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And the next Thing You Know… by Chase Taylor Hackett

And the next Thing You Know . . . (Why You?, #2)And the next Thing You Know . . . by Chase Taylor Hackett

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

It took about halfway through this book for me to really get excited about the characters and story. Both MCs started off obnoxious and not too likable for me. Over the course of the book, they did grow on me, however.

Jeffrey is all about appearances and keeping up with a status that he’s convinced himself he should maintain. It doesn’t help that he feels pressure from his father to live his life a certain way. He’s thrown his hat in the race to make partner at his law firm and focuses on that ambition throughout most of the story.

Theo is flighty and carefree, not giving two shits what other people think about his duct taped shoes and lack of permanent residence. He’s a theater geek and aspiring song writer. He surrounds himself with other theater types and is dating Madison, a member of his group. This pairing immediately comes off as wrong. Theo and Madison don’t fit together, and Madison doesn’t act like he’s in a relationship with Theo, in my opinion. Theo just insinuate himself is Madison’s life. In fact, Theo seems to insinuate himself in situations everywhere he goes. He’s also very self-assured of his musical talent, so much so that he comes off as annoyingly self-centered. To give you an idea of Theo’s physical appearance and personality, Jeffery sufficiently describes him as “somebody who could easily be mistaken for a Chucky doll.”

Jeffery and Theo start off on the wrong foot from the get-go. They fight like feral cats with moments of cease fire that were amusing and confusing at times. As they continue to get to know each other in their uniquely weird way, Jeffery begins to realize his feelings for Theo. Theo comes across as oblivious to his developing feelings. In the end, they both accept their feelings for each other and their coming together is sweet.

There are lots of moments that are supposed to be humorous but fall short for me. One line that actually got an out loud laugh from me: “He and Fat Madison were probably somewhere watching The Sound of Music and jacking each other off.”

Jeffery’s attempts at wooing Theo are cute and sweet, and Theo’s reactions to them are over-the-top in a way that only Theo can be. It’s sort of a relief once they get out of the way of their feelings for each other that they are trying to so hard to fight.

**Copy provided by publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest and impartial review.**

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Fire Song by Adam Garnet Jones

Fire SongFire Song by Adam Garnet Jones

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

CW: suicide, sexual assault/abuse

Before I get into the meat of the review, there are a couple of things I’d like to mention. First, this book is based on a movie of the same name. Secondly, it is written in present tense, which was a little awkward for me and took me several chapters to become accustomed to this style of writing.

This was difficult read. Difficult in that this story tackles some pretty heavy issues (suicide, sexual assault, poverty, drugs). The author does an excellent job of telling this story and conveying emotions.

Fire Song is set on a reserve of indigenous Canadians and is told mainly from the perspective of Shane. At the start of the book, Shane is coping with the suicide of his younger sister and the effects of her tragic death on the community. Throughout the book, Shane shoulders several responsibilities while juggling his own grief. His mother isn’t coping well with her daughter’s suicide and is shutting out the support offered by the community’s elder, the trailer in which Shane and his mother live is falling apart, his girlfriend is looking for a more physical relationship, he is struggling to find a way to fund his college education, and his secret boyfriend is resistant to revealing their relationship due to the community’s vehement disapproval of homosexuality.

So yeah, heavy.

At times, I felt overwhelmed with Shane’s frustration and despair. He tries to do the best with what he’s been dealt and the oppressiveness of the lack of opportunities afforded him due to his heritage. He doesn’t always make the best decisions, but one never knows how one would react until put in a situation.

I appreciated learning about the Anishinaabe community and culture. The language, customs, and traditions were woven seamlessly in the telling of Shane’s story. The author tells of Shane’s struggles in a manner relatable across cultures, and the imagery is so detailed that I easily felt like I was looking through Shane’s eyes.

I thoroughly enjoyed this novel. It left me raw, but in a good way. Not any author can invoke such a visceral reaction from me.

**Copy provided by publisher for an honest and impartial review.**

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HeartOn (Full Hearts, #2) by Amy Jo Cousins

HeartOn (Full Hearts, #2)HeartOn by Amy Jo Cousins

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I give this 3.5 out of 5 stars.

I think I’m burnt out on football player romances. As someone who is not a sports fan, I suppose that’s not too surprising. I’ve seen lots of 4 and 5 star ratings for HeartOn, and I get how those readers took such a liking to Deion and Carlos. However, I felt like there wasn’t enough insight into each of their struggles with coming out as bi to their families. I wanted to know how each dealt with coming out and the reactions from their families. And, specifically for Deion, was there any backlash from sports fans or former teammates? The whole premise of the story revolves around the fears Carlos and Deion have about everyone else’s acceptance of their relationship and sexuality. But once they resolved to commit to each other, it was like that issue became insignificant. I needed more angst to invoke some feelings.

I did appreciate the frank discussion Deion and Carlos had about the realistic and not so flattering aspects of gay sex. No other book I’ve ever read has addressed this topic in such a sensible and practical manner. Kudos to the author for getting real.

Prior to reading HeartOn, I was not aware of the previous book in this series that features Benji and Josh. I really liked Benji (I’m partial to flamboyant characters) and have added my TBR list. Oh, and Owen gets his own story, which is awesome because the tidbits of his character in HeartOn snagged my interest.

In short, while I didn’t dislike HeartOn, I found it to be slightly lacking in the drama but enjoyed the development of Carlos and Deion’s relationship.

***ARC provided by author for unbiased review.***

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Anticipated Reads for 2018

I’ve compiled a list of books I am excited to read this year. The information provided on titles and release dates have been taken from the authors’ social media pages, websites, and/or Amazon. Any incorrect info is all on me. Feel free to correct me with more updated info. I will try to update myself as more information becomes available.

1. Scratch Track (Escaping Indigo #3) by Eli Lang

· Release Date: January 29, 2018

One of my favorite themes in books is rock stars. As a former radio DJ and avid concert-goer, I am always looking for that music angle in romance novels. Eli has personal experience as a musician and the authenticity of the characters and music industry comes through in each of her books in this series. Scratch Track features Escaping Indigo’s roadie, Quinn, and his journey to finding love.

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Cam Boy (Murmur Inc. #3) by Quinn Anderson

Cam Boy (Murmur Inc. #3)Cam Boy by Quinn Anderson

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Murmur Inc. Book 3 sees the return of minor character Joshua from Book 2. He was so bratty and annoying in Action, but he redeems himself in Cam Boy. Josh thinks he’ll get an easy paying gig by venturing into porn, not realizing that industry isn’t all fun and games. He meets and falls for his first scene partner, Mike. Mike tries to keep a professional distance and attitude with Josh, but he gets the feels too.

Cam Boy further delves into the behind-the-scenes, day-to-day operations of the porn industry, continuing with the theme of the Murmur Inc. series, in such a way that humanizes the people who work in that field and sheds light on the not so glamorous side. It’s easy to view porn models as objects designed for the viewer’s pleasure, and not people with actual feelings and lives outside of the manufactured sex. Quinn creates multidimensional characters that are relatable, not necessarily regarding working in porn, but in the daily struggles everyone goes through in their professional and personal lives.

I appreciate stories that address sensitive topics in a way that doesn’t marginalize or depreciate the issue or people affected. Quinn treats such a topic with a sensitivity that conveys harsh reality, and yet at the same time with enough lightness as to not overwhelm and detract from the love story.

Josh’s goofiness and lack of filter pairs nicely with Mike’s serious, focused personality. I enjoyed the puns (who doesn’t appreciate puns?) and the development of the connection between Josh and Mike. This one will definitely be a re-read for me.

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Noah Can’t Even by Simon James Green

Noah Can't EvenNoah Can’t Even by Simon James Green

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I can’t even express in words how much I loved this book. 😉

Noah is such a great character. He reminds me so much of Tobias Funke from Arrested Development, so completely clueless and gullible. He’s also adorable and lovable. Just when I thought things couldn’t get more ridiculous, I turned the page to be smacked with another level of awesomeness. Noah’s turmoil feels authentic, and I can imagine someone his age and in a similar situation regarding sexuality going through the same thought process.

If you’re looking for a fun read that addresses a serious issue in a tongue-in-cheek, humorous way, this is the book for you.

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