Hello everyone! Today we are wrapping up the second week of our Reading Challenge Month with our TBR Pile challenge.
As a reminder, you folks 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 by leaving a mini review right here in the comments of this post and earn 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 the great folks at Tantor Audio who donated two great audiobook bundles! Two winners will each win the following audiobooks:
- The Gentle Art of Fortune Hunting – KJ Charles
- Headstrong – Eden Finley
- His Truth – Riley Hart
- Finding Joy – Adriana Herrera
- Beyond the Sea – Keira Andrews
- Not Dead Yet – Jenn Burke
And remember, all entries over the month qualify you for our amazing Grand Prize sponsored by NineStar Press! They are giving away a Kindle Paperwhite loaded with 50 books from NineStar Press! You can see all our Challenge Month prizes here on our Prize Preview page.
Here is what you need to know this week:
- 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 Saturday, September 18th at 11:59 pm ET. All entries will also carry over for the Grand Prize at the end of the month.
- In case you missed any, here are the books we reviewed this week for the TBR Pile Week Challenge. Comment on each for chances to win!
- The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo audiobook by Taylor Jenkins Reid
- Slow Heat audiobook by Leta Blake
- Made for You by Anyta Sunday
- Snapshots by Addison Albright
- Romancing the Inventor audiobook by Gail Carriger
- The Long Past and Other Stories by Ginn Hale
- Magic’s Pawn by Mercedes Lackey
- The Temple Road by Kirby Crow
- If you read along your own challenge book this week, leave your mini review below in the comments of this wrap up post.
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! And be sure to check in on Sunday for the kickoff of our next challenge, Under the Rainbow Week!
**Don’t enter me into the Tantor audio prize drawing as I don’t listen to audiobooks. I’m happy to have my entries count toward the grand prize.**
Lindira by Ann Somerville (TBR since 2014)
This short (59 pages) fantasy featured three characters who have been cursed by a god — a blind mermaid trapped in human form plus a man and his lover (another god) both in part animal form. I finished it, but this story did not appeal to me.
Dog Days (Wolf Winter Book 1) by TA Moore (TBR since 2018)
This story is set in our world where the weather has gone crazy; it’s September and snowing in the UK.The two leads are a wolf/man (not a werewolf though those also figure in the book) and a wolfhound/man. The first, Jack, has just been exiled from his pack by his father, the leader, in favor of his twin brother. Jack is happy to encounter Harry, the second lead, who left the pack years ago for life in the human world. This was a dark story with a fair bit of gore. I didn’t care for Jack though, in his defense, he never claimed to be anything but a wolf. This is the first book of a trilogy so, while not a cliffhanger, the story is unfinished. I don’t plan to read on. (Jay gave this 4 and Elizabeth gave it 4.25 stars.)
When Skies Have Fallen by Debbie McGowan (TBR since 2015)
Arty (British) and Jim (American) meet in 1944 while serving in their respective militaries; the book follows their love story over the next twenty years in the UK, a time when homosexuality was a punishable offense. I’d describe this book as mellow though dark things do occur. The couple have supportive friends and siblings, and they feature strongly in the story.
Christmas Homecoming by L. A. Witt (TBR since 2019)
This novella opens in 1939 when childhood friends Roger and Jack kiss as Jack is about to leave their Iowa hometown. The story picks up in late 1945 when the men reunite after their respective wartime service; both have matured and suffered. This was a pleasant story.
Slow Heat by Leta Blake (TBR since 2018)
This novel is set in a world without women; men are alphas, omegas, or betas. Alphas and omegas are strongly driven by biology; omegas experience heats and can become pregnant. Frequently, the alpha becomes the wage earner and the omega the homemaker. Alphas and omegas have status; betas do not and can’t have children but otherwise seem to have more mainstream lives. Childbirth is risky, and abortion is illegal. Alphas and omegas either find their match (érosgápe) as new adults or they might make a contract arrangement. Jason (teen alpha) and Vale (35 year old omega college professor who has long given up the idea of finding his match) are érosgápe, an unusual situation. The story was fine but not my cup of tea. (Jay gave this 4.5 stars.)
Thanks for the reviews Kareni!
I won an ebook box set of Willa Okati’s 5-book SCREEN SHOTS series two years ago, but forgot to read it before now. It’s the story of a woman-run gay porn company called twentysomethingtwinks.com, and each volume concentrates on a different guy and his experiences. These are hard to describe at times…they’re not romances (even the two close friends having sex never declare love), but in spite of the constant rutting, the books feel like more than smut for its own sake. There’s always consent involved, and you get the sense that the performers all genuinely like each other as people. There are different tropes in each volume; I liked SEDUCED (#1, friends-to-lovers) and SMOLDER (#2, joining a couple) best. SLINKY (#3) palled a bit because Maddox’s snarky quirkiness got annoying, and Thom’s alpha qualities in SUBMISSIVE (#4) overpowered the (otherwise hot) edging and BDSM for me. The finale, SEXOLOGY, had an appealing lead (shy college student writing his dissertation), but its wall-to-wall orgiastic ten-guy(!) action took place over one day (interrupted only by a sexually charged poker game) and got exhausting to read. Nevertheless, the ending left things open enough that I hope to learn what became of Jake afterward! So, while I have quibbles (and probably should have spread the stories out more), folks who don’t mind aromantic porn with a little extra will like this series!
Wow! Ten-guy orgy may be a first for me! I can see how this may have been a lot to read straight through. I am curious how your thoughts might have changed if you had read them spaced out. But glad you got a chance to pick these up and thanks for sharing your review!
This week I reached back to 2017, which was when I added Cara Dee’s “Home (Camassia Cove #1)” to my To-Read list. I’m glad I did! The book wasn’t quite a home run for me – I’d give it a 4 out of 5 – but it is definitely a lovely story.
Dominic and his daughter Thea are the stars of the show, and are great characters. The description of Dominic’s hard life on the street and the attitudes and behaviors that arise from that are compelling, and Thea is a fantastic balance to what would otherwise be quite a bleak situation. My biggest gripe was Adrian, Dominic’s love interest. We get that he’s a teacher, he has tattoos and a good rapport with his students, and…very little else. Occasional references are made to his history, but almost nothing is ever explained. He’s a likeable character, but I just couldn’t get a good picture of him overall. The feel-good ending felt a little rushed but I was still happy for it. I’ll likely continue with this series.
Thanks Duncan for your review. Glad you enjoyed this one! I’m glad you got a taste of the author’s Camassia Cove world, as I know she has a lot of stories set there. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.
I had never read TJ Klune before, but had been meaning to do so for several years, so I chose one of his lighter standalone books, How to Be a Normal Person. It’s told in the third person from Gustavo Tiberius’s point of view. Although Gus is the one who tries to be normal in order to keep the interest of the new barista (Casey) in town, none of the side characters are particularly normal either. Everything is over the top in this book and I found myself laughing out loud sometimes. There’s no sex in this story, as Gus and Casey are both on the ace spectrum, but there is love and accepting someone for who they are. I think it was a good place to start my TJ Klune journey.
I have read this one (or actually listened to the audio) and enjoyed it a lot. It offers a good taste of Klune’s humorous side. Thanks for the review!
My read for this week was N R Walker’s Switched.
This story deals with the aftermath of the life changing, emotional whirlwind of finding out that due to human error you were switched at birth and were brought up by the wrong parents. This is the nightmare that confronts 26 year old Israel when the hospital notifies him and his parents of the switch. Israel’s relationship with his parents is painful. He grew up as an only child devoid of love and affection, his parents were cold and emotionally distant. His very best friend Sam is his constant champion, defender and emotional support. Sam’s family offer Israel a welcoming refuge from the rejection of his parents.
N R Walker is one of my favorite authors and I loved this book. This is a best friends to lovers romance with angst, healing/comfort, lots of humor and great
banter. The story shows Israel’s emotional growth, he realizes he can’t totally depend on Sam to make sense of his situation and he seeks professional help to confront the pain and hurt inflicted by his parents.
I loved this book, it was an emotional read with a very satisfying, sweet HEA.
OMG, I love this book so much! I am so happy you read it b/c it is one of my all time favorite NR Walker stories. I read/reviewed both the ebook and audiobook here and loved both of them. Glad you enjoyed it and thanks for the review!
I’m another who really likes this book; I’ve read it several times. It may be my favorite book by the author!
And here I was thinking about picking up another of Walker’s books since I loved Galaxies and Oceans so much (and Finders Keepers and Upside Down and…). This is going into my TBR pile!
Oh yes, give this one a shot! Like I said, one of my favorites by N.R. Walker (among a fabulous backlist of books). In case anyone is interested, here is the link to my original review: https://joyfullyjay.com/2017/01/review-switched-by-n-r-walker/.
Diviner’s Game – books 1-3 – by Jennifer Cody
I had book one for months before finally reading it and book 2. Lucky for me, book 3 was on sale shortly after I finished the first two. Because, once you read book one, you’ll want to read the rest.
Book one is Deejay and Matt’s view of the Diviner’s Game, unbeknownst to them.
Book two is Loki and Gage’s side of the story and covers the same time frame.
Book three is from Chanda and Robbie’s POV. Since Chanda is a Diviner, he is the one playing a real-life game of chess which impacts lives.
The books should be read in order. While book one does a lot of the world-building, book two shows there is more going on than we thought. In book three, we see the people behind the curtain manipulating fate. Overall, this is a well-written, engaging trilogy.
I am so glad you enjoyed the series — and that you could get all the books at once! I know that feeling of wanting to start the next story immediately!
I had plans for this week, I started 3 other books from my TBR. But then I won a copy of Hank Edwards Terror by Moonlight (Critter Catchers #1) which has been on my TBR list since the 2018 Reading Challenge. Everything else got dropped and I finished this (and then the next 2 in the series!) Life long friends Cody and Demetrius start a new compassionate animal control business. But then they get calls for less than natural animals (X-Files and Supernatural are comparisons) As they build their business Cody starts thinking maybe they need a (romantic) change in their personal relationship also. This was a fun read. 4 out of 5 stars.
So glad to hear you liked this one! I have heard really good things about the series. Thanks for the review!
**Please don’t enter me in the audio books prize, as I don’t listen to them. Thank you.**
I love KJ Charles, everything she has written! When I first started my MM romance journey, she was one of my first authors. For this week’s TBR challenge, I picked Think of England, an historical romance set in 1904. It was wonderful! The MCs are an Army Captain who was injured when a shipment of faulty guns exploded, killing many of his men; and an “effete aesthete” (quote from the book) who had many hidden depths. It is a twist on the country house mystery with spies, blackmail, subterfuge and betrayal. As always, the romance is deeply detailed and believable. With twists and turns, it is a page turner! I highly recommend! You will definitely enjoy!
Great review Robyn! And I enjoyed this book too. I am such a KJ Charles fan!
I chose Thomas Green’s Rogue Angel (Lucifer Files #6) for this week.
Okay this may well have been the best book in the series. We see Lucas go through so many challenges from beginning to end. Interwoven in this transformation, we see a teenaged Lilith. It made me laugh when I realized the rogue Angel was about Lilith here. That poor child has been through so much in her short life and wields tremendous power. Having an angst, emotionally shattered teen capable of apocalyptic power is a recipe for disaster. I think the thing I took from this the most are the similarities between father and daughter. It shows growth as Lucas realizes how much his own baggage and bad decisions need to change, and how he needs to do better if for no other reason than to keep his daughter safe.
Thanks for the review Shante’! I am not familiar with this series. Glad to hear you enjoyed it so much!
I finished one book this week and that was Collide by Riley Hart. It’s one of her earlier books written in 2014. The book opens with Cooper hitting Noah with his car. The two were childhood best friends but Noah’s family left suddenly one weekend a long time ago. They reconnect with Noah renting a room at Coop’s place. Noah is gay and Cooper is super straight. But forced proximity and Noah is gorgeous so things happen. The book is low key and slight. They’re decent characters but nothing memorable.
Riley Hart has written far better books and I probably prefer her newer stuff. They seem a bit more substantial.
Thanks for the review Lorraine!
Sadly my capacity for reading was low this week. So, for my TBR Pile Week I read a graphic novel I picked up a couple years ago, Jennifer Doyle’s Knights-Errant. It’s Volume 1, and the webcomic it was created from is no longer updating and isn’t available to read anywhere. So, that’s the disappointing part. However, the story I did read was excellent and the art was great. It’s a queer revenge thriller with morally grey characters. There’s religious and cultural intrigue and a brewing conflict that I hope to read about some day! Obviously it’s hard for me to recommend something that’s not finished in any way, but it’s definitely quality writing and art.
Glad you enjoyed it Carolyn! And great idea with the web comic. I’m glad you were able to find a way to join us for the challenge
My TBR pile book pick is still fairly new, but it’s been on my list and I listened to the audio.
“Game, S*x, Match” (#Love Wins #4) by Ana Byrde, Narrated by John Solo
Performance: 4 Stars
Story: 3 Stars
I’m all for stories with body positivity, and that issue – or, rather, overcoming a very personal physical insecurity – is at the heart of “Game, S*x, Match.”
Set amid a couples reality game show hosted by series mainstay Aunt Rosy, this story has a madcap romantic comedy quality to it, as Daniel and Tiger are paired up to win the contest and end up falling in love in the process. I was much more interested in the relationship aspect than the absurd competitions and stunts throughout, so the latter didn’t really hold my interest.
Where Daniel is all quiet confidence, Tiger is boisterous but insecure, and their connection is sweet and feels genuine. Daniel’s loving encouragement – in word and deed – of Tiger to accept and embrace what’s always been a sizeable personal insecurity, is heartwarming and what I enjoyed most about their story.
Narrator John Solo delivers a good performance overall, especially in the quiet moments between Daniel and Tiger, but I’m not a fan of his female voices here (Aunt Rosy’s voice was comical and not in a good way).
Thanks for the review Renee! I am not familiar with this series, though I do like reality show backdrops.
Whenever you have the TBR challenge I try to go way back on my TBR, this week I choose the Secret Casebook of Simon Feximal by K.J. Charles, Un-Expected by Lisa Worrall, and Bad Attitude by K.A. Mitchell.
The Secret Casebook of Simon Feximal 2017 (a little more recent but I’d been wanting to finally pick it up) . Victorian ghost hunters. After ridding journalist Robert of an entity at his family estate, a casual relationship is started between the 2 men. Robert chronicles their relationship and otherworldly exploits to his editor to be published after their deaths. Simon and Robert make a great couple, both as a couple and ghost hunters. Simon came off as cold, but with all he is and does, it’s understandable. The stories were fascinating. 4 stars
Un-Expected by Lisa Worrall 2014. 6 years after a devastating break-up, one MC finds himself neighbors with the man who crushed his heart at college graduation. I really wanted to like this, hurt/comfort and second chances, but the story lost me at 35% with the heart-crusher explaining his reasons and the crushee just saying ‘ok’ and jumping into bed together, and I DNF. This story might have worked for me if read 6 years ago.
I just finished Bad Attitude (Bad in Baltimore 3) 2013. 2 stubborn men, one the son of a wealthy man, and the rescue diver that saves him. While they have exceptional chemistry in the sack, it takes a lot of push and pull to realize they actually like each other’s company. 3.5 stars
And I always love reading books based in my hometown.
Thanks Debbie! Great reviews. I’ve read two out of three. And I didn’t realize you were from Baltimore. My whole father’s side of the family is from there and I live not to far from the city.
It’s been a long time, but it’s still home. Both sides of my family were there. I only have 2 cousins there now, everyone else has either passed or moved away. It was kind of bittersweet reading this book, before my dad retired and followed us to Fla, he had a house on one of the coves mentioned (not specifically), we spent a lot of time on those waters.