An Ali Audiobook Review: Bobby Green (Johnnies # 5) by Amy Lane and Gomez Pugh (Narrator)

Standard
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Vern Roberts couldn’t wait to turn eighteen and get the hell out of Dogpatch, California. But city living is expensive, and he’s damned desperate when Dex from Johnnies spots him bussing tables.

As “Bobby,” he’s a natural at gay porn. Soon he’s surrounded by hot guys and sex for the taking, but it’s not just his girlfriend back in Dogpatch—or her blackmailing brother—that keeps him from taking it. It’s the sweet guy who held the lights for his first solo scene, who showed him decency, kindness, and a smile.

Reg Williams likes to think he’s too stupid to realize what a shitty hand life dealt him, but Bobby knows better. What Reg lacks in family, opportunity, education, and money, he makes up for in heart. One fumbling step at a time, they connect, not just in their hearts but in their bodies, where sex that’s not on camera, casual, or meaningless, becomes the most important thing in the world.

But Reg is hampered by an inescapable family burden, and he and Bobby will never fly unless he can find a way to manage it. Can he break the painful link to his unrealized childhood and grow into the love Bobby wants to give?

This is the fifth installment of this series and takes places at the same time the events of the first four books are taking place. There are references to things that are happening with the other characters and most of them have some role in this. The story starts with us meeting Vern/Bobby (his porn name & what I’m going to use for the rest of the review) who’s living an unhappy life in a bigoted small town. A chance to work construction in Sacramento helps him get out but when that quickly goes bad, Bobby is desperate to not have to go back. A chance meeting with Dex gives him the solution he needs and leads him to working at Johnnies where he meets and becomes friends with Reg.

I have to be honest and say I don’t remember Reg or Bobby at all from the other books (but it’s been years since I read the first three books in this series). Reg is a veteran porn star at Johnnies and he’s the good natured guy everyone is friends with (& friends w benefits with). At first Reg was presented as being slow intellectually and I wasn’t sure this book was going to work for me. Characters with cognitive delays can be dicey for me. If there’s any hint of a power imbalance between the two MC’s I’m out. Fortunately (for me) this is not how this plays out. I thought the author did a good job looking at how social issues effect one’s IQ and how emotional IQ is also a big part of how people present. Reg has a really difficult life. He’s been responsible for his mentally ill sister since he was 16 years old. She keeps him captive in his own home and he has no life outside porn and no friends other than the Johnnies guys. His meeting Bobby changes his perspective and challenges what he thought he wanted out of life.

These two start off as friends and it’s a really slow burn between them. I really liked that change up from most romance books. They spent months just hanging out and snuggling and talking. It takes them both awhile to even realize they’re in love.

This book is pretty gritty and parts aren’t pretty at all. Reg’s sister has a very serious mental health issue and some of the scenes with her are pretty rough. She’s verbally and physically aggressive and poor Reg takes a ton of abuse. The situation Bobby is in in the first part of the book was also pretty difficult to read. There was one scene in particular where my stomach kind of knotted up for him.

Something else I think is important to note is these two are not together-together for the first 50-60% of the book and they both sleep with other people, on and off the set. They weren’t at a commitment stage yet, and honestly the way things played out seemed very realistic. I personally didn’t have a problem with it, although I admit a few parts were a little sad, but I think it fit the plot in a very true to life manner. I mention it though as I know that dynamic is a big “no” for a lot of romance readers.

I had previously read and loved this book so I decided to give it a try on audio and I’m really glad I did.  Sometimes a good narration can make a book even better and that was the case here.  This book was narrated by Gomez Pugh and I loved the way he did both Reg and Bobby as well as all of the side characters.  He captured the strong emotions that went on in this story and he made the grittiness of the book come to life.  I thought the entire narration was extremely well done.

This could be read as a standalone. There is a lot of interaction from the guys in the Johnnies group and all of them play at least a small role in this. Some (Dex, Kane and Ethan) play pretty big roles. You don’t have to read their books to be able to follow this one. You will spoiler yourself for multiple things from the first four books though. As someone who’s read all the books, I liked seeing the other guys and it was interesting to see them & their various issues from Reg & Bobby’s view points

This started a bit rough for me but ended up being my favorite in the series except for Chase in Shadows. These two are just fantastic together and watching them as they work through their problems (in life, not with each other) was really touching. They were perfect for each other & I was happy for them in the end like they were real people.

Cover:  This cover is done by Reese Dante and I think it is well done.  The cover models fit the descriptions of the MC’s very well and this cover goes well with the previous four books of the series.
Audiobook Details:
13 hrs 44 mins
Audible Audio, 14 pages
Published April 19th 2018 by Dreamspinner Press (first published February 6th 2018)
Original TitleBobby Green
ASINB07CGFNCXM
Edition LanguageEnglish
SeriesJohnnies #5

A Caryn Review : Mason and the Dog Wrangler by CL Etta

Standard

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

This is the first story I’ve read by this author, and it was very sweet.  And very short!  I’m not usually a fan of short stories, and though I enjoyed this, I would not have wanted to pay for it individually.  Maybe as part of a collection…

Mason was married to an Air Force officer, staying with him through multiple deployments and through the long years of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell.  When DADT was finally repealed, they married, had a daughter via surrogate, and settled down to a long and happy life together.

And then Mason’s husband was killed, leaving Mason a single father, isolated, and lonely.

Their daughter Nik became Mason’s entire life.  Four years later, he was still continuously grieving, and still having nightmares about his husband’s death.  He was an absolutely devoted father, and when he finally gave in to his daughter’s desire to have a puppy, he found not only an energetic and loving little ball of fur for Nik, but a cute younger man who worked at the pet store.  Jeremy was clearly interested in Mason, and immediately pursued him and pushed through all of Mason’s barriers and insecurities.  When Jeremy was injured saving Nik’s life, that attraction turned into love.  The End.

I prefer to read a book that I can really sink my teeth into, and what I got most from this story was that if someone took the bare bones of it, and lost the insta-love aspect, perhaps fleshed out Mason’s first marriage, expanded it…  Well, you get the story.  I can’t be satisfied with a bite – I want a meal.  So though this is a nice story, I wouldn’t go back and read more.

Cover art by Emmy@studioenp was surprisingly nice – the model on the cover is exactly how I pictured Mason – a little skinny, a little unsure, and the puppy of course is just adorable.

Sales Links:  Pride Publishing | Amazon

Book Details:

ebook, 39 pages
Published April 24th 2018 by Pride Publishing
ISBN139781786516312
Edition LanguageEnglish

A Barb the Zany Old Lady Audiobook Review: The Solstice Prince (Realms of Love #1) by S.J. Himes and Joel Leslie (Narrator)

Standard

Rating: 3.5 stars out of 5

This is a very sweet, angst-free story about a young healer who was rescued from slavery and the prince who sees beyond the servant to the heart of the man beneath.

Jamie Buchanan was sold into slavery when his father passed away with tremendous debt. When the slaver’s ship takes on water, it makes port in the kingdom of Pyrderi, a kingdom totally opposite his homeland. This country is ruled by a kind king and his sons are no different, so when Prince Maxim spots the scars made by the chains that bound him, he tries to help the young man but instead scares Jamie away. Until circumstances make it clear that he is the young healer who has been reported missing from the academy and Jamie’s good fortune begins.

As the winter solstice ball approaches, Jamie and Maxim become closer and it’s very evident that the young prince wants Jamie by his side forever. Honestly, there was no conflict in this story at all. It was like listening to a fairy tale, especially given that it was told in the inimitable voice of Joel Leslie. I could listen to him for hours—and I have, many times! This time, he told Jamie and Maxim’s story beautifully and, of course, they did get their HEA.

There’s really not much more to be said. It’s a sweet romance, and I gave it 3 stars because it wasn’t highly complex and there were quite a few misplaced modifiers that I think I would have cringed at if I had read the book, but Mr. Leslie smoothed over them nicely and I was so caught up into the sweet romance that I just kept going. The additional ½ star, making it 3 ½ stars overall, is due to his outstanding narration.

Those who love a sweet, easy listening story should definitely pick this one up in audio. Heartwarming and recommended.

The attractive cover is done in bright colors with caricatures of the two principal characters: the prince and the healer. It depicts the story and grabs attention.

Sales Links: Amazon | Audible

Audiobook Details:

Length: 6 hrs and 1 min

Audible Audio
Published April 30th 2018 by Tantor Audio (first published November 24th 2017)
ASIN B07CGRWH98
Edition Language English

A Lucy Review: Where Do I Start (Why You? #1) by Chase Taylor Hacket

Standard

Rating: 4 stars out of 5

 

This is the first book of the Why You? series and I read this after I read the second book.  I wasn’t actually going to read it, considering that Fletcher Andrews, the MC, was such a cheater and broke Roger’s heart.  I don’t read cheating and I was going into this already hating Fletch.  He’s beautiful, languorous, gets what he wants and drops his pants for everyone.  So of course, I hate him.  But this book is about losing something you didn’t realize how much you treasured and what it does to you to try to get it back.

Fletch and Roger were living together, happily and homey, until Roger finds out Fletch has been cheating on him. It devastates Roger and he throws Fletch out.  They don’t see each other for two years until they accidentally meet at the opera.  Fletch is with his sugar daddy, Darwin, and Roger is with his bestie, Tommy.  While Tommy is thrilled to meet costume-designer Darwin, Fletch is more interested in Roger’s reaction.  “Was he impressed? With my six-time Tony-winning date?”  Right there I thought, my god, this guy is clueless.  Luckily, he gets that clue.  “And when Roger looked at me, he saw that I was just today’s eye candy, an expensive accessory like a watch.  The boy du jour.”  That one simple thing made Fletch take a hard look at himself.  “Let’s be honest – if you go on a date and can show profit at the end of the evening, there’s a word for that.  And that’s what Roger saw when he looked at me.”

Fletch also comes to realize that what he wants in life is Roger.  Roger has a boyfriend, Jeffrey, another lawyer but that doesn’t matter to Fletch.  He wants Roger back and he wants to do it right this time.  We get some flashbacks not only into the pain Fletch caused Roger but also the how they met and some good things.  “And although it ended miserably, which spoiled everything, if I could look beyond that – and let’s face it, I hardly ever could – but when I could look beyond that, I could see it had been a fantastic period in my life.  I knew it at the time.  I’d never been happier, and I had thought it would go on like that forever.”  Oh, Roger.

This is told in alternating first person point of view, so we get the full extent of Fletch’s remorse and Roger’s pain.   This is more striking because Roger is dealing with his current boyfriend, the infamous Jeffrey, who often acts like a jerk.  The Jeffrey of book two doesn’t seem to be the same Jeffrey here.  He does two terrible things, one of which I would expect of him but the other shocked me. No wonder Fletch got so angry, “Imagine how I felt, hearting Roger defend this smug, self-righteous, hypocritical little pr**k”. 

Fletch goes to great lengths to win Roger back, and sometimes is dangerously close to being a stalker, but he’s putting Roger first this time, all the way. Roger is trying to fight it because he’s scared.  The effects of infidelity can be long lasting and far reaching.  “Because that’s what it came down to.  Sure, Fletch says he loves me, and maybe he even meant it….But does any of this mean that he isn’t going to pull his boxers down for the next casual acquaintance or total stranger who looks even mildly interested?”  That is the biggest hurdle. 

As in Jeffrey and Theo’s book, there are times I wanted to hug Roger (well, that was really all the time) and times I wanted to hug Fletch.  These guys, they grow on you and make you care what happens.  When the bad things come out, I cringed and wanted it somehow to work out.

We get the history of Fletch, which isn’t pretty and he doesn’t share easily, and we get his dedicated efforts to win Roger back.  There are times when Jeff and Fletch seem like they are about to pee on Roger to stake their claim.  It was funny and ridiculous.   We also get to have Tommy in this and he is completely lovely.  I want his story so badly.  He gives such great advice.  “I don’t know.  Have you ever asked him?” 

One thing that I would have liked was a better reason why Fletch cheated on Roger, constantly and repeatedly, when he himself admitted he was a great boyfriend. Yes, I get it that Fletch didn’t believe in love, didn’t believe in relationships, didn’t believe in anything, but it really made him shallow.  “You could think twice about hurting me horribly, or you could get – whatever- with whomever.  And we can see which was more important to you.”  Even though it’s two years in the past, my heart broke for Roger. 

There is no on-page sex here and that worked for me.  I have a problem with all issues big and small being solved by the magic penis.  It makes me roll my eyes.  Here, they have to work things out the old fashioned way.  While I’m sure people are going to skip this book because of the infidelity, as I was going to, that would be a shame because that isn’t what this is about.  It’s about redemption, forgiveness and understanding what you need.  I would highly recommend this. 

The cover, two men walking a Scottish terrier with only half their heads visible, was pretty spot on for me.  The casual elegant beauty of Fletch and the more buttoned up handsomeness of Roger.  Oddly, throughout the book I kept picturing Roger as older or less attractive.  Maybe I was judgy about his name.  But the depiction on the cover is more how he should be. 

Sales Link:  Amazon

Book Details:

Kindle Edition, 266 pages
Published October 17th 2017 by Lyrical Press
Original TitleWhere Do I Start?
ASINB01N5S23MN
Edition LanguageEnglish
SeriesWhy You? #1

Harmony Promo Shirley Anne Edwards on Favorite Stories, Writing, and Rage to Live (Finding the Strength #1) 

Standard

Rage to Live (Finding the Strength #1) by Shirley Anne Edwards 

Harmony Ink Press

Cover Artist: Tiferet Design

Sales Links:  Harmony Ink Press | Amazon

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to host Shirley Ann Edwards here today to talk about her latest story at Harmony Ink Press, Rage to Live.  Welcome, Shirley.

 

♦︎

 

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words Interview – Shirley Anne Edwards

How much of yourself goes into a character?

Shirley: My characters are not an extension of me, although their experiences during the story are some of mine. An example is in Rage to Live, Charlie’s (my heroine) older cousins are involved in Greek life at the college they attend. When I was in college, I was in a sorority, which was a very positive for me. I wanted to show the positive side to Greek life and not the eyebrow rising stereotypes about sororities and fraternities sometimes portrayal in novels.

Has your choice of childhood or teenage reading genres carried into your own choices for writing?

Shirley: Growing up I was a big fan of the Babysitters Club and Nancy Drew Mysteries series. These series promoted great friendships, which I try to show in any book I write. Even when my main protagonist might have gone through some trauma or drama, they can always count on their group of friends to support them. When I entered high school, I became a big fan of historical fiction and romance, such as Gone with the Wind and the Outlander series. Strong female characters like Scarlett O’Hara and Claire Fraser are my inspirations to write independent and smart heroines.

Do you like HFN or HEA? And why?

Shirley: I’m more of a fan of the HEA than the HFN. An HEA is everything beautiful and wonderful. All the drama and angst is now over, and the main couple can finally find peace within themselves and with one another.

Do you read romances, as a teenager and as an adult?

Shirley: Once I entered high school, all I wanted to do was read romance. I still read romance but I’ve branched out to mysteries and thrillers. I also read young adult because that’s the genre I choose to write.

Who do you think is your major influence as a writer?  Now and growing up?

Shirley: Classic romance authors such as Jane Austen and the Bronte sister influenced me because their writing is so poetic and engaging. Again, they created some of the most beloved heroines in all of literature. I also adore Louisa May Alcott’s adult fiction. Her adult fiction, which is a blend of gothic thrillers and romance was such a departure from her children’s fiction.

I’ve always admired Nora Roberts and Stephen King because of their huge following and work ethic. I’m also a huge fan of young adult/ new adult author, Jennifer L. Armentrout, who amazes me with her output and generous spirit when it comes to writers and authors. She also writes some of the best hunky heroes currently 😊.

How do you feel about the ebook format and where do you see it going?

Shirley: I love ebooks. I read most books on my Kindle or Ebook app on my phone. Prior to working with Harmony Ink Press, I self-published four novels, so ebooks to me are my bread and butter.

What’s next for you as an author?

Shirley: I’m planning on writing another book in the Rage to Live world with a secondary character who I adore. It’s also going to be another LGBTQ young adult, but this time my somewhat traditional thinking male protagonist, who dreams of one day becoming the President of the Unites State falls for a somewhat older guy who loves tattoos and lives each day like it’s his last.

About the Author:

Shirley Anne Edwards is a Northeast girl who discovered her love for books when she read Nancy Drew’s The Secret of the Old Clock Tower at thirteen. Shirley found her love for writing at a very young age and, since then, has let her imagination run wild by creating quirky characters and vast worlds in her head. Shirley is also a brownie addict who loves to bake when she’s not busy writing. Shirley lives in New Jersey and works in the entertainment industry in New York City.

Shirley loves to hear from readers! You can email her at shirlwriteredwards@gmail.com or tweet her at @shirlawriter.

Website: http://shirlwriteredwards.wordpress.com

Harmony Ink author page: https://www.harmonyinkpress.com/authors/shirley-anne-edwards-185

 

Rage to Live blurb:

Can a young woman reveal her traumatic past to the woman who wants her to release the bubbling rage inside… her rage to live?

An act of violence tore Charlie’s existence, and her family, apart. In an effort to reclaim something like the life she enjoyed before, Charlie moves in with relatives in a different state. Charlie might be damaged, but she isn’t going down without a fight. With the help of her cousins, who attend the local college, she steels herself to repeat her final year of high school. On the university campus, she meets Arielle Forest, president of a popular sorority, daughter of the dean, and bisexual. Charlie is drawn to Arielle’s sunny outlook, but she can’t banish her doubts as romance blossoms. Does Arielle know what she’s getting into with Charlie and her unhealed wounds? Will she want to deal with the complications?

When Charlie’s past catches up to her, will she find the strength to keep fighting… or succumb to the call to escape all her pain for good?

A MelanieM Release Day Review: Stone the Crows (Wolf Winter #2) by T.A. Moore

Standard

Rating: 5 stars out of 5

When the Winter arrives, the Wolves will come down over the walls and eat little boys in their beds.

Doctor Nicholas Blake might still be afraid of the dark, but the monsters his grandmother tormented him with as a child aren’t real.

Or so he thought…until the sea freezes, the country grinds to a halt under the snow, and he finds a half-dead man bleeding out while a dead woman watches. Now his nightmares impinge on his waking life, and the only one who knows what’s going on is his unexpected patient.

For Gregor it’s simple. The treacherous prophets mutilated him and stole his brother Jack, and he’s going to kill them for it. Without his wolf, it might be difficult, but he’ll be damned if anyone else gets to kill Jack—even if he has to enlist the help of his distractingly attractive, but very human, doctor.

Except maybe the prophets want something worse than death, and maybe Nick is less human than Gregor believes. As the dead gather and the old stories come true, the two men will need each other if they’re going to rescue Jack and stop the prophets’ plan to loose something more terrible than the wolf winter.

Imagine being dumped into a landscape where all your childhood nightmares are real, where the bedtime stories of monsters  with claws to rend your flesh and teeth to eat you told by your gran were not just nasty tales but of horrible tattered together creatures waiting for you to arrive?  This is but the beginning of an incredible story and the second book in an amazing series by T.A. Moore.

Stone the Crows  is the second novel in the Wolf Winter series by T.A. Moore and its a stunner at every level and element.  Horror, urban fantasy, and romance.  There is nothing this author and book doesn’t excel at.

It starts from the beginning, a bleak winter landscape and an isolated compound.  It’s full of dead people.  And that’s where we meet both Dr. Nicholas Blake, cataloging the dead, and the soon to arrive Gregor, werewolf, (twin brother to Jack, and one of the Crown Prince Pup of the Numitor).  The author immediately surrounds us with the horrors of a plague like illness and a catastrophic winter that’s overtaken the population.  Only we see the intimate results on the villagers nearby.  The families and their children.  It’s heartbreaking and ominous, setting the tone for all that follows.

Moore seamlessly blends the Norse mythology with the horrors of the supernatural to create something sublime.  His wolves, his dogs, (they are different), are fully non-human.  Not human characters given a light fur coating and called were.  No, they have the “feel” of something feral and wild. And that contrasted with Nick’s humanity, makes the difference all too apparent. As will all the horrors that follow.

When legends and mythology collide, when blood and revenge are tied together, and a Throne involved, well, as it’s already been proven, there is nothing no one will sacrifice to achieve one’s goals, no amounts of blood, no great number of people, wolf or human that can’t be killed and Moore understands the emotions behind it all.  On both the grand scale and the small emotional, intimate one.  That last one that will leave you  sobbing in scenes here. Trust me…keep those tissue boxes handy.

This is a bleak, gritty, moving story. It’s epic fantasy  It’s full of muddy, emotional complications, and an overall series arc that starts back in book one, Dog Days (Wolf Winter #1).  It’s got a ways to go before its highly involved, convoluted tales  plays out.  So much more blood to be spilled, and I expect the price to be paid equally high.  I’m both dreading and highly anticipating the next story.

You con’t have to have read the first one but why wouldn’t you?  It’s equally incredible and give’s you Jack’s story.  This is a beautifully written story and series.  It has amazing depth, and continues to grow as more elements are revealed in detail.  Again, it’s a stunning story.  Don’t pass it up.  I highly recommend it.

Cover Artist: Bree Archer.  I like the cover but it’s too white (i can’t believe I’m saying this. Doesn’t convey the  darkness of the story).

Sales Links:  Dreamspinner Press | Amazon

Book Details:

ebook, 240 pages
Published May 29th 2018 by Dreamspinner Press
ISBN139781640805422
Edition LanguageEnglish
Series Wolf Winter :

Dog Days (Wolf Winter #1)

Stone the Crows (Wolf Winter, #2) 

A VVivacious Review: A Love to Remember by Sarah Hadley Brook

Standard

Rating: 2 Stars out of 5

Graham comes from a family ravaged by the effects of Alzheimer’s and as a result, he has walled up his heart against any possibility of love. He only engages in casual sex but he starts questioning his resolve once he gets to know Sam. Will Graham be able to stand by his decision or will he have to re-think his decisions with love just a hand’s reach away…?

I had a hard time making myself read this one. I don’t know why but my interest just waned at about the 60% mark which was weird considering the fact that the story of this book only gets started at that point. The first 60% of the book is just the setting and most of the information revealed till this point is one you already know if you have read the blurb. After this point, the story’s progression to its inevitable conclusion just didn’t hold my attention.

I liked the concept of the story about how a debilitating condition that runs in your family would change your outlook of the world. But I felt like this concept overshadowed the characterisations because I can’t think of Graham as anyone other than the guy who doesn’t want to love because he fears that one day he will have Alzheimer’s and will be a burden on those who love him.   

I feel like this story will be different for different people, so if you think the premise of this story speaks to you do pick up the book.

Cover Art by Written Ink Designs. I really liked the cover for this one, it was really sweet.

Sales Links: Universal Buy Link | Amazon

Book Details:

Kindle Edition, 85 pages
Published April 28th 2018 by JMS Books LLC
ASINB07C1QNCZ4
Edition LanguageEnglish

A Lucy Pre release Review: My Crunchy Life by Mia Kerick

Standard

Rated 5 stars out of 5

This young adult book focuses on Kalin, who goes by Kale, a 16-year-old searching for himself in that angsty adolescent time known as high school.  He’s facing a mother who was downsized from her job and has no pretty much abdicated from her adult responsibilities, a dad who is trying really hard, and a brosin, Hughie, (“…by my definition, a person who is midpoint between an irritating brother and an annoying cousin…”) who is sharing (invading) his room.  Kale is now a hippie, with dreadlocks that fall into his eyes, organically hand tie-dyed t-shirts, a vegan diet and a need to do “hippie things”, meaning he needs to find a social cause to embrace.  He does this by joining REHO, Rights for Every Human Organization.   It is here that Kale meets Julian.  Julian has big time problems at school, mostly in the form of a huge bully named Sydney.  Julian is incredibly smart, wants to be the best at academics so he can get a scholarship to college and be a doctor, attempted suicide and is now seeing a therapist.  Julian is transgender, a female trapped in his male body, and he’s bullied unmercifully for that.  “I have no problem with the world addressing me as Julian.  In fact, I insist upon it, even with those like Dr. E, who know that, inside, I’m actually a girl.  I want to be called Julian until the day I begin to live as one.”    Julian joins clubs to make sure his academic resume is complete and one of those is REHO.

The story is told in alternating first person point of view of Julian and Kale and I truly appreciated that.  I liked getting into the problems that both these teenagers are struggling with and how they are trying to deal with it.  It connected me with these characters so much more.   When Kale goes on socialactivism.com to find a cause I rolled my eyes at him. But it got us to where we wanted to be, REHO.

In addition to the trials of Kale and Julian, there is also the family trouble facing Hughie.   He’s a sweet boy who was living under a bridge until Kale’s dad took him in.  Hughie’s mother, “Serenity”, is a stripper and a truly bad mother.  When Serenity (real name Mary Pat) wants to see Hughie, I felt so bad for him.  “It’s like he can’t bounce back from the idea of coming face-to-face with his own mother.”  Because she isn’t a good mother and poor Hughie doesn’t have that sense of belonging to Kale’s home and family.  He’s like a sort of permanent house guest. He is the one who gave Kale the nickname, Crunchy, because of all the granola he eats in a house of serious meat-eaters.

Hughie, Sydney and Julian are in all classes together and they are all vying for the top spot of valedictorian.  That is one reason that Sydney is such a nightmare – she wants to stress them both away from being able to snag that spot. 

The one thing that saved this story from being an “all women are horrible” type is the volunteer best friends of Julian, Anna and Kandy.  Thank Pete for them, because they supported Julian and they were evidence that not all women are horrible.   Yes, Kale mother is not great, Hughie’s mother is awful, Sydney the bully and her female posse are the worst.   But Anna and Kandy, along with Julian’s mother, are gems.  Mama is so amazing, her support is what every kid should have.

As Kale comes to realize he likes Julian, he is struggling to come to terms with his sexuality.  Is he gay? Is he bi?  He isn’t really sure, he just knows he is coming to like Julian.  He sits by him at REHO, and is stunned to realize Julian goes to the same high school.  It’s funny that even though both Julian and Hughie have much bigger stresses and issues to face, I still was sympathetic to Kale as he tries to navigate what he’s feeling.  Anyone who says the teen years are the best is delusional in  my book. 

Julian is attending REHO as he is facing his body changing even more into something he abhors.  He is also facing the aftermath of trying to kill himself.  “I still have soul-sucking nightmares about the day I tried to die – dreams about the loneliness, the anxiety, and the hopelessness that brought me to the point that I thought it would be better to be gone.”  It’s heart-wrenching to know that there are so many kids who feel that way.  Julian is his true self- Julia – at night and then has to do the difficult task of “…putting the boy back on in the morning after being myself all night.”  He has to “…numb his body and spirit” in order to be what society says he has to be.  But not forever, Julian. 

Julian doesn’t immediately hit it off with Kale.  He believes Kale is cute, but a poser.  When trouble comes for Hughie, and he takes off,  Kale gets some insight into himself and he doesn’t like what he is seeing.  “Like self-absorbed…or insensitive.  Or both.”  And really, he is.  As he comes to realize that “I’m the Walt Disney World Hippie Theme Park of teenage boys in Crestdale” he begins to do what many adults fail to do.  Look at himself and realize he needs to change. “And maybe I have no idea who I really am, other than a guy who professed to be pro-human rights but who looked the other way at the human being in desperate need who lives in my frigging bedroom with me.”  He’s only 16 but he’s going to be an amazing adult. 

Kale and Julian are slowly becoming friends when Kale is hit with a revelation at REHO that he didn’t see coming and he handles it badly, mainly because he sort of makes things all about him.  But it seemed a true reaction from someone who is struggling with their own identity.   Julian has his mama’s support again and I wanted to cheer for her.  “You chose the only path you could follow.  And now, by beautiful, smart, and courageous daughter, I hope you will follow it with pride”.  Jules has the strength because of that support.

The moment when Kale has to decide whether to do what is right, what is best for him, and what is easy was a great moment, even as it was a painful one.  The ending of this was so perfect, sweet and YA and lovely.  This coming of age story isn’t incredibly angsty, despite some very serious themes, but it’s a story of growth and I thought it was just right.

The cover, by Aaron Anderson, is simple and completely captured the feel of Kale.  The tie dye, the mushroom dreads, the sweet face – it all really leant the picture of who Kale was trying to be and I liked it.

Sales Links:  Harmony Ink Press | Amazon – no links yet for Amazon

Book Details:

ebook, 180 pages
Expected publication: June 26th 2018 by Harmony Ink Press
ISBN139781640803923
Edition LanguageEnglish

An Alisa Review: Snow Cat by Edward Kendrick

Standard

Rating:  3.25 stars out of 5

Artist Wynn McGuire has a problem. An enemy wants him dead.

Sheriff Mick Greene also has problems. Helping Wynn survive and finding the elusive “Snow Cat” that is prowling outside his small mountain town.

Wynn and Mick have another problem as well, their growing interest in each other. When Wynn disappears Mick is certain he’s either dead or has gone back to his old life. Then he discovers the truth about Wynn, just days before Wynn comes back into his life. Will this truth, plus Mick’s ex-lover and another man seeking to kill Wynn force them apart, or can they surmount the obstacles and learn that love indeed conquers all.

This was a nice story but nothing that will blow your socks off.  Wynn is trying to stay alive and get rid of the man after him.  Mick is just trying to keep his town safe but can’t help but want to help Wynn along the way.

I felt as though I was just along for the ride with these characters, I was told what was going on but didn’t feel a great connection to them.  They mystery of Wynn’s enemy was different and didn’t really seem that hard to resolve but I didn’t think the brother coming for revenge did anything to help the plot along other than add some more pages to the book.  Mick stands strong to his values and I liked his caring nature for those around him.

The cover art by Written Ink Designs is nice and like the visuals of Wynn.

Sales Links: JMS Books | Amazon | B&N

Book Details:

ebook, 143 pages

Published: January 11, 2018 by JMS Books

ISBN: 9781634866002

Edition Language: English

Book Blast Just A Year by Jena Wade (excerpt)

Standard

BOOK BLAST

BOOK 1

Book Title: Just A Week (#1)

Author: Jena Wade

Publisher: Self Published

Cover Artist: Silver Heart Design Studio www.silverheartstudio.com

Release Date: May 12, 2018

Genre/s: Contemporary Gay Romance

Book 1 of 2

Goodreads 

Blurb

Just a week is not enough time to fall in love, but Fate doesn’t care. Seth’s carefully crafted plan for how his life will go doesn’t include falling in love with a guy in his horrible hometown. He wants to start a new life anywhere but at home. Until Maddox storms in with his multi-colored hair and carefree attitude.

Long distance relationships don’t work and Seth isn’t into gambling with his future. But the more time he spends with Maddox, the more he’s willing to throw caution to the wind. Now his plan for the rest of his life has been turned upside down and seems to include things Seth never thought possible, including a lifetime of happiness in his hometown.

Buy Link – Available on Kindle Unlimited

Amazon US  

Amazon UK 

BOOK 2

Book Title: Just A Year (#2)

Author: Jena Wade

Publisher: Self Published

Cover Artist: Silver Heart Design Studio www.silverheartstudio.com

Release Date: May 12, 2018

Book 2 of 2

Genre/s: Contemporary Gay Romance

Length: 22,000 Words  

Goodreads

     

Blurb

Just a year is too much time to spend apart from the man you love, but Seth has a carefully crafted plan for how to make it work. Taking an internship four hours away from Maddox may not have been the smartest choice Seth has ever made, but he is determined to make it work. Until life throws a wrench in his plans and turns his and Maddox’s world upside down.

Excerpt from Just a Year

Just a year. No more, no less. Three hundred sixty-five days. Five hundred, twenty-five thousand six hundred minutes.

Great, now I would have the Rent soundtrack playing in my head throughout the entire ceremony.

I took a deep breath and focused on the commencement speaker. After five long years, the last one and a half being the longest by far, I’d finished my degree. No more term papers, no more eight a.m. classes, no more all-nighters in the library so I could have a homework free weekend with my boyfriend.

Maddox.

He sat out there in the crowd with my parents. I felt his eyes on me, but I couldn’t see him. I’m not even sure which section they were in. The Breslin Center was filled to the brim with graduates and their families. All waiting for their individual name to be called so they could walk across the stage and collect a fake diploma. The real one wouldn’t arrive in the mail for a few weeks.

Just a year. That wasn’t that long, was it?

Maddox and I had survived the past year and a half getting to know each other over Skype and Facetime, chatting, Snapchatting, the works. Thank God for the digital age. On the rare occasions that we physically saw each other, well, I mean, I don’t really have to explain how those encounters went.

Jobs right out of college were hard to come by, everyone knew that. Maddox would understand.

Just a year.

“Seth Brown, Masters of Science in Marketing Research.”

I took a deep breath, walked across the stage, accepted my fake diploma from the university president, smiled for a picture and then I was done.

Five years, would have been six if I hadn’t busted my ass taking summer courses, done.

I smiled as I looked around the crowd, searching for Maddox.  He’d make this whole thing worthwhile. It was his idea for me to walk at graduation. I was all set to skip it, but he insisted that I needed to do the traditional thing, and he and my parents would drive up for a nice visit.

Against the odds, I found him. His pink spiked hair stood out. How could it not? He grinned and waved frantically.

Worth it. Totally worth it. I would do anything to see that smile. To earn that smile.

Let’s hope it stayed in place after I told him about the job offer.

Just a year.

Buy Links –  Available on Kindle Unlimited

Amazon US 

Amazon UK 

About the Author  

Jena began writing in January of 2013 as a New Year’s Resolution–and so far she has stuck to it!

She lives in Michigan. By day she works as a web developer, and at night she writes. Born and raised on a farm, she spends most of her free time outdoors, playing in the garden, or riding her horses. She also helps run the family dairy farm.

Social Media Links

Blog/Website

Twitter

BOOK BLAST SCHEDULE

Hosted by Gay Book Promotions