Top 5 Wednesday: Favorite LGBTQ+ Reads

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Welcome back to Top 5 Wednesday! This meme was created by gingerreadslainey and is hosted by Sam @ThoughtsOnTomes and you can check out the  Goodreads group here. This week’s theme is Favorite LGBTQ+ Reads .

Talk about your favorite books that feature LGBTQ+ characters or are by LGBTQ+ authors.

I feel like I’m repeating myself a lot, which means it’s time to find some new LGBTQ+ favorites.


Could You Love An Apple? (Becky Jerams)

Taylor Raven is starting over.

After a few difficult college years, he has decided to finally move away from Havensdale (and away from his father) to take a tennis coaching course in the tiny village of Westerfield.

The peaceful country life is exactly what Taylor needs to get away from it all. However, it is also incredibly lonely living by himself in the middle of nowhere. And no matter how far he runs, Taylor just can’t seem to escape the mistakes of his past.

As he struggles to find any kind of meaningful connection, he comes across a place on the outskirts of the village that will soon change everything. The Apple Inn – a pub run by a curious, slightly eccentric family who welcome Taylor into their world with open arms.

Soon Taylor finds his guard dropping, particularly around the kind and fun-loving son of the family, Benjamin Apple. But the closer Taylor gets, the more he feels compelled to pull away…

Can Taylor ever fall in love again when the one obstacle in his way… is himself?


Hey guys! I don’t know if you remember – it was along time ago – but I read the first book of this series a while back, Reasons to Love a Nerd Like Me, and I really enjoyed it at the time. So when Becky Jerams asked me if I wanted to read and review the sequel, I of course said yes. But I have to say, even though I did like the theme of the story and the overall plot, I had some major problems with the characters, some actions, and most of all, some things said within the book. I’ll try to explain the best I can, without giving it much away, ok?

This book follows Taylor, who was a very important character in book 1 of this series, as in, he was Scotty’s first love and also his bully. Taylor does have a transformative arc in the first book, and he regrets what he did to Scotty immensely, and they are even able to get past it and become good friends. While I liked his arc on the first book, the friendship was something that was always just a bit too much for me, but I rolled with it.

Now, a couple of years later, Taylor is trying to rebuild his life distant from his toxic father, and far away from the town he grew up with, and acted horrible. While trying to keep his distance from everyone, he ends up meeting the Apples and he forges a relationship with Benjamin, and the two of them face a lot of problems and setbacks to be able to be together.

My first huge problem with this book was how unlikable I found Taylor. He was already not easy to love due to his past, but even understanding his issues and knowing where he’s coming from, it was kind of hard for me to like Taylor when he was treating people terribly. This was sort of mild when he was trying to keep people away from him, but there’s a point in the book when he says horrible things to Benjamin, and while I understand that Taylor has some serious issues, he did believe the things he said and I don’t think they’re excusable.

With that said, I did like Taylor’s growth. He goes through some major things in this book, and he’s overall trying to be a better person, and he is. I really liked Benjamin though, even if I’m not sure he was always a consistent character.

This romance develops kind of slow, and for the most part, I liked Taylor and Benj together, they were so different that they kind of balanced each other out. I also liked the overall story and plot, so that was a major point FOR the book. But the relationship does go through a lot of stuff, and I didn’t think they were all necessary, to be honest.

Now, my major, and I mean MAJOR issue with this book was the homophobic language and messages. I found this extremely problematic.

The first thing that truly bothered me came from Taylor himself, a gay character, when he insinuates that being topped during sex is somehow bad, or would make him somehow LESS. That it would be a source of shame. I do understand that Taylor has not come to terms with his sexuality completely and lives with some huge hangups, but the whole language and situation were just wrong. And while he later sort of understands that he’s not “less of a man” for it, I still felt like that wasn’t enough to make up for all the hate speech done earlier.

One other thing was the homophobic language and stereotyping done by some secondary characters. Homophobic people will always exist and ignorant people too, but the impact wouldn’t be so huge if the characters had less dialogue page time, because they were really not important. Most of those comments were not necessary and didn’t contribute to the story at all, so they weren’t useful at all, and they made me seriously dislike this book.

Finally, I have to talk about the writing and the pacing. One of my issues with the first book was its length, and at the time I thought that book 1 could have used some editing, because it dragged on a bit. I have to be honest and say that I felt like this one dragged even more. It took me a long long time to get through it. And I also wasn’t a huge fan of the way the more intimate scenes were written, and I didn’t feel like there was a seamless flow, you know?

Either way, to sum it up a bit, because I do realize that the last few paragraphs have been kind of negative… I did like the story and some of the characters, especially the Apples. I saw a huge potential in the plot, but I couldn’t totally enjoy it due to the issues mentioned above. Not really liking the MC is a huge issue for me, and that along with everything else, didn’t make for a very enjoyable reading experience.

Goodbye Paradise (Sarina Bowen)

2017 NEW ADULT READING CHALLENGE | LGBTQ+ Novel

Most people called it a cult. But for twenty years, Josh and Caleb called it home.

In Paradise, there is no television. No fast food. Just long hours of farm work and prayer on a dusty Wyoming ranch, and nights in a crowded bunkhouse. The boys of the Compound are kept far from the sinners’ world.

But Joshua doesn’t need temptation to sin. His whole life, he’s wanted his best friend, Caleb. By day they work side by side. Only when Josh closes his eyes at night can they be together the way he craves.

It can never be. And his survival depends on keeping his terrible desires secret.

Caleb has always protected Josh against the worst of the bullying at the Compound. But he has secrets of his own, and a plan to get away — until it all backfires.

Josh finds himself homeless in a world that doesn’t want him. Can Caleb find him in time? And will they find a place of safety, where he can admit to Josh how he really feels?

Warning: Contains a hot male/male romance, copious instances of taking the Lord’s name in vain, and love against the kitchen counter. This book was previously released under the title: In Front of God & Everyone.

GoodreadsAmazon B&N | Kobo | Google


As usual, I read this book as a buddy read with Cátia @The Girl Who Read Too, so go to her blog in the next few days to read her take on Goodbye Paradise.

Ever since I heard about this book, I’ve been super excited to read it. Why? It’s Sarina Bowen! Enough said! So far, I’ve read quite a few (almost all) of her books, and I loved them all, so yeah, I was ecstatic 😀 .

I really liked this book, and once again, I cried like a baby – which did not surprise Cátia, because like she so eloquently put it “everything makes you cry”… TRUE! But hey, this was painful.

I really liked the writing and the way this book is structured. Goodbye Paradise is told through both perspectives of Josh and Caleb, but it isn’t alternating. Instead we have blocks narrated by Josh and others from Caleb’s POV, which gives an interesting dynamic to the story, as in, we’re not sure at first what’s going on on Caleb’s head, and so on. They also have completely different voices, which I loved, and it went right along with their personalities.

I loved both boys, but mostly Josh. Josh had lived on the compound (a.k.a. CULT) all his life, with very little to no interaction with the real world. His head was messed up. He thought that his likes and his wants were sins. He was plagued between the feeling of happiness and guilt. And my heart broke for this guy. But he also has an amazing character development, and the first time he truly stands up for himself, I had tears in my eyes.

Caleb had a little different background, because even though he had grown up with Josh, he had outside world privileges, so he knew what he was missing, and he knew that there was a better life for them waiting on the outside. Caleb was also more confident and sure of himself.

I liked their relationship a lot. These guys had been in love for all their lives without truly acknowledging that, so it was so good to see how their relationship evolved after they left.

One thing I wasn’t truly expecting but truly liked was the pacing and the time span of the book. The book emcompasses over one year of their lives, and shows how they adapt to the world. Nothing is hurried and everything takes a long time to be achieved, whether a job or the ability to be honest about their feelings to other people. This is also mostly a character driven story, and I loved the growth that both boys did during the book, and the bonds of family, friendship and love they created. I really loved how they achieved a good step on their relationship, and they became more equals. I loved that.

Also, Josh and the kids? ADORABLE!!!

It’s tough for me not to compare this book to Him and Us, because Jamie and Wes have my heart, but I really enjoyed Cable and Josh’s story, though the Him series will forever be my favorite.

One thing to keep in mind is that even though Caleb and Josh left a religious cult, the religious aspects of this book are very minimal. And on the other hand, they sure get to explore all that sexual tension that built up for years and years…

If you’re a fan of Sarina Bowen, and love a good romance, give this one a chance.

Blog Tour: Queens of Geek (Jen Wilde)

Three friends. Two love stories. One convention. 

Charlie likes to stand out. She’s a vlogger and actress promoting her first movie at SupaCon, and this is her chance to show fans she’s over her public breakup with co-star Reese Ryan. When internet-famous cool-girl actress Alyssa Huntington arrives as a surprise guest, it seems Charlie’s long-time crush on her isn’t as one-sided as she thought.

Taylor likes to blend in. Her brain is wired differently, making her fear change. And there’s one thing in her life she knows will never change: her friendship with her best guy friend Jamie — no matter how much she may secretly want it to. But when she hears about a fan contest for her favorite fandom, she starts to rethink her rules on playing it safe.

Queens of Geek, an empowering young adult novel by Jen Wilde, is all about fandom, friendship, and finding the courage to be yourself.

Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | iBooks | Kobo


OMG OMG OMG!!! THIS BOOK!!! THIS BOOK!!!

This is definitly my favorite contemporary YA book IN A LONG TIME. I was expecting to like it, of course, because that blurb is awesome, but I couldn’t quite imagine how IN LOVE I would be with this book. It’s serious. This book? AWESOME!

This is my first book by Jen Wilde and I loved loved loved the writing. The book is told through Tayor and Charlie’s POVs, two of the 3 friends going to SupaCon, and, just like these two characters, their voices are super different. I never had to go back to the beginning of a chapter to know who was talking.

But the most amazing thing about this book? The characters!!! I love these characters, but mostly Taylor. I love her. I see myself in her on some issues, and I see my friends in her a little bit as well. I think she’s one of those characters who everyone will see themselves in a bit, you know? Like Cath from Fangirl? I loved how brave she was, even when she was scared out of her wits, and how good she was. Have I mentioned how much I loved her? Also, she has severe social anxiety, she’s heavier, and she’s on the Autism spectrum. I LOVED TAYLOR!!!!

Then there’s Charlie, and while it took me a little bit more time to warm up to her, I did, because she’s brilliant! Another amazing point of diversity here too 😀 , because Charlie is the daughter of Chinese immigrants, and she’s openly bisexual 😀 . And she has pink hair!!! Sorry, I had to mention that because it IS the cover of this book after all, and it’s giving me some pretty weird ideas of wanting to dye my hair pink?! Crazy, right? Either way, I loved Charlie too, because she has some pretty great development throughout the book, realizing whose opinions really matter to her.

The trio is complete with Jamie. Not gonna lie, when I read the blurb I thought that Jamie would be a girl, which is stupid, because the blurb actually says he’s a GUY! Oh well. JAMIE IS AWESOME!!!!! I shipped him with Taylor so so much! And it was always so clear how much he liked her. And he was just such a great and understanding person, he gave her the time and space to figure herself out, always being there for her anyway. AMAZING!

There are several other smaller characters that are equally amazing and inspiring. I was reading this book and laughing and crying and feeling all warm and fuzzy inside. Queens of Geeks talks geeky, nerdy and fandom. It talks about the importance of accepting yourself as you are, because you’ll find people just like you in the process. You’re not alone. This book made me feel like I belong, and it wasn’t even about the fandoms or the fandom life itself… The level of acceptance and friendship that this book has? It’s amazing. Made me fall in love with it.

I honestly don’t know what else to say, except that YOU NEED TO READ IT ASAP! I kind of just want to pick it up again…


Author Bio:

Jen Wilde is a writer, geek and fangirl with a penchant for coffee, books and pugs. She writes YA stories about zombies (AS THEY RISE), witches (ECHO OF THE WITCH) and fangirls (QUEENS OF GEEK). Her debut series reached over three million reads online and became an Amazon bestseller.

When she’s not writing, Jen loves binge-watching her favorite shows on Netflix, eating pizza, traveling to far away places and going to conventions in Marty McFly cosplay.

Jen lives in a sunny beachside town in Australia with her husband and their cheeky pug, aptly named Heisenberg.

Website | Goodreads | Facebook | Twitter


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Cover Reveal: Goodbye Paradise by Sarina Bowen

Check out the cover of Sarina Bowen’s new M/M New Adult ROmance, Goodbye Paradise!

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Goodbye Paradise (Hello Goodbye #1)
Formerly In Front of God & Everyone (Pay It Forward #1)
by Sarina Bowen
Book 1 of the Hello Goodbye duology
Scheduled to release: March 21st 2017
Goodreads


BLURB:

Most people called it a cult. But for twenty years, Josh and Caleb called it home. 

In Paradise, there is no television. No fast food. Just long hours of farm work and prayer on a dusty Wyoming ranch, and nights in a crowded bunkhouse. The boys of the Compound are kept far from the sinners’ world. 

But Joshua doesn’t need temptation to sin. His whole life, he’s wanted his best friend, Caleb. By day they work side by side. Only when Josh closes his eyes at night can they be together the way he craves. 

It can never be. And his survival depends on keeping his terrible desires secret.

Caleb has always protected Josh against the worst of the bullying at the Compound. But he has secrets of his own, and a plan to get away — until it all backfires. 

Josh finds himself homeless in a world that doesn’t want him. Can Caleb find him in time? And will they find a place of safety, where he can admit to Josh how he really feels? 

Warning: Contains a hot male/male romance, copious instances of taking the Lord’s name in vain, and love against the kitchen counter. This book was previously released under the title: In Front of God & Everyone.


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Goodbye Paradise and Hello Forever had been published before in 2015 under different titles and a different author, but are now being released again, and I’m so excited for these books! These are M/M romances, and I’ve loved Sarina’s previous books, so I’m ecstatic for these.

Also, I’m kind of in love with these covers… 😀

Falling for the Player (Jessica Lee)

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Bad boy and former NFL running back Patrick Guinness is tired of meaningless sex. Ever since his scorching hot one-night stand three years ago, no one has interested him. So when Max Segreti wanders into his mechanic shop — and his life again — Patrick can’t stop thinking about the totally-out-of-his-league law grad and the possibility of getting him out of his system once and for all…

Max Segreti has spent his entire life doing what his father wants. But when he runs into the hotter-than-hell player he’s never been able to forget, he’s not thinking about studying for the bar. A distraction is the last thing he needs, but after an encounter leaves him wanting more, Max embraces the chaos that Patrick brings…even as he knows it can’t last. They’re too different to ever have a future together.


People… I have a problem! If I come across a sports romance on Netgalley, I want to request it. I kind of request it faster if it’s a LGBT+ romance – I blame this one the fact that one of my favorite books of the past year was a M/M sports romance… Jamie and Wes ruined me. Because Falling for the Player was my first book of the year of 2017 and it was not good.

First of all I didn’t like the writing. The book is told in the 3rd person and dual POV, but the problem is that the two guys didn’t have distinct voices, even though they were super different characters. But each time a chapter began, it took me a few sentences before I realized whose POV I was supposed to be reading, Max or Patrick’s. I read a lot of dual POVs romances, and this was a huge issue for me. But apart from that, the writing in general did nothing for me, I was especially not a fan of the amount of times that the word “lover” was used.

Now about the characters… I thought they were ok, but Max and Patrick ended up feeling a little one dimensional, and the fact that they went about the big decisions on their lives all wrong, didn’t help it. I just didn’t connect with the characters or their romance…

These dudes meet one night, talk TV Shows and Movies, end up hooking up and then they don’t see each other for 3 years… no contact, nothing! But when they see each other again, they can’t keep away, and I didn’t quite get that connection. I’ve read a load of books with instalove, and it’s something that might work, if the characters are well written, but it just didn’t here.

The one thing I actually did like was Liam, Patrick’s 18 yo brother, because he made sense to me. Another thing that I would have liked a lot, if circumstances were different, was the actual reason for the “falling apart”, because I did like that theme, I just thought it wasn’t handled right.

There were some very weird and WTF moments in this book, and I need to share some of them, because I kind of need to get it out of my chest, so be warned, there will be mild SPOILERS ahead:

  • There’s a gratuitous scene of voyerism, where Max and Patrick watch a gay couple having sex at a club. It didn’t feel natural and I didn’t see any logic in it. Max asks Patrick if he’s trying to “shock” him, and he says maybe, but it doesn’t make any sense, because just a minute before the guy was thinking of what a terrible idea it was for them to meet at that club. BTW, all the scenes in that club were weird!
  • Max’s dad was not exactly on good terms with his son’s sexuality, meaning that he’s OK with Max being gay, as long as not in public. He asks him not to take a male date to this huge fundraiser party (in the name of his dad’s company). So Max obviously decides to take Patrick without really trying to even have a conversation with his dad EVER, and without actually letting Patrick know how important this is. It was a huge no for me.
  • Then, Max being Max again, after they have been broken up for 2 weeks, as soon as they talk on the phone, Max decided to introduce Patrick to his family, in this big dinner thing, but without actually telling Patrick where it is that he’s going. Also, they didn’t even talk about whether they were back together or not… BAHHHH!

So, this was not a good way to start the year, but I’m sure my next reads will be slightly better. I had high hopes for this one, but unfortunately, I really didn’t enjoy it. But it might be a ME problem, so give it a chance if you feel like it 😉 .

Outside the Lines (Caitlin Ricci)

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Alex has always wanted to help people, so when he finds a scared, homeless child, he doesn’t hesitate to take ‘Socks’ to the shelter where he works, Trinity House. 

Over the course of four years, a chance meeting turns into friendship. When Socks turns eighteen, they’re excited, because it means they can move in with Alex — until Alex rejects them, and Socks realizes an affection they thought mutual was only ever one-sided.

Years later, Socks has become Trin, a psychiatrist who specializes in helping children. And they still want desperately to know why Alex rejected them long ago…


When I read this blurb on Netgalley, I was instantly intrigued, because I had never read a book with a genderless or gender neutral character, and I thought it was about time to change that.

This isn’t really a full fledged book, and it reads like a novella more than anything, because it is super super short. I did like it a lot though, and I think I’ve learned a few things too, even if there were some aspects of the book that I had a few problems with.

The writing is great, and while I admit that I was a bit scared of being lost in the pronouns, because I find it slightly confusing to refer to a single individual by plural pronouns – sorry!but it was easy to follow and I think it made me understand the use better now.

Just to clarify, I mean no disrespect about my pronoun comment above, I hear you, I respect you, but I personally never used it, so I find using they/them difficult when referring to a single person, my brain just doesn’t compute. But my brain learns, and I think that’s a great thing, to learn!

Both characters were great, I especially liked Trin, but I felt like they were both very underdeveloped. I do think the author fleshed out the essential on both of them, and brought to light their biggest fears, especially about each other.

I especially liked how Trin was comfortable in their own skin. I liked how they explained what being agender means and how they learned to accept it and don’t question it. I liked how the book talked about the difference of gender identity, biological sex and sexuality. And I liked that the book had a good representation of the spectrum, with Alex being a gay man, Trin being agender and bi, and Andy being trans and pan, and how it explained the fluidity of sexuality.

I also appreciated a lot Alex’s POV, from someone in love with a gender neutral person. I loved how supportive he was of them and never pushed for more than they were ready for. Also, he truly didn’t care what they were biologically, and the way he felt was heartwarming.

Like I said, I think this is a book that covers many important issues and I really liked the way it breached these subjects and how they were explained. This is ultimately a romance, and I thought it was sweet. However, I did have a few issues with this short book.

My first issue is that I think there was enough core story to build a full book around. The story felt rushed. I wish there had been more build up since the first meeting between Alex and Socks and when they meet again 9 years later. We are told that they were super close, enough that they loved each other, but that unfortunately is never seen. Another thing that felt rushed was the romance… slight spoiler here, but at the end of their second date, and the first time they were intimate, Alex was asking Trin to move in with him in the future… and not just that, but the plan included Trin’s roommate Andy and one of her patients. I thought that was too fast, even though it wouldn’t happen for several months after, it still felt like too much… they had just reconnected.

Another issue that I had was with Trin’s studies… I didn’t exactly buy that they had accomplished so much of the studies required to be a psychiatrist in just 6 years…

There was one thing that bothered me, and this might be a non-issue… Trin’s biological sex is never mentioned, and it really shouldn’t matter. But several tiny things in the book lead me to believe that their biological sex was female, and I wish that the matter of protection would have been referred to when they finally had sex. Not that they shouldn’t use protection no matter what, but the possibility that there was an added risk of pregnancy and my brain just wouldn’t shut up about it.

Overall, I think this was an important book and a great read. I just wish the author would get this short story and expand on it, make it a full-300-pages book, full of character development and more details about Trin and Alex’s lives.

Highly Illogical Behavior (John Corey Whaley)

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Sixteen year old Solomon has agoraphobia. He hasn’t left his house in three years, which is fine by him. At home, he is the master of his own kingdom — even if his kingdom doesn’t extend outside of the house.

Ambitious Lisa desperately wants to go to a top tier psychiatry program. She’ll do anything to get in.

When Lisa finds out about Solomon’s solitary existence, she comes up with a plan sure to net her a scholarship: befriend Solomon. Treat his condition. And write a paper on her findings. To earn Solomon’s trust, Lisa begins letting him into her life, introducing him to her boyfriend Clark, and telling him her secrets. Soon, Solomon begins to open up and expand his universe. But all three teens have grown uncomfortably close, and when their facades fall down, their friendships threaten to collapse as well.


So, this was yet another book that I’d been promising to read for months, that has traveled a lot, but always end up being put on hold. Not anymore! I am SO glad I finally picked it up.

I have to admit that I was a bit scared when I picked it up, because I was afraid that the story would either fall into some trope, or I wouldn’t like the writing or something – because I had never read anything by this author. But to be honest, nothing like that happened. The writing was magnificently fun and witty and humorous and so darn fast. The pacing was crazy fast and the way it incorporated pop culture, geekiness and fun into it was amazing. I am a fan!

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The book is told through the point of view of 2 characters, Solomon, who suffers from agoraphobia, and Lisa, who decides that she’s gonna cure him.

I loved Solomon right from the start, even though I don’t suffer from social anxiety and panic attacks like he does, the writing made it relatable. I understood him! His voice is strong, his reasoning strong, and me (as a reader) understood his decisions and his life. I absolutely adored him. I loved his relationships with his parents and grandmother, and later on with Lisa and Clark.

Lisa was a tough pill to swallow… I had a few troubles connecting to her and liking her. From the start, it’s impossible not to think that her reasons for befriending Solomon are all wrong. ALL WRONG! And the way she keeps sticking to them? WRONG! I kind of got why she thought she needed to do it, but her behaviour? HIGHLY ILLOGICAL! BUT… she turns out to be a great friend for Solomon and it’s clear that she really likes him, even if her reasons were not correct.

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Another character that I absolutely loved was Clark… he might be my favorite. Clark is a mystery, because he’s the only one we don’t get a POV from, so one never really knows what’s going on in his head. He starts by being Lisa’s boyfriend, but quickly becomes Solomon’s best friend and the 2 are like two peas in a pod… so darn cute! I loved how he was just an amazing person, who sought to help and be the best he could be, and wanted to do right by the people he loved.

I am so glad the book didn’t go where I thought it was headed… on multiple paths. The book is not about curing someone, it’s about accepting that what is true for you and what works for you, might not work for someone else, and that’s ok. It’s about learning to accept what you do have. It’s about realizing that you are more than just a label!

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The friendship and connections in this story are amazing, and they all give great banter. Oh… I loved the banter!

I have to say, I’m a bit in love with this story. I wish everyone would read it.

Off Base (Annabeth Albert)

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After trading the barracks for a fixer-upper rental, navy SEAL Zack Nelson wants peace, not a roommate — especially not Pike, who sees things about Zack he most wants to hide. Pike’s flirting puts virgin Zack on edge. And the questions Pike’s arrival would spark from Zack’s teammates about his own sexuality? Nope. Not going there. But Zack can’t refuse. 

Pike Reynolds knows there won’t be a warm welcome in his new home. What can he say? He’s an acquired taste. But he needs this chance to get his life together. Also, teasing the uptight SEAL will be hella fun. Still, Pike has to tread carefully; he’s had his fill of tourists in the past, and he can’t risk his heart on another, not even one as hot, as built — and, okay, yeah, as adorable — as Zack. 

Living with Pike crumbles Zack’s restraint and fuels his curiosity. He discovers how well they fit together in bed…in the shower…in the hallway… He needs Pike more than he could have imagined, yet he doesn’t know how to be the man Pike deserves.


In the summer I read Connection Error by Annabeth Albert and I really enjoyed it, so when I saw this one on Netgalley, and with that blurb, I decided to request it. It shouldn’t be a surprise by now that I do love a good M/M romance, and throw a SEAL in the mix? YES PLEASE!

However, I have to say that this book didn’t really do it for me, and I found it OK, but not exactly great. Somehow I couldn’t connect with either character, or their decisions.

Again, this book is told on the third person and dual POV, and while Pike and Zack are very different people with very different takes on life, the fact that they live together for most of the book made some POVs indistinguishable at points. But that’s always a bit of a problem with the third person POV, unfortunately.

This was not my first story about a romance between an openly gay guy and a closeted one, but I felt like the characters weren’t fleshed out enough individually, you know? I liked Pike, he was out, he was never actually in the closet, he was just him and he was unapologetic about it and I loved it, but I wanted to see more from him. Maybe I’m not being fair, because we do have a lot of plot centered on the guys’ lives outside of each other, but I just felt like it was missing something. That was my problem with Zack too, though I had other issues with him too. He was always so scared of people finding out about him and Pike, that I feel like I didn’t really get to know much about him, besides the fact that he was bullied all his life and being out was an impossibility in his mind.

I loved seeing Ryan and Josiah (from Connection Error) here, especially Ryan. But here is one of my biggest issues with Zack… one of his best friends,  Ryan, is an ex-SEAL and he was always out, so why did Zack never felt like he could talk to him? Or even talk about the subject without outing himself? I understand that it was hard, and he felt like he was in an impossible situation, but it made no sense to me that he didn’t seek some support with his work issues at least.

I had a few problems with Zack’s teammates… yeah, there’s a lot of homophobia running around on this book :(.

The romance was ok, sweet and all, I did like to see them act all domestic and shit together. But I felt like there was a connection already when the book started, that was never really explained. I missed that, I felt like I needed a bit of background.

I did like the flow of the plot and the catalyst of things. It made sense, and I really liked their reactions to it and what followed. That was probably my favorite part of the book, to be honest, with Pike and Zack both standing up for themselves.

Overall, this was an OK romance, I will keep my eyes opened for more books from this author though, because I do like her stories. 😉

The Understatement of the Year (Sarina Bowen)

theunderstatement

What happened in high school stayed in high school. Until now. 

Five years ago, Michael Graham betrayed the only person who ever really knew him. Since then, he’s made an art of hiding his sexuality from everyone. Including himself.

So it’s a shock when his past strolls right into the Harkness College locker room, sporting a bag of hockey gear and the same slow smile that had always rendered Graham defenseless. For Graham, there is only one possible reaction: total, debilitating panic. With one loose word, the team’s new left wing could destroy Graham’s life as he knows it.

John Rikker is stuck being the new guy. Again. And it’s worse than usual, because the media has latched onto the story of the only “out” player in Division One hockey. As the satellite trucks line the sidewalk outside the rink, his new teammates are not amused.

And one player in particular looks sick every time he enters the room.

Rikker didn’t exactly expect a warm welcome from Graham. But the guy won’t even meet his eyes. From the looks of it, his former… best friend / boyfriend / whatever isn’t doing so well. He drinks too much and can’t focus during practice.

Either the two loneliest guys on the team will self destruct from all the new pressures in their lives, or they can navigate the pain to find a way back to one another. To say that it won’t be easy is the Understatement of the Year.


By now you know that I’ve read a lot of books by Sarina Bowen, right? After I finished the True North series, I still needed more awesome words, so I decided it was time to keep going with The Ivy Years series.

Unlike the previous two books of this series, The Year We Fell Down and The Year We Hid AwayThe Understatement of the Year features a same sex couple. Again, this isn’t my first book featuring a M/M couple from Sarina Bowen, because I’ve read Him and Us and those are two of my overall favorite novels, ever. So, while reading this one, it was hard not to compare to Him, because the books had some things in common.

I’m not going on again about how much I like Sarina’s writing, let’s just assume that’s a given, ok?

About the characters… I have to say that it took me a little bit to warm up to Graham. I understood him, completely, but he shouldered a weight that was just too big, and the way he saw things bothered me a bit. I understood how he was not ready to be out, but I didn’t like how he saw the label, if you know what I mean. I felt sorry for him though, because he was so miserable… 😦 Michael Graham broke my heart each time I was reading his POV!

Rikker was a lot easier to love, probably because he also accepted himself, which was something that Graham didn’t do. I really liked his openness and his sense of humour. I wanted him to stand up for himself more when it came to Graham though, because for awhile there it hurt me that Rikker was willing to settle for something less than he deserved.

Contrary to the two previous books, this one focused heavily on hockey and on the team dynamics, and I really liked that. It was interesting to see the group working together, and how they dealt with Rikker’s sexuality. I loved most of the guys and especially that coach, he was awesome.

Another person that I absolutely loved was Bella, and I loved her relationship with both boys and how supportive she was of them – individually!

The couple of events that advanced the story were something that I wasn’t expecting, and I really liked them, though, again, they were heartbreaking. I liked seeing the guys support each other they way they did… true love there!

I have to complain about something though, and it was that abrupt ending. After Graham’s repressed feelings throughout the whole book, I thought that the resolution was rushed. I needed more from them after they got home. I needed to see Graham being as least partially ok with the fact that people knew he was gay. I wanted to see the team and their reactions. I needed at least an epilogue… Guess I’ll read book 4 and hope that Bella talks about it a little, right?