Carry the Ocean by Heidi Cullinan

714jcVr45jL._SL1500_Title: Carry the Ocean
Series: The Roosevelt, #1
Author: Heidi Cullinan
Genre: Contemporary/Disability
Length: Novel (268 pages)
Publisher: Samhain Publishing (April 7, 2015)
Heat Level: Moderate
Heart Rating: ♥♥♥♥♥5 Hearts
Blurb: Normal is just a setting on the dryer.

High school graduate Jeremey Samson is looking forward to burying his head under the covers and sleeping until it’s time to leave for college. Then a tornado named Emmet Washington enters his life. The double major in math and computer science is handsome, forward, wicked smart, interested in dating Jeremey—and he’s autistic.

But Jeremey doesn’t judge him for that. He’s too busy judging himself, as are his parents, who don’t believe in things like clinical depression. When his untreated illness reaches a critical breaking point, Emmet is the white knight who rescues him and brings him along as a roommate to The Roosevelt, a quirky new assisted living facility nearby.

As Jeremey finds his feet at The Roosevelt, Emmet slowly begins to believe he can be loved for the man he is behind the autism. But before he can trust enough to fall head over heels, he must trust his own conviction that friendship is a healing force, and love can overcome any obstacle.

Warning: Contains characters obsessed with trains and counting, positive representations of autism and mental illness, a very dark moment, and Elwood Blues.

ISBN: 9781978161922

Product Link: http://www.amazon.com/Carry-Ocean-Roosevelt-Heidi-Cullinan-ebook/dp/B00NW6FYLY
Reviewer: Aerin
Review: I am so blown away by this book, I want to apologize in advance if I’m about to become a blubbering idiot. Rating this book 5 hearts simply doesn’t do it justice; it was one of the best books I’ve ever read. My feeling fluctuated all over the place, from a nice glowing warmth I got at the beginning when I got to meet Emmet and Jeremey, to sadness and rage at how unfair life is for people with disabilities.

This book has it all: character growth, amazing characters who learn to live with who they are, an amazing coming of age story and a support system offered by some of the greatest secondary characters ever.

This story is told in 1st person, alternating between Emmet and Jeremey so we get to know them both very well, we get to be privy to their unique way of thinking, we get a rare insight into the life of someone who’s different from the rest of the world. I honestly don’t know how this author pulled this off, but it all seems accurate and genuine, and not once did I think it’s different from real life.

Emmet is a 19-year-old autistic young man who becomes fascinated by his neighbor Jeremey and develops a crush on him. I adored Emmet. He made me smile and sometimes laugh because his way of thinking is so matter of fact and well…he’s pretty funny. He accepts his condition and he doesn’t think anything is wrong with him. Emmet is amazingly smart and he is a college student; he’s wicked good with math and numbers. He has “camera memory and camera vision” which means he remembers everything he sees and he has the ability to see an object or person perfectly without looking directly at it.

I loved how Emmet explained his autism, it made a lot of sense, it was very educational, and I can say I learned a lot from it. “Here’s the thing about my brain—it acts like an octopus, my mom says. This is another metaphor, but unlike the spoons, I understand this one. I don’t actually have a mollusk inside my skull, but part of my brain acts like one. It sits quiet until something pokes it, and then it puts tentacles all over and makes me feel nervous. I don’t like this metaphor. An octopus on your brain is bad, even a pretend one, but Mom says we can’t take it out without hurting me, so I live with an octopus. It’s gross, but I can’t change it. So I hum to it and rock and flap my hands.”

Emmet’s autism makes him behave very matter of fact, he would always tell you what he thinks, and while sometimes his words might be offending, his intentions are pure. I loved how he accepted and rationalized Jeremey’s condition; I loved his ways and creative solutions for making everything easier for those around him.

Jeremey is the other main character in this book and he suffers from severe depression and clinical anxiety. When I got to see the world from Jeremey’s point of view my heart broke repeatedly…“part of me wailed and moaned inside the same way Emmet did outside. Hold me, Marietta. Somebody hold me. Somebody speak patiently and kindly to me. Somebody come running to save me too. No one did. No one ever had.”

Jeremey didn’t have a family as awesome and acceptant and Emmet’s, Jeremey’s parents never once tried to accept their son for who he is, never took his condition seriously and so Jeremey has no medical treatment. I hated his mother with an intensity I’ve never felt before and if I had to describe her, I couldn’t say it any better than Emmet did:

“Mrs. Samson is a bitch, Mom.”
She made her lips flat, which means she didn’t like what I said, but she didn’t tell me it
was rude not to say it. Because she knew I was right.

Jeremy and Emmet’s relationship progresses slowly and I really liked that; it was perfect for them and they really grew as individuals while trying to become independent. If you think their sexual relationship is inappropriate or weird because of their conditions, you don’t need to worry. Somehow, Mrs. Cullinan managed to make their sexual interactions quirky, funny, and sweet one moment, and then BAM! It turned into hot as hell. It didn’t seem weird because it’s so well written, all you see are two young men who discover each other’s bodies and their preferences; they try to find the best way to give each other pleasure, be intimate and work around their limitations. I did get a good laugh out of Emmet’s initial reluctance about oral sex:

“I wasn’t sure about oral sex. Sometimes cocks smell.
You’re supposed to call them cocks, not penises, when it’s about sex. I’m not sure why,
but it appears to be the rule. But whatever you call them, they’re sweaty.”

I really loved Emmet’s family and I especially appreciated his mom. She was a great person and I loved how she treated Emmet; he has grown into an amazing independent young man and that’s because of her. Emmet believes his mom is a superwoman who uses her special powers to help him overcome obstacles and I couldn’t agree more. She had the best superpowers of all: love, acceptance, patience, honesty…she was truly amazing!

Both Jeremy and Emmet have their insecurities and doubt at times that they are going to be able to succeed but they never give up. They learn to live with one another and while Emmet does show a lot of growth, Jeremy has changed the most. The love and support he receives from Emmet and the friends he makes along the way help him accept himself and realize that he doesn’t need to change who he is because there is nothing wrong with him.

There is a lot we can all learn from this book and I recommend this to everybody, regardless of what genre you prefer, because this story is a gem and it deserves to be read. I’ll leave you with Emmet’s words of wisdom because Emmet rocks!

“I am normal. I belong. I have a friend who can kick ass from a wheelchair. I live
independently and get good grades. I’m an excellent lover.
Like I said. I’m awesome. I’m Emmet David Washington. Train Man. The best autistic
Blues Brother on the block.”

* I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review through https://mmgoodbookreviews.wordpress.com *

Borderline by T.A. Chase, 2nd edition

91Mrr-U9xsL._SL1500_Title: Borderline (2nd Edition)
Series: Delarosa Secrets 01
Author: T.A. Chase
Genre: Romantic Suspense
Length: Novel (155 pages)
ISBN: 9781784304089
Publisher: Totally Bound (13th February 2015)
Heat Level: Explicit
Heart Rating: ♥♥♥♥ 4Hearts
Reviewer: Pixie
Blurb: Surrounded by secrets, two men search for a serial killer, while trying to keep it from becoming personal.

Mac Guzman is a Texas Ranger and lead detective on a serial killer case rocking the city of Houston. He’s willing to take help from anyone, especially when it comes in the form of the gorgeous FBI profiler, Tanner Wallace. Mixing business with pleasure has never been an option for Mac, but he just might change his mind and seduce Tanner into his bed.

Tanner Wallace joined the Bureau and became a profiler to catch bad guys. Also, it might have a little to do with making up for the evil caused by his family’s business. When he’s called in to consult on a serial killer case in Houston, Tanner never expects to meet Mac. The handsome Texas Ranger brings to mind hot, sweaty nights wrapped in each other’s arms, yet Tanner knows Mac would walk away if he ever found out that Tanner’s family really is.

With the threat of another murder hanging over their heads, Tanner and Mac will have to find a way to work past their differences before the killer strikes again.

Purchase Link: https://www.totallybound.com/borderline

Review: Mac is a Ranger who is frustrated by a serial killer who is terrorizing Houston. In an effort to find him before he kills again his Major requests the help of the FBI’s profiler who Mac has an instant attraction to, but then the killer strikes close to home. Tanner examines all the evidence trying to find anything to bring the killer to justice, while dealing with the attraction to Mac and keeping his secrets close to his chest.

I have to say that it was difficult to decide what heart rating to give this one because at times the story-line seemed improbable but then you’d find out something later on that made it seem probable and you’d nod your head and say ‘Yeah that could work’. I mean, I wondered about the killer and who it turned out to be and how likely that was to happen but then I remembered an episode of ‘Criminal Minds’ and thought ‘yeah it could happen’.

Mac and Tanner were two characters that I liked a lot. They have both had a hard life, Mac more so than Tanner and Tanner seems to be so much more open than Mac. But they both connected on a lot of levels and their relationship moved fast. The parts with the serial killer and his victims sent a sliver of ice down my spine and we can work out who Tanner’s family are.

The story-line was good and the plot was great, the characters were pretty realistic and the romance and sex between Mac and Tanner was good.

The only thing that let it down for me was that there could have been more suspense, drama and danger, I mean the potential was there and the actual capture of the killer would have fulfilled it to perfection. Unfortunately for us, that scene wasn’t in the book. *sigh* So I have to make do with my own imagination to fill in the blank *sigh*.

The story is well written and has been expanded in places from the first edition so it fills the story out a little more.

So, all in all, I thought this book was good and all I can say is give it a try. I think you might enjoy it if you like cop stories, suspense, hot sex and a happy ever after.

Firebird by Pelaam, 2nd edition

25200972Title: Firebird (2nd Edition)
Author: Pelaam
Genre: Science Fiction/ Fantasy
Length: Novella (86  pages)
ISBN: 9781784305253
Publisher: Totally Bound (1st May 2015) Available for early download 3rd April 2015
Heat Rating: Moderate
Heart Rating: ♥♥♥♥ 4 Hearts
Reviewer: Pixie
Blurb: Cassian is the bait when his Monarch wants to trap a Firebird. Are Firebirds beasts, or will Cassian discover that real monsters exist closer to home?

Palace scribe Cassian is stunned when he’s called before his ruler, Great Monarch Maurus, to be the bait for trapping a Firebird—a dangerous predator and a beast of legend that lives high in the mountains of his country’s border.

As he climbs a mountain, Cassian is injured, but a Firebird rescues him. Cassian discovers that Firebirds are not animals. Instead, he uncovers Arturri, an intelligent being from another world, living as a castaway. But Cassian is helpless to prevent Arturri’s capture by Maurus’ dangerous and evil head of security, Phrixus.

When the secret beneath the palace is revealed, Maurus is more monstrous than even Cassian ever imagined. Who can Cassian trust? Can he save not only Arturri, but also the other prisoners of Maurus?

Reader Advisory: This book contains a scene of attempted rape and sexual abuse.

Publisher’s Note: This book was previously published elsewhere. It has been revised and re-edited for release with Totally Bound.

Purchase Link: https://www.totallybound.com/firebird

Review: This is the 2nd edition and there are slight changes and additions throughout the book which add to the atmosphere of the story.

Cassian is ordered to be used as bait to lure out the Firebird out of hiding, but Cassian is given no choice in what he does so accepts what his king has ordered, but when he is rescued by the Firebird from a dangerous predator he learns that Arturri is just a lost soul who just wants to return home. Arturri has been stranded on this hated world for many long years his entire family is gone some captured by the evil men and others perished, when he discovers Cassian he rescues him and learns the truth, it is just the kingdom he has landed in that is evil and over the mountains is his means of escape.

This is a wonderful science fiction story of an alien who has just landed in the wrong part of the world, and ends up helping to release a kingdom from its tyrannical reign. Cassian lives in a kingdom where the king reigns with an iron fist, nobody is free and everyone lives in fear, when he is called before the king he is terrified and has no choice but to do as ordered and he sets off to be bait in a trap.

Arturri discovers Cassian in the forest and takes care of him and the two falls in love, but they discover that they can’t just escape and Arturri ends up captured and Cassian has to do what he can to protect his love.

Cassian for me is the greatest character as he showed an enormous amount of bravery and devotion throughout the book. Arturri is a wonderful character and your heart goes out to him for the emotional turmoil he must have been through to have been stranded on a planet and then to lose all his family, all the while knowing what his fate might be if he is ever captured after witnessing the savagery of the natives. Cassian and Arturri do make a great couple even though they are separated by a cage and two vicious men.

The storyline is great, the characters are wonderful, even the ones who are self-motivated, and there is danger, rescues, escapes and chases with close shaves. Cassian is a true hero when he discovers what is being kept hidden under the castle, and he puts his life in danger so others might escape.

There are some uncomfortable moments where the king’s head of security, Phrixus, looks like he might get his way *shudder* and some instances of violence.

So if you love science fiction, hot sexy men, escapes from evil men, rescues, danger, hot sex, and a very happy ending then this is the book for you.

Becoming Andy Hunsinger by Jere’ M. Fishback

914J0Okg8VL._SL1500_Title: Becoming Andy Hunsinger
Series: N/A
Author: Jere’ M. Fishback
Genre: Historical/ Edgy Young Adult
Length: Novel (283 pages)
Publisher: Prizm Books, Torquere Press (December 30th, 2014)
Heat Level: Low
Heart Rating: ♥♥♥♥4 Hearts
Blurb: It’s 1976, and Anita Bryant’s homophobic “Save Our Children” crusade rages through Florida.

When Andy Hunsinger, a closeted gay college student, joins in a demonstration protesting Bryant’s appearance in Tallahassee, his straight boy image is shattered when he’s “outed” by a TV news reporter. In the months following, Andy discovers just what it means to be openly gay in a society that condemns love between two men.

Can Andy’s friendship with Travis, a devout Christian who’s fighting his own sexual urges, develop into something deeper?

ISBN: 978-1-61040-858-5

Product Link: http://www.prizmbooks.com/zencart/index.php?main_page=product_info&products_id=92

Reviewer: Tina

Review: This book was a little different than I was expecting…it read very much like an autobiography or a memoir of Andy, although I believe it is a work of fiction.

The writing was good although at times the author was very verbose, giving a lot of detail that I found myself skipping over. It wasn’t bad but it just seemed like too much. There were several really great characters in the story and some not so great characters (I especially loved Biff and Jake).

Andy was pretty sure of his sexuality from an early age but it was confirmed over with a summer fling. When he got to school, he found a place to fit in with a few friends and really came into himself. He continued to gain experience, both sexual and emotional, with men and became pretty promiscuous for a bit. He ran through the gamut of emotions and experiences before he finally figured out not only who he was but what he wanted to do with his life. I loved his relationship with his parents and brother, they were very close and his family was very accepting of his sexual orientation.

Travis suffered a traumatic experience a few years before he met Andy which shaped his desire to just be, not actually live. His family was extremely religious and frowned upon his sexuality, going so far as to threaten to send him to therapy to make him straight. He was not being true to himself in life…he was doing everything his parents wanted of him. By the end of the story, he was closer to being true to himself but I think he still had a way to go…

Overall a very good read that I would definitely recommend.

* I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review through https://mmgoodbookreviews.wordpress.com *