Tag Archives: author: j. leigh bailey

2016 in Review: #4 & #3

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Another year come and gone–and some fantastic reading adventures along with it! As I typically do in January, I want to take some time to review some of my favorite reads of 2016. In week four of this series, we move up to the next two books on my top ten.

Note: These are the best books I read in 2016, not necessarily published in 2016.

#4 The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins

The Girl on the Train

I was a bit of a latecomer to the amazingness that is this suspenseful mystery novel. But I could immediately see why it found such widespread success with reading audiences of all types. It’s one of those books that keeps you sitting on the edge of your seat, digging deep to find every possible clue that you know just has to be there, and yearning for that final answer to the question. I’ve yet to see the film adaptation (going to be a latecomer there too), but I’m looking forward to it!

Read my review from October 13 for more on this title.

#3 Guyliner by j. leigh bailey

Guyliner

I could probably gush for pages on how much I truly enjoyed this book. There’s definitely something about j. leigh bailey’s writing style that resonates with me (just look up the author tag her on the blog!). The characters are multidimensional, the stories and situations have a realism to them, and I find myself lost in the pages of the book every time. I think this was the first young adult story I picked up from this author, but it is safe to say that I will continue to pick them up as long as they keep being written…

Read my review from January 4 for more on this title.

Guyliner by j. leigh bailey

Guyliner

Guyliner by j. leigh bailey

Published by: Dreamspinner Press on October 17, 2016
Rating: 4 stars (★★★★☆)

Connor is seen as the golden boy, and he’s okay with that as long as it means a ticket out of the small town where he lives. He gets good grades, is athletic, works a part-time job, has a great girlfriend, and gets along with pretty much everyone. And that includes the new kid, Graham. Graham is a self-assured star soccer player who wears eyeliner. Wait, eyeliner? But that’s not the only thing Connor notices about Graham. He’s drawn to him and can’t get him out of his head. And that’s just not acceptable–it doesn’t fit into Connor’s plans. He can’t be with a guy and get where he wants to go, can he? But as the two spend more time together, Connor begins to wonder if he really can deny the truth about how he feels. And even if he can, is what he’d be giving up worth the tradeoff?

I struggle to find the words to describe just how much I enjoyed this book. I cannot help wondering how many young men out there go through exactly what Connor goes through in this book. And Graham, too, to be fair. While we often reflect on the fact that it is “easier” to come out now than it was years ago or that young people seem to be coming out at earlier and earlier ages, we can’t simply dismiss the idea that it can be challenging for many people. And the pressure we all feel to be a certain kind of person or achieve certain things–even when it’s not made explicit–can be overwhelming on its own. To face the reality that being true to yourself means giving up many of the things that we’re taught to expect out of life as children (or to at least realize that they won’t happen quite as we expect) can be scary. And it’s even scarier to have to sort that all out as a young adult.

This is, hands down, one of the best young adult LGBT stories I’ve ever read. And I give it a very strong recommendation for all readers, both young and old.

Fight to Forgive by j. leigh bailey

Fight to Forgive

Fight to Forgive by j. leigh bailey

Series: Letting Go, Book 3
Published by: Carina Press on March 28, 2016
Rating: 4 stars (★★★★☆)

After suffering a combat injury, James “Freddie” Fredrick has returned to a place he doesn’t want to spend much time: home. There were many reasons he joined the Navy and left four years before. It’s not something he wants to talk about with anyone and he never has. But when his sister picks him up from the airport and tells him she’s buying Elliott House, it seems he just can’t get away. Aaron Elliott is right back at the front and center of his life. Aaron who selfishly left him without a word four years ago. And things get even more complicated when he learns Aaron is back in town.

Aaron Elliott has avoided conflict all his life. If he can get through something without making waves, he will. But when he learned his mother and stepfather were planning to sell his father’s house, he knew he had to speak up. Aaron’s father left that house to him, and though a legal technicality has put his ownership in question, Aaron believes his father’s wishes should be carried out. So he halts the sale and decides to spend a summer at Elliott House. He just doesn’t expect to run into Freddie. The feelings come rushing back, but Aaron tells himself he has to let them go. After all, Freddie destroyed anything the two of them could have had four years ago.

As the two live in proximity again, their past eventually becomes a big enough elephant in the room that it can’t be avoided. Though both are committed to never going back down that road, can their collective willpower hold out? And what exactly is the truth of their breakup? Is it possible all could be forgiven?

I’ve been a fan of this series of stories by j. leigh bailey since the first one. The stories they tell are so rich and dynamic, I always have a hard time putting the books down. And the story of these two is certainly no exception. The value of communication and trust is clear in how this story plays out. And it reminds us that it’s also so important to meet another person where they are. You can’t hold someone to expectations that are outside of their nature–especially if you never communicate those expectations to them.

Strong recommendation on this one!

[Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.]

Reckless Hope by J. Leigh Bailey

25548671Title: Reckless Hope (Letting Go, Book 2)
Author: J. Leigh Bailey
Published: August 24, 2015
Pages: 193
Publisher: Carina Press
Publisher Website: link
Rating: ★★★

Micah Burke knows all about responsibility. He’s been the head of his family since he was a teenager, and he’s also the guardian for his teenage sister while also caring for their mother, going to college, and working a job. He doesn’t have time for frivolous things–he barely ever has time to go out and have fun. And on one rare occasion when he goes out, he meets Sebastian and loses himself in a moment of what could be, only to be quickly reminded of his responsibilities. Their paths cross again, however, and Micah quickly learns that Sebastian seems like the exact opposite of him: he’s an impulsive risk-taker who seems to just dance through life doing all he can to avoid responsibility.

And Micah may not be wrong. Sebastian comes from a wealthy family and has been largely left to his own devices in recent years. He is a thrill-seeker and might even admit himself that he can be a bit reckless. Although he’s gone from guy to guy, mostly keeping things casual, there’s something about Micah that he just can’t seem to shake. He’s determined to break through Micah’s shell to get to it, and he just might break through a shell of his own at the same time.

If you can’t tell from that little bit of summary, there is some definite angst in this book. It’s not all sunshine and rainbows and smooth sailing. But while it will take you up and down as a reader, it’s not all doom and gloom. This is assembled strong characters, a well-developed plot arc, and a compelling narrative–which is something i’ve come to expect from J. Leigh Bailey. You’ll laugh. You’ll cry. But you’ll also be inspired.

[Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.]

Nobody’s Hero by J. Leigh Bailey

24637092Title: Nobody’s Hero
Author: J. Leigh Bailey
Published: April 27, 2015
Pages: 209
Publisher: Carina Press
Author Website: link
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
Review:

Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Brad has left his family and what many would see as a privileged life behind. Now, he’s arrived in his college town at the beginning of the summer with no place to stay and the hope of a job. But the night before his interview he helps out a guy in trouble in the parking lot of the diner where he was sleeping in his truck. Danny is interested–and Brad is, too, to be honest–but Brad can’t go down that road. He did once before and it ended badly for everyone. He’s in town for school, and that’s it. He’s not looking for complications. But complications are exactly what he finds when he gets the job and it comes with a place to stay above the boss’s garage–and Danny is the boss’s son…

Wonderful. I really enjoyed this and I found myself rooting for both Brad and Danny at every single turn. These two are such so adorable and they’ve both been through so much that one just can’t help hoping they get what they need. Brad’s family is infuriating–to say the very least–and is such a stark contrast to Danny’s. Well-written and engaging, I found myself easily engrossed in this story set in a town not far from where I grew up. And it all just rings so true.