Book List 2018

Review: A Tiny Piece of Something Greater by Jude Sierra

tiny (1).jpgA Tiny Piece of Something Greater

Publisher: Interlude Press

Release Date (Print & Ebook): Out Now!

Length (Print & Ebook): 258 Pages

Subgenre: LGBT, Interracial/Multicultural, New Adult

Editor’s Note: Some readers may find some of the scenes in this book difficult to read. We have compiled a list of content warnings, which you can access at interludepress.com/content-warnings

About this Book: 

Reid Watsford has a lot of secrets and a past he can’t quite escape. While staying at his grandmother’s condo in Key Largo, he signs up for introductory dive classes, where he meets Joaquim Oliveira, a Brazilian dive instructor with wanderlust. Driven by an instant, magnetic pull, what could have been just a hookup quickly deepens. As their relationship evolves, they must learn to navigate the challenges of Reid’s mental illness—on their own and with each other.

jude pic.jpgJude Sierra talks A Tiny Piece of Something Greater: I want readers to walk away with a deeper appreciation and understanding of what it is like to thrive with mental illness—or strive toward it—and what it is like for two people to be and fall in love in these situations. I’d love for readers to come away knowing that love doesn’t cure mental illness, nor should it. Reid and Joaquim love each other as they are.

About Jude Sierra: Jude Sierra is a Latinx poet, author, academic and mother working toward her PhD in Writing and Rhetoric, looking at the intersections of Queer, Feminist and Pop Culture Studies. She also works as an LGBTQAI+ book reviewer for From Top to Bottom Reviews. Her novels include HushWhat it Takes, and Idlewild, a contemporary LGBT romance set in Detroit’s renaissance, which was named a Best Book of 2016 by Kirkus Reviews.

Connect with Jude: Site | Twitter | Instagram | Goodreads | Facebook | Pinterest

Teaser: 

Joaquim’s body is beautifully settled into the rhythms of his deep, sleeping breaths. Reid is no longer angry. Well, he’s a little angry at himself. If I wake Joaquim with kisses, will that be enough? Will he remember the apology from last night and let it stand?

Eyes closed, Reid scoots closer to Joaquim and puts a hand on his hip. He promised to talk to Joaquim. And even without that promise, they should talk. Joaquim is the potential for a healthy relationship, finally.

When Reid’s body heat comes into contact with his, Joaquim stills and then stretches. Joaquim’s body is a luxury: muscles tensing and loosening, all stunning bones and inviting skin. Reid wants. He wants to glut himself on this man, to soak up every moment with him while he can.

Review: 

This book was a good read, but a hard one, so that is definitely something you should go into knowing.

The depth of the writing about mental illness was what drew me into this novel, because at no point does it treat mental illness like something that is not real, or something that is to be disparaged. Instead it is treated with a thoughtfulness, and consideration that is deserved of anyone who has been diagnosed with something that might make them a little bit different.

Reid is a character with a lot of humour despite his circumstance and has a sweet centre as he tries to figure out what his life will be. There is a major character evolution with his character throughout this book that made it captivating to read.

Joaquim however is my darling. I loved him so much. He was so sweet and kind, with good philosophies on life, and life’s journey and where it should take you. His consideration toward Reid was amazing.

This book was upsetting at times, but in the end I was so glad to have read it, because it is such a kindly written novel, with a lot of humanity in it.

Buy Now!

Interlude Press | Amazon | Smashwords | Apple | Kobo | Indiebound

 

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Book List 2018

Review: Leah on the Offbeat by Becky Albertalli

leahTitle: Leah on the Offbeat

Author: Becky Albertalli

Genre: YA Fiction, Romance, LGBTQIA+

Summary:

Leah Burke—girl-band drummer, master of deadpan, and Simon Spier’s best friend from the award-winning Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda—takes center stage in this novel of first love and senior-year angst.

When it comes to drumming, Leah Burke is usually on beat—but real life isn’t always so rhythmic. An anomaly in her friend group, she’s the only child of a young, single mom, and her life is decidedly less privileged. She loves to draw but is too self-conscious to show it. And even though her mom knows she’s bisexual, she hasn’t mustered the courage to tell her friends—not even her openly gay BFF, Simon.

So Leah really doesn’t know what to do when her rock-solid friend group starts to fracture in unexpected ways. With prom and college on the horizon, tensions are running high. It’s hard for Leah to strike the right note while the people she loves are fighting—especially when she realizes she might love one of them more than she ever intended.

Review:

Leah is such a smartass and I love her. She is also bitter sometimes, which causes me want to give my head a shake, reach into the book and tell her to buck up. To trust the people she is friends with to accept her for who she is, her whole identity.

This book is filled with strife, and palpable angst. It is a young adult book through and through but yet is so very identifiable.

We’ve all had feelings for people we maybe shouldn’t have feelings for, we’ve all loved people who maybe we shouldn’t love.

This book is not as light as Simon, which is amazing to say, because Simon is not light. But this is heavy, and emotional, and often at times because of how frustrated I would get with the characters, was very hard to read.

It doesn’t mean I didn’t enjoy it, and that it was not well written because it definitely was. Becky Albertalli is one of my favourite writers, and I’ve pretty much established that I will read anything she wants to write. Literally anything.

This book is good. It’s solid. Read it.

 

Book List 2018

Review: A Study in Honor by Claire O’Dell

36502081Title: A Study in Honor

Author: Claire O’Dell

Genre: Dystopian, Holmesian, Mystery

Set in a near future Washington, D.C., a clever, incisive, and fresh feminist twist on a classic literary icon—Sherlock Holmes—in which Dr. Janet Watson and covert agent Sara Holmes will use espionage, advanced technology, and the power of deduction to unmask a murderer targeting Civil War veterans.

Dr. Janet Watson knows firsthand the horrifying cost of a divided nation. While treating broken soldiers on the battlefields of the New Civil War, a sniper’s bullet shattered her arm and ended her career. Honorably discharged and struggling with the semi-functional mechanical arm that replaced the limb she lost, she returns to the nation’s capital, a bleak, edgy city in the throes of a fraught presidential election. Homeless and jobless, Watson is uncertain of the future when she meets another black and queer woman, Sara Holmes, a mysterious yet playfully challenging covert agent who offers the doctor a place to stay.

Watson’s readjustment to civilian life is complicated by the infuriating antics of her strange new roommate. But the tensions between them dissolve when Watson discovers that soldiers from the New Civil War have begun dying one by one—and that the deaths may be the tip of something far more dangerous, involving the pharmaceutical industry and even the looming election. Joining forces, Watson and Holmes embark on a thrilling investigation to solve the mystery—and secure justice for these fallen soldiers.

Review: 

This is a futuristic sci-fi/dystopia genderbent and relatively awesome book.

Watson is more cynical than ever within this book, and if possible even tougher than in the originals. She is a woman who is near broken but still refuses to give up. She’s got gumption, shall we say.

Holmes is a little more…blase in this novel than in other Holmes novels or reiterations. I did wish that more of her was seen in this book as I did not really get attached to her in any way in this novel because to be honest she wasn’t in it too often.

That being said I don’t think this book lacks because of the lack of Holmes, as Watson’s introspection, and the characterization of her is enough to satiate me as a reader.

The nature of this book is woven in mystery and questions, and not all of them get answered, but not in a bad way, just in a way that definitely made me want more of this book so I do hope it may be the beginning of a series.

Received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. 

Contributor: Luke Black

Guest Blogger Review: The Preacher’s Son by Lisa Henry and J.A Rock

PinehurstOkay, so it’s been AGES since Ashley so kindly introduced me as a guest poster on her blog, and I dropped the ball on posting. Today, I bring to you my first review! (Big thanks to Ashley for letting me post on her blog. Love you, babe.)

I did participate in an instagram tour, and you can find my post here. (It’s my personal account, yes.)

Title: The Preacher’s Son
Authors: Lisa Henry & J.A. Rock
Genre: LGBTQ+ romance
Summary: Jason Banning is a wreck. His leg’s been blown to hell in Afghanistan, his boyfriend just left him and took the dog, and now he’s back in his hometown of Pinehurst, Washington, a place that holds nothing but wretched memories…and Nathan Tull. Nathan Tull, whose life Jason ruined. Nathan Tull, who will never believe Jason did what he did for a greater good. Nathan Tull, whose reverend father runs a gay conversion therapy camp that Jason once sought to bring down—at any cost.

Nathan Tull is trying to live a quiet life. Four years ago, when Nate was a prospective student visiting UW Tacoma, his world collapsed when senior Jason Bannon slept with him, filmed it, and put the footage online. A painful public outing and a crisis of faith later, Nate has finally begun to heal. Cured of the “phantoms” that plagued him for years, he now has a girlfriend, a counselor job at his dad’s camp, and the constant, loving support of his father.

But when he learns Jason is back in town, his carefully constructed identity begins to crumble. As desperate to reconcile his love for God with his attraction to men as Jason is to make sense of the damage he’s done, Nate finds himself walking a dangerous line. On one side lies the righteous life he committed himself to in the wake of his public humiliation. On the other is the sin he committed with Jason Banning, and the phantoms that won’t let him be. But is there a path that can bridge those two worlds—where his faith and his identity as a gay man aren’t mutually exclusive?

And can he walk that path with the man who betrayed him?

Review:
I knew ahead of time from reading the summary that one of the themes of the book was gay conversion therapy camps. What I did not anticipate was how much it would affect me in a negative, impactful way. I’ve been against these types of camps since I first heard of them, but even more so now. It made me deeply uncomfortable and outright angry.

But that’s not the purpose of this review, I’m just putting that out there. The book had promise. I did emphasize with Nathan. I’ve never been overly religious but I have had that self-doubt of wondering if what I am is wrong.

I wanted to smack Reverand Tull several times. I did root for Nathan to overcome his struggle with his inner conflict of reconciling his religion with his sexuality. I couldn’t decide whether I really liked that Nathan gave Jason a second chance but Jason did at least regret what he’d done.

I did emphasize with Jason on some of his beliefs and convictions. I think he could’ve just gone a different way about them.

I was given an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

Book List 2018

Review: Gemini Keeps Capricorn by Anyta Sunday

gemini keeps capricorn.jpgTitle: Gemini Keeps Capricorn

Author: Anyta Sunday

Genre: LGBTQIA+ slow burn

Summary: 

Sometimes, one stubborn Capricorn is all it takes… to drive Wesley Hidaka to crazy, flirtatious lengths.

Wesley loves annoying his RA, Lloyd Reynolds. He just can’t help it. Lloyd is focused, decisive, grounded. He has this amusing ability to follow rules.
Of course Wesley wants Lloyd to break one… or three hundred.

Sometimes, one smirking Gemini is all it takes… to have Lloyd laying down the law and marching Wesley straight back to his dorm room.

It doesn’t stop Wesley teasing again. And again. And again…
But damn. Lloyd doesn’t crack easily. He’s full of principles. He’s unshakable. 
He’s the perfect friend to have when Wesley needs help. Like with his truant brother and his old high school principal.

Sometimes, one little lie is all it takes… to find Wesley fake-engaged to his off-limits RA.

What can he say? It seemed like a good idea at the time…

Quote I loved:

“It’s close to Christmas.”
“Oh yeah? I thought everyone was just crushing on an old dude with stellar beard.”

Review:

Anyta, Anyta, Anyta….You’ve done it again. You’ve made me fall in love with your creations. Your characters. The chapter illustrations and cheesy, cheesy pick-up lines killed me too.

This book is quality slow burn, for all the people that love that like myself. It even includes a coffee house. A dormitory. A beautifully bald character. A character with beautiful hair. Background characters who make you care about their stories and their lives.

This book also includes ELVIS. Yes that Elvis. The one with the pelvis and the blue suede shoes.

I really couldn’t ask for more. It’s got a good, solid plot. It is sexy in parts, touching in others (not that kind of touching).

Wesley is an annoyance to Lloyd, until he’s not. He’s sweet, and humorous and he has a giant heart, which he tries to hide.

Lloyd has a big heart he doesn’t bother trying to hide. I think it’s why he became an RA actually.

This book is charming and might be my favourite in the series so far. This book has so much I love in it, the back and forth and wit, the tough but ultimately resolved family dynamics.

If the astrology bit is turning you off don’t worry about it. Just pick it up and read.

I personally can’t wait for more.

Received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. 

Book List 2018

Review: Simon vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli

simon vs the homo sapiens agendaTitle: Simon vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda

Author: Becky Albertalli

Genre: Young adult, LGBTQIA+, Romance

Summary: 

Sixteen-year-old and not-so-openly gay Simon Spier prefers to save his drama for the school musical. But when an email falls into the wrong hands, his secret is at risk of being thrust into the spotlight. Now Simon is actually being blackmailed: if he doesn’t play wingman for class clown Martin, his sexual identity will become everyone’s business. Worse, the privacy of Blue, the pen name of the boy he’s been emailing, will be compromised.

With some messy dynamics emerging in his once tight-knit group of friends, and his email correspondence with Blue growing more flirtatious every day, Simon’s junior year has suddenly gotten all kinds of complicated. Now, change-averse Simon has to find a way to step out of his comfort zone before he’s pushed out—without alienating his friends, compromising himself, or fumbling a shot at happiness with the most confusing, adorable guy he’s never met.

Quotes I loved: 

“Why is straight the default? Everyone should have to declare one way or another, and it shouldn’t be this big awkward thing whether you’re straight, gay, bi, or whatever. I’m just saying.”

“People really are like house with vast rooms and tiny windows. And maybe it’s a good thing, the way we never stop surprising each other.”

Review: 

I can’t freaking even.

I loved this book like I love breathing. I need it to live. I might also now need this book to leave. I haven’t given it away to test it.

This was glorious. It was one of the most heart warming, wonderful, stupendous books I have ever read.

I would have loved to have read this book earlier in life, or had this book exist when I was younger because the subject matter is so damn important.

The characters are vulnerable, strong, loving, and flawed. They are beautiful, charismatic, amusing and just plain wonderful. Every word of this book was a freaking gift to me.

Love it. Can’t wait to see the movie. Can’t wait to read more by Becky Albertalli. Just love ❤

Book List 2017

Review: (Un)Masked by Anyta Sunday and Andy Gallo

Un-masked-fTitle: (Un)Masked

Authors: Anyta Sunday and Andy Gallo (self-published)

Genre: M/M paranormal romance, magical realism, new adult

Buy it here

Summary: 

Jay Walker has two wishes: to perform the play of his dreams alongside his best friend at Wellington’s Tory Street Theatre, and to meet that special someone. Someone he’d go to the ends of the earth for. Someone who might only exist in fairy tales.

When Jay meets accordion busker Lethe Cross, it’s like living a dream come true. Lethe’s music captivates Jay, and he resolves to meet the man who plays so beautifully. But then he discovers Lethe’s life is more like a nightmare. The phrase “down on his luck” can’t begin to cover it. Determined to help, Jay does some snooping for answers—and winds up on the wrong end of a centuries-old curse. The good news is there’s a way to break it. The bad news is it might cost Jay his life

Excerpt:

His music sailed over me, beautiful, seductive; the call of a siren—and I went willingly.

He stood on a concrete wall dividing the beach and pavement, cutting notes into a thousand beautiful fragments that the air caught and whipped around me.

His hips twisted and his fingers slid over the accordion keyboard as he commanded the bellows.  Like magic, the disappointment that had clung to me all morning dulled, and I sank against a pylon across and watched him. Watched, and wished the lip of the hoodie he wore would lift so I could see his face.

He swayed with the music, and I glimpsed blond hair and a scar splitting one brow.

Nearer and nearer, I inched, until I stood before him.

His song ended abruptly, and he stared down at me with haunted, tired eyes.

I opened my mouth to ask him to play again, to tell him he was truly talented, but he jumped onto the beach and fled.

My soul prickled, and I knew I would never be the same again.

One never was, when death lurked nearby.

Continue reading “Review: (Un)Masked by Anyta Sunday and Andy Gallo”

Book List 2017, Reviews

Review: The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue

63.jpgTitle: The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue

Author: Mackenzi Lee

Genre: Historical Fiction, LGBTQIA+

Summary: 

Henry “Monty” Montague was born and bred to be a gentleman, but he was never one to be tamed. The finest boarding schools in England and the constant disapproval of his father haven’t been able to curb any of his roguish passions—not for gambling halls, late nights spent with a bottle of spirits, or waking up in the arms of women or men.

But as Monty embarks on his grand tour of Europe, his quest for a life filled with pleasure and vice is in danger of coming to an end. Not only does his father expect him to take over the family’s estate upon his return, but Monty is also nursing an impossible crush on his best friend and traveling companion, Percy.

Still it isn’t in Monty’s nature to give up. Even with his younger sister, Felicity, in tow, he vows to make this yearlong escapade one last hedonistic hurrah and flirt with Percy from Paris to Rome. But when one of Monty’s reckless decisions turns their trip abroad into a harrowing manhunt that spans across Europe, it calls into question everything he knows, including his relationship with the boy he adores.

Witty, romantic, and intriguing at every turn, The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue is a sumptuous romp that explores the undeniably fine lines between friendship and love.

Review: 

This book is an insane amount of frustrating fun. I know that sounds like one of the weirder descriptions that I’ve given a novel but it’s true. The language in this book is flourishing and imaginative without being too descriptive which you all know is my Achilles heel when it comes to reading.

The plot is over the top in one of the best possible ways and to be honest it is not a book I would have chosen for myself. Which is why I am so glad it was included in an Owlcrate box which allows me to step outside of my comfort zone a little more and pick up a book I might otherwise have not read. There are pirates, there is alchemy, mystery, scandal and intrigue.

Olivia Pope would have her hands full with the Duke of Bourbon, that’s all I’m saying, y’all. That’s all. Because he is a mess, and not even a hot one.

The frustrating part of this novel comes with the knowledge that although the ignorance of some characters is contextual for the time, it is still a piss off. The racism made me grit my teeth and growl in frustration, so did the ablelism and the misogyny. When I say grit my teeth I mean for a moment, until I found myself ranting, alone, in my bedroom at about…1 in the morning. If this review does not make sense that would be why. Please forgive me.

How dare they treat my darling wonderful Percy in such a manner? And Felicity as well? Monty stop talking and start thinking. And Scipio. ❤

Characters:

Monty is the main character and he will piss you off, and make you love him in equal turns. He is one of those people who could be smart. He could be. And in the end he is (Thank God). But along the route to his character growth, and he does grow, you will want to smack him upside the head (gently) or rail against the attitude he gives the world (with reason). But he is wonderfully written, and I have a real soft spot.

Percy. Oh Percy. He is a character that could do with a bit more backbone, and yes, he does get it thankfully. More serious than his best friend, he fleshes out the pages and gives the book more humanity, and humility where it’s needed most. He also experiences quite a bit of growth over the course of the novel.

Felicity is tenacious with a capital T and has brains in spades, hidden behind fake dust-covers. She is badass. So freaking badass and definitely deserves a tale or two of her own.

The Duke. Oh the Duke. A true asshat. A real villain. I don’t like him at all.

Scipio is a character I need more of. He’s trying so hard to suppress his cinnamon roll side and it’s not really working for him. But make no mistake, I think he’s at least thinking about killing you.

Favourite Quotes:

“Just thinking about all that blood.” I nearly shudder. “Doesn’t it make you a bit squeamish?”
“Ladies haven’t the luxury of being squeamish about blood,” she replies, and Percy and I go fantastically red in unison.”

It’s beginning to feel like he’s shuffling his way through the seven deadly sins, in ascending order of my favourites.

I have lived most of my life as a devotee of the philosophy that a man should not see two sevens in one day…

Other Thoughts:

Take a minute before opening this book and enjoy the cover design because it is gorgeous and deserving of a second, third and fourth look.

Book List 2017, Reviews

Review: “DJ Dangerfield” by Anyta Sunday

60Title: DJ Dangerfield

Author: Anyta Sunday

Genre: LGBTQIA+, Romance

Summary: “. . . and you’re listening to 91.3 FM.”

Justin knows three things for sure about DJ Dangerfield:

He has some questionable taste in music.
He always provokes Justin into ringing in.
And he might just be his favorite weekly distraction.

But who is this DJ Dangerfield in Real Life? And will Justin like him in the flesh as much as on the air?

Review:

I enjoyed this novella thoroughly, though I wouldn’t have minded a little bit more of a slow burn.

Justin is an interesting character, a little rough around the edges maybe? Without true knowledge of who he is as of yet, without giving too much away. He loves music in a way I can certainly identify with, and I enjoyed him.

This is cute, sweet and made me want to snuggle down in a blanket and read a little slower. But instead I devoured it. This book is a familiar-ish trope, especially for those who read fan fiction and I enjoyed it quite a lot.

Book List 2017

Review: “Scorpio Hates Virgo” by Anyta Sunday

59Title: Scorpio Hates Virgo

Author: Anyta Sunday

Genre: LGBTQIA+ Romance

Summary: This year is all about healing the heart, Scorpio. It’s time to leave negative attitudes and stoic facades at the door and let others see the real, more vulnerable you.

Percy Freedman is not grieving. Absolutely not, take that back at once. No, he’s entirely sure that selling his dead aunt’s home and leaving the neighbors he’s known for years is the sane thing to do. Who in their right mind would keep the house that smells like all the hugs he’ll never have again?

Nobody, that’s who.

Well, except his cul-de-sac neighbors. They all seem to think some paint and new furniture will clean the emotional slate. They all want him to stay.

Even his nemesis, Callaghan Glover. Especially his nemesis, Callaghan Glover.

Lured into a game of Sherlock Gnomes, Percy finds himself hanging out with his neighbors more than might be considered healthy. Along with juggling new and surprising verbal grenades from Cal, and his burgeoning friendship with Gnomber9, Percy is starting to wonder if selling might have been the grief talking after all…

That’s right, Scorpio. With a little patience, heartbreak might be a thing of the past…

Review:

Anyta Sunday does it again, leaving me with a romance that had me flipping the pages so quickly that my poor Kobo kept freezing up. It just couldn’t keep up with my voracious appetite for more of this story and the nerdy, wonderful characters within it.

Percy is a character that is very identifiable to some, I believe. Afraid of the word home, and all the “trappings” that might come with it. Afraid of commitment, even though he does want his own happiness. Instead of trying to stick close to the one place he feels most comfortable, cared for and loved he seems to spend most of the book fighting against those feelings instead of treasuring them.

Callaghan amuses me for so many different reasons, including his verbosity. He is my kind of guy, with a word for every occasion, and a dictionary as a weapon. Sometimes almost literally. His love of dinosaurs is honestly what drew me to this book, as I’ve been obsessed since a child, and I want to own every single one of his t-shirts.

Their relationship is the type of slow burn I do love to read, and their quips and jibes at each other are truly amusing. Callaghan’s family honestly felt like spectators in the best possible way. Ellie and Marg have their own kind of heart, filling the pages they’re in with love, and amusement. It is the heart of this novel which burns brightest.

I can’t wait for the next Anyta Sunday book I can get my hands on, as she has truly made me fall in love with her writing.

** Received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. **