• Renewing Forever (This Time Forever, #2) by Kelly Jensen

    Renewing Forever (This Time Forever, #2)Renewing Forever by Kelly Jensen
    My rating: 3 of 5 stars

    Building Forever, Book 1 was fantastic–one of my favorites of 2018. I adored Simon and Charlie. They make very brief appearances in Renewing Forever and I craved more of them.

    I had trouble getting into Frank and Tom’s story. Frank is introduced in Building Forever, and I wanted to get to know him after reading the first of the series. Unfortunately, the build up was a bit of a let down for me. He just wasn’t that interesting. He seemed to have lived a fascinating life as a journalist traveling all over the world and publishing articles in magazine. I wanted to know more about his travels and his career…the people he met, the topics he covered. Jensen barely touches on his last assignment, reporting from the devastation in Puerto Rico, and how that experience made him want more from life. But I just didn’t feel it.

    As for Tom, I had much difficulty liking and sympathizing with him. He was weird and awkward, and not in a cute, sweet way. His reason for pushing Frank away so long ago didn’t resonate with me. His actions and reactions rubbed me the wrong way.

    Even their relationship as kids/teens didn’t feel right to me, and not because they were from two different social classes.

    I really wanted to like this book. Here’s hoping Brian in Book 3 can win me over.

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  • The Start of Something…

    I’ve been a reader practically my entire life. When I was young, I would get in trouble for staying up all night reading under my covers with a flashlight. That habit is probably what makes me a night owl to this day.

    Horror and suspense/thriller were my go-to genres (Stephen King was–and still is–one of my favorite authors), though I did read just about anything I could get my hands on. The librarians at my local library kept their eyes out for incoming books they thought I’d like to read. When I ran out of new books to read, they gave me access to the storage room where they kept the books that weren’t being borrowed (out of commission, I guess?). I stayed far away from romance; the few romance novels I tried reading did nothing for me.

    Several years ago, I stumbled upon a website that posted free, original stories of men falling in love with other men and finding their HEA. I was immediately hooked and could totally get behind this kind of romance. I devoured every story, every word. Some were hit or miss (I’m a grammar snob, and bad grammar or misspelled words make me lose interest no matter how good the storytelling.), and I began rereading several times over my favorite stories.

    Flash forward to November 2016 when I was introduced to the Hoopla Digital app through my library and discovered a treasure trove of published LGBTQ+ books. I was in heaven! Every free moment I had was spent reading, my face glued to my phone. There were so many authors out there waiting for me to find and immerse myself in their stories.

    I also began seeking out my new favorites online to keep abreast of new releases. Twitter seemed to be where the queer writing community could be found. So, I dusted off my abandoned Twitter account and became part of that community as a reader and, eventually, reviewer. I’m an extreme introvert and debilitatingly shy to boot, but I came out of my shell a bit and interacted with other readers and discovered even more authors to read.

    Then in February of this year, I had a craving for a particular plot. I searched and searched but couldn’t find exactly what I was looking for. For whatever reason, I thought it’d be a good idea to try to write this elusive story. Previously, I had only ever written poems–and that was back in grade school. I didn’t have much faith in myself and my ability to tell a good story, but my intention wasn’t ever to have anyone read it. This was just going to be a fun little project for myself.

    Unexpectedly, someone I had become really close to online gave me the encouragement and confidence to make this story happen. I got excited to continue, and the characters I created in my mind kept talking to me and doing things that I hadn’t planned in the beginning. I was hooked. The end result is a complete mess and far from my original intention but, I’ve been told, has good bones.

    That one cluster of a story ignited the desire to write more and create different characters. In addition to that first effort (which I have plans to split into two books), I have three other projects in the works. And (here comes the big news), I completed a short story that I submitted to a publisher on a whim earlier this month.

    Amazingly, that short story was picked up by JMS Books and is scheduled to be released on November 17th. How wild is that? Never in my life did I imagined I’d publish an original story created by my imagination.

    I’ve met some fabulous people along the way. The level of support and encouragement I’ve found from people I’e never met in real life is awesome. This community is wonderful.

    Now that I’ve gotten bitten by the creative bug, there are so many things I want to accomplish. I want to write a decent full-length novel. I want to try self-publishing. I want to hold my paperback in my hands. I want to write a story that someone loves.

    But even if I don’t check off each entry on my to do list, I’ll still find pleasure in writing.

  • Less Than Three by Jess Whitecroft

    Less Than ThreeLess Than Three by Jess Whitecroft
    My rating: 5 of 5 stars

    ***I received a free copy of this book via Booksprout and am voluntarily leaving a review.***

    Straight twin playing the part of the gay twin to win over the gay twin’s love interest. Very interesting. When I first started reading Less Than Three I thought, for some reason, the story would be written from Simon’s POV (the gay twin). What a surprise it was (to me, at least) to find it’s written from the Nathan’s POV (the straight twin). A gay romance told from the straight twin’s point of view. Very, very interesting.

    Whitecroft could write about any topic–seriously, anything–and I would gobble it up. Stealing Rob’s words regarding Sir Arthur Conan Doyle: “He wanted to be off writing dense historical novels that would bore the pigeon poo off a statue.” Whitecroft could be write such novels, and I could be the pigeon poo…only, I wouldn’t be bored. Not by a long shot.

    The previous books I’ve read by Whitecroft were set in the US. This one is set in England, and some of the British references escaped me. I had to Google several of the people mentioned to get an idea of what was being said. But, that’s all on me, being a dense American.

    So, the twins. They have two very distinct, individual personalities. Where Simon is as dry as unbuttered toast (“My brother’s love life–as far as I could tell–was a lot like Fifty Shades of Grey: long periods of boredom interspersed with awkward conversations about cheese and Twinings tea bags.”), Nathan is animated and funny. Nathan tells his brother, “I don’t mean to brag, but you’re good looking.”

    I loved being in Nathan’s head for a front row seat to his unabashed realization of his feelings for Rob. And Rob was just adorable. I enjoyed their frank conversations about literature and sexuality. When questioned by Rob about his previous gay experiences, Nathan tells him, “One time I did E and it got…oral.”

    Holy mackerel, this book is hilarious and sexy and emotional. I give Less Than Three a solid ten.

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  • The Law of Inertia by S. Gonzales

    The Law of InertiaThe Law of Inertia by S. Gonzales
    My rating: 4 of 5 stars

    ***Copy provided by NetGalley in exchange for an honest and unbiased review.***

    TW/CW: mental illness, suicide, drug and alcohol addiction

    This was an emotional read, chocked full of the hard truths of mental illness.

    “If only I could be unconscious constantly, I felt life might be bearable.”

    It was interesting to read different perspectives of Ash and his actions, including from Ash himself. I began guess the twist a bit before it was revealed, but I wouldn’t say that took away from the story at all.

    Ash was written so well as a lost boy, recovering from a suicide attempt while continuing to deal with the depression that led him on this path.

    “I can’t remember the last time I went for a week without thinking about dying.”

    His conveyed thoughts were easy to identify with as someone who also suffers from depression.

    “I have to try so, so hard at every single little thing I do. I get out of bed, and I feel like I’ve run a marathon.”

    While I felt Ash was a great character, I had issues with his brother, Elliot, and the adults in his life. Elliot has his own demons, and it seemed like no one–maybe aside from Ash who was not in any position to take care of anyone, in my opinion–wanted to help him. And the adults–the foster parents and one teacher, in particular–seemed to recognize that Ash needed help but didn’t act.

    I also had issues with the way Ash dealt with his mental illness. Without giving too much away, I don’t agree that his method was a cure-all.

    In short, great mental illness rep and interesting twist, but lacking in responsible authority figures.

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