Book 20: Playing by the Book – S. Chris Shirley

Shirley, S. Chris - Playing by the BookI wasn’t sure what to expect with this novel, but with a southern religious protagonist I knew I needed to read it to see how the author handled this and I am glad I did. I was a little hesitant at first as the last two book I read from this publisher, 50 Shades of Gay and The Hunger Gays weren’t amazing, but this one was excellent. I received a copy of this book from Riverdale Avenue Books and this is my honest opinion and I received nothing in return.

Playing by the Book is the story of Jake Powell and his journey from Preacher’s Kid (PK) in small-town Alabama to an elite summer journalism program at Columbia University in New York City. This is the first time he’s away from home and needless to say it is the experience of a lifetime. Not only is this a coming out story, it is a true coming of age story. Many young adult novels over emphasis one or the other, but this novel intricately tied the two together.

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Book 16: It’s All Geek to Me – J. L. Merrow

Merrow, J. L. - It's All Geek To MeWhat a quick fun read! I thoroughly enjoyed this book and if Merrow were to expand this story into a longer novel, or even a series of short stories, I would definitely check it out. I received a copy of It’s All Geek to Me from the publisher, Riptide Publishing and received nothing in return for my honest opinion.

From the adorkable premise of the comic book store to the “aww” worthy ending, I couldn’t help but smile through this quick novella. I of course loved the two main characters, the gorgeously described Welshman Rhys and the adorably emotionally fragile protagonist Jez. Merrow did a great job building the tension between the Rhys and Jez and adding in a (not completely) unexpected turn. I wasn’t quite sure what the hidden secret was but I was so worried it was going to be something completely different and the actual reason was so adorable and their reactions were so adorable that I couldn’t help but smile.

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Book 8: Hunger Gays – Nathan Alexander

Alexander, Nathan - Hunger GaysI’m not sure what I expected with this book, but it wasn’t what I got. When I requested a copy of this book from the publisher I expected a fun parody of The Hunger Games, but ultimately it wasn’t. This is my honest opinion and I received nothing in return.

Let’s start with the good. There is a lot of potential in this writer, the ideas and the story adaptation are there, it’s the translation to the page that needs work. The story is a basic copy of The Hunger Games but it’s solely men entered into the tournament and rather than just killing for survival there has to be some sort of erotic act as well. I think the best thing about this novel, by far, is the name of the government drag queen: Lady Mary Posa.

Mariposa is the Spanish word for butterfly and is often times used in a derogatorily (similar to fag or queer), but in choosing to re-empower this word and have a, what I’m assuming is supposed to be funny, drag queen embrace the name and make it her shtick is quite creative and charming. And the authors creativity is further seen through his imagination (or my lack of imagination) to include the myriad pleasure devices mentioned within the arena.

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Book 83: Christmas Kitsch – Amy Lane

Lane, Amy - Christmas KitschI didn’t have any expectations going in and overall I enjoyed it. It could’ve been better but it could also have been a lot worse. This was the last galley/ARC of my year and it was an endearing quick read. I received a copy from the publisher in return for my honest response; no compensation was received.

I tried to stay away from romance novels for so long but I’ve thoroughly enjoyed wallowing in them this past year. When I saw Christmas Kitsch I internally debated for quite a bit of time on whether I would read it and finally broke down and got it. I was hesitant because I always thought the super-specific holiday reads (i.e. Debbie Macomber) were super hokey even though I’d never read them. And I finally requested a copy while trekking through War and Peace, I figured a nice light fun read would be a great follow-up!

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Book 81: Marionette – T. B. Markinson

Markinson, T. B. - MarionetteHow do I approach this book? I want to be honest, but I don’t want to be too over the top in either direction. I received a copy of Marionette via the author, who is a great blogging buddy, and this is my honest response and I received no compensation for my response.

I guess I’ll just rip the band-aid off. I HATED the first half of the book. (Sorry TBM!)

I can’t put a finger on it, but I’ll call it sophomore slump. I’ll talk more later in the response, but I just could not identify with Paige even though there was a great line which convinced me I was going to! TBM’s first book, A Woman Lost, was a phenomenal debut novel, but this one fell short (at least for the first half of the book). However, with that said, the last half of the book was AMAZING (mostly :-D).

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