Whatever. Or how junior year became totally F$@KED – S. J. Goslee

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“It’s like the apocalypse came, only instead of nuclear bombs and zombies, Mike gets school participation, gay thoughts, and motherfucking cheerleaders.”

 

In a word: Read the thing. I loved this. So many feelings, so many laughs. The only reason I was really interested in this book was because I’m a fan of the author’s Teen Wolf fanfiction (just a note: this book was never fanfiction, it’s a completely original story) and her writing style. Also the blurb was hilarious. Totally worth it. Mike Tate’s girlfriend has just informed him that he’s gay (and he wouldn’t believe her, except that he feels it’s actually a little bit true), and that seems to be the catalyst that turns his junior year of high school from ‘business as usual’ to ‘scary and a bit insane’. I enjoyed reading about Mike’s personal journey and how he interacts with everything and everyone that happens in his life (though even by the end I was confused by whether or not Mike identifies as gay or bi, it seems to go back and forth a bit). There is a romance in the story, between Mike and another boy he’s known for forever, but there’s also major focus on Mike coming to terms with his sexuality and his relationships with his large (and hilariously entertaining) group of friends. I really, really liked this book, even though I’m not the target audience, and I definitely recommend it.

 

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

 

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Blue Steel Chain (Trowchester Blues #3) – Alex Beecroft

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“After all, this was supposed to be about learning to be his own person, yes? And what if his own person was the kind of person who wanted to be with James?”

 

In a word: Maybe read the thing. I read through this pretty quickly, but I’m not sure I liked it much. Aidan, one half of the main couple, starts out the story in an extremely abusive relationship, and the narrative doesn’t shy away from that one bit. On the one hand, it certainly doesn’t sugarcoat anything; on the other hand, it wasn’t exactly entertaining to read about Aidan being controlled and getting the shit kicked out of him by a man who’s supposed to love him. Also I don’t feel as if the hurt/comfort payoff was worth it in the end, especially since it seemed to get interrupted with everything else going on. There’s a lot going on in this story, and I’d rather it focused more on Aidan’s healing and his budding relationship with James. James, by the way, was going through his own tough time with his own ex-partner (though nothing like what was hinted at in the book’s summary), which would’ve been better if it’d had the room to be properly fleshed out instead of just popping up now and again. The first half of the book, even with how heavy and dark it was, was the part I liked best because it seemed like it was more focused on setting up Aidan’s terrible lot in life so that James could come in and rescue him and then their relationship could develop (the hurt and then the comfort). But then after the hurt was over, we got a lot of confusion and all the comfort was mixed up with James struggling with his sexual desire for Aidan while Aidan was discovering his asexuality in the background. And then the situation with James’ ex-partner kept butting in and ruining the flow. I’ll say that this is a compelling read, but I feel like the second half doesn’t really make up for all that went on in the first half.

 

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

 

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A Wounded Promise (Sam’s Café Romances #2) – Ashavan Doyon

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Will Russ be mad at me? Which wasn’t nearly as bad as the other thought. Am I allowed to be mad at Russ?

 

In a word: Maybe read the thing? I had a few problems with this one, and I’m not sure which problems are down to bad writing and which are due to the fact that I didn’t read the book that came before this one. Russ and Justin got together in the previous book (The King’s Mate) and this book continues their story. While I was reading this book it felt a lot like the author was banking on me already having read the first book. It kinda felt like being dumped into a story already in progress, with minimal character introductions and people making references to events in ways that make it seem like I should already know about them. Sam and Russ in particular are always talking about past events and the text doesn’t explain anything about them, but I don’t know if that’s bad writing and we will be learning about those events eventually, or if it was already explained in the first book and I’m missing out because I didn’t read it. Although I also had problems with the writing in other ways, mostly with the dialogue and the (many) sex scenes. Also I never felt that I connected with any of the characters, I felt for them and their problems, but I didn’t really care about them. Speaking of problems, this story is also really bleak. The main focus of it is about Russ and Justin confiding in each other about issues they have about their past and how they are trying to work through them and learning to work through them together. It’s mostly a downer and pretty heavy. Also I don’t think I was ever really sold on Russ and Justin as a couple; I never really got invested in them.

 

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

 

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When All the World Sleeps – Lisa Henry & J. A. Rock

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“Bel didn’t even know what the hell he meant by trying to help Whitlock, what he planned to do, or whether it would work. He just knew he had to try.”

 

In a word: Read the thing! But oh holy hell be careful because this one is dark (still totally loved it though). This is definitely a romance story, but there is so much more going on here. The whole situation, and a lot of the characters, are really screwed up. It makes for some intense reading. I got sucked into the story and just could not bring myself to put this book down for anything. It’s close to 400 pages long and I got through it in one day, I just had to keep reading to see what would happen next. Daniel and Bel’s relationship is the farthest thing from easy considering all the shit they have to deal with, both from the people around them and each other. Daniel is hated by pretty much everyone in town, including his family, for things he doesn’t have any control over. He appears to be close to reaching the end of his rope at the beginning of the story; and he probably would have had it not been for Bel. The great part about Bel’s effect on Daniel is that Bel doesn’t technically ‘save’ him. Daniel at the end of the book is leagues better than Daniel at the beginning, but his problems are still very present and very real. Bel’s love doesn’t cure anything, but it does help Daniel to realize that he’s worth something as a person and that he doesn’t deserve to be constantly drowning in guilt. Bel also goes through his own development, because he can’t love Daniel and be the same person he was before he really got to know him. Their relationship is sometimes beautiful and sometimes heartbreaking (and sometimes cheesy), and it’s quite the read to see them from point A to point B. This might be a difficult book for some people to get through, because the dark stuff is pretty dark and all of Daniel and Bel’s successes are hard won, but I like to think that the ending is all worth it.

 

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

 

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There’s Something About Ari (Bluewater Bay #2) – L. B. Gregg

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“You dropped off the planet for five years, and now you come back like hey, no big deal, and we’re supposed to picked up where we left off? It’s not that easy.”

 

In a word: Read the thing. I really liked this one a lot and I really wish there was more of it. This is the second installment in the Bluewater Bay series, and it has nothing at all to do with the plot of the first book (though Levi Pritchard does make a brief appearance here). Buck and Ari are the main focus of this book and story is all about their second chance at romance with each other. The two of them were best friends as children but grew apart in high school when Buck fell in love with Ari and didn’t know how to handle it. Then, on what ended up being one of the worst days in Buck’s life, Ari left town and Buck, only to suddenly move into the house next door after five years of no contact. The whole book is told through Buck’s first person point of view, so we get a lot of insight into how much he was hurt by what happened to him as a teenager. I really wish we could’ve gotten Ari’s point of view and his feelings from the source because, with only one side of the story, Ari comes off a lot like an asshole in most of his interactions with Buck in the present. All that aside, I really felt for Buck and Ari and was really happy that they could get their second chance, even if they were both being jerks for a lot of the reconciliation process. I really do wish the book was longer. It’s less than 100 pages long, and I feel that it ended kinda abruptly. I’d really like to have seen maybe an epilogue of the two of them together as a happy couple (though maybe they’ll show up again later in the series?). I also wouldn’t say no to more scenes of Buck interacting with his brother Charlie, because those two are pretty fun to read about.

 

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

 

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Normal Enough (Wrench Wars #2) – Marie Sexton

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“Being inside cars like this one did something to him – something that wasn’t normal, by most people’s standards.”

 

In a word: Read the thing. I didn’t like this one as much as I did the first one, but that was mostly due to my personal preferences. It’s a good story about a man learning to be comfortable with himself and overcome his insecurities about his sex and social lives. It’s not even really a romance story, not completely. The main arc of the story seems to be mostly about Kasey, the main character, learning to be comfortable in his own skin. It just so happens that it’s a potential for a romantic connection that kicks it off. Rich, sexy lawyer Brandon seems like insecure Kasey’s complete opposite, but that doesn’t do anything to stifle their attraction to each other. I thought that they moved a bit quick, considering Kasey’s anxieties, but at least they didn’t exchange ‘I love you’s at any point. Their relationship, at this point, seems more about sex and companionship than love, but the two of them are good together. There is also some good development on Kasey’s part in regards to his relationships with his co-worker at the garage and his estranged brother, which is where I felt the heart of the story really was and would have liked to see fleshed out more.

 

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

 

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Did Somebody Order a Pizza? – L. A. Witt

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“It had been over in a matter of minutes – one conversation to end them all, as it were – but we’d had years of history before he’d decided it was over. The fact was, we were in love.”

 

In a word: Read the thing. This one gave me feels. Paul and Cory were high school sweethearts and planning on being together for the long haul; until Cory chose his fraternity over Paul when they were freshmen. The story starts about a year and a half after that, with Paul and Cory suddenly meeting again for the first time since they parted ways. It’s told from Paul’s first-person point of view so we really get to know just how much he was hurt by Cory’s actions and what it means to him to see him again. Paul really isn’t as over Cory as he’d like to be and now he struggles with the choice of whether to give Cory another chance or to just let him go. I felt so bad for Paul while I was reading this, especially when Cory first appears because he’s a bit of an asshole when he shows up. And that’s even before we really find out what the boys were to each other and what really happened that caused Paul and Cory to separate. I didn’t feel like things were completely resolved by the end (I never really warmed up to Cory), but it’s definitely a hopeful ending.

 

[available for purchase at Amazon.ca, also available in a bundle]

 

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