Write-up on the Writer: Jerry Cole

So I think I'm going to do those cheesy alliteration day things I've seen and for most Wednesdays from here on out it'll be writing about an author I like and what I've read most recently from them.  So here goes...

 Jerry Cole Author Page

There are quite a few authors that I review for and genuinely enjoy.  One of them is Jerry Cole.  I enjoy reading and reviewing his books because, while I don't enjoy all of them, he has an engaging writing style, his characters are human and progress throughout the story, and he responds to emails.  I've written back and forth with him quite a few times about editing issues and other things and he's always very respectful.  He makes my opinion seem valid and useful even if he's got a bunch of other beta readers and an editor to tell him what I've told him.  There are lots of other authors that don't respond to anything, or when they do it's to give a crappy excuse that they never got the question or whatever and to try again only to have them go right back to not responding ever.  *So tempted to name names right now........

Anyway, Jerry's great.  He's even nice when I tell him that I didn't enjoy one of his books.  Not everyone can churn out perfection each time but I'm so glad that he's not one of the authors who like to pad their reviews and skew the ratings.  He appreciates honesty so my opinion of him is much higher than it would otherwise be.

Grace Notes by [Cole, Jerry]

Grace Notes is his most recent book and I truly enjoyed it. This book had a few moments of steam but more than anything it was about love, family, connection, and forgiveness. It was very sweet and gave such a feeling of hope in the end. From loneliness to love, Gil was changed the most in this story. As the main character, he was obviously the focus, but the whole thing really revolved around him and his reaction to all the changes thrust on him. Micah was good in the periphery, as he challenged Gill and encouraged him to continue loving Roxy as he has been. As for a love interest, I could believe it even if the romance was not the focus of the story. It was more of something that was added as incentive and encouragement to Gil. Roxy was sweet and precocious and wedged her way into Gil's trailer, life, and heart. She may have been the catalyst for Gil's transformation, but Gil was ready to accept that he was supremely lonely and that changes needed to happen.

Other books by Jerry Cole that would be great to check out:

Recipe for Romance by [Cole, Jerry]From start to finish I was engaged, feeling, and interested.  I liked the prissy yet vulnerable Timothy. I loved the no-nonsense yet tender Martin. Together they balanced one another and ignited passion as well. They were hot together and could also find the humor in so many things. The plot moved well, no surprises that seem out of place solely to increase the drama, just the kind that complicate things enough to make the MC's ponder on and value what is building between them as well as bring the dramatic events to some kind of resolution.  The resolution was simple and effective. Romantically it took a bit more but the confessions were sweet, direct, and hopeful. I really loved these characters and felt excited for their future. Honestly, I would have loved for this to be longer, not just because I like the book, but also because Martin's future was still a bit unresolved.

Hidden Currents by [Cole, Jerry]Overall, I really liked Hidden Currents. I liked Nick's forced confession of his feelings even though he was confused. I didn't really like all the time spent getting to the point at the hippie spa, but it laid ground work for later so it was forgivable. I liked Jason not always playing the typical uke to Nick's mountain man type of dominance. Together they were good and I think I like everything more for what I hope and see for them than was actually on the page. The ending really needed more. It was too abrupt and needed way more feels. I do wish there were more at the end to tie the two together and bring a real resolution to the couple as well as the story, but overall there was sweetness, confusion, frustration, pride, drama, and two men who finally found the person that could be exactly what they need in a partner.

He's Worth It by [Cole, Jerry]Chris was so very sweet and wonderful. Almost unrealistically so. When he got upset it was justified, so I'm glad he wasn't so boringly perfect. Jacob was more troubled, but a bit more dramatic about things. Often he lets his insecurities and fears guide his relationship with Chris though he cares for him a great deal. The way Chris and Jacob come together is hot. Definitely a plus for me.  In regards to the plot, it's simple, straightforward, conflicts are quickly resolved, and the steam is awesome. The ending of the story, however, did not play out how I thought it would at all. It definitely needs an epilogue or something. Aside from that, I liked the lighthearted feels in this book. A sweet pairing with hotness in the bedroom is a winning combo for me.

The Road Least Traveled by [Cole, Jerry]This was sweet, low on the angst, average steam level, and a well written story.  Greg took the sexuality issue in stride, his openness made it easier to handle what he was feeling, I suppose. There wasn't much of a coming out, though, so that's where the lack of angst comes from.  Alex was straightforward and not pushy. He was solid and I liked him, the little we learn of him anyway. There wasn't much that we learn about Alex and I would have loved to read his perspective, but even being all from Greg we see why Alex would come to love him.  I enjoyed the descriptions of Greece, but wished it was a bit more to the point instead of describing the mundane and somewhat boring bits of things. Other than that, the story was told simply; a nice, sweet love story between two men who seem completely opposed to who the other person is yet find common ground and love along the way.

Undercover Lover by [Cole, Jerry]Morgan is realistic and romantic in his ideas of what he wants for his future. He's also practical yet tender how he goes about dealing with the bombshell Jan lays on him. Jan is stuck between a rock and a hard place all of his own making. Yes, his company places him in the location, but he makes all the choices that get himself stuck. I don't feel like that is resolved by the end because it's taken out of his hands, but he does finally stop being an ostrich about everything with his head just stuck in the sand. Together they find a lot of struggles but also something that neither of them had found before. Jan needs the unconditional support that Morgan can offer. Morgan needs the self-sacrificing, unselfish heart that Jan brings to the table. Overall, their story is full of ups and downs, lots of steamy moments, and a ton of communication. I loved Morgan's open heart and honest feelings. He sold the story for me.

I've rated each book listed above at 4 or 5 stars. There are many more that I've read but listed my personal picks. So check him out, check out his books, send him a message if you want to. He's a great author to know and more often than not his books are well worth the time it takes to read.

His next book, The Road Trip, is set to be released on August 6th, 2017 and I'm looking forward to it. The blurb reminds me a bit of Trust the Focus by Megan Erickson. I've got high hopes for this one because I love college-age stories of young men finding themselves and experiencing all the highs and lows that go along with starting a life and finding where you're meant to go and who to be. I'll let you know in a few days if it lived up to my hopes for the story.

 The Road Trip, [Jerry Cole]

Worth Waiting For, Wendy Qualls

Worth Waiting For, Wendy Qualls

This was a touching story of two men who were given a second chance to find happiness after a long time apart.  Neither knew they'd find one another again and thought their past was just a great memory and also a great secret.  With a lot to lose, they take a chance.  Unfortunately, other people do whatever they can to tear them apart.

The way they find resolution was a bit over-the-top as well as the big forced reveal, but their chemistry was there.  Something that was not so awesome was the lack of depth for either man.  We have reason to be interested in these men but they're not truly flushed out, they're basic and have superficial reactions to everything.

There's also a hint of chemistry there, both are obviously attracted to one another, but as for actual passion that connects the two men and makes me believe in a future?  Nah, not so much.  Paul is a bit schizophrenic with his reaction to intimacy and sex and Brandon swings from being understanding to pushy.  Both of them needed to find some kind of happy medium and I feel like neither of them do by the end of the story.

And then the stalker thing was predictable and was more build-up than anything else.  This could have been given more thought and execution because as it stands, it feels like trumped up drama to bring interest to a very simple story.  The story needed interest, but I don't feel the stalker thing was it.  It wasn't even a good way to bring the two MC's together.

Overall, this was an okay book that could have used a crap ton of editing and formatting fixes because my copy (as well as lots of others, it looks like) got stuck with some huge errors and issues that distracted me while reading.  It also needed more polish and thought as to what could really drive and keep Paul and Brandon together.

I will say this, though.  When Brandon talks to Paul about his feelings about God's position on his sexuality I really liked Paul's thoughts.  He thought them out, came to a place where he knew God was more about love than punishing His own creations.  That alone pushed the story from 2.5 stars to 3 for me.  Thank you, NetGalley, for the interesting read.

True Colors, Anyta Sunday

True Colors (True Love) by [Sunday, Anyta]

Love, hate, angst, forgiveness...so many feels in this book.  A second-chance, friends to lovers, hate vs. love story that drew me in with the scars, both emotional and physical, of both young men.  Marco who had his confidence stolen by the betrayal from Oskar that he never thought would happen.  Oskar who scarred himself with his own cowardice.  This story is full of healing and light at the same time that each low is felt too, all through the lens of Marco's colors.

Each chapter had a different color for the title and gave a brief preview of what to expect from the contents.  The writing was beautiful and effective.  Oskar and Marco had so much imperfection that bonded one another through all the stages of their relationship.  While I found the confession via play a bit cheesy-dramatic, it fit their age and the theme of their interactions.

Overall I really enjoyed this story and have no qualms recommending others to become involved in the world Anyta Sunday has created around these young men.  I hope to read the first story in the series too so I'll be on the lookout for it at my library or anywhere else I can indulge on a budget.

Same Love, Tony Correia

Same Love
This was a pretty average book with its good points being the general topic, the diversity of characters, and Adam's honesty.  The bad points are the lack of character details, growth, or development, the stereotypes, and the bland writing overall.  Together they make for a book that leaves you with a "take it or leave it" feeling...slightly more than meh.

Adam is close to graduating high school and needs his family's financial support for college despite working and putting money toward that goal himself.  While that's his plan, the reality of his situation is that he's hiding an essential part of himself to keep that support because he knows if his truth comes out he'll lose the financial backing as well as any respect or emotional support of his parents as well.  They're very strict, rigid, and intolerant Christians.  The story wouldn't progress if you didn't have the discovery, so where better for a clandestine shopping trip with a friend than a super popular mall?

Well, then he gets sent off to camp.  I was expecting a camp that had more in the way of what you hear about reformation of gays camps but this one was pretty tame.  Not to say these people didn't have emotionally distressing moments, but overall it was like a retreat full of DADT and snitches to for the religious leaders.

Paul clings to his religion and is at the camp of his own volition because he feels like his life is missing something.  Once he figures out what that might be he goes through his own struggles to accept or reject.

Each character that's there is given some basics and we can infer a complete character from those details but it's not really a complete picture, it's just based on guesses.  There are races thrown in as well as stereotypes and both are mocked.  For such a short book a lot was thrown in and it all ended in a rather lackluster conclusion.  It wasn't a bad one, more of an HFN, but not really satisfying either.

The book itself was geared more for a YA group than anyone older so it was much more simplistic and had the characters dealing with things and speaking to the youth that they were.  So if that's cool with you, by all means, read away.  This was another voluntary review for an ARC from NetGalley.

And I only have one rant for this thing.  Honestly, the Jesus or me question?  If you're a Christian that should never have to be asked because if you really were all about what Jesus said and did and were committed to living a life like Him, love would be your way of life.  Love for everyone regardless of race, sexuality, political leanings, religion, nationality...everything.  I truly feel for all the people that are stuck between honesty and religion.  It shouldn't matter and it's heartbreaking that it does.

The Photographer's Assistant, Andrew Grey

The Photographer’s Assistant
Image result for three star
For such a short story it was surprisingly complete.  David was charming, shy, and feels unimportant and overlooked by Christian and his philandering.  Christian is self-absorbed and falling into complacency despite taking increasingly amazing photos.  Together they have more than a few issues to work through if they're ever going to see eye-to-eye.

Overall, I liked this story and gave it 3 stars.  So here's the reasoning behind the 3 and not a 4...

There were inconsistencies in Christian's reasoning for hiring David as well as his overall treatment of his assistant.  He was temperamental and moody, fine for an artist, but then an about-face is supposed to be believed will last with a thousand warnings of "I might screw this up."  And David is supposed to pick up the slack emotionally as well as almost everywhere else.  I won't give spoilers until later on in this review in the rant section, so I'll leave the frustration of the moment here.

David has a past to overcome and a few photos won't fix it.  With the ending of the story there's not enough there to believe that Christian will help or hinder his own personal growth.  David is, himself, a photographer but we learn almost nothing about his subject matter or what projects he wants to work toward.  To us, he's just an assistant.  I would have loved for more.

Despite those frustrations, both characters have depth and feeling.  There's plenty of eroticism and steam, not just between the two MC's, which is another of my issues, but again, that's for later.  There's also a steady flow throughout the entire story so reading doesn't feel stilted or like it drags.  Overall, a good story with more of an HFN than an HEA.

On to the rant... 

Image result for spoiler alert animation for blog

I hate cheating.  Anything that feels like cheating is awful and makes me dislike a book instantly.  It takes a lot from the story to overcome that but if there's cheating or anything like it in the story, it'll pretty much never get a 5-star rating.  So is there cheating in this story?  No.  Just the emotional kind right in the beginning with Christian screwing a model in front of David.  If he has feelings for him, even though he's committed to denying and avoiding them, why screw someone else right in front of him?  I find that callous, unfeeling, and super prick-ish.  Definitely horrendous behavior.

Then there's Christian saying he intentionally hired David because he's plain so he wouldn't be so tempted and so David knew he couldn't reasonably ask for Christian to take him to bed or to photograph him.  Ugh, another a-hole moment right there.  But the real frustration for that isn't because David is described as plain by someone who supposedly likes him.  I mean, with Christian's history of other assistants, it's understandable that he'd take measures against going through that drama over and over.  No, it's when he is emphatic later that David's not plain and never has been.  So, which is it?  David thinks he's plain, Christian admits to it in his own head, so how do things go from being reality for one opinion to that opinion changing and then that's the reality?  I mean, changing your mind and then deluding yourself into thinking that the new opinion was the one you've always held is ridiculous.  Similarly, when out cruising for a hookup it's only as Christian is walking home that he thinks about David yet he tells David later that he was comparing everyone to him.  So are all these things he's saying just lines to keep David or are they all true and we're supposed to accept his re-writing history because he was just denying his affection before now?

So, like I said before, there's an HFN feeling and we all hope for an HEA but with Christian setting himself up for failure, a distinct lack of interest in David's professional goals, and David's self-confidence issues there's a lot to overcome.

Image result for rant over

And there you have it.  I liked The Photographer's Assistant overall even though there were some things that bothered me enough to rant about it.  The story was short, had good feels and sexy moments, and the writing was generally enjoyable.  Still a fan of Andrew Grey.

And this is me...

My first post with this blog.  This will probably be an infodump of massive proportion so you get to know me and why I even made this blog in the first place.  Well, here's the summary.  I just signed up with NetGalley and needed a blog for the reviews.  I already review on both Goodreads and Amazon but if I don't have a blog I'm not really eligible for a ton of titles that interest me on NetGalley and once they reject your request you can't re-request.  So here I am.  Not like it's a hardship because I generally like raving or complaining about what I read so that's mainly what's going to be on this blog.  Well, book reviews and the occasional rant one-sided discussion about manga, anime, movies, or shows.

So I like books.  A lot.  Right now I like it better than just about any other media that could take up any and all of my free time.  On a slow year I read upwards of 400 books even with chasing after my two active girls and doing the other stuff that I do at home.  Using Goodreads I keep track of what I read, what I'd like to read, and how much I enjoyed what I read.  Well, honestly, that's the purpose of the site, right?  Because I read so much it would be unwise to think I could afford to feed that habit on the regular so I make use of my library and any other library my friends and family have access to.  Oh, and there's also a ton of free books on Amazon, but that's pretty much just a way to fill my kindle app with books I might never get to reading because there's so many and most, pretty close to all of them, are by authors I didn't know to look for at my library.

And then I happened across Instafreebie.  I could always be guaranteed to have an inbox that I could empty of unread emails in a few minutes but after I found a way to get free books that went out the window.  Honestly it was because I didn't really understand that I was signing up for free books with the caveat that I'd also be signing up for each of those author's newsletters.  I mistakenly thought that if I didn't select the little box dude that said I'd agree to the sending of stuff that I'd get only the book.  Well, who knows how many sign-ups later, I've got hundreds of emails to go through all the time.

Now unsubscribing is a bit of an issue.  I have this guilty conscience that says I should give each author a chance since I decided to get their book but I got so many that I couldn't remember which books went with which authors and which ones I should read sooner rather than later.  And how do I know I don't want their newsletter anymore if I haven't even read their books yet?  And then there's the deadlines on my library books that take priority over that.  And then we went on a vacation for a couple months.  See where this is going?  No?  Yeah, I'm not sure either, but I'm relatively sure I'll get somewhere that makes sense eventually.

Okay, where was I?  Oh yeah, mounting issues with emails and books and general priorities.  Okay, so, I've got a bajillion emails that are relatively time sensitive because they might have free books in them and those have time limits and I'm ridiculous enough to think that's actually something I have to have to get to.  But how to sift through them all when I've got hundreds that need time and attention and I have two girls and a dog and a house and dinner and all the other things that are actually important?  Well, when I got access to an actual computer to use instead of my iPad and phone Gmail app thingies I just deleted things in giant chunks, everything except the ones with some reference to a free book in the subject.  Then after I got rid of everything I started unsubscribing.  By this time I kind of didn't care about the unknown enjoyment or disappointment because I realized that I could always sign up for their newsletter after I read something of theirs that I actually enjoyed.  Bet you saw that as a solution way before this point, yeah?  What can I say, hindsight is always 20/20.

So with that hindsight I started reading and found authors I genuinely enjoyed, re-signed up for their newsletters, and then found books I totally dug.  I contacted those authors and asked if I could read and review future books of theirs and so got started in reviewing.  After a while I got started with Hidden Gems and found that I really liked the variety of books that I was being offered.  There are books I regretted signing up for once I got the notice that I was selected as a reviewer because I wasn't interested or, after reading, didn't really like the book, but on the whole I've enjoyed my experience.

As a reviewer I'm fairly thorough in my reviews and I think I'm also kind of stingy with the stars.  I most commonly give 3 stars and rarely give 5 or 1 stars.  My rating system is as follows:

Hated it.  What a friggin' waste of time.  The characters were either horrible or the plot was or there was something so offending that I despised the whole book and nothing can redeem it.

Didn't really enjoy it, the book was just okay.  Really, I just didn't hate it enough to warrant a one-star review.  Books that warrant a "meh" or a "well, ok?" feeling also get the two-star.

Liked it.  This kind of becomes the catch-all rating when I didn't feel blah, weirded out, or ecstatic about it.  It also gets the most rounded reviews, meaning it catches the 2.5/3.5 set.  This rating also means that I genuinely liked the book, yes, a basic like but still a like.

Really liked it!  The characters are usually strong, the steam is hot, the feels are present, and I really enjoyed reading the story overall.  This is the mark of a book I'd totally recommend to others or have no problem re-reading multiple times.

LOVED IT!  I'll re-read this a hundred times and still like it, talk about this book to anyone that asks, email the author to tell them I loved the book and thank them for being generally awesome and ask to be a reviewer for them.

There are lots of times I'll find an author I like or sign up for an ARC even if I don't know the author's style very well and when I get the review link they ask for only 4 or 5 star reviews to be posted and to e-mail them with anything lower.  Can I say how annoying that is?  That's totally padding their reviews and making the whole thing way biased.  If I legitimately don't enjoy something or feel that they deserve less than 4 stars for valid reasons the world should know.  I'm not going to be a party to essentially tricking people into purchasing a story that they're convinced they'll love when they don't get the full picture.  So I follow their wishes and then unsubscribe.  And then I post my lower-than-4-star review a week or more after the release date.  That's my version of integrity.

So here's me.  I read, I review, I rinse, I repeat.  Oh, and I have, like, more than 700 emails to sift through because I've done gone and signed up for who knows what while on vacation.  The next post will be my first review since signing up with NetGalley: Andrew Grey's The Photographer's Assistant.