Tuesday, December 31, 2013

2013 - A Year in Reviews

What a great year it has been!! 

We would like to take this opportunity to thank the authors and publishers who've entrusted us with their books for review, whether directly or via Netgalley.

Special thanks to:

Bottom Drawer Pub
Dark Hollows Press
Dreamspinner Press
MLR Press
Riptide Publishing
Wilde City Press

A big thank you to you, the readers and followers of this blog. You are the reason we post our reviews. THANK YOU for your support. And we renew our promise to you for the next year:

Always fair, always honest. 

Two new book communities have sprung up from the changes we saw on Goodreads in September that caused a bunch of prolific readers and reviewers to leave or significantly reduce their presence.

Booklikes and Leafmarks are book reviewing and cataloging sites, both offering a variety of features for the book lover. Go check them out, yeah?

Authors we lost in 2013:

Tom Clancy
Ray Vance
Roger Ebert
Doris Lessing
Barbara Park
Janet Daily
Ned Vizzini
Michael Palmer

Between Heather, Anna and Sandra, we read nearly 800 books in 2013. Some were awesome, and some were not. How many did you read this year? Which were you favorites? Please leave us your answers in the comment section.

We published our Top Five lists yesterday - be sure to check those out as well.

And we have lots of books on our TBRs for next year. Which ones are you most looking forward to? Anything you think we should add?

As you may have already noticed, we added two co-bloggers this year. Anna reads M/M romances almost exclusively, Heather reads mostly romances, both M/F and M/M and Sandra reads a mix of M/F, M/M and YA books, most of which are romances.

While we're not (and won't be) an exclusive M/M romance blog, M/M romances will be a big part of our reading and reviewing for this blog in 2014.

We will continue to offer honest and fair reviews on a variety of books across many genres - that hasn't changed. We hope you stick around for all the exciting things we've planned for next year.

We wish you a wonderful new year filled with lots of amazing books!

What is next for 2014?

We will continue to read a lot of books and post our reviews here for you to enjoy.

Our weekly feature for Hot Kindle Deals will continue. We hope that Heather's weekly round-up has been useful to you, and that you were able to snap up bunches of great books for free or greatly reduced prices.

We will continue offering free of charge blog tours and promo posts.

Heather and Sandra are making plans to attend GRL in October 2014 in Chicago. Keep your fingers crossed for us!

And in January we will introduce a new feature for Author Of The Month. The wonderful and amazing Edmond Manning is the first author to be thus celebrated. Stay tuned for more, and please consider signing up for our email alerts.

We hope to see you soon. Until then, happy reading!!

Monday, December 30, 2013

Best of 2013 - Our Top Reads of the Year!

What a fabulous year it's been! 

We read tons of books - some outstanding, others not so much. 

The M/M Romance group on Goodreads launched their Love Has No Boundaries writing challenge, and boy, did the participants deliver. From their labor of love, we discovered new authors and rediscovered old favorites, and we think you should definitely check out all the wonderful (and free) stories written for the challenge. You can view and download them here. Quite a few of them made it onto our shelves.

In October, our very own Heather attended GRL 2013 in Atlanta, GA. For a recap, check out Heather's GayRomLit Experience, parts ONETWO and THREE.

We would also like to take the time to congratulate Tj Klune and Eric Arvin on their engagement!!! As many of you may have heard, Eric had some medical issues in the last few weeks, and a support fund has been set up to assist with the cost of hotels and such for Tj and their families. If you'd like to help out, please check out the fund's webpage.

But now, without further ado, we present our choices for BEST OF 2013:

Anna's TOP FIVE:

When You Were Pixels by Julio-Alexi Genao
Salvage by Con Riley
The Apothecary's Garden by Julie Bozza

Heather's TOP FIVE (M/F Romance):

The Dream Thieves by Maggie Stiefvater
Through The Ever Night by Veronica Rossi
The Sweetest Dark by Shana Abe
Sins And Needles by Karina Halle
The Holders by Julianna Scott

Heather's TOP FIVE (M/M Romance):

All In With The Duke by Ava March
King Mai by Edmond Manning
Tell Me It's Real by Tj Klune
The Truth About Riley by Henrietta Clark
Salvage by Con Riley

Sandra's TOP FIVE:

Salvage by Con Riley
Capture and Surrender by L.A. Witt/Aleksandr Voinov
Omorphi by C. Kennedy
Slide by Garrett Leigh

There are quite a few additional books that received five pretty pink flowers from us this year, so be sure to check out them out on this blog or our shelves on Booklikes and Goodreads.

Thank you for stopping by, for your support and your visits to our blog this year. We hope you have your very own list of top reads to cherish, and that we'll see you again in 2014.

Sunday, December 29, 2013

ARC Review: Sex & Sourdough by A.J. Thomas

Sex & Sourdough - A. J. Thomas
From the blurb:

Anders Blankenship never intended to hike the Appalachian Trail alone, but when his boyfriend cancels, Anders steels his courage, leaving the abusive relationship to tackle the long-distance hike. Though a hiking virgin, he’s glad he made the decision when he receives threatening messages from his ex. Luckily, Kevin, an experienced backpacker, takes him under his wing.
Kevin Winters isn’t looking for a hiking partner, let alone a fling with a cute man on the rebound. After learning he has the autoimmune disorder that killed his father, Kevin left his family to wander remote trails. Convinced his future holds only pain and death, Kevin refuses to get close to anyone. The family sourdough recipes he recreates over a campfire are his only solace.
In the wilderness, Anders and Kevin discover a lot of common ground. While the future holds uncertainties they may not be ready to deal with, it might also hold the chance for happiness.

Sandra's rating:

So close to 5 stars, but a couple of issues that I had to question. Some excellent themes in this book, with great primary characters who are flawed but good for each other.

I really liked the slow burn of the relationship between Anders and Kevin. I liked how there was a bit of a spark from the start, but neither acted on it, for differing reasons, though I could tell that Kevin was quickly feeling protective of Anders and acted accordingly.

It's a sweet M/M romance at the core, with a well-rounded supporting cast, some nice, some not. The author does a fabulous job laying out Anders' and Kevin's personalities as well as their circumstances (Anders' abusive, manipulative ex-boyfriend Joel, Kevin's illness that has made him leave his family and keep to himself for the last few years), and it's all done organically through the story flow, without massive amounts of info-dumping.

The two men build a strong friendship on the trail, talking about their situations, being honest in their communications (Anders figures out that Kevin has lupus), and find common ground in Kevin's sourdough bread, which gives him his trail nickname. Every so often, the ex-boyfriend pops up to cause a problem, but for a long time, he's just a fly in the ointment, a nuisance, and I didn't take him seriously. He annoyed me, yes, but I didn't expect him to go as nutso as he does in the end.

Anders' relationship with his family is strained. He's on the Appalachian trail, basically running away, because he feels stifled by their expectations, he doesn't want to follow the path they expect him to follow. His older brothers are pretty much assholes too - judgmental, hypocritical in one case, and more or less not very supportive. I got the feeling that they looked at Anders with disdain, as if he were a bother.

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Book Review: Try by Ella Frank

Try (Temptation, #1)From the blurb:

Try – verb: to make an attempt or effort to do something or in this case…someone. 

Sex. Logan Mitchell loves it, and ever since he realized his raw sexual appeal at a young age, he has had no problem using it to his advantage. Men and women alike fall into his bed—after all, Logan is not one to discriminate. He lives by one motto—if something interests you, why not just take a chance and try? 

And he wants Tate Morrison. 

Just coming out of a four-year marriage with an ex-wife from hell, a relationship is the last thing on Tate’s mind. He’s starting fresh and trying to get back on his feet with a new job at an upscale bar in downtown Chicago. 

The only problem is, Tate has caught the unwavering and unwelcome attention of Mr. Logan Mitchell – a regular at the bar and a man who always gets what he wants. 

Night after night Tate fends off the persistent advances of the undeniably charismatic man, but after an explosive moment in the bar, all bets are off as he finds his body stirring with a different desire than his mind. 

As arrogance, stubbornness and sexual tension sizzles between the two, it threatens to change the very course of their lives. 

Logan doesn’t do relationships. Tate doesn’t do men. But what would happen if they both just gave in and…tried? 

Heather's rating:

I had no idea what to expect with this book. My M/F reader friends pretty much all loved it and my M/M reader friends pretty much all hated it. I am a hard-core M/M lover with hundreds of M/M books under my belt. I honestly was prepared to hate this fully and completely. Surprisingly, I didn't. But you might.

Does this book work as a convincing romance? No. The main characters literally spend no time getting to know one another. None. Logan is a pushy jerk and Tate is practically forced into each step of his "relationship" with Logan. I hated Logan. I thought Tate and Logan were horrible together. I didn't get them at all as a couple and I thought it was not convincing at all.


As a M/F author, I had expected Ella Frank to be... well, shy about M/M sex. I haven't read any of her books before this one and I though it would be tentative for some reason. I was knocked off my feet by the amount of graphic sex in this one.

And so...

Friday, December 27, 2013

Kindle Weekly Deals~ Week of 12/21/13-12/27/13

"Finnikin of the Rock" by Melina Marchetta- YA, fantasy~ Price drop to $1.99!

"Froi of the Exiles" by Melina Marchetta- YA, fantasy~ Price drop to $1.99!

"The Current Between US" by Kindle Alexander- M/M, contemporary romance~ Price drop to $0.99!

"Double Full" by Kindle Alexander- M/M, contemporary romance~ Price drop to $0.99!

"Texas Pride" by Kindle Alexander~ M/M, contemporary romance~ Price drop to $0.99!

"The Truth About Riley" by Henrietta Clarke- M/M, contemporary romance~ Price drop to $0.99!

"Unmaking Hunter Kennedy" by Anne Elliot- YA, chick lit~ Price drop to $0.99!

"Learning to Love" by K.C. Wells- M/M, contemporary romance~ Price drop to $2.99!

Thursday, December 26, 2013

ARC Review: 12 Days of Dennis

The Twelve Days of Dennis - Jude Dunn
From the blurb:

When an unexpected package is delivered on December 14th, Martin is more than a little intrigued by the contents—especially as they're from his boyfriend, Dennis, and come with instructions to wear them when they go to dinner with Dennis' parents the following night.

And that's only the beginning of Dennis' suggestive gifts.

Sandra's rating:

None - unable to rate

I don't really know how to rate this over the top short story that had me cringing in places and lulzing in others. And no sex on page, btw.

So, Martin gets a gift on the first day - a condom in a jockstrap. It's from his boyfriend Dennis. The next day, he gets another gift - two lace panties and a condom in a jockstrap.

The whole story is built around the old "Twelve Days of Christmas" song - just instead of five golden rings, Martin gets five cock rings. And other such naughty gifts. Like six gay ganders he has to keep in his garage.

This short story is so utterly over the top that I am having a hard time getting my head around it. Super millionaire boyfriend who's apparently crazy about Martin, an indoor pool, a Christmas performance with an orchestra, a bunch of people dancing and prancing, and copious amounts of alcohol rounded out this odd story.

I couldn't get behind Martin and Dennis as a couple. Their lack of on page together time hindered this reader from getting a feel for their relationship, and while they apparently do have sexy times, those all happen off the page and are only alluded to. Their dynamics were a little off too, with Dennis seemingly having no issue making his boyfriend uncomfortable. Like having him wear the lace panties to dinner with Dennis' parents. Or sex in a pantry during a Christmas party, even when Martin initially balks at the idea. Of course, this is only alluded to afterward.

I cannot rate this. I snorted a lot at the often unbelievable antics on the page and rolled my eyes quite a bit, so I guess if you're in the mood for some over the top Christmas capers, this might be a book for you.

I received a free copy from the publisher via Netgalley. A positive review was not promised in return.

Available from Less Than Three Press

Thanks for stopping by. Until next time, happy reading!

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

ARC Review: Christmas Kitsch by Amy Lane

Christmas Kitsch - Amy Lane
From the blurb:

Sometimes the best thing you can get for Christmas is knowing what you really want.

Rusty Baker is a blond, rich, entitled football player in a high school full of them—just the type of oblivious jock all the bullied kids hate. And he might have stayed that way, except he develops a friendship with out-and-proud Oliver Campbell from the wrong side of the tracks. Rusty thinks the friendship is just pity—Oliver is very bright, and Rusty is very not—but then Oliver kisses him goodbye when Rusty leaves for college, and Rusty is forced to rethink everything he knows about himself.

But even Rusty’s newfound awareness can’t help him survive a semester at Berkeley. He returns home for Thanksgiving break clinging to the one thing he knows to be true: Oliver Campbell is the best thing that’s ever happened to him.
Rusty’s parents disagree, and Rusty finds himself homeless for the holidays. Oliver may not have much money, but he’s got something Rusty has never known: true family. With their help and Oliver’s love, Rusty comes to realize that he may have failed college, but he’ll pass real life with flying rainbow colors.

Sandra's rating:

A feel good story about two teen boys, and one awesome family. I think this might be as fluffy as Amy Lane will ever get, and while there's a bit of angst and bit of skirting the line as far as dumbing down Rusty, this was a great fun read for the holidays, though I couldn't give this 5 stars. I mean, there were some moments where my eyes went all O_O because nobody, not even Rusty, could possibly be that oblivious.

Other than that, this was magic. Pure magical Christmasy magic from the pen of one Amy Lane who usually delivers the angst like nobody's business. Okay, so this book had some angst, but not a lot. What it had instead was tons of giggles and giggle-snorts and hahaha moments, and sweet love between two boys whom I wanted to cuddle and hug and thump on the head more than once, but who loved each other and stood by each other even when separated.

It had a great family in Oliver's dad and extended uncles, aunts and cousins, plus a great college roommate (who's responsible for a lot of the giggle-snorts), a sweet, strong sister for Rusty and a happy Christmas ending for them all. Including Rusty's parents who may not actually deserve his forgiveness and big heart.

It's a coming of age story, it's a finding your way story, and it's a wonderfully magical Christmas story. This is Amy Lane on a sugar high. It was excellent, outstanding and one that I will read again come Christmas next year.

Perfection in a book.

Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night.

I received a free ARC from the publisher via Netgalley. A positive review was not promised in return. 

Available from Riptide Publishing

Thanks for stopping by. Until next time, happy reading!!

From all of us to all of you!

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

ARC Review: Long The Mile by Ally Blue

Long the Mile - Ally Blue
From the blurb:

Sometimes it takes losing everything to find what you really need.

When Judah went to prison for insider trading, he lost everything he thought was important: his business, his money, his power. But when he gets out, homelessness strips him of the one thing he has left: his self-respect. When another homeless man saves him from a beating, he begins to learn to rely on the goodness of those around him.

For Toby, life on the streets has become familiar. Comfortable. So comfortable he wonders if he’s given up on changing his life for the better. Then comes Judah. Formerly rich, newly homeless, all his pride and attitude gone along with his material possessions. Helping Judah feels good. Their unexpected connection—physical and beyond—feels even better.

Their shared situation nurtures a growing closeness that blossoms into something deeper. But when change comes knocking, it will take all their strength to keep fear and insecurity from tearing them apart.

Sandra's rating:

New to me author Ally Blue delivers a novella about second chances, about finding support and love in the most unexpected places, and about a huge chunk of character growth that almost, but not quite, turned into unnecessary heartache.

Upon his release from prison where he spent time for insider trading, Judah tries hard to find a job, quickly realizing that an ex-con is not high on the list of desirable employees for even the most menial jobs. When his money runs out, he's faced with homelessness, completely unprepared. It's with the help of Toby that Judah finds himself at a shelter for the first time, struggling to figure out how to make it from one day to the next.

Initially, the developing relationship between Judah and Toby appears a little convenient, especially considering how disdainful Judah reacts toward Toby upon first meeting him. I also felt that perhaps a bit of gratitude caused Judah to cling to Toby initially. There wasn't a whole lot of depth to their growing love story, which is likely due to the big time jumps in this short book. I understand the need to speed up time when writing a novella, but I felt that it took away from the two men finding each other and the building stones of their relationship.

I felt like their fears and insecurities were in a lot of cases just glossed over, and while they were explained well enough, and while both men are given a differing set of fears, as fitting to their circumstances, I wish that there had been more communication between them regarding those struggles instead of assumptions and a bit of hasty assurance.

I did like Judah's decision to distance himself, a time out if you will, to figure out how to be his own man, and to suspend the relationship for a while, before letting it get destroyed by possible resentment and anger. While this was hard for him and Toby both, and caused what some might deem unnecessary heartache, I think it's important, for both men and women, to feel self-worth. It's actually, as far as I'm concerned, a credit to Judah that the realized in what direction he was heading and that he loved Toby enough to remove himself, even if only until he could stand on his own two feet again.

I do understand Toby's anger at a decision Judah seemingly made without his input and consent, but I think in the long run, Judah's decision was the right one for them. And I'm quite happy that Toby chose to listen and then understand where Judah was coming from. The novella ends on a very hopeful note, and I am certain these two are riding off into the sunset together.

The story drove home the need for more shelters, and while that's an important point, it distracted in some cases from the plot. I do applaud the author for donating 20% of the proceeds from this novella to LGBTQ homeless shelters - that's a worthy cause, and I almost wish I had actually paid for this book. Instead, I am going to make a donation myself to make up for the difference.

I received a free ARC from the publisher via Netgalley. A positive review was not promised in return.

Available from Riptide Publishing


Thanks for stopping by. Until next time, happy reading!!

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