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review 2017-09-19 18:16
My Forever, My Always
My Forever, My Always: Men of Crooked Bend Book 1 - Taylor Rylan

Phew. I skimmed the last 10% because...I was exhausted and just over this couple.  This book unfortunately did not work for me.

 

This book is nearly 400 pages and compared to most MM books, that is about 150 pages too much.  This one could have used the cut.

 

Overall, I was curious about this author. I have had conversations with her several times and she is a sweetheart.  And for a first time novel, this one has its pros.  But there is no doubt that a lot can be learned from this first one.

 

  • Not every man in the book needs to be gay.  I mean I love gay men but at some point good grief...I could use a straight character.
  • The entire story does not need to be told.  We went from hook up to quick relationship development to moving in to meeting families to engagement to bachelor party to wedding to honeymoon, to an epilogue...which did not close anything but brought up more storylines about other characters. It just becomes too much.  Much of the last 50% of this book could have been reduced.
  • While there was nothing overly irritating about these "Architects" there could be some improvements on what Architects actually do that would help readers like me avoid eye rolling.  But for those who are not Architects, none of these items would matter to them at all.
  • I love getting glimpses of couples that will be brought forth in future books but this was painful.  Too many instances of "I wonder what is going on there" or "I'll have to ask him what happened" only to get more questions and no answers. Yes, I get books are coming but this is rather painful as a reader, especially when the couples that interest you are books away.  Introduce these characters but avoid drawing them too much into the current story or risk irritating your reader and drawing away from the main couple too much. I found myself more interested in wanting these future books than I was about this couple.
  • I wish there had been a Gay Romance Checklist of attributes, sexual positions, storylines, etc. attached to this book, because I think every box would be checked. We don't need everything.  And the warning about Rape at the beginning was completely unnecessary because we never got anything more than "he was raped, beaten and stabbed".  I assume when we finally get to this character's book we will get more.  At least I hope so.  
  • There is no need to overuse a character's name repeatedly in conversation between 2 people.  I am talking to you, I don't need to use your name.  This became irritating because how often do you really use a person's name when you are having a conversation with them.  Very little.
  • Overall this couple was rather blah.  There was no tension, no heartache, no dark past or anything.  These were just 2 lovely men who loved each other.  And we heard about it a lot.  I just kinda lost interest. 

 

Now all that said, will I continue?  Yes.  As I mentioned above, I am actually much more interested in these other couples who appear to have a little more grit to them than these characters did.  Plus, I am eager to see how this author grows and develops.  She has the abilities there is no doubt. I just hope she can structure her next book in a way that keeps me more engaged.

 

 

 

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review 2017-09-10 21:13
Looking In
Looking In - Michael Bailey

This will likely be one of the most difficult reviews I have written…at least in the top 3.  But one I feel important to write.  There is absolutely no doubt that for a debut novel this one was one I wanted desperately to love.  And while there is undoubtedly talent to this Author, regretfully this one fell short for me. 

 

He turned from me and looked down to where I still held his hand. Again, he whispered, “Then why am I always alone?”

The sadness in his voice cut me to the core. I didn’t want it to be there. I wanted to take that pain from him, erase it, make it disappear.

I let go of his hand and placed it on his cheek, gently turning him to face me again. “Because you were waiting for me, and just didn’t know it. Just as I’ve been waiting for you. You’re not alone. You’ll never be alone again.”

 

Or

 

I lied when I said I had him.  The truth was, he had me.

 

Beautiful  writing.  Beautiful writing indeed. So don’t for a minute believe that I have any doubts as to this Author’s potential. It is great.  And yet what this Author seems to be lacking is structure and organization.  What this Author seems to need is a mentor who can help guide this talent on its path to greatness.  I want this for him…because, as I said, he has what it takes to be great.

 

Now a writer I am not.  But I am a designer.  Am I a great designer? No.  Do I need critique and the ability to bounce ideas off others.  Absolutely.  And finding this critique is likely better coming from a wide range of sources.  For example if I am designing a school, I need critique not only from other Architects, but teachers, students, parents, janitors, etc.  People to look at my design from all aspects.  If I have looked at my design too long, I can become blind and can many times not see what is right in front of me.  Plus my design can become too personal.  It is my baby. I have poured my heart into it.  So it is hard to accept critique.  But if I am to learn and get better it is a critical part to the process of improving my art.

 

So for me, this book lacked that critique from all angles.  This book has the bones.  It has the potential.  And there were scenes so beautifully written that I felt the love.  The scene with Greg and David was absolutely my favorite.  The first kiss and first sexual encounter between David and Adam was beautifully captured.  Tender and lovely.  But there was way too much going on and too many holes left unfilled that at the end of the book just become frustrating for me as a reader.  And writing dual POV only to play some scenes from both POVs becomes repetitive, regardless of the different emotions felt.  Much of the internal dialogues throughout became repetitive as well to the point that I felt I was being drilled with details like I had a memory issue. 

 

Lucas.  This character was completely unnecessary as was this storyline.  We missed all interactions between him and Adam regarding the comic books.  We lacked their connection, something I am sure could have been beautiful.  And I am not a doctor nor do I have children with leukemia, but can a child begin treatment and within 2 months be in remission??  And where the hell was this boy’s mother?  Just many doors opened for this storyline that wrapped up in a single sentence at 95% or had holes left unfilled.

 

Adam.  A veteran with 4 tours of duty in Afghanistan, and yet other than knowing this and him having a brother he loves, I really know very little about him. A tattoo of such beauty is mentioned early on and yet we never got any details as to the meaning behind it.  He is a protective and loving person and yet we got very few heart to heart moments between him and his brother and nephew. Many moments lost here to help show the heart of this man.

 

Greg.  I loved this character to pieces and as I stated above the exchange between him and David was perfect.  Yet to learn that this man has a brother that has he never tried to track down?  Ugh. Really?  Perhaps this opened a door to a future novel and Michael will take on this challenge next.  I can only hope.

 

David’s Dad.  This storyline became frustrating for me as a reader.  We knew early on that this man’s release from prison was going to take an emotional toll on David.  That he feared this man and his past.  And yet instances of lights being on which later go unacknowledged; David pondering who could have called him at work built suspense that never went anywhere; and then David wondering for paragraphs who could have been in his apartment.  Ummm.  We all knew and yet he needed to ponder something that so clearly was his biggest fear.

 

David's Mother.  I hope this woman is enjoying hell.  What she did was inexcusable.

 

And finally, David.  I fell hard for this sweet guy.  But at a certain point I become aggravated.  I mean what could you have possibly done??  This is so drawn out that you just feel it should be something really terrible and yet when it is finally revealed, it didn’t hold the impact it should have.  I think if more had been told earlier, it would have helped me understand this character on another level.  Instead I just began to pull away and lose the connection I had to him.

 

Maybe I am being over critical.  But as a reader too many things just felt off.  Felt disjointed.  I mean I loved these two guys and felt the heart the Author poured into them.  But much of becoming a successful author is about not only writing great scenes but learning to weave that writing into a compelling and telling story. And when storylines get introduced, even side ones, they must be seen through completely. 

 

Again, I have ZERO doubts as to this Author’s abilities and I see this first novel as a stepping stone to greatness.  He just needs to learn to structure these scenes and moments in a way that can bring those beautiful words into a cohesive story.  I look forward to seeing more from this Author and how he continues to grow in his talent.

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review 2017-09-06 19:45
Tate
Tate (The Temptation Series) - Ella Frank

To Tate,

From the very beginning I had a plan for my life.

But it wasn’t until we met that I knew it was you.

~Logan

 

Another book and another emersion into the love between Logan and Tate.  Who would have thought that Ella could continue to grow and expand on this couple so beautifully and so successfully.  I am in awe.

 

First off, no one should read any review that has spoilers and should honestly avoid even reading non-spoiler reviews...and yet here I am writing one.  So shut this off and go read this book and enjoy it for yourself…I seriously doubt anyone who loves Logan and Tate would be disappointed.

 

This next chapter continues to explore these men, their backgrounds, history, fears, doubts and unwavering love for the other.  The glimpses and nuggets of times past, especially from Try, are woven beautifully into the story and simply give new meaning and insight into the love between these two men. 

 

I have always said that for me this is Logan’s story.  His character development for me is just unmatched and his love for Tate continues to be heartfelt and heartbreaking.  I simply adore him.  And this one only solidifies my thoughts on this.  I will say however that Tate seemed to realize that perhaps Logan is just as much his Truth as Tate is to Logan. And that discovery was rather breathtaking.

 

There, in a bathroom that was built for sin, the passion eased and the fever simmered until the deeper, scarier feelings began to consume the two of them. Tate opened himself up to the onslaught as Logan wove his fingers through his hair and cradled his head, seeking more. Tate gave it without any conscious thought, just handed it over as he would his last breath, should Logan require it, and then he was falling all over again. Falling for the charm of the silver-tongued lawyer who’d picked him to sit down opposite that first night. Falling into a relationship he’d always wanted but never dreamed he would have. But most of all, he was falling in love with Logan all over again, just as he’d done every day since he’d known him.

 

Now, as for secondary characters, Will has stepped up to become one of my favorite characters in this series.  Such a huge heart this man has and someone who has quickly become the father that these boys desperately need. 

 

I am honestly sad to know there is only one more installment left.  I hate to see this come to closure but given how book 4 and 5 have gone, I can honestly say that the rereads could only get better and better as we view these early moments between them with all new eyes, knowing now what the future has in store. 

 

So much love for this couple.

 

*An ARC was received from the Author in exchange for an honest review.*

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review 2017-08-31 18:00
Letting Go
Letting Go (Love By Design) (Volume 1) - Ashley Morningstar

He didn’t do anything inappropriate but his touch, whether it was the hand on his thigh or when he draped his arm across the couch and drew circles on the exposed skin of his neck with his fingertips, spread chill bumps across Alex’s skin making his skin feel alive and sensitive. It was all innocent, except to Alex’s body, because it felt like Kelley was playing him like an instrument. Tweaking and strumming and fine tuning it to hit every note in a song only Kelley knew.

 

 

I have to say I was not sure what to expect from this at all. I rarely read reviews and even find myself avoiding blurbs.  But I had met Morningstar Ashley at GRL and have since interacted with her on Facebook.  So picking up her book seemed like a logical step.  But what if I hated her book?  It is a difficult position to be in as a reader when you become acquaintances with authors on FB. But in the end, I had to dive in and I am so thankful that I did, because this was better than I ever could have expected.

 

First off, as a debut novel, I can say that I was thoroughly impressed overall by not only the story itself but the writing style.  Yes, for me there were some inconsistencies in some timing of a few things, the lack of understanding about this intern program (which frankly was unnecessary) or paragraphs that did not seem to flow as smoothly as others, but regardless, these moments were few and far between. In the end it was the emotional connection made, not only between these characters but the connection made between these characters and me as the reader.  I fell in love with Kelley, Alex and Evie. 

 

Kids in books can be a challenge, but sweet Evie never felt anything but real for me.  And as a parent with a child with high anxiety I could relate to this sweet child.  And the fact that she doesn’t miss anything is absolutely true. Kids are perceptive on a level some adults never give them credit for.

 

Alex’s internal struggles were beautifully captured and told.  Morningstar dealt with these mental challenges amazingly well and I felt ever barrier that was built up over the years and understood quite well the reasons.  I loved how Kelley had glimpsed years ago the smile and life that was Alex and could see that he was buried under years of grief and internal abuse as he denied himself true emotion.

 

I do wish we could have had less of Kelley’s work and more about him.  I know nothing about his personal story other than his friends.  Had he even dated anyone in the past at all? Are his parents living?  If these things were said, they were definitely in passing.  But regardless, his caring and “mother hen” persona was just so well matched to Evie and Alex.

 

And the sex…good gawd.  I absolutely loved the sexual connection between these two.  These scenes were so hot but at the same time so emotionally driven that I loved every moment. I do wish we could have avoided the time jump at the very end and had a few more steamy scenes…but hey…I will take what I can get. 

 

 

So what is next? I have to say if Morningstar is not already writing Peter’s story I will begin hounding her now for this book. I am fascinated and intrigued by this man for sure!!

 

Oh and for what it is worth...the paper plate scene will be one I remember for years to come.  Sweet Kelley.  LOL

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review 2017-08-30 14:00
Where We Left Off
Where We Left Off - Roan Parrish

Even better the second time through. Not sure I've ever analyzed a book or a relationship as much as I have this one. Thanks Nathan for continuing this with me each and every listen.  ❤️❤️❤️

 

***

 

I told him about Will. By the time I got to the part where Will had kissed me and then left for New York the next day, Skinny Jeans was shaking his head.

“What?”

“Tell me you didn’t. Tell me you didn’t pull a full-on Felicity and come to school in New York to follow this Will guy.”

“Dude, Felicity?”

“Felicity’s my jam! Whatever, don’t judge me.”

 

 

And like Felicity, Leo’s journey is one of recognizing that love isn’t like a movie.  That reality may not always work out the way you think.  That the path may be difficult but it’s worth it.

 

I knew Milton was joking about me acting like I was in a rom-com, running to confess my love before the plane could take off or whatever. But it hit a little too close to Will’s comments about me being a romantic for comfort. My only relationship experience was from books, movies, and TV, so of course I had absorbed that stuff. And maybe when I’d first gotten here my hopes for me and Will had kind of skewed in that direction. But I was pretty sure that recently I’d—what? Grown out of it? Or, just seen that there were a lot of ways for relationships to go. A lot of ways that romance could look different.

 

And this one is no doubt different.  This is not your typical romance.  Not your typical swoonfest with exclamations of love and candlelit dinners.  But this felt real to me.  And there are conversations throughout this book…whether they are with Layne, or Milton, Daniel or Rex that are such a captivating exploration into relationship dynamics and understanding people that it made some of what happened with this couple work. 

 

Like all of Roan’s books, her characters are so well developed and complex.  Nothing is ever what it really appears on the surface and diving further into understanding what makes a relationship between two people work is always an intriguing journey. This book especially. And while this has some heartbreaking scenes, seeing both characters grow and evolve with the other just worked for me.

 

One afternoon when the subway got delayed on my way up to Will’s apartment it hit me with a startling clarity. This was the problem with scripting romances in your head. When someone doesn’t hit the beats, you expect of them you have no idea what their actual behavior means. Will had tried to tell me. So had Gretchen. Even Layne, in her way, had told me. That this was what being a romantic looked like: paying more attention to your own expectations than to the very real person in front of you.

 

Now is this book for everyone? Maybe not.  But I have to say. I have never felt a book needed a narration like I feel this one does.  Will and Leo both are very different and I am sure many want to smack Will around and beat his head in…but I never got there with him.  He was never a character that I felt wasn’t blunt about where things stood.  Will needed a voice.  He needs to be heard to be understood.  And Spencer Goss’ narration does that.  Spencer brings these characters to life.  Makes them real.  And for some reason with this book, it is needed more than ever.  Will’s heart is missing from this book, I think, if you only read the words presented on paper and Spencer gives it to you.  

 

As I stated above, this is not your typical romance but it is a love that I am certain will last.  Is it tied up with your typical HEA bow?? No, because that is not this couple.  But do I think they have the HEA?  I do. I really do.

 

I am so glad I took a chance on this book.  While I had not read the blurb or any reviews, I have heard rumblings of dis-satisfaction.  What a shame.  I’m in awe again over the characters, the writing and the relationships that Roan brings forth on the page. I eagerly await more...*cough cough Milton* and hopefully another narration with Spencer.  This pairing knows how to tell a story. 

 

 

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