Tag Archives: published: 2015-08

A Fashionable Indulgence by K.J. Charles

A Fashionable IndulgenceA Fashionable Indulgence by K.J. Charles

Series: Society of Gentlemen, Book 1
Published by: Loveswept on August 11, 2015
Rating: 4 stars (★★★★☆)

Synopsis

Harry Vane is a freedom fighter, seen as a radical, pushing back against the monarchy in favor of democracy. It’s what he’s known his whole life. His parents were leaders in the movement, and it follows that he would carry on their legacy.

But there’s a secret of Harry’s past that he doesn’t know. He is descended from nobility. And he’s the heir to a title and a fortune. Those aren’t things that Harry ever set out for in life, but it does seem better than being arrested–or worse–if he refuses to go along with it and someone looks more closely at his activities.

Julius Norreys is assigned to help Harry make his way into society life. He’s to teach him how to dress, how to act, and who to know. Although it quickly becomes clear that Julius may be more interested in working with Harry on how to undress. And Harry seems happy to oblige.

But there are a few obstacles in Julius and Harry’s path. For one, Harry’s grandfather expects him to marry the woman of his choosing. And Julius has made it clear he won’t be kept on the side. And there’s also the issue of Harry’s past–and his radical friends–that he just can’t seem to escape.

Review

I have become quite the fan of historicals by K.J. Charles. There’s just something about the way the characters and the setting are written that pulls me right in. I can’t seem to put the books down (indeed, I read this one in one sitting).

This start of a new series is no different. There’s a rich world with a social context. There’s strong character backstory and even some unexpected conflict. I certainly give this one a strong recommendation.

 

Overly Dramatic by Rebecca Cohen

Overly Dramtic

Book Info

Title: Overly Dramatic (Treading the Boards, Book 1)
Author: Rebecca Cohen
Published: August 19, 2015
Pages: 131
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Publisher’s Website: link
Rating: ★★★

Review

Andy Marshall has recently relocated to London after breaking up with his long-time, cheating boyfriend. His job as an accountant isn’t overly exciting, and he’s new to the city. This is partly why he accepts an invitation from his colleague to go out and is soon convinced by her husband to audition for their amateur theatre group, the Sarky Players. It’s all a bit of a lark to Andy, until he finds himself cast as one of the leads in Whoops, Vicar, There Go My Trousers. It’s a truly awful play, but everyone seems to have fun with it. And it leads to Andy meeting the troupe’s prop designer, Phil Cormack. The attraction seems almost instantaneous and is certainly mutual, but both Andy and Phil have put up walls they need to be willing to move or take down if they stand a chance at all of being together.

Fun and entertaining is certainly a descriptor I would use for this book. And as someone who has participated in theatre myself several times over the years, I really enjoyed how true-to-life some of the off-stage dramatics were portrayed here. The characters (especially the supporting ones) are dynamic and memorable, and there’s a level of realism to this story that really struck me as I was reading. I’m glad to see this is part of a series because I definitely am interested in hearing more from this author.

The World in His Eyes by A.J. Thomas

The World in His Eyes

Book Info

Title: The World in His Eyes
Author: A.J. Thomas
Published: August 5, 2015
Pages: 128
Publisher: Goodreads M/M Romance Group
Publisher’s Website: link
Rating: ★★★

Review

Larry Myers is a busy guy–he’s completing a residency in emergency medicine–with no time to date. He’s content to hook up with guys he finds on Grindr, appreciating that there are no strings. But when he comes across a photo that moves him–Hazel Eyes–he finds himself compelled to want something more. The owner of those hazel eyes, Brandon Alcott, isn’t any less busy with work himself. A programmer at a software company, he lives in his father’s shadow and needs to work twice as hard as everyone else to be taken seriously. He agrees to meet Larry, expecting another random Grindr hookup, but can’t help acknowledging that Larry might be right about something more. It’s never as simple as just wanting it, though. Work isn’t about to slow down for either of them. And Larry isn’t out to his mother, who is living with cancer in a nursing home, adding a whole extra layer of complication to anything that might happen between the two of them. Can they make it work? And is a spark of connection worth the effort to see if it can turn into more of a flame?

These two guys…I don’t even know where to begin. There’s just something about them that I found instantly endearing. The writing here comes across as authentic, and it’s very easy to get immersed in their story. They go through quite a bit in a short amount of time, but it serves to help them really understand what they want out of life and from each other.

This is the first I’ve read by A.J. Thomas, but I definitely foresee myself picking up more if this is any indication of what to expect…

Wonderland by Robert McKay

Wonderland by Robert McKayTitle: Wonderland (Intergalactic Fairy Tales, Book 1)
Authors: Robert McKay
Published: August 20, 2015
Pages: 187
Publisher: McKay Manor
Publisher Website: link
Rating: ★★★☆☆

Alice is an extremely imaginative teenage girl who knows exactly what she wants to be when she grows up–a space pirate. And despite her mother’s attempts to make her “grow up” and put an end to her “silliness,” she’s not about to let that dream go. One night when she hears something out in the garden, her investigation leads her right into her fantasy–there’s a spaceship hers for the taking and she doesn’t hesitate to claim it as her own. But Alice quickly finds herself on an adventure she didn’t anticipate–one that helps her learn more about the world, its dangers, and herself that she ever thought possible. And the greatest lesson might be that she doesn’t have to give up the things that bring her joy in growing up and becoming responsible. In fact, those things might all go together far better than she ever dreamed.

I’ve mentioned before in my reviews that I am definitely one who loves well-written re-tellings of classic stories. And this is definitely a book I would put into that category. Alice is a particularly favorite story of mine, and I enjoy seeing different takes on it–something I think we’re going to see more of throughout this year since it is the 150th anniversary of the original publication.

What’s here, though, is a science fiction, possibly futuristic reimagining of the text that doesn’t lose any of the whimsy present in the original, more fantasy-focused setting. The storyline very closely resembles the original and, as such, it’s easy to draw the connections and see where things are headed. But there are enough differences and additions by the author, that it does come across as a unique work with a compelling story–one that I will say this reader particularly enjoyed.

Because of the age of the character and the story, I’d say this falls into young adult, but it’s dark and there’s violence (what else would one expect from a reimagining of Alice’s story?), so it may not be appropriate for everyone in that age group. But it’s also one that I think many adults could enjoy, too.

[Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book from the author 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.]

Mad About the Hatter by Dakota Chase

25926238Title: Mad About the Hatter
Author: Dakota Chase
Published: August 20, 2015
Pages: 190
Publisher: Harmony Ink Press
Publisher Website: link
Rating: ★★★

Henry refused to believe the stories his sister, Alice, would tell about visiting a place called “Wonderland.” After all, there was no way that such a place could exist. Yet, she insisted, and her insistence only served to drive a wedge right through their entire family. But when he finds himself suddenly in an unfamiliar place, he remembers that his sister told him to “find the Hatter.” He’s not sure what it means, and when Hatter arrives he thinks he may just regret asking after him, but it’s all he has to work with.

Hatter–yes, that Hatter–faces certain execution. The Red Queen has made it clear she wants his head to roll, and there seems to be no escape. But when the Queen learns of the presence of “Boy Alice” in Wonderland, Hatter may just have the opportunity to do her a favor and save his head…literally. And why wouldn’t he gladly serve up the cantankerous “Boy Alice” to do just that.

But can Hatter really give someone else up to save himself? And might Henry’s first impressions of the Hatter soften as they journey together through this strange land? Regardless, both Henry and the Hatter are about to learn there is much more to this situation than either of them ever could have imagined.

I absolutely love a well-written retelling of a classic tale. While this isn’t a “retelling” per se, but a reimagining of the world of Wonderland and what happened after Alice left for the last time, it hits all the right points for me. There’s humor, suspense, adventure, romance…and it’s all woven seamlessly together in a truly organic way.

There is a need for high quality LGBT YA, and this book is one that helps fill that need. This is a story that I think is enjoyable for all ages, but it’s one that I particularly think teenagers would find appealing. Dakota Chase demonstrates a creativity and an original voice here that truly stands out. I look forward to more from this author, for sure!

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

The Pilots of Borealis by David Nabhan

23129991Title: The Pilots of Borealis
Author: David Nabhan
Published: August 11, 2015 (originally published August 1, 2011)
Pages: 238
Publisher: Talos Press
Author Website: link
Rating: ★★★

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

I struggle a bit in terms of how to describe this book, except to say I’d peg it as a quintessential space opera set in a dystopian future. It’s intriguing and entertaining, and it has enough twists to keep a reader interested all the way through. But I’m settling on a three-star rating because as I sit here now thinking back on it, the story isn’t one that really stands out. It is what it is in the moment, but it doesn’t stay with you like some more profound stories tend to do. And that’s fine; sometimes you want a book just like that, and this is it.

Barefoot in the City of Broken Dreams by Brent Hartinger

25790092Title: Barefoot in the City of Broken Dreams (Russel Middlebrook: The Futon Years, Book 2)
Author: Brent Hartinger
Published: August 14, 2015
Pages: 204
Publisher: Buddha Kitty Books
Author Website: link
Rating: ★★★

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

After reuniting with his high school boyfriend, Kevin, in Seattle, Russel Middlebrook is ready to make his life complete by pursuing his dreams. Together, he and Kevin pick up and move to Los Angeles so Russel can begin his career as a screenwriter. He doesn’t have any contracts when he arrives, but it’s only a matter of time, right? And much to Russel’s delight, it’s not long after he arrives that one of his scripts–one based loosely on his own life–is optioned by a producer who has worked with some of the biggest names in the business. But it’s not all easy. Kevin gave up a job he enjoyed to move to California, and Russel quickly learns there is much more to the business of filmmaking than he ever could have imagined. Will Russel get his break he’s been hoping for? Will the challenges of their new environment test Russel and Kevin’s relationship past the breaking point? Or will they be able to live in the “City of Broken Dreams” whilst keeping their own intact?

I’ve been a fan of this series since I first read Geography Club, where we meet Russel Middlebrook for the first time. There’s just something about the way Brent Hartinger captures this character’s voice that speaks to me in a way I don’t know I can fully explain. There is an ease in reading these books for me, but they also tell stories that describe real challenges and personal and relationship dynamics. It’s been interesting to see Russel go from high school student to college graduate, seeing the ways in which he’s changed while still so clearly knowing it’s the same character I’m hearing from in these books.

In this installment, there’s a lot going on. Russel and Kevin have made a big move, and on somewhat of a whim. That’s obviously challenging for them both and the cast of characters they find themselves thrown into when they get to L.A. serves up more challenges and issues for them to sort through. There are a few twists and turns thrown in that aren’t exactly expected, and readers can expect a fun, and dynamic read.