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    The Forestry: His True Nature – Silvia Violet

    Dan comes out to his family on his thirtieth birthday. Instead of being embraced, he’s condemned and insulted. Wanting to escape, he buys a camper on a whim and takes a three month sabbatical. He plans to spend the summer in the Nantahala Forest fishing, hiking, and camping despite being far less than adept in the great outdoors. His mishaps catch the attention of a sexy forest ranger who leaves Dan wondering whether Parker’s interested in friendship or something more.

    Bland as bland can be. Most of this is just Dan thinking about his hard-on. The big reveal was a blah. Waste of time really.

    Rating:

    2 Stars – it’s a struggle to finish the damn book

    (source: https://www.goodreads.com/user/show/2650832-skirmish)

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    How To Be A Normal Person – TJ Klune

    Gustavo Tiberius is not normal. He knows this. Everyone in his small town of Abby, Oregon, knows this. He reads encyclopedias every night before bed. He has a pet ferret called Harry S. Truman. He owns a video rental store that no one goes to. His closest friends are a lady named Lottie with drag queen hair and a trio of elderly Vespa riders known as the We Three Queens.

    Gus is not normal. And he’s fine with that. All he wants is to be left alone.

    Until Casey, an asexual stoner hipster and the newest employee at Lottie’s Lattes, enters his life. For some reason, Casey thinks Gus is the greatest thing ever. And maybe Gus is starting to think the same thing about Casey, even if Casey is obsessive about Instagramming his food.

    But Gus isn’t normal and Casey deserves someone who can be. Suddenly wanting to be that someone, Gus steps out of his comfort zone and plans to become the most normal person ever.

    After all, what could possibly go wrong?

    Gus or Grumpy Gus is a lovable but very socially awkward video store owner who struggles with very unsettling feelings towards a certain asexual hipster named Casey. Gus happens to like things the way they are and hates sudden changes or uncertain things. To help him deal with his feelings he consulted his trusty encyclopedias (he reads them alphabetically). When his trusty encyclopedias failed him, he asked the internet. There he goes through through steps on how to be a normal person and follows them verbatim with hilarious results.

    Casey is Don Atari from Zoolander. I swear. I hear his voice every time Casey speaks. That doesn’t mean he’s not adorable. I mean, he and Gus are just so perfect for each other. One of the things that got me reading this is that Casey is asexual. Rarely do we get MCs who are asexual and in a love story no less

    The rest of the characters are also fascinating and quirky like the We Three Queens who could be sisters or lovers no one knows and Lottie who likes alliterations. Casey’s friends are as hipster as they could get but they mean well.

    The moment I started reading this, I knew it was just 5 stars all the way. This is one of the funniest books I have ever read. Read the chapter where Gus was asking Casey for a date and tell me if that didn’t make you laugh out loud. And yes there is an actual wiki guide on how to be normal (I checked). The only quibbles here are the pot smoking and that I don’t find stoner and stoner talk attractive so overall a 4 for me.

    Rating:
    4 Stars – minor quibbles but I loved it to bits

    (source: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/25548442-how-to-be-a-normal-person)

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    Wanted, A Gentleman – K.J. Charles

    WANTED, A GENTLEMAN
    Or, Virtue Over-Rated

    the grand romance of

    Mr. Martin St. Vincent … a Merchant with a Mission, also a Problem
    Mr. Theodore Swann … a humble Scribbler and Advertiser for Love

    Act the First:

    the offices of the Matrimonial Advertiser, London
    where Lonely Hearts may seek one another for the cost of a shilling

    Act the Second:

    a Pursuit to Gretna Green (or thereabouts)

    featuring

    a speedy Carriage
    sundry rustic Inns
    a private Bed-chamber

    ***

    In the course of which are presented

    Romance, Revenge, and Redemption
    Deceptions, Discoveries, and Desires

    the particulars of which are too numerous to impart.

    Eloping couples, damsels in distress, bland heroes, dastardly villains, wild goose chases. Your average penny romance novel tropes except that things are not always what they seem. 

    Swann runs a business publishing ads from people looking for husbands or wives and moonlights as a writer. He has a scheming mind and I love it that he looks average. St. Vincent is a black merchant with a lot of baggage from the past. He was tasked to pursue his former master’s daughter who ran away with a man a.k.a Troilus. The story itself was not all about the Swann and St. Vincent. It was discovering who was the mystery man who swept away the underage heiress and stopping them before they reach Gretna Green and exchange vows. Swann and St. Vincent’s relationship gradually developed over the course of the chase. In order to bring back the errant damsel to the bosom of her family, they realized they needed a villain more than a hero.

    Is it a fun read? Yes! K.J. Charles never lets me down. But I didn’t feel that much invested in the couple. I felt the friendship more than the romance between them. If they didn’t end up together romantically and settled as friends, it would have been entirely OK with me.  

    Rating:
    3.5 Stars – that place between like and love

    (https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/31225405-wanted-a-gentleman)

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    Speechless – Kim Fielding

    Travis Miller has a machining job, a cat named Elwood, and a pathetic love life. The one bright spot in his existence is the handsome guitar player he sometimes passes on his way home from work. But when he finally gathers the courage to speak to the man, Travis learns that former novelist Drew Clifton suffers from aphasia: Drew can understand everything Travis says, but he is unable to speak or write.

    The two lonely men form a friendship that soon blossoms into romance. But communication is only one of their challenges-there’s also Travis’s inexperience with love and his precarious financial situation. If words are the bridge between two people, what will keep them together?

    Lots to love in this little gem. Drew plays punk and grunge (shout out to The Sex Pistols!). Travis is a one-eyed guy with a one-eyed cat. The conversation was mostly Travis babbling away but it never felt one-sided and he seem to understand Drew instinctively. The disabilities were handled sensibly and you can’t help but root hard for these two. The fluff is also strong in this one. This could have gone the angsty route but the author kept it light and warm. It’s also refreshingly not insta-love but a more gentle and slow realization of feelings. Cheers to Kim Fielding for creating a great love story about two people who are not perfect but are more alive and real because of it  

    Rating: 
    4 Stars – minor quibbles but I loved it to bits 

    (source: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/15733541-speechless)

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    Hexworld: The 13th Hex – Jordan L. Hawk

    Romance. Magic.
    Murder.

    Dominic Kopecky dreamed of becoming a member of New York’s Metropolitan Witch Police—a dream dashed when he failed the test for magical aptitude. Now he spends his days drawing the hexes the MWP relies on for their investigations.

    But when a murder by patent hex brings crow familiar Rook to his desk, Dominic can’t resist the chance to experience magic. And as the heat grows between Dominic and Rook, so does the danger. Because the case has been declared closed—and someone is willing to kill to keep it that way.

    The 13th Hex is the prequel short story to the all-new Hexworld series. If you like shifters, magic, and romance, you’ll love Jordan L. Hawk’s world of witch policemen and the familiars they bond with.

    This is where you get to find out about the witch and familiar whose relationship made Cicero green with envy in the first book, Hexbreaker

    Rating:

    4 Stars – minor quibbles but I loved it to bits

    (source: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/29474747-the-13th-hex )

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    Say Cheese – Michael P. Thomas

    Sitcom sensation Felix Medrano, America’s Sweetheart, throws a star-studded surprise party for his sweetheart, beanpole barkeep Grover Shepherd.

    It’s a smash, save for one detail: Shep is a no-show.

    Who’d have thought it would be so hard to pop the question?

    Shep and Felix, an established couple are still being all adorable and lovely-dovey but it was borderline cheesy at times. I could definitely feel Shep’s frustration in the airports having gone through that every holiday in the past decade. The author, who is also a flight attendant certainly created a good picture of the madness that ensues during flight delays. 

    Rating:
    2.5 Stars – far from hate but not quite a like 

    (source: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/24841163-say-cheese)

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    Russ Morgan Mystery: Enigma – Lloyd A. Meeker

    Who’s blackmailing the high-profile televangelist whose son was famously cured of his homosexuality fifteen years ago? Now in 2009, that ought to be ancient history.

    It seems there’s no secret to protect, no crime, not even a clear demand for money—just four threatening letters using old Enigma songs from the 90′s. But they’ve got Reverend Howard Richardson spooked.

    Proudly fifty and unhappily single, gay PI Russ Morgan has made peace with being a psychic empath, and he’s managed to build a decent life since getting sober. As he uncovers obscene secrets shrouded in seeming righteousness he might have to make peace with a sword of justice that cuts the innocent as deeply as the guilty. 

    I already had an inkling on who’s doing it a quarter through the story but I kept on reading because the secrets unrevealed confirmed what I had always suspect: holier than thou high-profile televangelists are indeed creepy. 

    Rating:

    3 Stars – not exactly setting my world on fire but I liked it

    (source: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/18397568-enigma)

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    The Bestiary: Cleanly Wrong – Mell Eight

    Rung is a half-breed orphan brownie who can’t do anything right, much to the worry of his cleanliness teachers. When he runs away, Rung decides that he can resist the need to clean. Only, there is that one office that so desperately needs help...

    OMG this is sooo cute and fluffy!!! This is my kind of faerie tale!

    Rating

    4 Stars – minor quibbles but I loved it to bits 

    (source: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/15841288-cleanly-wrong)  

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    Mechanical Universe: Winter’s Bees – E.E. Ottoman

    Lord Marcel de la Mont de Anges, the Marquis de Montespan is a brilliant mathematician, member of the mechanical animation movement and all around dandy. He’s been in love with shy, quiet entomologist and youngest member of the royal family, Prince Gilbert André XVI, since they were children. The Emperor’s plans to arrange a marriage between Marcel and Gilbert should have been the answer to all his secret fantasies.

    But Gilbert is still reeling from a nasty breakup, and he cannot picture the man he regards as a brother becoming his lover. The order to marry has thrown their relationship into disorder, and if they cannot sort out the changes there may not even be a friendship left for them to save…

    E.E. Ottoman’s stories are peopled with diverse characters I rarely see in other stories. There’s an Indian ballet dancer, a trans man, a castrato, pudgy love interests, female police and military generals and so on. In this last installment of Mechanical Universe, Marcel is an adopted Eastern (possibly Asian descent) Marquis with physical disabilities. The world itself is diverse, with magic and science working together seamlessly.

    The best parts of the story for me was the first half because that where I felt the sparks and I found the two really cute. I was also looking forward to them reminiscing about their younger days and the times they spent together. The middle part was the dragging part.

    The way these two agonized over their marriage was a bit of a snooze-fest for me mainly because married people’s problems are boring. The party near the end was a good way to wrap up the story because the reader gets to meet all the gang again. I wished there were more interaction with these characters.

    Overall, I would recommend the entire Mechanical Universe series. As favorite author and editor K.J. Charles said: 

    I love EE Ottoman’s writing. I love the worldbuilding, and the realistic, insecure characters nervously feeling their way through to one another, and the odd passions, and the secrets. It’s a lovely novella and as ever, I wanted more, longer, deeper. I want a full-length EE Ottoman novel and to see what they do on a bigger stage, pushing the characters further and harder. But for now, this will do very nicely.

    Rating:
    3.5 Stars – that place between like and love

    (source: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/23459938-winter-s-bees)

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    Mechanical Universe: Duende – E.E. Ottoman

    Famed opera singer Aimé has a lot in common with Badri, the Royal Ballet Company’s most popular male lead. They have both dedicated their entire lives to their art, and struggle to be taken seriously among the Empire’s elite. And both harbor a secret admiration and desire for the other.

    This year for his birthday Aimé treats himself to a night at the ballet seeing Badri perform, and after the show decides to meet Badri and confess his admiration for Badri’s skill. But when that first awkward meeting turns to more, they are left wondering if there is room in their lives for both career and romance…

    Artist types who can’t wait to get into each others breeches. If it succeeded in making me feel anything, it was boredom. The idea of a castrato and a ballet dancer pairing certainly piqued interest there was not much going on in terms of the story itself.

    Rating

    2 Stars – it’s a struggle to finish the damn book

    (source: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/22699093-duende)

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