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review 2017-07-24 23:51
All American Boys
All American Boys - Brendan Kiely,Jason Reynolds

All American Boys follows two young men - one African American, one Caucasian - after an incident of racist police brutality.  Rashad, who is innocent, is beaten severely enough to be hospitalized by a White police officer who claimed he was stealing a bag of chips from a convenient store.  Quinn observes the incident and then struggles with whether to let people know that he was there.

 

Set in a generic small city or large town named Springfield, the story could be taking place anywhere in today’s America.  I’ve been hearing about this book from teacher and librarian bloggers since its release in 2015 and thought it would be a good fit for the optional 4th of July Booklikes-opoly Americana book selection.

 

Co-authored by African American author Jason Reynolds and Caucasian author Brendan Keily, All American Boys could qualify as an #OwnVoices book.  However, I feel like All American Boys was written more as a parable to explain to Caucasian readers why this topic is important than as a book for African American readers to see themselves.  While I found the book compelling, at times All American Boy almost crosses the line to polemic and the moralizing is a bit too blatant to these adult eyes.

 

In the end, All American Boys is a timely memorial to Trayvon Martin, Freddie Gray, Michael Brown, Tarika Wilson, Keith Childress and the countless other young African Americans who are disproportionately dying at the hands of police. Despite my quibbles, All American Boys admirably serves as a potential avenue to start the conversation with young adults about this complex topic.

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review 2017-07-19 02:23
ARC Review: Mascara & Bandages (Mary's Boys #3) by Brandon Witt
Mascara & Bandages (Mary's Boys Book 3) - Brandon Witt

This is the 3rd book in the Mary's Boys series, all set in and around a Hamburger Mary's in Denver, CO.

On his way home from Hamburger Mary's after a performance as his drag queen alter ego Ariel Merman, while still dressed as Ariel, Zachary Cooper becomes the victim of a gay bashing. 

I was already crying when he comes to in the hospital, in pain and worried that the homophobic assholes who attacked him messed up his face and that he won't be able to perform anymore. 

In walks Teegan Chau, his doctor, and things suddenly look up.

Teegan has only recently come out as gay, and while he's divorced from his wife, they share a little girl and have a great friendly, supportive relationship. Teegan has had some hook-ups with other men, but has never been on an actual date with a man. Instantly smitten with the younger, somewhat femme guy in the hospital bed, Teegan and Zachary agree on a date. 

While the story had the potential to be really angsty, it actually wasn't, and there's a lot of inner strength to Zachary. He has a steely interior, and while he struggles a little with the trauma from the attack, he doesn't allow it to destroy him. 

I loved that the author didn't rush the developing relationship. Teegan's adorkable awkwardness on their first date was super cute, but neither he nor Zachary jumped into a commitment - they took their time to test the waters and really build a foundation.

As Ariel, Zachary is free to be himself, instead of worrying about meeting expectations other men might have of him. I loved that the author wrote about a femme man and the misconceptions that come with that. 

This book is the most heart-breaking and also most heart-warming of the series so far, as Zachary and Teegan, and the whole Mary's chosen family, deal with societal expectations, homophobia, the bashing, immediate family issues, and how to forge their own way.

There isn't a lot of steam here, and I for one don't need that in a romance novel to believe the relationship. Zachary grows into himself here, and Teegan finds exactly what he never knew he always wanted. 

So well done. 


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

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review 2017-07-17 02:22
ARC Review: Smitty's Sheriff (Hope #3) by Cardeno C.
Smitty's Sheriff: A May December Contemporary Romance (Hope Collection) - Cardeno C.

It pains me to no end to have to give such a low rating to a CC novel, but I hated Richard in this book, and the romance here was not what I expected.

I quite liked Todd, and I really wanted him to fall for someone not Richard, someone who deserved him, but I guess the heart wants what the heart wants.

Todd is in his early 20s, and six months ago, Richard, the town's sheriff, broke off their three year hidden relationship for no apparent reason. Just no longer called or came by. Todd doesn't know why, and he's still carrying a torch for the sheriff, but doesn't know how to get him back. 

At 41, Richard is considerably older than Todd and a condescending, judgmental, stuck-up ass. He likes to be in charge, but he also looked down his nose at the younger man, his carefree, somewhat flighty personality, and didn't consider it appropriate to be known as "the grocery boy's booty call". Say what now? >.<

Both suffer from a serious lack of communication with each other, with Richard being averse to Todd sleeping with others, and Todd not knowing that Richard wants a committed relationship, when Richard never even hinted at it. When you're someone's secret booty call, the message they're sending is not one of commitment. 

But then Todd's sister needs a babysitter (how convenient), and since Todd couldn't possibly handle the baby by himself, he's expected to move into Richard's place to get help with his niece. I didn't like Todd's sister either. She older than Todd and closer in age to Richard, and they BOTH treated Todd like he's just a fuck-up.

But he's not. And I guess as Richard sees a more grown-up, responsible side of Todd, he has to reconsider his actions and maybe realize that he was wrong. Only he doesn't really think he was wrong, and it takes Todd telling him what he didn't consider for Richard to pull his head out of his ass.

The book makes it sound like Richard misses Todd as much as Todd missed Richard, but jealousy and distrust don't make a good foundation for a relationship, and for Todd to feel as if he has to justify himself all the damn time, and for him to offer Richard access to his phone so Richard can verify that Todd is not sneaking around with other men - UGH, NO!

CC's usual writing style of course shines through here, which is why I finished the book, because the fluff and hot sexy times are all there, but the romance was definitely lacking, and I don't have high hopes that these two will ride off into the sunset together. 

If you love CC's books, I hope you'll give this a try. You never know - it might work for you, even though it didn't for me. 

 



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

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review 2017-07-13 18:54
Child Soldier
Child Soldier: When Boys and Girls Are Used in War (CitizenKid) - Michel Chikwanine,Jessica Dee Humphreys,Claudia Dávila

If he’d only listened to his father, Michel wouldn’t have lost part of his childhood but what he experienced with the rebel soldiers will never be erased from his mind. Michel was five when he was taken with his best friend Kevin by a group of rebel militia while they were playing basketball after school. His father told him to come right home after school but Michel ignored his father words. Military vehicles were a common sight so when they pulled up alongside the court, the boys disregarded them. When boys in ratted clothing emerged setting off their firearms, the boys fell to the ground. Thrown in the back of their trucks with other boys, they went for a ride. They were soon going to be initiated into the militia’s army. Michel tried to stand up for himself but that only led to him becoming the example in the group. The militia used a variety of means to get their recruits to obey including drugs, force, amputation and of course, death. Michel was forced to perform many actions that horrified and ashamed him as the weeks passed in the countryside. Scared, Michel wanted to go home but the recruits were under constant supervision. Finally, Michel sees an opportunity to escape. As he surfaces to the outside world, Michel emerges a changed individual. He is no longer an innocent child, he has a story that no one else has.

 

I thought this was a terrific graphic novel memoir that communicates a great story. The illustrations were wonderfully done, not overly dramatic but using facial expressions and other means, the story is presented nicely. I liked the variety of text fonts that were used as I thought that added to the drama of the story. It is 1993 and there is political turmoil occurring in the Democratic Republic of Congo and Michel is in the middle of it. I was surprised how young Michel was when this story took place. I felt that Michel’s father placed too much responsibility on Michel’s shoulders as I read this novel. Michel’s father is a human rights lawyer and an activist and since Michel is the only son in the family, his father tells him what he wants him to do should the police arrest him. His father had many good words of wisdom that he tells his son and I had to wonder how far Michel would take his father’s advice, his father was a man and Michel was now a child of eight. I felt these expectations were a bit high for a child so young. I did appreciate how this novel talked about the country before the fighting began and why the fighting is taking place. I felt this knowledge set the story up before Michel’s drama began. I felt a good connection with Michel throughout the story and I felt closure at the end. At the end of the novel, there is a current photo of Michel and a short narrative about what Michel is presently doing. There is also a question and answer section about Boys and Girls in War and what individuals can do about it, which I thought was very interesting and thorough. The author also included a list of a few other resources individuals can check out if they are interested in child soldiers. This graphic novel is worth checking out.

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text 2017-07-11 12:23
Bad Boys After Dark: Carson (Bad Billionaires After Dark) by Melissa Foster​ - 5 FLAMES hot romance has arrived!!!
Bad Boys After Dark: Carson - Melissa Foster
~NEW ROMANCE RELEASE~ ೋ
 
Bad Boys After Dark: Carson (Bad Billionaires After Dark) by Melissa Foster​ - 5 FLAMES sizzling hot romance has arrived!!! 
 
"Like the most potent of perfumes or the most decadent of desserts, I'm hooked. There's something about a bad boy and Carson wears that surname like a badge of honor or a weapon of choice." - reviews Isha Coleman @ I Love Romance
 
"The chemistry is off the charts between Tawny and Carson and despite a lengthy time apart you can just tell these two are destined to be together. Bad Boys After Dark series is a much more steamier version from Melissa and boy is it hot hot hot! " - reviews E Book Addicts
 
Available right now..
 
ೋღ Book Description ღೋ
Indulge your inner vixen...
 
Bad Billionaires After Dark are a series of stand-alone hot and sexy romances.
 
Indulge your inner vixen with these sexy billionaires!
 
Meet the Bad Boys... Four fiercely loyal, sinfully sexy, uber alpha brothers, about to fall head over heels for their leading ladies.
 
Second chances really do exist...
As the founder of a multimillion-dollar international security business, Carson Bad exposes secrets for a living. He knows better than to forge relationships built on them. But for years he did just that with his best friend, and secret lover,
 
Tawny Bishop. She brought a sense of calm and understanding to his life—in and out of the bedroom. Until one fateful night when a knock at the door changed everything. Tawny is no longer a naive college student. She’s a sought-after perfumer living in Paris. She has plenty of resources at her fingertips, and lots of lonely nights to think about the only man she’s ever loved—the one she ran away from all those years ago. She needs to move forward with her life, but how can she when Carson still owns her heart?
 
Maybe showing up in the middle of the night unannounced isn’t the best route to unraveling the past and figuring out her future, but Tawny has played it safe for ten long years, and it's only made her long for the man she never should have walked away from. Now she's back in Carson’s life, and he’s determined not to make the same mistake twice. If only he knew what that mistake was…
 
The Bad Boys are a series of stand-alone romances that may also be enjoyed as part of the larger Love in Bloom series.
 
**CONTENT WARNING: Due to mature content, recommended for readers aged 18+**
 
Read the full book reviews here...
 
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