agenda for hooking up with Graham, but the heart doesn’t always follow the rules.

As he and Graham grow close, other aspects of Connor’s life fall apart. Family pressure, bad luck, and rumors threaten to derail his carefully laid plans. Suddenly the future he’s fighting for doesn’t seem quite as alluring, especially if he has to deny who he really is to achieve it.


ReviewI’ve read- and loved – a few books by Bailey, but the characters were all usually college-aged. In Guyliner, our main characters are juniors in high school, and I really liked that dynamic. It meant that family played a larger role than is sometimes so in adult novels. This book focuses on Connor and Graham, who ultimately fall for each other. The road there takes some time though.
Connor is known as “The Golden Boy.” He’s a star baseball player, gets perfect grades, is good to his siblings, and has a cute and respectable girlfriend. As for Graham, he’s new to the town and is the “Guyliner” in the title. He’s out and proud, a star soccer player, and is often found saying way too much when bullies get in his way.

Connor notices Graham right away, and it’s clear from the beginning that Connor has had feelings about guys before. He’s always ignored them until Graham, though. His girlfriend, Allyson, is great, one of his best friends, but the two of them are hardly physical. She’s okay with that though, and she calls Connor out when he tries to kiss her, knowing that he’s not being true to himself. She doesn’t suspect he’s gay, but she does know that he’s trying to put on some sort of act.

When Connor and Graham are forced to spend Saturday afternoons cleaning out a sports shed in lieu of normal detention, the two start to get to know each other better. They even spend a monumental weekend in Chicago with Graham’s parents that leads to a lot of truth telling from both of them. Graham has already been through something traumatic that has made him determined never to hide his sexuality again, and it’s definitely heartbreaking. It’s easy to see why he won’t hide just for Connor, even if he does want to be with him.

This is definitely a great book for teens, but I think adults would enjoy it too. It’s not full of too many physical moments, but what is there is done well. I thought the characters were fully-formed and I loved getting to know each set of parents and families, as well as their friends. Even the secondary characters seemed to be multi-dimensional and I always appreciate that. The romance is the surrounding topic of the book, but since this is more about accepting oneself and being true to who you are, don’t expect too much of a relationship until the end. I don’t mind coming out stories – because I do think they will continue to be needed – but they do make me wish I had another book that really explored the two characters together.

Regardless, Guyliner was a good read. I’ll continue reading this author for sure! 

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Looking Toward 2017...

Hello everyone!

How was your Thanksgiving, if you were in the U.S.? Personally, I'm glad it's over. I'd much rather focus on all the fun Christmas events coming up. I'm not a big fan of Thanksgiving day. I did get to see Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them for a second time though - my parents came along and they really loved it! I knew they would though, as they really loved the HP movies too. Seen any good films lately?

I thought I'd do a little mini update post since I haven't posted in a week. I'm reading a lot of LGBT+ fiction though, so there should be more book reviews posted soon!

Right now, though, I wanted to see what you would like to see in 2017:

I'll continue reviewing books, etc. but what else do you want?

Should I bring Etsy Pride back?
Do you like the author Top Ten Tuesday posts?
Do you want more LGBT+ news? Other entertainment related posts? (I do want to add more about music, movies, etc.)

Please share your thoughts!

-Lauren

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Big Gay Fiction Giveaway: Free Books!


I wanted to make sure that all of you knew that between now and November 27, you can claim complete LGBT+ novels, short stories, and sample chapters from 80+ authors. I've already visited and grabbed the ones that I wanted, and you should definitely do the same! Visit here to see what is up for grabs (and remember, it's FREE!!) All you do is click the books you are interested in and it will take you to a page where you have to put in your name and email - for the author's newsletter. It will also let you know if you are getting the whole novel, a short story, or just a sample. All worth it. 

The books I've already read and you should too:

The Thing I Didn't Know I Didn't Know by Brent Hartinger

Buzz by E. Davies

The books I claimed for free:

Helping Hand by Jay Northcote

Play On by Avery Cockburn (I've read the first book in this series, but this is the novella that starts it all)

Dangerous Ground by Josh Lanyon

Friends Like You by Beau Bishop

Incognito by L.A. Watson

Taking Chances by S.K. Grayson

Please Note:

It looks like all the books are m/m BUT there are a variety of genres, so there is something for everyone that likes m/m fiction. Definitely think about grabbing some of these - either the ones I've already read/loved, the ones I chose for myself, or any of the many others! 

Happy Thanksgiving to those in the U.S.!!!

Monday, November 21, 2016

LGBT+ Book Reviews Around the Blogosphere

Happy Monday everyone! Today, I have some LGBT+ reviews that I found around the blogosphere these past couple weeks. Please send me your links if you read/review any LGBT+ books and I will share them in my future round up!

-Lauren


Hotline by Quinn Anderson - Review by Rebel Mommy Book Blog

Black Snow by EAB - Review by Metaphors and Moonlight

As I Descended by Robin Talley - Review by Bookwyrming Thoughts

Beyond Magenta: Transgender Teens Speak Out by Susan Kuklin - Review by The Nocturnal Library

It Looks Like This by Rafi Mittlefehldt- Review by Diva Book Nerd

Of Fire and Stars by Audrey Coulthurst - Review by Lisa Loves Literature

Friday, November 18, 2016

Daring Fate by Megan Erickson


Daring Fate by Megan Erickson

Review by Lauren

source: copy from the author; all opinions are my own

Official SummaryI wake up chained to the wall of a dark cell aware of two things: I failed my sister, and I smell my enemy.

When I’m taken to meet Dare, the alpha of the Silver Tip pack, I’m sure I’m about to lose my throat. The last thing I expect is for the Alpha to recognize me as his fated mate. No way is he going to let me go now, and I still have to find a way to rescue my sister.

As I plot my escape to save her, I find that if I leave, Dare could be killed by power-hungry members of his pack. And now he’s more to me than my fated mate—my heart is involved. With time ticking by on my sister’s life, I have to make a choice I never thought I’d face—my sister’s life or my mate’s? That’s if I can survive the undead shifters intent on killing me first...


Review: I really don't remember the last time I read a shifter novel. I don't mind paranormal stories, and I used to review a lot of them for Romantic Times magazine. However, it's definitely been awhil since I've read one, so I was really excited when I saw that Megan Erickson was looking for people to review the first in her new shifter series. I'm a huge fan of Erickson's m/m fiction and this falls under that, so I was pretty sure I was going to love it, regardless of the genre or overall story line. And I was right.

One of the biggest themes of Daring Fate is family. Reese made plans to leave the place he's called "home" for years, because it's definitely not a safe place to be. He got his brother, Jude out, but when he went back for Selene, he was beaten up and left in the wild. This is where the Silver Tip pack comes in, a group of Weres who are seen as enemies to werewolves like Reese. However, these Weres are not as bad as Reese was led to believe. And it helps that as soon as Reese meets the Alpha of the pack, Dare, they realize they are True Mates. Not everyone gets a True Mate, and Reese only knows about them because his parents were, so it was definitely interesting learning about this along with the two guys. Regardless of the growing bond with Dare, Reese cannot and will not forget about his sister. He's not sure he can trust Dare at first...and then he just doesn't want to hurt Dare's pack by bringing him into his plan.

I don't want to give away too many details of this story, because it was a very unique story of shifters. I've never read a book about Weres, and I assume Erickson created them herself - they are different from werewolves, like Reese and his family, though they do have similarities. I also really liked the various things that come along with being a True Mate too. It was easy to get to know Reese and Dare, and I felt for both of them. Neither know how to react to the other, and while their physical need for each other is apparent, they have a lot to deal with in terms of emotional collections and trust.

This is definitely an adult read in terms of the physical relationship between Reese and Dare, but it very much as an overarching story too, and I loved getting to know the secondary characters, like Bay, Dare's brother. The next book will be following Bay and I can't wait!