We've got some great titles from the month of June, and, as always, there's a giveaway, so check out the Rafflecopter widget below to enter for the chance to win two of this month's featured titles.
And now, here they are, our top picks.
Lindsey – Past the Breakers by Lucie Archer – “As time progresses, Myles becomes more of a tangible ghost, and Casey helps him push his boundaries and learn of better ways to communicate. They develop a routine and help each other not to feel so alone and in doing so, fall for each other. Myles gives Casey the nudge he needed to get moving forward and not be stuck in the moment where his world fell apart. Casey helps clarify for Myles truths he didn’t want to face, and opens his eyes to the blinders he had on before he died...
Even though the mystery missed the mark for me, I was quite happy with how it worked out in the end, and found the characters were relatable. I loved watching them both grow from the shared experience, and was entertained by their dialogue and interactions. The balance between seriousness and humor was great for my mindset, and all in all, I found this to be an adorable story.”
Mike – Until You by TJ Klune – “Paul Auster and Vincent Taylor are finally doing it! They are getting married! But like true love, the course to the alter never runs true. There are bumps. Helena and the Homo Jock King continue to be deeply in love, much to Helena’s delight and chagrin. Daddy, from Jack It, has a boyfriend, and his nearly shy revelation will fill your heart. Mom and Pop Auster are overflowing with joy that their son is giving them a son-in-law they simply adore. Corey/Koree is along for the ride and casting sarcasms far and wide while encouraging Helena and Nana to be as zany as they have ever been. Nana and Johnny Depp are still finding ways to undermine every serious moment, and Johnny is still trying to convince the world Paul has been molesting him for years.
Armistead Maupin taught us we have a bio family and logical family. Klune gives us a logical family that doesn’t just work, it sparkles. By blood and adoption, this family is one everyone would want to be part of.”
Cassie – A Destiny of Dragons by TJ Klune – “There is just something special about Sam and co.—their shenanigans, their sass, their mis-adventures, their love for each other—it’s all so much fun. The Lightning-Struck Heart was a treat, and now the series (Tales from Verania) is set up to be the gift that keeps on giving in A Destiny of Dragons. Best of all, it’s got some length to it, which I always find super exciting. Thank you, TJ Klune!
So, all the things we loved about TLSH are alive and well in A Destiny of Dragons. The writing is hilarious and irreverent. It feels like both a send up of and an homage to the fantasy genre. I loved it, and frequently found myself cackling crazily while making my way through the story. The characters continue to be awesome, with deepening relationship dynamics for all—so clearly, some wrenches have to be thrown in there. The resulting tension sets off cascades of snark in all directions that are truly a joy to behold. And the glorious drama all plays out against Sam’s struggle with his destiny. The team, as a whole, is getting mobilized to address said destiny with Sam, and they strike out on the beginnings of the resultant Epic Quest™.”
Ben – Vice City by S.A. Stovall – “As a lover of noir and crime fiction, I highly recommend this first book in what will hopefully be a very long and satisfying series. Our protagonist, Nick Pierce, was ‘saved’ from a life of poverty by the Vice family mob, and has single-mindedly worked for them as a head enforcer for twenty years, killing and torturing people for cold cash. He’s pretty good at what he does and has made some considerable money, but he lives a rather bleak existence: he has no friends, is most definitely an alcoholic, probably has issues with narcotics, and despite him being faithful to a fault, the entire Vice family treats him like a dog.
They throw money at him as a justification for tossing him into impossibly dangerous situations. For his efforts, he’s looked down on and called names. Along with cash, they bribe him with ass and push drugs on him. It’s clear the Vice family is going to use him up and spit him out. While some may see a successful and skillful businessman in Nick Pierce, I see a man who is merely waiting for the jig to be up. There’s no escaping. There’s nothing to escape to. Until Miles…”
Doug – Back Home by RJ Scott – “What Ms. Scott provides us is a beautiful journey of pure and honest connection. Whether the connection’s generated from anger, happiness, excitement, sorrow, or any number of other emotions, the narrative remained viscerally raw and very, very real. The power of the interactions between Kieran and Jordan is undeniable and compelling. With each new secret revealed to the other, each admission which took massive amounts of courage to share, these two men form a foundation that is unshakable.
There is an underlying plotline that serves as a backbone to move the story along, and I enjoyed watching the cast of characters interact. Whether sharing heartfelt moments or planning out a business strategy, each character served a purpose. And that purpose was creating a magnetic family unit, grounded in love and understanding. Adding the passion both Kieran and Jordan share for building things, and tossing in a deliciously hateful villain, there were moments when I found myself wishing bad things for the venomous character. This backdrop and side stories added to the ebb and flow of the story, providing breaks between deeply emotional scenes.”
Jules – Riding with Brighton by Haven Francis – “I looooved Brighton. He’s funny, kind, smart, and self-assured, yet also has some lingering insecurities from his last relationship. His family is also totally amazing. It’s clear where he gets his wonderful traits and approach to life from. And, Jay…this kid blew me away. The stuff that came out of him during his day with Brighton showed so much depth and heart. He’s awesome. And, I also loved Jay’s dad so, so much. I guarantee that every single person who reads this book will fall in love with him.
I LOVED this book, you guys. It has a strong Ferris Bueller’s Day Off vibe, which was so fantastic and fun. And, reading it reminded me of reading Simon vs The Homo Sapiens Agenda, which is like the highest of compliments. Just that feeling, right from the get-go, that the author has nailed it. Mostly I couldn’t stop smiling and giggling the entire time, but I also cried at the end. There was so much humor and love in the story, and so many awww-inspiring moments; I truly, completely adored it. Haven Francis absolutely won me over with Brighton and Jay. It’s tough to write a YA/NA book with the authentic voice this one has. I have no doubt I’ll end up reading it again at some point.”
Sammy – Empathy for a Killer by Sarah Masters – “Author Sarah Masters has written, perhaps, one of the most compelling psychological thrillers with her new release, Empathy for a Killer. Featuring a tightly wound detective who avoids emotional attachment like the plague, Masters uses both Burgess Varley and his partner, Shaw, to track down a twisted killer who is recreating a crime he committed nearly sixteen years previously. As the two go after their suspect, they come to terms with their long-suffering attraction for each other, and we get the chance to watch as Burgess begins to thaw emotionally, and embrace both the truth of his deep affections for Shaw and his past, which includes the impact his father’s death had on him and his mother.
With a slow building pace and a rather horrifying window into the criminal’s psyche, we watch as this incredible author describes how a serial killer emerges, and the impact his upbringing had on damaging him far beyond comprehension. We are taken inside the minds of each key player in this story while learning how deeply Shaw loves Burgess and will look beyond just about anything in order to be with him. Step by step we watch Burgess unfold, his phobias, his fears and his passion all surging to the surface the nearer he gets to discovering who the killer actually is, and how they are connected. But it is the interactions we experience with the killer himself that leave us both horrified and, yes, devastated that the man had suffered so much as a child.”
Maryann – Spring Break by Elle Keaton – “Spring Break is a very emotional story of two men—one who carries the burden of fault for losing family, and the other who feels he can survive without companionship. Carroll Weir has been a favorite character since the beginning of the Accidental Roots series, and this story really brings out his entire personality. Sterling was a surprise; he’s really nurturing and knows how to take care of Weir.
Elle Keaton brings the characters of Skagit to life, and shows the support, love and humor that this small town shares. The plot itself has danger, action, mystery, money laundering, kidnapping and makes for a page-turner. With each installment, this series has gotten better and better. There are some new investigators who have come on the scene, and a few interesting surprises in the Epilogue-ish final bit of the book. The author has left me curious, as well—I don’t have any idea who will be featured in the next installment.”
Carrie – Shaded Chains by Jack L. Pyke – “Are you a fan of Jack L. Pyke? Even if you are not you will love this rework of a story she originally wrote back in 2014. The original name was His, but in this rework she has added depth to her characters, expanded the length some (even though it is still short), and given us a more rounded story.
This novella jumps in from the get-go, so be prepared to come up to speed fast on the dynamics between our MCs, and the stumbling blocks in their lives. Even though the story is short, you come away feeling like you have known these men for quite some time. Pyke gives us a beginning, middle and end in this novella while conveying a sense of time before and time after the snapshot we see. The pacing is done well, and the intensity between the MCs is more ramped up in this rework.”
Lisa – Stoker & Bash: The Fangs of Scavo by Selina Kray – “I loved every single thing about this book: Kray’s voice and gift for grounding the reader in the time and place; the mystery and the story of the fangs; the way she introduced and then layered her characters until they became real and fascinating and diverse people within the framework of their story. Most of all, though, I loved the evolution of Kip’s character. He’s often described as unremarkable, but so is everyone when compared to Bash, and his history is fascinating, especially when it comes to a past that haunts him. Tim’s efforts to smother and squash his attraction to Hiero was as touching as his denial that any sort of future, never mind happiness, with the beautiful and enigmatic and confounding man could be for a man such as him.
Kray writes with such grace and substance, which made this book a pleasure to get lost in for a while. And anyone who invokes Wilde (he had to get his inspiration from somewhere!) is doing everything right in my book.”
And that does it for this month. Until next time, happy reading!
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