QR: Pining for Perfect – Ki Brightly

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“His voice goes soft and deep, sweet on the ear yet nothing like what goes out over the airwaves. This is something special.”

 

In a word: Maybe read the thing.

 

The Summary: (from Goodreads) Stokely leads a solitary life, trying to do all the right things. He has a solid, respectable job, a properly decorated, respectable apartment, and goes to work every single day, no matter what. But it’s Christmas, and he hates Christmas, especially since his one guilty pleasure, listening to Asher Banks on the radio, is ruined with upbeat, holiday garbage.

Asher is the polar opposite—he loves Christmas to a fault and schedules himself into the ground with fundraisers to help the local community. When Asher and Stokely meet during one of the holiday spectacles Asher has thrown together, sparks fly, but neither one of them has ever had a real Christmas—or a real home. Will they be able to make one with each other?

 

[available for purchase as Dreamspinner Press, Amazon.ca, Chapters, and Barnes & Noble; also available as part of the Dreamspinner Press 2017 Advent Calendar set]

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QR: The Mature Man’s Guide to Surviving Change – Chris Scully

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“I didn’t do jealousy, but in the back of my mind, I knew I’d been gripped with it from the moment Perry announced his intention to date again.”

 

In a word: Read the thing.

 

The Summary: (from Goodreads) In the sunny playground of Palm Springs, growing up was something confirmed bachelor and bad-boy chef Joel avoided at all costs—until a close friend’s death made him reevaluate his priorities. Ever since, he’s been dedicated to helping his widowed friend Perry get back on his feet by teaching him to cook and providing a shoulder to cry on. But when Perry announces that he’s ready to start dating again and then begins receiving gifts from an anonymous secret Santa, Joel is forced to confront the feelings he’s suppressed for so long.

As Joel struggles with jealousy and guilt amid the holiday season, he must decide if he’s ready to grow up and reach for what he’s always wanted but never thought he could have.

 

[available for purchase at Dreamspinner Press, Amazon.ca, Chapters, and Barnes & Noble; also available as part of the Dreamspinner Press 2017 Advent Calendar set]

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QR: Hope Is the Thing With Feathers – Brandon Witt

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“Who the hell answers the door naked?”

 

In a word: Read the thing.

 

The Summary: (from Goodreads) Fifty-six-year-old Samuel Phillips is all alone on his small farm in the Ozarks, with nothing but a menagerie of chickens, pheasants, turkeys, and other birds as company—which is just the way he likes it. In fact, if Samuel had his way, he’d tear down his neighbor’s house so his solitude could be absolute. One day Faloola, his favorite turkey, escapes, forcing Samuel to make the trek next door. When Raymond Webber—sixty-seven—answers the door as naked as the day he was born, Samuel doesn’t know whether he’s more annoyed… or attracted. The two men are opposites in every way—Samuel is serious, while Raymond believes in free love and herbal relaxation. The weeks leading up to Christmas are rocky to say the least, but some holiday spirit might help them get past their differences….

 

[available for purchase at Dreamspinner Press, Amazon.ca, Chapters, and Barnes & Noble; also available as part of the Dreamspinner Press 2017 Advent Calendar set]

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QR: The Peppermint Schnapps Predicament – Clare London

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“Frankie kisses me again. His mouth tastes of chocolate, even after all the making out.”

 

In a word: Read the thing.

 

The Summary: (from Goodreads) Frankie Faraday is a promising young salesperson at Mason’s Emporium. Bill Mason is his boss, the son of the store’s founder, and the object of Frankie’s long-suffering, deeply devoted crush. Bill is steady and sober; Frankie is frivolous and flaky. Or so they seem to each other, until the night of the annual inventory, when they’re trapped together in the Seasonal Gifts storeroom, with nothing but candy and peppermint schnapps to sustain them until they’re rescued. And then the real truths—and something definitely more intimate—emerge!

 

[available for purchase at Dreamspinner Press, Amazon.ca, and Chapters; also available as part of the Dreamspinner Press 2017 Advent Calendar set]

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My Roommate’s a Jock? Well, Crap! (Jock #1) – Wade Kelly

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“But this was Ellis. Ellis! The guy who kissed me. Ellis! The sexy soccer player who invaded my dreams every night.”

 

In a word: Maybe read the thing? I’m thinking that this book just wasn’t for me. There really wasn’t all that much I really liked about it. At most it was a ‘meh’ read for me. The two leads are Cole and Ellis; Cole grates on my nerves most of the time (which really sucks because the majority of the story is told in his first-person point of view), and Ellis doesn’t seem to have much personality beyond ‘walking sexuality crisis’. A lot of Cole and Ellis’ problems getting together could’ve been prevented by them just communicating like the adults they are supposed to be (they’re both a few years into college), but they don’t, naturally, because drama. There are also a few friends of Ellis’ that show up quite often, but I still can’t really decide what to feel about them. On the one hand, they’re nice guys, but on the other they also kinda rub me the wrong way (a part of that is due to the large-ish focus on religion I wasn’t expecting). Also the story just trucks along with misunderstandings and low-key drama until suddenly there’s some major hate that shows up near the end. That felt kinda weird and out of place. On the whole I’m thinking that the story just wasn’t the right fit for me; the humour fell flat, the narration got on my nerves, and I couldn’t really make myself feel much for the two leads.

 

The Summary: (from Goodreads) It’s easy to become cynical when life never goes your way.

Cole Reid has been a social recluse since he was fifteen, when he was outed by his high school baseball team. Since then, his obsessive-compulsive behavior and sarcastic nature have driven away most of the population, and everyone else hates him because he’s gay. As he sees it, he’s bound to repulse any prospective friends, let alone boyfriends, so why bother?

By the time Cole enters college, he’s become an anal-retentive loner—but it’s not a problem until his roommate graduates and the housing department assigns Ellis Montgomery to move in with Cole. Ellis is messy, gorgeous, straight, and worst of all, a “jock”!

During a school year filled with frat buddies, camping expeditions, and meddling parents, Cole and Ellis develop a friendship that turns Cole’s glass-half-empty outlook on its head. There must be more to Ellis than a fun-loving jock—and maybe Cole’s reawakening libido has rekindled his hope for more than camaraderie.

 

[available for purchase at Dreamspinner Press, Amazon.ca, Book Depository, Chapters, and Barnes & Noble]

 

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Colors – Russell J. Sanders

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“We may be two screwed up messes, but at least we’ve got each other.”

 

In a word: Read the thing. So, here’s the thing with this one: it’s not actually a romance. There is definitely romance in it, but it’s not the main plot of the story. The dilemma of who Neil will end up with is pretty much an afterthought compared to, what I think is, the actual plot: Neil dealing with the sexual abuse he suffered as a child. Really, everything relating to the abuse are the better parts of the book. Mostly they’re definitely the better written parts. There’s so much emotion put into those parts, from horror to worry to guilt to anger to determination to triumph, that’s mostly missing from other parts of the book. And even when the scenes aren’t directly addressing the abuse, the lingering effects are still present in Neil’s day-to-day behaviour and they were pretty consistent. Honestly, I don’t feel like we got adequate closure with that storyline, but it really is the best part of the book for me. (Though I want to note that the book’s summary makes no mention of the abuse, but that is literally happening in the very first scene, so be careful with that.) The parts of the book I wasn’t especially crazy about revolved around relationship drama (with Neil’s girlfriend and the new boy at school that Neil suddenly has a crush on) and a lot about theatre productions that is probably only interesting to people who are actually into theatre and would understand all the references and in-jokes. Honestly though, I was mostly all set to not like this book because the first half had a lot of annoying dialogue and theatre nonsense, but the second half really blew me away.

 

The Summary: (from Goodreads) High school senior Neil Darrien is a budding musical theater star. He has it all-a beautiful girlfriend, a scholarship at a prestigious school, and plenty of chances to showcase his talent. But when Zane Jeffrey comes to town and immediately lands a spot in the school show choir, Neil is jealous. What Neil didn’t count on, though, is Zane’s charm and humor, and the two soon become friends.

Melissa, Neil’s girlfriend, notices Zane monopolizing Neil and draws Neil into her church. There Neil discovers a situation he knows he needs to fix, but if he does, a deep, dark secret that could cost him his future career might come out.

When his relationship with Melissa becomes rocky, Neil is drawn to Zane in a way that is more than friendship.

 

[available for purchase at Harmony Ink Press, Amazon.ca, Book Depository, Chapters, and Barnes & Noble]

 

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Gives Light (Gives Light #1) – Rose Christo

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“A future without Rafael felt unfathomable in a way that took me by surprise.”

 

In a word: Read the thing. I really, really enjoyed this book. 16-year-old Skylar St. Clair is our main character and narrator and this story is all about him. But it’s also a bit more than that. This story is kind of an exploration of Skylar’s feelings about his family and his heritage and his past, and it’s beautiful and sad and uplifting all at once. Skylar’s father has suddenly disappeared, leaving Skylar all alone, and so he ends up being sent to his grandmother on the reservation where he was born but hasn’t seen since he was five. Skylar is half Shoshone Plains First Nations, but he looks completely white and he’s lived off-reservation since he was a child so he knows nothing about that part of himself. He’s terrified when he first arrives on the Nettlebush Reserve, but over the summer he makes friends and is accepted into a community he’s been estranged from for almost 11 years. This story does have romance in it, but it’s mostly about Skylar learning about his roots and his history and how to live in a community that he should’ve been a part of all along. Another thing that this story touches on is all the complicated feelings Skylar has about his mother’s murder, the murderer, and falling in love with the son the murderer left behind. There is nothing really fast-paced happening in the story, it’s a calm and smooth read, and it was totally enjoyable from start to finish. I can’t wait to see what happens in the sequels.

 

The Summary: (from Goodreads) “Skylar is my name, tragically.”

Sixteen-year-old Skylar is witty, empathetic, sensitive–and mute. Skylar hasn’t uttered a single word since his mother died eleven years ago, a senseless tragedy he’s grateful he doesn’t have to talk about.

When Skylar’s father mysteriously vanishes one summer afternoon, Skylar is placed in the temporary custody of his only remaining relative, an estranged grandmother living on an Indian reservation in the middle of arid Arizona.

Adapting to a brand new culture is the least of Skylar’s qualms. Because Skylar’s mother did not die a peaceful death. Skylar’s mother was murdered eleven years ago on the Nettlebush Reserve. And her murderer left behind a son.

And he is like nothing Skylar has ever known.

 

[available for purchase at Amazon.ca, Book Depository, and Barnes & Noble]

 

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