Heidi Cullinan

Antisocial by Heidi Cullinan 5 Star Review

Review:

Antisocial - Heidi Cullinan

A single stroke can change your world.

Xander Fairchild can’t stand people in general and frat boys in particular, so when he’s forced to spend his summer working on his senior project with Skylar Stone, a silver-tongued Delta Sig with a trust fund who wants to make Xander over into a shiny new image, Xander is determined to resist. He came to idyllic, Japanese culture-soaked Benten college to hide and make manga, not to be transformed into a corporate clone in the eleventh hour. 

Skylar’s life has been laid out for him since before he was born, but all it takes is one look at Xander’s artwork, and the veneer around him begins to crack. Xander himself does plenty of damage too. There’s something about the antisocial artist’s refusal to yield that forces Skylar to acknowledge how much his own orchestrated future is killing him slowly…as is the truth about his gray-spectrum sexuality, which he hasn’t dared to speak aloud, even to himself.

Through a summer of art and friendship, Xander and Skylar learn more about each other, themselves, and their feelings for one another. But as their senior year begins, they must decide if they will part ways and return to the dull futures they had planned, or if they will take a risk and leap into a brightly colored future—together.

 

Review

While I love the romance in this in this book, the discussion of art is so powerful, it often steals the show.

 

This romance is a slow burn and not just because one of the heroes is asexual. The fall in love is really pretty magical as they take down wall after wall for each other.

 

It is also a very well done New Adult with the kinds of conflict that have to do with finding new understanding of your family of origins and becoming your fuller self.

 

The setting is compelling as the circle of friends that builds and the mythology contained in the manga and an exploration of toxic masculinity from all parts of the policatal spectrum that is explored.

 

The writing is lyrical and lovely and while the pace might be too slow for some, it really worked for me.

 

At the heart of this book is the love story which is all about intimacy.

 

So very good!

Original post:
northamericanwordcat.booklikes.com/post/1597181/antisocial-by-heidi-cullinan-5-star-review

Second Hand (Tucker Springs, #2) by Heidi Cullinan and, Marie Sexton Review

Review:

Second Hand - Heidi Cullinan, Marie Sexton

Paul Hannon moved to Tucker Springs for his girlfriend, but she’s left him with a house he can’t afford and a pantry full of useless gadgets. All Paul wants is to get back to normal, even if he’s not sure what that is anymore. When he wanders into Tucker Pawn for a gift to win her back, he meets El Rozal, pawn shop owner and all-around cynic.

El Rozal doesn’t do relationships, especially not with clueless straight boys still pining for their ex. El may make his living dealing in castoffs, but that doesn’t apply to men. Still, when Paul starts clearing out his old life, pawning kitchen equipment he never wanted in the first place, El is drawn to Paul in spite of himself.

Paul and El have nothing in common except a past full of disappointments. There’s no reason to believe the two of them could fit, but in El’s line of work, one man’s junk is another man’s treasure. When it comes to love, El and Paul may learn that secondhand doesn’t mean second best.

 

Review

 

I love EL and the dog. I love his crush and his pursuit of Paul and his dedication to family.

Paul is depressed, non self reflective, and clueless but he is sweet and kind and figures things out.

I like that Paul is working class and money is a thing. His ex girlfriend is awful but his mom is great.

This is a lovely romance with a great cast of characters. Very good read!

 

 

Original post:
northamericanwordcat.booklikes.com/post/1572416/second-hand-tucker-springs-2-by-heidi-cullinan-and-marie-sexton-review

Carry the Ocean (The Roosevelt, #1) by Heidi Cullinan 5 Star Review

    Carry the Ocean  by Heidi Cullinan 5 Stars! 

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 young man with a double major in math and computer science is handsome, forward, wicked smart, interested in dating Jeremey—and he has autism.

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 Jeremey’s 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.

As Jeremey and Emmet find their feet at The Roosevelt, they begin to believe they can be loved for the men they are beyond their disabilities. But before they can trust enough to fall head over heels, they must trust their own convictions that friendship is a healing force and love can overcome any obstacle.

 

Review

I love this book. Sitting down to write this review, I just want to go and read it again.

Each character is complex, human and complete. They inhabit a full world. The writing is beautiful and dialogue compelling.

The details weave together in wonderful layer upon layer to create a love story with all the kinds of love.

This is not a light hearted romance but the ache here is really just the ache of being human.

As a disabled person, I really valued to discussion of adaptations, modification, and normality that are part and parcel of living in with a different t body, chemistry and/or mind that the majority.

Depression and anxiety are explored here better than I have ever read. They are part of the character but not all of him. And while there are things that are common to people with this disorder, the understanding that he is unique is clear as well.

The exploration of autism is just as powerfully done. I love that fact that even though the autistic hero seems outwardly more disabled, it is the more “normal” hero that is newer to journey of living with his disability rather than around it.

I love the layers of the parental reaction to this very young couple. The romance told in alternating points of very is beautiful. The writer shows the difficult of the relationship and its joy.

My favorite part of the book aside from the characters is the therapy sessions. Both heroes go and the parents.

I wish everyone had support like this to shine the light on love and self acceptance and the pain of being human. And the science of it all. So good.

I highly recommend this book for the romance and everything else.

Ripped Bodice Summer Bingo Row 2!

The Ripped Bodice (A Amazing Romance Bookstore) is have a Summer Read Along Bingo!

We can play!  We can win Prizes.  Check out the site for all the details.

Here are my suggestions for books to read for Row 2! 5 or 4 Star reads!

 

Hero Has a Pet that is Not a Cat or a Dog:

Wait for You by J. Lynn (Tortoise) 

Some things are worth waiting for . . .

Traveling thousands of miles from home to enter college is the only way nineteen-year-old Avery Morgansten can escape what happened at that fateful Halloween party five years ago—an event that forever changed her life. What she never planned on was capturing the attention of the one guy who could shatter the precarious future she’s building for herself.

Some things are worth experiencing . . .

Cameron Hamilton is six feet, three inches of swoon-worthy hotness, com-plete with a pair of striking blue eyes and a remarkable ability to make Avery want things she believed had been irrevocably stolen from her. Getting involved with him is dangerous. Yet ignoring the simmering tension that sparks between them—and brings out a side of her she never knew existed—is impossible.

Some things shouldn’t be kept quiet . . .

But when Avery starts receiving threatening e-mails and phone calls, she’s forced to face a past she wants to keep buried and acknowledge that someone is refusing to allow her to let go of that night when everything changed. If the devastating truth comes out, will she resurface with one less scar? And will Cam be there to help her?

And some things are worth fighting for . . .

 How to Be a Normal Person by TJ Klune (Ferret) Gustavo Tiberius is not normal. He knows this. Everyone in his small town of Abby, Oregon, knows this. He reads encyclopedias every night before bed. He has a pet ferret called Harry S. Truman. He owns a video rental store that no one goes to. His closest friends are a lady named Lottie with drag queen hair and a trio of elderly Vespa riders known as the We Three Queens.

Gus is not normal. And he’s fine with that. All he wants is to be left alone.

Until Casey, an asexual stoner hipster and the newest employee at Lottie’s Lattes, enters his life. For some reason, Casey thinks Gus is the greatest thing ever. And maybe Gus is starting to think the same thing about Casey, even if Casey is obsessive about Instagramming his food.

But Gus isn’t normal and Casey deserves someone who can be. Suddenly wanting to be that someone, Gus steps out of his comfort zone and plans to become the most normal person ever.

After all, what could possibly go wrong?

Heart Quest (Celta Series Book 5) By Robin Owens (Fox) Tucked away in the Druida City of Celta, Trif Clover knows she has a HeartMate. She wants him so badly she’s actually going door-to-door with her charmkey to find him. What she doesn’t know is that he has already found her. Guardsman Ilex Winterberry knows that Trif is his HeartMate, but fears that being twice her age, with a short life ahead of him, he will only scare her away. He yearns to be close to her—and she needs to be close to him. There’s a killer on the loose, stalking those with unstable Flair psi power like Trif’s. Facing his most difficult task yet, Ilex must reveal the truth of their destiny or else leave Trif in the grasp of a vicious murderer…

Hero Smells Like Some Kind of Tree: 

In the Middle of Somewhere by Roan Parrish  (Woodworker)

Middle of Somewhere: Book One

Daniel Mulligan is tough, snarky, and tattooed, hiding his self-consciousness behind sarcasm. Daniel has never fit in—not at home in Philadelphia with his auto mechanic father and brothers, and not at school where his Ivy League classmates looked down on him. Now, Daniel’s relieved to have a job at a small college in Holiday, Northern Michigan, but he’s a city boy through and through, and it’s clear that this small town is one more place he won’t fit in.

Rex Vale clings to routine to keep loneliness at bay: honing his muscular body, perfecting his recipes, and making custom furniture. Rex has lived in Holiday for years, but his shyness and imposing size have kept him from connecting with people.

When the two men meet, their chemistry is explosive, but Rex fears Daniel will be another in a long line of people to leave him, and Daniel has learned that letting anyone in can be a fatal weakness. Just as they begin to break down the walls keeping them apart, Daniel is called home to Philadelphia, where he discovers a secret that changes the way he understands everything.

Honour by Viola Grace (Tree Spirit) Honour is a horticulturist who has been blackmailed into handing herself over to Raiders. She had no idea that they were trading her for cold, hard cash. Trapped on a strange world, being groomed for a male she had yet to meet, Honour had to admit that even the alien races of the Nyal Imperium had begun to feel like home.

The host lives to serve the forest of Yalki and all the worlds in the Yalki system. He is out to choose a bride that not only matches his personal frequencies, but also compliments his personality. It is a search that he is willing to put a lot of attention into, especially when his chosen finds ways to avoid him on the dream plane. That is the kind of woman he is looking for, intelligent and sneaky. He might be in love.

Live: A Burnside Novel by Mary Anne Rivers (Woodworker) If there’s an upside to unemployment, Destiny Burnside may have found it. Job searching at her local library in Lakefield, Ohio, gives her plenty of time to ogle the hottest man she has ever laid eyes on: the sexy wood-carver who’s restoring the building. But as the rejection letters pile up, Destiny finds an unexpected shoulder to cry on. With his rich Welsh accent, Hefin Thomas stirs Destiny so completely that, even though he’s leaving soon, she lets herself believe the memory of his scorching kisses will be enough.

Hefin can’t help but notice the slender, confident woman with ginger hair who returns each day, so hopeful and determined. So when the tears start to fall, his silence—penance for a failed marriage—finally cracks. Once he’s touched her, what Hefin wants is to take her back to Wales and hold her forever. But Destiny’s roots run too deep. What they both need is each other—to learn how to live and love again.

Queer YA/NA

Christmas Kitsch by Amy Lane

Sometimes the best thing you can get for Christmas is knowing what you really want.

Rusty Baker is a blond, rich, entitled football player in a high school full of them — just the type of oblivious jock all the bullied kids hate. And he might have stayed that way, except he develops a friendship with out-and-proud Oliver Campbell from the wrong side of the tracks. Rusty thinks the friendship is just pity — Oliver is very bright, and Rusty is very not — but then Oliver kisses him goodbye when Rusty leaves for college, and Rusty is forced to rethink everything he knows about himself.

But even Rusty’s newfound awareness can’t help him survive a semester at Berkeley. He returns home for Thanksgiving break clinging to the one thing he knows to be true: Oliver Campbell is the best thing that’s ever happened to him.

Rusty’s parents disagree, and Rusty finds himself homeless for the holidays. Oliver may not have much money, but he’s got something Rusty has never known: true family. With their help and Oliver’s love, Rusty comes to realize that he may have failed college, but he’ll pass real life with flying rainbow colors.

Pull Me Under by Zarah Detand  As the first British footballer to come out at the prime of his career, it helps that Ben Jimmer is in a long-term, committed relationship with university student Henry Brown. Even if that relationship is fake.

Or: A cheerfully clichéd tale of romance, tattoos, football, and friendship (both with and without benefits). Also, tea. And stupidly complicated feelings, of course. Let’s not forget about those.

Carry the Ocean (The Roosevelt Book 1)  by Heidi Cullinan 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 young man with a double major in math and computer science is handsome, forward, wicked smart, interested in dating Jeremey—and he has autism.

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 Jeremey’s 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.

As Jeremey and Emmet find their feet at The Roosevelt, they begin to believe they can be loved for the men they are beyond their disabilities. But before they can trust enough to fall head over heels, they must trust their own convictions that friendship is a healing force and love can overcome any obstacle.

Geek/Nerd Element (Geeky Heroines)

Imperfect Chemistry: Imperfect Series, Book 1 by Mary Frame

Lucy London puts the word genius to shame. Having obtained her PhD in microbiology by the age of twenty, she’s amassed a wealth of knowledge, but one subject still eludes her—people. The pendulum of passions experienced by those around her confuses and intrigues her, so when she’s offered a grant to study emotion as a pathogen, she jumps on the opportunity.

Enter Jensen Walker, Lucy’s neighbor and the one person she finds appealing. Jensen’s life is the stuff of campus legend, messy, emotional, and complicated. Basically, the perfect starting point for Lucy’s study. When her tenaciousness wears him down and he consents to help her, sparks fly. To her surprise, Lucy finds herself battling with her own emotions, as foreign as they are intense. With the clock ticking on her deadline, Lucy must decide what’s more important: analyzing her passions…or giving in to them?

SATED: by Rebekah Weatherspoon All Keira Kenney wants is her happy ending. Too bad she can never make it through a first date. Is a nice man who’s into fitness and comics, with an extensive knowledge of everything science-fiction too much to ask for? Apparently, since Keira can’t seem to find a partner who can simply tolerate her interests. Perhaps it’s time for her to give up. She has her job at Melrose Fitness, a new season of her favorite space drama added to streaming, and hundreds of thousands of words worth of fan fiction all to keep her mind busy. Her heart will have to wait.

Pyrotechnics expert, Daniel Song isn’t looking for anything. He spends his days doing what he loves, and his nights and weekends participating in the kinky activities his body craves. Single life as sexual switch suits him perfectly, giving him the freedom to indulge the types of erotic adventures some people only dream of.

When a good friend asks Daniel if his co-worker, Keira can join him at a local sci-fi convention, neither of them expect any sort of fireworks to spark. After all, Keira’s turned off by kink and Daniel can’t live without with it. So naturally they both agree that an official first date would be a great idea. With this new relationship fresh between them, Daniel shares what he can of himself without scaring Keira off, hiding his shock and growing infatuation as she rises to every sexual occasion with her silly, geek-girl personality. It’s only a matter of time before they both have to face the truth; what he wants is the furtherest thing from what she needs. But in the meantime, pushing each other’s sexual limits seems like a good plan. It’s not like either of them is looking for love.

Magic Dreams  by Ilona Andrews   Alpha Pack leader Jim Shrapshire has always been the strong, silent type. But something has come over him–a magic force currently residing in one of the Pack’s headquarters. Were-tigress Dali Harimau has always wished she could get Jim’s attention–but now he needs her help.

Stricken with a magic-sickness, Jim needs Dali’s flair for magic. And to save him, she must challenge a powerful, dark being to a battle of wits.

Baking/Sweets in Delicious Detail: 

Wild Man (The Dream Man Series Book 2)  by Kristen Ashely While filling the display case in her bakery, the bell over the door sounds and Tessa O’Hara looks up to see the man of her dreams. Within thirty seconds he asks her out for a beer. But after four months of dating, she discovers he’s an undercover DEA agent-and he’s investigating her possible role in her ex-husband’s drug business. For Tess, this means their relationship is over.

Brock disagrees. He’s committed to his anti-drug mission, but he’s fallen in love with the beautiful woman who’s as sweet as her cupcakes-and he’ll do anything to win her back. Standing between Tess and Brock are their own exes, one of them a drug lord who’s determined to get what he wants. Now as danger threatens, can Brock break the rules he’s lived by and let loose his wild side to protect the woman he loves?

Howl for It (The Pride Series) by Shelly Laurenston

Like A Wolf With A Bone

Quiet little Darla Lewis couldn’t be happier when the most-feared member of the South’s rowdiest pack kidnaps her. A girl gets real tired of being overprotected by her own shifter family, and there’s nothing like an oh-so-big bad wolf to start a pack feud, unleash her instincts–and have her surrender however and whenever she wants. . .

All for You (Paris Nights Book 1) by Laura Florand Some crushes aren’t meant to be.

When her older brother’s best friend left to join the Foreign Legion, eighteen-year-old Célie moved on to make a life for herself as a Paris chocolatier. Now, five years later, the last thing she needs is another man to mess up her happiness.

Let alone the same man.

But five years in the Foreign Legion is a long time for a man to grow up, and a long time to be away from the woman he loves.

Especially when he did it all for her.

Half strangers, more than friends, and maybe, if Joss Castel has his way, a second chance…

 

Stay Tuned for More rows!