Thursday, December 31, 2015

Happy New Year + 2016 Book Challenges

Happy New Year! I can't believe that 2016 starts tomorrow. I'm excited for a new year though. 2015 was nice - I got to attend BEA with my sister in NYC and during that trip, I celebrated my 25th birthday and visited with a friend I hadn't seen in forever. I also got my master's from graduate school. I'm ready for 2016 though because I'll be going to London in September (I've never left the U.S., so it should be interesting) and I'm no longer in school so hopefully that will bring some new job opportunities my way. I also want to read as many books as possible, go to fun author events when I can, and generally grow the blog as much as possible!

I hope you all have a fantastic 2016 and be safe tonight if you're going to be out!

Now, here are the 2016 Book Challenges I have decided to take part in: 


Goodreads Book Challenge (add me!): Confession - I have never done the Goodreads challenge. I'm actually not that great at keeping track of what I read over there, but I have tried to do a bit better recently and I think it would be great to have an exact number of books read for the year at the end of it all! My starting goal is going to be 100 books!


Unique Formatting Book Challenge (check it out here): This is the challenge I am personally hosting, where you read books with unique formats or fun extras included (like illustrations or photos). If the link to sign  up is closed, that's fine. You can join in whenever you want throughout the year! If you make a post about this challenge, please let me know! I made one post with some ideas of books you could read - I have at least one other post coming up in the next week or so with even MORE ideas for MG, YA, and Adult! 


Book Blog Discussion Challenge (sign up here) hosted by Nicole at Feed Your Fiction Addiction and Shannon at It Starts at Midnight! I did this challenge last year, but not very well. I had a lot of different discussion ideas I wanted to talk about related to books and book blogging, but for whatever reason, time would pass me by and I never posted them. This year, I am hoping to do a lot better!

My goal is to be a Creative Conversationalist which means I will make 13-24 discussion posts throughout 2016!! That's either close to one a month, or two discussions a month. I think I can do it!


Non-Fiction Reading Challenge (sign up here): This challenge is hosted by Angie from Lady Knight Reads. There aren't a ton of participants for this one, so think about joining in. I actually read a lot of non-fiction in 2015 so I think it will be fun to keep track of all that I read in 2016, especially since I didn't review all the non-fic I read this past year!

There are no set numbers, so just sign up and feel free to read what you can/want!



2016 Series Starter Challenge (sign up here): Lisa from Lisa Loves Literature has created her own challenge for 2016 as well, and I decided to join in. I started reading more series in 2015 that I had never gotten around too, so I love this idea of a challenge where you START a new series. At least two books must be out for the series (or the second comes out in 2016) but that's the main rule. You can read older series or newer ones. You can read the first book and decide the series won't be for you, or you can continue on! There are a lot of series I want to read - and many that I own the first copy of, so I hope this will be good motivation to read as many as I can!



Lisa made these really cool badges based on NASA space missions to note what level you are going for during the challenge. I'm going to start at Gemini: 3-4 new series, but I do hope to get past Gemini as the year goes on! I want to start somewhere manageable though!






Rock My TBR (sign up here): This challenge is hosted by Sarah at The YA Book Traveler. I have so many books I've bought or was gifted and just never got around to reading. I want too, but I find that review books often get in the way. I decided to sign up for Rock My TBR because it sounds pretty laid back and it's good motivation to reading my own books. The main goal is to try and read at least one book every month from your TBR. I think I can manage that one!



Commenting 365 Challenge (sign up here): Nori from ReadWriteLove has created this fun 2016 challenge where the goal is to comment on 365 different blogs throughout 2016. You don't have to comment on a blog every day of the year, but whenever you have time, work on finding/visiting new blogs and leaving some bloggy love. I always comment back on your blog if you comment on mine, but at the same time, I like branching out and finding other bloggers. Nori is going to make a Master List of blogs you can use to comment on or you can make your own list! I think I'll start out with Nori's - helps me find new blogs!

Whew - so that's it! There are tons of amazing challenges out there for 2016 but I have NEVER done this many even, so it should be crazy just handling these. At the same time, I found challenges that allow me to read what I like, read what I want to read, and hopefully find new blogs to follow and discuss with!

What challenges are you taking part in? Did you or will you sign up for any of the ones I featured here?

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

M/M Book Reviews: Loving Luke + Puppet Boy


Loving Luke by RJ Astruc

Review by Lauren

source: copy from Netgalley; all opinions are my own

Official Summary: Peter Fritz has developed a morbid streak during the school break, and Anthony Parker and his best friend Rafe wonder why. They soon learn Peter met a boy named Luke on the Internet, and Peter and Luke had an online relationship before Luke died of AIDS. Parker and Rafe turn to the Internet to learn more about Luke. There, they find many more questions than answers about their friend’s online relationship—and Luke himself.

Review: Okay, maybe I should research titles more often but I do think publishers and authors on Netgalley should put more details into their book summaries. Apparently Loving Luke is a novella that takes place after a completely different book. Regardless, it wasn't that difficult to follow the story or characters. I just wish I had known. Since Loving Luke is a novella, I felt it went a bit too fast to really invest in the characters. Also, the story seemed a bit over-the-top in some ways. Peter is upset because his boyfriend died from AIDS- that's the over-the-top part because it just seems like Peter should have realized something was up when he hears this about his completely online boyfriend. Of course, Anthony - someone who knows Peter from school - begins to realize something is weird about this Luke and enlists his own best friend Rafe to help uncover the truth. Not a bad novella, but might be better if read after a full length story with these characters and not as an introduction.



Puppet Boy by Christian Baines

Review by Lauren

source: copy from Netgalley; all opinions are my own

Official Summary: A school in turmoil over its senior play, a sly career as a teenage gigolo, an unpredictable girlfriend with damage of her own, and a dangerous housebreaker tied up downstairs. Any of these would make a great plot for budding filmmaker Eric’s first movie.

Unfortunately, they’re his real life.

When Julien, a handsome wannabe actor, transfers to Eric’s class, he’s a distraction, a rival, and one complication too many. Yet Eric can’t stop thinking about him. Helped by Eric’s girlfriend, Mary, they embark on a project that dangerously crosses the line between filmmaking and reality. As the boys become close, Eric soon wants to cross other lines entirely. Does Julien feel the same way, or is Eric being used on the gleefully twisted path to fame?


Review: Based on the summary, I figured this would be a bit of a wild ride. Boy, I was not wrong. It was kind of crazy and intense - and not always in a good way. I honestly can't say too much without completely ruining various twists and surprises in the book. If you're curious about this one, I don't want to be the spoiler who ruins it for you. However, I will say that this was not my most favorite book. I probably would have DNFed except I was fascinated enough by all the craziness to want to know what was happening.

The characters are interesting - if not all that likeable all the time - and the writing was done well. I was really shocked by a big twist near the end, except it made me question certain parts of the story. I would like to have had those moments explained further with the truth in the foreground, but alas, I did not get all my questions answered.

Overall, I'd be curious to see what else the author writes, but I won't be recommending this one!

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

First Touch by Laurelin Paige Release Blitz

Alicia here, with an adult (definitely adult) book I can't wait to read. Happy release day, Laurelin!

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REEVE IS HERE! 
Meet Reeve and Emily in First Touch by Laurelin Paige! This highly anticipated release is NOW LIVE! 

Barnes & Noble: http://bit.ly/1QcYftH
Google Play: http://bit.ly/1lWuKkT


Blurb
When Emily Wayborn goes home to visit her mom while on hiatus from her hit TV show, she receives a voicemail from her former best friend, Amber. Though the two were once notorious party girls, they haven't spoken in years. Although the message might sound benign to anyone else, Amber uses a safe word that Emily recognizes, a word they always used to get out of sticky situations during their wild days. And what's more chilling than the voicemail: it turns out that Amber has gone missing.
Determined to track down her friend, Emily follows a chain of clues that lead her to the enigmatic billionaire Reeve Sallis, a hotelier known for his shady dealings and play boy reputation. Now, in order to find Amber, Emily must seduce Reeve to learn his secrets and discover the whereabouts of her friend. But as she finds herself more entangled with him, she finds she's drawn to Reeve for more than just his connection to Amber, despite her growing fear that he may be the enemy. When she's forced to choose where her loyalty lies, how will she decide between saving Amber and saving her heart?






About the Author:




Laurelin Paige is the NY Times, Wall Street Journal, and USA Today Bestselling Author of the Fixed Trilogy. She's a sucker for a good romance and gets giddy anytime there's kissing, much to the embarrassment of her three daughters. Her husband doesn't seem to complain, however. When she isn't reading or writing sexy stories, she's probably singing, watching Game of Thrones and the Walking Dead, or dreaming of Michael Fassbender. She's also a proud member of Mensa International though she doesn't do anything with the organization except use it as material for her bio.


Monday, December 28, 2015

12 Days + Great Holiday Blog Swap Reveals


Chaotic Goddess Swaps once again held their 12 Days of Christmas Swap where you send someone 12 gifts and they send you 12. Then you open one gift each day leading up to Christmas. It's a lot of fun!

My partner was Rachel from Go Read a Book. I find it's usually always fun to swap with a book blogger and this time was no exception! My first two gifts were e-books (Rachel and I had swapped Q and A's to let each other know what we liked and what we would love to receive, so it made shopping a little easier!) I got My Life as a White Trash Zombie by Diana Rowland and The Art of Asking: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Let People Help by Amanda Palmer.

Here are the rest of my goodies-


The envelopes in the top right hand corner were included in the box because each envelope was numbered and each gift was numbered, so you open the gift then read Rachel's reasoning for including the gift. I did this for her gifts too - and I think it's a fun idea! I didn't take a close - up for this one, so I want to point out the Kacey Musgraves album on the left hand side on top of the magazine. I was so excited to get this because I love Kacey and I didn't own any of her albums.


I made some cookies for my Cookie Exchange Party before Christmas, but I was excited to get this December issue of the Food Network Magazine so I can maybe make some more fun goodies for the winter. I also got some cupcake liners, a cookie cutter, and lots of yummy candy! Yum, chocolate!


Isn't this little guy cute? I do really love snowmen when it comes to winter decorations. I like that he isn't too big so I can put him almost anywhere!


And finally, I got The Masked Truth by Kelley Armstrong. I never mentioned this one but Rachel loved it and wanted to include it, and I'm seriously excited. This was totally on my wish list, so go Rachel! I also got this really cute print about books. Isn't it adorable? I'm going to frame it and put it out in my room!


I also took part in Erika's (Cat Eyes and Skinny Jeans) second annual Great Holiday Blog Swap and I was paired with Elizabeth from With Love, Elizabeth. I didn't talk to Elizabeth like I did Rachel, so I just looked over her blog and tried to think of some items that she might like. I ended up getting her a Create Your Own Bucket List book, some Nivea lip butter and lotion, chocolate wrapped in Christmas paper and in a fun little tin (from Etsy), and I let her know in her card that I had signed her up for a year's subscription to Vegetarian Times as her blog said her and her husband had stopped eating meat. I hope she liked what I sent her!


From Elizabeth, I got a cute card, some Godiva chocolate (yum - some of the best chocolate) and a leather journal (very nice!)

Saturday, December 26, 2015

Sunday Post (9): I Sprained My Knee


Sunday Post is hosted by Caffeinated Book Reviewer 

I can't believe it's another Sunday. I hope all you had a great Christmas (if you celebrated). I saw the movie Joy with my parents, sister, and brother. We all liked it. It wasn't my most favorite Jennifer Lawrence film though. It seemed to go on a bit too long, to be honest. We all really want to see Daddy's Home so that will probably happen tomorrow. Do any of you see movies on Christmas Day? It's something my family has done for years!

On the "bad" side of things, I sprained my MCL in my left knee about a week ago. I really don't know what I did; essentially twisted it wrong. So I've been in a knee brace since then. It's not too bad but when my knee is really hurting, it's not fun. It makes sleeping kind of difficult too. I'm hoping it will get better soon though because my work is physical - I move around the library the whole time, putting things away, etc. and my knee makes it hard to stand/bend down much. We'll see how work goes this week. I was lucky to get last week off! 

Anyway, I hope those of you still on a bit of a blog break are having a nice, relaxing time! For the rest of you, I'm always commenting back on your blog if you comment on mine, so please start up a discussion!

Last Week on Let's Get Beyond Tolerance
My LGBT+ News/Entertainment Blog

Etsy Pride (12): Rainbow Mug + Snowman Ornament

Give GAY for the Holidays with Author Robin Reardon + Merry Christmas

This Week on Shooting Stars Magazine

Two different posts featuring two m/m book reviews (so four in all!) 
A post from Alicia
Happy New Year and 2016 Book Challenges
(could feature other posts - always subject to change)

How did your week go?

Friday, December 25, 2015

Happy Holidays!


Merry Christmas to everyone celebrating - Happy Holidays for those that celebrate something else - and Happy December if you don't celebrate anything at all! Whatever you may or may not celebrate, I hope you have a great day and get to see some loved ones (friends and/or family) in the near future!

If you're reading this and would like to share any of the fun gifts you received or even gave this year, please do!

I might not have a ton of posts up next week as I'm hoping to get a little bit ahead on scheduling things for January, but I'll be around somewhat so feel free to leave comments and I'll be sure to visit you ASAP!


Wednesday, December 23, 2015

The Storm by Samantha Towle Release Day Blitz

Hi all, Alicia here! I am sooooo excited to be a part of the Release Day Blitz for The Storm by Samantha Towle. I am a huuuge fan of The Mighty Storm (the first book in the series), as well as her other books. If you're looking for a rock star romance, look no further than this series! I'm going to go read my copy now *bites nails*. Enjoy!

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The Storm RDB banner


Happy Release Day to Samantha Towle and her new novella - The Storm! We are so excited to share more Jake and Tru with you! Enter the giveaway below for a chance to win a signed paperback of this book or an Amazon Gift Card (open international). Good luck!


the storm amazon


Synopsis


STORM (noun)—a turbulent disturbance; a disruption or dispute.

Jake Wethers’s life is perfect. He’s married to the woman he’s always loved, and they have three beautiful children. The Mighty Storm is still going strong, and his record label is thriving.

Jake has everything—a life he thought he would never have and one that he didn’t think he deserved.

Not so long ago, Jake’s life wasn’t perfect. The unexpected and untimely death of his best friend, Jonny Creed, sent an already out-of-control Jake spiraling down further.

Drug addiction. Alcohol. Women.

Jake was in the fast lane to following Jonny to the grave until Tru Bennett walked back into his life and changed everything.

But now, the past that Jake left behind has come back to find him. And what the past brings with it is going to be one of the biggest challenges he has ever faced.


add-to-goodreads-button



The Storm Teaser

Excerpt


I’m just mid piss when I hear my baby girl’s sleepy voice from behind me, “Dada, why I not have a peenis?” 

Shifting to the side so that I’m covering myself from Belle’s view, I glance over my shoulder, a chuckle escaping me. “’Cause you’re a girl, Beauty.” 

 “But I wanna be a boy, like you, JJ, and Billy.” She juts her lips out, pouting. “I wanna peenis!”

 She’s standing there, demanding a penis, in her Disney princess pajamas, with her arms folded across her chest, her foot tapping. 

  God, she is exactly like her mother. Not that Tru ever wanted a cock—well, aside from mine inside her, of course. 

 But Belle has Tru’s steely determination, and she looks exactly like her mother, which means trouble for me when she’s older. 

 But like I know how to handle my wife’s temperament, I know how to handle Belle. 

 “Okay, Beauty, how about this?” I say in a pacifying tone, holding in my laughter. I tuck myself back into my pajama pants and go to wash my hands. “Why don’t you ask Santa for a penis for Christmas?” The second that I’ve said it, I know that it sounds all kinds of wrong. It’s so wrong that I wish to God I could take it back. 

 “Santa, give me a peenis!” Belle starts squealing, jumping around and clapping her hands. 

 “Fuck. Shit! No!” I panic as soon as the words leave my mouth, knowing exactly what Belle is like. A goddamn parrot is what she’s like. 

 “Fuck! Shit! Santa, peenis!” Belle starts to mimic, hands still clapping together. 

  Crap. Tru is going to kill me. Kill me dead. 

 “Christ.” I cover my face with my hands. “Belle, no.” 

 I reach down and pick her up. She wraps her little chubby legs around my hips, her hands clutching at my neck. 

 “Don’t say those words. Bad words.” I touch my fingertip to her nose, staring into her big brown eyes—Tru’s eyes. 

 “Fuck. Sh—” 

 “Bad words,” I reiterate, giving her a serious look. “We do not repeat those words. Ever. And especially not in front of Mommy. Okay?” 

 “So, Santa gimme peenis if I say no bad wowds?” 

 “Oh God,” I groan. 

 “Santa! Peenis!” She giggles. 

 “Breakfast, Belle!” I exclaim. “You want some Frozen cereal?” I say to distract her. 

 That fucking annoying Disney film is her favorite, and she will only eat that particular brand of cereal. 

 “Fwozen!” she shrieks. 


 Then, she launches into the chorus of “Let It Go” as I carry her out of the bathroom, heading downstairs to the kitchen where my tribe should be.


♥ Buy the Book 


FYI: The price is currently $0.99 and will be going up sometime soon, so snap it up ASAP! And it is available in paperback. 


Playlist




AboutTheAuthor


samantha towle

New York Times, USA Today, Wall Street Journal and international bestselling author Samantha Towle began her first novel in 2008 while on maternity leave. She completed the manuscript five months later and hasn't stopped writing since.

She has written contemporary romances, THE MIGHTY STORM, WETHERING THE STORM, TAMING THE STORM, TROUBLE, REVVED and REVIVED.

She has also written paranormal romances, THE BRINGER and the ALEXANDRA JONES SERIES, all penned to tunes of The Killers, Kings of Leon, Adele, The Doors, Oasis, Fleetwood Mac, and more of her favourite musicians.

A native of Hull and a graduate of Salford University, she lives with her husband, Craig, in East Yorkshire with their son and daughter.


Giveaway


READ THE BOOKS THAT STARTED IT ALL

Book 1 - The Mighty Storm
Kindle Edition
Paperback
Audiobook
Book 2 - Wethering the Storm
Kindle Edition
Paperback
Audiobook
Book 3 - Taming the Storm
Ebook Edition
Apple iBook UK | US
Kobo Kobo Book
Barnes & Noble Nook Book

My True Love Gave to Me edited by Stephanie Perkins


My True Love Gave to Me: Twelve Holiday Stories edited by Stephanie Perkins

Review by Lauren

Source: personal copy; all opinions are my own

Official Summary: If you love holiday stories, holiday movies, made-for-TV-holiday specials, holiday episodes of your favorite sitcoms and, especially, if you love holiday anthologies, you're going to fall in love with My True Love Gave to Me: Twelve Holiday Stories by twelve bestselling young adult writers (Holly Black, Ally Carter, Matt de La Peña, Gayle Forman, Jenny Han, David Levithan, Kelly Link, Myra McEntire, Rainbow Rowell, Stephanie Perkins, Laini Tayler and Kiersten White), edited by the international bestselling Stephanie Perkins. Whether you celebrate Christmas or Hanukkah, Winter Solstice or Kwanzaa, there's something here for everyone. So curl up by the fireplace and get cozy. You have twelve reasons this season to stay indoors and fall in love.

Review: I really do enjoy an anthology of short stories here and there. I think it's the rare person that will love every single story, but that's okay. It's still fun to see what authors you love included, as well as perhaps discover a new author or two!

Editor Stephanie Perkins had one of my favorite stories, titled "It's a Yuletide Miracle, Charlie Brown." I loved the characters and the overall story. It was just really well done and a lot of fun! I also liked that the MC celebrated Yule and not quite Christmas. It was a bit different in that regard, and I appreciate that! Not everyone celebrates Christmas this time of year but there are plenty of other holidays they might participate in!

I also really liked "What the Hell Have You Done, Sophie Roth?" by Gayle Forman. Another author, like Perkins, that I had previously read. Sophie is pretty easy to relate to and she feels like she's always making the wrong decisions or saying the wrong thing. As for the holiday celebrated, Sophie is Jewish and takes part in Hanukkah.

As it's the holiday season, I won't go into any of the stories I wasn't so sure about. I didn't find any of them bad per se, so I do think this is a well done collection overall!

Have you read these short stories? What story did you like the best?

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Not If I See You First by Eric Lindstrom


Not If I See You First by Eric Lindstrom

Review by Lauren

Source: Copy from BEA; all opinions are my own

Official Summary: Parker Grant doesn't need 20/20 vision to see right through you. That's why she created the Rules: Don't treat her any differently just because she's blind, and never take advantage. There will be no second chances. Just ask Scott Kilpatrick, the boy who broke her heart.

When Scott suddenly reappears in her life after being gone for years, Parker knows there's only one way to react-shun him so hard it hurts. She has enough on her mind already, like trying out for the track team (that's right, her eyes don't work but her legs still do), doling out tough-love advice to her painfully naive classmates, and giving herself gold stars for every day she hasn't cried since her dad's death three months ago. But avoiding her past quickly proves impossible, and the more Parker learns about what really happened--both with Scott, and her dad--the more she starts to question if things are always as they seem. Maybe, just maybe, some Rules are meant to be broken.


Review: Not If I See You First came out at the beginning of this month and it's definitely one you need to go and find a copy of ASAP. This is Lindstrom's debut novel, so it's only a wonder what he will write about next. First off, I think he did a fantastic job with the teenage girl's voice. It's not easy to write outside your gender and come across as authentic. Second, I love that Parker is blind and that it affects almost all aspects of her life. At the same time, she is so much more than just the "blind girl."

Having trusted Scott Kilpatrick as a young girl, Parker is left devastated when she feels like he has betrayed her, so she kicks him out of her life. She moves on as best as she can and Scott soon disappears from her life...until suddenly he's next to her in one of her high school classes. She has her best friend, Sarah, though and even new student Molly who is essentially her high school buddy. This means that she makes sure Parker can get around the school and they have all the same classes, so if Parker needs something, Molly is there.

What I really loved about Not If I See You First is that it's not all about Parker. Sarah and Molly, and some of the other secondary characters, all have their ups and downs and life happenings. Parker can be a bit selfish sometimes...it makes sense though, because she can't see what's in front of her, she doesn't always pick up on things. However, she does eventually do what she can to make things right, but does this include Scott? Their story is weaved throughout the book until you know exactly what happened...and why.

Not If I See You First is a delightful debut novel! Full of heart and with a spunky narrator, you're sure to enjoy!

Monday, December 21, 2015

Last Minute DIY Gifts



Christmas is this Friday, but for those of you who may need a last minute gift (or two), I thought I'd do a round up of quick DIY gift ideas! Plus, some of you may not be seeing certain people until after December 25th, so maybe you have even more time to get these done!


We WHISK You A Merry KISSmas  - instructions (and free printables) at Views from the 'Ville

Know any bakers in your life? This would be a nice neighbor gift too! 



Reindeer Hot Cocoa Cones - instructions at Savvy Saving Couple

Cute gift for kids or make a few for a whole family! 


Snowman Popcorn Cover - instructions at I Heart Naptime

Good neighbor gift! 


Candy Sleighs - instructions at Ellyn's Place

Great gift idea for all the little ones in your life, or make one for club members!


Rudolph Christmas Gift with Eos Lip Balm - instructions at Crafting Chicks

Simple gift idea for pretty much any girl in your life! I think a preteen/teenage girl would really enjoy this.


Christmas M and M Poem - instructions at Lil Luna

Nice gift idea for a family or if you belong to a church group.