There You Stand by Christina Lee

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Original Title: There You Stand

Year Published: 2015

Published by:  Penguin/InterMix

Number of Pages: 250

First Sentence: I swallowed past the lump in my throat and leaned over to pat Chopper, the dog I’d inherited a couple of month’s ago from Joey, my latest asshole boyfriend.”

Goodreads Rating: 5/5

Plot:

Tattoo artist Cory Easton has worked long enough at Raw Ink to know, just by looking at a dude, what his body art reveals, what makes him tick, what even makes him scared. Until he meets the quiet and remote Jude York—so unreadable, so unreachable, and so unlike anyone else, he can’t help but arouse Cory’s curiosity.

As captivating and complex as his ink, Jude is a mystery—and Cory’s falling fast and hard under his spell. Against his better judgment to steer clear.

The rumors of Jude’s past overshadow him—whispers of prison and an unmentionable secret that’s kept him in the protective shadows of a local motorcycle club. As Cory probes deeper, he wonders how much he really wants to know. Especially since Jude has awakened something inside him that has been buried too long—and has him feeling completely alive for the first time in forever…

My thoughts:

This was such an amazing book! I’ve had it on my Kindle for ages because my wifey (Kayla) recommended it to me but I just took forever to pick it up. It was such a good read though, and reading it ended with me devouring all of Lee’s M/M romance books (for real, I’m not kidding. Took me like four days and it was well worth it).

I absolutely loved these characters from the get-go and just had to know what was going to happen next for them. Cory was an absolute sweetheart and a bit of a dork. Jude was the more silent brooding type but still a sweetheart. Together they were magical and I fell head over heels in love with both of them.

The characters in this book overall were fantastic and I loved most of them (there are of course some bad eggs in there). Because of this, I was so happy when I found out that Lee had written more books in this universe.

The plot was really great with the perfect mix of humour, drama and motorcycles to make it a great read. The drama never became soap-opera like, which it has a tendency to do in some books, but instead stayed at a realistic level. There are some fun and interesting twists and turns that kept me interested all the way through. Brilliant read.

Do I recommend it? 

Hell yes, I do!

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Been Here All Along by Sandy Hall

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Original Title: Been Here All Along

Year Published: 2016

Published by:  Swoon Reads

Number of Pages: 214

First Sentence: Like a hundred years ago my mom asked me to watch my five-year-old brother Gideon while he played in the backyard.

Goodreads Rating: 3/3

Plot:

“Gideon always has a plan. His plans include running for class president, becoming head of the yearbook committee and having his choice of colleges. They do not include falling head over heels for his best friend and next-door neighbour, Kyle. It’s a distraction. It’s pointless, as Kyle is already dating the gorgeous and popular head cheerleader, Ruby. And Gideon doesn’t know what to do . . .

Kyle finally feels like he has a handle on life. He has a wonderful girlfriend, a best friend willing to debate the finer points of Lord of the Rings, and social acceptance as captain of the basketball team. Then, both Ruby and Gideon start acting really weird, just as his spot on the team is threatened, and Kyle can’t quite figure out what he did wrong . . .”

My thoughts:

I had such high hopes for this book and it didn’t manage to fully live up to them. Don’t get me wrong, it isn’t a bad book per se. It just isn’t a great book either. It was overall enjoyable but there are definitely better books out there. I was expecting some sort of fantastic love story and coming of age book and instead, it felt like a watered down version of a fanfic where the characters are placed in an alternate universe where they live next door to each other.

The characters were quite nice though. Gideon was the dorky, unpopular and super smart gangly boy who of course also happens to be gay. I could relate to some of Gideon’s dorkiness, like the frustration that your best friend hasn’t read Lord of the Rings and therefore cannot properly fangirl (or boy) over it.

Kyle was the jock but instead of becoming a total asshole, he was sweet and kind. If he hadn’t been a basketball star he probably would have been the typical bullied character due to his build and personality. I really did like him though, he was just really likeable.

I felt that the relationship between Gideon and Kyle felt a little forced at times. Sure, they were best friends and pretty much co-dependent, but if Gideon hadn’t realised he had a crush on Kyle they might never have gotten together (at least not in my eyes). I think that was due to parts of their friendship that was a bit antagonistic. Some of the things Gideon thought about Kyle were cruel and I kept thinking that if that was how he saw him then why did he insist that he loved Kyle? I know that we see flaws in the people we love but we love those flaws too. With Gideon, it felt like he wanted Kyle’s flaws to completely disappear.

The plot was pretty predictable but still quite fun to read. In typical teenage fashion, some of the characters mess up in ways that only overdramatic teenagers can. Miscommunication and misunderstandings created a lot more drama then there had to be, but it was still a relatively good and enjoyable story.

Yes, I realise my review make it sound like the book was pretty crap, but it was actually quite fun and I wouldn’t have been so negative if I had read it as a fanfic instead of a published book. I think that was my main issue with it, that it felt like a fanfic more than a published book.

Do I recommend it? 

If you are looking for a simple and easygoing mm romance book, then sure this book will do you well.

 

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ARC Review: The Tide of War by Lori A. Witt

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Original Title: The Tide of War

Year Published: 2015

Published by:  Riptide Publishing (an arc was kindly provided via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review)

Number of Pages: 371

First Sentence: And what if you don’t make it back next time?

Goodreads Rating: 4/5

Plot:

Lieutenant Commander Kyle West is one of Earth Fleet’s greatest fighter pilots. Every day, he leads his squadron into battle over Earth’s cities in a seemingly endless war against a vicious alien race, defending his home and his loved ones.

Millions of miles away, the Fleet’s Elite Squadron attacks from another angle, engaging the enemy on its home turf. Casualties are high, and the Squadron needs more of the Fleet’s very best. But joining the Elite is a death sentence—a surety Kyle isn’t willing to face. Until a devastating attack wipes out the family he refused to leave.

Commander Andrei Dezhnyov, an Elite Squadron gunner, isn’t sure what to make of the cocky new American pilot. Kyle is equally uncertain about the snarly Russian, but as they warm up to each other, their tentative alliance becomes a deep bond—one that endangers them both when a daring and disobedient rescue reveals secrets that call into question everything they’ve ever believed about their enemy. Secrets that their superiors would kill to protect.

My thoughts:

This was a really good book. I enjoyed it from start to finish, and it was pretty hard to put down. The plot did have some things that were slightly weird, mostly because they weren’t really explained, but I still enjoyed it.

Both Kyle and Andrei were interesting characters. They were different but with some similarities. They were both fiercly loyal to their partners and families, and would give anything to defend their country. Because of that fierce loyalty and love they had for their partners at the beginning of the book I was a bit worried about how they were supposed to end up together (oh yeah, this is ultimately a m/m romance). But it worked out pretty well and it was believable.

The plot was really interesting and I enjoyed how the focus was actually more on the world in the book and what was going on, not necessarily the relationship between Kyle and Andrei. Instead we got a lot of the background for why the world looked like it did, and also the relationship between the original couples, and between military officers and their subordinates. It was really good and gave the book depth.

What it did not do was properly explain some of the things that are revealed later on in the book, which made events seem a little weird and unnecessary. But it does seem like this book is the first of a trilogy or possibly a series, so it might be explained later on.

Do I recommend it? 

Yes, I do.

His Royal Secret by Lilah Pace (His Royal Secret #1)

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Original Title: His Royal Secret

Year Published: 2016

Published by:  InterMix

Number of Pages: 185

First Sentence: Randy Sandy Trades the purple … for a Ginger?”

Goodreads Rating: 4/5

Plot:
James, the handsome, cosmopolitan Prince of Wales, is used to being in the public eye. But he’s keeping a king-sized secret…James, next in line for the throne, is gay.

He’s been able to hide his sexual orientation with the help of his best friend and beard, Lady Cassandra. Sometimes he feels like a coward for not coming out, but he daren’t risk losing the crown. If he did, the succession would fall on his deeply troubled younger sister, Princess Amelia. To protect her, James is willing to live a lie.

While on holiday, he meets Benjamin Dahan—a rugged international reporter with a globe-trotting, unattached life—who catches far more than James’s eye. And when Ben is transferred to London, it seems fate may finally be smiling on James.

But what began as a torrid fling grows into something far more intimate and powerful. Soon James will have decide who he is, what he wants from life and love, and what he’s willing to sacrifice for the truth…

My thoughts:

This was a total surprise of a book. I think I chose it because it was free on Amazon and therefore wanted to give it a go. Sometimes the free e-books on Amazon are just absolutely crap, but there are some gems hidden amongst all that crap. This was such a gem.

James was a lovely character. He was just a normal guy born into an abnormal lifestyle. The fact that he has managed to stay somewhat normal is an amazing feat, and it made him feel more human. Had he been a spoilt brat he wouldn’t have been as a good of a character.

Benjamin was absolutely adorable and I loved him from the moment he was introduced. Such a fantastic character. Ben was, of course, a little intimidated by his beau’s status of Crown Prince but chose to see the man, not the title. Good choice!

Sure, the plot might not be totally original. The crown prince being secretly gay is a type of plot I know have been done before (especially in fanfic y’all!). Mix that with the man he falls in love with being a journalist, and you have like a gazillion fanfics. But it was written in a really good way, and it felt like what I read was totally original. It was entertaining from start to finish, and I will definitely read the next book!

Do I recommend it? 

Yes, I do.

Always Another Side by Annabelle Jacobs

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Original Title: Always Another Side

Year Published: 2016

Published by: Self-published

Number of Pages: 236

First Sentence: No.

Goodreads Rating: 4/5

Plot:

Starting over at forty is hard work for landscape architect Jack Bowman. His long-term partner hurt him badly. With his self-esteem dented by the break up, trusting a new lover is going to take time.

Tyler Freeman is equally unlucky when it comes to love. Now that he’s over thirty-five, he’s tired of getting played. All he wants is someone special. How hard can it be to meet a man who’s honest, with no hidden surprises?

Being set up on a blind date might be a classic cliché, but it’s a stroke of good luck for Jack and Tyler. They have a lot in common, including previous relationships steeped in deceit, but it’s worth navigating their trust issues if it means laying those ghosts to rest.

Making it work finally seems possible—until an accidental discovery threatens their newfound happiness.

My thoughts:

This was such a lovely story. I loved the fact that it depicted the fact that romance can be just as scary and romantic when you are a proper adult, just like it is when you are a teenager or a young adult/new adult.  Also loved the fact that it portrayed adults as able to live an exciting life, and that being over 30 doesn’t mean that you have to be settled down with a spouse, two kids, a pet, a nice house, a steady job and a life made up of routines. Instead, it depicts adult life like it is for real. Really lovely, and it felt like a breath of fresh air.

What I loved the most was the fact that the romance wasn’t as dramatic as it can be in young adult books. Sure, there is drama and some miscommunication, but they also clearly state that they need space and some time to think and then they can talk it out. Jack and Tyler were both absolutely lovely and I enjoyed getting to know them. Their friends were a nice addition to the story and brought some depth to it.

The plot then. This story presented two of the three sides of cheating. The one being cheated on, and the one being the one the cheater cheats with. This book discusses the fact that both of these are victims of the cheater. Often the one the cheater cheats with isn’t aware of being the “mistress” or the other man in this case. This shows that both of these can be just as traumatic and scarring. I loved that, and the fact that the “other man” wasn’t villainized as some sort of evil Don Juan out to ruin a happy relationship. Really well done and very interesting to read.

Do I recommend it? 

Yes, I do.

Ten in the Bin by N.R. Walker

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Original Title: Ten in the Bin

Year Published: 2013

Published by:  Self-published

Number of Pages: 47

First Sentence: 

Goodreads Rating: 3/5

Plot:

Heartbroken, Dean Cartwright leaves Sydney and heads home, to the coastal town of Newcastle. In a bid to make new friends, he signs up for a local rugby league team where he meets a man known as Macca.

Dean and Macca are both front row forwards, meaning they’re the biggest guys on the team. Over six feet tall and over a hundred kilos each, they’re a force to be reckoned with on the field.

But when Dean gets knocked out, Macca gets even by punching the other guy, and both Dean and Macca end up on the sideline.

Dean soon realizes that being knocked unconscious is the best thing to ever happen to him.

My thoughts:

I did like this short story, but it wasn’t as good as some of the other stories I’ve read by N.R. Walker. I guess I have been spoilt by her writing up until now. This was good, but it wasn’t as great as what I’m used to when it comes to Walker’s writing.

The characters were nice and I really enjoyed them. Of course, they were being typical boys and sometimes I wanted to pick ’em up by the neck and give ’em both a good shake. Two puppy dogs that don’t know how to communicate. Like guys, get over yourselves!

My biggest issue with this story was that it isn’t exciting. Yeah, it’s a short story and too much excitement would have made the whole thing very stressful. But this is instead very mellow. It felt like not much was happening and it was also pretty predictable. It was still a nice read and it was a good break when I needed something short and sweet.

Do I recommend it? 

Yeah, it was short and sweet.

ARC Review: Lessons for Idle Tongues by Charlie Cochrane (Cambridge Fellows #11

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Original Title: Lessons for Idle Tongues

Year Published: 2015

Published by: Riptide Publishing  (an arc was kindly provided via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review)

Number of Pages: 241

First Sentence: Thirteen for dinner.

Goodreads Rating: 4/5

Plot:

Cambridge, 1910

Amateur detectives Jonty Stewart and Orlando Coppersmith seem to have nothing more taxing on their plate than locating a missing wooden cat and solving the dilemma of seating thirteen for dinner. But one of the guests brings a conundrum: a young woman has been found dead, and her boyfriend is convinced she was murdered. The trouble is, nobody else agrees.

Investigation reveals that several young people in the local area have died in strange circumstances, and rumours abound of poisonings at the hands of Lord Toothill, a local mysterious recluse. Toothill’s angry, gun-toting gamekeeper isn’t doing anything to quell suspicions, either.

But even with a gun to his head, Jonty can tell there’s more going on in this surprisingly treacherous village than meets the eye. And even Orlando’s vaunted logic is stymied by the baffling inconsistencies they uncover. Together, the Cambridge Fellows must pick their way through gossip and misdirection to discover the truth.

My thoughts:

I really enjoy these Cambridge Fellows book. They are cleverly written and really fun to read. Although they are part of a series you do not necessarily need to read all of them or even read them in order. It is easy to grasp the universe and characters without having read all the books. For the few things that have happened in previous books that are now referred to again, you get a quick yet comprehensive explanation which means you can understand its significance and relevance to the current plot.

The characters are pleasant and easy to like. Apart from Jonty and Orlando, we have several other characters, like Jonty’s family and other people the two know from different circles. All of these of characters bring warmth and depth to the plot which makes the whole read very sweet and fun. The banter between Jonty, Orlando and Jonty’s family is just so much fun and creates a warm feeling of familiarity.

The plot was the perfect mix of cosy and interesting. These books are pretty much cosy mysteries. Sure, somebody die which is really far from the definition of cosy, but you aren’t on the edge of your seat with fear, instead you have the right mix of intrigue and wittiness. The book is just a fun read and allows you to disconnect for a few hours.

Do I recommend it? 

Yes, I do.