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review 2017-02-23 01:04
ARC Review: Class Distinctions by Rick R. Reed
Class Distinctions - Rick R. Reed

I read the 2nd edition of this book, out 2/25/17. 

 

 

 

A quick glimpse into the relationship and almost break-up of two college kids who are young, dumb, and in love.

Kyle and Jonathan, both freshmen at university, are madly in love. Except Kyle is ashamed of his humble background and believes that Jonathan and his rich parents will look down on Kyle's poor mother when they'll meet at the upcoming Parents' Weekend.

So, clearly, it's easier to just break Jonathan's heart, and his own. Right? Wrong!

In actuality, this book is simply too short. We don't get a full picture of their relationship, so it's difficult (not impossible) for the reader to put herself into the shoes of these young and dumb kids.

I would applaud Jonathan for not giving up on Kyle (after the initial shock wears off), and going after what he wants, demanding an explanation for that which is to him inexplicable. He does listen and learns something new about his boyfriend.

Kyle too learns that maybe he should have not assumed and instead be a grown-up and talk about his fears. Pulling the crap he pulled didn't win him any favors with me, even if I could to some extent understand his fears. Shame wasn't a good look on him, and while I felt sorry for him during his pain, he did bring this on himself.

The author does a really good job exploring the relationship each boy has with his mother, and that's where this book really worked. I also liked that we got a dual POV, as both Jonathan and Kyle deal with their equally broken hearts. There was a lot of emotion that really came across well in those lines.

I also liked that they both felt drawn to the special place where they shared their first kiss, and thus got a chance to find their way back to each other.

Still... not my favorite by this author. I think this story might have worked a little better if we had been given a bit of a lead-up to their almost break-up, and thus seen why they were so devastated, instead of simply being told they were.


** I received a free copy of this book from Signal Boost promotions as part of the re-release of this story. A positive review was not promised in return. **

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review 2017-01-21 00:31
ARC Review: Flag On The Play by Sherrie Henry
Flag on the Play - Sherrie Henry
While the author accurately captured the voices of the teenagers in this book, with their struggles and figuring out who they are, I thought that the amount of issues piled within were a bit much.

Liam, our protagonist, is a junior in a small town high school, the punter on the school's football team, and gay. He knows he's gay, and he's okay with that, but there's no way he can let on about that, because his parents drag him to church on Sundays, and all he's ever heard from the pulpit of the local Baptist church is that homosexuality is sin.

I felt sorry for him after just a few pages, empathizing with him about the impossibly situation he's in.

Enter Cody, new student, in town temporarily due to his father's job, who becomes the new star player on the football team. Also, he's gay too.

I liked the story well so far, and looked forward to how Liam and Cody would navigate the rough waters ahead.

I thought that the depiction of the relationship, first love, the inability to keep their hands off each other even in risky places, the jealousy Liam feels at Cody's pretend-GF (who doesn't know she's a beard) were all well done, but I didn't think that the self-harm issue was handled with sufficient depth.

While Liam's parents, especially his mother, were supportive at the eventual reveal that their son is gay, I also felt that the climax and subsequent ending weren't handled with enough depth either. I would have liked to see some closure to what happened, and I would have liked to see an epilogue of sorts that showed how Liam and Cody fare after the main part of the story ended.

I did like the inclusion of the Wiccan beliefs and how it was juxtaposed to the Christian conservative beliefs to which Liam's parents subscribed. The jarring differences between Cody's parents and Liam's parents were also well done, if somewhat one-dimensional.

I would recommend that this book carry trigger warnings, especially since it's geared toward young adults, considering the self-harm issue it discusses within. Yes, the cutting is mentioned in the blurb, but I felt that the dangers of cutting were not sufficiently explained, nor did I believe that Liam, once repeatedly flooded with those endorphins, would so easily be able to stop cutting.

While the issues raised within were realistic, they weren't fully resolved to my satisfaction. YMMV. Overall, a good effort. This was my first book by this author.

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

 

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review 2017-01-02 02:08
ARC Review: Lane's (Life According To Maps #3) by Nash Summers
Lane's - Nash Summers

Utterly adorkable 3rd installment to Life According To Maps. In which Maps and Lane and Benji and Perry try to figure out the pitfalls of making plans for after high school, teenage angst, and first love.

Maps' usual quirks are front and center as always, assuming that while he should probably find a college to attend, his parents don't really want him to leave, which obviously explains his reluctance in applying for college, obviously, and has nothing to do with his fears of not getting into the same school as Lane, no sirree, not at all.

As Maps and Lane navigate their last few months of senior year, plan for and attend prom, Maps also learns a lot. Okay, some. He definitely learns that Lane loves him, and that he loves Lane. He learns that Perry might have the hots for Benji, possibly, and that those feelings might be returned to some extent, despite Benji's protests and denials.

The way Maps looks at the world is still the same in this book, which is to say completely different from anyone else. He convinces himself that it's not his fears of leaving Benji, and losing Lane, that are keeping him from applying to college and looking forward to finishing high school. He also has a list of things he thinks one should accomplish before finishing high school, such as crashing a party. He makes Lane jealous, unintentionally, during a situation that is so utterly Maps I giggled out loud. I actually giggled quite a few times throughout this book.

This book should not be read as a standalone, since at this point in the series, you have to know Maps to understand him. Besides, why wouldn't you want to read the entire series from start to finish anyway?

Maps is like nobody else you've ever known. That is part of his charm, and while he's not the only character that makes this series worthwhile reading, he's a huge part of the reason.

This is firmly YA fare, as there is no steam other than some toe-curling kisses, but that's not a detriment at all. These boys fumble, they stumble and nearly fall, but their bond is strong and will surely lead them along the right path.

I hope we'll get at least a glimpse of them during their college years. How about it, Nash Summers?


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

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review 2016-11-01 12:57
ARC Review: Bender by Gene Gant
Bender - Gene Gant

I picked this up on a whim on Netgalley where it was offered as a Read Now from Harmony Ink.

Mason (Mace) is a freshman at college. He keeps to himself, he has no close friends, because he thinks he doesn't deserve any.

He supports himself by being having sex for pay with a specific clientele - he poses as a submissive in ads, seeking not the sex, which does nothing for him, but the pain his clients inflict. Mason believes that he deserves the pain, as a punishment for killing his younger brother. Guilt, shame, and grief are crushing him slowly, to the point where he has cut off even his parents, because he cannot look them in the eye, knowing he's to blame for Jamie's death. This is his coping mechanism, and it's a very destructive one.

The story, short as it may be, packs a huge emotional punch. Mason broke my heart. He's so sad, so alone, and he won't let anyone get close to him, not even Dex, the RA in the dorm where he lives. He doesn't understand why he can't feel sexual desire, why he isn't sexually attracted to anyone. He had a girlfriend in high school, but even with her, he felt nothing. His focus is on his atonement for his brother's death, even if it was an accident - Mason feels responsible, and therefore deserves whatever his clients dish out.

There's a scene about 25% in that sets the plot in motion, and I was thankful that the author chose to not be explicit about what happens to Mason. The aftermath was difficult enough to read.

From there, Mason enters a massive downward spiral, drowning his pain by binge-drinking alcohol, forgoing classes, and basically hiding himself in his dorm room. He is fortunately given help in the form of Dex, his RA. He feels oddly safe with the slightly older man, and while he still keeps his secrets, Mason allows himself to spend time with Dex. Their relationship forms slowly, with two steps forward, one step back.

Mason eventually gets an understanding of his sexuality - he's ace - and I thought this was really well done here, showing the reader how he craved cuddling and intimacy, but not the sexual acts. He learns that what he thought was abnormal really isn't, and that's a huge step on his way to recovery.

This book is dark and somber for the most part, and I'm not ashamed to admit that I cried a few times. I wanted to reach into the book and help Mason, help him see the truth, help him find his way back from the darkness. I was thankful that he had someone to look out for him, someone who got him the help he so desperately needed.

The book ends on a very hopeful note, and I felt that Mason was in a much better place by the end than when I first met him. The story has a rather realistic feel to it - it's absolutely feasible that someone's guilt, anguish, and shame would drive them to do what Mason did here. I only wish that the real Masons out there were all given the same help book Mason received. Sadly, I don't think that's the case.

Heed the warnings - this is dark, this will break your heart, but it's worth it. Go on this journey with Mason. Not recommended for younger teens, but young adults 16 and older.


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

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review 2016-10-30 23:54
ARC Review: You Belong With Me by J.R. Loveless
You Belong With Me - J.R. Loveless

I'm going to review this while it's still fresh in my mind. The blurb covers most of what happens in this book.

This was a disappointing read, for the most part. Craig is awful and oblivious, and I have serious doubts about his sudden change of heart. Scott is a better character, but he sounds younger than I would like, even though his character is much more steadfast. I liked Karen, Scott's twin sister, too, especially how fiercely protective she was of her brother.

The writing is much tell, little show, and we're spending time in Scott's, Craig's, and Karen's head, which I assume was done to give the reader a full understanding, but which ended up being too much crammed into a short novella.

Craig does some truly awful things, especially that one during Scott and Karen's birthday party, and while Scott may have forgiven him for it, I have not. While the long separation was necessary, the MCs didn't really have much time to talk things out, before jumping right into the conclusion of this book, i.e. the sex.

I didn't buy Craig's change of heart, and that's probably the biggest thing that didn't work for me here.



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

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