Citywide

Citywide by Santino Hassell

Full disclosure, I only read Rerouted. Before all of you jump on me, I am allowed to read what I want to read, and I honestly was only interested in Chris, Jace and Aiden. Not that I have to justify my reading choices to anyone, but I have no desire to read the other two novellas because those characters don’t call to me.

That being said, I LOVED Rerouted. I could read about these three men for, well, forever. I wish they had their own full length novel. It’s about Chris, a bisexual man who finds himself as the extra to a married gay couple Jace and Aiden. Jace and Aiden have been together 20 years and are polyamorous, but lately they only want one man to make them a trio. When a blackout leaves the three of them stuck together, it’s up to the couple to convince Chris he’s perfect for them.

As I said before, I loved this story. Chris I wanted to hug the entire time, I understood all of his insecurities and where he is coming from. It’s easy to want him to fall into his happily ever after, but some things needed to be worked out and I think Hassell did a great job of covering all those issues.

Citywide can technically be read as a standalone, but I think maybe you should read Third Rail a short story first to get some background.

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Autoboyography

Autoboyography by Christina Lauren

4 stars! 

“His smile ruins me.” 

This book follows Tanner, an eighteen year old bisexual Jewish kid who moves from liberal Palo Alto to the mormon town Provo, Utah when he was fifteen. His parents ask him to go back into the closet fearing the community won’t accept him. And he does, for three years. But then he meets his new TA Sebastian, the son of the local Bishop. And it doesn’t take long for him to fall completely in love.

“Love fails for a million reasons – distance, infidelity, pride, religion, money, illness. Why is this story any more worthy?
It felt like it was. It felt important. Living in this town is suffocating in so many ways.
But if a tree falls in the woods, maybe it makes no sound.
And if a boy falls for the bishop’s closeted son, maybe it makes no story.” 

This book struck close to home. I’ve been thinking a lot before writing this review because I don’t want to offend anyone with it, so let me be clear. I am a fairly liberal person, and I am not a fan of any organized religion. While I grew up in Southern California, there is a small Mormon community in my home town. I grew up with Mormon kids who I knew were gay, that almost everyone knew were gay and yet they couldn’t admit it (and I know because they later came out after high school). I remember when Prop 8 happened, one of those kids kicking a sign his own father had put on his lawn. It’s something I’ll never forget. To me, love is love, and as long as no one is hurting anyone, everything is okay. So when reading this book, a lot of this was going through my head. Now this isn’t to say I hate Mormons or organized religion, but it’s difficult for me to accept something that doesn’t promote love.

Off my pedestal now, this was an amazing love story. Knowing up front what Tanner and Sebastian face, you can predict what challenges they would face. But this book wasn’t predictable, and I was rooting for these two boys the entire time. I think this is a book that teens need and I wish we had when I was a teen. I highly recommend this book and I hope you give it a chance.

“I don’t actually care if you break my heart, Sebastian. I went into this knowing it could happen and I gave it to you anyway. But I don’t want you to break your own. You have so much space in your heart for your church, but does it have space for you?” 

One of Us is Lying

One of Us is Lying by Karen M. McManus

4 stars! 

“She’s a princess and you’re a jock,” he says. He thrusts his chin toward Bronwyn, then at Nate. “And you’re a brain. And you’re a criminal. You’re all walking teen-movie stereotypes.” 

The Breakfast Club meets Pretty Little Liars…..

Yeah, I’d actually have to agree with this assessment. One of Us Is Lying is a book I was intrigued by when it came out but didn’t make the time to read. That’s why I love the Goodreads Choice Awards, because it helps me pick up books that would have been on the tbr list forever.

Anyways, this book is about a jock, popular girl, brain, and a criminal who get detention with their school’s version of gossip girl. Except by the end of detention, Simon aka gossip monger, ends up dead. Now the four students there with him are suspected of murder, and all of them have secrets no one could ever have expected.

“I guess we’re almost friends now, or as friendly as you can get when you’re not one hundred percent sure the other person isn’t framing you for murder.” 

I ended up really enjoying this one, the murdery side of teen books don’t really appeal to me, but this book was more focused on the characters and their development than the mystery plot. Some things were fairly predictable, but they were in a way that I liked it. Does that make any sense? I liked all four main characters equally, each of them had something interesting to bring to the table. One of them had to grow on me but by the end I liked them.

I think this book is perfect for teens who love shows like Pretty Little Liars and Gossip Girl. Perfect for the relucant readers and those who would like a murdery John Hughes movie, if one existed.

“Things’ll get worse before they get better.” 

It Happened One Autumn

It Happened One Autumn by Lisa Kleypas

4.5 stars! 

“The next time you face a room full of strangers . . . you might tell yourself that some of them are just friends waiting to be found.” 

The Wallflowers are so good!!! I think this book is my favorite in the series so far (yes, I have read Devil in Winter already). I liked the chemistry between the main characters in this one the most so far, that hate to love you tension. This book is the story of Lillian and Westcliff, a brash and outspoken American and a formal, follow the rules Englishmen. Right off the bat they cannot stand each other, but as time goes by they realize their hatred for each other might be something more.

“I can’t get it out,” she said.
“Just pull at it.”
“It hurts. It’s throbbing.”
“Pull harder.”
“I can’t! It’s truly stuck. I need something to make it slippery. Do you have some sort of lubricant nearby?”
“No.”
“Not anything?”
“Much as it may surprise you, we’ve never needed lubricant in the library before now.” 

I’m not normally one for historical romance, but Lisa Kleypas has that magic about her writing. It’s never cheesy to me (and I loathe cheesy historical), and never do I roll my eyes at the language or the diction. It’s an amazing escape from reality, a foray into the lives and loves of the past.

I’m also going to add, when Lillian and Westcliff do finally give in, BOOM WENT THE OVARIES! You wanna read it now, don’t you?

“There is nothing on earth more beautiful to me than your smile…no sound sweeter than your laughter…no pleasure greater than holding you in my arms.” 

Third Rail

Third Rail by Santino Hassell

4.5 stars! 

I love love love the five boroughs series by Santino Hassell! This threesome of characters, Jace, Chris and Aiden are among my favorites, I’ll read anything about them. Honestly I wish there was like a 500 page book about them, but I’m just plain greedy. Third Rail is a collection of short stories about them in chronological order, because they get another story in Hassell’s Citywide coming out November 2017.

This book was HOT. I mean, Santino’s books always are. But an MMM threesome? Yeah. Enough said.

I believe this can be read as a standalone, other characters are mentioned but it’s not confusing. This book should also be free, so grab it while you can!

An ARC was provided in exchange for an honest review

Rhythm, Chord & Malykhin

Rhythm, Chord & Malykhin by Mariana Zapata

4.5 stars! 

“Not liking you is like fighting gravity.” 

After her boyfriend dumps her, Gabby is asked to go on tour with her twin brother selling merchandise for his band. Which would be fine, if she wasn’t insanely attracted to the lead singer of the other traveling band, Sacha. Three months and a bunch of countries, everyone will be tight together making for some interesting happenings.

“Because if I remember correctly, your text message said, ‘I just kicked the hottest guy I’ve probably ever seen in the ass.’ And I asked you what he looked like and you texted me back, ‘Like a double bacon cheeseburger I’d take a bite out of.” 

Mariana Zapata is an author who has never let me down. I’ve read six of her books and thoroughly enjoyed them all. She takes the time to develop her characters and her relationships, so everything feels more real. I love that she writes slow burn instead of instalove, I love seeing the journey her characters take when falling for each other.

Rhythm, Chord & Malykhin is an excellent book and falls in the middle of the spectrum, not my favorite Zapata and not my least favorite. It’s a solid rock star romance, but I also wondered why none of the band players were running around getting laid with everything that moved. Not that I want that, but I wonder if this was a more accurate depiction of the lifestyle where it takes place.

You need to start reading Zapata if you haven’t already. And if you have read some of her books, bump this one up the to be read list.

“He was the end to my beginning.” 

Dear Aaron

Dear Aaron by Mariana Zapata

4 stars! 

Full confession, I totally went into this book knowing mini spoilers. By that I mean I knew the majority of the first half of the book was in epistolary form aka written in emails, IMs and texts. I think it helped knowing that going in, because if I hadn’t I think I would have quit this book, and that would be a damn shame.

Dear Aaron is a love story between a soldier and his assigned pen pal. Ruby and Aaron meet via email when he is deployed in the Middle East through a letters to soldiers program. Over time, they become very good friends and some feelings develop, at least on one side.

I really don’t want to say more than that, go into this knowing it’s a slow burn, the first half the interactions are all written, and that it’s a long book and you’ll be good. Mariana Zapata writes the best slow burn romance. Hands down. You want a romance you’ll long for? Turn to this woman’s books. And while this one was on the sweeter side for me, I still found myself smiling as I was reading it.

This book was really a double edged sword for Zapata, and by that I mean the way it’s written is a tough balance. Too much written interaction and it’s too long, not enough and then people would complain it’s not developed enough. While it’s not perfect, I think she did an excellent job in building the relationship she did and that many readers will enjoy it.

I’m off to read the rest of Zapata’s books! I have two more to go until I run out and will sit here waiting for her to publish more!

Third Rail Release Blitz and Excerpt

Third Rail (Five Boroughs):

Christopher Mendez has always known his sexual identity had a swerve. No straight guy would have low-key lusted after his childhood best friend, right? Unfortunately, a combination of insecurity and overall lack of game has prevented him from further exploring his sexuality. That changes once he agrees to participate in a photoshoot for a queer dating app and meets Jace Fairbairn.

 

Jace is beautiful, fey-like, and in an open polyamorous relationship with his gorgeous linebacker-looking husband Aiden. Once they set eyes on Chris, they’re instantly in lust and determined to broaden his sexual horizons. But what’s supposed to be a straight-forward sexual encounter gets complicated once a one-night-stand has repeat performances, and Jace and Aiden begin to fall in love.

 

This collection of shorts explores the start of a relationship that eventually blossoms into something the three men realize they cannot do without.

 

THIRD RAIL releases on 10/25/2017. It will be FREE at all major retailers.

 

Links: https://www.books2read.com/u/4Awv5qhttp://santinohassell.com/books/

 

Subgenres: queer contemporary romance in the Five Boroughs universe.

 

Excerpt:

We took the train into Queens, which surprised me. I had it in my head that people like Aiden, who were in the same category as Caleb, Ashton, and Meredith, took cabs or slick town cars everywhere. My rich people hookup fantasy was shattered once he led me to the subway with the rest of the suckers.

“This would have been way cooler if you’d had a car downstairs waiting for us,” I confided as we descended the steps to the subway. “Like you in your suit and me with my fifty-pound backpack getting in a black Lincoln. That would have been tight as fuck.”

Aiden slipped his Metro Card from his pocket, snickering. “What, you thought this was some Fifty Shades of Queer set up?”

“Yup. Do you have a play room?”

“My entire apartment is a play room, bro. Have you met my husband? We don’t exactly keep it to one location in the house.”

“Good for you. I’m lucky if I get any action in my own damn bed with my right hand.”

We walked towards the E train, our conversation lost in the rush of bodies moving around us. He could have started describing exactly what they did in every corner of their place and nobody around us would have given a single fuck. But that was New York for you, and it was why I loved it.

 

 

About Santino Hassell:

 

Santino Hassell was raised by a conservative family but grew up to be a smart-mouthed, school cutting grunge kid, a transient twenty-something, and eventually transformed into a grumpy introvert and unlikely romance author with an affinity for baseball caps. His novels are heavily influenced by the gritty, urban landscape of New York City, and his desire to write relationships fueled by intensity and passion.

 

He’s been a finalist in both the Bisexual Book Awards and the EPIC Awards, and was nominated for a prestigious RITA award in 2017. His work has been featured in BuzzFeed, Huffington Post, Washington Post, RT Magazine, and Cosmopolitan Magazine.

 

Connect with Santino: Website | Twitter | Instagram | FB Group | FB | GR | Tumblr

My Best Friend’s Ex

My Best Friend’s Ex by Meghan Quinn

3 stars 

Meghan Quinn is a relatively new author to me. I’ve seen her at lots of author events, Big Apple, Love N Colorado, Love N Vegas, etc… so she’s an author I’ve been meaning to read. When I saw this book was only $1.20 on Amazon, I snapped this baby up! And while I enjoyed it (remember peeps, I don’t consider a 3 a negative rating!!) I think my sense of humor doesn’t really mesh well with Quinn’s. It’s a little bit too much for me, I’m more of the sarcasm and one-liners kind of humor than in your face almost slap sticky.

I really did enjoy this book, mostly the second half because it was hotter and angstier than the first half. I think lots of readers would love this book and the story, it’s a good trope. I just wish we had seen more of the best friend, we only saw her at 48% and then a little bit near the end, we saw all of Emma’s other friends more than the “best” friend.

Many of my trusted book friends have told me to read Dear Life, and I think I will try that. This book was a lot of fun and that light read many readers are searching for. And I’m also glad I read a new to me author and broke outside of my comfort zone.

Michael’s Wings

Micheal’s Wings by Tiffany Reisz

4 stars

Michael and Griffin are my favorite couple from the Original sinners series, and The Angel my favorite book. So when I saw they were getting their own collection of stories I jumped on that so fast! This was a great glimpse back into this world, a new original stories and if I am correct 5 previously published short stories about this couple all in one volume. If these men were real, I would love to be the F in their MFM sandwich!

I adore them, thank you for giving us more of them Tiffany!

ARC provided by publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review 

Drive

Drive by Kate Stewart

ALL THE STARS! 

“Music is the heart’s greatest librarian.” 

Top recommendation and one of the best books of the year for me! Drive made me fall in love with the romance genre again. I’m not exaggerating when I say this, since August I have only had one 5 star romance read, and it was MM not MF. I had given up hope on this genre and on the indie romance community but after reading Drive I’m back and ready for more!

Drive is the story of Stella, a music journalist gets some shocking news and decides to drive home instead of taking her flight. Along the way she remembers her past and the events that led to her present circumstances. That’s all I’m going to tell you, I went in blind and I think the experience of reading this book is more enjoyable this way.

“A gravitational pull lured me to him. I wanted inside his head. And that was just the start of what I wanted.” 

Kate Stewart is an author I find myself recommending all the time and wish more people would read. Her writing is very versatile, each book a unique and heartfelt experience. Drive follows in the same vein, at the heart of it is music. The songs mentioned at the beginning of the chapters (the ones I knew and didn’t have to pick up) I could hear in my mind as I was reading. I don’t listen to music when reading because I find it hard to focus on one or the other, but if you enjoy music while reading, I recommend the spotify playlist Kate made for this book.

This was the book that I wanted to read into the early hours of the morning, the one where I was cursing my job that I love because I wanted to stay up late reading this book but needed sleep instead. It didn’t take me long to realize while reading this book was something special, and I was only halfway through when I started sending book recommendations of it to other readers on Goodreads. This is the book that you know will stay with you forever, the one that when you hear certain songs you’ll remember how you felt when reading it.

Stella is a heroine that is flawed, emotional and beautiful. I loved her outlook on life, that even though bad things had happened to her she tried her hardest and kept going. We see her struggling as a college student, to working her way up the music world. And while this book is a love story, it’s also about how Stella found her way back to her true self. How she picked up the pieces and told the world to go screw itself and fought her way to the top.

Not sure what else to say, it’s obvious I loved this book. If you haven’t picked up a book by Kate yet I want to smack you. Just make sure you don’t end 2017 without reading this book. You won’t regret it.

“He was my song, my soul, my everything, and his love had propelled me forward into the woman I wanted to be.” 

Maverick

Maverick by Karina Halle

3.75 stars! 

“Love is chaos.” 

Maverick is the story of Riley a young beautiful woman working in search and rescue. After a traumatic working experience where Riley lost a friend, she moves to Canada for a new job. John “Mav” Maverick is her new boss, and right off the bat they know there’s chemistry between them. But employees are forbidden from dating in search and rescue, so they must do what they can to keep away from each other.

“The feeling I have in my chest is completely unfamiliar. It’s like a combination of a warm bath and someone dropping a toaster in it. It’s both calming and electrifying and there’s no other way to explain it, but I have both feelings at once when I look at her.” 

This book was a fun and hot break from reality. Riley and Mav had some serious chemistry and waiting for them to get together was everything! It was nice to revisit the true north world and see characters we met in Wild Card. While this is “second” in a series, you can easily read this book as a standalone novel, you don’t need any backstory. That being said I am excited for Del and Fox’s story, I hope it will be super angsty!

ARC provided by the author. All/any quotes in this review came from an advance unedited copy and may be subject to change in the final product. 

Warcross

Warcross by Marie Lu

4.25 stars! 

“Every locked door has a key. Every problem has a solution.” 

I enjoyed this book so much more than I thought I would! I was attracted by the pretty cover and the recommendation from a friend, so I got this book from the library. When my copy arrived, I read the synopsis and my enthusiasm came to a screeching halt. This book sounds like a total rip off of Ready Player One. And to be honest, it really kind of is. But somehow, knowing this, I still really enjoyed this.

Warcross is about an 18 year old bounty hunter Emika, a girl close to eviction. Out of desperation she takes a risk during the Warcross games and gets caught, resulting in her getting an offer she can’t resist. Now Emika is thrown into a new world where she wants for nothing, with a hot boss too. It’s up to her to discover a new threat and to help stop it.

“Everything’s science fiction until someone makes it science fact.” 

I thought this was a fantastic YA novel, like I said before I was surprised by how much I liked this one. I’ve only ever read The Young Elites and I couldn’t get through that book. So I didn’t really know what to expect. I think Lu did a great job with her main character Emika, she’s a spunky, hacker, bounty hunter with rainbow hair and tattoos. I mean, how cool is that? This book was also really easy to read, I fell into it and the pacing was totally on point. I found myself inching toward the book at times when I couldn’t read it, and that’s the mark of a good book.

Why not 5 stars? I felt the romance was really lackluster and underdeveloped, even the guy said himself “perhaps I’ve been too subtle” <— um, YEAH DUDE. I thought this girl just had a weird one sided fangirl crush on the main guy until he suddenly kissed her. There were also some gaps in the game world building and moments when I was confused about how things worked. I don’t think we need an extensive lesson in it, just maybe not so many conflicting statements about the game and how it worked.

Anyways if you like YA and scifi, this is the book for you! Take it from a girl who didn’t think she would enjoy it, take the leap and give it a chance! And I am so excited for the next book!!!

“Everyone has a different way of escaping the dark stillness of their mind.” 

Bountiful

Bountiful by Sarina Bowen

4 stars! 

“The truth was that men didn’t date people like me. I was the girl they “hung out with” as Dave had put it last night. The bartender was a good time and fun in bed, but not a forever girl.” 

Sarina Bowen always writes the best romance! Bountiful is about bartender Zara and a sexy ginger named Dave. One summer for an entire month the two had a steamy fling, but then he left and he left something behind. Two years later Zara is a single mother and hasn’t been able to find Dave to tell him he’s the father.

Then one day, Dave shows up and Zara tells him he’s a father. But Dave’s past makes him doubt his parenting abilities and Zara doesn’t trust that he will stick around. The two have to work together to see if they can reach common ground.

“Nobody could make me feel inferior without my permission. I’d made my peace with single motherhood, and it didn’t matter what anyone said behind my back.” 

From the moment I opened up the book I fell in love with Zara and Dave. I love prickly heroines and Zara was awesome. Dave was equally awesome, every barb Zara threw his way he shrugged off and smiled. I wouldn’t say baby romances are my favorite subgenre, but I enjoy them and the angst they deliver all the same. Plus I think Bowen did an amazing job writing the parent/child dynamic and Nicole was just beyond adorable.

This book starts off with a bang, and then slows down in pacing a little bit near the middle. I thoroughly enjoyed this book, I am so glad Zara got her own story and it was worth the wait. I just want to stay forever in the True North world and never leave. I hope we get more books in this world.

Sarina Bowen is an author I always recommend, she never disappoints. This is the book this fall that you want to curl up with a blanket and enjoy a heartwarming story.

“The Milky Way and Zara. My favorite two things about Vermont.”

ARC provided by the publisher via netgalley. All/any quotes in this review came from an advance unedited copy and may be subject to change in the final product. 

Eleanor & Park

Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell

5 stars 

“Holding Eleanor’s hand was like holding a butterfly. Or a heartbeat. Like holding something complete, and completely alive.” 

Can you all believe I had never read this book until now? Yeah, neither can I. Because that is CRAZY! To be fair, I put it off a lot. In a weird way that doesn’t make sense, I didn’t want to ruin Fangirl. And this book didn’t, I still love Fangirl, I just have a different kind of love for Eleanor and Park.

This book is about two outcast teens who become friends when they are forced to sit next to each other on the bus to and from school. At first, they don’t really understand each other, but as time goes by, they want to get to know each other and develop an amazing friendship, and then romance.

“What are the chances you’d ever meet someone like that? he wondered. Someone you could love forever, someone who would forever love you back? And what did you do when that person was born half a world away? The math seemed impossible.” 

This is going to be a shorter review because I think everyone has already said all the things about this book. But MY HEART. This book made me wish that men like Park existed in real life, because no man could measure up to this guy. And Eleanor, I bled for that girl. I just wanted to hug her and tell her she was beautiful and that someone cared.

Anyways, if you are stupid like me and haven’t read this book, you need to correct this giant mistake asap. You won’t regret this one!

“I don’t like you, Park,” she said, sounding for a second like she actually meant it. “I…” – her voice nearly disappeared – “think I live for you.”
He closed his eyes and pressed his head back into his pillow.
“I don’t think I even breathe when we’re not together,” she whispered. “Which means, when I see you on Monday morning, it’s been like sixty hours since I’ve taken a breath. That’s probably why I’m so crabby, and why I snap at you. All I do when we’re apart is think about you, and all I do when we’re together is panic. Because every second feels so important. And because I’m so out of control, I can’t help myself. I’m not even mine anymore, I’m yours, and what if you decide that you don’t want me? How could you want me like I want you?”
He was quiet. He wanted everything she’d just said to be the last thing he heard. He wanted to fall asleep with ‘I want you’ in his ears.”