Place(s) Traveled To: West Hollywood, California // Coronado, California // San Diego, California
First Line(s): "What do you mean they're not coming?" Zack tried hard to sound like the badass navy SEAL he was now.
OFF BASE is the newest release from a new favorite author of mine, Annabeth Albert. I've been devouring everything she's written and so was very excited to get my hands on this one. Especially since its a spin off of her #gaymers series which I adored. We first meet the main characters in OFF BASE, in CONNECTION ERROR (review coming soon) and Zack seems even more up tight than he was when we first meet him. Its a good thing that Pike worms his way into his life because he is Zack's opposite in many ways and the two of them really work well together.
OFF BASE is filled to the brim of heart achy feels because Zack is just so tortured about who he really is. He's been brainwashed since he was young that being gay was wrong and he's faced nothing but homophobia since which has made it hard to be comfortable in his own skin. Things start to change when he is roomed with Ryan in the VA hospital and he starts to see another side to what he thought he always knew. I loved all the moments between Zack and Pike and the cameos of Ryan and Josiah. They all just made my heart sing. What I didn't like was the homophobia that ran rampant throughout the book. It just made my skin crawl whenever Zack's teammates said something or when Zack talked to his parents.
Overall though, I really enjoyed the relationship between Pike and Zack. I do wish that Zack was a little more comfortable in who he was but I understood it. I also liked watching Pike come into his own as he found his grove in teaching. I liked that he learned that sometimes the unexpected path could lead to something even better than what he dreamed was possible. And once Pike and Zack started to put their difference aside this story because a favorite enemies to lovers story. There was just so much tension between Pike and Zack that I couldn't stop turning the pages in order to see how they would reach their happily ever after.
I find that Annabeth Albert really excels at writing a feel good story that often packs a punch to the emotions. Her characters are real and raw and they are all so uniquely drawn. Every story she tells does follow a certain path but there is always a fresh spin that keeps me coming back for more. The are quick, engrossing reads that I just suck up when I get my hands on one. I lose track of time until I hit the final page and then I am sad because I can't read the story for the first time again. If you are a fan of MM Romances then you really want to give Annabeth Albert a try.
Place(s) Traveled To: New York, New York // Little Compton, Rhode Island // Los Angeles, California // Malibu, California // Palm Springs, California // Cabo San Lucas, Mexico // Las Vegas, Nevada // Reno, Nevada
First Line(s): I buy violets for Amy. Not roses. Roses are for people who did something wrong.
Joe is back!
And he's just as crazy as ever. HIDDEN BODIES is the sequel to Caroline Kepnes's YOU (my review) which introduces us to Joe, a total sociopath that you just can't help but love. As a reader, you know that Joe is crazy-pants and that what he is doing is wrong and yet it all seems so logical when you read his thoughts on why he does the things that he does. In HIDDEN BODIES, Joe has moved on to a new relationship "choosing better" as he says with a girl named Amy. As with the previous women that have come into Joe's orbit Amy is a flawed character and that seems to be what draws Joe to them. Its as if the inevitable betrayal is what drives Joe to choose these women because deep down he really wants to give into his baser instincts of murder.
In HIDDEN BODIES, Amy does a thing that as a reader just makes you gasp as we know what Joe is capable of when he is betrayed. Amy does not. Which makes you feel for Amy but yet at the same time you are also angry at her for not living up to Joe's expectations. Its really amazing just how much Kepnes's writing puts the reader on Joe's side as he's usually the character we want the hero or heroine of the story to capture and put behind bars. But with YOU and HIDDEN BODIES all you want is for Joe to find peace and happiness. Its a strange feeling to be cheering for the bad guy and yet, how can you not?
HIDDEN BODIES is a fast paced thriller that will keep the reader on the edge of their seat. Santino Fontana returns to narrate the story and he just becomes Joe. Fontana's is a voice that is going to be hard for me to separate from this character as it just fits Joe so perfectly. Fontana's narration style just sets the perfect mood for HIDDEN BODIES and makes it so easy to fall for Joe and to want him to come out on top. To find his place in the world and to be happy. Happiness isn't easy for our Joe, he's had a hard life, but by the end of HIDDEN BODIES you think that maybe things will turn out ok for him.
HIDDEN BODIES takes the reader to new places and we meet new characters. Some of whom are even worse than Joe. There are lots of ups and downs and twists and turns and where you end up is no where near where you thought you would. I fell for this story and just loved everything about it. I'm in awe of everything that Kepnes managed to do and know that I am going to want to rush out to grab her next book in hopes that its even half as good as this duology. Kepnes is a master of suspense and in defying expectations and this series is one that you must check out if you love a good mystery.