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: Dom of Las Vegas (Sin City #1) – Tricia Owens (narrated by Nick J. Russo)

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“You know what you desire, but you are afraid to accept it.”

 

In a word: Maybe read the thing?

 

The Summary: (from Goodreads) Ethan Winter has known since he was a kid that he wants to work for the FBI. Until then, he’s stuck modeling underwear and photographing cheating spouses for a private investigator. But when a trip to Las Vegas for a security conference brings him into contact with the magnificently dominant Maxmillian Poole, Ethan finds himself faced with a dilemma: pursue his childhood dream, or become the partner of a man who seems to know him inside and out – and who offers a life any submissive would crawl for.

 

[available for free or purchase from Tricia Owens Books, Amazon.ca, Book Depository, Chapters, and Barnes & Noble; also available as an audiobook from Audible]

 

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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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Sweetwater – Lisa Henry

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“You and me – men like you and me – we don’t always fit with other people. So we make our own lives.”

 

In a word: Maybe read the thing. Looks like I’ve finally come across a Lisa Henry book that I’m not completely in love with. I know a lot of people gave this good reviews, but I thought it was a bit too bleak for me. The story kept me fully engaged and I basically couldn’t put it down, the writing is great (as usual), but after I finished reading I couldn’t really say that I liked it much. The story isn’t necessarily dark, but Elijah’s story from beginning to end is kind of a downer. His partial deafness gives the townspeople an excuse to look down on him and mistreat him, and his attraction to men is something he feels that he needs to keep secret (this story takes place in 1870 Wyoming, so he really does) and causes him to alienate himself from his adoptive father. He thinks some of those issues may be solved when he catches the eye of saloon owner Harlan Crane, but all that really brings him is a different set of problems. He also gets the attention of cattle rustler Grady Mullins, who gives him affection Elijah doesn’t really know what to do with. I think my biggest problem with this book is that I went into it looking for a story where Elijah gets in over his head with Crane and then Grady saves him and they ride off together into the sunset happily in love. That wasn’t what this story was ever going to be, so I ended up disappointed. Though if you are interested in a bit of a downer story about tortured souls, love, murder, revenge, and morally ambiguous characters in the old west, you’re probably gonna have a good time with this one.

 

The Summary: (from Goodreads) Wyoming Territory, 1870.

Elijah Carter is afflicted. Most of the townsfolk of South Pass City treat him as a simpleton because he’s deaf, but that’s not his only problem. Something in Elijah runs contrary to nature and to God. Something that Elijah desperately tries to keep hidden.

Harlan Crane, owner of the Empire saloon, knows Elijah for what he is—and for all the ungodly things he wants. But Crane isn’t the only one. Grady Mullins desires Elijah too, but unlike Crane, he refuses to push the kid.

When violence shatters Elijah’s world, he is caught between two very different men and two devastating urges: revenge, and despair. In a boomtown teetering on the edge of a bust, Elijah must face what it means to be a man in control of his own destiny, and choose a course that might end his life . . . or truly begin it for the very first time.

 

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

 

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Peter Darling – Austin Chant

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“’That’s right,’ Peter spat. ‘I’m here to fight. I’m a boy.’”

 

In a word: Read the thing. I really didn’t know what to expect going into this but boy was I ever not disappointed. This story was beautiful and heartbreaking with more adventure and drama than you can shake a stick at. It’s a retelling of Peter Pan that takes place 10 years after the original story. Peter Pan and Captain Hook are the main characters and, to my surprise, the romantic leads. Unlike the original story, this Peter Pan is not the immortal forever-child from a magical land, he’s the alter-ego of Wendy Darling who escaped to Neverland for a chance at being his true self. Family obligation eventually had him returning home, hoping for acceptance, but 10 years later he’s going back to the only place he ever felt he could truly be himself. He soon realizes that Neverland is a bit of a different place now that he’s a grown man. His boyhood games no longer hold the same appeal, or the same stakes, as they once did, and he soon learns that his actions have grave consequences. He also discovers new sides to his old nemesis, Captain Hook, who is maybe not completely the villain that Peter always made him out to be. This story is a very interesting take on an old classic, and was a very emotional ride from beginning to end. At first I wasn’t sure how Peter and Hook would go from warring to romance, but as I read it I definitely came to see it. The original story had some disturbing elements, but this book could get a bit dark at times, especially as Peter was learning that childish games could sometimes take on more serious meanings when the players are all adults. The ideas this book had about Neverland itself were also pretty interesting, and not something I’d ever considered before. I’d definitely recommend this to anyone who’d enjoy an interesting and emotional twist on an old story.

 

The Summary: (from Goodreads) Ten years ago, Peter Pan left Neverland to grow up, leaving behind his adolescent dreams of boyhood and resigning himself to life as Wendy Darling. Growing up, however, has only made him realize how inescapable his identity as a man is.

But when he returns to Neverland, everything has changed: the Lost Boys have become men, and the war games they once played are now real and deadly. Even more shocking is the attraction Peter never knew he could feel for his old rival, Captain Hook—and the realization that he no longer knows which of them is the real villain.

 

[available for purchase from Less Than Three 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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