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review 2017-04-27 01:56
Release Day ARC Review: Vodka And Handcuffs by Brandon Witt
Vodka & Handcuffs (Mary's Boys Book 2) - Brandon Witt

The title of this book, much like the first one in this series, plays on the occupations of the two MCs - one a bartender, the other a cop.

Vahin, the bartender, is Muslim, and from India, and gay, and out, which has caused him to be shunned by his family. Marlon, the cop, is black, also gay, but deep in the closet. His partner on the beat is basically a Jeff Sessions wannabe - a racist, homophobic, xenophobic asshole first class, who thinks he can do what he wants because his daddy is a Senator. He's also universally hated by all, including the Chief, and only assigned to Marlon because the Chief figured it'd be best to pair the asshole with his best cop.

Marlon meets Vahin at Hamburger Mary's, they have a night of drunken fun, mostly off-page, and then shit hits the fan, what with the racist cop partner trying to frame Vahin and arrest him, and Marlon being involuntarily outed, and ... yeah... none of it is pretty. This is not a fluffy book. The blurb is a bit misleading. Okay, maybe a lot misleading. Don't expect a fluffy, easy read.

The only real fun on page is when ManDonna struts her stuff - I flove her! She takes no shit, and she will hand you your balls, and you'll thank her for it.

I didn't quite believe the romance in the time line used, and while we get a HFN, I wasn't sure that things were going to last - perhaps we'll see how that goes in a future installment for this series. I do want them to last, I do. I just have doubts that their still fresh relationship can survive the roadblocks that will continue to be in their way, despite marriage equality, and despite the tide slowly turning in their favor. I want to believe that Denver is a bit more enlightened when it comes to racism, homophobia, and xenophobia.

I think this might have worked a little better for me if the book had been longer and had taken the time to really delve into the issues, and perhaps stretch out the time frame a little bit more. The issues raised here are definitely hot topics, and I was a little disappointed that Marlon's forced coming out, and that loathsome, filthy, evil, little cockroach partner's despicable actions weren't given adequate resolutions. Perhaps that is fitting after all - in today's political climate, what with the current administration in the White House, and the "values" for which they stand, it's certainly possible to look at this and realize that, yeah, there won't be any adequate resolutions to homophobia, xenophobia, and blatant racism, until we've gotten rid of the pestilence in orange that empowered this pond scum to strut around with their ignorant flags and "white power" bullshit.

Kudos to this author for making his main characters non-white. I wish there were more books that did that. There is a message within this book too - as a POC, you have to stand up for yourself every damn day, against hatred, against persecution, against blatant ignorance, and if you're POC and gay, your resilience will be tested time and again in triplicate. I commend the author for touching on these difficult subjects with honesty and sensitivity.

The author also sets up the next book toward the end, which will feature Zachary aka Ariel Merman. I had my heart in my throat while reading that bit, and I need the next book, like, now.

This series is quickly becoming a favorite of mine, and that's primarily due to what it isn't - lighthearted fluff. I want to read books that deal with current affairs, and this one definitely does.


** I received a free copy of this book from its publisher. A positive review was not promised in return. **

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review 2017-04-26 02:38
ARC Review: Anything For You by Ethan Day
Anything For You - Ethan Day

One major niggle up front - the way Trent drugged Jason, as unintentional as the consequences were - yeah, super not cool. I was mad!

But I got over it.

Jason is deep in the closet. So deep he's actually almost in Narnia. Not out to anyone except his closest friends, he has a basket by his front door so he can quickly "de-gay" his apartment whenever someone not his closest friends comes over. Such as his sister. Who's a lesbian herself, and who you'd think Jason might feel comfortable opening up to.

But no. Jason is in Narnia.

Then he meets Chad, while under the influence of alcohol and Valium. Chad is a coming-out guru who's recently moved back from D.C. and Jason wants to make like a monkey and climb him. And does. Repeatedly.

Except there's that thing about being in Narnia, and while Chad is patient for a while, eventually Jason needs to make up his mind about what's more important - staying in the closet and losing Chad, or joining the rainbow and keeping the love of his life.

With snappy dialogue, tons of humor, snark, and sarcasm, this is a fun and cute and really quick read. But it's not just a romantic comedy, there's some sadness and some angst too, but it's mixed in relatively sparsely and doesn't overpower the romance or the comedy. Well-developed characters, and a fine supporting cast, especially Jason's sister Annie, make this a great book to read during a long lunch break.

Recommended!


** I received a free copy of this book from the author upon its re-release. A positive review was not promised in return. **

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review 2017-03-31 10:31
Review: "Carry the Ocean" (The Roosevelt, #1) by Heidi Cullinan
Carry the Ocean - Heidi Cullinan

"I am normal. I belong. I have a friend who can kick ass from a wheelchair. I live independently and get good grades. I’m an excellent lover.

Like I said. I’m awesome. I’m Emmet David Washington. Train Man. The best autistic Blues Brother on the block."

I love this book more and more with every reread.

 

********************************************

First read: April 15th, 2015

1st reread: May 19th, 2016

2nd reread: March 31st, 2017

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review 2017-03-30 03:58
Difficult Women
Difficult Women - Roxane Gay

I discovered Roxane Gay through her essays about feminism, pop culture, and her life. Her voice immediately captivated me with her thoughtful reflections on a wide variety of topics, so I was excited to read a collection of her short stories. Unfortunately, I didn't find them as captivating as her essays.

 

There's no question for me that Roxane Gay is a talented writer. All her short stories were unique and focused on women from different backgrounds. However, short stories tend to be fairly hit or miss for me. More often than not with the stories I appreciated the story she was telling, but didn't connect emotionally with it. There were a handful that where I was drawn in to the story, but that was sadly just not the case for most of them. I wish I loved her fiction writing as much as I love her non-fiction. Sadly, I seem to merely like it.

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review 2017-03-28 21:37
Give this Collection, 4 Stars
Difficult Women - Roxane Gay

I honestly didn't like some of the stories which is why I ended up giving this collection as a whole 4 stars. Gay writes extremely well though. I can honestly say that I could picture everything that she was describing in her stories. To the point a few times I had to hug myself at the end of a story. I am happy that I bought this though since I can see myself in the future re-reading some of my favorite stories, and that's how you know you have a home-run with me that even without it being a 5 star rated book by me, I have every intention of coming back and thinking about what was written. I honestly wish that Gay would come back and revisit some of these characters in future works.

 

"I Will Follow You" (5 stars)-The love that a pair of sisters have for one another. This story sets the stage for the rest of the collection. I actually re-read this one twice just because I wanted to let the story live longer with me. Heartbreaking and full of hope at the same time. 

 

"Water, All Its Weight" (3 stars)-I honestly was confused with this one. It definitely had a fairytale aspect to it. But after reading the previous story, I guess I wasn't in the headspace for something I found to just be quirky.

 

"The Mark of Cain" (3 stars)-This one was weird. A woman pulled between two brothers. I honestly didn't get why she made the choices she did. I think throughout the whole story I was just confused. I don't know why anyone would say to themselves this is a good life. But maybe that was the lesson that Gay was trying to get across.

 

"Difficult Women" (5 stars)-I loved how Gay breaks down all of the cliches we have all heard before about women. Breaking things down so that you can see the woman behind the loose, frigid, and crazy. About seeing what mothers and even dead girls think about. Wonderful from beginning to end.

 

When a Crazy Woman is Misunderstood

It started with a phone call after a third date where she followed him home and they had sex, nothing memorable, but overall, adequate. 

They had breakfast at the diner next door.

He ate eggs, scrambled soft.

She had pancakes, doused in syrup and butter.

"I can't believe you're a woman who eats," he said. 

"You're a goddamned dream.

 

FLORDIA (5 stars)-Once again Gay breaks down a community of women that live in a gated community in Florida. 

 

La Negra Blanca (4 stars)-A look at a woman who is passing as white who uses what she has body wise to pay for school. I like the story, but think adding in the customer to it made it a little too Hollywood movie for me. He was also a gross figure and the whole ending left me with chills. I maybe made sure my door was locked at the end of this story.

 

"Baby Arm" (2 stars)-My least favorite of all of the stories. I don't know, I feel like this is something that I maybe once upon watched on Adult Swim at night one time. Only in anime form or something. I also started giggling remembering 30 Rock with Liz Lemon.

 

"North Country" (5 stars)-I loved this story from beginning to end. Reading about a woman learning to love again and a man who works his way into her heart was great. I would love to see this brought to film one day. The narrator's story of how she ended up where she was to meet Magnus was great. 


"How" (3 stars)-Eh. I think that it was just okay. I didn't have any big takeaways from it. And I hate how the character of Hanna never did reveal what her mother had to say. 

 

"Requiem for a Glass Heart" (2 stars)-I didn't really care for this story much. Once again based on what went before, it was just okay.

 

"In the Event of My Father's Death" (3 stars)-I hated the ending.

 

"Break All the Way Down" (5 stars)-Once again this story brought to film would be wonderful. I loved it. I also got why the main character was punishing herself. When the reveal comes out you will get it too. 

 

"Bad Priest" (3 stars)-Just made me think about the Thorn Birds. Nothing Earth shattering here. 

 

"Open Marriage" (4 stars)-The shortest of the short stories and the one that did crack me up. 

 

"Best Features" (5 stars)-I loved Milly and sat and thought to myself how many of my friends and even me have had that thing drilled into our heads due to what is considered undesirable. I was made fun of for being light skinned and would often sit outside to make myself darker. For some African American men I am too dark, for others, not light enough, for some white men definitely too dark and for some of them they want someone dark skinned to make things more "exotic." With Milly being heavy weight she always feels as if she has to give in anytime a man shows her interest since she knows that she is not seen as desirable like thin women are. Just loved the whole story. It really made me think.

 

"Bone Density" (5 stars)-The ins and outs of marriage. I am pretty happy that I am single after reading this story.

 

"I Am a Knife" (3 stars)-Once again I didn't get this until almost the end. But I have to say that I got bored with reading the word knife over and over again.

 

"The Sacrifice of Darkness" (4.5 stars)-I liked this one though I found most of it to be odd. If you can get your head past the central premise of the story you may like it too.

 

"Noble Things" (4 stars)-Way too soon after the US election and Gay imagines a world in which we have another Civil War. I liked this story, but thought the ending didn't quite get there. 

 

"Strange Gods" (5 stars)-A powerful ending to this collection. Until you get to the reveal you don't get what is happening with our narrator. You just know that she loves the man she's with and is in a stream of consciousness writing tell him her beginning that he is unaware of right now.

 

I liked for the most part that in every story that the women/girls within it were not just white and that so many issues were brought up in this collection: rape, spousal abuse, lying, sexual needs, faith, sin, hope, I can go on. Definitely worth a read!

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