Friday, January 31, 2020

"Thirst Trap" by Zachary Ryan

Thirst Trap
by Zachary Ryan

Thirst Trap by Zachary Ryan

Thirst Trap by Zachary Ryan is currently on tour with Xpresso Book Tours. The tour stops here today for an excerpt and a giveaway. Please be sure to visit the other tour stops as well.

Tragedy comes in all forms, and you never know how you’ll deal with it. Four friends have all dealt with their fair share of struggles. Dillion, an aspiring writer with writers block because of his brothers sudden death, Jesse the emotional stunted drink thanks to his boyfriend’s suicide, Ivan the abused victim just looking for a place to call home, and Leo the stubborn romantic trying to get his friends to open up, while keeping his issues close to his chest.
With these four friends, they avoid all their elephants in the room like a death card agreement between Dillion and Jesse, Ivan completely hoping his abusive lover with change or even Leo focusing on his friends problems instead of his own. Can these four friends learn to embrace and accept their own tragedy or will they be stuck in the past?
Thirst Trap is a humorous coming of age novel dealing with sexuality, tragedy, substance abuse, and the most beautiful insane friendships.

Chapter One
I hadn’t expected to be here so shortly between my visits, but when you feel a burn downstairs, you need to make sure you didn’t catch anything. I looked over at the stupid sign promoting safe sex, and rolled my eyes. I knew damn well the gay scene in Chicago didn’t believe in condoms. I wanted to blame barebacking porn, but I knew it was just because I was too lazy and impatient for the guy to wrap it up.
A guy came and sat next to me. He looked nervous, and I could tell that he was having a mini panic attack. His left leg was vibrating, and he was constantly checking his phone. The guy kept turning toward me. He had dirty blonde hair, a little bit on the heavier side, and had nice blue eyes. He would be more Leo’s speed than mine. I could tell the guy kept checking me out.
I was used to people checking me out. I knew that sounded cocky, but I made my money dancing on top of bars in nothing but a thong. I had to make sure I had my body in shape, my brown hair perfectly styled, and my hazel eyes needed to scream that I was going to rip your asshole apart later that night.
I smiled at him. “First time?” I asked.
He glared at me. “I’m just here for a checkup.”
I leaned back and put my hands behind my back. “Don’t worry.
You will quickly be able to push aside the internal shame of getting tested, after your fourth or fifth time.”
He didn’t say anything else. He just got up and walked across the room. I rolled my eyes. I knew he couldn’t take a joke. Maybe that was why I wasn’t a stand-up comedian. I felt my phone vibrate. I pulled it out to see it was a text from Jesse, asking if I was still coming in for a drink. He had texted the group, which consisted of my other two best friends; Ivan and Leo.
“Mr. Nelson?” The nurse came out with a clipboard. I raised my hand. “That’s me.”
The nurse looked me up and down. I knew they weren’t supposed to judge you, but I could tell that she remembered me from a couple of months back. I got up to follow her, turned to the guy that hated me. “Don’t worry, they’ll get to know your name soon enough, too,” I winked, and laughed when his hookup app notification went off.
I followed her into a room, and she asked me the same questions that I’m always forced to answer. She wrote down my answers and tried her hardest to keep her mouth shut, when I told her that I hadn’t used condoms my last couple of times. She drew some blood, and told me that they would have the results in a couple of days.
I walked out of the building to the brisk chill of a fall day. I had the night off, and I was planning to forget about this whole day and hopefully, end up in bed with a stranger for the night. I felt my phone go off, and it was my mother.
I forgot that it was our weekly phone call. “Hey mom, this isn’t a good time,” I said.
“Really?” she asked. “You continue to tell me that every time I call you. I know you don’t have class right now. You’ve sent me your schedule, and I don’t see anything at this time.”
If she only knew that I dropped out of college two years ago. “I just wanted to get this new short story done for my fiction class.”
“I’m happy to hear you’re focusing on writing instead of drinking,” she said.
I had always wanted to be a writer, but life had caused me to go in a different direction. “You’re right, mom. I spend all my nights at home being a loser,” I said.
“I can hear the sarcasm in your voice. I’m glad you only have two more semesters until you graduate college. My baby boy graduating from college.”
I could make things better and tell her that I technically have a degree in twerking and making my ass cheeks clapping together, but I knew that wouldn’t go down well with her. “You need to stop bragging about me. I think the other housewives might get pissed at you.”
Thirst Trap
She sighed. “It’s refreshing knowing that you’re doing better after everything that happened with Wade,” she said.
I knew she always wanted to bring him up, but I didn’t feel the desire to get into it. “Mom, I have to go. I’m sorry that I have to cut this short, but I see my professor coming,” I said.
“Always focusing on your academics,” she said. “I love you. Talk to you soon,” she paused. “You also need to give your dad a call.”
“Can’t you relay I’m doing well?” I asked.
Hi mom and dad, I know you’re cool with me being gay, but I dropped out of college to be a homosexual thirst trap. You still love me, right?
I rolled my eyes at the thought. “I will. Love you.” I hung up before she could say anything else.
“You had better be on your way to the bar. There’s a couple of cute boys here, and I know damn well you have nothing else going on,” Jesse had said in a text.
I responded that I would be there in a couple of minutes. I needed a good drink, and an even better lay. I didn’t want to think about the clinic, my parents, or even worse, Wade.
[Want more? Click below to read a longer excerpt.]

Praise for the Book
“All four main characters are well fleshed out. The supporting characters are shown with depth also. I liked that it was not a Harlequin style book. Each man needs to own his issues and stop evading the causes.” ~ Richmond Reader
“If you need a group of friends story with all the feels, this is IT. I was instantly immersed in the world this group of four exists in and while it's really rough, it's also really REAL.” ~ AurenRose
“I would recommend this to anyone who enjoys a lot of emotional highs and lows in their reads. If you enjoy stories about people learning what it means to “adult” in an often times cruel and unforgiving world, where even the smallest moments of happiness have to be fought for, you will enjoy this one.” ~ Sharonica
“It was enjoyable, engrossing, emotional (be prepared), and I had a hard time putting it down. Each character has their time in the spotlight, and no one overshadows another. It's a story about growing up, coming of age, and so much more. You have to read this one for yourself.” ~ Maria V.
“This is the 2nd book I've read written by Zachary Ryan; he has done a great job at writing a good book; I will definitely be reading more of his books. The story line caught my attention at the very beginning and kept me interested throughout the entire book. I loved the characters.” ~ Jeanne Richardson

About the Author
Zachary Ryan
Zachary Ryan grew up in a black-and-white box in Maryland, before moving to Chicago to start a new life. There, he found that he was accepted for his misfit status–and learned that it’s perfectly normal to spend your twenties feeling lost and confused.
After a disastrous sexual encounter, Ryan stumbled on a group of true friends, or “soul cluster”, that he connected with. Through his writing, he hopes to help other broken souls out there find comfort amid the chaos.

Enter the tour-wide giveaway for a chance to win a $50 Amazon gift card.


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Friday, January 24, 2020

"Haskell Himself" by Gary Seigel

Haskell Himself
by Gary Seigel

Haskell Himself by Gary Seigel

Haskell Himself by Gary Seigel is currently on tour with Xpresso Book Tours. The tour stops here today for an excerpt and a giveaway. Please be sure to visit the other tour stops as well.

Meet Haskell Hodge. At sixteen he’s already garnered some fame as a former child actor and star of a popular cereal commercial. But that doesn’t do much for him when he’s dumped at his aunt’s house in the suburbs of Los Angeles to face an assortment of neighborhood bullies.
He thinks he might be gay. In fact, he could be the only gay person in the valley, maybe on the entire planet. Even if he does manage to find a boyfriend, their relationship would have to be secret and invisible.
After all it’s 1966. And though Time Magazine claims the sexual revolution is in full swing, the freedoms straight people are enjoying don’t seem to apply to everyone. And as much as Haskell attempts to hide his true self, carefully navigating the tricky and risky terrain of being queer, he’s still taunted and teased relentlessly.
Rather than give in to the irrationality of this hate, Haskell fights back, eventually finding an unlikely outlet to vent his frustration and angst - playing a bully in a screen test for a major motion picture. If he plays his cards right, it could catapult him into Hollywood stardom.
Of course, like most things in life, it comes with a heavy price Haskell’s not certain he’s willing to pay.

That evening, Mom brought in meatballs, calzones, and a Caesar salad from Lombardi’s. I waited until we had devoured all the food before I reminded Mom of Hope’s ill-temper and childish behaviors.
“What bothers me is that Aunt Sheila hardly ever corrects her. Not even a slap on the wrist or a ‘Go to your room.’”
“Aunt Sheila does what she has to do.”
“No,” I said, shaking my head. “If Al Capone had been Sheila’s child, she would have sent him to bed early without his hot cocoa and biscotti and have come up with some lame excuse for his murder spree.”
“Oh, Haskell, parents may treat their children a little differently in California, and she’s not six any more. Hope is nearly nine years old. Wait and see. You’ve never had a sibling. It will be a healthy change.”
My anxiety worsened. What did I know about living with a nine-year-old? I hadn’t been with a nine-year-old since I was nine. And what would it be like living with an aunt and an uncle? I’d never lived with a “father” figure before. My dad called me periodically, like once a year, but I rarely ever saw him. Frankly, I wasn’t sure I’d get along with Uncle Ted, since all he ever talked about was baseball. What would we have in common?
I felt a headache coming on.
And then Mom did what she often did in her real estate negotiations: she sweetened the deal.
“So, you were saying that you just did an exercise where you played a villainous cowboy? Is that right?”
“Yes, and it went well.”
“I think I found you a screen test in Hollywood for a part in a TV Western.”
“You’d be playing a pioneer kid in the Old West who has been living alone most of his life. The Cartwrights find him wandering in the fields, and they invite him in.”
“Are we talking Bonanza?”
I was excited. This was TV’s number-one show.
“Could this lead to a regular part?” I asked eagerly.
“No, I don’t think so. Turns out the kid’s a bit twisted. Gets in fights all the time, and he ends up drowning at the end of the episode. Still, what a great way to start your adventures in Los Angeles!”
My father, Tony Pawlikowski, whom I had met a half a dozen times, had connections with the company that produced Bonanza. It was a Western about a three-time widower and his three adult sons living on a big ranch called The Ponderosa, and every week they’d face numerous challenges. Sometimes they were silly stories, such as the time when one of the sons, Hoss Cartwright, fights a tribe of leprechauns. Most often, though, the episodes were more serious. In this one, I’d be playing a maniacal orphan who apparently can’t swim.
My initial instincts? After six months in Miss Hogan’s class, I could tackle this role.
The only problem was the kid was supposed to be short and rather tough and extremely handsome. I was none of those things. I was tall, weighing less than 150 pounds. A real beanpole. I wasn’t exactly tough either, and with my big ears, I was certainly not handsome.
“Mom, I don’t think this will work out. My physical appearance is all wrong.” I pored over a description listed in the classified section of Variety. “He twirls a gun in the air?”
“We’ll get you a gun tutor.”
“There’s no such thing. Come on!”
“They have gun tutors all over Los Angeles. We’ll look them up in the Yellow Pages. An actor can transform himself into any role,” my mom said, her face gleaming, mimicking my acting coach. “If they like you, they’ll make adjustments.”
“No one is going to take me seriously as a handsome, rugged boy in town. I’m too scrawny.”
“Perfect! Your mom’s dead, remember? So, she’s not been around to feed you.”
Maybe she’s not dead. Maybe she just went to Antwerp, I thought.
“And I’d probably need to ride a horse, right? It even says here. ‘Horse riding experience necessary.’ You have to read the fine print, Mom. I’ve never ridden a horse. I’ve never even ridden a bike! I don’t even roller skate!”
“They’d probably bring in a stunt double for those scenes,” she said, dismissing my concern with a wave of her hand. “Well, if you don’t want to try out for that part, that’s fine. I have another great idea for you.”
“What’s that?”
“Sheila is good friends with the mother of a boy about your age who is also into acting. He attends the same high school you’ll be attending, so he’s someone you can hang around with when you arrive in Encino. He’s quite the talent, apparently.”
“What’s his name?”
“Her last name is Stoneman.” She grabbed a piece of paper from her purse. “And his name is Henry.”
“I never heard of him.”
Yes, I lied to my own mother. I had, in fact, seen his name mentioned in Variety. He had won a small part recently in a Disney film.
“We’ll arrange for you boys to meet, and you can take it from there. You two have so much in common. It will be wonderful.”
That night, I dug through my latest copies of Screen Magazine and spotted a photograph of Henry Stoneman. Quite handsome, wearing black jeans and black shirt with rhinestone buttons and a cowboy hat. He was in John Wayne’s last movie, so he could probably ride a horse, use a gun, and speak fluent Apache. He had eighteen film and TV credits. Eighteen!
I fell into a deep, angry, solid funk, desperately hoping my mom might change her mind and this California nightmare would dissipate into dust.
[Want more? Click below to read a longer excerpt.]

Praise for the Book
“Haskell's endless neurotic uncertainty over who to be and what to do will captivate readers. An entertaining and perceptive YA take on the predicament of gay adolescence.” ~ Kirkus Reviews
“I have never rooted for any fictional character quite as much I did for Haskell Hodge, the hilarious, dorky, slightly histrionic protagonist and narrator of Gary Seigel's novel, Haskell Himself.” ~ Online Book Club Review
“A touching, coming of age story about a boy finding himself. The real joy of this story show is how relatable Haskell Himself is for all of us, young and old, straight or gay.” ~ Holly Kammier, international bestselling author of Kingston Court
“A must read YA novel that captures the angst, misery and frustration of being a teenager who doesn't fit in the mold. I couldn't put it down.” ~ Jessica Therrien, bestselling YA author of Children of the Gods
“A brilliant mix of hope, heart, and humor. Fans of David Levithan and Becky Albertalli will love Gary Seigel's debut novel. This wise and witty portrait of what it means to be different will have you in tears one moment and laughing the next. I wanted to reach through the pages and hug Haskell. You will too.” ~ Jill Rubalcaba, author of Every Bone Tells a Story

About the Author
Gary Seigel
Gary Seigel was raised in Encino, California, where his debut novel, Haskell Himself, takes place. After completing a PhD in English at Rutgers University, Gary taught at several colleges and universities, but his most memorable experience was a brief 12 week stint at the same high school he (and Haskell) graduated from, teaching side by side with some of the same teachers he once endured. Currently, Gary gives grammar and proofreading classes to business professionals eager to write error-free emails. He also has spent the past two decades helping employees control their inner jerk when texting or holding conversations with an impossible boss. His book The Mouth Trap: Strategies, Tips and Secrets for Keeping Your Feet out of Your Mouth, published in 2008, has been translated into over a dozen languages. He is the father of three sons and currently lives in South Pasadena with his partner.

Enter the tour-wide giveaway for a chance to win a $25 Amazon gift card.


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Friday, January 17, 2020

"What Are Friends For?" by Sarah Sutton

What Are Friends For?
by Sarah Sutton

What Are Friends For? by Sarah Sutton

This book blitz and giveaway for What Are Friends For? by Sarah Sutton is hosted by Xpresso Book Tours.

Falling in love isn't complicated ... unless it's with your best friend.
A close, easygoing friendship can all change with just one kiss. Seventeen-year-old Remi Beaufort learns this the hard way when she plays a blindfolded kissing game at a party.
She thinks she’s kissing Jeremy, the totally hot basketball player she’s been crushing on. And the kiss … it’s amazing. Heart-stopping, world-changing, toe-curling. The kiss makes her forget about her overbearing mother, the next-door neighbor’s drama, and the probability that she’ll fail her senior year. The best kiss of her life makes all that fall away.
Until her blindfold falls off, and she realizes that instead of kissing her crush, she’s kissing Elijah, her best friend since third grade.
Though she manages to convince Elijah that he was kissing his girlfriend, Remi can’t get the thought of his lips on hers out of her head. As things between them grow more and more complicated - because it turns out her fantasizing about his mouth is more of a problem than it sounds - Remi has to make a choice: does she live the rest of her life loving her best friend in secret? Or does she tell the truth and risk ruining their friendship forever?
Heart-melting and romantic, What Are Friends For? is a swoon-worthy best-friends-to-lovers story that will leave you crushing hard.

There were times between us that felt totally normal—like, almost the entire time we’d been cutting out snowflakes, things had felt normal. I hadn’t been staring at his mouth or imagining his body heat enveloping me into a hug. We joked like normal, laughed like normal. But the quiet moments between us had my heart aching, wanting.
“See you tomorrow,” Elijah said, and I saw from the corner of my eye the shadow of him rising to his feet. He pressed his hand once against the spot between my shoulder blades before walking off, his socks silent on the wooden floors. I counted each of my breaths as I waited for the sound of the door to open.
It took seven slow inhales and exhales and then Elijah was gone, leaving me with a torrent of thoughts and a hurting heart.
[Want more? Click below to read a longer excerpt.]

Praise for the Book
“The romance is also such a nice slow and good progression. The friendship between Remi and Elijah was cute and hilarious. This is a really good debut novel. I can’t wait to read more of what the author has to say.” ~ Arceli
“The heartache, the swoon-worthy moments … you feel it all. There’s nothing passive about this read, and this isn’t me waxing poetic. THIS is what exceptional writing is.” ~ NH
“Sarah Sutton does an amazing job weaving a story. The plot is well thought out and planned. There are no loose ends, nothing that leaves me wondering about this or that. It is incredibly well written …” ~ Caleb Orion
“The author does a great job of giving each character a unique voice, and she balances conflict perfectly. […] If you're looking for a quick, enjoyable read, look no further.” ~ G. M. Rinderle
“I immediately adored Remi and Elijah from their banter in the first chapter; I wanted them to kiss right there! I loved the balance of angst and romance and pining. It was as if this book were made for me!” ~ Shelby

My Review
I received this book in return for an honest review.

By Lynda Dickson
Remi and Elijah have been best friends since third grade. But an accidental kiss in the dark changes everything. As Remi says, “This should’ve been funny. Accidentally kissing my best friend? That was hilarious. Except that it was singlehandedly the best kiss I’d ever had.” She isn’t even that excited when her crush Jeremy finally asks her out on a date. While Remi struggles with her feelings, Eli seems oblivious, but his girlfriend Savannah is acting jealous. When the truth comes out, will it be the end of Remi and Elijah’s friendship or the beginning of something even better?
This is a sweet friends-to-lovers story. Misunderstandings usually annoy me, but this scenario is well-played. Remi and Elijah are both likable characters, as is Remi’s best (girl) friend Eloise. It’s also nice to see the parents play such a large part in a young adult novel.
Some minor criticisms: the names Elijah and Eloise are too similar; the epilogue is unnecessary.
Warnings: underage drinking.

Some of My Favorite Lines
“… this was why they had summer school, right? For cases like me, a love-struck girl, bailing on homework to flirt with a cute boy.”
“Sparks only happen in books and movies, Remi. Corny books and movies.”
“I was lost; I was found.”

About the Author
Sarah Sutton
Sarah Sutton is a YA Romance author, bringing you stories about teenagers falling in love (sometimes with magic)She spends her days dreaming up ideas with her two adorable puppies by her side being cheerleaders (and mega distractions).

Enter the tour-wide giveaway for a chance to win a $25 Amazon gift card or an ebook copy of What Are Friends For? by Sarah Sutton.


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