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text 2018-09-22 20:35
2018 Pop Sugar Reading Challenge Progress - Summer Progress

My friend talked me into this challenge again this year. Prompts filled are in bold.

 

 

2018 Pop Sugar Reading Challenge

  • Book made into a movie you have already seen - The Finest Hours: The True Story of a Heroic Sea Rescue by Michael J. Tougias and Casey Sherman
  • True Crime - American Fire: Love, Arson, and Life in a Vanishing Land by Monica Hesse
  • Next book in the series - The Jade Temptress (Pingkang Li #2) by Jeannie Lin
  • A book involving a heist
  • Nordic noir
  • Novel based on a real person
  • Set in a country that fascinates me - The Lotus Palace (Pingkang Li #1) by Jeannie Lin
  • Time of day in the title - Evening Stars (Blackberry Island #3) by Susan Mallery
  • Book about villain or anti-hero - 
  • Book about death/grief - The Great Silence 1918-1920: Living in the Shadow of the Great War by Juliet Nicolson
  • Female author/male pen name - Wonderment in Death (...In Death #41.5) by J.D. Robb
  • LGBT+ MC - George by Alex Gino
  • Author with a different ethnicity than me - Ms Marvel Volume 1: No Normal by G. Willow Wilson
  • Book that is also a stage play or musical
  • Book about Feminism - The Good Girls Revolt: How the Women of Newsweek Sued Their Bosses and Changed the Workplace by Lynn Povich
  • Book about mental health - It's in His Kiss (Lucky Harbor #10) by Jill Shalvis
  • Book that was borrowed or gifted to you
  • Book by two authors 
  • Book about or involving sport
  • Local author
  • Favorite color in title
  • Alliteration in the title - Women Heroes of World War I: 16 Remarkable Resisters, Soldiers, Spies, and Medics by Kathryn J. Atwood
  • Time Travel - Paper Girls (Book One) by Brian K. Vaughn et al
  • Weather Element in Title - When Snow Falls (Whiskey Creek #2) by Brenda Novak
  • Book set at sea - The Siren by Kiera Cass
  • Book with animal in title - Wolves at the Door by Skye Jones
  • Book set on a different planet
  • Book with song lyrics in the title - One Wish (Thunder Point #7) by Robyn Carr 
  • Book set on or about Halloween - A Deadly Brew by Lynn Cahoon
  • Book with a set of twins - Three Sisters (Blackberry Island Novel #2) by Susan Mallery
  • Book mentioned in another book - Miss Frost Solves a Cold Case by Kristen Painter
  • Book from a celebrity book club
  • Childhood classic you’ve never read - A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'Entengle
  • Book published in 2018 - Dark in Death (In Death #46) by JD Robb
  • Past Good Reads winner
  • Book set in the decade you were born
  • Book you meant to read in 2017 but didn’t - Love is Love anthology by Various Authors
  • Book with an ugly cover - White Witch (Texas Devlins #1) by Lyn Horner
  • Book that involves bookstore or library - Trinity Falls (Finding Home #1) by Regina Hart
  • Book set in your home state (prompt from 2016 reading challenge) - The Johnstown Flood by David McCullough

 

Advanced List

  1. Bestseller from the year you graduated high school
  2. Cyberpunk book
  3. Book read by a stranger in public - I'll Be Gone in the Dark: One Woman's Obsessive Search for the Golden State Killer by Michelle McNamara
  4. Book tied to your ancestry - The Irish Americans: A History by Jay P. Dolan
  5. Book with a fruit in title - Barefoot Season (Blackberry Island #1) by Susan Mallery
  6. Allegory
  7. Author with same first name as you - Witches of East End (The Beauchamp Family #1) by Melissa de la Cruz 
  8. Microhistory - Dark Tide: The Great Molasses Flood of 1919 by Stephen Puleo
  9. Book about a problem facing todayAWOL: The Unexcused Absence of America’s Upper Classes from Military Service - and How It Hurts Our Country by Kathy Roth Douquet and Frank Schaffer 
  10. Book recommended by someone else doing the challenge
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review 2018-09-19 23:24
So here's the thing...
BFF - K.C. Wells,Michael Mola

I'm really, really torn on this one. I had moments where I really into the story and enjoying myself and then I had moments that bordered on total ambivalence and my brain started to blank out and go 'yeah, yeah whatever'. 

 

For me this story was very reminiscent of Anna Martin's 'Five Times My Best Friend Kissed Me' or or Laura Lascaro's 'When Everything Is Blue'. While each story is told in the author's unique style the overall concept is similar life long friends to lovers and in each case the story is all at least partially told through flashbacks.

 

I'm sure there are a number of other that could fall into this group as well but ironically I listened to all 3 of these books on audio, 2 of them actually had the same narrator...this one and 'When Everything Is Blue' were both narrated by Michael Mola who did an excellent job of with the narrating as did Jesse Cota who narrated 'Five Times My Best Friend Kissed Me'. So I guess that's some of the reasons that the other two books came to mind while I was listening to the audio book of 'BFF'. 

 

I think one of my biggest problems with this one was the fact that we've got two boys/men, Matt and David who meet as young children and become life long friends...so far I'm on board with this it's cute and I'm liking it. For the most part they grow up together and as the years pass their bond of friendship strengthens and again still on board here and things are making sense...I get lost with the whole fact that we have two young men who have grown up together. Spent a huge amount of time together but both claim to be 'straight' and neither seems to realize that the reason the never seem to have a steady girlfriend or want to go with girls is because they just don't really want to be with anyone other than their 'best friend'. 

 

From an objective point the story was well laid out and there were a lot of really sweet moments...maybe, some of them were too sweet. I liked that both of these boys/men seem to have pretty awesome parents...this was nice and I enjoyed the lack of douchie parents...but maybe these parents were just a little too over the top sweet. For example there was this whole incident involving champagne when Matt and David finally admitted their feelings for each other that was just a little bit more sweet than I could swallow and while were a few other moments like this the champagne was the one that really stood out in my mind.

 

I had honestly expected that I'd like this one a lot more than I did, but that's not to say that I didn't like the story, it's more a case of I liked the story, I just didn't LOVE the story and honestly we can't love them all can we?

 

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

An audio book of 'BFF' was graciously provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

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review 2018-09-19 16:30
Well this one needed to come with a warning...
What Binds Us - Larry Benjamin,Richard Magnus

maybe something along the lines of...

'Warning...before reading this book the reader should ensure that they have tissues, a warm and snuggly teddy bear (because teddy bears fix things...all the things) and copious amounts of alcohol may also be beneficial.' 

 

I've had this one on my radar for quite a while now. But to be honest between the blurb and what I've seen and read in other reviews...well, I was nervous...I've read 'A Little Life', 'Let's Hear It for the Boy' and a few others that basically left me feeling more than a little brokenhearted...so I had to ask myself am I read to do this again, to let read a book that's not all goodness and light or filled with action and adventure. When I saw the book on audible.com...I thought...'Audio, I can do this on audio' and I clicked the button and added the book to my library...and there it sat for weeks...and more weeks...because every time I looked at it...I said 'nope, not yet. can't do it.' and this went on and on until I finally pulled on my big girl panties and clicked the play button and then I sat and I listened...I laughed and I cried...oh did I cry...tissues were sacrificed in an effort not short out my laptop with the tears...my poor little furbaby was frantic with worry and paced the floor because his people don't cry and if they do there's something wrong. 

 

'What Binds Us' is by no means a simple romance novel...It's the story of Thomas-Edward, Donovan (Dondi) Whyte and his brother Matthew. It starts with Thomas and Dondi when they first meet in college as roommates. Things progress between them to friendship and then something more and this is where things also start to get complicated.

 

Dondi's a bit of a bigger than life person, who also happens to be a bit self absorbed. But ultimately he's one of those people who others are just drawn too and he's a creature of excesses.

 

As Dondi and Thomas-Edward's relationship progresses and grows it also changes and they move back into the realm of being friends...enter Dondi's brother, Matthew.

 

Like his brother, Matthew and Thomas-Edward start out as friends as well. As things progress the lives of these three men become inextricably tangled. 

 

As Dondi and Thomas-Edward go from friends to lovers and back to friends while Thomas-Edward and Matthew explore their own friendship that ultimately sees them become lovers and partners and Dondi remains a permanent fixture in their lives as Thomas-Edward's best friend and Matthew's brother. 

 

What follows is a story of not just Matthew and Thomas-Edward but a story of love, friendship and partings...of having someone in your life and loosing them, of heartbreak and courage, of being a friend even when the other person pushes you away...a story of love and not just being in love, it's about growing up gay when having Aids was a death sentence and friends and lovers came into lives and left to soon.

 

There's not a lot of steam and sexy times in this one but this is about the relationships... the connections, how people grow and change, fit into each others lives sometimes forever and sometimes just for a while.

 

'What Binds Us' is about love and what it brings into our lives and how that shapes us and our relationships. It's love between friends, family and lovers. It's sweet and gently and beautiful and sometimes it's ugly and cruel but always it's a driving force in our lives.

 

Richard Magnus narrated this story and I loved his narration from start to finish especially for Dondi...his interpretation of how Dondi would sound was so perfectly in sync with what I imagined. This was actually my first time listening to a book narrated by this narrator and I'm looking forward to hearing more as well as re-listening to this story...as soon as I restock my supply of tissues. 

 

The ending of this one was good, really good it was happiness tinged with heartache...it was real. it was about the people we love and how they come and go from our lives but remain forever in our hearts.

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review 2018-09-18 23:13
Let's take a walk down memory lane...
My Fair Captain - J.L. Langley

I have such a soft spot in my heart for this book. The first time I read this story was back in 2010...how do I know this well I remember the house we were living in when I read this and we moved there in October of 2009 and this was one of the first m/m e-books that I ever bought and I got it after Christmas so early 2010.  I know all this really has nothing to do with the story except that as I said I have a real soft spot in my heart for this book and this author. 

 

Truthfully I could probably go through and make a laundry list of all the things that I shouldn't like about it...it's SciFi...so not my thing, it centers around a very patriarchal society...yep, there go women's rights, kids are genetically enhanced to prefer men in the royal families...can someone explain to me how that's even a thing? and then there's the names and I realize that several people have sited this as an annoyance in their reviews but as someone who came from a family of 7 kids let me just say off the top of my head I had no fewer than 3 names that I was called on any given day and that doesn't include those times when the parents ran down the list and threw in the cat and the dog's names for good measure, so it's really a matter of what you're use to for me the names really weren't an issue.  I'm sure there's more but my point is sometimes what shouldn't work does and for me this one worked.

 

Possibly because...it's SciFi set in an alternate reality so I get to leave my moral values at home. I mean this doesn't even take place on earth so why would I expect that the current values and morals of present day earth have anything to do with this world...they don't, part of what the author is doing here is creating an alternate reality so of course a lot of it not only doesn't line up with societal norms of our world but really why should it?

 

Along with the things that shouldn't have worked there are some things that made perfect counterpoints to them. Like the fact that it's the men who raise the children, oh sure they had nursemaids and nannies but that's not unusual for people with money and even better it's the virtue of the young men that needs to be protected in other words...'There will be no catting around here. These young men are to be pure and chaste upon their wedding nights'...come on is anyone but me laughing their ass off right now? I think it's high time that young men had to worry about their reputations...ok, I'll stop.

 

I found 'My Fair Captain' to be a delightful and entertaining wander into the world of SciFi that took me into an alternate world and made me consider how different things could be while telling me a story that had action, adventure and a bit of mystery and intrigue to keep me guessing about some things...things that don't totally wrap themselves up in this first book but the ending of this one is such that if you choose to leave it there you can. Personally, I'm game for the next book if it comes out on audio...I might have read the original series...2 or maybe it was 3 times...really who's counting?

 

Now as for the narration on this one...Joseph Morton is the narrator and while he's definitely not new to the world of audio books he is new to me. I can't say that he did a bad job because honestly he didn't but for whatever reason I just wasn't able to connect with his narration. I think it part it was because some of the voices weren't distinct enough while I had absolutely no problem understanding what was being read the voices just didn't enhance how I imagined the characters to be hence no connection be voice and character for me. I'm definitely not saying that this is a narrator I won't listen to again as it's very possible that with another story and different characters this would be a different audio experience for me. But for my first time listening to this narrator it just didn't work...maybe next time.

 

This one ended up being 4.5 stars for the story and maybe 3 for the narration, but I'm going to call it a day at 3.5 stars and hope that things go better with the next one.

 

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An audiobook of 'My Fair Captain' was graciously provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

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review 2018-09-18 20:52
Ok ladies and gents I'm gonna pimp the hell outta' this audio book...
Crocus - Amy Lane,Nick J. Russo

So that we're perfectly clear I love this freakin' book...I love this series and no it's not because I got the book or the audio for review...nope, nope, nope...it's because this is one hella' good story.

 

'Bonfires' was the first book in the series and we got to meet Deputy Sheriff Aaron George and high school principal Larx and there kids and there are a few of those Larx has 2 daughters and Aaron has 2 daughters and a son but like all good homes both men have room in their heart for more. 

 

I love this series it's about two men...mature men who have both had to deal with life's challenges before finding what many of us hope for...that person who completes us and whom we want to go through life with...good or bad. 

 

Now in 'Crocus' we get to see their relationship weather yet more of life's challenges. We get to see these men grow and their bond strengthens as they yet again show the strength of their bond as together they work to save a young man and his much loved and damaged brother, to help Larx's daughter deal with her own crisis while somewhere out in the cold, snowy winter night is yet another child who desperately needs to be rescued...It's going to take Aaron, Larx, the children that they've gathered in their home and their hearts along with an interesting collection of friends to juggle everything being thrown their way and make sure that nothing important gets dropped and still have time for them.

 

There is just so much that I love about this series...obviously I love Aaron and Larx, their amazing collection of kids...seriously they're damned near as amazing as my own...ok, I'm biased but still they're all amazing. Then there's Yoshi!!!! No not the cute green dino from the Mario game...I'm talking about Larx's VP and best friend. Aaron's boss is also pretty damned awesome. Don't get me wrong this isn't a story about perfect people it's a story about people who are trying to be the best person they can be and give back to their community...something that we all need to strive for if we're going to make the world a nicer and better place to live and best of all there's a lot of humor in these stories because sometimes you've either gotta' laugh or you're going to cry so you may as well laugh about it, put on your big boy or girl pants and get on with life, which is what Larx and Aaron do. Making them a very relatable couple.

 

The icing on the cake for me with this is that it's all wrapped up once again with the narrations of Nick J. Russo. I'm not sure why but lately I've been trying to check out some new narrators so I've kind of been missing Mr. Russo and this was the perfect opportunity for me to get a Nick fix and of course I couldn't pass up the opportunity to revisit 'Bonfires' before emerging myself in 'Crocus'. I've said it before and for me it's worth repeating 'I love having the same narrator for a series especially when the characters are the same from story to story. I'm not sure who's up for the next book but when it comes to the audio book if I see Nick J. Russo listed as the narrator it won't break my heart not even a little bit but then if the next book give us more Aaron and Larx that's not going to make me sad either...I just know for sure that whatever book three is I'll read it, I'll listen to it and I'll enjoy it.

 

Seriously if you need a happy place in your life...than you need these men and their family in your life...they are epic and awesome.

 

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

An audio book of 'Crocus' was graciously provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

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