Review: AND IT CAME TO PASS

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Title: And It Came To Pass

Author: Laura Stone

Artist: CB Messer

Publisher: Interlude Press

Release date: 5/18/17

Rating: 4.5 stars

Warnings: Assault, institutionalized homophobia

Blurb:

Adam Young is a devout Mormon whose life is all planned out, by both his strict father and his church. He follows the path they’ve established for him, goes off to his mission in Barcelona, Spain, and realizes that his life may not follow the trajectory already chosen for him.

His mission companion, Brandon Christensen, is a handsome, enthusiastic practitioner on the surface. But as their mission progresses, they both realize they have major questions about their faith… and substantial feelings for one another.

Thoughts:

Oh my heck. If this book wasn’t fiction, and you looked up “repressed” in the dictionary, you’d absolutely find a picture of Adam Young. Two pictures, even, because in one, his stoic expression reflects the seriousness with which he regards Heavenly Father, and in the second, he’s double-guessed himself and tried for a smile, because he’s full of the airy joyousness of God’s love and…stuff. Isn’t he?

Reader, he is not. Adam arrives in Barcelona for his two-year mission weighted with what can only be described as dread. He’s spent his entire life being told by literally everyone he knows that being called (as is the term) to field work is an exciting and important part of his religious journey, one that will give him purpose and satisfaction almost instantly, if he does it right. And there’s no doubt that Adam can follow every rule in every book down to the tiniest detail, so why does Spain feel like a different planet? His supervisors and the fellow missionaries who become his peers are essentially the same ~type of folks he’s grown up with, guided by the same boring (slash comforting) routine as always, but they may as well be literal aliens to Adam, for all he can relate to them. The isolation he experiences is staggering.

Except…

Except there’s Brandon. Brandon, Adam’s new companion, who is cheerful and charming and by far the most successful member of their mission group. Brandon, tall and handsome, with a family that loves not only him, but each other too; Adam can’t even imagine his parents sharing a hug. He gets caught up in Brandon’s effusiveness – as probably anyone would, when starved of affection for almost 20 years – and everything is going along rather swimmingly until Chapter 4, when Brandon dares to voice a single question about a direction they’ve been given for approaching potential converts.

It’s a mild query, the nature of which has run through Adam’s own mind more than once (more than ten times, to be honest), but he is stunned to hear it fall out of Brandon’s mouth. To give breath to such doubt is a sin! To do so as the de-facto class president is probably two sins! Why, Adam would be working himself into a proper fury if he weren’t so distracted by how much he agrees with Brandon and wants him to keep talking.

And therein lies the rub. The more Brandon asks out loud, the more unable Adam grows to just…not answer him, and pretty soon they’re using what little free time they have to independently, critically explore the texts, testaments and procedures they’ve been taught since birth. Brandon’s parents are able to fill in most gaps as they pop up, and though Adam remains kind of anxious and scandalized, he comes into himself as a thinking adult with a swiftness and surety that almost made me cry with its sweetness. The growth of his character and the accompanying (absolutely lovely) dynamic between Adam and Brandon are only two of the many reasons to pick up And It Came To Pass – just the third novel from the talented Laura Stone – as soon as you get the chance.

Purchase:

Amazon (US)

Barnes & Noble

Disclaimer: I received a copy of this title from the publisher in exchange for a fair & honest review.

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Review: SUMMER STOCK

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Title: Summer Stock

Author: Vanessa North

Artist: L.C. Chase

Publisher: Riptide Publishing

Release date: 5/15/2017

Rating: 4.25 stars

Warnings: Description of domestic abuse (past), recreational drug use (past), brief mention of biphobia

Blurb:

Tabloid scandals have driven TV star Ryan Hertzog to North Carolina’s Outer Banks, where he’s hiding out doing summer stock at his cousin’s seaside theater. When a hookup with local handyman Trey Donovan results in Ryan being photographed butt naked, he vows to keep his pants on and his hands off Trey. How was he supposed to know Trey would turn out to be the summer stock set builder? Trey isn’t looking for a relationship; he’s still recovering from the emotional fallout of an abusive marriage. But Ryan’s laughter draws him in again and again, and he’s not about to say no to fooling around. As the summer heats up, the paparazzi catch Ryan in increasingly compromising situations. Ryan might be too much drama for a summer fling—and Trey might be just an intermission from Ryan’s Hollywood life. But if they take their cues from Shakespeare, all’s well that ends well.

Thoughts:

This was my first time reading an author’s work *after* becoming acquainted with them on social media, and I’m pleased to say it was a good experience. Ms. North infuses a relatively simple plot with an appealing mix of diverse characters who no doubt have some issues – but they’re working through them together.

Although the blurb focuses more on Ryan, it was the understated strength of Trey, a Carolina transplant, that drew me into the early stages of the book. At first, he seems like a personification of the phrase “speak softly and carry a big stick,” (where the stick is a freaking gigantic dog); later, as he begins to flourish from a combination of professional success and Ryan’s attention, Trey is established as a smart, hard-working guy who is loyal to his friends and trying to recover himself in the wake of a disastrous divorce.

In direct contrast to Trey’s gentility, Ryan – known to Hollywood as the slutty party boy Bryan Hart – comes home to Bankers’ Shoals a bit like a firework with a faulty fuse; it’s pretty, and the novelty is interesting for a second, but the trick just doesn’t work like it’s supposed to. Ryan struggles to adjust to the change of pace his temporary relocation brings about. He doesn’t understand the dynamics of his summer peers at the theater or the weird aggression he gets from his erstwhile boss, Mason. With his best friend in rehab back in California and therefore unreachable, Ryan quickly realizes how isolated he now is in the town where he grew up.

Enter Trey (duh). He’s dazzled by Ryan’s laugh and energy, and Ryan soaks up Trey’s wit and steadfastness with a neediness that reads as charming, not icky. They become friends-who-occasionally-kiss and it’s just…great. Honestly, I really liked their relationship. The way it progressed and the way those around them reacted to its various developments seemed natural and real. Trey and Ryan both make mistakes, of course, but Ms. North’s competent and responsible writing style results in a satisfying overall story that I am happy to recommend to any/everyone.

Purchase:

Amazon (US)

Barnes & Noble

Disclaimer: I received a copy of this title via NetGalley in exchange for a fair and truthful review.

Blog tour: The Art of Three

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The Art of Three by Racheline Maltese & Erin McRae is easily – EASILY – the best book I’ve read so far in 2017, and I’m so pleased to be hosting a stop on its virtual tour. Thanks to both authors and to Silver Dagger Scriptorium for including my tiny little baby of a blog!

aot- about the book

Jamie Conway has a charmed life. At 24, he’s relocated from Dublin to London to star in his first feature film. Unfortunately, he also has one very big problem: He has a huge crush on his happily married costar.

British heartthrob to middle-aged women everywhere, Callum Griffith-Davies should have more sense than to flirt with his new-to-the-business colleague, but good judgement isn’t one of the qualities for which he’s known.

Nerea Espinosa de Los Monteros Nessim has better things to do than fret about her husband’s newest conquest. She’s busy planning her daughter’s wedding at the family’s farmhouse in rural Spain. Besides, she and Callum have been married and polyamorous for almost 30 years; she’s content to let him make his own bad choices.

But when Nerea flies to London after her artwork is selected for a high-profile museum show, she falls for Jamie too. Soon Callum, Jamie, and Nerea have bigger problems, and surprises, than international logistics. From ex-lovers and nosy neighbors to adult children with dramas of their own, The Art of Three is a contemporary romance that celebrates families, and farce, in all shapes and sizes.

-*-*-*Sadie’s Review*-*-*-

Release date: 3/28/2017

Rating: 5 stars!

Warnings: None?

Thoughts:

Ohmygosh ohmygosh ohmygosh ohmyGOSH. You guys. I very stereotypically cannot even.

This is a stunningly nuanced, seriously romantic, and altogether impressively-written novel, and I would honestly rather read it repeatedly than risk my literary happiness on some of the books that cross my social media feeds on a daily basis.

I mean…this thing has 3 equal MCs! Two of whom are bisexual, and one of whom is a Spanish woman, and they’re all from different countries! And one is a silver fox! And there are grown children and disabled siblings and and AND the single most realistic, responsible portrayal of polyamory that I’ve ever personally seen in fiction! Please give me a sixth star so I can give it to this book.

Purchase (TRUST ME):

Amazon

Barnes & Noble

Book Depository

aot- authorS

Racheline Maltese can fly a plane, sail a boat, and ride a horse, but has no idea how to drive a car; she’s based in Brooklyn. Erin McRae has a graduate degree in international affairs for which she focused on the role of social media in the Arab Spring; she’s based in Washington DC. Together, they write romance about fame and public life. Like everyone in the 21st century, they met on the Internet.

aot- giveawayClick here! 🙂