Release Day review: Bigger Love (Big Love #2) by Rick R. Reed

release day review

Dreamspinner

https://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/books/bigger-love-by-rick-r-reed-9967-b

Blurb

Truman Reid is Summitville High’s most out-and-proud senior. He can’t wait to take his fierce, uncompromising self away from his small Ohio River hometown, where he’s suffered more than his share of bullying. He’s looking forward to bright lights and a big city. Maybe he’ll be the first gender-fluid star to ever win an Academy Award. But all that changes on the first day of school when he locks eyes with the most gorgeous hunk he’s ever seen. Mike Stewart, big, dark-haired, and with the most amazing blue eyes, is new to town. He’s quiet, manly, and has the sexy air of a lost soul. It’s almost love at first sight for Truman. He thinks that love could deepen when Mike becomes part of the stage crew for Harvey, the senior class play Truman’s directing. But is Mike even gay? And how will it work when Truman’s mother is falling for Mike’s dad? Plus Truman, never the norm, makes a daring and controversial choice for the production that has the whole town up in arms. See how it all plays out on a stage of love, laughter, tears, and sticking up for one’s essential self.

Review

So I really liked Big Love and fell in love with Truman in that story. I was psyched to see his story fleshed out! But….

First, most of the story – like 67% or more is really about Truman and other people including a pregnancy scare that takes up way too many pages for not a lot of return (that we see in this book).

Second, though I love Truman, I wanted to see his romance not read about him and though I loved seeing him triumph I wanted more with Mike… except Mike was 100% an asshole and I didn’t like him – ever.

Third, so since I didn’t get to really meet him and what I saw was crappy – I didn’t get invested in these guys as a couple AT ALL and I really felt like I didn’t want them together so when the ILYs jump out I didn’t buy them.

Fourth, there is a VERY creepy scene involving Mike and a citizen that is super gross – and when we find out who he is I was like???? How is that guy thinking he’s being a secretive closeted gay boy when he goes around in a vintage mustang that everyone identifies as his??? It didn’t make any sense and was very uncomfortable.

So… while I applaud Truman and still love him – this story was not up to his personal wonderfulness and I can’t really recommend it.

2.5 of 5 stars


Copy Generously Provided for Honest Review

Recently Released: Push (Music in Motion #1) by B.L. Morticia

Dreamspinner

https://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/books/push-by-blmorticia-9916-b

Blurb

Music In Motion: Book One

Malakei Oakley, aka rapper M. Prophet, is at the top of his game—but deep in the closet. Handsome, wealthy, and successful as the head of 315East Entertainment, Malakei should be on cloud nine. Despite his awards and a Midas touch that has every musician clamoring to work with him, something is missing.

Seth “Reaper” Davies is ready for stardom. His band High Stakes plays to small, packed houses all over Birmingham and London but has yet to get their big break. But Seth isn’t giving up on his dream—no matter what it takes.

A viral video prompts a message from a person he doesn’t expect—the talented M. Prophet. Their musical styles are worlds apart, and Seth has no desire to change his style to sell records. But his curiosity—and his attraction to Malakei—wins out.

Malakei can’t get Seth out of his mind. He also can’t come out without ruining his reputation. No matter how much he wants the sexy singer, his only option is to push Seth away. But he’s about to find out Seth isn’t one to give up on what he wants—and he might be just what Malakei needs.

Review

Ok – there’s a lot about this I want to say – and I want to be as fair as possible.

1) I thought there were parts that were very compelling – the bias against LGBTQ in hip hop, the reluctance to lose face, the authenticity of the lives led by both MCs and their people
2) I didn’t buy the language used by either MC – it felt too over the top and didn’t feel at all what actual people would say – either to themselves or their families/friends
3) I never liked Seth. Malakei was a sweetie and Seth seemed like an asshole over and over so I never got invested in their relationship.
4) The making out with the ex thing never sat well with me and I didn’t think it needed to be on page
5) I didn’t understand why Seth would have a secret crush on someone everyone thinks is straight and whom he doesn’t really even like musically
In the end – though there was a lot about this that had potential I never bought in and as a result I can say I just didn’t like and can’t really recommend it.

2.5 of 5 stars


Copy Generously Provided for Honest Review

Time to get scared: Rhapsody for Piano and Ghost Audiobook by Z.A. Maxfield Narrated by Douglas Berger

Good Reads Link

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/11444405-rhapsody-for-piano-and-ghost?from_search=true

Blurb

Fitz Gaffney finally has some breathing room. His mother’s out of town, his piano teachers have backed off, and he gets to spend time at a school where he only has to be adequate for an entire year before all his responsibilities comes crashing back in again. With this freedom comes the realization that he’s lonely, but his first attempt at dating goes horribly awry.

Fitz’s new — but possibly imaginary — friends, Julian and Serge, want to help him find happiness. His used-to-be-stepbrother Ari Scheffield wants to help him gain confidence and a little much-needed cool. His housekeeper Marguerite wants to keep fowl in the back yard for butchering because duck confit is expensive and she has pillows to re-stuff. And his possible new boyfriend Garrett wants to prove he didn’t mean for their first date to end with Fitz lying unconscious in a dumpster.

All Fitz wants is someone who cares about him, and suddenly there seems to be a glut. How’s a shy guy to know what’s real when he’s confronted by crazy ghosts, a less than truthful boyfriend, and relatives with hidden motives? It’s a Rhapsody For Piano And Ghost.

Review

I had a hard getting into this book at first so I switched from reading it to listening to it and I became enthralled. I love how the chapter titles give a little foreshadowing but are also quite humorous. Fitz starts off as a gullible, naïve, absent minded piano prodigy. He’s used to being in the background but then something miraculous happens…he’s approached by a guy, and not any guy, an extremely attractive guy. Throughout the story we have to wonder at Garrett’s motives and while its never really said outright what his plans are they become pretty obvious to everyone except Fitz. After a disastrous date, Fitz finds himself being taken care of by Julian and Serge, two dapper men who rescue him from a garbage bin. Eventually Fitz realized that they are ghosts. We also get introduced to Ari, who comes to Fitz’s rescue. Ari, who is Fitz’s older ex-stepbrother, is a handsome, sophisticated ex-boyband member. I really enjoyed Fitz’s journey from blinding lust with Garrett, to discovering what true love is with Ari. The ghost’s Serge and Julian are a great comic relief but their backstory is absolutely heartbreaking. There are a few sexy scenes and the last few chapters have a good bit of action. This is a very well romance with a paranormal aspect.

The narrator, Douglas Berger is a complete unknown to me, but overall he did a good job with this book. He had distinctive accents for the ghost’s, but at times Fitz, Garret and Ari all sound the same and towards the end when Ari is saying sexy dialog he slips into some blend of Julian and Serge. It was confusing because I thought it was the ghosts talking. I had to go back to the book and read the section to clear it up. He has a good voice and kept the flow of the story moving so I will most likely get another book narrated by him in the future.

Book 5 stars
Audio 3.5 stars

Overall 4 of 5 stars

 

 

 

 

 

Copy Purchased for Review

 

 

Audiobook: BFF by KC Wells narrated by Michael Mola

audiobookreview

 

Dreamspinner Link

https://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/books/bff-by-kc-wells-9646-b

Blurb
I’m about to do something huge, and it could change… everything.

I met Matt in second grade, and we’ve been inseparable ever since. We went to the same schools, studied at the same college. When we both got jobs in the same town, we shared an apartment. And when my life took an unexpected turn, Matt was there for me. Every milestone in my life, he was there to share it. And what’s really amazing? After all these years, we’re still the best of friends.

Which brings me to this fragile, heart-stopping moment: I want to tell him I love him, really love him, but I’m scared to death of what he’ll say. If I’ve got this all wrong, I’ll lose him—forever

Review
(Book reviewed here previously: https://openskyebookreviews.com/coming-soon-bff-by-k-c-wells/)
The basis of this story is a being written by one of the main characters, Matt, and is told from his point of view. He grows up with David as Best Friends and the book chronicles their journey. I can honestly say I’m not certain how I feel about this story. It’s cute, the story of young men understanding their feelings for each other. Navigating through puberty and all the pressures high school, college and first job brings. Each chapter is another stage in their life and relationship as best friends. I would say this is the ultimate slow burn story as it takes 90% before they realise their feelings are deeper than just close friendship. There is also no angst. Perfect for a light read. My mixed feelings are because I didn’t quite feel the connection between Matt and David, it felt like friends with benefits rather than lovers. This might have been the tone of the narrator and the level of emotions between Matt and David I took from it.
I have not listened to anything narrated by Michael Mola before. He has a young sounding voice appropriate for Matt and David’s age. They are the same age about mid 20’s. All the characters had a unique voice which made easy to distinguish between them. The one thing that I found annoying after a while was Matt’s ‘chuckle’, but don’t let that put you off.

3 of stars out of 5 for both story and narration


Copy Generously Provided for Honest Review

 

 

 

Recent release: Traded Out by Samantha Wayland

Good reads link

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/41555624-traded-out

Blurb

Olle Svensson came to Canada to play hockey, but now he’s wondering if twenty-five is too late to start university back home in Sweden. Things started out well, but then his friend Jamie gets caught with a guy in a men’s room stall at a random bar. Olle knows he should have stood by Jamie, in the bar and the locker room, but he’d been caught off-guard. He’d thought…well, it doesn’t matter anymore what he was thinking.

Jamie Gallagher is in hell. He’d been sure none of his teammates went to that bar, but now he’s been outed against his will and doesn’t have a single ally on the team. He’s giving serious thought to giving up on hockey until the Moncton Ice Cats come to the rescue. Jamie never thought he’d be so happy to be traded.

The only down side is that Olle is coming with him.

A Free Read through Insta-Freebee from August 28th to September 4th together with other authors ->
https://claims.instafreebie.com/gg/FC…

Review

I love this series and this author (and hockey)! This is a rather long story for a freebie and is wonderful!

It’s got a fair amount of hockey in it but is definitely relationship focused. We’ve got a clueless Jamie and an adorable Swede who quietly loves and protects Jamie until he finally clues in!

There is a bit of smexy times a lot of laughs and a nice glimpse of some of our previously loved and adored MCs.

Highly recommended for fans of the series/author but is absolutely fine as a standalone!

5 of 5 stars

Time to get paranormal: Evolved Audiobook by NR Walker Narrated by Joel Leslie

 

Audible Link

https://www.audible.com/pd/Evolved-Audiobook/1541445112?qid=1536769755&sr=sr_1_1&ref=a_search_c3_lProduct_1_1&pf_rd_p=e81b7c27-6880-467a-b5a7-13cef5d729fe&pf_rd_r=Y3400SMA6Q7VHD21JS8D&

Blurb

In 2068, androids are an integrated part of human life. Big Brother no longer just watches from the shadows. It’s in every household.

Lloyd Salter has OCD issues with noise and mess, and he’s uncomfortable with human interaction. When his ex claimed the only thing perfect enough to live up to his standards was an android, Lloyd dismissed it. But two years later, after much self-assessment, he thinks he may have been right.

SATinc is the largest manufacturer of androids in Australia, including the Fully Compatible Units known as an A-Class 10. Their latest design is the Synthetic Human Android UNit, otherwise known as SHAUN. Shaun is compatible to Lloyd’s every need; the perfect fit on an intellectual and physical basis.

But Lloyd soon realizes Shaun’s not like other A-Class androids. He learns. He adapts. Sure that SATinc is aware Shaun functions outside of his programmed parameters, Lloyd must find a way to keep Shaun safe. No one can know how special Shaun is. No one can know he’s evolved.

Contains mature themes.

Review

(Book reviewed here previously)

I am literally blown away by this story.

When I saw the blurb I pretty much said to myself – yeah – NO – and wanted to pass it on. I was a bit intrigued but mostly really put off by the robot in the future part of the story. That’s just not me.

Wellll…. Let me tell you. This story gripped me right from the start and I couldn’t put it down. NR Walker managed to do it AGAIN. She keeps coming out of left field with these books that are so DIFFERENT from what I’ve seen from her and she keeps hitting home runs! (See all the Spring Baseball references…. And I don’t like baseball! But they fit 😉 )

First, let’s look at this story. It has a fairly timely subject matter – we are probably on the cusp of artificial intelligence and as this story suggests we are in no way ready for it.

Despite the robot nature of Shaun, I loved his existential crisis and that whole “why am I here” thing is something all of us experience and the author was able to really capture this in simple ways that can be felt in us all.

The “Big Brother” aspect of this story is so accurate it’s frightening. We know “they” are listening – but what can you do that doesn’t involve living off grid in Montana?

And the romance. Ahhhhhh. So good. I totally cried at the end even though I knew it would be a HEA – NR doesn’t let us down. It’s a very touching ending and I was really pleased with her result.

Second, can we talk about NR Walker’s amazing brain? If you look at her title list we have things all over the map: from the outback, to Africa, to contemporary Australia, body image, butterflies, switched at birth, blindness, ménage, cops, vampires, architecture… and she’s like an expert on ALL these things! I totally want to have access to her time and resources – she must spend 50% of her time researching and the rest writing! I love it! (And am jealous of her beautiful brain 😉 ) Now we can add this futuristic techno drama to her list. Truly awe inspiring and wonderful.

So… from one non-sci-fi person to another – this is a sci-fi book you’ll want to read. It’s wonderful and touching and it will absolutely inspire all your neurotransmitters to fire!

6 of 5 stars

Audio:

What a challenge! How to sound like a robot who doesn’t sound robotic while still being non-human???? Well – Joel Leslie is up to the challenge and manages to find a way to do just that!

Shaun “evolves” in this book from a plain android to virtually a human and over the course of his narration Joel has to continually demonstrate this evolution vocally. He owns it! He does an absolutely brilliant job of making these subtle changes and helping us –the listeners – keep Shaun in that place that’s just a little unique. He also gives us the other characters in the story – android and human – distinct voices and personalities.

Well done and highly recommended!

6 of 5 stars


Copy Generously Provided for Honest Review

Release Day Review: Undertow (Port Lewis Witches #2) by Brooklyn Ray

release day review

Nine Star Presents
https://ninestarpress.com/product/undertow/

Blurb

Port Lewis, a coastal town perched on the Washington cliffs, is home to Crescent Cafe, a slew of micro-breweries, a downtown packed with antique boutiques, and violent, ancient storms. Thunder shakes rooftops and lightning cuts through dark skies, but Liam Montgomery has never been afraid.

Until now.

One night, Liam hears the scream of a kelpie, a Water horse whose cry foretells the beginning of a prophecy. Kelpies have not set foot on shore for decades, but as Liam digs into his magic and his family’s history, he uncovers a mysterious secret that could ripple into the lives of everyone around him.

Liam’s tea-leaves spells out murder. The life of someone he loves is on the line. An unwelcome kelpie speaks in riddles. The Queen of Water demands a sacrifice.

The Montgomery name is soaked in blood and secrets. Liam’s fate is sealed, but he’ll do whatever it takes to change it—even if it risks his circle, his magic, and his life.

Review

This shouldn’t be a book that I even want to read and yet I not only couldn’t wait to read it, I loved it! Super loved it!

It’s sooooo well-written. The descriptions are absolutely breath taking without being over done or feeling disproportionate to the story. Though this is new adult/young adult, in book two things take a decidedly more heated turn and the chemistry between Liam and Ryder is scorching! And yet the sex itself isn’t so over described that your own imagination isn’t required. It’s a wonderful gift to be able to describe things in such a way as to be specific but vague enough as to leave room for imagination.

The magic in this book is also off the charts. Wow. Not only do Liam and Ryder explore their powers with one another but there is something new in town after Liam and Liam has to use his powers to protect himself and Ryder.

There is a lot of new information revealed in this story and I can’t wait to read the next installment. This is in no way an ending but it still felt very satisfying. I think, if I have to directly compare, that this is even BETTER than book 1, which – let’s face it – rarely happens – but it sure seemed to here!

Highly recommended! (not a standalone)

5 of 5 stars


Copy Generously Provided for Honest Review

Time to get Paranormal: Denying Fate (A Series of Fate #1) by C.C. Dado

 

Dreamspinner

https://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/books/denying-fate-by-cc-dado-9837-b

Blurb

Fate is a funny thing. Some try to cut its threads, while others wrap themselves in it like a blanket.

Young wolf shifter Max is cocky and crass. Unlike others his age, he has yet to discover a talent that will serve his pack. Since childhood, he’s been convinced the pack alpha is his mate, but Alpha Christian cannot envision unfiltered and directionless Max taking the place of his elegant mother at the head of the pack. As Max begins to build a life with his best friend, he also begins to see that maybe what he thought was inevitable was all in his head, and it’s time to move on.

Or are they both denying fate?

Review by Xanthe

This is my first experience with this author and I’d be interested in reading more of this series, though I found this book to be a little hit and miss.
The basis of the story and the relationship between Max and Alpha Christian is intriguing.
All wolves have a gift and Max is yet to discover his. His main focus at the moment is getting the Alpha to notice him and the mate pull that Max is certain of. The Alpha is very reticent about Max. He’s always watching over the younger man but cannot see the two of them having a future.
To me, the story had a lot of promise but didn’t quite fulfill on it’s potential. There were, for me, some really good parts that, if fleshed out a little would have massively boosted my interest and involvement with the characters. Less is not always more.
One thing that confused me was that the POVs used in the book are Max and Max’s best friend Seth, we don’t actually read from Christian. Seth does play a big role for Max, has been supportive and important to Max, but having his POV didn’t quite make sense to me.
The connection between Max and Christian is clear to see from the outside but there wasn’t a lot of interaction between them making it hard to feel connected to, and involved with, the characters.
The setting itself is well described and a place I would definitely love to live in, sounding quaint and appealing.
I would ask people to give this book a go as overall, I enjoyed the story, but I’m hoping that book two goes a little deeper with action, conversation and emotions.
I received an ARC and am happily giving a review

3 of 5 stars


Copy Generously Provided for Honest Review

Review by Morgan

This just wasn’t for me. I found the low steam to be very unsatisfying and though I can appreciate that this was a lot about Max finding his own way in the world, I wanted more about his relationship with Christian and less about Max’s friendship/bakery endeavors. Another thing that I didn’t like was the lack of “wolfiness”. I didn’t feel the wolf part of Max and I wanted to.

Though I’d read a blurb for the next book in the series, it’d really have to bowl me over for me to continue with this. I was simply underwhelmed by the romance.

2.5 of 5 stars


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Copy Generously Provided for Honest Review

Audiobook: Color Me In (Last Chance, Book 2) By: Riley Hart Narrated by: Nick J. Russo

audiobookreviewAudible Link

https://www.audible.com/pd/Fiction/Color-Me-In-Audiobook/B07CMKWW2Q?ref=a_search_c3_lProduct_1_2&pf_rd_p=e81b7c27-6880-467a-b5a7-13cef5d729fe&pf_rd_r=MQAK204B2Y7EPH89K5FR&

Blurb

Caleb White has been a lot of places and made a lot of decisions he isn’t proud of. He’s ready to settle down and figure out who he really is. Where better to do that than Last Chance, the home he was ripped away from at 16? A fresh start is in order, but he has no idea how to do that when he’s not even sure what he wants in the first place.
Ryan Daily is a pro at hiding his insecurities. He’s never fit in and has spent most of his life knowing there’s something missing. Just when he thought he’d found it, his whole world fell apart, and he lost everything.
Then comes a sleepless night in a 24-hour café, where Caleb and Ryan forge a connection full of laughs, junk food, and whispered secrets. In the middle of their budding friendship, desire blooms unexpectedly. Ryan has kept his heart protected after having it shattered, and Caleb – no stranger to attraction – finds that what he has with Ryan is on a whole new level from anything he’s experienced before. In a world of black and white, they bring each other color.
But life is never simple. When the past comes knocking, Ryan and Caleb will have to reach through the darkness to find the light they see in each other or risk slipping into the shadows for good.

Review

This is Riley Hart and Nick Russo doing what they do best!
I’m sure you’ve all gathered what a big fan I am of Nick – so – just know he does another fantastic job and lives up to all the hype!
Riley Hart wins me over when she does sentimental and emotional. (I’m less of a fan of her erotica – but that’s not my forte.) Depth of Field touched me so deeply and this is an admirable follow up.
I loved the exploration into Ryan’s sexuality as well as their emotional sharing. It was great seeing Shane and Van and I can’t wait to see more from this “world”.

For fans of the author and the series this is a must and Nick only makes it better!

Highly recommended!

5 of 5 stars

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Copy purchased for Review

Audiobook: City Boy: Hot (Off The Ice Book 1) by AE Wasp Narrated by Michael Pauley

audiobookreview

Audible Link

https://www.audible.com/pd/Romance/City-Boy-Audiobook/B07BGCD4BG?ref=a_search_c3_lProduct_1_1&pf_rd_p=e81b7c27-6880-467a-b5a7-13cef5d729fe&pf_rd_r=SV27NV3YZGNJNC2STE4B&

Blurb

Follow the money or follow your heart? Either way, you lose.

When a blown tire leads directly to mind-blowing sex with a white knight named Dakota, pro-hockey player Bryce Lowery discovers he is most definitely gay.

Being with Dakota opens up a whole new world. Bryce can’t imagine life without him. But he refuses to be Bryce’s dirty little secret. If he wants to keep Dakota, he’s either going to have to come out publicly or retire and walk away from millions of dollars.

Bryce Lowery feels like the answer to all of Dakota’s prayers. But is Dakota willing to leave the only life he’s ever known only to be thrust into the spotlight as the boyfriend of the first out gay hockey player? Would their relationship even survive it?

He’ll lose Bryce if doesn’t because Bryce will leave eventually. No one would turn down millions of dollars for a nobody with nothing.

City Boy is a first time gay, fish out of water, May/December love story with a happy ending. It features snarky siblings, a dirty-talking farmer, lots of food, and big choices. (No poultry was harmed in the making of this book.)

Review
(Book reviewed here previously)

This was just plain fun! It was sweet, had some emotionally charged moments, great chemistry, somewhat believable situations and – most importantly – Hockey!

Well, a little hockey anyway.

I loved the exploration and the tender sides we get to see of both MCs.

Highly recommended and an author I’ll now be looking for!

Audio

Woot! I was so glad to see this in audio format! Michael Pauley is great and does a fantastic job giving these guys voices. I sincerely hope he does the entire series! I can’t wait for more from this “world”!

5 of 5 stars

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Copy Purchased for Review