Monday, November 30, 2015

Blueberry Boys by Vanessa North

Blueberry Boys by Vanessa North

Review by Lauren

source: book from Netgalley; all opinions are my own

Official Summary: Connor Graham is a city boy—a celebrated fashion photographer in New York. When his uncle’s death drags him back to the family blueberry farm, all he wants to do is sell it as quickly as he can. Until he meets his uncle’s tenant farmer.  
Jed Jones, shy and stammering, devout and dedicated, has always yearned for land of his own and a man to share it with. Kept in the closet by his church, family, and disastrous first love, he longs to be accepted for who he is. But now, with his farm and his future in Connor’s careless hands, he stands to lose even the little he has.
Neither man expects the connection between them. Jed sees Connor—appreciates his art and passion like no one else in this godforsaken town ever has. Connor hears Jed—looks past his stutter to listen to the man inside. The time they share is idyllic, but with the farm sale pending, even their sanctuary is a source of tension. As work, family, and their town’s old-fashioned attitudes pull them apart, they must find a way to reconcile commitments to their careers and to each other.
Review: Blueberry Boys is a quick, enjoyable read! Connor used to live in a small town but he was always desperate to escape. Everyone always knew he was gay and it wasn't something the town could really accept. So when he comes back years later, now a successful photographer, to help sell the farm his uncle used to own, he doesn't expect to find any happiness. Then he meets Jed Jones, who is a tenant farmer on his uncle's land.

I really loved both of these guys, separate and together. Connor had only his brother left in his family, but Scott is eleven years older and never seemed to understand Connor. Jed has a bigger family who he loves, but they don't know he's gay and he has a hard time reconciling his feelings and the fact that he feels like he's lying to everyone. It isn't until Jed meets Connor that he starts to understand that it's okay he kept his sexuality a secret, but that he should come out if he really wants too.

One thing I loved about these guys is that both of them have their insecurities that they help each other with. Connor used to be the chubby kid, so he still feels out of place sometimes in his own body. As for Jed, he's had a stutter his whole life and it gets worse when he's nervous. He's used to people talking for him or interrupting him when he can't finish a sentence. It's sweet how Connor learns to deal with this - waiting for Jed to speak, letting him text or write emails instead of talking over the phone or even in person. They accommodate each other and it's nice to see!

Blueberry Boys does have some mature moments but nothing that overshadows the overall story. I would definitely recommend!

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Sunday Post (5): Hospital Visits Galore

Sunday Post is hosted by Caffeinated Book Reviewer

I didn't have a Sunday Post last week, so I knew I had to get something posted for today, even though I'm writing this really close to when it will go live. It's been a bit of a hectic week. My dad had surgery this past Monday and due to some complications, he ended up back in the hospital Wednesday afternoon and he's still there waiting on news of whether he needs surgery again or something else to make him better! So yeah, lots of visiting the hospital between Thanksgiving and all that fun/crazy stuff!

I did get to see Victor Frankenstein Wednesday night with my sister and a friend and we all really loved it! It stars Dan Radcliffe as Igor and James McAvoy as Victor Frankenstein. Despite McAvoy being the title character, it really focuses on both men! It's a bit long, but well worth seeing when you can!

The week before I saw The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2 and it was also amazing. I think they did a really good job with it and I thought all the actors were brilliant. It's sad to know it's over though...

Last Two Weeks on Let's Get Beyond Tolerance (my other blog- LGBT+ themed):

American Girl Magazine Features Two Dads- Causes Upset

A Look at The Night Sister by Jennifer McMahon

Musical Choice: Chely Wright's "Shut Up and Drive"

LGBT News/Reviews: Recommend to Me!

WOW: My Year Zero by Rachel Gold

Etsy Pride (11): Christmas themed!

Coming Up This Week on ShootingStarsMag (subject to change!):

Two m/m book reviews
A Christmas book review + Make it a Gift
A graphic novel review

Ho-Ho-Ho Read-A-Thon Results:

Also hosted by the Caffeinated Book Reviewer (well, she co-hosted!) was the Christmas/Winter themed read-a-thon. Since I didn't do a Sunday Post last week, I didn't update you all on my results. I ended up reading two Christmas themed books. The third I had picked out just didn't appeal to me at the moment. However, I did read a Christmas book right before the read-a-thon began so that's not too bad either! It was fun to read some holiday themed novels. How did you do?

2016 Book Challenge Idea!

And finally, I was thinking of creating my own book challenge for next year but it's no fun if I'm the only one, so would you be interested in taking part?

The idea: Unique Format Challenge (or another cool title if you have any ideas!)

What you do is read books with different formats or cool extras, like a book in verse, or a book with illustrations, or a book with footnotes, or in diary/letter format, or even something like Illuminae with all its crazy ways of telling a story! I know these types of books are hit or miss for some, but I always find unique formatting to be at the very least an interesting experience!

So what do you think? Should I make this an actual 2016 Book Challenge? 

Saturday, November 28, 2015

Put Me in the Story's Santa's Bag Sweepstakes


Put Me In The Story, the #1 personalized books site in the U.S., has hundreds of personalized books and gifts for newborns, kids, and even grown-ups! With a diverse selection of personalized story books, activity books, adult coloring books, adorable plush and more, Put Me In The Story is a fantastic spot to find personalized gifts that become beloved keepsakes.

As a huge thank you to their customers, Put Me In The Story is hosting SANTA’S BAG SWEEPSTAKES, just in time for Christmas! Now through December 8, enter each day for a chance to win the grand prize in Santa’s bag of goodies.

Santa’s Bag Grand Prize Includes:

·         One $750 Visa Gift Card for your holiday shopping!
·         ‘Twas The Night Before Christmas (NEW personalized book)
·         Our Little Deer
·         Santa is Coming to My House

Enter once a day for a chance to win and receive a 30% off coupon code for entering here:

Open to US & Canada only. Must be 18 or older to enter. Sweepstakes ends 12/8/2015 at 11:59 pm CST. Winner will be contacted on or around 12/9/2015.


$29.99 personalized book

It’s the night before Christmas and Father Mouse is stirring in YOUR house to the sound of Santa Claus and eight tiny reindeer! Cozy up as Father Mouse shares his story of what happens next. You’ll get a peek at Santa and a glimpse of your gifts under the tree, too. With illustrations that began as original ink drawings, this new spin on a classic Christmas tale is sure to be a hit for the holidays!

Personalize ‘Twas The Night Before Christmas with a name, picture, and cheerful dedication message to welcome this Christmas season with a new holiday tradition for the entire family. 

$29.99 personalized book

Your little “deer” will always know how dear they are to your heart with this special personalized book!
Families will love snuggling up together to read this adorable, personalized book that shows your little one just how special they are. Cute, holiday illustrations and sweet messages of love will have everyone smiling in good cheer!

Show your little star how bright they shine with Sandra Magsamen’s Our Little Deer—personalized with your child’s name and photo, and a special dedication page with a message from you! Share a whole lot of love with your little “deer” this holiday season and all the way through the years ahead!

$29.99 personalized book

Mom’s Choice Gold Award Winner! Your child will light up with joy when they see their name woven into the story with Santa and his elves! Give the gift of a personalized storybook this year by turning your son or daughter into the star of this exciting new holiday classic that soars through Santa’s journey as he delivers presents.

Personalize the story with your child’s name and create a special dedication page with a photo and message from you.

Friday, November 27, 2015

Gift Guide 2015: Stocking Stuffers

I hope everyone that celebrates Thanksgiving had a lovely day yesterday. Today is what is known as Black Friday. So whether you are shopping online, in stores, or not shopping yet...I thought I would share a quick gift guide of some possible stocking stuffers! What I love about stocking stuffer type of gifts is that you don't always have to pay all that much. These are great for actual stockings, but you can also get these smaller items for colleagues, club members, neighbors, babysitters, etc.

Let me know if any of these items catch your eye (and hey! you can always buy something for yourself too. Tis the season and all, right?)

This Philosophy set is exclusive to Nordstrom, where you can buy it now for $20. It's the "Sending Holiday Wishes" Set and includes spiced gingerbread cookie shampoo, shower gel & bubble bath, sweet creamy frosting body lotion, and sugar sprinkles lip shine. This would make a cute little gift for someone. If you want to fit in in the stocking you might need to take everything out of the box. Not sure how big the box actually is - or if you have a giant stocking!

Know someone that is still obsessed with Frozen? How about these Frozen pencils (you get a set of four)? This set is $8 from the etsy shop Design Gem. She has a lot of other pencils too, in case you don't want Frozen quotes.

I just love this idea! It's Sriracha2Go in case you know someone that loves sriracha so much, they must have their own on hand! This is $5.99 and if you are in the U.S. and spend over $20, you get free shipping!

I just love this idea from The Dating Divas. You buy your husband or boyfriend a new wallet and then you print off these fun coupons and choose the ones you want to add to the wallet. "Good for one movie night", "good for one clothing item", etc. Choose what works for you and voila, a lovely gift!

This fun Tic Tac Toe travel game would be perfect for anyone that is traveling during the holidays, or gift it to a family with two kids. They could play with each other. SweetnSouthernCreati sells this on Etsy for $5!!

These Inspiration Dice are sold by Etsy Shop Inspiration Dice (easy to remember, eh?) You can buy a set for $12. Perfect for the writer in your family!

Know someone that deserves a bit of a break? How about gifting them Grandma's Chicken Noodle Soup Mix from Etsy shop Nancy's Fancy Creation. This mix is $5.50!

Holiday Lucky Lottery Ticket Scratchers (in your choice of Winter Wonderland or Red and Green- you can also choose to add a magnet or not). These scratchers would go great paired with some fun scratch-off lottery tickets for that hard to buy for person. Who knows? Maybe they'll win some extra cash! These scratchers sell for $3.50 from the Etsy Shop Clay Creations by Nat Marie.

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Men & Cats by Marie-Eva Gatuingt and Alice Chaygneaud

Men and Cats by Marie-Eva Gatuingt and Alice Chaygneaud

Review by Lauren

source: book sent for review; all opinions are my own

Official Summary: A brilliant collection of photographs that brings together two of the world's favorite things: hot men and cute kittens.

Based on the chic French Tumblr Des Hommes et des Chatons, Men & Cats presents an original collection of 50 pairs of sexy men and adorable cats. Each clever match-up shows a heartthrob posing alongside a cat in a similar pose or with a similar expression. Not sure if you want to look at sexy men or cute cats? With this book, you don't have to choose.

Review: Happy Thanksgiving to my fellow American readers! I figured no matter where you live, most of us can agree that men and cats are some adorable creatures. Now put them together, and we have something amazing! Gatuingt and Chaygneaud are two women from Paris, France who created the Tumblr Des Hommes et des Chatons and that is how this book was created. If you're looking for something intellectual, then this won't be for you - but if you want something fun and cute to look at, then you are in the right place!

Each spread of pages are set up the same, with a picture of a very good looking man on the left and adorable cat on the right, both of them with similar poses! Some of these pictures are really amusing when it comes to showing how similar the cats and men seem to be posing, while others have a little leeway. Regardless, these are some great photographs and it was fun flipping through this book. It's almost like a coffee table book, as it's just the photographs and no text, except it's in a much smaller size. Perfect for packing along to a girl's night or to gift to a friend!

The style of the book is nice because while the cover is in black and white, not all the pictures are! Plus, all the pages have a bit of a silky feel. I never know how to explain this, but it makes the book feel more meaningful and something you want to keep in good condition. Overall, I enjoyed this one! Know anyone getting married soon? This might be a fun gift beforehand!

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

You First: Journal Your Way to Your Best Life by Lea Michele

You First: Journal Your Way to Your Best Life by Lea Michele

Review by Lauren

Source: copy from BloggingForBooks; all opinions are my own

Official Summary: In Brunette Ambition, Lea Michele shared a lot of the secrets and stories behind her success, and how she manages to live a balanced and healthy lifestyle despite her hectic schedule. Now, in her second book, she will teach readers how they, too, can be their best selves. In Lea's opinion, keeping a journal and asking yourself the hard questions about what you want out of life is the best way to achieve your dreams, so she has outlined a series of exercises, prompts, and lists based on her own personal program. Lea's guided journal will address all the topics she wrote about in Brunette Ambition, including fitness, diet, work, school, and relationships, but with all-new material to help readers reach their goals. Peppered between the advice and exercises will be fun personal anecdotes from Lea to motivate and inspire readers to put themselves first and live their best life.

Review: I've been a fan of Lea since I started watching the show Glee. Nowadays I still think she is a fantastic woman and I'm excited for all the new things she does - from her solo album, to her book Brunette Ambition, and now her guided journal. I used to journal all the time when I was younger but now I just don't have the the energy for it. I like the idea of a journal though, so it's nice to see Lea's because it's guided throughout!

I have not used the actual journal in terms of writing, but I did go through and read everything in it. It's almost like a mini book from Lea because she opens up each section as well as shares tips and anecdotes between all of the journal sections. As for the actual journal, there are questions throughout the book that relates to particular topics (ambition, fitness, etc.) and your job is to go through and answer them. Some questions are related to little challenges Lea gives you, especially the ones about fitness and eating healthy. However, there are some questions that you are just meant to think about and keep note of your answers, like the relationship questions (friendship, romantic, and colleagues).

I appreciated that Lea mentions throughout that this journal is not only about you, but also for you. Don't be embarrassed or scared to share your true thoughts and opinions because you do not need to share this with anyone else. Another aspect of the book I really like is the actual style of the book. If you look at the cover photo above, you can see that the title and Lea's photo is not covering the entire page. On the actual book, this slips off so you are left with a pretty purple book that says You First, and that's it! With the size and shape of the book it now looks like a regular, yet really cute, journal! I like that it's a bit more private now without the slip cover and that readers are given the option to take it off so they can tote their journal around wherever they wish!

Thank you so much to BloggingForBooks for allowing me to read and review Lea's guided journal. This would be a fantastic graduation gift. I'd also recommend it for the holidays coming up as the New Year is fast approaching and that's always a nice time to look at your life and see what you want to change, add, or adjust!

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

A Look at Book Art: Nine Products to View

Last week I had a discussion post about whether or not you liked art fashioned from books. This was inspired by the book Found at the Library by Christie Snow. Today, I am going to share some book art I have found online that I think is pretty awesome!

Harry Potter coasters made from the book's pictures - you can buy these for $29.99

Folded Book Paper Tea Cup - you can buy this for $22.00

Book Lamp (Made from Books Red Clay Theme Upcycled from Vintage Books) - you can buy this for $150.00

Sherlock Holmes Book Bag  - you can buy this for $78.41

Paper Flower Wreath (Made from Recycled Book Pages) - you can buy this for $65.00

Alternative Christmas Tree Decoration Made from Books - you can buy this for $25.00

Personalized Name Cut from Vintage Comic Books - you can buy this for $39.60 +

Paper Flower Boutonniere (Made from Vintage Book Pages) - you can buy this for $15.00

Wicked Recycled Book Bracelet (the bracelet is made from the book Wicked; other books available too) - you can buy this for $29.00


Would you purchase any of the above items? Do you own any book art already? Please share your thoughts! 

Monday, November 23, 2015

All the Words are Yours: Haiku On Love by Tyler Knott Gregson

All the Words are Yours: Haiku on Love by Tyler Knott Gregson

Review by Lauren

Source: copy sent for review; all opinions are my own

Official Summary: Every day for the past six years, Tyler Knott Gregson has written a simple haiku about love, and posted it online. These heartfelt poems have attracted a large and loyal following around the world. This highly anticipated follow-up to Chasers of the Light, presents Tyler’s favorites, some previously unpublished, accompanied by his signature photographs, which capture the rich texture of daily life.

Review: I have always liked the art of the haiku, though I have to admit it's a style of poetry that can be difficult to write in if you want whatever you're saying to make sense. Therefore, I think it's amazing that Gregson writes a haiku every single day on the topic of love. This book is a collection of some of the best, with a photograph taken by Gregson accompanying about half of them.

You are filled with doubt
of the magic inside you,
but it's all I see. 

This book is something that can be read quite quickly, but like all poetry, it's nice to sit and reflect on what you have read. I have a few friends that love poetry and I could really see them enjoying this collection. I used to write a lot of poetry when I was younger, but it's never been something I felt I was especially good at. Reading this book makes you want to start writing though, making notes on the beauty in the world.
I Want to Be Loved
As Intensely As I Love,
With the Same Passion

As the holidays are fast approaching, I could see this being a good gift for your writer friends or maybe even someone who just got married or is engaged! It should fit most stockings too!

*Author's Note: The two haiku in this review are from the book!

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Subscription Review: The Bluegrass Box

The Bluegrass Box 

Review by Lauren

Source: the box was sent for review; all opinions are my own

Review: During Subscription Box September this is one service I wanted to feature but unfortunately, I wasn't able to during that month. However, The Bluegrass Box were super awesome and sent me October's box to review for you all! It had four items included in the box - except three of the items you could put together to make s'mores!

I opened up my box and found my goodies wrapped in bright blue paper with this cute sticker on it! I had to get a picture before it ripped when I opened it up. Everything was packaged nicely and nothing broke in transit, so that's a plus!

As you can see in the above photo, the box came with a little card that was signed by the person who packaged my box. It's a simple thing, but I really liked the personal touch!

In my box I received:

Grateful Grahams

Baxter's Coffee Pumpkin Spice Coffee

Crank and Boom Handmade Marshmallows

Cellar Door Chocolates Dark Chocolate Bar

In the box I was given a card for Baxter's and Cellar Door and on the back of the Marshmallows and Graham Crackers is information about those companies. I love this in case I decide I need more of their awesome products but it also lets me know where in Kentucky these companies reside. Apparently the Grateful Grahams are located not too far from me! Who knew?!

As for the actual products, I cannot complain one bit! My sister, my mom, and I all tried out the s'more goodies and these were seriously amazing. My mom doesn't do marshmallows so she skipped those but my sister and I had a full-fledged s'more and it was seriously the best s'more ever. All of these products together were just delicious! The graham crackers are not your store-bought variety, oh no! And that chocolate - melt in your mouth good. And finally, the marshmallows! I love that these are homemade. I only eat marshmallows with certain things, but these are well worth checking out! I'm getting hungry now...

Baxter's Coffee was shared by my dad and grandma. I don't drink coffee, but they really loved it. Every morning for a few days they would make themselves coffee, so two thumbs up from them. I love that it's a full bag too and not just a little sample. Well worth the money you'd spend to buy a box!

Another addition to the box is a card from the company listing all the items in the box and including a brief statement on that particular product. Very nice and useful to keep on hand once you're done with your products.

Overall, I really enjoyed this box. It's great for anyone who lives or used to live in Kentucky. I currently live in KY, but this would be nice to give to a friend of mine who is away for college or even share with someone who has never been to KY. Maybe it will entice them to come visit!

You can buy a one-time box for $35.95 or you can check out how to do a subscription!

Friday, November 20, 2015

Gift Guide 2015: Gifts Under $25

One of my absolute favorite things about the holidays is being able to give other people gifts. Maybe it sounds corny or something people just say, but I swear, I'm being completely honest. I tend to start early and try and find the perfect gift for all the people in my life! With the internet, things are made a lot easier...which can sometimes be a problem! I just want to keep buying and buying and gifting and gifting until I'm completely broke. At any rate, with my love of online shopping (for other people), I thought I would try and share a few gift guide type posts to help you all find some last-minute holiday gift ideas! Let me know if you plan on getting any of these - for someone you know or even yourself!

ModCloth is one of those online shops that has some absolutely adorable gift items, like this Alma Otter Tape Dispenser for $14.99. I would love this if I had my own personal desk. Otters are just adorable! Have a co-worker that might love this?!

I also really love these Year of the Critter Calendars for the cat and dog lovers in your lives! So so cute!

Year of the Critter 2016 Calendar in Kitties - $12.99

Year of the Critter 2016 Calendar in Corgis- $12.99

These would also make great co-worker or teacher gifts so they could have it on their desk all year long!

Now I'm off to explore Uncommon Goods - another shop that is full of fun and quirky items!
Ooma Bowl - $25

This bowl is fantastic! You can now easily separate your chips and dip, chips and salsa, and whatever else you want! Know anyone that likes to have friends over? This would be fun for a hangout!

Stoneware TV Dinner Trays - $24

Make eating at home in front of the TV a bit more classy. This would be great for anyone who just moved out or is in college! I would use a tray like this. It's so cute. Plus, it might be a good way to keep your portions in control!

Family Fun Bucket List- $18

I love this idea! Each stick has different things that you should do together as a family, and once you complete the task, you use the pencil included to write down the date on the back of the stick. It's a gift that can last forever! This would be great for any families in your life - as long as their kids are old enough to join in!


Alright, that's my Gift Guide Under $25! I know it's not a ton of items, but I'll have more guides coming soon. If you want any in particular, let me know!

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Shooting Thoughts: Do You Like Book Art?

Last month I read and reviewed a novel called Found at the Library by C. J. Munoz, and if you remember, I said I would have a couple posts next month that were inspired by that book. So here we are! In the novel, one of the main characters is named Tommy and he creates beautiful pieces of art by sculpting actual books. I think this is a great idea. I'm one of those people that love book inspired art - from the purses made of actual books to people shaping the books' pages to look like something or to spell out a word.

At the same time, I know that some people think of this and don't like the idea. In Found at the Library, Mac is such a person. He hates the idea of a person "ruining" a book to make something. He's an author, after all, so it makes sense that he wouldn't want someone to take his work and completely change it. I know there are other people out there that are really protective of their books' physical state. You won't see them lying the book so the spine will bend. They would never fold a corner to use as a bookmark. I'm not like this, but it's okay if you are! We all show our love for books in different ways.

What I wanted to discuss with you all today is what side of this issue are you on? Do you like book art or do you think it's wrong to "ruin" a book? Is it different if the book is old versus new?

Be considerate of others' opinions, but don't be afraid to share your thoughts! We can all think differently about this topic and still love books and the art of reading.

Since I am a fan of book art, my other post inspired by Found at the Library is to share some book art I've found online! Be on the look out for that post this month!

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Corrupt by Penelope Douglas Release Day Blitz

Hi all!

Alicia here, with a post about a book I'm very excited to read! Please, please note though, that this book is a dark erotica, so if you're under 18, this book is not for you! For the rest of you, I hope this interests you. Enjoy!

Title: Corrupt
Author: Penelope Douglas
Genre: Dark | Erotica | Contemporary Romance
Release Date: November 17, 2015
Organized by: As the Pages Turn


I was told that dreams were our heart’s desires. My nightmares, however, became my obsession.

His name is Michael Crist.

My boyfriend’s older brother is like that scary movie that you peek through your hand to watch. He is handsome, strong, and completely terrifying. The star of his college’s basketball team and now gone pro, he’s more concerned with the dirt on his shoe than me.

But I noticed him.

I saw him. I heard him. The things that he did, and the deeds that he hid…For years, I bit my nails, unable to look away.

Now, I’ve graduated high school and moved on to college, but I haven’t stopped watching Michael. He’s bad, and the dirt I’ve seen isn’t content to stay in my head anymore.

Because he’s finally noticed me.


Her name is Erika Fane, but everyone calls her Rika.

My brother’s girlfriend grew up hanging around my house and is always at our dinner table. She looks down when I enter a room and stills when I am close. I can always feel the fear rolling off of her, and while I haven’t had her body, I know that I have her mind. That’s all I really want anyway.

Until my brother leaves for the military, and I find Rika alone at college.

In my city.


The opportunity is too good to be true as well as the timing. Because you see, three years ago she put a few of my high school friends in prison, and now they’re out.

We’ve waited. We’ve been patient. And now every last one of her nightmares will come true.

• • • Corrupt ~ Excerpt • • •

I turned and stalked off, taking a left down the hallway toward the elevator. The doors opened as soon as I pushed the button, and I stepped inside, trying to calm my racing heart.

They still intimidated me.

And excited me. And challenged me. And knotted me up.

I’d kind of wanted to go to a party but not with them.

The doors started closing, but just then a hand shot into the elevator, and I jumped, seeing the doors re-open. I sucked in a breath, staring wide-eyed as Michael reached in, grabbed my shirt by the collar with one hand, and pulled me out.

“Michael!” I shouted.

I stumbled into him, and before I knew what was happening, he grabbed my wrists and locked them behind my back, walking into me and forcing me backward, back down the hall toward the kitchen.

“Let me go!” I demanded, my lips brushing the tip of his chin.

“I don’t know, guys,” he teased over my head, “she still seems pretty fucking easy to push around. What do you think?”

Laughter greeted me as he forced me back into the living area.

Every muscle in my body was on fire, and the tips of my toes kept getting caught under his sneakers.

I twisted my body, trying to break his hold. “What the hell are you doing?”

I pushed against his chest and jerked my body to the left, tearing out of his hold with every muscle I could muster.

I stumbled, losing my balance, and fell backward, crashing to the floor. Pain shot through my ass, running down my legs as the fall knocked the wind out me.


Shooting my hands behind me, I pushed myself up and bent my knees, looking up at him as he advanced.

He stalked over and then stopped, towering over me. I immediately moved my hands and feet, crawling backward, away from him.

But then I felt something at my back, and I halted. I twisted my head, seeing a dark pant leg, and I didn’t know if it was Damon, Will, or Kai, but it didn’t matter. I was closed in.

Oh, no. I slowly raised my eyes, seeing Michael’s lips tilt in a devious smile. I stopped breathing, seeing him lower his body to the floor, planting his knees between my bent legs, and his hands at my sides.

My neck arched back as his face hovered over mine, but I tried to keep myself up as much as possible, no matter how close his body got.

“I thought you were one of us,” his whispered, his breath caressing my lips. “I thought you could play.”

I stilled, staring into his eyes.

You’re one of us now. Will had said that to me on that night so long ago.

Michael’s amber eyes searched mine and then dropped to my mouth, his breathing growing heavy as he stared at me like he was about to take a bite.

I wanted to cry. What the hell was going on?

Three years ago was nearly the happiest night of my life, and it quickly became the worst. And ever since then, Michael not only acted as if I didn’t exist, but also, at times, as if he wished I didn’t.

Now the guys were free, and they were all back together again. What did I have to do with any of this? What did he want with me?

“I don’t know this game,” I told him, barely audible.

He stared into my eyes, thinning his own as if studying me. “All you need to know,” he finally answered, “is that you can’t tap out.” 

. . . Purchase Links. . .

• • • About Penelope Douglas • • •

Penelope Douglas is the New York Times, USA Today, and Wall Street Journal bestselling author of the Fall Away series.

She dresses for autumn year round, loves anything lemon flavored, and believes there is too much blood in her Coca Cola stream. Or too much Coca Cola in her blood stream. Or…

You know what? It doesn’t matter. She loves Coke. Now you know.

She lives in Las Vegas with her husband and daughter.

• • • Enter the Giveaway • • •

The following goodies are up for grabs!

  • (3) Signed copy of Corrupt (Intl)
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Real World by Amy Jo Cousins

Real World by Amy Jo Cousins

Review by Lauren

Source: copy from Netgalley; all opinions are my own

Official Summary: Five years ago, Tom Worthington busted his ass to overcome the fear and paranoia that led him to withdraw from the world and nearly lose his boyfriend. He never thought he’d find himself right back there, shutting Reese out, keeping secrets again.Reese Anders is ready to try anything to get Tom to talk: if he can’t seduce his boyfriend with food, he’ll get Tom to open up in bed. But even Tom’s confession that his dad is getting out of prison soon doesn’t clear the air between them. And as the holidays approach, intensive mentoring from a new British boss creates more distractions, until Reese is keeping secrets of his own.At a company Christmas party, it only takes Tom one look at Reese’s new boss to figure out how much danger their relationship is in. But he’s not about to let the connection that started all those years ago at Carlisle come to an end. It’s time to deal with their problems like adults. Face to face. Or back to front. Starting in the bedroom.

Review: This is the fifth book in the Bend or Break series. I have not read all of them, but I do think it would be nice to read them in order. This lets you get to know all the various characters and how they met. At the same time, you can always read certain ones and still get the overall story, like I did. Tom and Reese's story begins in Bend or Break 1: Off Campus. I did not read this, but I got an idea of their story in Bend or Break 2: Nothing Like Paris. Regardless of not reading Off Campus, I still really enjoyed Real World.

Tom finds it difficult being open and vulnerable about his feelings and fears, even with his long time boyfriend, Reese. This is something that Reese understands about him but he finds it difficult not to get upset when he knows Tom is shutting him out. Tom's dad is in jail for a ponzi scheme and he might be getting out soon and he expects Tom to be there for him. This is the root of Tom's worries and when Reese finds out, he does what he can to be there for Tom.

Real World does have a lot of mature moments as sex is something that Reese uses to connect with Tom when he won't talk to him. Sometimes it even gets them talking. It works for them, but they both worry that their relationship might not survive. They can feel themselves floating away from each other. Tom gets lost in school and work and the worries about his father. Reese gets a great opportunity at his job and soon finds himself obsessed with the job, and a little attracted to his new boss.

I did enjoy this one a lot. I loved that Tom and Reese had a great group of friends around them. It's nice to see books that depict well-done friendships. Despite not reading all the Bend or Break novels, I have really enjoyed the ones I have had the chance to check out. This is definitely an author I will keep reading. She does relationships well- the good, the bad, the romantic. It's all there.

Monday, November 16, 2015

Jefferson Blythe, Esquire by Josh Lanyon

Jefferson Blythe, Esquire by Josh Lanyon

Review by Lauren

Source: copy from Netgalley; all opinions are my own

Official Summary: Fresh out of college and recently dumped by his long-time girlfriend, shy and bookish Jefferson Blythe is touring Europe using an inherited vintage copy of Esquire Magazine's Europe in Style.

Jefferson Blythe, Esquire is about old maps, new adventures, getting lost, getting found, getting drunk, and being mistaken for an international criminal. In other words, normal summer vacation when you're in your twenties.

Review: Jefferson Blythe, Esquire is in the realm of possible but all that happens to Jefferson on his trip to Europe is not likely to occur. However, that's half the fun! Using a vintage copy of Esquire Magazine's Europe in Style that his grandpa used around his age, Jefferson takes off to Europe to enjoy London, Paris, and Italy. As soon as he lands in London, something is off. A girl in the airport is insistent that she knows Jefferson and that he owes her something. Jefferson tries to tell himself it's just a mistake, but the girl keeps showing up and soon, Jefferson knows his life is in danger.

Throughout all of this, Jefferson meets up with an old friend named George who now lives in London. George is out and very much okay with his sexuality, but Jefferson wasn't nice to him years ago about it, afraid of his own feelings toward men, so their relationship is a bit strained throughout the book. Eventually more and more feelings and thoughts are shared and the two realize that they both like each other very much, but can they make a relationship work? It's also not the best time to be thinking of commitment when people keep trying to kidnap and shoot Jefferson.

When it comes to the mistaken for a criminal aspect of the book, I thought it was really entertaining. It makes you want to flip through the pages quicker to find out what he heck is going on and if Jefferson will stay safe. Again, it's not something that will happen in everyday life to a normal, average American twenty-something, but it's exciting and interesting nonetheless to read about! I could almost see this one as a film.

As for Jefferson and George, there is a lot of past hurt and questions between the two. You'll surely root for them and want them to work things out, but at the same time, you know why it might not. Lanyon did this very well and I love that the physical moments were sweet and passionate without being overly explicit.

Every time I read a book by Josh Lanyon, I know I need to read even more, so definitely check him out! This book made me want to travel all over Europe - minus criminals chasing me!

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Sunday Post (4): Read-A-Thon Fun!

                              Sunday Post is hosted by Caffeinated Book Reviewer 

Where I'm at, it's actually still Saturday but I wanted to get this posted as soon as possible since my last post was on Thursday. I'm still trying to blog ahead and fill up the rest of November as well as get into December as much as I can. I feel like it's going well, so I'm excited about that!

I'm doing well on the Ho-Ho-Ho Read-A-Thon. I finished my first book early on Friday (Mistletoe Murder) and I'm well into the second book (The Stupidest Angel). My goal is three, so if things continue to go well then I'll definitely meet that goal!

created by Gary Taxali
Most important of all, I want to say that my thoughts and prayers are with those in Paris, France today! If you live in France or know anyone that does, I hope they are all safe and well.

Last Week on Let's Get Beyond Tolerance

This is my LGBT news and entertainment blog - 

Make it a Gift: More Happy Than Not by Adam Silvera

Waiting on Wednesday: If I Was Your Girl by Meredith Russo

Etsy Pride: Memory Locket + Coffee Cozy

Thanks to everyone that already follows along and leaves your thoughts and feedback!

This Week on Shooting Stars Mag

Two m/m book reviews and a fun discussion post later in the week! There will be more posts too, but I don't want to give everything away. Plus, things can always change!

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Could Be a Crowd by C. J. Munoz

Could Be a Crowd by C.J. Munoz

Review by Lauren

Source: copy from netgalley; all opinions are my own

Official Summary: Nicolas has worked with Pierce almost his whole life, and they've come far together, currently Co-CEOs of one of the largest companies in the United States. As they keep on heading toward bigger and better dreams, only one fear casts a shadow over Nicolas: Pierce falling in love. 

Nicolas tells himself it's for the company, for their shared goals and dreams. He can't let Pierce get sidetracked, so he does his best to make sure it never happens—including keeping all the cute interns well away. Then Lynn shows up, attractive, eager, practically perfect. 

But it's not Pierce that Nicolas should be worrying about this time.

Review: First off, I should mention that this is a poly relationship - which means it includes three people. If that is something that immediately turns you off, then you're better to skip this one. If you're like me, and it doesn't bother you, then keep reading!

Nicolas and Peirce have been working together for about seven years now and they are currently Co-CEOs of a huge business that deals in various robotics, like a robot maid. They are successful and seemingly happy, except both mean are looking for love. Pierce is looking in all the wrong places and Nicolas is mostly in denial about how much he wants Pierce. He tells himself he keeps Pierce away from all the new male interns because when Pierces falls for someone, his work goes down. This may be true, but it also makes Nicolas feel better when Pierce isn't fawning over some cute, young guy.

A lot changes when Lynn becomes a new intern (Lynn is a guy, by the way). Nicolas makes him his personal intern to keep him away from Pierce, but of course, this doesn't last long. Pierce is soon very much interested in Lynn and Nicolas tries everything he can to keep Lynn from being too interested back. My one complaint about this book is probably how Pierce talks to Lynn as an intern -he's blatantly flirting, and if Lynn weren't interested, it could be construed as sexual harassment.

I knew going into this book that there would be a poly relationship so it's not difficult to see that eventually, the three guys will all start seeing each other. There are a few sexual moments, but that wasn't the main focus of the book. It was about finding the people that are right for you, and the people that you fall for and how that sometimes comes in the form of more than one person. I thought the author handled the topic really well and I appreciated Nicolas' reservations because they felt real.

Could Be a Crowd is listed as a novella, so it isn't terribly long (about 40,000 words is what it says) and I would have loved to read more about these three men and their burgeoning relationship. At the same time, it felt like a full story so you aren't left with a ton of questions beyond how this will all work as they continue on. Perhaps the author will decide to return to their story in the future!

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Rebound Remedy by Christine D'Abo

Rebound Remedy by Christine D'Abo

Review by Lauren

Source: copy from Netgalley; all opinions are my own

Official Summary: The last thing Cole expects to get for the holidays is dumped. But there he is, in the airport on his way to Banff for a romantic getaway, helplessly watching as his boyfriend’s ex declares undying love, proposes—and is accepted. With a few weeks to go until Christmas, Cole’s mood dives from jolly to jaded. But instead of sitting at home alone and feeling sorry for himself, he goes to his favorite bar, McGregor’s, for a pint and some company.
The moment Owen McGregor sets eyes on Cole, he knows there’s something wrong. So he takes it upon himself to ensure that Cole has a happy holiday: twelve outings for the twelve days before Christmas. Even if he can’t quite think up twelve activities that don’t involve getting the forlorn hunk into his bed.
With each outing they take together, Cole realizes that the love he thought he’d shared with his ex was less than perfect. And that Owen might prove to be more than just his rebound remedy.
Review: The official summary for this one states that Owen wants to take Cole out on 12 dates leading up to Christmas. However, this isn't quite the case. Yes, Owen uses "non-dates" where they go out and do different things in order to help Cole take his mind off his breakup, but there aren't that many described. I would have liked more details about some of the dates but honestly, the two men don't really go out that often in the book. Despite that, I still enjoyed this one!

There is definitely a physical connection between these two and it doesn't take long before they are giving in to it. You worry about Cole and how he might end up with a broken heart (again), but at the same time, you know that Owen is a good guy. There is a lot of physical details so if you're wary about that, I'd suggest skipping this one. It's written well and it goes along with the story nicely, but I do wish there was a bit more substance, if you will, to the overall plot.

Regardless, there are some other aspects of the story that were interesting. You do have Cole and and his ex-boyfriend. You also have Owen and his family. Owen is running his dad's bar now that his dad is unable to, but there is some disagreements and anger there that is shown throughout the book. I wish some of this was resolved a bit more, but it's not too bad. It felt realistic.

This is a nice book for the holiday season as that's the time it takes place - so if you want a steamy, passionate romance that may or may not be more than a rebound, check this one out!