Blaine for the Win by Robbie Couch #bookreview #YA #romanticcomedy #LGBTQ #TuesdayBookBlog

After being dumped so his boyfriend can pursue more “serious” guys, a teen boy decides to prove he can be serious, too, by running for senior class president in this joyful romp from the author of The Sky Blues.

High school junior Blaine Bowers has it all—the perfect boyfriend, a pretty sweet gig as a muralist for local Windy City businesses, a loving family, and awesome, talented friends. And he is absolutely, 100% positive that aforementioned perfect boyfriend—​senior student council president and Mr. Popular of Wicker West High School, Joey—is going to invite Blaine to spend spring break with his family in beautiful, sunny Cabo San Lucas.

Except Joey breaks up with him instead. In public. On their one-year anniversary.

Because, according to Joey, Blaine is too goofy, too flighty, too…unserious. And if Joey wants to go far in life, he needs to start dating more serious guys. Guys like Zach Chesterton.

Determined to prove that Blaine can be what Joey wants, Blaine decides to enter the running to become his successor (and beat out Joey’s new boyfriend, Zach) as senior student council president.

But is he willing to sacrifice everything he loves about himself to do it? 

I was in the mood for a lighter read, and the description of this one screamed Legally Blonde to me, a movie I was always a fan of.

Blaine has the “perfect boyfriend”, and they have a date to celebrate their one year anniversary at an exclusive restaurant – one Blaine’s family would never be able to afford. He’s sure Joey will ask him to spend spring break with his family at Cabo. Instead, he breaks up with Blaine because he’s too unserious. Turns out Joey the “perfect boyfriend” is slime.

Blaine is a sweetheart and so easy to like. He paints murals (for very little money) for local businesses to spruce up the neighborhood, adores his temporarily unemployed aunt (she’s awesome in every way) who lives with them, and longs to spend more time with his hard-working parents. He also has a couple of best friends who are there for him no matter what. When Blaine enters the running for senior student council president it’s for all the wrong reasons, but he discovers some important things about himself along the way. He may also meet a cute guy who’s more deserving of him.

Important themes of finding your path, following through on promises, and knowing your worth are addressed, as well as mental health issues high school students deal with – don’t underestimate the pressures they’re under. This novel is tons of fun, has memorable supporting characters, and is guaranteed to leave you with a smile.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher through NetGalley.  Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

Golden Boys by Phil Stamper #bookreview #YA #LGBTQ #contemporary #TuesdayBookBlog

National bestselling author Phil Stamper crafts the perfect summer friendship story, starring four queer boys with big hearts and even bigger dreams.

Gabriel, Reese, Sal, and Heath are best friends, bonded in their small rural town by their queerness, their good grades, and their big dreams. They are about to embark on the summer before senior year of high school, where each is going on a new, big adventure. Reese is attending a design school in Paris. Gabriel is going to Boston to volunteer with a environmental nonprofit. Sal is interning on Capitol Hill for a U.S. Senator. And Heath is stuck going to Daytona Beach to help out at his aunt’s beachfront arcade.

What will this summer of new experiences and world-expanding travel mean for each of them—and for their friendship?

After reading a few heavy, postapocalyptic-type books, I wanted something lighter. Filled with ride or die friendships, found family, and dreams of the future, Golden Boys was exactly what I needed.

Don’t get me wrong – these boys are each dealing with their own problems and challenges. Gabriel is afraid he doesn’t know how to make friends outside their close circle and lacks self-confidence. Reese is secretly in love with his best friend and an ocean away from him for the summer. Sal is learning his path in life may not be exactly what he’d thought. Heath’s parents are divorcing, money is tight, and his childhood home is on the market. All of them are reluctant to be apart for the summer, afraid things won’t be the same after time away, but each has adventures and life lessons ahead of them.

Written in four different POVs, I struggled a bit at the beginning with keeping the names straight, but as I got to know and love these boys I knew exactly who was speaking without rechecking the chapter heading. As the only queer teens in their small school, they gravitated toward each other and have been tight friends for years. All are in the running for class valedictorian, but even that doesn’t threaten their strong bonds. On the verge of adulthood, the boys are excited for what’s ahead, but also afraid of stepping outside their comfort zone in small town Ohio. The world’s a scary place filled with uncertainty. Will their relationships change after a summer away? Will they even be the same people?

This coming of age story was a delight, and I enjoyed every page. One review I read demands a movie, and I’m one hundred percent on board with that idea. According to Goodreads there will be a sequel to this novel, and you can be sure I’ll snatch it up. Very highly recommended.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher through NetGalley.  Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

If This Gets Out by Sophie Gonzales and Cale Dietrich #bookreview #YA #contemporary #LGBTQ #TuesdayBookBlog

Eighteen-year-olds Ruben Montez and Zach Knight are two members of the boy-band Saturday, one of the biggest acts in America. Along with their bandmates, Angel Phan and Jon Braxton, the four are teen heartbreakers in front of the cameras and best friends backstage. But privately, cracks are starting to form: their once-easy rapport is straining under the pressures of fame, and Ruben confides in Zach that he’s feeling smothered by management’s pressure to stay in the closet.

On a whirlwind tour through Europe, with both an unrelenting schedule and minimal supervision, Ruben and Zach come to rely on each other more and more, and their already close friendship evolves into a romance. But when they decide they’re ready to tell their fans and live freely, Zach and Ruben start to truly realize that they will never have the support of their management. How can they hold tight to each other when the whole world seems to want to come between them?

I’m not revisiting my love of boybands with this book – I was never a fan. But after reading a string of heavy fantasy books, this contemporary story was exactly what I needed. I’ve read the fabulous Only Mostly Devastated by Sophie Gonzalez, but wasn’t familiar with Cale Dietrich. Don’t go into this expecting a sugar-coated love story – it deals with some substantial topics.

Fans screaming your name everywhere you go, crying hysterically as they try to get to you, bodyguards surrounding you to prevent you from being trampled, the glamour, fame, and spotlight. Fans see artists on stage, follow them on social media, and read everything about them they can get their hands on. Some of the more obsessive fans think they know the real person behind the public persona. This story shows how little of the boys’ true selves are ever revealed. They’re assigned a character type to portray, dressed for every public occasion, instructed how to wear their hair, and told what to say in interviews. They’re branded and owned by the record company they make money for. It’s not the dream they’d imagined when signing their contracts at such a young age.

Although the record company and management team know Ruben is gay, he’s not permitted to make that public knowledge. He’s had a crush on best friend and band member Zach for a while, but knows nothing will come of it since Zach is straight. Or so he thought. When Zach begins to have confusing feelings about Ruben and memories about other boys resurface, he realizes he’s bisexual. After they begin a romantic relationship, Zach and Ruben want to be honest with everyone in their lives about who they are, including their fans. For their management team, it’s not an ideal situation, and the boys are given one excuse after another about why they should wait before coming out. Disagreements with their manager are made even more tense and awkward since he’s the father of Jon, one of the band members.

One of my favorite aspects of this novel is the unconditional support all four boys give each other. Sure, they have their squabbles and differences, but when the chips are down, they have each other’s backs no matter what. Their personalities are very distinct, and chapters are told in the alternating POVs of Ruben and Zach. Angel injects humor and snark into several scenes and had me laughing out loud. Drug and alcohol abuse, mental health issues, exhaustion, and the constant pressure of being monitored almost 24/7 are also dealt with. The authors did their research on the exploitation of artists in the entertainment industry.

This novel deals with some important and incredibly personal topics and handles them well. I enjoyed it from beginning to end, and it’s one I’d recommend.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher through NetGalley.  Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

Aristotle and Dante Dive Into the Waters of the World by Benjamin Alire Saenz #bookreview #contemporary #LGBTQ #YA

In Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe, two boys in a border town fell in love. Now, they must discover what it means to stay in love and build a relationship in a world that seems to challenge their very existence.

Ari has spent all of high school burying who he really is, staying silent and invisible. He expected his senior year to be the same. But something in him cracked open when he fell in love with Dante, and he can’t go back. Suddenly he finds himself reaching out to new friends, standing up to bullies of all kinds, and making his voice heard. And, always, there is Dante, dreamy, witty Dante, who can get on Ari’s nerves and fill him with desire all at once.

The boys are determined to forge a path for themselves in a world that doesn’t understand them. But when Ari is faced with a shocking loss, he’ll have to fight like never before to create a life that is truthfully, joyfully his own.

With the highest recommendations from book club friends, I listened to the first book in this series over the summer, and then was ecstatic when I received an ARC of this highly anticipated sequel.

These boys grabbed my heart in the first book and didn’t let go – Ari, who would rather spend time with his dog than anyone else while pondering the meaning of life, and Dante, a born romantic who wears his heart on his sleeve. They squeezed my heart even tighter this time around and even shattered it at times. This novel is set in the eighties when the AIDS epidemic made headlines every day – when two teenage boys tragically had to hide their sexuality because it wasn’t safe for them to admit they were gay.

“My love for him is silent. There are a thousand things living in that silence.”

Fortunately, these two have a strong support system in their parents and a few select friends. That doesn’t mean they don’t have doubts about who they are. When Ari asks his mother if he’s a sin, it nearly brought tears to my eyes. Plenty of these heartfelt conversations may require tissues, so be prepared.

Ari finally steps out of his comfort zone and allows people who’ve had their hands extended in friendship for years in. He also discovers maybe he and one of his enemies have more in common that he believed. You can never be sure what people are dealing with in their lives.

“When you are standing all alone, the people who notice – those are the people who stand by your side. Those are the people who love you.”

Something I found amusing was how Ari comes to the realization his parents are actual people. After mending the relationship with his father, the two of them spend time together that will profoundly affect Ari for the rest of his life. He also sees the influence his mother has had on her students and the sacrifices she’s made along the way. How his parents met and fell in love.

This is a coming of age story that deals with love, loss, grief, homophobia, and racism, but also offers hope for a better future. As you can see from the above quotes, the writing is beautiful and inspirational, and the characters undergo tremendous growth. It’s a series I’ll continue to recommend.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher through NetGalley.  Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

Summer Sons by Lee Mandelo #bookreview #horror #LGBTQ

Andrew and Eddie did everything together, best friends bonded more deeply than brothers, until Eddie left Andrew behind to start his graduate program at Vanderbilt. Six months later, only days before Andrew was to join him in Nashville, Eddie dies of an apparent suicide. He leaves Andrew a horrible inheritance: a roommate he doesn’t know, friends he never asked for, and a gruesome phantom with bleeding wrists that mutters of revenge.

As Andrew searches for the truth of Eddie’s death, he uncovers the lies and secrets left behind by the person he trusted most, discovering a family history soaked in blood and death. Whirling between the backstabbing academic world where Eddie spent his days and the circle of hot boys, fast cars, and hard drugs that ruled Eddie’s nights, the walls Andrew has built against the world begin to crumble, letting in the phantom that hungers for him.

I think I first became aware of this book in a weekly horror newsletter from Book Riot and immediately requested it from NetGalley. What a heavy, ominous ride it was – a fabulous debut novel.

Andrew shares a deep connection with his best friend Eddie and refuses to believe he committed suicide. He travels to Nashville for several reasons – to deal with Eddie’s estate and substantial inheritance left to him, prove Eddie was murdered, and attend grad school. Someone knows the truth behind the supposed suicide, and Andrew immerses himself into Eddie’s life to find answers. Soon, he’s drawn into late nights of fast cars, drugs, parties, and alcohol and learns Eddie hid plenty of secrets during their six months apart. Andrew is lost, drowning in his grief, and reaches for a lifeline wherever he can find one.

At its core, this story is about Andrew’s overwhelming grief and devastating loss of his best friend. It quickly becomes evident that their feelings for each other went beyond friendship, but Andrew hasn’t allowed himself to dig deeper and examine the true nature of their relationship. Several summers ago, they became trapped in a cave and went missing for a couple days. They weren’t alone in the darkness – something else was with them. It was a pivotal moment that significantly impacted their lives, but you won’t realize exactly how until late in the story.

Filled with eerie moments, regrets, questions of what if, and a family curse, Summer Sons is a dark, slow burn, Southern gothic horror story. Hauntings aren’t limited to places. This is an author I’m keeping an eye on.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher through NetGalley.  Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

#BadMoonRising Demon’s Life (Demon’s Blood Universe #2) by Shari Sakurai #horror #LGBTQ #vampires

I’ve been a vampire fan since the first time I saw them in movies. Even when they were “out of style”, I still read vamp books. Today’s author is here with the second book in a series, and it features the two vampires I got to know and love in Never Change, the novella companion to this series. Welcome Shari Sakurai!

Was there a horror movie you refused to watch because the previews were too scary?

The human centipede. This wasn’t because it looked too scary though, it’s because it just looked horrible!

If you watch horror movies, are you the person who yells at the characters, covers your eyes, or falls asleep?

I’m definitely the person who is yelling ‘look behind you!’ or ‘watch out for…!’

Do you ever see figures in your peripheral vision?

I do sometimes and they never fail to make me jump!

If you decided to write a spinoff of a side character, who would you choose?

I would choose Akito Okada who is one of the antagonists of the series. He has some rare abilities as a vampire that in the series he chooses to use for his own selfish gains. I would like to explore his character and abilities in more depth in his own novel.

How do you celebrate when you finish writing a book?

I will buy myself a gift to say ‘well done’ and then start with the editing!

What are you working on now?

I have just finished working on the third novel in my Perfect World series. I plan on writing the fourth novel next and the fourth book in my Demon’s Blood series.

Out of respect for the relationship we once had I will spare your life. However, if you try to obstruct me again then I will kill you

Vampires are now an endangered species. Possessed by the demon Kurai, Kokawa Taku has sworn to eradicate all those whom he deems inferior.

Determined to free Taku from the demon’s corruption Thane seeks help from Taku’s sire, Takata Koji. Thane’s search for answers takes him to Hong Kong where he learns the devastating truth. That in order to save Taku, Thane may have to kill him.

Refusing to accept this, Thane makes a decision that places the fate of all vampires in the balance. However Thane is unaware of the betrayal around him and that his actions will either save Taku or destroy him.

Purchase Links

Amazon US

Amazon UK

Author Bio and Social Media

Shari Sakurai is a British author of paranormal, horror, science fiction and fantasy novels that almost always feature a LGBTQ protagonist and/or antagonist. She has always loved to write and it is her escape from the sometimes stressful modern life!

Aside from writing, Shari enjoys reading, watching movies, listening to (loud!) music, going to rock concerts and learning more about other societies and cultures. Japanese culture is of particular interest to her and she often incorporates Japanese themes and influences into her work.

Shari loves a challenge and has taken part and won the National Novel Writing Month challenge twelve times!

Websites: http://www.sharisakurai.com  / http://www.perfectworldseries.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/sharisakurai

Twitter: https://twitter.com/ShariSakurai

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/shari_sakurai

#BadMoonRising Ailuros by Matt Doyle #horror #LGBTQ #scifi

If you’ve been a regular at BMR over the years, you’re probably familiar with today’s author. Their featured book is classified as ergodic (a new word for me!), and the format is explained below. Oh – and they might have lived with a ghost cat in a previous house. No biggie. Welcome Matt Doyle!

Would you rather dunk for apples or carve a Jack o’ lantern?

Oh, pumpkin carving, definitely. It sounds odd, but I can’t swim, so apple dunking kinda freaks me out a little. Plus, I’ve been terrible at it the times I’ve done it. Pumpkin carving, I can do though. My brother is better at it, he does some really intricate designs. Like, he once did a Frank the Rabbit form Donnie Darko that was superb. Mine are a little more simple, but I still enjoy it.

If you watch horror movies, are you the person who yells at the characters, covers your eyes, or falls asleep?

I’m actually none of these. I do get frustrated with character choices if they’re poorly written, but never enough to actually shout at the screen. I’ve not fallen asleep in a horror film yet. I don’t cover my eyes, but I have been freaked out a few times. Like, the first time I watched A Tale of Two Sisters, for example. I was living with my parents at the time. There’s a scene with a girl under an oven, and my parent’s had a similar looking oven. I remember, after the film finished, my first thought was, ‘Now I have to walk past that oven.’ I literally ran to my room that night.

Do you ever see figures in your peripheral vision?

Yup, a few times. I’m convinced we used to have a ghost cat in my old house. I’d catch sight of it running under the table, and a couple of times, my old dog would chase it. It was spooky, but not really scary. When it comes to ghostly type stuff, I’m more likely to smell something than see it though.

If you could spend the day with another popular author, who would you choose?

The sadly departed Terry Pratchett would be one, as he was notoriously a really nice person, and always willing to give advice. His books had a massive impact on my childhood too, and continue to be favorites now. Failing that, if we’re looking at living authors, Mark Z. Danielewski. His House of Leaves was a big influence on how I view fiction, and what I’m trying to do with AILUROS. He has a great mind for storytelling and trying something new, so I think he’d be fascinating to chat to.

How would you describe your book’s ideal reader?

Hmm…that’s a tough one, because AILUROS is an odd book. I’d say the ideal reader is one who is willing to try something a little different. The layout is unusual. The paperback is split with one story on the right-hand pages told through prose and audio transcripts, and a second story on the left-hand pages told through notes on the first story. Meanwhile, the eBook is the same but with the notes set up as pop-up endnotes. The ideal reader for it needs to be willing to embrace that, I think. Outside that, enjoying a sci-fi setting, more than a dash of horror, and LGBTQ protagonists certainly helps too.

What are you working on now?

I’m not actually sure, believe it or not! At the time of writing, I’m mostly working through trying to build hype for AILUROS, so I haven’t started anything new. Once I start the next one though…I have a few things to choose from. I have a choose-your-own-adventures style book that I want to work on. There’s also another experimental one that I’m thinking about, but I’m still trying to finalize the story in my head. And then there are the Simon Tell rewrites, plus a D&D campaign for friends…there’s so much!

#Begin

In the <present//future>, Josh and Alex must face <a//their own> monster if they are to salvage <their relationship//Ailuros Unit 23>.

These are/are not separate stories.

The following report represents a summary of the incident involving the abandoned microgravity holiday destination, Ailuros Unit Twenty-Three, and the crew of the Salvagers Guild Three ship, The Orca. The report is comprised primarily of the official transcripts of both the aforementioned events onboard the unit and my interview with Guild Director, Sarah Walker. The final entry consists of my summarizing thoughts on the case.

As is often the case in investigations such as this, in the end, Ailuros itself is as much the key to understanding the events as the people involved are.

Circumstances, as well as personal choices, are important, after all.

Purchase Link

Amazon – Fractured Mirror Publishing

Author Bio and Social Media

Matt Doyle is a speculative fiction author from the UK and identifies as pansexual and genderfluid. Matt has spent a great deal of time chasing dreams, a habit which has led to success in a great number of fields. To date, this has included spending ten years as a professional wrestler, completing a range of cosplay projects, and publishing multiple works of fiction.

These days, Matt can be found working on multiple novels and stories, blogging about pop culture, and plotting and planning far too many projects.


Website
 – Twitter –  Facebook