TBR Pile Week Wrap Up and Giveaway!!

challenge month 2016Hello everyone! Today we are wrapping up the first week of our month-long Reading Challenge Month. This week is TBR Pile Week and we have been reading books that have been on our TBR lists for at least a year.

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 prizes are sponsored by NineStar Press and we will have two lucky winners.

The first prize is an eBook copy of EVERY BOOK they publish for six months! Woo hoo!

Second prize is a bundle of seven print books:

  • Enemies of the State – Tal Bauer
  • A Time to Rise – Tal Bauer
  • Defiant Loyalties – Elizabeth Wilde
  • Finding You, Finding Me – Bailey Queen
  • Wrestling for Top Collection – Jack Stevens
  • Perilous – Cari Z
  • You Are the One – Scott D. Pomfret

Every entry this (and every) week also enters you for our grand prize that will be selected at the end of the month. Dreamspinner is giving away a Kindle Fire filled with all of their summer releases from 2016! So lots of awesome books, plus a new Kindle to read them on!

 

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 1 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! Don’t forget to leave your comments and your mini reviews for a chance to win!

Comments

  1. I finally read Status Update by Annabeth Albert.  It has been on my TBR list for quite awhile.  With the 3rd book getting released this week, I decided to give the series a try.  I really enjoyed it and the relationship between Noah and Adrian was really cute.  I definitely look forward to reading the rest of the series.

  2. I chose A Casual Thing by Annabelle Jacobs. It is a cosy romance which tells us about Patrick and his long time crush with his older brother’s best friend, Will. When they spend two weeks together during the summer, Patrick proposes that they share a casual relationship, but he cannot control his feelings, and that means painful consequences. It is a short novel with likeable characters, a little bit of anguish and a very sweet HEA. I’ve enjoyed it a lot. It could become easily a favourite comfort reading.

  3. I read two books for this week: Heart to Hart (Gaslight Mysteries 1) by Erin O’Quinn and Hidden Gem by Lissa Kasey

    I didn’t enjoy Heart to Hart mainly because the writing used accent. As someone who is an ESL, I struggle with accent in writing (which is why I tend to avoid British/Irish/Scottish historical) . Also the sex part seems to taking over the mystery part, which was not what I expected:
    Full review: https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/1745026355

    As for Hidden Gem, it was okay — I liked the characters enough but I didn’t feel the romance. I also disliked the BDSM part of this book. The world-built was good though
    Full review: https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/1748856591

  4. TAILOR MADE (Tailor Made series #1) by Josephine Myles

    Blurb: “When Mr. Wrong measures up just right!

    College tart Felix McAvoy is used to causing a stir with his conceptual art pranks, but for his final show, he’s planning something even more outrageous. In a last ditch attempt to seduce his jaded tutor, Felix plans to wear the canvas in a subversive display. However, if he’s going to do this right he’ll need a tailor-made canvas suit. Fortunately, he knows just the tailor to turn to for the favour—and Felix isn’t shy about offering favours of a very different kind in return.

    First year fashion student Andrew Wheeler knows Felix by reputation only—and plans to keep things that way. Andrew’s determined to save himself for the man of his dreams, and Felix couldn’t be more different from his ideal Mr. Right. There’s only one use Andrew will contemplate for Felix’s body: a model for his end of year project. Trouble is, it’s going to involve a lot of close contact with a nearly naked Felix, and Andrew’s never had temptation quite so close at hand! ”

    Review: I’ve always enjoyed Myles’ books, so I don’t know how this one got lost in the shuffle for a couple of years. I’d mostly read her more serious stories (like JUNK and SCREWING THE SYSTEM), so it was really nice to have a low-angst, rather humorous scenario. I really liked Felix’s smart-alecky appeal, and the high-chemistry way it clashed with quiet Andrew’s personality. (As a former art history major, all the crazy conceptual art projects gave me a chuckle, too!) Myles always writes very sexy scenes, and libertine Felix’s effects on virginal Andrew were pretty mesmerizing. I did wish that the city of Bath itself was mentioned a bit more, since I love it at least as much as Myles does (I visited once ages ago, and miss it–it’s so beautiful!). I definitely plan to read the new sequel CUSTOM FIT, in a much more timely fashion!

    • I so glad you liked this one Trix! I really loved this story so it is great to hear! Hope you enjoy Custom Fit as well!

      • Just finished up EXPOSED by Skylar M. Cates:

        Blurb: “After years of running from a traumatic secret, young journalist Rafe Quintero is making his way in the world alone. Now that he’s landed a job at a Miami newspaper, he’s hungry for success. His goal? A blistering exposé on closeted PGA golfer Daniel Andrews. Rafe will stop at nothing to get the scoop—even if it means going undercover on Daniel’s private yacht.

        Daniel is used to being in the spotlight, but his reputation for being cold and unfriendly hasn’t made him very popular. Still reeling from his mother’s death and his ex-boyfriend’s engagement, he hides out on his yacht to escape the press hounding his every step. His instant attraction to Rafe, his new crew member, is a problem he can’t ignore.

        When Rafe and Daniel begin a steamy affair, Rafe knows it’s only a matter of time before Daniel discovers his betrayal. Now he has to choose: confess and hope Daniel can swallow his pride and forgive him, or put his ambition ahead of his heart and follow the story?”

        Review: I got this one in a giveaway quite a while ago. The combo of sports and journalism appealed to me, but for some reason I couldn’t get into this one the way I’d hoped. I think it’s because the guys’ insta-lust and hot-burning attraction (while compelling) led to some overly-quick transitions for me. (The climactic hate sex seemed particularly abrupt.) I couldn’t really get over Rafe’s dubious intentions, though Daniel seemed a bit of a cipher too. I did think that Becky was written very well (kids in m/m can often be a slippery slope), and the general style was crisp and nicely edited (in spite of a lot of telling rather than showing). I do have some of Cates’ The Guy series ready to go, so I’ll try some of those and see how I feel after that…

  5. I have read I’ll Be Your Drill, Soldier by Crystal Rose.
    It is funny especially the first part Bootcamp was hilarious, it was emotional (deployment and someone getting hurt). the sex was hot, hot, hot. This book really got it all. If you like big “bad” Alpha Males, uniforms and lots of humor then i suggest you try this one, i highly recommend it and i give it 5 stars.

    I would love a follow up on this book but when i searched for the author i couldn’t find anything, apparently she wrote the sequel but wasn’t happy about it and since that message she is MIA. A Shame and i hope she will publish the sequel in the near future i would definitely read it 🙂

  6. Despite my abiding love for all things TJ Klune, “How To Be A Normal Person” had been languishing on my TBR pile since last year. I had tried getting in to it a couple of times and really wasn’t in the right frame of mind for the narration of Gustavo Tiberius… But I took the plunge again this week and I’m so glad I did! Gus and Casey were very different characters from Sandy or Sam or Bear, and indeed quite unlike any characters you might encounter in anyone else’s writing, but I grew to love Grumpy Gus and his asexual, hipster stoner boyfriend (and their friends). Not just a 5* read, but quite possibly one of my favourites from TJ Klune, and that’s saying something! I’m currently at that slightly bereft stage you get to when you have just finished a book with characters you adore – “what now?????”. Well, I think I might carry on the pattern of reading that one book from a favourite author that I just never managed to get into. Santino Hassell’s “Stygian” it is, then…

    • So glad you ended up liking it. I listened to this in audio and I’ll admit it took me a while to get rolling at the start, especially since the chapters/sections start very much the same at the beginning. But once I got into the groove I really liked it! Glad you enjoyed it and got a little push to get it back on your reader!

    • Oh my gosh, what a wonderful book! I’m working my way through TJ’s catalog, and this is one of my favorites. Also, he mentioned on Twitter that he has been approached by a production company for film rights to How To be a Normal Person! That’s the first step in a long road ahead, but it’s a great start!

  7. I read: Never a Hero (Tucker Springs #5) by Marie Sexton

    Why I choose it:  I have enjoyed every book by Marie Sexton and I also love books about characters who have some obstacle, challenge or issue they need to get through.  Never a Hero had been on my TBR shelf for three years – I think I kept passing it by because I had not read all of the books in the series before it.  Turned out it was fine as a standalone.

    My star rating:  4 out of 5 stars

    What I Liked:  The best part of the book was Owen – the first-person narrator and MC.  I loved his voice and how when he ventured out of his cage (to borrow a theme from the book) his perceptions of past and current events began to right themselves and he fought for his and Nick’s happiness despite his normal, ingrained reactions.  There was a lot of UST between Nick and Owen, which added another great layer of tension.  And Nick’s sister June was a real kick.  I also enjoyed Marie Sexton’s writing style.

    What I didn’t Like:  Nick was a good character, but I felt like he wasn’t developed enough.  I did not get as invested in him as I wanted to, which is probably a hazard of first-person narration.  I also felt that with all the UST, the resolution was not as smexy as it could have been.  Nick’s agonizing over his “secret” was to blame, and given the situation was realistic, but a bit of a let down for me all the same.

    Overall, I am glad I picked this book.  It has inspired me to dig some more in my TBR list.  Thanks to Joyfully Jay for the reading challenge!

  8. Bear, Otter, and the Kid by TJ Klune

    This book has been languishing in my TBR cloud since mid-May of last year when I bought it and three others in a sale. Now I’m two down, two to go for those books. If I were to describe this book in one word, it would be ‘nice,’ and I don’t mean that it in a derogatory way. The book tells the story of an almost 18 year old (Bear) whose mother deserts him leaving him to raise his gifted young brother (the Kid). Bear has the support of his closest friends (his girl friend and his best friend) along with his best friend’s older brother, Otter. Bear and Otter develop a romantic and sexual relationship as time passes. I zipped through the first three quarters of the book (relishing its niceness) and then put it aside for a few days when angst happened. It ended on a solidly happy note though I’m interested to see that there are a couple of sequels. I’d happily read those.

    • Glad you ended up enjoying it. I haven’t read this series but it seems to be well loved. I think there are 3-4 books total (one more maybe in the works?) so lots more to get into if you liked this one!

  9. Lynne Clifford says:

    I bought Stay with me by S E Harmon about a year ago based on the type of book (mm murder mystery romance) but for some reason it just stayed on my TBR list until now.

    This is a great read with fully realised characters that you can’t help but care about. Not just Mac and Jordan – the MCs – but all the characters. If you like a fast moving PI story with plenty of relationship details, this is for you.

    This is the first in a series. I’m off now to get the next one.

  10. I chose How to Howl at the Moon by Eli Easton. It’s been on my TBR list for a while but I just never got it.
    I totally adored it! The romance between Lance and Tim was so sweet and cute. It was so funny when Lance pretended to be an ordinary dog and Tim gave him a bath. 😀 The idea of dogs being able to turn into humans if they’re loved enough is also a really interesting concept and I think the author really pulls it off. I need to get the next 2 books at some point.

    • Oh yes, I adored this one! I totally agree with how clever the premise is and Easton does a really great job carrying it through all the books so far. I hope you enjoy the rest too!

    • Definitely a fun series, and Lance and Tim are so much fun. Roman was kind of an odd character in this one, but really comes into his own in the sequel. I had read this, then picked up the audiobook later. The audio really adds to the book, I think!

  11. I read The Long Slide Hime by Kate McMurray. It was on my tbr from August 2015 and is the third and final book in the Rainbow League series.
    The relationship between Nate and Carlos had been mentioned in the first two books so I was looking forward to their story. It wasn’t as angsty as I’d expected (or hoped for) but still a good story and a nice series finale.i did feel both but especially Nate acted more teenager-ish than early 30’s a lot of the time – seize the day mate! 
    Carlos’s family is great though

  12. For this week I finally got around to Unacceptable Demands, by Kaje Harper.
    Blurb: Simon Conley was born a werewolf, making him one of a tiny minority in a sea of vanilla humans. The safety of the pack lies in absolute secrecy, sometimes violently enforced. In a species where pack-members are born and not made, being gay is considered a perversion. So when Simon falls in love with a human man, he’s twice damned. Even his Alpha’s grudging tolerance may not be enough to shield him from the hatred of the other top wolves. Then his lover Paul stumbles across pack secrets Simon was sworn to keep, and if the pack finds out, they may both end up dead.
    Rating: 4.0 out of 5

    This book is a reminder that even if you can predict how everything will play out, if the writing is good enough you can still really enjoy the story. This is a story of relationship and pack politics. While it is successful on both fronts, the former is far more enjoyable than the latter. The courtship between Simon and Paul is so sweet, and the push and pull between attraction, fear, and doubt makes for a fascinating dynamic. Paul’s concerns and hesitation especially struck a chord for me. Harper has done a great job in building these characters and their personalities, and indeed constructing a believable niche for werewolves in modern society as well. (Side note: props for either having good knowledge of the day-to-day life and concerns of a veterinarian or doing some really excellent research!)

    The pack politics part was the weaker part of the story for me. I was mildly annoyed at the HUGE cast of background characters, all with single short first names that were easy to get confused. This was a minor nitpick since really there are only a few principals that you need to remember. I especially liked Aaron and I look forward to reading more about him later in this series.

    As for predictability, about two-thirds through the book I guessed how the critical issues would be resolved. While I was mostly right, there were just enough twists in there to keep things interesting. This was a very entertaining and extremely sexy read! No shyness here, but given the relationship concerns addressed even the intimate moments helped further the plot.

    On a side note, I would urge any reader to download the free short story, Unsettled Interlude, that immediately follows the action in the book. It really is more of an epilogue, and actually speaks to a lot of the unresolved concerns I had at the end of the book. That epilogue makes the whole story better. Overall, I really liked this book and will continue to read through the series!

  13. I read Black Dog Blues by Rhys Ford which has been on my Kindle for ages. I have no idea why I didn’t read it sooner since I love so many of this author’s books. I really enjoyed it though I did find it different from her other books. The world building was fantastic and the plot and characters intriguing. I’m looking forward to seeing what happens to Kai next. I have the sequel preordered.

  14. I chose to read No! Jocks Don’t Date Guys by Wade Kelly it’s been on my TBR list since it’s release date last year. It’s the second book in the Jock series and I was hoping the story would follow up with the characters from the first book in the series, My Roommate’s a Jock? Well, Crap!

    While the MC’s from book 1 make an appearance, the main focus of this book are Alonzo Martin and Chris Jackson. Chris Jackson is the captain of the school’s soccer team and his father expects him to meet, date and eventually marry a cheerleader to continue the family tradition. Chris has been holding his father off with excuses of being too busy when the truth is he’s gay.
    Alonzo is the opposite of Chris. He’s out, an introvert and likes the punk/goth look. Alonzo also has his own psychological issues to work through. When Chris approaches him the two don’t exactly spark. But eventually Chris manages to wear him down.
    I enjoyed this book and learning more about the two characters. Chris and Alonzo weren’t perfect and it was interesting to see how the other half lived and that they just clicked as they did. I enjoyed seeing the support the MC’s lent each other, how they worked through their issues and what they were willing to do to make their relationship work.

  15. The book I chose for this week challenge is Held for Ransom by Layla M. Weir.

    Although Ransom was a criminal, I couldn’t help feeling sorry for him. He didn’t know any other way to live. His environment and family just didn’t give him chance to live as a normal person. He felt so much guilt about his past, he decided to go on the road in search of redemption . Meanwhile, DJ was stuck in a rut. He didn’t know what he wanted to do or be, and since the death of his mother he just lived alone at home, doing a job he didn’t particularly like or passionate about, and got roped into planning town Christmas festival. When the two met, they changed.

    It was an enjoyable read although I am not sure they can maintain their happiness for a long time at the end of the book. Living on the run is not the best way to have a happy and stable relationship. However, th

  16. I chose “The Beauty That Is Us” by Kody Boye which has been in my TBR for a couple of years. Overall the book was underwhelming for me. It could have used another editing pass as there quite a few errors, one repeatedly where a nightmare character was described as “amorous”. At one point the one MC asked the other why he thought he was having nightmares & he said he didn’t know. Which left me shouting at my kindle. Seriously? He has HIV, he’s also just had surgery for a malignant brain tumor, & now is having chemo. I would think having 2 life-threatening diseases would be enough to give anyone nightmares. I also had the feeling that the author was telling us all these angsty things. Although the MCs had several tragedies happen one right after the other, I never *felt* the angst. I just didn’t feel connected to their suffering. I did like that they communicated their thoughts & feelings to each other throughout the story. There was never any doubt about their devotion to each other. Still only a 2-star for me.

  17. I decided to go back to my First Generation Kindle and pick an unread book. I chose Rhapsody for Piano & Ghost by
    ZA Maxfield, which has been on my Kindle since 2011. It’s a paranormal romance (ghosts) so I guess that’s why it took me 5 years to get around to reading it. 🙂

    This is about a young piano prodigy named Fitz. He’s being raised by his mother who has had a succession of rich husbands so they are very well to do. In this story Fitz’s mom is out of the country and he’s at home starting to study his music at a new school. Fitz makes friends with a ne’er do well young man, Garrett, who takes him to a bar where Fitz ends up drugged and dumped in a dumpster. A couple of ghosts, Serge & Julian, rescue him and then stick around through the story to help him. Fitz also has an ex-stepbrother, Ari, (the son of one of Fitz’s moms ex-husbands) who shows up to help Fitz. So in the story we have Ari and Garrett sort of vying for Fitz’s affection. 🙂

    I really enjoyed this book a lot. There was quite a bit of comedy. The ghost couple was funny , the housekeeper was funny, and Fitz and Ari were funny. This was mostly light-hearted and everything worked out in the end.

    I would definitely recommend this book to anyone looking for witty dialogue and a fairly angst free read.

    • I forgot to rate it but I would give it at least a 4 star rating, maybe higher, because I think I will probably add it to my list of comfort books that I reread when nothing else catches my attention.

    • Thanks for the review! I have read a bunch of ZAM books but not this one. Glad you liked it!

  18. I have read four books, all of them on my TBR list for 1 or 2 years.

    The fist was “In Me An Invincible Summer” by Ryan Loveless: Wow what a great book!

    A slow paced very interesting plot with a lot of surprises. Not the run of the mill m/m romance. Even the blurb is different because it gives nothing away. Wonderfully well-rounded characters, and the whole story is extremely real. Some hilarious dialogues between the main characters. 5*

    • The second one was ” Last Dance With Mary Jane” by John Goode: This is an absolutely beautiful written short story, sad but meaningful. I admire the authors ability to write a complete story in an short form. And although it has not a HEA everyone should give it a try! 5*

      • The third one was “Filth” by M. King:
        Does gender really matter? This book deals with a difficult subject. We get to see the story through two POVs and the author shows us two very different characters who love each other desperately but can’t really communicate with each other. This is not about miscommunication but about silence between lovers. For me this feels quite realistic. Overall this book was not bad written but not easy to read. I had a hard time to connect with the characters. 3.25*

        • And the last one was “According To Hoyle” by Abigail Roux:

          This very good researched western was one hell of an adventure. It was plot driven with 4 wonderful main characters. And between all the gore and blood loss there was a lot of humorous dialogue which made this book a fun read. 4*

          So this was it for this week. Sorry for putting it in 4 seperate comments but i had a bit trouble with the formatting. Next time i will try to put it in one comment.
          I had a lot of fun with this weeks challenge 🙂

    • I haven’t read this one, great to hear joy enjoyed it!

  19. Seize the Day by Saul Bellow. This novella has collected dust on my end table since my children were babies, and long before I started reading m/m. I had picked it up several times over the years, read a page or two, but never disciplined myself to get into the story. Finally this reading challenge gave me the motivation. It’s about one day in the life of a man whose great talent in life is underachievement. He’s left his wife and family, left his job, and is living in a hotel on Broadway with his father, who can barely conceal his disdain for him. He can’t afford to pay his bills and his father refuses to help him. His situation becomes increasingly bleak as he learns that his gamble on the stock market is failing. Seize the Day is a cautionary tale: take responsibility, don’t blame others for your problems, and live your life with quiet integrity.
    A warning to readers: one scene in a book shows a conversation between father and son. The father suggests the son had a mistress; the son denies it. ‘”Maybe it was a man then,” the old man said wickedly. ‘

    This shocks and horrifies the son, turns his skin yellow. This scene reflects the mores of the day (it was written in the mid-fifties), but I winced as I read this.

  20. My choice for the TBR challenge is actually the third in a series, which follows the same couple, so it’s kind of difficult to do a review without sort of spoiling things, but I’m going to give it my best because if anyone reads this (besides you, Jay!), I would love for them to pick up the series. Richard Rider’s Stockholm Syndrome series is self-published (this series is only available in epub through payhip and paperback through lulu.com), as are all his other works and they’re brilliant. I read the first two in the series, Stockholm Syndrome and 17 Black and 29 Red last month, but I was waiting (because I didn’t want to be done) for a bit for this last one, No Beginning, No End. The couple start out when Lindsay Brown, 34, takes Pip Valentine, 19, at gunpoint as a hostage to get away during a botched robbery, but such is Pip’s life that he begs Lindsay to keep him with him and comes up with a plot to steal money from his terrible and newly rich parents by pretending to be kidnapped. During the second book, it finally came to me what it reminds me of, almost if you’d put Alexis Hall’s For Real and Aleksandr Voinvov’s Dark Soul series and twisted them up together. (Rider is a UK author as well.) The series is intense, violent, and the characters are massively dysfunctional, apart and together through much of it, but there’s a counterbalance of humor and such a lovely heart at the center that just gets to me. The series follows them through, I think almost a decade, and this final book is absolutely wonderful for character study, how people grow and change and what that means about still holding on to someone you love. The intensity of action is lessened in this final book, but the emotion is still wonderfully high. Quality all around and wholeheartedly recommended.

    • Thanks so much for the great review! We reviewed those a while back and I remember Amy enjoying them as well. Glad you liked it!

      • I didn’t know that! So fun. *goes off to read them* Those were great. 🙂 I see Amy had the same issue as I did, trying not to spoil them. I agree completely with the enthusiasm and directive about everyone reading them! 

  21. I finally read “Black Dog Blues” by Rhys Ford, which I got as a self-published novel before it was picked up by a publisher. Now that there is a sequel, I needed to get caught up.

    I enjoy Urban Fantasies – and I can see where this one might not be everyone’s deal if they are mainly looking for a m/m romance – because this one is barely has romance. Instead it has some amazing world building in a world gone crazy with the advent of Elves of legend into a modern world – in what seems to have been a forceful ‘crashing’ of worlds together. Actually, there are tidbits of this, but I’m greatly curious about this history and how long ago it happened.

    The setting is San Diego – and since I live there as well as the author, I can imagine some of the stuff she’s detailing. Other stuff is just sooo fantastical and wild.

    Our Hero is Kai Gracen a sarcastic elven reject raised by humans and who’s grown up to be a hunter of monsters of all types. He’s a great insight into the both races since he’s basically on the outside of both. There are a large number of supporting characters who are wonderfully real, some wild creatures, some amazing vehicles and some death defying escapes.

    A fun and enjoyable read, and now I’m all caught up for book #2!

    • Glad you enjoyed it! I know Sammy really liked it. It is one of the few Rhys Ford books I haven’t read. I hope you are able to pick up the second book and enjoy it as well!

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