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review 2018-04-07 22:35
Block and Strike by Kelly Jensen 4.5 Star Review!!
Block and Strike - Kelly Jensen

Jacob Kendricks is three months out of prison, estranged from his daughter, and ready to get his life on track. Taking care of the bum curled up on his doorstep isn’t part of the plan. When he realizes the man has been assaulted, Jake takes him to the hospital, where he learns that Max is his downstairs neighbor… and that he could really use a friend. Keeping Max in the friend-zone would be easier if he wasn’t so damned cute.

Maxwell Wilson has been bullied for years, and the only person who ever cared lives too far away to come to his rescue. Now his upstairs neighbor is offering support. Max remains cautious, suspecting he is little more than a project for the handsome Jake. When he learns Jake has had boyfriends as well as girlfriends, Max has to reevaluate his priorities—and muster the courage to take a chance at love.

Just when a happy future is within their grasp, life knocks them back down. A devastating blow leaves Max lower than ever and Jake wrestling with regret. They both have to find the strength to stand on their own before they can stand together.

 

Review

 

Jacob and Max. I love the complexity of this romance. I love how much each hero has going on internally and externally when they meet. 

All the conflicts press in on them and they fall in love anyway and we want them too. 

This is a well written love story with so many fine details: internalized homophobia, martial arts, bi phobia, anger management. Despite the dark themes, this is a hopeful and healing romance overall with a great cast and wonderful arc for each hero. 

Jacob delays telling Max somethings too long in ways that don't make sense but they are both flawed, lovely and lovable characters that I adored.

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review 2017-12-29 01:54
ARC Review: Strike Up The Band by Sam Burns
Strike Up the Band (Wilde Love Book 3) - Sam Burns

This is the 3rd book in the Wilde Love series, switching back to Freddie Mercury Isn't Dead aka FRED, the band that got its start at Wilde's, Keegan's restaurant/bar in book 1. Some time has passed since then; they now have a hit single and are on a tour. 

The band is forced to take on a new member, to finish the tour as their record label demands, because record labels are cruel assholes only concerned with making money, no matter what it costs the band.

Jake McKenna doesn't want to stay on tour, he doesn't want to even interact with the new member of the band, one Brian Mulholland, and he sure as hell doesn't want a career in music anymore.

The aforementioned Brian is the ex-member of a now-defunct boy band, who is looking for a new start after firing his manager/mother when she caught him kissing another man. 

Now, I'm not going to give away the plot or why Jake feels the way he does about continuing in his music career - there's a reason why that's not in the blurb, and I'm not going to spoil things here. 

This book can be read as a standalone, though I don't know why you wouldn't want to read the first two books as well. 

I do want to talk a bit about Jake's sexuality - he identifies as homo-romantic/asexual - and how well the author worked that into the book, showcasing without ever getting preachy that love is definitely not dependent on sexual contact, and that someone like Jake can find the right person for him. Both Brian's bisexuality and Jake's asexuality are handled in really positive ways, making it clear that romance and love can happen even if sex is off the table. Brian is a really good guy, sympathetic and forgiving, even if Jake is prickly and disengaged at first, and they eventually begin a friendship that then leads to more, and I was happy that the author didn't change Jake for Brian, or vice versa. They had honest and open conversations about Jake not wanting sexual intercourse, and how that might affect Brian down the road, which allowed them both to make the right choice for themselves. 

If you've read the first book, Straight From The Heart, you already know what Jake is like, and I was happy to find that the author didn't change his personality from the first book - he's still the somewhat grumpy, mostly introverted guy who just wanted to play his guitar and write music. 

The author does a really good job fleshing out the characters and giving them realistic, complex, and somewhat flawed personalities. They're both more complex that what initially meets the eye, and I thought they were rather well suited to each other. There's not a lot of relationship angst here, though the beginning of book is somewhat difficult to read, and ... no.... not going to spoil it for you. I will say that I didn't expect the turn of events, and I must applaud the author for taking things in that direction, no matter how it... no... not going to spoil it for you. The romance develops slowly, as it should have, and is based on friendship with comfort, hugs, and kisses. 

What I also love is that this book isn't just about Jake and Brian and their slowly developing romance, but also about the other band members, about their strong friendships, about being a family of sorts, about their struggles to integrate Brian into the band, and how to move forward from... nope, sorry, not going to tell you.

Do yourself a favor and read this series. There's a 4th book out now too. 


** I received a free copy of this book from its author in exchange for an honest review. **

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review 2017-10-23 18:45
Strike Out (Barlow Sisters #2) by Jordan Ford
Strike Out - Jordan Ford
Strike Out hits the ball waaaay out of the park! Don't get me wrong, I still love Maddie and Holden, but wow... Max and Cairo! Max has lost her love for baseball, but has no idea how to tell her father when all his hopes and dreams rest on her. That's a lot of pressure on a young woman. On her first day at school, she gets lost and finds herself in the music room. There is a red Stratocaster in the room, and she can't help but be drawn to it. Cairo, the resident rock star, finds this strange blonde girl near to his precious guitar, but he doesn't think that she is there to steal it. Instead, it comes about that he offers to teach her how to play guitar - and Max finds something, and someone, who brings her alive.
 
Now, there are parts to this book that I didn't like - for example, how Max keeps Cairo a secret. I didn't like it, but I completely understood it, and my heart broke for both of them. Like I said in the first paragraph, Max is under a lot of pressure from her father, and doesn't want to disappoint him. The thought of losing the music though, and having to play baseball forever, hurts her more than she can say. Jordan Ford did an amazing job of making this so real. My emotions were swinging like a pendulum as I read, just like Max and Cairo's were.
 
The first part of the book takes you over ground already covered in Maddie and Hayden's story, but from Max's perspective. You never feel like you are bored reading this, because something is always happening that you didn't know about before.
 
This book had no editing or grammatical errors that disrupted my reading flow. The scenes changed smoothing, flowing from one to the next. The characters continue to engage the reader's interest, and you get updates on how things are going for characters you have met previously. No middle book slump for this series. Highly recommended by me, and I can't wait for Chloe's book.
 
* A copy of this book was provided to me with no requirements for a review. I voluntarily read this book, and my comments here are my honest opinion. *
 
Merissa
Archaeolibrarian - I Dig Good Books!
Source: sites.google.com/site/archaeolibrarian/merissa-reviews/strikeoutbarlowsisters2byjordanford
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review 2017-10-09 17:36
Describing one front of an expanded conflict
The Allies Strike Back, 1941-1943 - James Holland

The second volume of James Holland's three-volume history of the "the war in the West" begins where the first one, The Rise of Germany leaves off, with Germany launching Operation Barbarossa, their massive invasion of the Soviet Union. It's a fitting starting point, as it means an adjustment to Holland's coverage of the war. Holland's series is best described as "the war the British waged against Germany," as it concentrates against the campaigns waged by Britain and her allies against the Nazi regime. This made the first volume a straightforward account of the main theaters of the war in Europe from September 1939 to June 1941, which covered all of the key events involving the major combatants.

 

Though the focus of Holland's coverage remains the same, the parameters of his subject have changed in this volume. The opening of the Eastern Front heralded a widening of the war, with Germany's invasion of the Soviet Union followed less than six months later by Japan's attack on Pearl Harbor and their conquest of the European colonies in Southeast Asia. To his credit, Holland does not neglect this, as throughout the text he acknowledges how the developments in these theaters impacted the Western campaigns. Yet even by addressing events in those theaters in passing only there are points at which Holland's narrative seems on the verge of slipping from his control, as the sheer scope of what he is covering -- which includes the campaigns in North Africa, the Atlantic, and in the skies of western and central Europe, as well as the economic context of the war effort -- often forces him to bounce around to address developments in multiple theaters. To his credit, Holland manages to stay on top of it, yet the disjointedness of his narrative compared to the previous volume is more evident.

 

Nevertheless, this shouldn't overshadow the overall merits of Holland's book. Overall he maintains the high quality of description and deft interweaving of analysis with personal narratives that capture the individual experiences of a vast war. That he will conclude his series in the third volume while offering the same degree of detail as he did about the North Africa campaign for the invasions of Sicily, Italy, and France, as well as the increasing bombing campaign and its collective toll upon Germany is an open question, yet one the answer to which I already look forward to reading.

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text 2017-10-04 14:41
Reading progress update: I've read 259 out of 720 pages.
The Allies Strike Back, 1941-1943 - James Holland

I'm a little over a third of the way through the book, and so far it's living up to its predecessor. Holland does a particularly good job of integrating selected personal narratives with an analysis that explains why developments turned out the way that they did. His main challenge in this volume is doing this on a much wider scope; the first volume had the advantage of having to focus only on the war between Germany and Britain & France, whereas in this one he now has to factor in both the Eastern Front and the events in Asia. So far he's proving up to the task, though his narrative suffers a little from having to jump around so much more than he did before.

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