Book List 2018, Reviews

Review: Building Forever by Kelly Jensen

building foreverTitle: Building Forever

Author: Kelly Jensen

Genre: LGBTQIA+ Romance

Summary:

Charlie King is doing fine. Sure, he’s a widower raising a teenage daughter who just got her first boyfriend, his book series isn’t writing itself, and he has a crush on his new neighbor — the guy next door. But everything’s just fine.

Simon Lynley is doing better. He moved to Bethlehem to fall out of love and rebuild his career. An affair with his neighbor isn’t part of the plan, but the attraction between them is too hard to ignore.

But when Simon’s ex follows him to Pennsylvania seeking reconciliation, and Charlie’s life starts to feel like a video on repeat, everything comes apart. Charlie worries that he’s failing as a father, and Simon is a distraction he can’t afford. Meanwhile Simon doesn’t know if he could survive being left again, and he hasn’t come all this way to make the same mistakes. But despite their fears, it’s only together that they’ll find the strength to slay old foes and build the forever they’ve been waiting for.

My Thoughts:

Loooove is in the aaaaiiiir!

The love between the two main characters in this book. My love for the two main characters and the plot, and the author and everything.

Simon is a character who I just want to wrap in blankets and hug him so so so tight because he needs to learn how to open up. He needs love! Better love than stupid Brian provided him with.

And Charlie, oh wonderful father, wonderful writer Charlie who needs to look around him every so often and not into the past. He needs to learn how to look forward.

This book hurts, but it’s so good all at the same time and none of this review makes sense and I almost don’t care but you seriously just need to pick it up and read it. Go to your local bookstore, your local library and give it a read. You will thank me for bathing you in some wonderful warmth in the incoming holiday season, with all the cold weather upon us.

So good.

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Book List 2018, Reviews

Review: Norse Mythology by Neil Gaiman

norse mythologyTitle: Norse Mythology

Author: Neil Gaiman

Genre: History, mythology, super awesome audiobook

Summary:

Neil Gaiman, long inspired by ancient mythology in creating the fantastical realms of his fiction, presents a bravura rendition of the Norse gods and their world from their origin though their upheaval in Ragnarok. 

In Norse Mythology, Gaiman stays true to the myths in envisioning the major Norse pantheon: Odin, the highest of the high, wise, daring, and cunning; Thor, Odin’s son, incredibly strong yet not the wisest of gods; and Loki—son of a giant—blood brother to Odin and a trickster and unsurpassable manipulator.

Gaiman fashions these primeval stories into a novelistic arc that begins with the genesis of the legendary nine worlds and delves into the exploits of deities, dwarfs, and giants. Through Gaiman’s deft and witty prose, these gods emerge with their fiercely competitive natures, their susceptibility to being duped and to duping others, and their tendency to let passion ignite their actions, making these long-ago myths breathe pungent life again.

My Thoughts:

Oh my gods. This is one of the best books I’ve read and the best audiobook I have ever listened to.

I now own a full Neil Gaiman audiobook collection because this man is so nice to listen to. His care for his writing and subject matter really does shine through in his reading of this work.

I have long loved reading about the different myths, and legends from other countries, and did read rather extensively about the Norse Gods when I was in college, but this was one of the most wonderful re-tellings I’ve ever had the pleasure to read.

There is no dryness to this writing, but rather life is breathed into every tale, injected with humour and tragedy where needed. The Gods come to life in a way they have not in many years, and with it a different point of view of Norse life.

I would recommend this to anyone who loves Gaiman, mythology, or just plain good literature.

Book List 2018

Review: Imperial Stout by Layla Reyne

imperial stoutTitle: Imperial Stout

Author: Layla Reyne

Genre: M/M Romance, Suspense

Series: Trouble Brewing

Summary: It’s a good thing assistant US attorney Dominic Price co-owns a brewery. He could use a cold one. Nic’s star witness has just been kidnapped, his joint operation with the FBI is in jeopardy, his father’s shady past is catching up with him and the hot new special agent in San Francisco is the kind of distraction best handled with a stiff drink.

Kidnap and rescue expert Cameron Byrne has his own ideas about how to handle Nic, but his skills are currently needed elsewhere. The by-the-book FBI agent goes deep undercover as a member of an infamous heist crew in order to save Nic’s witness, break up the crew and close the case before anyone else gets hurt. Nic in particular.

Things heat up when Cam falls for Nic, and the witness falls for Cam. As the crew’s suspicions grow, Cam must decide how far he’s willing to go—and how far into his own dark past he’s willing to dive—to get everyone out alive.

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

My Thoughts:

This book probably would’ve been a little bit easier for me to understand if I had previously read the series which it had spun off of.

Since I did not, I was in for a tiiiiny bit of confusion. And when I say tiny I mean that there was a few times where I actually found myself re-reading things, and whole chapters to make sure I understood what the heck was going on.

That being said, the banter, camraderie and teamwork between almost all of the characters in this novel kind of made it for me.

Cam and Nic made up the rest. They were interesting enough to keep me looking, and trying to imagine the scenarios they found themselves in. The backstory was there just enough to keep me from putting down the book and wondering if I should read the whole other series first.

It was refreshing in a way to have there be two characters who were within the LGBTQIA+ family and not have it be the end of the world for other characters, like some huge big thing. Because frankly it shouldn’t be. The two characters were accepted, without argument. It was nice. I enjoyed it.

I think before I do read the second one I will give Reyne’s other series a lookie-loo so that I fully understand what is going on this time around 🙂

Book List 2018, Reviews

Review: The Witch of Little Italy by Suzanne Palmieri

the witch of little italyTitle: The Witch of Little Italy

Author: Suzanne Palmieri

Genre: Magical realism?

Summary:

In Suzanne Palmieri’s charming debut, The Witch of Little Italy, you will be bewitched by the Amore women. When young Eleanor Amore finds herself pregnant, she returns home to her estranged family in the Bronx, called by “The Sight” they share now growing strong within her.

She has only been back once before when she was ten years old during a wonder-filled summer of sun-drenched beaches, laughter and cartwheels. But everyone remembers that summer except her. Eleanor can’t remember anything from before she left the house on her last day there.

With her past now coming back to her in flashes, she becomes obsessed with recapturing those memories. Aided by her childhood sweetheart, she learns the secrets still haunting her magical family, secrets buried so deep they no longer know how they began. And, in the process, unlocks a mystery over fifty years old—The Day the Amores Died—and reveals, once and for all, a truth that will either heal or shatter the Amore clan.

My Thoughts:

Funnily enough this is actually one of the first books I ever bought digitally. I then proceeded to not read it for a very long time for reasons I cannot explain.

When reading it I could not figure out why the heck it took me so long to read it because this book is captivating. There was just something about how the magic and the mystery of the Amore clan was woven into what could’ve been an almost over the top plot.

I know, I’m weird, to me it wasn’t the magic that was over the top, it was everything else.

It was the mysteries and the little touches of magic that kept me going within this book but I can’t really reveal too much without giving it away and spoiling the whole novel.

The cast of characters are interesting, and I thoroughly enjoyed flipping the pages of this book, which definitely helped to pull me out of my reading slump.

 

Book List 2018, Reviews

Review: Love in a Small Town by Zoe York

love in a small townTitle: Love in a Small Town

Author: Zoe York

Genre: Romance

Series: Pine Harbor

Summary: 

Police officer and army reservist Rafe Minelli knows better than to tell his wife no, particularly since they aren’t married anymore. She can’t hightail it out of town, though, not when they’ve finally broken through the post-divorce cold war status quo.

Olivia Minelli needs to leave Pine Harbour. It’s just too hard to see Rafe moving on without her—even if he says he doesn’t want to. But when a new and exciting job falls into her lap, she needs to choose: protect her heart, or take the new job and risk getting emotionally entangled with her ex-husband. Again.

My thoughts:

Whenever I can’t get into reading again I always end up going for something like this. Something that is relatively light, something that can be read very quickly without too much investment.

That does not mean that this book is bad, because it’s not if you take it for what it is. It is a warm, sometimes sad, but mostly warm and romantic.

Olivia is a pretty independent character, but you get the impression that she wasn’t always. She’s learning to say what she wants, and how she wants to be treated which is something that I really do appreciate.

Rafe is kind of a mess, and unfortunately in my opinion he remained messy for quite some time.

Book List 2018

Review: In the Belly of Jonah by Sandra Brannan

in the belly of jonah.jpgTitle: In the Belly of Jonah

Author: Sandra Brannan

Genre: Thriller

Summary: In the Belly of Jonah is a fast-paced mystery with a likable protagonist and an intricately woven narrative brimming with bizarre yet believable twists. The first in a series, the book expertly lays the groundwork for Liv Bergen, amateur sleuth, and her love interest, FBI Agent Streeter Pierce. Liv becomes involved in the investigation of the murder of Jill Brannigan, a summer intern at the limestone mine Liv manages near Fort Collins, Colorado (a breathtaking setting that unwittingly becomes an accessory to crime). In doing so, she inadvertently puts her friends, her family, and herself at risk of being swallowed in the belly of a madman bloated with perverse appetites for women, surrealistic art, and renown.

As the gripping plot of In the Belly of Jonah unfolds, Liv Bergen takes her place alongside the best female crime-solvers as a woman with smarts, self-confidence, and intuitive savvy.

Review: 

This book was…very…extremely brutal. It was so well written, that my crazy imagination could sadly imagine every single gross detail. Sometimes I wish I couldn’t, but man Brannan is a master of getting you to be a little squicked.

The characters in this novel are full fledged, and interesting. Liv especially, with her fiery nature did capture my attention as did her relationship with Streeter.

This book is driven with strong female characters. And the plot is driven by a total psycho, one that you will not soon forget even after finishing reading the book. The crimes within it are so gruesome they feel real.

This book would be good for anyone who likes a good thriller, and a mystery that’s more on the side of hate, than a crime of passion.

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

Book List 2018

Review: True to You by Tony Correia

TRUE TO YOUTitle: True to You

Author: Tony Correia

Genre: Romance, LGBTQIA+

Summary: 

Jorge Gomez is a gay teen from a working-class family who is expelled from school after fighting with bullies on behalf of another kid. He starts training to become a pro wrestler, and finds that he has the talent that could make it a promising career. At the first wrestling show Jorge attends, he meets Thom, who is from a politically active upper middle-class family. It’s a case of opposites attracting, but Jorge feels threatened when he learns that Thom’s ex-boyfriend is determined to win Thom back.

Jorge tries to reconcile his sexual orientation with the image and loyalty demanded of a career as a wrestler. Looking to jumpstart his career, he switches to a wrestling club that promises to make him a star. When he adopts a flamboyantly gay “bad guy” wrestling persona, Thom calls him out for promoting homophobia. Jorge reacts badly with the result that he is kicked out of the club and is dumped by Thom. The crisis leads Jorge to find a way to be true to himself and who he is, and to reconcile with Thom.

Review:

Jorge Gomez is a character with a lot of heart. This is something you definitely see from the beginning of this novella. He can’t stand bullies, and he wants to be the best person that he can. But he also wants to be the best wrestler that he can which leads him down a path of almost self-hating homophobia.

Thom tries hard as well, and does his best to support Jorge but knows when not to. Therefore he knows when to step back for himself and Jorge, which is one of the most realistic things I’ve read in one of these stores.

That being said this would be all the better if it were just a little bit longer. The characters could have been fleshed out more, the story as well and it would have felt less rushed.

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

Book List 2018

Review: Good Boys by Keelan Ellis

good boysTitle: Good Boys

Author: Keelan Ellis

Series: The Soloman Mysteries

Genre: Crime/Mystery

Summary: 

Having risen through the ranks of the Baltimore City Police Department to the elite Homicide unit as an out gay man, Paul Solomon has always prided himself on his integrity and self-reliance. As the last vestiges of his failed eight-year-long relationship fall away, Paul finds himself adrift, forced to rely on others to help him find his footing again.

When Paul and his partner, Tim Cullen, are called to the scene of a double murder of two high school students on the city’s west side, Paul finds the lives and deaths of the two boys hitting closer to home than he’d expected. With his personal life in upheaval, he struggles with the perspective needed to untangle the web of secrets and lies that led to their demise.

While working his way through the complicated case, Paul starts getting his life back together. After a date with an enigmatic young man takes a dark turn, he reaches out to an old flame who brings some much-needed lightness to his life. But Paul finds that relationships, like murder investigations, are never as simple as he’d like.

Review:

This book swept me up and didn’t put me down until long after I’d turned the last page. It was pretty damn awesome, if I’m going to be honest, without leaving too many spoilers laying about.

Paul is not perfect, he’s imperfect. He’s not the best partner, not even the best detective but he does what he can and he is determined to do as well as he can in his life and his job, even when he’s in a bit of a slump. He also doesn’t take any bullshit from anyone which I do like.

The other characters are not as fully fleshed out as I would like but I have a feeling they will be later on in the series.

The mystery is pretty solid, and the plot is not slow moving. I look forward to the next work in this series.

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

Book List 2018

Review: A Touch of Magic by Isabelle Adler

a touch of magicTitle: A Touch of Magic

Author: Isabelle Adler

Genre: Fantasy, LGBTQ Romance

Summary: After returning to the straight and narrow, Cary Westfield hopes to rebuild his life as a stage magician. Only thing is, the success of his new show is entirely dependent on a strange medallion inherited from his late grandfather—an amulet that holds a rare and inexplicable power to captivate the wearer’s audience.

Ty prides himself on his ability to obtain any item of magical significance—for the right price. When a mysterious client hires him to steal a magical amulet from a neophyte illusionist, he’s sure it will be a quick and easy job, earning him a nice chunk of cash.

As it turns out, nothing is sure when greed and powerful magic are at play. When a mob boss with far-reaching aspirations beats Ty to the snatch, Cary and Ty form an unlikely partnership to get the amulet back. The unexpected spark of attraction between them is a welcome perk, but each man has his own plan for the prize.

All bets are off, however, when it is revealed the magical amulet holds a darker secret than either of them had bargained for.

Review:

This is a book I wish there was more of. It was good as is, but it left me a little bit hungry for more, in particular for learning more about the characters within.

Ty is an enigma, wrapped in a….no I’m just kidding. He’s a bad boy with a heart of gold and I do truly love him. He’s lovely, and he might possibly have an inkling of it.

Cary is a sweetheart, but definitely not as sweet as he seems. He’s a total secret badass.

My favourite character though was definitely Bas, who is flamboyant and interesting in equal measures.

This book is a fun heist-like romp. I thoroughly enjoyed those parts of it, but this book is not the greatest if you are looking for slow-burn romance. But if you’re looking for instant attraction, and gratification then this is definitely the book for you.

I’m excited to see this universe expand, and the magic within it to do so as well.

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

 

Book List 2018, Reviews

Review: Listen to Your Heart by Kasie West

listen to your heart.jpgTitle: Listen to Your Heart

Author: Kasie West

Summary: 

Talking to other people isn’t Kate Bailey’s favorite activity. She’d much rather be out on the lake, soaking up the solitude and sunshine. So when her best friend, Alana, convinces Kate to join their high school’s podcast, Kate is not expecting to be chosen as the host. Now she’ll have to answer calls and give advice on the air? Impossible.

But to Kate’s surprise, she turns out to be pretty good at the hosting gig. Then the podcast gets in a call from an anonymous guy, asking for advice about his unnamed crush. Kate is pretty sure that the caller is gorgeous Diego Martinez, and even surer that the girl in question is Alana. Kate is excited for her friend … until Kate herself starts to develop feelings for Diego. Suddenly, Kate finds that while doling out wisdom to others may be easy, asking for help is tougher than it looks, and following your own advice is even harder.

Kasie West’s adorable story of secrets, love, and friendship is sure to win over hearts everywhere. 

My Thoughts:

Do you like happiness? Do you like sunshine? Do you like lakes? Do you like romance? What about podcasts?

If you answered yes to most of those, no to romance then maybe this is not the book for you. But if you answered yes to any of those, and yes to romance then maybe you should pick up this lovely summer read and give it a go.

This book is not perfect. No book ever is. But I’ll be damned if I didn’t find this one perfectly enjoyable for a summer day that’s cool where it’s supposed to be warm.

The protagonist, Kate, or Kat if you hate her is unsure, yet confident in herself in a way I appreciate.

Her best friend is loyal in a way a lot of teenage girls are not portrayed.

Diego is lovely. He’s awkward and charming and my kind of lead. He’s sweet and yet sucks at being straight forward and should probably learn to be so but it makes for some great reading in this case so I won’t complain too much.

The podcast as a plot device was very entertaining and I found myself wanting more of those snippets as they were really enjoyable.