Thursday, February 23, 2017

Dual Review: Peter Darling + When Did 30 Become A Big Deal?

Peter Darling by Austin Chant

Review by Lauren

source: copy from Netgalley; all opinions are my own

Official Summary: Ten years ago, Peter Pan left Neverland to grow up, leaving behind his adolescent dreams of boyhood and resigning himself to life as Wendy Darling. Growing up, however, has only made him realize how inescapable his identity as a man is.

But when he returns to Neverland, everything has changed: the Lost Boys have become men, and the war games they once played are now real and deadly. Even more shocking is the attraction Peter never knew he could feel for his old rival, Captain Hook—and the realization that he no longer knows which of them is the real villain.

Review: At 164 pages, Peter Darling is between a novella and a novel for me. While I would have loved to have more of the story - since I really loved it - I do think it works at its length since Peter Pan and Captain Hook have a lot of history already.

What I absolutely adore about this retelling is that Peter Pan is actually Wendy Darling. In Wendy's world, he knows he is a boy, but in the time he lives in, nobody else understands. He goes to Neverland as a child and loves it, since he's now in the body of a boy - newly named Peter Pan. He goes back home for ten years but in Peter Darling, he is back and determined to live the rest of his life in Neverland and as Peter.

Peter is still a fierce character in Chant's version. He likes to fight and wants to go after the pirates, especially Captain Hook, even though the Lost Boys have a new leader and are currently living in peace. The eventual relationship between Peter and Hook is done well, without moving too fast. Like I said before, they have a lot of history already, and in Peter Darling, there is a moment where they are trapped together, allowing them to get to see other sides of each other instead of the caricatures they saw each other as: Peter as the troublesome boy and Hook as the villainous pirate. The relationship between these two reveals that Peter is not only transgender, but he's also gay, which adds even more diversity to the book.

Despite thinking the length works, I would have loved to have more of the story as it's quickly become a favorite of mine. In fact, I gave it 5 stars on Goodreads! There is one physical moment but it's nothing terribly graphic, so if that's something that normally deters you from certain books, don't let it keep you from reading this one! Neverland is fully imagined and I loved the side characters - from the Lost Boys to the mermaids to the fairies, including Tink! This is one for Peter Pan fans and for those that don't know the original story well!

Interested? I'm an Amazon Affiliate, so any purchase gets me a small percent. Check out the book here!

When Did 30 Become A Big Deal? by Alessandra Ebulu

Review by Lauren

source: copy from Netgalley; all opinions are my own

Official SummarySanmi wakes up on the morning of his thirtieth birthday to alarming news: his best friend Bidemi reminding him of the pact they’d made when they were seven that they would marry each other should they still be single when they turn thirty. He brushes it off as a joke, but then Bidemi, whom he always thought was straight, begins to court him…

Review: When it comes to LGBT+ fiction, I really love the whole friends to lovers trope. When Did 30 Become A Big Deal? is a short novel that focuses on just that. Sanmi has just turned thirty and his best friend for 20 years, Bidemi, reminds him of the pact they made as kids. If neither of them were married by age 30, they would marry each other. Sanmi assumes Bidemi is messing with him, since he's never got the inkling that Bidemi is gay. But Bidemi is completely serious and he's willing to do whatever it takes to make sure that Sanmi sees him in a new light.

One of the things that I LOVED about this book is that it's set in Nigeria, so being out and open about homosexuality isn't safe. It's also exciting to read a book set in a different country, especially one I don't think I've ever read about. Sanmi and Bidemi are great friends and it was fun seeing the two of them grow closer in a new way. This isn't a gay-for-you novel, though I don't always mind those, in case you are worried about that particular trope.

There were a variety of side characters that really added to the story, like Sanmi's other best friend from work and both of the boy's parents. All of them are pretty supportive about Sanmi's sexuality and they don't seem to mind the idea of Sanmi settling down with his best friend.

This was a short and sweet novel, with some added humor, which is always a plus!

Interested? Check it out on Amazon here (I'm an affiliate: I get a small percent of any sale)

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

River Road by Carol Goodman

River Road by Carol Goodman

Review by Lauren

source: copy from publisher; all opinions are my own

Official SummaryNan Lewis—a creative writing professor at a state university in upstate New York—is driving home from a faculty holiday party after finding out she’s been denied tenure. On her way, she hits a deer, but when she gets out of her car to look for it, the deer is nowhere to be found. Eager to get home and out of the oncoming snowstorm, Nan is forced to leave her car at the bottom of her snowy driveway to wait out the longest night of the year—and the lowest point of her life…

The next morning, Nan is woken up by a police officer at her door with terrible news—one of her students, Leia Dawson, was killed in a hit-and-run on River Road the night before. And because of the damage to her car, Nan is a suspect. In the days following the accident, Nan finds herself shunned by the same community that rallied around her when her own daughter was killed in an eerily similar accident six years prior. When Nan begins finding disturbing tokens that recall the death of Nan’s own daughter, Nan suspects that the two accidents are connected.

As she begins to dig further, she discovers that everyone around her, including Leia, is hiding secrets. But can she uncover them, clear her name, and figure out who really killed Leia before her reputation is destroyed for good?

Review: I'm not really sure why, but I often enjoy books set on or around a university, as does River Road. As the summary above states, creative writing professor Nan Lewis hits a deer coming back from the holiday faculty party one night. She gets out but doesn't see the deer anywhere. The next morning, she finds out that one of her students, Leia Dawson has been killed in a hit and run and Nan is suddenly one of the suspects, as her car looks suspiciously like she hit a person.

River Road was a fascinating mystery, definitely full of suspense and a little chill. Nan Lewis is a character that you can definitely feel sorry for, as she lost her own daughter years before in a hit and run. She's not doing so well with her life at the time of the accident, but she's a good person and she is obviously distraught over the death of Leia, who she always saw going on to do great things. The town easily turns against Nan, believing her to have run Leia down and leaving her to die in the snow. Strange "tokens" are being left at the death site, making Nan wonder if Leia's death is related to her own daughter's death.

I won't say more as I never want to spoil a book. These details already shared are revealed in the summary or early on in the novel. I would definitely recommend this one. If you're still dealing with snow and cold weather, this is certainly an appropriate book to cozy up with. Not because it is cozy, by all means, but because the weather will perfectly mimic the book.

I will say though that I figured out the culprit about halfway through the book. There is a moment that occurs and I was suddenly thinking "It has to be this person" and I ended up being correct. That doesn't mean everyone will correctly guess the culprit, or that it's a big deal even, since there are other secrets and reveals that occur throughout the book to keep things interesting and mysterious!

Interested in reading? I'm an Amazon Affiliate - I get a small percent of any sale. Check out the book here! Check it out as an e-book here!

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Spend All Day in Bed With Books!

While my weather is being very weird lately - going from nice to really cold - it's still usually cold enough to want a day in just relaxing and not worrying about anything important. As a big reader, this would obviously include lots and lots of books. Before we get there, let us set the scene. I would probably be lounging in bed, with really soft pillows keeping me propped enough, so that I can read more easier. I don't know about you, but holding up books while lying in bed is quite a workout on the arms, so I'd like to lessen this a bit so I can keep on reading for hours. Next I'll be snuggled under a variety of blankets to keep me warm and cozy. I tend to sleep with at least three blankets, so I'd probably have about that many for my day in! Then I would definitely have my dog lying next to me add a little extra warmth and love. She loves to cuddle up with people and she's a big sleeper, so I'm sure she'd be right next to me, dozing away, while I enjoy my day in bed. Now that I've set the scene a bit, let us get back to those books!

My sleepy dog Luana
I'm happy to read almost anything, but if I'm looking for a relaxing day in, I might go with something light or funny. I've read one book by Jen Lancaster but I own a few more and this would be the perfect time to dive in. They are real life stories that are sure to make me giggle and pass the time with ease. I could always add in some old favorites too, if I want a break from funny for a bit. Harry Potter is my all-time favorite series, and going through one of those books might be a fun way to pass some time. I doubt I'd get a whole book read in a day, but it would be enjoyable to dive back into Harry and Company's story. I highly recommend the illustrated version for a day in as well because it adds a little something extra to these classic stories. I've read the first one already, so I might have to grab the illustrated Chamber of Secrets. I think a mix of childhood classics and breezy, funny reads would be perfect for a relaxing day in bed. 

Despite currently on a diet plan, I'm sure I could still find some yummy goodies to snack on while reading, so I don't have to get out of bed for long. Some quick ideas would be popcorn or apple slices and peanut butter. They are both relatively light snacks that will keep you going while you rest and read. Sounds like a perfect day! What about you? How would you spend a day lying in bed? Would you break out a book, nap, watch a favorite movie, or do something else? Let me know in the comments! 

*I was given the idea for this post by leesa mattress - check out their Giving Back page - but all thoughts are my own and I was not compensated for writing*

Sunday, February 19, 2017

The Otto Digmore Difference - Want to read/review?

Happy Sunday! How was your weekend? Do anything fun?

I'm currently working on a blog tour of sorts for Brent Hartinger. There aren't set dates you have to post, but we are looking for people to read/review Brent's next LGBT+ novel, The Otto Digmore Difference. If you've read his Russel Middlebrook series, then you will recognize Otto's name. Don't worry, you don't have to have read the other books to read this one. It's the start of a new series. We do have previous books available if you feel the need to check any of them out.

Brent has various e-copies of the book available, so if you are interested, please let me know and what format you would need the book in! While there aren't set dates for posting, we'd love to have things go up in March since the book comes out next week.

I have a list of emails already of bloggers who would like to know about future blog tours for LGBT+ novels. If you want to be added, please let me know! You are never obligated to help with any book. I just want a list of people who I know are interested in at least LGBT+ novels.

For more on the book, the official summary is below:

“Road trip!” 

Otto Digmore is a 26-year-old gay guy with dreams of being a successful actor, and he’s finally getting some attention as a result of his supporting role on a struggling sitcom. But he’s also a burn survivor with scars on half his face, and all indications are that he’s just too different to ever find real Hollywood success. 

Now he’s up for an amazing new role that could change everything. Problem is, he and his best friend Russel Middlebrook have to drive all the way across the country in order to get to the audition on time. 

It’s hard to say which is worse: the fact that so many things go wrong, or that Russel, an aspiring screenwriter, keeps comparing their experiences to some kind of road trip movie. 

There’s also the fact that Otto and Russel were once boyfriends, and Otto is starting to realize that he still might have romantic feelings for his best friend. 

Just how far will Otto go to get the role, and maybe the guy, of his dreams? 

Thursday, February 16, 2017

StyleWe: Buying Fashion Online

I was recently contacted by StyleWe, an online shop for women's clothing and more, about doing a sponsored post and I eagerly accepted (all opinions are still my own)! Despite what people may think, I actually do love clothes. I just tend to have a hard time finding things I like that actually look good on me. Since I'm on my current diet program, I am really excited to see what types of clothes I'll actually be able to wear in the future. It doesn't hurt to window shop now either!

Let's start with rompers. There are currently a couple of rompers on sale right now. I love rompers. I think they are a lot of fun to wear during the summer, and isn't the above photo adorable?  It's the perfect picnic in the park outfit, don't you think? I got one romper last year and I loved it so I'm excited to venture out again and see what else I can find. I'd love something with a fun pattern.

I don't have any formal events coming up, but I'd be excited to wear many of these blue party dresses for a wedding or night out on the town! I love the dress above; the blue is bright and fun but it's still sophisticated. I think the website has a lot of options for prom dresses too, if you happen to know any girls looking for one!

And now we have the sexy party dresses. I like that the website has a varying idea of what sexy means. You could even find a dance dress from this collection, like the one I show above. I can see a lot of teens wearing this to a dance. Can't you?

I think StyleWe has a nice variety of options from rompers to dresses to skirts to sweaters to much, much more! You also get free shipping if you spend $60 or more, which isn't bad at all!

What would you get from StyleWe? Leave a comment below!

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Our Own Private Universe by Robin Talley

Our Own Private Universe by Robin Talley

Review by Lauren

source: copy from publisher; all opinions are my own

Official SummaryFifteen-year-old Aki Simon has a theory. And it's mostly about sex. 

No, it isn't that kind of theory. Aki already knows she's bisexual—even if, until now, it's mostly been in the hypothetical sense. Aki has dated only guys so far, and her best friend, Lori, is the only person who knows she likes girls, too. 

Actually, Aki's theory is that she's got only one shot at living an interesting life—and that means she's got to stop sitting around and thinking so much. It's time for her to actually do something. Or at least try. 

So when Aki and Lori set off on a church youth-group trip to a small Mexican town for the summer and Aki meets Christa—slightly older, far more experienced—it seems her theory is prime for the testing. 

But it's not going to be easy. For one thing, how exactly do two girls have sex, anyway? And more important, how can you tell if you're in love? It's going to be a summer of testing theories—and the result may just be love.

ReviewAki is pretty sure she's bisexual but she's only ever kissed boys. Only her best friend Lori even knows she feels this way. When the two girls join their local church on a mission trip to Mexico, they both decide to make the summer one worth remembering by having a fling. Aki doesn't count on meeting Christa, a very pretty girl that Aki thinks is way too cool for her, until Christa makes it obvious she's interested in Aki too. The two begin getting to know each other, mostly in secret, as neither of them are out. Plus, Aki has her older brother and father on the trip and she definitely doesn't want them know. For awhile, Lori is the only one privy to the details of Aki's burgeoning summer romance with a girl. 

I've read Talley's first two books and loved them so I was really excited to read this book, since it seemed all about coming to terms with your sexuality and not just gay/straight, but bisexualiyt. There aren't that many YA novels that focus on being bi so it's exciting to come across one done so well. The setting of Mexico was used well, allowing these girls a place to escape normal life and get to know one another from the usual pressures of being a teen. I appreciated that Talley was matter of fact about the sexual aspects of their relationship, as it makes it a responsible read for real life teens. Despite the focus on safety, it's still a romantic and enticing read. I loved getting to know both Aki and Christa - and even when they found things they didn't love about one another, they were able to keep things moving forward. There were definitely lies or lies by omission, but nothing that was added for unneeded drama. 

One of the main things I really enjoyed about Our Own Private Universe is that it doesn't just focus on Aki and Christa. There is also Lori, Aki's best friend, who might not be the same girl Aki always knew. There is Drew, Aki's older brother, who has secrets and life-changing revelations of his own. There is Aki and Drew's father, who both are scared to talk to about important topics since he's their church's minister. They aren't sure how much religion and other personal beliefs will affect how he sees them when he discovers their various truths. Among these characters are other wonderful secondary ones who you really feel like you get to know. I'd personally love to have a book from Jake's perspective - a fellow teen on the trip who helps Aki really think about the world at large and not just the part she occupies. 

Definitely a good read. I would definitely recommend and not just for LGBT+ fans! There is much more to discover within these pages. 

Interested? Check it out on Amazon (I'm an affiliate; I get a small percent of any sale)

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Show Us Your Books: A Whole Lot of LGBT+ Fiction

It's time for another round of Show Us Your Books with Steph and Jana. I'll be sharing all the books I reviewed on this blog since the last SUYB post. If you're interested in purchasing any of these books, visit the review post and check out the Amazon link (I'm an affiliate; I get a small percent of any sale). 

This past month I read and reviewed a lot of LGBT+ fiction, so many of these titles fall under that "genre." Not all are though, so check them out, even if you aren't interested in LGBT+ fiction! 

Graphic Novel Series

Alias: Jessica Jones Volumes 1-4 - Review here

Picture Book and Middle Grade Fiction

When You're Sick by Coy Bowles of Zac Brown Band - Review here

The Ugly Teapot by Fred Holmes - Review here

YA Fiction

History is All You Left Me by Adam Silvera - Review here

As Red As Blood by Salla Simukka- Review here 

Dreadnought by April Daniels - Review here

Adult Fiction (these are all LGBT+)

Off Base by Annabeth Albert - Review here

Long Shadows by Kate Sherwood - Review here

Finding Your Feet by Cass Lennox - Review here

Afraid to Fly by L.A. Witt - Review here

Whiteout by Elyse Springer - Review here

As I Am by A.M. Arthur - Review here

The Only Book I Did Not Enjoy
*This is an Adult LGBT+ novel too*

Shelton in Love by Dianne Hartsock - Review here