Series Review: Vino and Veritas Books 4-8 (World of True North)

Earlier this month I shared with you reviews for the first three books in the Vino and Veritas series. Today, I have reviews for the next fivebooks in the series. 

Undercover
Series: Vino and Veritas, #4
Author: Eliot Grayson
Publication Date: March 29, 2021
Publisher: Heart Eyes Press
Genre: LGBTQ+, Contemporary Romance
Note: This review is for an ARC and is my unbiased opinion.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ 

My thoughts: 

This is a case of it’s not you, it’s me. Undercover was well written. It was a book I would say was good, but didn’t make me fall in love with it or its characters. While the suspense plot was good, I didn’t love that it had Alec lying so much to Gabe. It made me cringe whenever he did it because of what I already knew of Gabe’s personality. Gabe was very self-conscious and self-loathing at times. I got his reasons why, but it made it his character feel immature in a way I didn’t like. That combined with Alec’s lying made things messier than I would have liked them to be. I will say that didn’t change the fact that I liked Alec and Gabe together. I could see Alec’s maturity and confidence rubbing off on Gabe in a good way. Plus, they were cute together.

Amazon: https://geni.us/AmazonUndercover
Add to Goodreads here: https://bit.ly/2LTpTTY
Series page: https://hearteyespress.com/wotn#/vino-and-veritas/

Aftermath
Series: Vino and Veritas, #5
Author: L.A. Witt
Publication Date: March 29, 2021
Publisher: Heart Eyes Press
Genre: LGBTQ+, Contemporary Romance
Note: This review is for an ARC and is my unbiased opinion.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ 

My thoughts: 

Aftermath was a story that felt unique to me. I hadn’t really read a romance like it before. Brent had some issues resulting from a major injury that I hadn’t read in a book before. I liked that it felt like I was learning something while also enjoying the love story. Brent and Jon started out casually, but things got serious faster than they or I expected. I liked how they built trust and intimacy in unexpected ways. I also loved the maturity Jon brought to the story. It was such a sweet romance.

Amazon: https://geni.us/AmazonAftermath
Add to Goodreads here: https://bit.ly/2LZajWM
Series page: https://hearteyespress.com/wotn#/vino-and-veritas/

Booklover
Series: Vino and Veritas, #6
Author: J.E. Birk
Publication Date: March 29, 2021
Publisher: Heart Eyes Press
Genre: LGBTQ+, Contemporary Romance
Note: This review is for an ARC and is my unbiased opinion.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ 

My thoughts: 

Booklover was a sweet romance. Jamie had family problems he was trying to work deal with. Briar had a past he was trying to outrun. Neither had time or wanted a relationship when they met, but their immediate connection in a romance book club was undeniable. Jamie and Briar were adorable together and I loved their journey. They had a lot of emotional stuff to work through, but it never felt like too much. Everything brought them closer together so they could have an HEA just like their favorite romance novelist wrote. 

Amazon: https://geni.us/AmazonBooklover
Add to Goodreads here: https://bit.ly/2M0GgOE
Series Page: https://hearteyespress.com/wotn#/vino-and-veritas/

Flipcup
Series: Vino and Veritas, #7
Author: Kim Hartfield
Publication Date: April 5, 2021
Publisher: Heart Eyes Press
Genre: LGBTQ+, Contemporary Romance
Note: This review is for an ARC and is my unbiased opinion.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ 

My thoughts: 

Flipcup was cute and sweet with some great flirty banter, BUT (and that’s a big but) I couldn’t handle Chelsea. She was way too immature for my liking. I know she was only twenty-two, but the selfishness and poor me stuff she had going on annoyed me. I wanted to love her because Tara obviously did, but I couldn’t help feeling like Tara deserved better after everything she had been through. That’s something I had a hard time moving past to make this more than a 3 star read for me. 

Pre-Order: COMING SOON
Add to Goodreads here: https://bit.ly/3inwD8w
Series Page: https://hearteyespress.com/wotn#/vino-and-veritas/

Hideaway
Series: Vino and Veritas, #8
Author: Rachel Lacey
Publication Date: April 5, 2021
Publisher: Heart Eyes Press
Genre: LGBTQ+, Contemporary Romance
Note: This review is for an ARC and is my unbiased opinion.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★

My thoughts: 

Hideaway was a sweet second chance romance between first loves. Phoebe had returned to Vermont after years of absence. Taylor wasn’t sure she could trust Phoebe. When Taylor convinces Phoebe to foster a pregnant shelter dog, puppies and reignited feelings bring them together. This was a pleasant romance read without a ton of drama. 

Pre-Order: COMING SOON
Add to Goodreads here: https://bit.ly/2XOsNMt
Series Page: https://hearteyespress.com/wotn#/vino-and-veritas/

Series Review: Vino & Veritas Books 1-3 (World of True North)

Last month I shared with you reviews for the first couple of series in Sarina Bowen’s World of True North. Today, I have reviews for the first few books in yet another series from this world. Vino & Veritas is a series of LGBTQ+ romances. Here are my thoughts on each book so far. All books reviewed here release soon.

Featherbed
Series: Vino and Veritas, #1
Author: Annabeth Albert
Publication Date: March 15, 2021
Publisher: Heart Eyes Press
Genre: LGBTQ+, Contemporary Romance
Note: This review is for an ARC and is my unbiased opinion.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ½

My thoughts: 

I liked Featherbed, but I didn’t fall in love with it as much as I wanted to. I’m not sure how to explain why. It was something about the beginning of the book. I guess I didn’t feel the Finn and Harrison’s chemistry right away. There was all this very flirty, seductive talk and it felt forced to me. It wasn’t until the characters moved past that and got to know each other that I connected to them and their attraction felt real. Once that happened, I liked them together. They had a sweet relationship. There wasn’t a whole bunch of drama to make it as emotional as it could have been, but I didn’t mind that. Overall, it was a good, sweet romance.

Amazon: https://geni.us/AmazonFeatherbed
Add to Goodreads here: https://bit.ly/3mKWKXJ
Vino & Veritas Series Page: https://hearteyespress.com/wotn#/vino-and-veritas/

Heartscape
Series: Vino and Veritas, #2
Author: Garrett Leigh
Publication Date: March 22, 2021
Publisher: Heart Eyes Press
Genre: LGBTQ+, Contemporary Romance
Note: This review is for an ARC and is my unbiased opinion.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ½

My thoughts: 

When I read a book set in one of Sarina Bowen’s World of True North series, I’m expecting a couple of things. First, that it does the Vermont setting Bowen has crafted for us justice. Second, that it feels like a book Sarina Bowen could have written herself. That second one is a little weird because every writer has their own style, but guess I just want them to have a similar vibe.

Anyways. What I’m trying to get at is that Heartscape had all the elements I would expect a book in Vino and Veritas to have. It was slightly angsty, a little moody, focused on some big issues (depression, suicide, PTSD, etc), and was more on the emotional side. Jax and Tanner were two strong people who had tough things in their pasts. They found love in each other at the perfect time. I loved how their relationship played out and the closeness they shared. I felt their chemistry and, more important, their love and respect for each other. This was my first Garrett Leigh book and I was very impressed.

Pre-Order here: https://geni.us/AmazonHeartscape
Add to Goodreads here: https://bit.ly/3roFo6y
Vino & Veritas: https://hearteyespress.com/wotn#/vino-and-veritas/

Headstrong
Series: Vino and Veritas, #3
Author: Eden Finley
Publication Date: March 22, 2021
Publisher: Heart Eyes Press
Genre: LGBTQ+, Contemporary Romance
Note: This review is for an ARC and is my unbiased opinion.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

My thoughts: 

Headstrong was my favorite book in the Vino and Veritas series so far. That’s because of Whit. I fell in love with Whit’s character from the very beginning. He reminded me of a cute puppy you want to take home with you. He was so sweet, slightly immature, and completely lovable. His happy attitude made me smile so much. So did his crush on Rainn. Rainn was grumpy and avoiding life. There’s not really any other way to describe Rainn. Rainn’s feeling for Whit came unexpectedly and I loved the way they both navigated that. Rainn was so open minded to the new things he was experiencing and feeling. The entire thing was so sweet, funny, and enjoyable. Headstrong was 5 star romance I would read again.

Pre-Order here: https://geni.us/AmazonHeadstrong
Add to Goodreads here: https://bit.ly/34H76l7
Vino & Veritas: https://hearteyespress.com/wotn#/vino-and-veritas/

My thoughts on the Vino and Veritas series so far:

With each book better than the last, I’m excited to find out what’s next in the series.

Review: The House in the Cerulean Sea (T.J. Klune)

The House in the Cerulean Sea
Author: T.J. Klune
Narrator: Daniel Henning
Publication Date: March 1, 2020
Publisher: Macmillan Audio
Genre: Fantasy, Fiction, LGBTQ+

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

Synopsis:

A magical island. A dangerous task. A burning secret.

Linus Baker leads a quiet, solitary life. At forty, he lives in a tiny house with a devious cat and his old records. As a Case Worker at the Department in Charge Of Magical Youth, he spends his days overseeing the well-being of children in government-sanctioned orphanages.

When Linus is unexpectedly summoned by Extremely Upper Management he’s given a curious and highly classified assignment: travel to Marsyas Island Orphanage, where six dangerous children reside: a gnome, a sprite, a wyvern, an unidentifiable green blob, a were-Pomeranian, and the Antichrist. Linus must set aside his fears and determine whether or not they’re likely to bring about the end of days.

But the children aren’t the only secret the island keeps. Their caretaker is the charming and enigmatic Arthur Parnassus, who will do anything to keep his wards safe. As Arthur and Linus grow closer, long-held secrets are exposed, and Linus must make a choice: destroy a home or watch the world burn.

An enchanting story, masterfully told, The House in the Cerulean Sea is about the profound experience of discovering an unlikely family in an unexpected place—and realizing that family is yours.


Let me confirm all the hype The House in the Cerulean Sea is getting for you. This book is worth every ounce of praise it’s been given. It was absolutely fabulous — and that’s coming from someone who isn’t a big fantasy or magical creatures fan.

There was so much depth to The House in the Cerulean SeaThe writing was gorgeous. It immediately captured my attention and kept it the entire time. The characters, and there were many, had individual voices that somehow all managed to stand out. I especially loved the children of the house’s voices. They each had their own struggles and what they brought to the story was so valuable. (If I had to pick a favorite character, it would have to be Lucy. He cracked me up every time he spoke with his inappropriate comments.) All of the characters fit into the story so well. The story was so entertaining! The author somehow managed to seamlessly wave magical creatures elements with valuable social and moral points. Add in a touch of romance, and it was the perfect read. It was simply heartwarming.

Not only was the book itself perfect, but so was the narration. It was fabulous. If you’re looking for an audiobook to listen to, I highly recommend this one. Daniel Henning brought each and every character to life. I would have enjoyed reading this book, but listening to it made it all the better.

So, yes. The hype is real for The House in the Cerulean Sea.

Review: Roommate (Sarina Bowen)

Roommate
Author: Sarina Bowen
Publication Date: January 12, 2020
Publisher: Tuxbury Publishing LLC
Genre: New Adult, Contemporary Romance, LGBTQ+
Note: This review is for an ARC and is my unbiased opinion.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★

Synopsis:
Wanted: One roommate to share a 3-bedroom house, split the rent, and ideally not be the guy I can’t stop thinking about.
I’m a man with too many secrets, so the last thing I need is a new roommate with a sexy smile and blue eyes that see right through me. Eight years ago, Roderick left town after high school. We’re not friends. I owe him nothing. But back then, I let one of my secrets slip, and he’s the only one who noticed.
Part of me knows I should run far, far away. But the other part wants him to come upstairs and spend the night. But if I let him in, I could lose everything.

Seeking: A room to rent in town. I’m tidy, have no pets, and I will feed you homemade bread.
I should probably add: Gay AF, and has no filter. It’s no wonder my new landlord is so wary of me.
A smarter man would ignore those hot glances from Kieran Shipley. The broody lumberjack wants more from me than another homemade pretzel, but if I push my luck, I’ll end up back on the street.
Too bad I’ve never been smart with my heart …


Being back in Vermont and on the Shipley farm was a pleasure. It’s a place where Sarina Bowen’s writing shines. (Although, it shines in all her settings.) In Roommate, we got to see another side to the Shipleys and farming. This time it was a Shipley cousin who gets a story.

Kieran Shipley was my favorite type of Sarina Bowen character: a little gruff, a lot quiet. Behind those qualities was a man who was loyal to his family despite their actions and a good friend. Kieran was someone who was searching for his place in the world, but tried to do it without ruffling anyone’s feathers. I immediately liked him and wanted him to end up happy.

The newcomer to this small Vermont town was Roderick. Roddy had once lived nearby, but had left to pursue his calling. Now he’s back, broke, and looking to start all over. Roddy’s character was a lot more upfront and comfortable with his sexual orientation than some of Bowen’s previous MM couples. I think he might be Bowen’s first openly gay character, and it took me a while to get used to that in terms of what I’ve been used to in the MM romances she’s told before. I liked that she went this direction. It made Kieran and Roddy’s story standout from her other MM romances. There were some of the same aspects in relation to Kieran’s story compared to her others, but Roddy’s was all his own.

Kieran and Roddy had a sweet romance. It was almost a slow burn. Their attraction and relationship built naturally. They took their time getting to know each other as roommates and co-workers before moving onto anything romantic. That worked well for both Kieran and Roddy’s histories.

One of the things that made Roommate fun was seeing those Shipleys and friends from past True North books. Kieran’s branch of the family was a new experience, but I loved how Griffin, Audrey, and Zara framed Kieran’s life. I loved their reactions to Kieran and Roddy. That being said, this book is a standalone and can be read without reading the True North series.

Kieran’s immediate family members weren’t my favorite. I had a feeling why and it was proven correct. I didn’t have much respect for them. That didn’t really change by the end, sadly. There were some things I appreciated about them, but they kind of just sucked.

I’m so glad Sarina Bowen took us back to the True North world with Roommate. It was a special story and it deserved this magical setting. I loved how it was inundated with old characters who surrounded the new characters with love and acceptance. It was a joy to read.

PURCHASE LINKS

All Links in one spot: https://shor.by/roommate
Audible: https://geni.us/Audible-RM
Amazon: https://geni.us/Amazon-roommate
Apple: https://geni.us/Apple-roommate
Kobo: https://geni.us/Kobo-roommate
Nook: https://geni.us/Nook-roommate

Review: Charming Like Us

Charming Like Us
Series: Like Us, #7
Authors: Krista & Becca Ritchie
Publication Date: June 23, 2020
Publisher: K.B. Ritchie
Genre: New Adult, Contemporary Romance, LGBTQ+

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★

Synopsis:

As the hottest bodyguard on Security Force Omega, Oscar Oliveira has no trouble finding a warm body at any odd hour. But he’s ready for more.

And for the first time in this ex-pro boxer’s life, he just got rejected. For a kiss.

Oscar’s friends warned him not to fall for the straight guy, but flirty, sexy-as-hell Jack Highland made that difficult. Now Jack has Oscar’s sweater. His belt. His bandana. And Oscar seriously wants them back.

As for Jack – well, Jack wants a lot of things.

But for the first time in this confident filmmaker’s life, he’s absolutely 100%… confused. Add another ultra-complication in a sea of complicated: Enter Charlie Cobalt.

The enigmatic famous one that Oscar is sworn to protect wants his own show, and he’s asked Jack to film it. A Charlie-centric docuseries will force Oscar & Jack to share the same air again.

Option 1: Ignore each other.
Option 2: Flirt, aw yeah. And act like the rejection never happened.
Option 3: Confront each other about the rejected kiss.

With options on the table and their romantic lives unsettled, both Jack & Oscar are concerned about why Charlie wants his own show. And the longer filming lasts, the more tumultuous their personal & professional worlds become.

Chaos reigns when you’re around the Cobalts, and Jack & Oscar are swept up among the most destructive one.


Finally! Another Like Us book. The wait hasn’t been that long, but it felt like years for some reason. I missed being in the midst of the Hale-Meadows-Cobalt family drama. I was so excited to read this one and here are my thoughts now that I have…

What I loved:

  • Krista & Becca Ritchie’s writing. It always feels a bit like coming home.
  • Getting to know both Oscar and Jack better. Jack was probably my biggest surprise. I think it’s because I can remember not liking him when he first dropped into the Hale-Meadows-Cobalt world. He’s proven himself over the span of many books, but this book made me love his character even more.
  • How Jack’s change of feelings and exploration of self went. How his family and friends supported him.
  • Oscar and Jack as a couple. Very cute.
  • Seeing so many favorite characters. It was especially fun to get some hints at what’s to come in the next three books.
  • Charlie could have been part of that last bullet, but he deserves his own. I felt like I learned the most about him in this book than I have over the last six. If I wanted a book about him before, I want it even more now.

What I wasn’t so sure about:

  • There is one part of this book that felt like it maybe should have taken place somewhere like Las Vegas instead of New York. It was kind of thrown in and was a big surprise, but I wasn’t sure that I was 100% behind it.
  • It felt a little weird that this book wasn’t about a Hale, Meadows, or Cobalt clan member. I didn’t mind much because Charlie was so present and Oscar and Jack are so prevalent throughout the entire series, but it did give the book a little bit of a different feel.

Overall feelings? It was a fun ride. I am excited to find out what’s next in this world. Bring on book 8!

Review: You Don’t Live Here (Robyn Schneider)

You Don’t Live Here
Author: Robyn Schneider
Publication Date: June 2, 2020
Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Fiction, Romance, LGBTQ+
Note: This review is for an ARC and is my unbiased opinion.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ½

Synopsis:

Robyn Schneider, author of The Beginning of Everything, delivers a witty and heartbreaking tale of first love, second beginnings, and last chances in this timely and authentic bisexual coming-of-age story, perfect for fans of Becky Albertalli and Adam Silvera.

In Southern California, no one lives more than thirty miles from the nearest fault line. Sasha Bloom is standing right on top of one when her world literally crumbles around her. With her mother now dead and father out of the picture, Sasha moves in with her estranged grandparents.

Living in her mom’s old bedroom, Sasha has no idea who she is anymore. Luckily, her grandparents are certain they know who she should be: A lawyer in the making. Ten pounds skinnier. In a socially advantageous relationship with a boy from a good family—a boy like Cole Edwards.

And Cole has ideas for who Sasha should be, too. His plus one at lunch. His girlfriend. His.

Sasha tries to make everything work, but that means folding away her love of photography, her grief for her mother, and he growing interest in the magnificently clever Lily Chen. Sasha wants to follow Lily off the beaten path, to discover hidden beaches, secret menus, and the truth about dinosaur pee.

But being friends with Lily might lead somewhere new. Is Sasha willing to stop being the girl everyone expects and let the girl beneath the surface breath through?


You Don’t Live Here was just… sad. There’s no other way to describe it. It’s about a high school junior whose mother dies and she has to go live with her rich grandparents. Sasha is afraid to admit who she is and wants to be and what she likes. She doesn’t want to let her grandparents down. So, basically, it’s about grief and self-discovery. It was well written and a good story, but it just made me sad.

Reviews: Forever Right Now & Someday, Someday (Emma Scott)

Good morning! Today, I have reviews for you for two of Emma Scott’s novels. Forever Right Now was published back in 2017. Someday, Someday is a new release that is related to Forever Right Now by a side character in that first book. I thought it would be a good idea to read and review them together. Here we go!

Forever Right Now
Darlene Montgomery has been to hell and back…more than once. After a stint in jail for drug possession, she is finally clean and ready to start over. Yet another failed relationship is just the motivation she needs to move from New York to San Francisco with the hopes of resurrecting her dance career and discovering that she is more than the sum of her rap sheet. As Darlene struggles in her new city, the last thing she wants is to become entangled with her handsome—but cranky—neighbor and his adorable little girl…

Sawyer Haas is weeks away from finishing law school, but exhaustion, dwindling finances, and the pressure to provide for himself and his daughter, Olivia, are wearing him down. A federal clerkship–a job he desperately needs–awaits him after graduation, but only if he passes the Bar Exam. Sawyer doesn’t have the time or patience for the capricious—if beautiful—dancer who moves into the apartment above his. But Darlene’s easy laugh and cheerful spirit seep into the cracks of his hardened heart, and slowly break down the walls he’s resurrected to keep from being betrayed ever again.

When the parents of Olivia’s absentee mother come to fight for custody, Sawyer could lose everything. To have any chance at happiness, he must trust Darlene, the woman who has somehow found her way past his brittle barbs, and Darlene must decide how much of her own bruised heart she is willing to give to Sawyer and Olivia, especially when the ghosts of her troubled past refuse to stay buried.

My thoughts:

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★
I really, truly loved this book. I’ve been in a funky mood and I worried this emotional romance would gut me. While it did make me feel all kinds of emotions, some sad, it was such an uplifting story. I loved how much Darlene and Sawyer grew on their own and together. It was such a sweet romance. I do have to say that little miss Olivia was good at stealing the show and giving me a lot to smile about. Forever Right Now is Emma Scott’s writing at its finest.

Someday, Someday
How long would you wait for love?

Max Kaufman was kicked out of his home as a teen and his life has been an uphill battle ever since. From addiction and living on the streets, to recovery and putting himself through nursing school, he’s spent the last ten years rebuilding his shattered sense of self. Now he’s taken a job as a private caretaker to Edward Marsh III, the president and CEO of one of the largest pharmaceutical companies in the world. Max soon learns Marsh’s multi-billion-dollar empire is a gold and diamond-encrusted web of secrets and lies.

The longer Max works and lives with the Marsh family, the tighter the secrets tangle around him. And his heart—that he’s worked so hard to protect—falls straight into the hands of the distant, cold, and beautiful son of a dynasty…

Silas Marsh is set to inherit the family fortune, but his father is determined his heir be the “perfect” son. Before Silas can take over the company and end its shady business practices, he must prove himself worthy…and deny his true nature.

Silas must choose: stand up to his father by being true to himself and his undeniable feelings for Max. Or pretend to be someone he is not in order to inherit everything. Even if it means sacrificing a chance at happiness and real love.

My thoughts:

Note: This review is for an ARC and is my unbiased opinion.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★
This book… Wow. It was a thing of beauty. I knew Max was an amazing person from Forever Right Now. He had been to hell and back and it had made him all the wiser. What I didn’t expect was to be so floored by his convictions and his ability to help others in so many situations, and also to stand up for what he needed for himself. It’s been a while since I loved a character so much.

Max’s love interest Silas was unexpected part of the story for me. Yeah, I knew he would be dealing with his sexual orientation as it related to his family and their business. It was way more than that, though. He had some baggage that was just as rough as Max’s. It made so happy that he and Max were thrown together because who better to help Silas with his past than Max?

Someday, Someday was not just an epic romance. It was an epic read filled with topics relevant to today’s social and business culture. Emma Scott went big on everything in this one and it paid off. What a phenomenal story!

Review: Something Like Gravity (Amber Smith)

Something Like Gravity
Author: Amber Smith
Publication Date: June 18, 2019
Publisher: Margaret K. Elderry Books
Genre: YA, LGBTQ+, Contemporary, Romance, Fiction
Note: This review is for an ARC an is my unbiased opinion.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ½

Synopsis:

For fans of Love, Simon and Eleanor and Park, a romantic and sweet novel about a transgender boy who falls in love for the first time—and how first love changes us all—from New York Times bestselling author Amber Smith.

Chris and Maia aren’t off to a great start.

A near-fatal car accident first brings them together, and their next encounters don’t fare much better. Chris’s good intentions backfire. Maia’s temper gets the best of her.

But they’re neighbors, at least for the summer, and despite their best efforts, they just can’t seem to stay away from each other.

The path forward isn’t easy. Chris has come out as transgender, but he’s still processing a frightening assault he survived the year before. Maia is grieving the loss of her older sister and trying to find her place in the world without her. Falling in love was the last thing on either of their minds.

But would it be so bad if it happened anyway?


The minute I heard Amber Smith was releasing another book, I knew I wanted to read it. I have been obsessed with her writing ever since I read The Way I Used To Be when it was released. Her stories are so beautiful and heart wrenching. She takes tough topics and dives in deep. I felt so emotionally touched by her first two releases. I couldn’t wait to start Something Like Gravity.

Something Like Gravity touched on a topic I haven’t read before. Chris being transgender was something I haven’t come across in any contemporary YA romance before. It was very interesting to me, but I cannot tell you whether or not the representation was done appropriately. I hope Chris’ thoughts about his body and feelings he had about everything were done in the best way possible because I can see them being easy to relate to. I also liked his thought process when it came to Maia and his interactions with her.

While I felt like Chris, his story, and his relationships with everyone were important and interesting, the rest of the book kind of bored me. Remember that boring summer you had at your grandparents’/aunt’s/uncle’s growing up? This book had that vibe. It’s set in a small town during the sleepy days of summer. I had to really push myself to read it. Almost everything Chris and Maia did was boring. And Maia…

Well, Maia is where the book lost me. Her point of view didn’t delve as deep as Chris’. She was grieving her sister’s death, her parents’ divorce, and a change in herself. I don’t feel like I got the nitty-gritty on any of those things. Everything with her felt surface level. I was missing something in some of her thoughts and actions. It’s not often I say this, but Something Like Gravity would have been better with only one point of view. I would have been more interested in hearing everything from Chris’ point of view.

Something Like Gravity had a lot of potential. It was written by a talented writer. There was a main character who was unique and had some experiences I was truly curious to find out more about. It just didn’t hit me on the emotional level it could have. It was still a good read, and I know there are going to be readers who it hits home with.

Review: Top Secret (Sarina Bowen & Elle Kennedy)

Top Secret
Authors: Sarina Bowen, Elle Kennedy
Publication Date: May 5, 2019
Genre: New Adult, Contemporary Romance, LGBTQ+
Note: This review is for an ARC and is my unbiased opinion.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ½

Synopsis:

LobsterShorts, 21
Jock. Secretly a science geek. Hot AF.

LobsterShorts: So. Here goes. For her birthday, my girlfriend wants…a threesome.

SinnerThree: Then you’ve come to the right hookup app.

LobsterShorts: Have you done this sort of thing before? With another guy?

SinnerThree: All the time. I’m an equal opportunity player. You?

LobsterShorts: [crickets!]

SinnerThree, 21
Finance major. Secretly a male dancer. Hot AF.

SinnerThree: Well, I’m down if you are. My life is kind of a mess right now. School, work, family stress. Oh, and I live next door to the most annoying dude in the world. I need the distraction. Are you sure you want this?

LobsterShorts: I might want it a little more than I’m willing to admit.

SinnerThree: Hey, nothing wrong with pushing your boundaries…

LobsterShorts: Tell that to my control-freak father. Anyway. What if this threesome is awkward?

SinnerThree: Then it’s awkward. It’s not like we’ll ever have to see each other again. Right? Just promise you won’t fall in love with me.

LobsterShorts: Now wouldn’t that be life-changing…

Q&A about Top Secret:

Q: Have we met these characters before in another book?
A: No! These guys are brand new, and we can’t wait for you to meet them.

Q: Is this story MM? Or is it a MMF / MFM / menage?
A: This book is MM.

Q: Is this a love triangle story?
A: Not really. You’ll see.


Top Secret his to be the BEST secret release of the year! I mean, who names a secret release Top Secret? That’s so incredibly smart! Everyone has been begging Sarina Bowen and Elle Kennedy to give us another book together and I’m shocked they delivered! (Only because they kept saying they weren’t going to be writing together.) WOOHOO!!!

I hate to admit it, but I did not read the blurb before starting Top Secret. I knew it was a M/M romance, but that was about it. I had no idea there was this whole threesome plot going on. When I got to that part in the beginning, I have to say it made me stop, cringe, and wonder how messy things were going to get. I’m not really a fan of love triangles, so… I just had to put my faith in my favorite collaborators’ hands. I’m so happy I did because Top Secret was an incredibly fun read.

As you can tell by the blurb, LobsterShorts and SinnerThree meet in a chat room where LobsterShorts is trying to set up a threesome at his girlfriend’s request. I absolutely loved the banter that went on in the messages they exchanged. The messages were witty, but they also had depth to them. These two guys got to know each other in an emotionally intimate way prior to meeting, so that the emotional connection was there first. This was really important to the characters and the story…

And that’s all you are getting about the plot. I refuse to give anything away! What I will say is that if you’re a fan of Him and Us, you are going to be a fan of this book. The combination of Sarina Bowen and Elle Kennedy’s writing is magic. They know how to combine humor with emotion in the best way. There are a ton of great surprises and characters you’re going to love in Top Secret. I didn’t want this book to end. I adored LobsterShorts and ThreeSinners. I’m so happy Sarina Bowen and Elle Kennedy graced us with a new book. (Is it too early to beg for another?)

Review: Autoboyography by Christina Lauren

Autoboyography
Author: Christina Lauren
Narrators: Deacon Lee, Kyle Mason
Publication Date: September 12, 2017
Publisher: Simon Schuster Audio
Genre: YA, Contemporary, Romance, LGBTQ+

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ½

Synopsis:

Fangirl meets Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda in this funny and poignant coming-of-age novel from New York Times bestselling author Christina Lauren about two boys who fall in love in a writing class—one from a progressive family and the other from a conservative religious community.

Three years ago, Tanner Scott’s family relocated from California to Utah, a move that nudged the bisexual teen temporarily back into the closet. Now, with one semester of high school to go, and no obstacles between him and out-of-state college freedom, Tanner plans to coast through his remaining classes and clear out of Utah.

But when his best friend Autumn dares him to take Provo High’s prestigious Seminar—where honor roll students diligently toil to draft a book in a semester—Tanner can’t resist going against his better judgment and having a go, if only to prove to Autumn how silly the whole thing is. Writing a book in four months sounds simple. Four months is an eternity.

It turns out, Tanner is only partly right: four months is a long time. After all, it takes only one second for him to notice Sebastian Brother, the Mormon prodigy who sold his own Seminar novel the year before and who now mentors the class. And it takes less than a month for Tanner to fall completely in love with him.


Wow, guys…

I wasn’t expecting to feel the way I did about this book.  I didn’t really have any expectations going into Autoboyography other than it was going to be a fun YA contemporary. That’s not what it was at all. Reading it was an experience I am grateful to have had. The duo behind Christina Lauren wrote a profound story about love, family, friendship, and faith. I’ve listened to a couple of their other adult books, and while those were fun, they never hit me like this one did.

Autoboyography was about Tanner, a high school senior who is bisexual. Tanner’s kept his sexual orientation a secret since moving to Provo, Utah due to the stigma it has in the predominantly Mormon city. It wasn’t hard for Tanner to hide until he met his writing class TA. One look at Sebastian and Tanner is infatuated. Tanner’s not the only one either. Sebastian seems to be just as into Tanner. The problem is Sebastian is a devout Mormon. A relationship with Tanner is completely against everything Sebastian has been taught.

(Almost) everything about this book was heartbreaking. From the moment their story begins, the writing is on the wall. Things will not be easy for Tanner and Sebastian. While Tanner has accepted his identity, Sebastian has not. His family and his religion does not allow him to. The closer they become, the harder life is for both of them. I was sad for Tanner (and Sebastian) so many times. I wanted a happy ever after for them, but I could never be sure that was going to happen for them. Their lives were so different. Their journeys, together and apart, were tough. I loved them and just wanted everything to be magically better for them.

My favorite character in Autoboyography wasn’t either of the main characters. It was actually Tanner’s dad. He had an openness to him that I hope my daughter will eventually find in me. He accepted Tanner for who he was and wanted to the best for him. That didn’t stop him from giving advice and establishing boundaries. In fact, it was his advice and guidance that I loved the most. His statements were so profound, truthful, and beautiful.

To be honest, I felt like I learned a lot about the Mormon religion/culture that I didn’t know before. Some things I had heard of, but others were new to me. I liked that while Autoboyography pointed out short coming regarding the religion’s lack of accepting diverse relationships, it was also respectful of the religion. It not only hit on its short comings but the positive aspects of it as well. The book didn’t bash the religion, just questioned aspects of it through Tanner and Sebastian’s characters.

The one thing I didn’t love about this book was Tanner and Autumn’s relationship. While their friendship was cute and totally supportive, I didn’t like part of it. It’s very apparent Autumn is in love with Tanner. They both try to ignore this so they can save their friendship. There are times when their friendship was uncomfortable for me because I felt that they shouldn’t really be friends. I felt that it was a lopsided friendship. Maybe that was just because Autumn didn’t have a POV, but I felt like it was an unhealthy relationship for her.

Sorry if this review feels a little discombobulated. I loved this book so much, and it’s really hard to put all of my thoughts and feelings into words. I really want everyone to read Autoboyography. It was a beautiful book.