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review 2019-12-04 22:36
I decided to listen to this one on a whim...
Light from the Dark - Mercy Celeste,Derrick McClain

and honestly compared some of Ms Celeste other stories...in particular 'Midnight Clear'/'Need You Now' for me this one just didn't measure up. I was a little put off by Chris's 'I don't know what my sexuality is so I'll be ACE...oh wait, hot man sighting, I must be gay.' while admittedly I'm neither ACE nor gay, I am pretty sure that it doesn't quite work that way. I really think that it would have been a whole lot more convincing given Chris's lack of experience and how sheltered he was in regards to matters of sexuality, sexual identity and just sex in general if maybe he had just been portrayed as someone who was confused and a bit uniformed in this area but it was what it was.

 

The other part that just wasn't working for me was the extended breaks in the mystery part or the story that happened so that Micah and Chris could explore Chris's sexuality...you remember Chris, the 'ACE' character...trust me folks he was definitely making up for lost time.

 

There were also a couple of issue in regard to the mystery part of this story that I found to be a bit questionable so that wasn't really going tickity boo for me either but I'm not going to spoil anything for future readers by saying more than this.

 

Derrick McClain provided the narration for this one and if I'm rating strictly in regards to that aspect of things I'd probably be rating this a bit higher but in spite of the solid job provided for the narration it wasn't enough to make me overlook what didn't work so I'm leaving this one at 3 stars overall.

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review 2019-11-23 04:36
Do you remember Wildflowers...do you remember Sam?
For Sam, times infinity - Suki Fleet

well this is not that Sam. Ms Fleet has created a whole new character in this story...with this Sam, but I think I love him just as much.

 

Sam has grown up in foster care and now that he's aged out of the system all he wants is to be able to create a home for him and Tommy, the brother of his heart whom he's had to leave behind but will never forget or give up on that dream. Sam is such a shy and quiet boy but he's also filled with determination and an inner strength that sometimes even he doesn't realize he possess.

 

When Sam meets Evra a mysterious but exuberant and sweet young man he begins to wonder if maybe his home couldn't have room for more than just him and Tommy.

 

It's been a while since I've found my heart so fully engaged with not just one character but several. First there's Sam and Evra...there's a sweet innocence to the relationship between these two young men that just seems to rise above the reality of what life has dealt them. Both of them have more than their share of struggles and hardships and Evra faces dangers that even he's not fully aware of. It's thanks to Sam and some help from what turns out to be a group of surprisingly good friends that life ultimately begin to turn around for not just Sam and Evra but those same friends.

 

I love that there were so many wonderful characters in this story not the least of which was Sam and Evra but there was also Tommy...Sam's brother but not (it's an Evra term). Maverick (or Mav) who we eventually learn is Evra's brother but not,  Karl who while I can't quite say that I like him yet, I did feel sorry for him and I'm definitely interested in finding out what happens to him and of course Tommy...I would so love a story that shows us more of Tommy and what the future holds for him. Truthfully I'd also love more Sam and Evra.

 

"For Sam, Times Infinity" is so easily a story that could be playing out anywhere in the world today...it's about a system that fails the people who need it most, it's about corruption and bullying and at the end it's about the strength of the human soul and it's capacity to give and receive love...to find a home and to be one...it's about the beauty that even the darkest of days can never fully touch.

 

While I can't say that I required teddies and tissues for this one, I still found it be a beautiful and touching story.  From Evra's unique way of expressing himself to Sam's quiet contemplation of events Ms Fleet has infused this story with the almost poetic undertone that I've come to associate with her writing. 

 

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An ARC of "For Sam, Times Infinity" was graciously provided by the author in exchange for an honest review.

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review 2019-11-03 20:34
You know things have headed south...when...
Everybody in the Place - Suki Fleet

Instead of giving your friend that bottle of raspberry vodka that you got him for his birthday you find yourself using it to hold your own party.

 

Life's taken a distinct sideways turn since Alfie's day started and somewhere between buying his best mate Jam a bottle of birthday cheer and almost getting to his house Alfie's decided that losing what for him was his dream job and arriving at his friends place he needed to hold his own party...only it's not a birthday party...it's a pity party. 

 

Jam's younger brother, Benji is on his way to the party when he finds Alfie sitting on a park bench in the middle of consuming Jam's birthday gift and contrary to what Alfie says he wants Benji's determined to stay with or take Alfie with him to the party but what he's not going to do is leave Alfie sitting alone and half drunk on a park bench.

 

It's been a long time since I've read a book by this author so when this story came across my radar I didn't even really check out the blurb I saw the author's name and said 'yes please' something that I very rarely do but in this case it turned out to be a good idea.

 

"Everybody in the Palace" is a short story that first appeared in the charity anthology "Hot Summer Nights" and is now being released on it's own as a standalone story. 

 

At well under 100 pages this is definitely a quick read but it's also an absolutely sweet and delightful way to fill a bit of time. I liked Alfie and as the story progresses we find out a bit about him...we learn that he's got a bit of an issue when it comes to commitment mainly because of his parent's relationship, we learn that while Jam's his best friend it's really Benji who holds his heart but there's that sticky issue of commitment that makes him keep his feelings hidden, we also learn that his professional life's not going to well at the moment...hence the pity party. 

 

Then there's Jam's younger brother, Benji...we can't say little brother because it seems that Benji's all grown up and in all the right ways. Benji's and Alfie have a definite history and it's filled with a lot of sweet memories that the reader gets a glimpse of through both Benji and Alfie's eyes. For me Benji really was the star of this story. I just adored him. He's sweet and kind and for the most part he wears his heart on his sleeve where Alfie's concerned.

 

It's been about a year since Alfie's had any real contact with his friends, including Benji and while his friends miss him, it's been Benji who's felt his absence the most. Throughout the evening as Jam and his friends celebrate his birthday we follow Alfie as he reconnects with is friends but most of all with Benji. Sweet, sexy, adorable Benji who just seems to know what Alfie needs and who more than anything wants to fill those needs.  From the before he arrives to the moment he leaves Benji is there for him. 

 

The only thing that kept this from being a 5 star read for me was ...you guessed it...more! I would have really loved more about Alfie and Benji as their relationship continues and after they've become a solidly established couple...so here's hoping that the author will someday give me more.

 

Unlike my previous reading experiences with this author my tissue supply was safe and  while there were no tears to be had here, that doesn't mean the story was short on feelz. "Everyone in the Place" was a short, sweet, feel good story about two men reconnecting and finding not just friendship but love. 

 

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A copy of "Everybody in the Place" was graciously provided by the author in exchange for an honest review.

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review 2019-10-05 18:33
Sometimes it's the things we want the most...
Stand In Place - Mary Calmes,Greg Boudreaux

That are the hardest things to keep...

 

There's a romance in this story and it's sweet and I enjoyed it a lot but what really captured my attention and my heart in this story was the other part of this story...the one about family.

 

'Family' is really such an abstract word. It holds different meanings for all of us. For me it's that group of people who are there for you no matter what, it's your shelter from the storm that can be the rest of the world...family it's unconditional love and acceptance...it's something that we all want but don't always get. So yeah, I could go on and on about how important...how special I think family is but I think I've made my point...family when it's the way it should be is magical.

 

Kaenon thought he had that special family until they threw him out but that was also when he learned that sometimes the family we have isn't the one we need and just like so many other things in life...families shift and change. 

 

When Kaenon's family threw him out it was his grandparents and his aunt who were there to create an new family for him...to be the family that he needed to take him into adulthood and give him the love that he needed to go out into the world and make a life for himself...to leave Braxton, Texas and not return...until over a decade later when his grandmother...the last member of the family that saved him calls him home, to spend her final summer with her.

 

'Stand in Place' is set at the beginning of that summer and Kaenon's determined to spend that summer with his grandmother and then return to his home and the life he's made away from Braxton. What Kaenon doesn't realize is that his grandmother's plans for the summer don't include just sitting around waiting to die. Nope, grandma's determined to make sure that Kaenon's family once again shifts to make sure that the grandchild she helped raise isn't alone that he has a family to love him...to give him back the family that years ago failed him.

 

I have to admit I don't think I would have been as quick to forgive as Kaenon was especially towards his father and having brothers and sisters of my own I get why he might have been more willing to forgiving his brother and sister, I get how much he missed having them in his life.

 

There's a fine line being walked when someone is seeking/giving forgiveness...how soon is too soon? and at what point has it gone from giving forgiveness to handing out retribution? and those are questions that have to be determined by each person on an individual basis. 

 

This story held a plethora of secondary characters that were all intriguing in their own right but most of all I was enchanted with Keanon's grandmother (Jo as she preferred to be called) this woman is the grandmother we all would love to have and she was delightful and not to forget Kaenon's love interest 'Brody'.

 

Brody was the high school football star, best friend to Kaenon's brother and Kaenon's had a crush on Brody that goes all the way back to high school...it's a crush that Kaenon doesn't realize has been reciprocated for years. But now that he's got a second chance Brody's not going to let Kaenon slip away without putting up a fight.

 

Last but not least there's Jo's garden...over the years it's gone to ruin and now Jo want's Brody to restore it to help bring it back to its former glory. There's so much symbolism to this garden. The connection that Kaenon's family holds to the land...the connection they hold to the community and so many other things. I enjoyed the potential sybolisms that are loosely woven into the is part of the story allowing the reader to put their own interpretation on them.

 

Ok, so by now it's pretty obvious that for me this story just worked and I really enjoyed it, but I need to add that this was also due in no small part to the wonderful narration provided by Greg Boudreaux. I have no doubt in my mind that when I do my annual... semi-annual...quarterly...re-listen of my Mary Calmes audio collection, this one will be on my list...I don't have them all if her books on audio but I'm working on it!

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review 2019-03-06 00:44
Back in the saddle again...
Two Of A Kind - BA Tortuga,John Solo

I've been a fan of B.A. Tortuga's for a while now but more recently I just haven't connected with her stories the way that I did with her 'Stormy Weather' or her 'Road Trip' series and a few others, but those two series are my absolute favorites by this author and truthfully the benchmark by which I judge her other books and maybe that's not fair but it is what it is and it's been a while since I've enjoyed a cowboy story as much as I did this one. 

 

'Two of a Kind' for me was a fun, enjoyable, touching and just incredibly sweet story of two cowboys who suddenly find themselves with 5 children to raise following a family tragedy that leaves one man without a sister and his parents and the other without his brother and parents and now six years later things are about to take yet another drastic change.

 

Trey Williamson and Ap McIntosh each manned up in their own way 6 years ago and Trey set aside his dreams of college travel to be the one that stayed with the his nieces and nephews and made a home for them...while Ap went out on the rodeo circuit and did his best to with the one skill he knew he had to be the breadwinner for this cobbled together family. But Ap comes home for Thanksgiving and Christmas every year and so far it's worked but Trey's finding himself  at this wits end and he knows that their kids need him but he desperately needs a break.

 

When Ap get the call telling him he needs to come home he does. He gets it truly he does...being the only parent to 5 kids is a job that he knows he's not up to doing, but he's determined to step up and give Trey a much needed break. 

 

There really was a lot about this story that I enjoyed Trey and Ap have a history together but they were young and when tragedy struck it was put aside. This one is friends to lovers, second chances with a touch of starting over and a pinch of the grass is always greener...because Trey's missing the life he didn't get to have and he's a little jealous of Ap being able to travel, see a bit of the world and spend times with adults and yeah, there's also the sex...it's bee a while for Trey but if you ask Ap, he'll tell you it'd be nice to sleep in a real bed at night, spend time with his nieces and nephews...watch them grow up a bit...or at least that's what he thinks most of the time...until he's left in charge of those same nieces and nephews for a few days, then he finds himself wondering 'how the hell Trey does it day in and day out. His admiration for Trey grows right alongside of his attraction for Trey.

 

I enjoyed the interaction between Trey and Ap as well as their interactions with the children and as a family. it wasn't always perfect and oftentimes there weren't enough hours in the day to do what needed to be done much less anything that they wanted to do...in other words it resembled real life much more than it didn't. There were budgets and saving for college, working more than one job to make ends meet and so many other little things that found me thinking 'oh man can I relate to that'.

 

Now I have to admit there was only one thing that gave me serious reservations and that was the thought of this story on audio and the narrator was John Solo...I've had a bit of a hit and miss relationship with this narrator and even more so I have a hit and miss relationship with pretty much any narrator when children's voices are involved so I won't lie...reservations...I had them.

 

I ran off to audible.com and clicked play so I  could listen to the sample and fortunately I actually got to hear some of the children's voices which isn't always the case and thankfully there was enough of a sample for me to decide that I could do this and happily I was right. My past experience with audio book children has more often than not detracted from my overall enjoyment of more than one audio book but this one was not one of those books. This for me was one of the narrator's more solid narrations and given that he was doing the voices for not one or even two children but five, I think that says a lot especially coming from someone who tends to shy away from audio books with children in them no matter who the narrator is.

 

'Two of a Kind' is a fun, sweet, heartwarming story about love and hope and the promise of a future that may not be what either of these men thought they wanted but in the end proved to be everything they needed.

 

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

 

 

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