Genre Week Wrap Up and Giveaway!!

challenge month 2016Hello everyone! I can’t believe it but we are just finishing up our month-long Reading Challenge Month. The time has flown so fast! This week is Genre Week and we have been reading books in genres we don’t normally read.

You guys can play along with this event in two ways. First off, you can leave a comment on any of this week’s challenge week reviews and earn one entry point for each. And second, if you read along with your own challenge book, you can tell us all about it here in the comments of this post and get 10 contest entries. So if you comment on all the posts and do a mini-review, you can earn mega entries!


This week’s fabulous prize is sponsored by Less Than Three Press

They are giving away three book bundles in three different genres. And the prizes are all paperbacks! There will be three winners and based on the order names are drawn, I will let the winners select their bundle. The prizes include:

Fantasy bundle:

  • Alexey Dyed in Red by A.M. Valenza
  • Dragonborn by Meaghan Friday
  • Dragonspire by Talya Andor
  • His Blue Eyes by Arden L. Kitze
  • Ravenhearth by Lotus Oakes

Sci-fi bundle:

  • All the King’s Men by Alex Powell
  • For Promise Yet Unbroken by Tygati
  • For the Clan by Archer Kay Leah
  • The Best of Both Worlds by Victoria Zagar
  • Keep the Stars Running anthology

Paranormal/Urban Fantasy bundle:

  • Gun to my Head by Dira Lewis
  • Ruby Red Booty Shorts and a Louisville Slugger by Lexi Ander
  • Supernatural Consultant Vol 1 by Mell Eight
  • Wriggle & Sparkle by Megan Derr
  • Enchanted Soles anthology

And all entries throughout the month qualify you for the grand prize sponsored by Dreamspinner Press. They are giving away a Kindle Fire loaded with all of their summer releases!


Ok, before we get too far, some things you may need to know:

  • All the contest details and rules are in this post or at least linked from here
  • This week’s deadline to leave comments on our reviews, or your mini review of your own book here on this post, is Sunday night. All entries will be tallied at that time and the Week 3 winner announced. All entries will also carry over for the grand prize at the end of the month.
  • If you read along your own challenge book this week, leave your mini review here on this wrap up post. And if you missed the chance to leave any comments, here is quick recap of the books we read this week:

Thank you so much to everyone who has been participating all week (and all month)! Don’t forget to leave your comments and your mini reviews for a chance to win!


  1. It’s been a great month, Jay. Thanks so much!

    All the Wrong Places by Ann Gallagher

    I read in many romance genres, so I was stymied by this challenge until I happened across this book with its asexual heroes. In short, Brennan’s three girl friends have all broken up with him because he hasn’t been meeting their sexual needs. Zafir, a single parent working two jobs, meets Brennan when the latter, looking for some guidance, visits the adult store where Zafir works. Zafir, who is asexual, speculates that Brennan might also be asexual and offers him information and support. They become friends and fall in love. Zafir’s son plays a significant role in the story as Brennan (a semi-pro skateboarder) teaches him to skateboard.

    This was an enjoyable story with minimal angst; it also educated me. I learned (please correct me if I’m wrong) that asexuality is a broad category which includes (amongst others) some who find sex repellent as well as some who have sex because they like to gift their partners with something that their partner enjoys.

    • Thanks for the review Kareni! Jason reviewed this one for us and he enjoyed it as well. Glad you got a chance to try something new!

    • Being an asexual, I am happy that it is also gets it place in romance these days.

    • I really loved this story, and I really think it could even be useful in a youth library setting. (The explanations of all the different permutations of asexuality were really eye-opening!) I also thought Gallagher did an amazing job with the Tariq character; it’s so tricky to have a character’s child in an m/m story in the first place, and Tariq was really likeable while still coming off as a real teenager.

  2. This has been fun!  Thank you for putting it together and to everyone who reviewed books!

    I read Spy Stuff by Matthew J. Metzger.  I loved his Vivaldi in the Dark series.  Since I haven’t read much with a transgender MC, I decided to try Spy Stuff.

    My rating:  4 stars

    I quite enjoyed Spy Stuff. Both Anton and Jude were wonderful, authentic characters, plus their friends and Anton’s mom and aunt were interesting supporting characters. Metzger’s writing style was fun, easy to read and there was a great balance between Anton’s emotions and information about his life and struggles. I also thought the way sex was handled was appropriate for a YA book – no on-page details (except for some kissing), but it was not completely left out, so the reader learned the decisions Anton & Jude made and how Anton felt about it. The story did not get too angsty or heavy; there were struggles and pain but also lightness and happiness. The use of “spy stuff” as a catch phrase was adorable and I thought the ending was the perfect pitch. Would love a sequel with more of Anton’s journey. 

  3. A HARD BARGAIN by Hennessee Andrews

    Blurb: “Three months ago, Cade Lawson was left standing at the altar in front of a packed church of friends and family. His bride admitted to a love affair with his own best man. That scene not only injured him, but propelled him forward to find his happiness on his terms.
    Cade uses money set aside for a dream home for his bride to chase the dream of owning a ranch. Little does he know cowboy Jed McMasters will give him more than he bargained for. The ranch has its perks, one of which changes Cade’s outlook and sexuality.
    Jed stirs new emotion and desire Cade had in previous years dismissed as merely curiosity. Cade tries to ignore his attraction, fearful of ruining their business deal. What he doesn’t realize is that Jed is gay and has his sights set on luring him into his bed.
    Will he succumb to the passion that Jed creates inside him? Or deny the inevitable?”

    Review: I don’t tend to read Westerns for some reason, and this one’s been on my e-reader for a while. I was surprised that the ranch setting doesn’t really have much of a presence. The few scenes involving the work are very evocative, and it really would have been nice to see more scenes of Cade falling for the more rural setting. Cade and Jed are attracted to each other right away; we know this because of several scenes where the guys are pleasuring themselves while imagining each other. Normally this would be tantalizing, but the sequences are so similar that it really felt repetitive after a while. I also looked askance at Jed’s method of seducing Cade. He knows the guy is struggling with his sexuality, so he bait-and-switches him with an m/m/f porn video when they’re innocently watching TV. When Cade protests that he sleeps with women, Jed growls something along the lines of “That’s because you haven’t been with a man yet!” Geez. Of course, despite the fact that Cade was conflicted about merely kissing Jed minutes earlier, by the end of their first clinch he’s enjoying full penetration and shouting for more like a phone-sex operator working on commission. That’s not to say there aren’t some good moments here: I liked Jed’s smartalecky exchange with a jittery woman on a plane, and more of that (intentional) humor would have been great. I’m sad to say that this one was a miss for me.

    • I felt like I should give Andrews another chance, so I tried:

      ROUGH IN THE SADDLE (Rough In The Saddle #1) by Hennessee Andrews

      Blurb: “Dear Author,
      These two guys were childhood friends. They tried to hide their relationship in the rodeo but they got caught, so they ran away. That is when they found the gay rodeo.
      Photo Description:
      Two men in ball hats, plaid shirts, jeans, and boots sprawl in their seats in a rodeo grandstand. Their heads rest together and their shoulders touch, and the man on the right has his hand around the other man’s thigh. They are clearly friends, probably lovers. At the rail in front of and below them, three cowboys watch the action in the arena.
      This story was written as a part of the M/M Romance Group’s “Love Has No Boundaries” event. Group members were asked to write a story prompt inspired by a photo of their choice. Authors of the group selected a photo and prompt that spoke to them and wrote a short story.”

      Review: While LHNB stories naturally tend to suffer a bit from the event’s time and space constrictions, Wade and Macon are actually fairly compelling. (The lengthy flashback where the teenaged best friends succumb to their feelings is very sensual and sweet, by far the highlight of the story.) After a photo of a post-rodeo kiss appears in their hometown paper, they accept a trial period at a different ranch. When they learn that it involves a gay rodeo, Wade in particular struggles with the idea of leaving the closet, and becoming a poster boy for the LGBT movement. Some of the guys’ back-and-forth arguments seem a little simplistic, and the story is a bit of a cliffhanger, but I did grow to care for the characters. While I may not seek out subsequent installments right away, I am particularly curious about head rancher Zander’s story, since his character showed a fair amount of shading in such a short space.

    • Trix, your line “shouting for more like a phone-sex operator working on commission” had me laughing aloud!

      • I must admit that I swiped the “phone-sex operator working on commission” phrase from a review of Cybill Shepherd’s CYBILL DOES IT…TO COLE PORTER album in the book HOLLYWOOD HI-FI (the guy was describing the way she performed Porter’s lyrics). Seemed to fit here, though!

    • Thanks for your review Trix! And I love your descriptions of their “first clinch” lol

  4. summer devon says:

    AM RILEY HAS A NEW BOOK OUT AND I DIDN’T KNOW IT? Oh boy. This is good. Thank you.

  5. Even though I am a huge Rhys Ford fan, reading and re-reading the Cole McGinnis and Sinner’s Gin books several times, but so far I have resisted the Kai Gracen books. Urban fantasy? Not sure that’s really my thing… So, Genre Week gave me the perfect incentive to take the plunge with Black Dog Blues, and I am really glad I did. It was thrilling and imaginative and gruesome and witty and gripping and so, so clever; let’s face it, Rhys Ford is incapable of writing a boring or clumsy phrase. But – can I be painfully honest? – the one thing that could have improved Black Dog Blues for me would be some, well… romance. There’s the potential there for Kai and Ryder – but I’m not sure it’s ever going to happen! On the bright side, I notice that Greg Tremblay has done the audiobook for the first in this series, so I shall go for the audiobook rather than the ebook for Mad Lizard Mambo when that comes out. 

    I am also about half way through A Summer Pursuit by Jules Radcliffe, as recommended by Kris at the beginning of the week, and I’m really enjoying it so far. I would second the slight negative that the period cant and slang is a bit intrusive (I’ve had to head to Google several times for a translation) but I love the fact that this is a historical in a period and setting (1850s New York) not often used in m/m. 

    • I’m like you regarding Black Dog Blues  -loved other series I’ve read, just not seen so keen on this one – but I may give it a go now!

    • Thanks for the review Anna. This is one of the few Rhys Ford series I haven’t read. I think maybe I was looking for something with more romance too. But I have heard nothing but good things about it so I am thinking I should give it a try as I adore her writing.

  6. I read Roller Girl, by Vanessa North
    The third in the Lake Lovelace series and not as intense as the previous two. I picked for the genre week as it is f/f. Tina, one of the MC’s is trans, and previous books I’ve read with trans women, they have had a relationship with a male so this was a bit different for me.
    The story was nice, no angst really and no depth of intensity either – just about a girl who likes a girl!
    Tina is newly divorced so the story is about her coming to terms with a new life, making new friends, standing on her own feet – all those things that now have to be done as one person rather than half of a couple.
    Her love interest is Joe, the plumber (aka Joanne) and coach of the local roller derby squad but I didn’t feel the heat between them, except when in bed. And I would have liked to know Tina more – as the main pov character, she was a bit of an enigma still.
    Great writng style as expected from Vanessa North, just wanted more feelings

    • Thanks for the review Suze. I have this one in my TBR pile and I have loved the others in the series. I just need to make some time for it. I enjoyed hearing your thoughts!

  7. I read two F/F books this week for the challenge

    Far from Home (Belladonna Ink, #1) by Lorelie Brown: 3.75 stars
    I really thought this was lovely. I loved the friendship between Rachel and Pari that turned into something more. This had quite few other diversity elements check out, in my opinion: Pari being an Indian (which means interracial relationship) and Rachel being a demi-sexual. BUT, I wasn’t comfortable to read the sex scenes and the author didn’t explore their background friendship clearly.
    Full Goodreads review:

    The Empty Rooftop by Lily MacPherson: 3 stars
    It didn’t reach to its full potential. I totally loved the idea — both the mystery about serial killer as well as blossoming romance between an FBI consultant a girl car racer. However, the execution was slightly lacking. The romance is more tell than show. The investigation isn’t deeply explored. But I loved the writing… plus, no sex haha
    Full Goodreads review:

  8. I read Helping Hand by Jay Northcote, it is the story of two house mates, Jez and Big Mac, who slowly discover there is more between them than just a friendship with certain perks. I really enjoyed the book, and although I do not read this kind of books very often (I guess I’m so far away from those years that I cannot easily relate) I found both characters likeable and endearing, specially Jez, who is sweet and open minded about his sexuality (he does not freak out when he realises he is attracted to Mac, he just decides to explore it). this was a very nice discovery, and I’m sure I’ll continue reading the Housemates series. Highly recommendable!

    • OH I am glad you enjoyed it! I really liked this one and think the second book is even better! I am enjoying the series so I hope you get a chance to continue.

  9. I decided to give Passing on Faith by A.M. Leibowitz. I’m not a fan of any books dealing with religion or spirituality but decided to give this one a go (never say never attitude and all XD). Surprising, I found myself enjoying this quite a bit. The book was more character driven and religion/ideology wasn’t really at the forefront of the story or thrown into readers face constantly. The characters, Cat and Micah both had their own issues that they both helped each other through and helped each other confront.

    • Interesting! I tend to shy away from books with religion, primarily bc they are virtually never MY religion. Glad you gave this one a shot and ended up enjoying it!

  10. For Genre Week I chose Widdershins by Jordan Hawk. Historical is not my go-to genre, but this book has gotten a lot of love and I grabbed it when it was free(?). I finally dusted it off my TBR and boy am I glad I did. I loved this book, the story line is fabulous. I don’t think I knew what I was getting into when I started the book. I WILL be reading the rest of the series. One of the few books I’ve given 5 stars.

    • Finishing Widdershins up fairly quick I decided to go for another historical that’s been hanging around my TBR. I went with The Gentleman and The Rogue by Bonnie Dee and Summer Devon. I thoroughly enjoyed this tale of rentboy and Lord. Jem is definitely a gem. 4 stars from me.

    • Yay! I am so glad you liked this as it is one of my all time favorite series!

  11. I read Simon vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli. I don’t often read YA for some reason, but I’ve heard such wonderful things about this book that I decided to give it a try. I’m so glad I did. I just adored it. Simon is such a wonderful character and the end left me smiling. I would absolutely recommend it.

    Thanks for a great month! I’ve enjoyed reading all the reviews and I’ve added so many books to my tbr.

  12. First of all Thank you for this fun month i really enjoyed all the challenges and reading everybody’s reviews and thoughts. My read for this weeks challenge was Born To Be Wilde by G.A. Hauser. This is a book set in prison and although i like the idea i haven’t read many books that are set in prison. BLURB: Jesse James screwed up when he was a college student. Caught selling dope on campus, he got a twelve year prison sentence and with good behavior, would get it cut to six. Corrections Officer Mike McClintock is the newbie at the prison, fresh out of the academy.
    When the two men meet inside, both Jesse and Mike feel the heat of attraction, but Jesse doesn’t want to jeopardize his release time, nor anger other inmates jealous. And Mike could risk his job, and his life, if he acts on his desire to be with Jesse.
    MY REVIEW: I really liked this book, both main characters are very likeable and you can feel their attration immediatly. When first meeting it looks like Mike is going to be the shy new guard but that will chance very quickly 🙂 I also liked the fact that although Jesse is the one in prison he isn’t the dominant guy. The only thing i didn’t like was the Carlos factor we don’t get to see why he didn’t like Mike and what made him so hostile towards him (and it wasn’t just because he is the guard).
    Other than that this was a very enjoyable read that i would definitely recommend.

  13. I definitely read across so many genres with characters across the lgbtq+ spectrum that I had a bit of trouble figuring out what I’d read. I picked non-fiction last year because it’s definitely something I don’t read often, and I thought I’d do the same this year, but a memoir, which is about the last kind of book I’d pick up. I had a good one lined up, but I just ran out of time. I finally settled on something else I don’t read (so maybe second to the last thing you’d spot me with), a manga, a Japanese comic. I’m someone who loves words and every time I’ve tried to read a manga or graphic novel, I don’t get much out of it because I focus on the words, not the pictures, which give huge context, like half he story. Still I’ve been trying out and loving some webcomics, so I thought I’d given this one manga I had a go. It was unsatisfying. I couldn’t get the hang of reading from right to left until halfway through. It wasn’t colored in, so I completely got lost on who characters were because there was this inverse coloring thing. The storytelling felt choppy even when I didn’t feel lost! but that could just be the style. At its core, I think I could really enjoy Shimura Takako’s Wandering Son Volume 1, because it was a sweet tale about two kids who realize their trans. It was set in a school where one new student comes in and the friendships that form help them come to terms with who they are. But It was just not my medium at all. I’ve always wanted to add graphic novels to my repertoire, but maybe I was too ambitious to go into manga. I’ll keep building myself up with the wonderful lgbtq+ webcomics I’ve found. To end this on a high note, I can highly recommend Les Normaux if anyone’s looking for fun, sweet characters who just happen to be supernatural beings living in a magical Paris. I adore it with all my heart.

    Thank you so much to everyone for the great Reading Challenge Month. I’ve had a great time finding new books both from Jay and the whole JJ crew, as well as everyone’s weekly wrap-up reviews. As always, happy reading!

  14. I read about everything since I’m not genre orientated but go solely for the author. So if I love an author I will buy the entire backlist. But still, some books tend to pile up on my TBR list, so I picked some books in my least favorite genres, which are basically the non-contemporary ones. All books waited at least 1 to 3 years on my kindle.

    The first book was “The Gravedigger’s Brawl” by Abigail Roux. This book is listed as mystery/thriller, horror (which is so not my thing). This is basically a ghost themed story and it was such a nice surprise for me. It has a clever plot, is well written and despite the Ghost theme very believable. The characters are all fully fleshed out. Also the romance part is very nice. 4,25*

    The second book was “Camwolf” by JL Merrow, a werewolf-shifter story. This book is set in an English college with a relationship between a teacher and a student (which is not an issue here). There is not much world-building necessary because it is a present-day story in a contemporary setting but with some shifters. This novel is character driven with a good plot. Even the secondary characters are well fleshed out. I love Merrow’s writing style and rate it with 4*

    The next was a series of four novellas, “Damn If You Do” by JL Merrow. These novellas are about a daemon, a male succubus and his lover, a Detective of the Paranormal Enforcement Agency. Every novella is a complete criminal / paranormal case but the story goes through all four books. I needed one book to be engaged to this world and the characters but then it was really wonderful. Rael is such a sweet and sexy little daemon. You just have to love him. A really fun series, well written as always, 4*

    The last one was “Sand And Ruin And Gold”, a short story by Alexis Hall. This is listed as sci-fi, AU.
    This wonderful literary and poetical written short is set in a dystopian world with a prince, several mermaids and a merman. I don’t want to say more because it is a short and you just have to read it ?. 5*

    So this was it with this week and also with this month. I had so much fun, reading all the reviews, buying all the books ? and especially writing for the first time ever for the “internet” and also for the very first time in English, which is a foreign language for me. It was not easy but I think I have learned a lot, which was my basic goal. So thank you very much, Jay, for your wonderful blog, for this great reading challenge and for this opportunity to participate!

  15. I’m not sure that menage (m/m/m) is a genre or sub-genre, but it’s one of the few stories I almost never touch, so I decided to read Dark Horse trilogy by Kate Sherwood. The first part of book one got me bawling my eyes out. It was very emotional but necessary. I loved that the story showed how Dan Came into terms with the death of his lover and settled into life without Justin. Life didn’t really end in happy ever after when we got the boy/girl, but there were a lot of obstacles down the road where happy ever after didn’t seem possible.

    That said, for me a successful story should make me feel invested in all of the main characters and love interest. I found myself feeling mostly lukewarm to Evan. I just couldn’t love him. Although the story emphasized that Evan’s motives were usually pure, his actions made me twitchy. His method for solving problem was usually to throw his money and influence around and it seemed like he talked a good talk but he couldn’t act it, so he came across as hypocrite sometimes. He was also over-the-top with his gestures, pushy, and prone to fly off the handle, which made it hard for me to buy the Dan and Evan part of the threesome.

    So, although I wasn’t super into the story, I read through the trilogy because Kate Sherwood is one of my favorite authors, she usually writes well, and this is one of her earlier books. I’m not sure that I would have that much staying power if the author is less than a favorite.

  16. I’ve never read anything intersex/transgender so I decided to give it a try. I’ve had Chyna Doll by Mickie B Ashling on my Kindle for a long time and this challenge nudged me to finally give it a try.
    Apparently this is the 4th book of a series so I didn’t really have the back story of the two gay couples in the book but it wasn’t necessary to read the other books to understand this one.
    The main story is about twin boys, Chip and Chyna. Chip was a normal male but Chyna was born with PMDS which means that externally she was male in most ways but she also had fallopian tubes and a uterus. Their mom, against all advice, decide to raise Chyna as a girl so Chip and Chyna have spent all their lives trying to keep it a secret that Chyna has male genitals. Chips best friend Luca has had feelings for Chip for quite a while and has been struggling with his sexual identity but after developing feelings for Chyna has finally decided that he must be straight (or bi).
    The kids are all in their freshman year at high school so there is a backstory of bullying which eventually exposes
    Chyna’s secret to the entire student body.
    I really enjoyed this story more than I thought I would. I’m not sure how something like this could actually happen since all of my Googling seems to show that kids born with this syndrome are pretty much considered boys, so letting the mom choose the female gender seems unlikely. Still, I learned more about intersex people and some of the struggles they face.

  17. This week I read Here’s To You, Zeb Pike by Johanna Parkhurst.

    I was sucked into this story quickly, even though it’s not normally the first thing I would pick up. Dusty is such a strong teenager, and at the same time, he’s an absolute emotional mess–and I can relate to that. Parkhurst does a fantastic job of bringing his situation to life and emotionally involving the reader in Dusty’s situation and his journey to becoming a teenager again.

    That said, this isn’t like most gay YA I’ve read. It’s not about being gay at all, and it’s barely mentioned for the first half of the book. Understandably. Dusty has bigger issues to deal with. I was surprised at how much I didn’t miss a romantic element. There is a romantic interest is the latter part of the story, but it very much takes a back seat to Dusty’s other problems and interests. So if you want a pure romance, give this book a pass, but otherwise, this is a fantastic story.

  18. I read across most genres I decided to go with No Master by Christine D’Abo to finish the No Bounty series since sci-fi is one I don’t read as much. Although No Master is the third in the series, I felt like it could be read as a standalone. A couple of MCs from the first book made cameo appearances but I don’t think it takes anything away from this story at all. I enjoyed the story overall, the trope with 2 associates in forced proximity working together to fight someone they feel is evil appeals to me. Unfortunately a few misogynistic comments thrown in at the end of the story soured my enjoyment.

  19. This week I read the f/f novel To Hold a Rainbow by MJ Brannigan. The subtitle, A Maui Love Story, caught my eye because I honeymooned in Maui and last year we returned with the kids. *Sigh* Suffice it to say, it’s my happy place. The book starts off quite strong. Our main character, Rebecca, is cut off by the rising tide on an isolated stretch of beach and her situation becomes increasing dire until the other MC, Kamea, shows up in a kayak to rescue her. Kamea was spearfishing “ono,” and the author either knows what he’s talking about or has done some thorough research because the descriptions were detailed and engaging. The two women slowly get to know one another and a romance develops. We discover that Rebecca is just recovering from a long-term relationship that went sour; the previous partner shows up later in the story in a bid to up the ante that didn’t quite work for me. Kamea wonders if Rebecca could be “the one” because she discovered her under a rainbow (literally), and her auntie had a vision about this and it’s all very meaningful. There are descriptions of different places on Maui, but beyond the spearfishing passages I never felt immersed in its unique culture. Also, if it matters to you, sex happens off-page. By far the best thing about this book is the (oil? acrylic?) paintings at the beginning of each chapter. I’ve never seen art incorporated into a romance novel like this before, and it’s lovely. The artist has the same name as the main character, Kamea Connolly. Based on a true story? There’s a website you can check out if you’re interested. Overall it’s a nice story, but I finished the book because I wanted to review it for this reading challenge, not because I was emotionally invested.

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