Nose in a Book Reviews: Trailer Trash: an 80’s Memoir by Angie Cavallari @Suburbtastic

Trailer Trash: an '80s Memoir

A nostalgic 80’s romp through Tampa trailer park living

“My Mother hated being cold.”  This is the opening line of chapter two, that leads you down the rabbit hole of Cavallari’s youth living in the impoverished ghettos of the American trailer park.

The story weaves the tale of Angie’s life as her parents uproot her family from the frigid Chicago winters and into the steamy swamp of central Florida.  After intense pressure from her Grandmother, Angie’s parents decide to purchase the Pelican Mobile Home Park, situated near the dilapidated remnants of the Godfather’s Lounge, a local watering hole for the downtrodden.   The tale is told through chapter-length vignettes, each more captivating than the last.  The cast of neighborly characters often feel so perfectly imperfect, they must be a figment of Cavallari’s imagination, rather than taken from her actual youth.  Her storytelling and descriptions transport you right into the story.

Cavallari’s life was difficult, with a narcissistic, bully of a mother and a childhood that was filled more with taking care of the trailer park than playing with children her own age.   She details her struggle with her weight when she was young and how it severely affected her psyche, all the while spinning it with a comedic undertone that leaves you shaking your head in wonder and fascination.

I enjoyed the liberal peppering of eighties pop culture nostalgia, as well as the musical references found throughout.  It was fun remembering my own youth during that same time frame and connecting with much of Angie’s childhood, even though I grew up in suburban western New York.

Check out this tale featuring the underbelly of Americana that is often joked about, but rarely detailed with such an intense magnifying glass. Remember to put on your seatbelt, because it’s going to be a bumpy ride.

 

AngieCavallariAuthor

Angie Cavallari is an assiduous writer who has been hammering away at the craft for over 20 years. She has authored thousands of blogs and articles with some of her work featured in Huffington Post, Healthline, The Reset, SF Bay Reader, among others. A transplant to a plethora of U.S cities including her current home, Denver, Angie grew up in Florida, then moved to NYC where she picked up her husband in a bar. In spite of her propensity for wanderlust, she managed to settle down long enough to have two extraordinary kids and build a solid life with her husband of 16 years.

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Review: Love Lessons Series by @heidicullinan

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Love Lessons Series – by Heidi Cullinan

I received the original Love Lesson’s title from NetGalley a while back and fell absolutely in love with the characters, writing style and premise of this series.  I’d long forgotten about the follow-up titles until I stumbled across one of my friends on GoodReads who had reviewed the third book in the series, Lonely Hearts.  I banged my head on the desk when I realized I’d somehow missed the release of two more books into this series.   Needless to say, I downloaded those bad boys and have since been on a Heidi Cullinan binge for a couple of weeks now.

Today, I’m going to review the Love Lessons Series (book 1 through 3.5) I’m hoping there will be more for these crazy kids. (wink, wink… how about Lejla’s story, right?  You can’t just introduce her and let her story drop, just saying)

By the way, if you don’t know, this entire series is M/M – so if that’s not your cup of tea, that’s okay, my next post is going to be Sarina Bowen’s Ivy League series, all about hunky hockey players.  I’m a lover of all romance.  You know, love is love is love is love…

Okay, back to my reviews.


Love Lessons

Love Lesosns

five-stars

If you are looking for a warm fuzzy kind of read, this book is for you.  It’s filled with a dash of drama, a whole lot of Disney references and a smoking hot hero.

Kelly is the adorably unexperienced Disney lover, who blushes at the mere mention of sex and is as virginal as snow white.   He’s strong and resilient and manages to crack the tough exterior of Walter, the player on campus known for his many hookups.   Walter befriends his new roommate and looks out for him – which is just really hot to read, honestly.

The pair starts out as friends, Walter trying to get Kelly to go out and meet some people.  The buildup is a slow burn, but so worth the wait.   The story is a little saccharine, but honestly, some days you need a little bit of sugar to go with all the crap real life has dumped on you, so enjoy it, is what I say!

So if you love fluffy little love stories with the Disney happy ending, check out this one for sure!

Frozen Heart

frozen heart

3

This title is a short little novella leading up to the ending of Love Lessons.  I don’t want to spoil too much about the ending of Love Lessons, but this one left me wanting more.  I imagine if you read it right after Love Lessons, it would be okay, but the gaps it left out (which are in full detail in Love Lessons) just left me feeling less enamored than I wanted to be.   A cute, little, free extra you can find on Heidi’s website.

 

Fever Pitch

fever pitch

five-stars

LOVED THIS ONE!  Okay, this is the second book and is about Giles and Aaron.   The pair are freshman who came from the same hometown.  Back home, Giles was the out of the closet gay kid from high school who the popular kids both beat up and used as a random hookup whenever the itch wasn’t being scratched.   Giles felt like moving away to college would give him the safety he never felt like he had at home.  When he spots Aaron around campus, his heart drops at seeing one of his random hookups and bullies on the same campus he fled.

Aaron first meets Giles the night they both are hiding out in a laundry room at a graduation party in their hometown.  Aaron is lost, having to go live the rest of the summer with his bully of a fatherThe same man who threatens to cut him off from all funds, college included if he doesn’t kowtow to his demands, one of those is giving up music and becoming a lawyer.  When Giles offers him a ride home from the party, sparks fly and the pair hook up by the lake under a starry night.

Giles never expects to see him again, and Aaron gets the feeling Giles isn’t exactly thrilled by Aaron following him to college.  The pair eventually becomes friends that grow into more with their love of music, and each other become the glue the helps them deal with the world at large.

This story sucked me in.  It had a lot of musical references – sometimes a bit overwhelmingly so, but still a great read.   The ending will have you clawing for more, which thankfully you don’t have to wait for since it just came out.

This book is for anyone who loves reading about people willing to give up everything for what they love, to be able to do what they love and to help save someone who isn’t getting any love at all.   A great second book in the series.

 

Lonely Hearts

lonely hearts

five-stars

Ah… Lonely Hearts.  This one just broke my heart.  The story revolves around Elijah and Baz, two characters who we meet in Fever Pitch.  Elijah is left wrecked after his extreme Christian parents almost kill him and another student Baz.  Elijah comes from a world that beats you down to stuff you into the box that they want you to fit in.  Elijah is jaded and oh, so broken.   But then again, so is Baz.   Baz comes from an entirely different kind of world but is still being stuffed into a box by his wealthy and politically aspiring parents.

Baz doesn’t do relationships; everyone at the ‘White House’ knows he’s been running away from growing up for the last six years.  Instead of graduating and finding love, Baz just wants everything to stay the same.  Unfortunately, when the time has come for all his great friends to graduate, Baz is left reeling and wondering what he’s doing with his life.

Elijah uses sarcasm and fury to keep people at arms distance.  When Baz breaks down the wall, Elijah has spent so many years erecting, his heart comes tumbling right down with it.

Oh, I love Baz so much.  His mother is a raving bitch who wants nothing more from Baz than to play a puppet in her political pandering game.  Elijah is the balm that somehow soothes Baz’s restless heart.  The pair works so well together and are equally broken, just in different ways.  I adored this story even as achingly heartbreaking as it is.

This book… Gah! It ripped my heart out at times, and while I didn’t understand any of the anime or manga stuff, I got the gist of what they were talking about without feeling the need to hone up on those topics.

If you’re into LGBT titles that are heart –warming, –wrenching and — melting, then this entire series is for you.

 

Short Stay

short stay

4star

Short Stay is the follow-up novella to Baz and Elijah’s story.   The pair takes off to Vegas on a whim when neither men want to hang out at Baz’s mother’s New Year’s Eve party.  Grabbing Kelly and Walter from book one, the foursome drives to Vegas for the weekend.  While there, they meet up with some characters from Cullinan’s series, Special Delivery.

This story is a lovely conclusion for Baz and Elijah, if not wholly unrealistic. Sorry, I enjoyed it, but yeah… some of it was a bit over the top and took me a bit out of the story. The characters from Cullinan’s Special Delivery series felt a little wedged into the story, and since I haven’t read that series yet, I had a hard time with all the new characters being mentioned in such a short story.

A nice way to round out the story and I am hoping there’s another Love Lessons in the works. I’ve loved this series so much and hope you will too.


So there you have it.  Check out this series if you have some time, because it is honestly one of the best ones out there dealing with LGBT topics without hammering you over the head with it.  The characters are all so well developed, and the plots are masterfully crafted.  I have fallen in love with so many of these characters; I don’t want to say goodbye to them.

 

Nose in a Book Reviews: When the Stars Align by @jeanettelgrey

When the Stars AlignWhen the Stars Align by Jeanette Grey
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

5 star program biotechnology calendar

Genre:  New Adult Romance

Ah…I loved this book. The author did a great job showcasing Jo’s vulnerability and Adam’s patience and kindness towards her when others didn’t. Just a lovely read.

The story revolves around Jo, a female scientist who’s fought hard to make her mark in a male dominated field. She’s focused, and determined to be taken seriously, even if it means pushing everyone away.

Adam’s the all American boy next door who’s excited to be attending a summer science internship in Puerto Rico, even if it means leaving his on-again-off-again girlfriend back on the mainland.

The pair meet up during the summer science program and for some reason, the tough as nails, androgynous girl intrigues Adam. He can’t help but try to figure out who she is and why she’s so closed off from the world.

The story weaves though their summer together as Adam tears down Jo’s walls one at a time until she’s left vulnerable and unsure of who she is anymore.

I honestly loved this story so much. Adam is patient and kind, giving Jo just enough push to get her to bend and not break. Jo is so complex and watching her bloom throughout the story was so lovely.

Well done, Ms. Grey and I can’t wait to see what other stories you have up your sleeve.

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Hockey Romance Review Roundup

hockey
As the NHL playoffs began back in May, I started reading a handful of hockey romance novels.  Needless to say, once I started I was sucked into the hot, sweaty world of hockey heaven.   I figured I’d save you all a lot of time and give you the reviews of some of the favorites I’ve read this year.


Elle Kennedy’s Off Campus Series


dealThe Deal – book 1 in this series

5 star program biotechnology calendar

I loved this book.  The witty banter between Garrett and Hannah (Wellsy) was delightfully refreshing. The pacing was well done and the plot was carefully crafted.

I thought the author did a really good job capturing Hannah’s trepidation but strength in overcoming her past. I loved how tender and compassionate Garrett became over the course of the book. The development of their friendship, to friends with benefits didn’t feel rushed. I really couldn’t put this book down and finished it at about 5:30 this morning.

Great job Elle Kennedy. This was the first book of yours I’ve read and I can’t wait to get my grubby little paws on your other books, including the next in this series!

If you love New Adult and are tired of many of the tired and clichéd books currently out there, give this one a whirl. I promise you won’t be disappointed

mistake

The Mistake – book 2 in the series

3 1/2 stars

I didn’t love this book as much as The Deal, but it was still a light, fun read.  The witty banter that I came to enjoy in the first book was there, but for some reason I didn’t quite click with Logan and Grace the same way I did with Garrett and Hannah in the first book.

The story revolves around Logan and Grace.  Logan is the hot hockey player that can hook up with any puck bunny that crosses his path.  When he meets Grace, the quiet studious girl he makes a stupid mistake that pushes her away.  He spends most of the story trying to get back in her good graces.  I enjoyed how Kennedy handled Grace’s virginity and didn’t make her a naïve sexual scaredy cat.  I wished the pair was together more than they were apart.  All in All, a fun romantic read.


Lynda Aicher’s Power Play Series


power 1

Game Play – book 1

4star

I really enjoyed this one. The story revolves around Samanatha, an former Olympic hockey player who’s searching for a life after Hockey. Dylan Rylie plays for the Glaciers and is in a pivotal year of his career. The pair meet up during a meet and greet and end up falling in bed.

The story was just the right amount of romance and sports. I particularly loved that the heroine was a strong athlete and not some random hookup. The plot moved nicely and while Sam ran away at times when I didn’t really understand her motivation, but Dylan was amazing and way more patient and forgiving than I might have been. Just a nice fluffy hot read. Looking forward to the next in the series.

power 2

Back In Play – book 2

3 1/2 stars

This is the second in the Power Play series, and it was an okay read. It felt more like a stand alone book than part of a series, which disappointed me a little bit since I really enjoyed the first book in the series and the characters.

This book was about Scott, the captain of the Glaciers and Rachel a mild mannered school teacher who happened to be visiting Minnesota for a wedding when she meets the famed hockey player. Scott is getting old for his sport and has had one too many injuries to his knee, causing him to be addicted to Vicoden. The owner of the Glaciers can read between the lines and decides not to renew Scott’s contract partially because of this.

He leans on Rachel to help him kick his habit in hopes of being able to return to the Glaciers for one last run for the Cup. He stays with her for the summer and their insta-love is all flowers and roses until he decides to go back to Hockey.

The story was pretty predictable, but well written and the characters were well rounded and likeable. I didn’t fall in love with this pair like I did in Game Play with Dylan & Samantha.

Power 3

Penalty Play – book 3

4star

I really liked this book, almost as much as the first one, which I fell in love with. My only beef with this one was by about 2/3 of the way through, the heroine got so in her head and whiny, that I found myself skimming most of Jaqui’s POV because of it. Just a little too heavy handed for me. I did like Henrik quite a lot and how patient and kind he was. I enjoyed that he was more of a relationship guy and not a ‘player’ like the previous heros in the series.

All in all a nice fun read, especially if someone’s really into Hockey player stories, like I am right now.


Pilots Hockey series by Sophia Henry


penalty

Delayed Penalty – book 1

4star

I enjoyed this book quite a lot.   The story revolves around Auden, a girl raised by her Russian grandparents when her parents died when she was young and Aleksander, a star Russian hockey player for the Pilots.  Auden is hired to be Aleksander’s translator even though he doesn’t really need one.  He just doesn’t like talking to the media.  Their relationship changes quickly to romantic and did feel a little bit rushed.   The perspective of two adults still grieving the loss of a loved one was well done. I loved how solid Aleksander was as a character.  All in all, a nice read, although not very steamy and with limited hockey time.   Still curious to see what the next in the series holds.


Hometown Players series by Victoria Denault


shot

One More Shot – book 1

3 1/2 stars

One More Shot is an angsty little tale about  second chances.   The story revolves around Jordan and Jessie, childhood friends who tried to take their relationship to the next level.  Unfortunately miscommunications abounded and they ended up breaking each other’s hearts.

Six years later they meet again, and Jordan is hell bent on getting Jessie back and making up for his past mistakes.  Filled with meddling families and witty dialogue.

I really wanted to love this story, and I liked Jordan and Jessie’s characters, but their issues seemed a bit contrived.  All in all, a nice little read.  I am really looking forward to book 2 in this series, as I liked Luc’s character quite a bit.


Atlantic City Hustlers series by Veronica Forland and Susan Scott Shelley


ice

Simmering Ice – book 2

3

Simmering Ice is one of those stories that I really wanted to love, but ended up just being an average read for me.  Annie, a physical therapist runs into professional hockey player, Alec when the team comes to the hospital she works at to do some community service to visit sick children.  The attraction between the pair seems a bit instantaneous and far fetched.

Annie just got out of a bad relationship and Alec’s attraction to her is curious.  Her insecurity is causing her to question everything.  Alec lost his wife to cancer and is trying to move on, and Annie is the perfect person to do that with.

My main issue with the story was that Annie was too much in her head and made assumptions that felt forced.  All in all, it was a bit predictable, but a nice enough story.


Cold Fury Hockey Series by Sawyer Bennett


ryker

Ryker – book 5

3

This story is about Ryker, aka “Brick”, the goalie for the Cold Fury Hockey team and the newest and only female GM in the NHL, Gray Brannon. Gray also happens to be the daughter of the CEO of the team.

The team and much of the media believe that Gray is way out of her league and has no business being a GM because she’s a girl. No one cares that she was an olympic hockey player and one of the top scouts for the team before becoming the GM.

Brick is the super single dad to two adorable daughters. I found much of this story to be completely unrealistic. The complete lack of professionalism between Gray and Ryker was astounding, not to mention how perfect and/or cliched to the point of eye rolling.
Just an average read for me.


So there you have it.  If you’re looking for hot, sweaty athletic men, you’ve come to the right place.  Pick one of these great reads up, and you’ll be hot under the collar.

Until next time,

Michela

Nose in a Book Reviews: Deeper by Robin York @RobinYorkNA

Deeper (Caroline & West, #1)Deeper by Robin York

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

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Genre: New Adult

Lordy, this book. I loved it! It was angsty dosed with a heaping spoonful of smut, some of my favorite desserts!

Caroline never imagined that the man she grew up loving would betray her in one of the worst ways possible – spreading pictures of her in very compromising positions. What she thought was a simple breakup turns vicious when the images spread like wildfire across the web and the college she attends. When she realizes how extensive the damage is to her online persona, she fears her future and the dreams she held so dear are now ruined.

West is the bad boy pot dealer that Caroline knows of, but doesn’t really know. She remembers him from her first day of school, but with her father’s insistence, steers clear of him. That is until Caroline’s Ex starts making comments and adding fuel to the inferno Caroline is already dealing with. She accidentally gets hit by a rogue punch when West and Caroline’s Ex get into a fight, sparking the catalyst for their friendship.

West and Caroline aren’t friends. But Caroline shows up at the bakery West works at every night. They dance around having an actual relationship for a long time, but the push and pull between them is lovely.

West comes from a very different background than Caroline and after her father’s stern threat on the first day of school he steers clear. He also can’t pretend he’ll ever fit in to Caroline’s privileged world.

I love how lovingly York has created her characters. Each is amazingly flawed in their own ways. I adore how focused West is to help his family in any way he can. And Caroline, once she pulled on her big girl panties, I loved how kick-ass she became. She didn’t let her humiliation rule her life, instead rose above and started over.

All in all, I LOVED this book. Robin York has written what I think is one of my favorite NA books and I can’t wait to read what else she comes up in this genre. Well done and I can NOT wait to read book two in this series.

Go preorder Deeper, it really was a fantastic read.

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Nose in a Book Reviews: This Song Will Save Your Life

This Song Will Save Your LifeThis Song Will Save Your Life by Leila Sales

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

4star

Genre: Young Adult

Thanks to NetGalley for the ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.

I really enjoyed this one. Once I got into it, I had a hard time putting the book down.

The story is about a teenage social outcast, Elise. She’s shy and hasn’t ever been great at making friends. When her last ditch effort to become popular fails, she doesn’t know what to do and thinks that maybe putting an end to her misery is the right answer. Instead, her cry for help is heard, but her life doesn’t improve much at all until a fateful night when she was out for a nightly stroll when she meets some girls outside of a club. They accept her and eventually befriend her, making her feel like she belongs for the first time in her life. She also discovers a new passion. Djing.

Even as an adult, I could relate to Elise’s feeling of isolation and ultimate desperation for someone to finally notice her. The voice of Elise felt real and honest without being overly cliche like some Y/A books seem to do. Her thought process and actions were realistic to that age without the author having to resort to the overuse of slang and outrageous over-characterizations to show she was a teenager. I really appreciated that subtlety.

WHile the story does broach suicide, it’s not ultimately about that, it’s about figuring out what you love and doing it no matter what.

Just a really lovely story told with simple but powerful prose.

Can’t wait to read more from Leila Sales.

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Nose in a Book Reviews: Over the Edge by Suzanne Carroll

Over the EdgeOver the Edge by Suzanne Carroll

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

5 star program biotechnology calendar

Genre: Fluffy Romance

Thanks to NetGalley for allowing me to read an ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.

First – I LOVED this book. I can’t really put my finger exactly on what made it so special, but I couldn’t put it down and when it was over, I had this huge smile on my face.

The story is about Zoe Harper, a woman who is about to get married but can’t shake the feeling that her life is spiraling out of control. With an overbearing and controlling mother-in-law, and a mama’s boy fiance, she finally decides enough is enough.

When she finally breaks off her engagement in a public argument on the street with her mother-in-law brought in via conference call, she decides to take her life back into her own hands. With suggestions from her friends, family and a self-help guru, she begins to make plans to do all the things she never really knew she wanted to do with the hope of finding her true self. This all proves well and good until she meets Angus Creed, the tough as nails owner of the company she works at. They strike up a friendship and Angus asks Zoe for help.

Angus is supposed to be the leading man at an upcoming charity ball where he is to supply a graceful and elegant first dance with the ball’s organizer. It is a privilege to be asked, but Angus can’t dance to save his life. Zoe steps in to help and the pair find they might have more feelings for eachother than they had anticipated.

I have to say the story was a wonderful mix of push and pull. It kept me completely entertained the entire way through, enough so I couldn’t put it down.

I also want to commend Suzanne Carroll for allowing her heroine to handle her own problems in her own way. I kept waiting for Angus to swoop in and save her from her ex fiance’s mother and while he offered, she didn’t take him up on it, and she handled it perfectly well on her own. Usually authors make their heroines weak. It was so refreshing not to have a damsel in distress for once. Great strong female character is always a win in my book.
Well done!

This was a really fun, flirty and fluffy sort of read. If you’re looking for a quick beach read that will leave you with a huge smile on your face, check out Suzanne Carroll’s Over the Edge.

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