Tag Archives: Coming of Age

Review: Pitch by Will Parkinson

Pitch by Will Parkinson
Title: Pitch
Author: Will Parkinson
Cover Artist: Reese Dante
Publisher: Harmony Ink Press
Reviewer: Jay
Buy Links: Publisher | Amazon | ARe
Genre: Young Adult
Type: Romance
Pairing: Gay
Length: Novel
Heat Rating: ♨♨
Rating★★★½

Blurb:

A Harmony Ink Press Young Adult Title

The day Jackson Kern walks into Taylor Andrews’s classroom is a momentous day in Taylor’s life. He’s had crushes before, sure, but as time goes on, this is starting to look a whole lot more serious. Still, Jackson doesn’t return Taylor’s feelings.

Taylor has his own admirers, though. Kevin Richards is used to getting what he wants, and what he wants right now is Taylor, so when Taylor rejects him, Kevin retaliates. At first Taylor’s entourage rallies around him, but then Kevin takes his deception one step further and Taylor sees his support dwindle, teaching him the valuable lesson about who he can truly consider a friend.

Review:

Will Parkinson has created an enjoyable young adult/coming of age story centered on the lives of five high school students: Taylor, Benny, Jackson, Addy, and Becca.

  • Taylor is the primary character of this story.  He is a talented artist who falls in and out of crushes quite frequently.
  • Benny has been Taylor’s intelligent, witty, and level headed “straight” best friend since kindergarten.
  • Jackson is the new kid and an athlete that excels playing baseball.  His life has been lonely due to the constant moving around caused by his father’s job.
  • Addy is the adopted child whose biological parents abused him physically and mentally.
  • Becca is the self-centered, attention grabbing, high school cheerleader who wants to be with those that improve her popularity.

 

Between these five they run the gamut of issues and live experiences including bullying, obsession, fitting in, the new kid, crushing, pressure for good grades, gay bashing, outing, homophobia, and abuse. The lives of these five intertwine through a multitude of happy and sad events dealing with what life dished out.

Keeping the age of these kids in mind and remembering that they are high school age makes their actions understandable and believable.  There is the typical teenage reaction to life along with some profound wisdom and adult reactions. The story tugs your heart in all directions. The drama is over the top at times and the issues dive pretty deep. Simply though, it all works together and weaves a sweet story with enjoyable characters and a dash of angst.

Review: The Sacrifices We Make by Sophie Bonaste

The Sacrifices We Make by Sophie Bonaste
Title: The Sacrifices We Make
Author: Sophie Bonaste
Cover Artist: Aaron Anderson
Publisher: Harmony Ink Press
Reviewer: Jay
Buy Links: Publisher | Amazon | ARe
Genre: Young Adult
Type: Romance
Pairing: Gay
Length: Novel
Heat Rating:
Rating★★★★½

Blurb:

Adam Jameson has always felt like an outsider in his own home, where his parents’ constant efforts to instill religious fervor have instead filled him with fear. Most of the time, he just wants to stay out of everybody’s way. But when Adam is forced to volunteer at a homeless shelter his senior year in high school, everything changes. He’s introduced to people who care about more than religion and, as a result, he starts to come out of his shell. For the first time in his life, Adam finds people who he wants to be around.

Mickey Stafford lives on the streets, a teen kicked out by his parents for being gay. He comes to the shelter for food and medical care, and after they literally run into each other, the two boys strike up a friendship. As Mickey introduces his new friend to the world he lives in, Adam starts to question everything: his parents, their religion, even his own beliefs. Once Mickey kisses him, Adam starts soul-searching and finds his heart, which is full of love for Mickey. But these two young men will have their love put to the test as they face a future of uncertainty and fear.

Review:

Adam Jameson has grown up in an extremely religious household. He attends a private religious high school and his life is governed by his parent’s religious beliefs.  Adam has spent his life trying to live in the shadows and keep his head down.  He has seen what happens to those that speak out, go against the beliefs of the religious community, or act “inappropriately”.

Michael “Mickey” Stafford is homeless after being disowned by his family when his is caught kissing another guy. He has been on the streets for a while, has become street smart, and avoided the drugs and prostitution that often accompanies this life.  He is struggling to make a better life for himself.

As part of being a good Christian Adam is forced to work at the Glenbrook Homeless Shelter by his father. Here Adam literally runs into Mickey and they become friends.  In fact Mickey is the first true friend that Adam has ever had. Their relationship builds until they discover love. Along the way Adam is tortured by the fact that the beliefs he has been taught and reality don’t match up.

Their happiness is short lived when Adam’s homosexuality is discovered by his parents.  Rather than be sent to a rehabilitation clinic Adam takes to the streets with Mickey.  When Adam and Mickey try to figure out what to do next we discover that Adam has a brother who was also disowned for being gay.  Adam and Mickey are taken in by Adam’s brother and his husband and given a chance to start a new life.

The author did an excellent job weaving this story.  It flowed very well and brought to light many tough subjects. It starts out a bit stiff but quickly loosens up.  It also wraps rather quickly and somewhat unbelievable. Most importantly, this is a powerful story that reminds us that even in this day and age there are less fortunate folks, especially teens, living among us.  Here we get a happy ending, but it leaves the question, how many others out there don’t get their happy ending?

Review: Pride by Allison Cassatta

Pride by Allison Cassatta
Title: Pride
Author: Allison Cassatta
Cover Artist: Allison Cassatta
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Reviewer: Monika
Buy Links: Publisher | Amazon | ARe
Genre: Contemporary
Type: Romance
Pairing: Gay
Length: Novella
Heat Rating: ♨♨♨
Rating★★★★☆

Blurb:

2nd Edition
Dear Diary: Book Two

Prom ends with a bang of unexpected epic proportions and leaves Chris with a disheartened outlook on where he is in his life, when he should be on top of the world. He’s graduating high school with honors and has the best boyfriend in the world, but things still aren’t right. Bullies make him doubt his choice to accept the way he feels and come out of the closet. Those friends turned foes make him realize how much the narrow-minded masses can hate gay people.

And everyone Chris loves starts to worry about him.

To give Chris a new perspective, his parents and loving boyfriend send him to his first gay pride—but Chris doesn’t see the point, and he damn sure doesn’t want to go. Will pride help him see there’s nothing wrong with him? Will it change his feelings and his mind?

1st Edition published by Allison Cassatta, January 2012

Review:

This is the second installment to the Dear Diary Series and it is as good if not better than the first. It’s another short read about Chris and Josh told in Chris’s POV. This time the story takes a turn showing us both the ugly side and the beautiful side of Chris’s coming out. There are parts of this story that I thought was a bit too much, like newly out Chris being allowed to have Josh stay the night in Chris’s bedroom with Chris’s parents being just fine with it. Not only is Chris still in High School he hasn’t been with Josh that long. It’s great to see such accepting parents but I really think there would be relatively few parents that would be okay with it. My other issue was the lack of condoms. I’m sure it happens in real life but having MC’s responsible enough to use them sets a good example to any young gay readers. So, just trivial things really, there was nothing that took me out of the story.

I thought Allison Cassatta did an excellent job with this story, from the heartbreaking things Chris must endure by the kids he thought were his friends after coming out at his prom to the loving way Josh and Chris bond and are there for each other.

Reading Dear Diary is a must if you want to pick this one up. Both are short, fast reads with a beautiful HEA that has the potential for many more stories with Chris and Josh. I’m looking forward to reading more about them. The wait for the next one isn’t going to be long at all Book 3 Relationships 101 will be out Oct 23, 2013 I’ll be marking that on my calendar!

I recommend this Novella and the Series.

Review: Hobbled by John Inman

Hobbled by John Inman
Title: Hobbled
Author: John Inman
Cover Artist: Paul Richmond
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Reviewer: Lynn
Buy Links: Publisher | Amazon | ARe
Genre: Contemporary
Type: Romance
Pairing: Queer
Length: Novel
Heat Rating: ♨♨♨♨
Rating★★★★☆

Blurb:

Thanks to fate and his own lack of good sense, eighteen-year-old Danny Shay is headed into what looks to be the worst summer of his life. It starts with a minor meltdown at work that leaves Danny under house arrest with a cast on one leg and an ankle monitor on the other, courtesy of the San Diego Police Department. On top of that, he’s battling a chronic case of virginity, with no relief in sight.

Oh, and there’s one more little glitch. A serial killer is stalking the city, murdering young men. And when strange sounds are heard in the house behind Danny’s, the neighborhood kids think they’ve found the killer. But not until Danny learns he’s next on the madman’s list do things really begin to get desperate.

Damn! And Danny had plans to come out this summer—maybe even get laid! He doesn’t have time for ankle monitors and serial killers!

Then ginger-haired Luke Jamison moves in next door. Not only does Luke solve a few of Danny’s more urgent problems, he also manages to create a couple more that Danny never saw coming. Gee. If he can survive it, this summer might not be so bad after all.

Review:

Eighteen year old Danny Shay’s life has become a little bumpy. After flipping out on his boss, for cheating his timesheet, he is confined to his Dad’s house with a broken leg and an ankle monitor. When Danny’s single dad leaves for three weeks, Danny fills his boredom with masturbating, eating, and spying on his neighbors.

At two in the morning, Danny is pulled from his sleep at the sound of the moving truck. Someone is moving into the empty house next door. Getting out his binoculars, Danny is quickly smitten with the ginger haired man and his dog. Danny heads out early the next morning in hopes of getting a glimpse of his new attraction. It doesn’t take long for Luke Jamison and his adorable dog, Ginger to appear.

The blurb really hits all the major points in the story. What it doesn’t tell you, is my favorite part of the book. The super cute the love affair with Luke and Danny made this story. The instant lust/love the two experiences, melted me. The pair are so stinking cute that it is hard not to find yourself smiling and wanting more. There was a lot of sex, some of which was repetitive, but showed the attraction and longing the couple displayed. It was hard to remember these characters were young adults, with the number of sex scenes.

The secondary characters also made this story complete. The two mouthy pre-teens had me laughing out loud. Ginger, Luke’s fun-loving dog and Danny’s crazy cat, Frederick were also well written side characters.

I give Hobbled, by John Inman 4 stars. The instant love, humorous story will make you laugh and happy you read it. However, I felt the story would have been more, well rounded if Mr. Inman eliminated the POV head jumping. It took away from the plot for me. The story was strong enough to be told from Danny’s perspective alone. This was my first novel by John Inman. I can’t wait to read other works by him. This story made my day brighter and put a smile on my face.

Review: Dumb Jock Book 1 by Jeff Erno

Dumb Jock by Jeff Erno
Title: Dumb Jock
Author: Jeff Erno
Cover Artist: Paul Richmond
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Reviewer: Lynn
Buy Links: Publisher | Amazon | ARe
Genre: Young Adult
Type: Romance
Pairing: Queer
Length: Novel
Heat Rating: ♨♨♨♨
Rating★★★☆☆

Blurb:

2nd Edition
Dumb Jock: Book One

Jeff Irwin is short, timid, and studious. A bit of a social outcast, he lives quietly in the shadows of the popular kids at his school, his life ruled by his ever-present fear of rejection or failure.

Enter high school football hero Brett Willson and the chance for Jeff to embark upon the challenge of educating the world’s dumbest jock.

But what develops between Brett and Jeff proves far more challenging than any tutoring session. In 1983, rural Michigan isn’t ready to embrace love between two men, never mind two teenage boys. If they’re going to make a go of it, Jeff will have to come out of his shell—and Brett will have to prove he’s more than just a dumb jock.

First Edition published by Xlibris, February 2009.

Review:

Jeff Irwin is a high school freshman with a perfect GPA. He is shy, reserved, and keeps to himself. When the PE teacher calls Jeff into his office, he is nervous and worried. Coach only seemed to notice Jeff when he was doing something wrong, like throw a ball. Wanting to keep his GPA, Jeff agrees to help the star quarterback, Brett Willson pass his English class.

At first, I couldn’t see Brett and Jeff as a couple. They seemed to have nothing in common. Brett is selfish and cruel at times, where Jeff is sensitive and has so much thrown at him. I felt like I got to know and understand Jeff better than Brett (that may be linked to the story being told in Jeff’s POV).

One of my main issues with this book was the amount of issues Jeff has to overcome. Bless that boy’s heart! I felt like every time something good happened to Jeff, it was quickly shut down or over shadowed by another dark event.

The sex scenes in this book were far more in depth and detailed than in other young adult stories. I worried about the BDSM type relationship formed. Jeff is easily the type to worship a Dom and not say when things have gotten out of hand.

The hospital scene was so brilliantly written that it not only made me cry, but took my breath away. One of the best scenes in the entire story for me.

Overall, I liked Dumb Jock by Jeff Erno. I give it three stars. I’m excited to continue reading the series. I think Jeff Erno is an amazingly talented author. The three stars is not a reflection on the skilled writing, but my issues with the plot of this story.

Review: Risking It by Posy Roberts

Risking It by Posy Roberts
Title: Risking It
Author: Posy Roberts
Cover Artist: Catt Ford
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Reviewer: Monika
Buy Links: Publisher | Amazon | ARe
Genre: Contemporary
Type: Romance
Pairing: Gay
Length: Short
Heat Rating:
Rating★★½

Blurb:

August Farrell doesn’t have a clue how to go about finding a boyfriend. He’s eighteen, a high school senior, has barely been kissed, and the thought of flirting with a boy terrifies him. What if he gets punched? Or worse? It would be easier if he at least knew the rules of the game. Then during the state basketball tournament, August meets Luca Knutson, who flirts with him shamelessly, but is this connection worth it? Will August play it safe by sitting on the sidelines or take a chance on Luca and the freedom to love he offers?

Review:

Another cute little coming of age story.  I found it much too short to get any kind of connection to the MC’s or to see any kind of chemistry between them.  I think this is another short that is a perfect Young Adult short, it’s an easy sweet story of how the MC’s meet and start relationship.

August and Luca are High School Basketball players that meet at a championship tournament. There is an instant attraction between these two but August is wary of putting the move on Luca, he’s not ready to come out at school not wanting to end up being the kid that gets shoved into a locker or bullied and tormented for the rest of his school year. This is the last year of High School for both of these boys and they have a whole different life planned once they get to college.

I loved the idea of this story and I did like August and Luca I just wish there was more, something that would make me connect to them which I realize is difficult to do in 30 pages. The time spent writing about the tournament and the game(s) would have been better spent writing about the character’s themselves.

Review: Dear Diary by Allison Cassatta

Dear Diary by Allison Cassatta
Title: Dear Diary
Author: Allison Cassatta
Cover Artist: Allison Cassatta
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Reviewer: Monika
Buy Links: Publisher | Amazon | ARe
Genre: Contemporary
Type: Romance
Pairing: Gay
Length: Novella
Heat Rating: ♨♨
Rating★★★★☆

Blurb:

Dear Diary: Book One 
2nd Edition 

Chris Bishop has everything a high school senior could want—a loving family, a perfect girlfriend, and a bright, shining future. At his dad’s suggestion, he spends a summer working at a law firm to gain experience, but he never bargained on meeting Josh. Josh is handsome and green-eyed and just what Chris doesn’t want—or does he? Some things Chris has admitted only to his digital diary, but by the time prom comes around, he needs to make a decision: risk the pain of honesty about himself and his feelings for Josh, or play it safe and lose what matters most.

1st Edition published by XoXo Publishing, June 2011

Review:

Dear Diary is a fast, fun read. It’s a coming of age story told by Chris on his prom night. He‘s given a voice recorder as a gift from his parents and he uses that to record his “diary”. The story is sweet and the ending has a cute twist.

Chris tells the story of how he meets Josh, comes to realize he’s gay and how he now understands why his relationship with his girlfriend Sarah isn’t what it should be. I wish there had been a bit more of Josh but this isn’t his story, there is a sequel and I’m hoping to hear more about him in it.

I loved how this was written, a first person narrative by Chris but also a third person narrative of the other characters in Chris’s life, it gave me a small understanding of everyone’s thoughts and feelings. Chris tells it all in one day as he is getting ready for his Prom, all the excitement of first’s and the growing relationship between Josh and Chris feel real.

There is no angst, it’s not graphic and I think this could be put in the Young Adult genre just as easily as the Contemporary M/M romance genre it’s in.

I recommend this novella, it will put a smile on your face it’s such a feel good story.

Review: Mulligan by Nora Roth

Mulligan by Nora Roth
Title: Mulligan
Author: Nora Roth
Cover Artist: Catt Ford
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Reviewer: Lynn
Buy Links: Publisher | Amazon | ARe
Genre: Contemporary
Type: Romance
Pairing: Queer
Length: Novella
Heat Rating: ♨♨♨
Rating★★★★★

Blurb:

The only thing between Jesse Yates and the top of the air hockey leaderboard is Cameron Greene. When Cameron returns home from college unannounced and knocks the win out of Jesse’s reach, the last thing Jesse plans to do is strike up a friendship with the guy he dislikes on principle. But Cameron charms Jesse without even seeming to try, and the attraction and friendly rivalry between them soon leads to something more.

Everything is perfect until the world as Jesse knows it comes crashing down when Cameron’s secrets are revealed. Before Jesse can find his balance, Cameron is gone without a word, leaving Jesse alone with anger and grief—hoping against hope for a second chance.

Review:

First off, I loved this story! I will be pestering the author for more of these characters!

Jesse Yates is determined to see his name finally above four time winner, Cameron Greene. Jesse is shocked when he is beaten, not because he’s never lost, but because he learns who beat him. None other than Cameron Greene, himself.

Jesse returns to the local bowling alley the next morning, to be confronted by Cameron. The two competitive young men just can’t leave a sleeping dog alone, and end up back at the hockey table for another round.

Cameron and Jesse start a friendship of a competitive nature. They compete from anything to video games to a simple game of HORSE. Things take an interesting turn when their competitive streak comes to a sexual nature.

Cameron is a mysterious college student, experienced, and exciting. Jesse is a shy, high school senior, experiencing lust for the first time. When Cameron disappears, Jesse is left to wonder why.

Like I said, I loved this story. This story could be any young adult in any state. I loved Jesse! Cameron is heartbreaking and you can’t help but want to put him back together.

More Ms. Roth! I need more Jesse and Cameron!

Review: Surviving Elite High by John H. Ames

Surviving Elite High by John H Ames
Title: Surviving Elite High
Author: John H. Ames
Cover Artist: Dare Empire eMedia Productions
Publisher: Budding Moon Press
Reviewer: Lynn
Buy Links: Publisher | Amazon | ARe
Genre: Young Adult
Type: Romance
Pairing: Queer, Questioning, Bisexual
Length: Novella
Heat Rating: ♨♨♨
Rating★★★

Blurb:

John Henry Ames is a sixteen-year-old boy from a small New Jersey town. John is humble, shy, and studious. He lives as an outcast in the shadows of an elite high school where he is tormented by two psychopathic bullies.

On the verge of dropping out of school due to overdue payments, a teacher enrolls him in a tutoring program where he meets the school’s star quarterback and hero, Nick Anthony Hawking. Since he was doing poorly in several subjects, Nick needs John’s help to pass and graduate high school. As John becomes closer to the jock, he develops a strong affection towards him even though Nick has a strong reputation of sleeping around with a lot of women. Nick becomes his friend and protector in school. Their sincere friendship helps to bring out the best in each of them, even as several tragedies, like a school shooting, threaten to change their young lives forever.

Review:

I was really looking forward to reading this book. I love a good coming of age story. This however didn’t measure up for me.

We follow John Ames, a poor high school kid attending Elite High School during his junior year. John pulled me in immediately; I had to know more about him. My heart broke for him as he dealt with the two school bullies, Jacob and Matthew.

John’s mother can’t afford tuition fees so he is enrolled in a tutoring program where jock super star, Nick Anthony is assigned to John. Nick is the type of boy all mothers warn their children about. He’s only after one thing, he will use you, and he’s going to cheat on you, and so on. I tried to like him, but I just couldn’t. It was hard to see him as a good fit for young John.

John and Nick face his bullies several times before the issue becomes full scale scary. Matthew, John’s main foe comes to school with a gun. The situation is horrible to say the least. I just couldn’t understand why Matthew housed so much hatred for poor John. I wish there was more to this part of the story. I wanted to dig deeper and uncover more to the story, it just never happened.

There are several over the top melodramas throughout this story. With easy passing one, I felt let down. The plot became so much more than need be. I think if the plot was slowed down and readers could see the growth from the characters, it would have been an amazing read.

I give Surviving Elite High, 3 stars. I saw great potential with this book, but it left me disappointed.