Release Day Review: When Everything is Blue by Laura Lascarso

release day review

Dreamspinner Presents

https://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/books/when-everything-is-blue-by-laura-lascarso-9420-b

Blurb
When they were kids, Chris Mitcham rescued Theo from the neighborhood bullies and taught him how to “be cool.” Now, years later, Theo’s developed feelings for his best friend that arise at the most inopportune times. Theo hates lying to Chris, but in coming out, he might lose the one person who understands him best, a risk he’s not willing to take.
When a relationship with another young man goes south, Theo is forced to confront his own sexuality along with his growing attraction to Chris and his stunted, tenuous relationship with his father. Will Chris abandon Theo when he learns the truth, or will he stand by him in this tumultuous season of self-discovery?

In this quirky coming-of-age romance, Theo’s path to manhood is fraught with awkward firsts and a few haters, but also the unexpected comfort of a friend turned lover

Review
Usually I don’t go for YA stories but I am so glad I chose this one. This book is a beautiful story of young love. The struggle of best friends becoming lovers at its best and I didn’t want it to end. The story is told from Theo’s point of view. We see how difficult he finds it navigating the path through adolescence. Chris is always there for him but Theo tells himself that he can’t keep relying on that and is certain Chris is straight. I absolutely loved the depth of feeling the author portrayed in this book. It brought a sense of realism and I felt like I was watching a snapshot of both their lives. I thought this was excellent writing since we never got the story from Chris’s POV but I felt I knew what it was from the dialogue and Theo’s comments. The other characters in the story all added strength in their own way. Theo’s twin sister as the opposite of him and provides a good contrast. His hardworking loving and supportive mother and indifferent absent father. And lastly we have the catalyst Dave who victimised Theo. Theo and Chris get their happy for now ending, they have a journey ahead of them and I hope we will get a chance to check in on them in a few years. It feels like they could have a lot of interesting stories to tell before they get their happy ever after (fingers crossed)
On the strength of this book I will definitely look for more by Laura Lascarso

4.5 of stars out of 5

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Copy Generously Provided for Honest Review

 

 

 

Audiobook Month: Training Season Audiobook by Leta Blake Narrated by Michael Ferraiuolo

Audible Link

https://www.audible.com/pd/Romance/Training-Season-Audiobook/B071ZM5LWJ?qid=1498179189&sr=1-1

Blurb:

Unquestionably talented figure skater Matty Marcus is willing to sacrifice everything for his Olympic dream, but his lack of discipline cost him the gold once before. Now the pressure’s on. He needs a coach who can keep him in line, but top coaches don’t come cheap, and Matty can’t afford to stay in the game no matter how badly he wants to win.

When a lucrative house-sitting gig brings him to rural Montana, Matty does his best to maintain his training regimen. Local residents turn out to be surprisingly tolerant of his flamboyant style, especially handsome young rancher Rob Lovely, who proves to be much more than a cowboy stereotype. Just as Matty requires a firm hand to perform his best on the ice, Rob shows him how strong he can be when he relinquishes control in the bedroom. With new-found self-assurance, he drives himself harder to go straight to the top.

But competition has a timetable, and to achieve his Olympic dream, Matty will have to join his new coach in New York City, leaving Rob behind. Now he must face the ultimate test. Has he truly learned how to win—on and off the ice—during his training season?

Review:

This book is the perfect example of the importance of a good narrator. I had tried to read this book when it first came out a couple of years back. But I just couldn’t get into it. I thought Matty was too whiny, too vain, too shallow, too annoying… and the book was too long and rambling. So I put it aside on the “everybody-but-me-loved-this-hate-it-when-that-happens”-shelf and forgot about it. Then the audio cam out and at first it wasn’t on my radar, until I saw who had narrated it! Michael Ferraiuolo is one of my all time favourite narrators, so I thought if anyone could turn this book around for me, it would be him! And I was so right! He brings it!

Matty is still whiny, vain, shallow and annoying, but he is also kind and generous and insecure. And his forever boyfriend – ice skating – takes that insecurity and punishes him with it over and over again.
After an injury and some disappointing results in the last Olympic games, Matty finds himself in Montana house-sitting and getting back into shape for the upcoming season. Here he meets his hunky neighbor, Rob and his 12 year old son, Ben. Rob is everything Matty isn’t, he is Montana personified. He is ruggedness and slow cooking, he is wide open fields and the north star in the sky and he is, it turns out, an amazing boyfriend too.

This story is long, it takes place over several years, and I can still see why I gave up the first time I tried reading it. It is long and in places it may feel a bit of a drag, especially because it is all so hurtful! Ice skating continues to kick Matty over and over again, and yet, he keeps going back to his abusive first love, whilst everyone he loves just have to watch him go. It hurts!

But however much it hurts, however much you want to shake Matty until his teeth rattles, you still understand his choices and the reasoning behind making them. There is some truly great characterization going on here, because I understood, I really did. I wanted to disagree, but I did understand. And don’t worry, at the end of it all, at the end of 12 exhausting hours of hurt we get our happy ending after all.

Recommended.

4.5 out of 5 stars
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Copy Generously Provided for Honest Review

The Next Competitor by Keira Andrews

33009275Blurb

If he risks his heart, can he keep his head in the game?

To win gold, figure skater Alex Grady must train harder than the competition morning, noon, and night. He’s obsessed with mastering another quadruple jump, and due to the lack of filter between his mouth and brain, doesn’t have a lot of friends. As for a boyfriend, forget it. So what if he’s still a virgin at twenty? The Olympics are only every four years—everything else can wait. Relationships are messy and complicated anyway, and he has zero room in his life for romance.

So it’s ridiculous when Alex finds himself checking out his boring new training mate Matt Savelli. Calm, collected “Captain Cardboard” is a nice guy, but even if Alex had time to date, Matt’s so not his type. Yet beneath Matt’s wholesome surface, there’s a dirty, sexy man who awakens a desire Alex has never experienced and can’t deny…

Note: This gay romance from Keira Andrews features opposites attracting, new adult angst, sexual discovery, and of course a happy ending.

This new version has been extensively rewritten, updated, and expanded into a new adult romance with explict on-page sex.

Review

I did not read the original version, but I have to wonder if it wasn’t a bit more appropriate for this story.

Alex is a 20 year old (virgin!) Olympic figure skater who is so focused on winning he has no time for anything else and no social filter thus no real friends and definitely no boyfriends (or even hookups!). He’s on his fourth coach in 6 years and has moved to Toronto to work with her where he meets Matt, another of her pupils?, a pairs skater.

Alex notices Matt but finds him “boring” but that’s unimportant anyway as all he focuses on is win, win, win.

Matt isn’t a very well developed character, and though he has some potential interesting things about him (his Italian blue collar family, being in the closet, an injury situation) he doesn’t translate as a overly “interesting” and I can kinda see Alex’s point.

But… they do cross paths and eventually end up as boyfriends.

**

What worked for me: I liked Alex as a character. I think he rang very authentic. The kind of drive it takes to make it the Olympics requires a certain personality type that isn’t going to just give up – ever!

I thought his being a virgin and how that got handled was both sweet and sexy (there were parts I didn’t like that I’ll get to) but that definitely added some much needed heart to this very self-centered, driven character.

I thought the background info on training and the figure skating circuit was pretty interesting. I kinda wanted there to be a bit more drama surrounding the gay v straight skaters – especially if that’s a real thing!

I loved the secondary characters – the other skaters, the coach, the parents – and thought they added a lot to this story.

What didn’t work for me: I didn’t feel a connection between Matt and Alex. They spent too much time apart and the time together either fighting or “making out” – ahem – or more. When Alex “flipped” and saw Matt in a new light it didn’t feel authentic and it felt more like a virgin wanting experience than a boy falling in love.

Matt – as a character – needed to be developed more. Maybe if we’d seen things from his POV I’d have felt more connected to him. He had so much potential – his family, his finances, his injury situation… but he just read as pretty flat to me.

What really didn’t work for me was the “dirty talk”. This felt tacked on to give this YA story an adult spin and it didn’t feel authentic at all. It didn’t match the tone of the rest of the story and made me a little uncomfortable.

I’m guessing the YA version is less “sexy” but I’m wondering if that’s more appropriate.

In any case. Keira is a gifted writer and I was captivated by the story and didn’t ever feel like I wanted to stop reading. I NEEDED to know how it ended and was moderately pleased by the HFN ending. Maybe if we’d seen these guys down the road… I’m not sure. With something like competitive sports that only happen every four years… wow – you just have to be kind of crazy to keep going don’t you?

I think fans of the author will like this, fans of figure skating as well, and fans of high-maintenance characters will get a kick out of Alex.

 

3.5 of 5 stars

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Morgan - Signature-small

Copy Generously Provided by Author for Honest Review

Amazon link

https://www.amazon.com/Next-Competitor-Figure-Skating-Romance-ebook/dp/B01N5BX708/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1481738013&sr=1-1&keywords=the+next+competitor+keira