This was simply adorable and I loved it so much. It was so refreshing to see a different kind of romantic relationship than what is often seen in romance novels. Xander and Skylar were so cute together, and I have to be honest, I almost stopped reading at about 70% because I afraid there was going to be this awful Black Moment, something that split them up temporarily before they found there way back to each other. I'm so happy that didn't happen, so happy Ms. Cullinan chose a different direction than what, again, you often see in romance novels.
Xander and Skylar both have baggage and family issues to deal with, but I love that they deal with them together. And I loved how they dealt with Skylar's emerging sexuality as a couple, by communicating and being honest. I just loved them all around, they worked so great together.
The epilogue had me smiling all the way through and it also made me cry. Sad tears because the story was over, and happy tears because of the beautiful picture Ms. Cullinan paints with her words in the final few paragraphs.
This was a beautiful and sweet story, although I would have liked to see a more conclusive resolution between Xander and his mom.
The cast of secondary characters were great, although it did take me quite some time to warm up to Zelda. They were abrasive and aggressive, but after the talk in the car with Skylar, I warmed up to them slightly, although to be honest, I could've done without this character. I found them unnecessarily rude and brash. For someone who's asexual/aromantic (if I remember correctly), Zelda probably gets stereotyped against all the time, and yet they spent a few scenes berating Xander for having anything to do with Skylar, a frat boy. Because apparently all frat boys are douchebags. Anyway, thankfully Zelda wasn't in the book too much.
Full disclosure: I almost DNF'd somewhere around 20% because the story starts off slowly. But once Xander and Skylar start to get to know each other, I couldn't put it down.
There have been reviews that state that this book is a bad representation of ace spectrum characters because the ace character (Skylar) has to be rescued by the allosexual one (Xander). While I do agree to some agree, I was also never personally convinced that Xander is actually allosexual. To me he read more as somewhere on the ace spectrum. That being said, this is a subjective topic, so I will caution against the book if you're sensitive to this or identify on the ace spectrum. Personally, I do identify on the ace spectrum, but because I never considered Xander as strictly allosexual, I didn't see it as an issue, although I do understand how and why others do.
All in all, five stars from me despite some of the issues I identified above, simply because Xander and Skylar were so utterly adorable together.
My newest novella, As Big As the Sky, was released from MLR Press on August 4, just over two weeks ago, and I have to admit that I'm completely overwhelmed at the positive early reviews. To see some of those reviews, check out the book's page here.
To promote my book, I took part in a review tour and five-day blog tour.
The most important thing I learned is that it's damn hard to come up with five unique blog posts! Nevertheless, persist I did, and this is what happened:
Day 1—Bayou Book Junkie, where I talk about As Big As the Sky and some of the inspiration behind it.
Day 2—Diverse Reaser. In As Big As the Sky, Bo, one of the main characters, has a love of comic books and manga. In this blog post I talk about some of my own favourite comics and manga.
Day 3—Love Bytes Reviews. Here I talk about my writing process and discuss what's next for me in my writing.
Day 4—MM Good Book Reviews, where I talk a little bit about me. You can read about me on my website's "About" page, but in this blog post I go into further detail, share some of the best places I've travelled, and partake in a rapid-fire round of questions!
Day 5—My Fiction Nook. In As Big As the Sky, the main characters both have their own hobbies, so in My Fiction Nook's blog post, I talk about some of my own.
If you followed my on my blog tour, thank you! I hope you enjoy some of the little tidbits I share and I hope you love Sam and Bo as much as I do.
The chicken was in his yard again. Ugly red wattle dangling beneath its beak like loose jowls, brown feathers puffed in an inflated sense of superiority. On any other day Sam normally wouldn’t have cared so much about the mess it was making of his garden, but this was the third time in as many days, the magazine crew would be here within the hour, and he’d told Bo to fix his damn fence.
Sighing, Sam set his mug on the counter. He really hadn’t had enough coffee yet to deal with this.
He walked out of the kitchen and down the hall to the front door, where he put on a pair of flip flops before exiting his house. Down the driveway, a left at the tiny gravel sidewalk, around the hedges in Bo’s yard, up Bo’s driveway. The early June sun pierced his eyes. He knocked on the front door and waited for Bo to answer.
Ever since Bo had taken over running Big Sky—the animal rehabilitation center next door to Sam’s—four weeks ago from his sister, Laura, it had been one disaster after another. Damaged enclosures, a pygmy goat with diarrhea, equipment that didn’t work, flooding in the cows’ pen after a bad rainfall, a yappy pair of not-quite-housebroken puppies. And now? Broken fences and runaway chickens.
The door opened, revealing a rumpled Bo dressed in old jeans, hiking boots, and a T-shirt streaked with dirt. He was out of breath, as if he’d run to the front door. The pair of dirty work gloves in his hand told Sam he’d probably been working out back.
The unsure smile on Bo’s face turned into a scowl when he saw who stood on his doorstep at nine in the morning. Sam ignored how cute Bo’s frowny face was and drew himself up to his full six-foot-three height. Bo was not his type. Too short, too lean, eyes too brown, hair too blond. Too flaky, too temperamental, too feisty, too…too much.
Nope. Not Sam’s type at all.
Bo’s hands went to his hips. He looked like a knight defending his domain. A tiny, skinny one with a bad attitude.
“What now?” he snapped.
“You didn’t fix the fence,” Sam said.
Sam held up a hand, cutting Bo off. “Look. I know you know what day it is. The crew’s going to be here in less than an hour. The last thing I need is your chicken masquerading as a prison escapee messing up my garden.” Bo’s lips twitched at that, but Sam ignored how that made him feel and continued. “Fix your goddamn fence. And get your chicken out of my yard.” Bo opened his mouth to speak but Sam didn’t give him the chance. He turned and descended the porch steps. “Oh.” He turned back to find Bo still frowning at him, lips pressed in a tight line. “And if your chickens keep escaping, maybe there’s something wrong with the chicken coop?”
The slamming door at his back was surprisingly satisfactory.
All the love for this book! Tal Bauer has a way with words. He even has a way of making what should be boring court appearances interesting to the reader. I loved Mike and Tom, as individuals and as a couple. I just want to hug them and squeeze them 🙂
This is a Tal Bauer book, so of course there are twists and turns you won't see coming, and in true Tal Bauer fashion, you'll find yourself questioning the motives of literally every character. But I love it. I love a book I can sink my teeth into and at 150K words, this was a doozy.
If you haven't read this, I highly recommend it, as well as Tal's other books. Master storyteller right here, ladies and gents!
I'm so, so, so looking forward to Kris's book (assuming he's going to get one, of course).
I loved this! I liked the first book in the Hoppity Shifter series, but I think I liked this one even better. Justin melted my heart. He was the perfect blend of innocent and fierce, confused and protective.
I wouldn't say this is quite insta-love, but it borders on the cusp. Nevertheless, the author is able to weave in character backstory among a background of shifter politics, in a book that's only about 30K words. Pretty impressive. I'd love to know more about shifter politics and dynamics in future books.
It was cute, it was sweet, it was funny. It's a great, low-angst, summertime read, and we even get a peek into how the MC's from Chasing His Cottontail (book 1) are doing.
Buy it from Amazon here.