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review 2018-03-17 02:59
Who We Are
Who We Are - Nicola Haken,Jay Aheer,E Adams

This was such a great read! I wished it were longer - but kind of not, because my eyeballs couldn't have withstood leaking any more than they already were, but since some things were more summarized nearing the end, I didn't feel quite completely satisfied with some aspects of the story. Thankfully, those were minor aspects involving minor characters, so it wasn't too big of a deal.

 

Anyway, I loved Ollie and Sebastian. This is one of the few instances I found the insta believable, because it wasn't insta-lust but insta-like and we've all been through that, whether romantic or platonic. They actually go on dates, and get to know each other, and the relationship is built up believably enough that when things take a sudden turn for the worse, I actually found the emotions and struggles to be realistic. I also liked Ollie's brother Tyler, even though he constantly abused "init" and acted like a typical moody teen at times, but he really showed how much he cared for and adored his unorthodox big bro.

 

Plus, Sebastian is bisexual. He said it. He explains the internal biphobia, the problems he faces when datings straight women or gay men. I am so, so glad that more authors are embracing bisexual characters in their books and getting away from the GFY trope.

 

I do wish we'd gotten to see more of Sebastian's family - even his uncle cuz I want to take that moment at the dining table and frame it on my wall - you'll know that moment if you read the book. And there was this other thing between the besties that happens at the end too, that I'm not sure why it was included at all unless perhaps Ms. Haken is thinking of a potential sequel, which I would definitely read if so.

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review 2018-03-08 03:54
Boy Meets Boy (Audiobook)
Boy Meets Boy - David Levithan

Why would anyone eat a lentil burger? What is wrong with you people? That is taking vegetarianism way too far!

 

 

But that disturbing moment aside, this was a fun listen. I liked the full cast production, they went into audio play territory, with sound effects, songs and all that jazz. The cast was great, though I was confused at times when Noah or Paul were talking. Not sure why they'd pick two guys who sound so much alike for those roles.

 

This was pretty much Teen Melodrama and Teen Angst, but peppered with enough humor to make the melodrama and angst more palatable (unlike lentils). I have a feeling that if I'd read this instead of listened to it, though, I wouldn't have liked it near as much.

 

It was a little too much "ultra liberal paradise" to be believable but I just started thinking of it as a fantasy/AU after awhile. (Cheerleading squad that rides choppers? Who's paying for that?) I also wanted to smack Paul on several occasions, especially when he's complaining about having no one to talk about his problems. I mean, I know he's a teen but dude, your parents??? That's kind of what they're there for.

 

I liked Noah and Paul and Tony and even Kevin after awhile. I wanted to like Joanie more but her character does this thing and since the story just sort of ends without resolving said things, I'm kind of left waffling on her. Infinite Darlene was a hoot, a real scene stealer.

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review 2018-02-19 03:39
Jack of Thorns (Inheritance #1)
Jack of Thorns (Inheritance Book 1) - Amelia Faulkner

A story set in San Diego written by someone who actually knows San Diego.

 

 

I was fully prepared to have to relive some really bad geography, ala Everything Changes  by Melanie Hansen, but by the time chapter five or so rolled around, I knew I was in good hands. I even learned something about that ginormous tree in the middle of Balboa Park (because she's right; locals totally don't read those tourist signs, lol). Woot!

 

Now onto stuff other readers will actually care about. :D The world-building in this book is fantastic and I'm eager to see how she develops this world going forward. This is the way I like my world-building - just enough information that I'm not lost but not so much information that the mystery is ruined. There is no info-dumping here, but we still get a complex world with hints of more lairs hidden beneath. Faulkner borrows from Celtic myths, psychic tropes and even throws in a little bit of mystery, while also balancing themes of classism, abuse and addiction. Warnings re: the addiction storyline:

Laurence drives while high on marijuana several times, which is dangerous but wasn't actually illegal until this year (2018). He also craves heroin several times. Quentin has alcoholic tendencies but those aren't focused on quite as much, though he does get smashed a couple of times.

(spoiler show)

This is a really slow burn. If you're looking for smexy or smut, look elsewhere. The MCs only kiss - twice - and one of those times was not with romantic intentions. Quentin has a lot of hangups with sex, though those reasons are only guessed at here, so this is something that appears will be explored in later books. I love that Laurence never pressures him. He doesn't ignore the issues but doesn't push more than Quentin is comfortable with.

 

We get both Laurence and Quentin's POVs, and the author actually gives them their own unique voices in their POVs. This is sadly rare in M/M, where all MCs have the same voices, so it deserves recognition when an author is able to do this. Quentin does have this habit of referring to himself as "one" throughout the first half of the book, but this seemed tied up with his many issues.

 

There were a couple of minor continuity issues and very few typos. I also felt that Laurence's bisexuality was more lip service than anything else. 

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review 2018-01-25 05:25
Autoboyography (Audiobook)
Autoboyography - Christina Lauren,Kyle Mason,Richard Deacon

I was raised in the Mormon church, in what we referred to as the Samoan ward since many of the members were of that nationality. I never had a very good relationship with the church. Unlike Sebastian and the folks in Provo, UT, the seaside town in SoCal that I grew up in was not overrun with Mormons and they remain in the minority of worshippers even today. It's also very diverse, so you run across a lot of different nationalities and beliefs on any given day. So I didn't have Mormon friends at school, and my brother and I pretty much rebelled (as much as we were allowed to) against not spending time outside the house on Sunday (other than church of course) and having to participate in Monday home evening. Youth group activities on Wednesday nights were at least fun, and we didn't have to do too many weekend or service activities. We did summer camp a few times, and Scouts, but it was camping and selling cookies - it's hard to make that suck. And while I wouldn't call myself a feminist, per se, I never liked the assumption that I would grow up to have babies and bake cookies for Relief Society and I hated wearing dresses with a passion - though I didn't envy my brother his button-down shirts and slacks either.

 

Basically, I liked the people and was comfortable around them - and still am - in a way I'm not comfortable with most people. Even though it's been years since I've attended services regularly or cracked open a Book of Mormon and I'm against the things the church promotes in regards to gender equality and LGBTQ+ rights, I still identify as Mormon. It's a complicated relationship I have with my church (can I even still call it "mine"?) and there were no easy answers for me, a girl with no interest in marriage or kids, other than to leave the church.

 

And yet, I miss it. I miss the comfort it used to bring me and the peace I used to feel inside those doors. I miss the innocent trust I used to place on the church's teachings of "families are forever" and "love thy neighbor" and "do good works" because in the years since I left the church I've learned many things that I disagree with them about, and even if they believe in the depths of their hearts that they're doing God's works, that's no God I want any part of when He excludes people simply for loving the "wrong" person.

 

Like Tanner and Sebastian, I too keep hoping for the day when the prophet has a revelation and declares being LGBTQ+ to be a-okay and right with God, and you know what? Women are allowed to hold the gospel too. Until then, I stay away and a part of me will never be whole again.

 

What I loved about this book though is that it doesn't demonize Mormons or Sebastian or his family. Not all Mormons are anti-gay or turn their family away for being gay. The authors definitely did their research and got the input of people who know the church, and it shows, and it all speaks very true to what I saw and experienced growing up. But they don't beat the reader over the head with religion. As Tanner learns, the reader learns.

 

Tanner wasn't raised with religion, though his mom is ex-Mormon and his dad is a non-practicing Jew. He grew up in San Francisco, where being bisexual was no big deal, and he had the support and love of his parents from day one. It takes him a long time to open his eyes and realize that not all parents are like his parents, but that doesn't mean they love their kids any less. As he gets to know Sebastian and understand more about what makes up his psyche and why, he's able to see a larger picture and world than he was raised in, and it's not always pretty.

 

There is a hint of insta-love between Tanner and Sebastian, but given they're young men, and Tanner is quite impulsive, it rang true to me that things would move as fast as they do, even with Sebastian's reservations and need to keep things secret. They face plenty of challenges, enough to test their feelings for each other and make me believe those feelings were real and true. 

 

I have two very minor nitpicks and I'm not sure how much they'll even bother me if/when I reread this. The first is the narrator. Don't get me wrong, he did a fantastic job with the story and the characters. But he's not eighteen. Honestly though, that bothered me less and less as I listened and got into the story. Some of the female characters were a little strained in the higher octaves though.

 

The other thing was the sudden switch in the last fifth of the book. I didn't realize that everything I'd listened to up to that point was the actual book that Tanner wrote for his seminar class, so it went from first-person POV to third-person POV for both Sebastian and Tanner after the "book" ended and we caught up with the narrative. It was jarring, tonally, but again that could just be because I wasn't expecting it and it's possible that it'll flow better on reread.

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review 2018-01-24 02:04
A Ring For Christmas
A Ring for Christmas (Meghan’s Playhouse Book 4) - Adriana Kraft
Title: A Ring For Christmas
Author: Adriana Kraft
Publisher: eXtasy Books
Series: Meghan's Playhouse Book 4
Reviewed By: Arlena Dean
Rating: Five
Review:

"A Ring For Christmas" by Adriana Kraft

My Thoughts....

Questions??....
Will Meghan be able to help her friend Lisa while she is in Las Vegas with a big secret that hadn't told to her boyfriend two years? What will happen after Bryce finds out about this secret? How will he respond? What will happen when the three [Meghan, Bryce & Lisa] meet up? Will it be one sweet ride? I don't want to spoil it and tell all so you will have to pick up "A Ring for Christmas" by this author to get all of these questions answered. So, if you are into these kinds of exotic reads you will love this novella.
 
 
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