Book Review: Never Do a Wrong Thing

When it comes to blog posts, I often have trouble knowing how to start. I’m a stare at the blank page kinda person. I love the opening of Never Do a Wrong Thing. So, let’s start at the start (that’s a song right?) it’s a very good place to start (that’s totally a song).

When things start going awry is when the story starts, no sooner, no later. That’s what Mrs. Bartkowski told us in her Creative Writing workshop, but frankly, that doesn’t help me all that much if I can’t say for sure when things started going awry. If I were to ask you, Tom, you’d probably say things started going awry the day I was born, and you’d think your blunt force humor was very clever.

Great opening and it gave me a chance to use the quote thing.

Summary: Tim is in love with best friend, who will never, ever like him back.

I didn’t say stop me if you’ve heard this one before, but there you are, rolling your eyes and telling me yeah, yeah. I’ve heard this one before. But you haven’t! It’s not a besties to more thing. The story goes the perhaps more realistic route of what happens when that person you’ve had a crush on forever doesn’t like you back. Worse than that, when that person you love not only doesn’t love you in the right way but doesn’t love you at all, just because of who you are.

Very serious reviewer comment: Tim being interested in Tom is weird. Pretty much only because there was a Tim and Tom a few grades older than me in school and they were twin brothers. So that’s what I think of when I hear the names Tim and Tom together and then it’s like, Tim, no, that’s your brother!

But this isn’t Flowers in the Attic.

The Plot: Liking someone you can’t have. Yeah, it’s as simple as that. The story still covers a lot of ground though. At the beginning of the book, Tim can’t imagine ever telling his best friend certain truths about himself and doesn’t want to risk jeopardizing their friendship.

The full quote in the title is “never do a wrong thing to make a friend or keep one.” And as the story goes on, having to keep part of himself private, never getting to be himself to protect someone else becomes more and more difficult.  He starts realizing who he is and becoming okay with that, even if means he might have to give up the thing that once mattered the most to him.

What Makes it Unique: The story is told as if the main character is explaining everything to his best friend. So some of it is first person and other parts are him addressing his best friend. The different style really makes it interesting and fun to read and because it’s all about the friendship between Tim and Tom, this way of telling the story really works and feels natural. It’s Tim saying all the things he can’t to Tom.

There’s also a lot of stories out there where the central conflict is parental strife because they can’t accept their children and while realistic, it isn’t the only way parents react. So, I like stories where the parents are pretty supportive and this fits that bill.

What I liked: This isn’t just telling the story of a young adult discovering who he is, it really captures the mindset of someone innocent. There’s a vibe of everything being new and strange and scary but good too. The pace is just right, it’s an exploration of what someone coming to terms with their sexuality might go through, fully exploring the topic without being too much or not enough, it’s just right.

What you may not like: I was tempted to put a what I didn’t like part but then it would feel like a cop out because the answer is ‘nothing!’ I enjoyed the whole thing. Though, the focus of the book is pretty narrow. I don’t feel like that’s a bad thing but if you’re looking for a larger world and more conflict, this isn’t the right book for you. It’s coming of age and all the angst is centered around one part.

The Romance: This book isn’t centered around romance, so there’s a little bit of a love story but it’s not the main focus. The relationship in this one is sweet and cute, basically what you’d want for your first boyfriend.

Other: I just wanted to say that I didn’t make it all the way through Cupid Painted Blind, so its kinda weird that I loved this one so much and didn’t care for that one but anyway, I might have to give it another shot because I really enjoyed Jack in this one.

I actually would have liked Jack and Tim together, but I think there was an age difference, and I thought they had good chemistry and they challenged each other and both made the other think. And I just like Jack, okay. Love me a tortured bad boy and Jack and Tim had good dialogue.

Final Thoughts: A great easy read with a lot of heart. There’s simple, engaging writing that flows well and has moments of beauty and deepness and humor.

Also, I googled it, the song I was thinking of at the beginning was Do Re Mi.

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Book Review: Just A Dumb Surfer Dude

Quick summary: Cooper’s life is fine but uneventful. He’s smart, his classes are easy, he has people who care about him, but he mostly feels like he’s waiting for his life to start. Then a new kid comes to school and everything changes.

(I tried not to spoil things but there are probably mild spoilers and hints about what happens in my review.)

What I thought: Just a Dumb Surfer Dude: A Gay Coming-of-Age Tale is a quick, fun read that would work well for reading during the summer or at the beach but can be read anytime. The “surfer dude” is less important than one might think by the title, but those who like humor, sweet romances, and romantic comedies will enjoy this story.

I really liked the narrator’s voice and liked that there were multiple love interests, that’s not always something you see in LGBTQ teen fiction. It started out a little slow for me, but I got more interested as I kept going.

Depending on how perceptive you are, there may be a fun twist or two. I am usually much better at picking out this kind of thing, but I didn’t see it coming, so I really liked the surprising direction the story went in.

The Romance: Cooper is presented as an intelligent guy, but he has no experience with relationships or dating, so there’s a coming-of-age aspect where he explores getting close to guys romantically. It’s all new and intense and scary. While this story is on the shorter side, it still tells a complete story about finding love. It’s not heavy on the angst but has a few ups and downs and isn’t completely predictable.

If you’ve been reading a lot of stories about boy meets boy and then one or both boys freak out about liking another boy, this book offers variety. Cooper already knows he’s gay, so the story explores finding that special person more fully and what makes someone “the one” without any sexuality crises.

There’s also a sequel.

Plotty Details: Cooper’s life at his all-boys school is okay, but there isn’t much going on. He has one best friend he’s close with and his relationship with his father is important to him. Both he and his father don’t enjoy being single. He’s one of the only gay kids he knows and hasn’t had any romance yet and is sort of getting impatient waiting for it. While there’s no love interest in his life, his best friend is also gay. They aren’t out to everyone, but Cooper’s dad knows.

Cooper finally gets some excitement in his life when a new student comes to school. He’s even paired up with the hot guy in one of his classes. The problem? This new boy seems to like him even though his best friend really wants to go out with the new guy.

Best Part: Cooper has great relationships with his father and his best friend Alex. If you like your romances to have a little more depth, there is also plenty of father-son moments. Cooper and his dad don’t relate to each other perfectly but love each other and that comes through. The father is an English teacher and there’s a lot of little quips I enjoyed about different books. The dialogue was at its most witty when Cooper was with Alex or his father. Cooper’s a big smart alec who loves tormenting the people he loves.

Reasons to Love a Nerd Like Me Review

Reasons To Love A Nerd Like Me: Love Stories Book 1by Becky Jerams

The Plot: Scotty is an out, self-described geek, or I suppose I should say nerd since it’s in the title. His life is comprised of schoolwork, a type-A, bossy best friend, and a bully who lives to terrorize him. Then the mysterious bad boy Vincent Hunter enters his orbit, and both are drawn to each other.

My thoughts: This reads like a quintessential YA rom-com. There’s a cast of zany characters, lots of opportunities for drama and misunderstandings and everything feels so important and immediate. There’s a lot of fun with classic types of characters like the jealous ex and the bad boy with the heart of gold.

Reasons to Love a Nerd Like Me is an exciting, energetic read. I’m an American who doesn’t fully get the British school system but its still easy enough to follow. It almost felt like a soap opera, which I mean in a good way, there’s a lot of melodrama and high tension and it’s easy to just get absorbed and enjoy all the antics.

The best part: The two main characters are just so damn cute together. From nicknames to exchanging music to text message flirting, I loved reading their interactions and was really rooting for them. I had a smile on my face while reading, they were so adorable together. Scotty and Vincent’s love story starts slow as they get to know each other and is full of lots of sweet interactions that really make the story great.

Get To Know Cal

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I’ve chosen some questions from one of those ‘get to know me’ surveys for Cal from my book What Love Means to answer. They’re written from his point of view.

Get to know Cal Winthrop-Scott

What time do you wake up most mornings?
Around six for school. Earlier if I forgot to iron my clothes for the day. I mean, six, and never earlier because my family has a maid that does the ironing. I totally don’t even pay attention to ironing and have no preferred way for my slacks to be creased. What 17-year-old boy does? Definitely not me.

What do you do to relax at the end of a stressful day?
What is this ‘relax’ you speak of? I don’t think I’ve heard of it before and I know many words since I used to compete in spelling bees. At the end of a stressful day (everyday), I thank whatever gods are listening the day is over and count down the days until I can legally consume liquor.

Where did your last kiss take place and with whom?
I don’t remember the specific logistics, but it had to be with my ex-girlfriend Katie. And– no, the less said about this the better.

Do/did you get into trouble a lot at school?
Of course not! I’m on the honor roll.

Do you often pick up on double entendres and innuendos?
Yes, unfortunately. I wish I didn’t as I have a friend… acquaintance… associate? A, um, Max who makes many innuendos. Well, I don’t have him, he’s not mine or anything, I. Next question.

Have you ever been offered drugs but declined?
Just say no. I’m above the influence and straight edge and all that. I’m all kinds of straight, all the kinds of straight one can be.

Have you ever met someone who has completely altered your way of thinking?
No one comes to mind. Most people I know are like me; they go to the country club and come from good families. I certainly don’t know any leather jacket wearing rebels that are so comfortable about themselves and who they are, who make we wonder how to do that.

Have you ever been offered drugs and accepted?
Of course not! Wasn’t that already asked? Okay, maybe there was an occasion. It was just a puff or two of marijuana. Max and all his friends were around; they’re bad influences! Peer pressure is a real thing, okay?

I mean, I’m going to politely decline to answer this question.

Tell us something weird that turns you on.
There’s nothing weird, I’m just a totally normal guy who likes girls. Not leather jackets or a hint of stubble and a smoldering stare–

Um. No comment.

When did someone last admit romantic or sexual feelings for you? Was the feeling mutual?
Good lord. Absolutely no comment.

What is something you have given a lot of thought to lately?
College decisions. How closely I want to follow in my parent’s footsteps. Certain brunettes. Shit, how about some easier questions?

 Name one thing you wish you could change about your life right now.
This is definitely not easier.

What do you usually eat for breakfast?
There, perfect. I eat whatever the cook makes. Okay, it may not have yielded a very exciting answer but really this was a much better question.

When did you last swallow your beliefs to avoid an argument or confrontation?
Swallowed my beliefs? Isn’t this a bit harsh? So maybe I haven’t been as vocal as I could about wanting to attend Stanford, but it’s not that simple. My parents went to Princeton, their parents went to Princeton, so I’m just waiting for the right time to broach the subject. It’s strategic. Smart. Shut up.

Do you usually initiate hugs?
I’m a wasp. Wasps don’t hug.

Are you a very affectionate person?
I will refer you to the above.

 Do you think you’re a good person?
Who is to say what good means? I don’t murder anyone or play music without earphones in the library. I would say that I follow the rules and do whats expected of me and I generally try not to be a terrible person, but am I actually kind to people? Caring? Happy? I mean, good? I don’t know. Are these questions meant to be an emotional powder keg or is it just me?

What are you looking forward to?
Being done with high school. Starting my future. Being away from my parents. No, that’s far too harsh. Being an adult and making decisions for my self… And though I would absolutely deny it if asked again, maybe when Max isn’t around, I might look forward to seeing him again. Maybe. Just a little.

What Love Means Excerpt

 

Here’s an excerpt of What Love Means. Both of the main characters have a sibling who competes in spelling bees, and this takes place at a spelling club meeting.

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Cal

This was the perfect chance to spend quality time with my brother while getting my mind off the breakup. And the guy from the party. I had to get him out of my mind. I thought about him more than I wanted to admit.

Did it seem so intense because of the alcohol? Needing someone so badly and feeling such pleasure at his skin on mine couldn’t possibly be real. I didn’t even know his name! Still, it had been heady. Maybe because it was new? Feeling coarse skin scrape against my jaw. Meeting muscles instead of soft flesh. How he backed me up against a wall with easy strength. His demanding mouth and hands…

Freaking hell. I was thinking about it again!

Continue reading “What Love Means Excerpt”

The Meaning of Life… or at least names

Okay, this post doesn’t discuss the meaning of life, unless you mean the Monty Python movie, which I will discuss now to say that I thought it was alright. I saw it in like fourth grade after I watched and loved Holy Grail and I didn’t think MOL was as good but I would likely appreciate it more now.

Actually, I do have a guess about the meaning of life: dogs. That’s it. Just dogs. Dogs are totally the meaning of life.

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Anyway, I wanted to discuss name meanings. My book What Love Means came out in April, and April is also the name of a character, the little sister of one of the protagonists. Apparently I like month names because the last name of another character is March.

I wondered what April meant; did it have a cool name meaning? If you’re named April, does your name just mean the fourth month of the year? No, it’s a little better than that. April is latin (isn’t everything?) and means open.

Then I wondered what my other characters names meant? Brendan is the other little sibling in the book and his name means brave.

Calvin goes by Cal. He got the short end of the stick. His name means bald, but I promise he has hair.

Max means greatest. I think Max would be very pleased with his name meaning and Cal’s while Cal would not be amused.

What Love Means is available on Amazon. Here’s an excerpt from the first chapter:

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Max                                                                                                           

Bodies filled the decrepit, rusting building while the chilly night air had many openings to invade the space inside the run-down walls of the old warehouse. Maybe that was why several empty barrels held fires or maybe that was for ambiance. It didn’t seem like this forgotten place would have any electricity, yet someone somehow got music playing.

People cheered and danced while the booze flowed liberally. Then glow sticks appeared. This was going to turn into a rave. I fucking hated raves. I missed the days when it was just me and the guys breaking into some ramshackle place that no one even used or cared about but went through the trouble of locking anyway.

And now snobs infiltrated the party, their stares boring into me – the scowling guy who filled out his leather jacket – with disdain and grudging interest. Rich kids were all the same, with critical eyes and upturned noses, both envious and judging of those below them. Good to fool around with sometimes but that was all they were good for.

Continue reading “The Meaning of Life… or at least names”

What Love Means- April 15 Release!

It’s almost here! My new book What Love Means will be released on April 15. You can order it here. As a celebration, I’m giving away ten gay YA romances and you can enter here.

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What Love Means

Can two opposites turn their attraction into something more?

On the surface Max Keller and Calvin Winthrop-Scott should repel each other. Between their shared past that ended badly and their polar opposite personalities, there should be no love in their love/hate relationship. They have nothing in common. Except for their attraction to each other.

A friendship between their siblings and the kid’s shared interest in spelling bees brings the former best friends back together. Neither one of them wants to be friends anymore, but can they admit to themselves and everyone else that they want something more?

Max and Cal know how to spell love, but they’re about to find out what it means.

This high school romance features a bad boy with a soft spot for his little sister and a prep school brat whose perfect world is about to get more complicated. In this teen LGBTQ story, opposites attract, enemies become lovers and a second chance means two old friends could become more.

Excerpt:

 

Our jibes weren’t really antagonistic or biting, and the mood had turned almost playful. I only realized once it ended. Max scowled and his hands clenched. Oh well, I might as well take the advantage when it’s offered. “Touch a nerve?” I asked.

Just when I thought I might get the upper hand, Max smirked. “You touched more than that,” he leered. His face turned wolfish. I wanted to smack that look off his face or bite and kiss it away.

It was my turn to grimace. “About that.” I couldn’t let my stupid libido win. I had to be reasonable about this. Being reasonable and careful was as easy as breathing for me. Except when Max was around.

“We should keep it between us?” he whispered, sounding mocking as he stepped closer. We probably looked ridiculous: two teens outside a library acting like we were auditioning for West Side Story as we postured and glared. Or maybe Romeo and Juliet. “Well, what’s in it for me if I do?” he flirted.

“The feeling of being a good and decent person?” I suggested, struggling not to lean into the tempting heat of his body.

“Maybe I’d rather feel you instead.” His hands ghosted right above my chest. I prided myself on not moving into the touch. It was just a little chilly out suddenly, and his broad, hot body next to mine was alluring. Because of the temperature. It’s not like I had a leather jacket to keep the cold at bay.

“This doesn’t have to be a big thing,” I said and immediately realized my mistake.

Max grinned. “Oh, you didn’t just say big thing.”

I made a frustrated noise. “Can you take anything seriously?”

“Do you wanna see what I can take?” he shot back. I was the one to walk away this time even though Max followed merrily after me.

“Is this what we’re going to do? Just annoy each other to death?” I asked while he trailed behind me.

“Why, you can’t handle it?” Max caught up and stopped me before I entered the library. His hand was on my arm where I wore a navy long-sleeved shirt; the heat of his hand bled through easily. I didn’t say anything. “Hello?” he asked after a few moments.

I thought of and rejected several responses to his question. “I just don’t know how to answer in a way that won’t sound like an innuendo,” I admitted.

His lips pressed together in a mocking pout. “You’re no fun.”

“You’ll stop teasing me then?”

His eyes sparkled with mischief. “I didn’t say that.”

Yeah, I didn’t think it would be that easy.

 

 

Freebies

The weather is grey and gloomy today, perfect for curling up with a good book. However, I’m still on the clock right now. I didn’t let the dreary atmosphere stop me though, I’ve been busy. I put two books up on Instafreebie, which means, as the site’s title implies, the books are free. So if it’s cold and dark where you live too, here are two reading options while you keep warm inside.

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One is L-O-V-E, a teen romance featuring a bad boy and his preppy opposite who hate each other but can’t seem to keep their hands off each other. There’s feuding, spelling bees and sexual tension, unresolved and otherwise. The sample on Instafreebie is four chapters from the beginning.

Young fitness model is posing in studio

The other story, Entirely Too Gay, is a fun, silly book about a guy joining the wrestling team to get closer to his crush. The whole book is free as a thank you to people who sign up for my mailing list. The first half of the story is also available without signing up so that you can sample it first and see if you like it.

At the moment, you don’t even have to enter your email to get L-O-V-E, but of course you can if you like it so that you’ll know when the full version is released and you can get a copy for free. I might change it soon so that an email is required, for science, just to see if there’s a difference. This self-publishing thing means that I get to experiment. I heard a fellow author say that’s one of the perks of being an indie author, and he’s probably right.  I’d thought the perks were getting to work in your pajamas and taking breaks to play with your dog, but the freedom to try different things is a pretty good perk too.

One of the things I’m going to be fiddling with is covers for L-O-V-E, and this is the first version. So if you like it, hate it or have any feelings about it at all, let me know.