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.

 

Book Review: Getting Him Back by K.A. Mitchell


28101707Getting Him Back
by K.A. Mitchell

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

five-stars

Genre:  LGBT Romance

Sigh… I loved this one. My only complaint is that it was too short.

The story revolves around Ethan after he’s followed his high school love off to college. As anyone who went away to college likely knows, those types of relationships don’t often last much into freshman year. This one is no different. Ethan is heartbroken when Blake, his boyfriend dumps him soon after he joins him at his college, stating he just doesn’t love him anymore.

Ethan is depressed and mopey for a while but is determined to get Blake back. He goes to the one person who he think knows his ex the best, his roommate Wyatt. While seeking out the inside scoop on Blake he discovers the more time he spends with Wyatt, the more he realizes how much he enjoys the guy.

The story is told entirely from Ethan’s point of view, so we don’t really get to see much about what is going on in Wyatt’s head. I really enjoyed how snarky, and fun Ethan is, especially in contrast to the emo side that Wyatt portrays. The author was masterful in giving each of these characters their own voices while also giving us a lovely plot and some extremely believable and emotional sexy times.

Glad to read there’s another ‘chapter’ to Wyatt and Ethan’s story. Now I need to go rush off and see what other gems of Mitchell’s I’ve been missing for all this time.

Nose in a Book Reviews: Beyond Innocence by @KitRocha

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For years, Jared has existed on the fringes of both Eden society and Dallas O’Kane’s Sector Four gang. He travels between these worlds, protected by his money and power–money he earned selling his body, and power that comes from knowing secrets. He’s untouchable—until he starts a new life gathering intelligence for the O’Kanes.

Lili Fleming walked out of Sector Five with a gun, the bloodstained clothes on her back, and an icy determination to survive. She finds herself in a world where people live hard and love harder, and nothing’s more terrifying than how much the O’Kanes wake her up, make her feel—especially Jared.

Emotion is a risk he can’t afford, and a complication she doesn’t need. But neither can resist the lust simmering between them, and the sparks that could either melt the ice around both their hearts…or get them killed. Because the only thing more dangerous than loving an O’Kane is loving a spy.

 

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Another magical O’Kane story. This one is about the resident gigolo, Jared and the queen of Sector 5, Lili Fleming. Jared has been avoiding becoming an O’Kane forever, instead choosing to live symbiotically with the gang. Suddenly we realize he’s actually been working with Dallas as a spy, gathering up intel that can only come when a sexually satisfied lady’s lips become a little too loose with information.

Lili is feeling like an outsider, walking around in a haze of drugs she’d managed to keep after escaping from Sector 5 in the last book. She’s about the run out of her last doses and is frightened to start feeling things again. She’s confused by the passion and satisfaction O’Kane women get from having sex, something she’s never done, but have always been told is more of a chore than pleasurable for the lady. She’s inextricably drawn to Jared, the clean cut and well-dressed prostitute, he reminds her of Sector 5 in its skewed version of perfection, with one glaring exception. He makes her feel safe.

When Jared decides to give up prostitution and grow his spy ring by opening up a bar in the heart of Eden, effectively snubbing the councilman and all they hold dear. By doing this, he suddenly has a price on his head and there’s only one person who will risk her own life to save his.

This story is another amazing piece to the Beyond saga. Each tale draws me in more and more to the messed up, yet fascinating world Kit Rocha has created. If you haven’t read the series, I highly recommend reading them in order to really capture the full experience that is The O’Kanes.

Can’t wait for the next book to see what wild ride they’ll take us on next.

Wanna get your grubby paws on these books?  

Here’s how you can get them!

Amazon

Barnes & Noble

iBookstore

Kobo 

ARe

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.

View all my reviews

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

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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.

View all my reviews

Nose in a Book Reviews: The Story Guy – Blog Tour & Giveaway!

Today, Nose in a Book Reviews is participating in The Story Guy Blog Tour.

We have a guest post and giveaway at the end, so check it out!

First up, a little blurb of this lovely novella.

In this eBook original novella, Mary Ann Rivers introduces a soulful and sexy tale of courage, sacrifice, and love.

I will meet you on Wednesdays at noon in Celebration Park. Kissing only.

Carrie West is happy with her life . . . isn’t she? But when she sees this provocative online ad, the thirtysomething librarian can’t help but be tempted. After all, the photo of the anonymous poster is far too attractive to ignore. And when Wednesday finally arrives, it brings a first kiss that’s hotter than any she’s ever imagined. Brian Newburgh is an attorney, but there’s more to his life . . . that he won’t share with Carrie. Determined to have more than just Wednesdays, Carrie embarks on a quest to learn Brian’s story, certain that he will be worth the cost. But is she ready to gamble her heart on a man who just might be The One . . . even though she has no idea how their love story will end?

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My swoony review is up next.

The Story Guy by Mary Ann Rivers

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

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Genre: Romance / Novella

Thanks to NetGalley for an ARC of this fantastic book in return for an honest review.

I loved this book. I read it in one sitting and just loved Mary Ann Rivers’ writing style.

The story is about lonely librarian, Carrie West. She loves her job, but is frustrated by her lackluster love life. One insomnia filled night she stumbles across an ad for a Wednesday only date at a park. The only stipulation is that they will kiss for the entire time, and if either person stops coming on Wednesdays then the ‘relationship’ is over. No fuss, no muss. Drawn in by the handsome profile photo of the mystery man, she responds, hoping it might be the spark she needs to liven up her life.

When Wednesday finally arrives she meets Brian at the park and within moments they are kissing with wild abandon. Carrie has never felt such a kiss in all of her life and after another Wednesday date decides she needs more from her weekday kisser. This of course breaks all the rules Brian has set up to keep women out of his busy life. Carrie doesn’t understand and he refuses to let her in until one day Brian’s secret unexpectedly comes out.

I LOVED how lost Carrie was. Mary Ann really did a fantastic job with her characterizations. I know Carrie, shit, I WAS Carrie in my mid-20s. So lost and eager for love. I had a couple of Story guys in my past, and it is true, I remember my time with them fondly.

I thought Brian’s burden was palpable. My heart broke for him and the weight of the world that was so firmly placed on his shoulders at a young age.

An incredible read. Can’t wait to read more from Rivers.

View all my reviews

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Lastly, a little guest post by the amazing, Mary Ann Rivers! 

How has anonymity on the Web changed the search for romance?

 I’m not certain that the internet is genuinely anonymous, at this point, and to approach it that way is an exercise in frustration. I think of it as a public space, Iike a city, and just like a city you can sometimes get lost in it, feel alone, but you’re never truly anonymous. When Brian uses the city’s internet personals to reach out, he believes he can maintain his anonymity by putting extreme limits on his human interaction with Carrie. He does just enough to make her feel safe—gives her a clear picture, meets her in the wide open public, will tell her where he works—but withholds what he believes will keep him safe—how he spends his time outside of the single hour, once a week that he will give her.

The internet is like that. We use it and reveal no more than what makes us feel safe—whether those revelations are in dating profiles, tweets, status updates, or blogs—and then we withhold everything else. I think this is true in face-to-face human interactions, as well, it’s just that as people, we take advantage of what IS lost on the internet—body language, for example. Carrie intuits that Brian is holding in and hiding a great deal by the way he moves his body, by his closed-off body language, and this motivates her to get behind his walls. If their relationship had stayed virtual—say in emails or cybering—she might not have gotten as close.

Carrie muses a lot about things like dating sites and why they’re unsatisfying, why it is she might be drawn to the kind of arrangement Brian advertises for. She’s looking for human connection, and she’s at a point in her life where she’s willing to let go of control to get it. And if the engaging with the internet has some advantage, it may be control—at least for a little while.

Do you want to get your hands on a copy of this novella?  

Click on the link below to be entered to win.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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THE STORY GUY on Goodreads
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About Mary Ann Rivers
Mary Ann Rivers was an English and music major and went on to earn her MFA in creative writing, publishing poetry in journals and leading creative-writing workshops for at-risk youth. While training for her day job as a nurse practitioner, she rediscovered romance on the bedside tables of her favorite patients. Now she writes smart and emotional contemporary romance, imagining stories featuring the heroes and heroines just ahead of her in the coffee line. Mary Ann Rivers lives in the Midwest with her handsome professor husband and their imaginative school-aged son.
Connect with Mary Ann:  Website  |  Twitter |  Facebook