The View From Sunset Park

Hello wild ones! Welcome to another hump day book review by yours truly. Last week I read and reviewed the first book in Santino Hassells’ Five Borough series and this week we’re following up with the second.

Sunset Park is Raymond’s, Michael’s younger brother, journey into love alongside David, the third party in Michael and Nunzio’s threesome that launched their story in book one. I was so amped up from the first book that as soon as I was finished reading it I bought the next one and started reading. This one however did not leave me with the burning need to purchase the next one right this second. Don’t misunderstand me, the third book is definitely going on my TBL, I just have some other things I wanna read more at this time.

Okay, so David and Raymond…I loved Raymond. You guys know I’m all about the dark and brooding dude who uses sarcasm to deflect, but I was not David’s biggest fan. But let’s start with my man Ray.

Raymond Rodriguez has grown up having everyone else kind of take care of him, there’s not a lot he has had to do for himself in his 25 years and when he does have to do something for himself he usually turns and runs as soon as things get hard. Who among us has not wanted to run when things get too stressful? I contemplate running for the border at least once a day. He’s known for years that he’s bisexual, but has kept that info close to himself, only indulging in watching gay porn when he feels the itch.

He and David became unlikely friends while Raymond was dealing with his brother’s breakdown. Their friendship is very strange to everyone. They’re super affectionate, constantly taking care of each other, and in David’s case gushing about anything and everything Raymond related. That friendship transitions into a roommate situation that results in cozy cuddling on the couch and an offer for experimentation.  David is the only one who knows about Raymond’s bisexuality and offers, so unselfishly (HA), to be his gay guinea pig.

Of course the whole friends with benefits thing quickly escalates into the pair harboring secret feelings that neither wants to fess up to. In Raymond’s case, he’s worried about rejection and constantly struggles with feeling like he’s not good enough. Dude has some serious self confidence issues, but he battles them and his frustration with David over their situation.

Now we get to David. Oh man what can I say about that little baby gay. I kinda hated him, okay maybe not hate, that’s a little strong, but I was not a big fan of the blonde dude who kept flipping the script.

He’s attracted to Raymond, has been from the start of their friendship, but until he discovers Ray’s bisexuality it’s just on the back burner and he tries to steel his heart against falling for his “straight” friend. Of course that all kind of goes out the window once they begin their foray into introducing Raymond to sex with men.

My problem with David is that he was the one causing drama in their would be relationship. He has a complicated ex that he keeps on the back burner as a security blanket and it causes major problems between he and Raymond. It seems every time these two were getting somewhere Caleb showed his stupid face and David refused to make it crystal clear to him that they were not going to be getting back together. Yet, he gets jealous when Oli hits on Raymond and goes ballistic when he finds them making out a friend’s party. I’m sorry you hypocritical ass, you don’t get to be pissy when you can’t be upfront about your feelings.

Honestly, these two would have had a much easier time if they had been honest with each other. Instead we get a lot of jealous back and forth, lashing out at each other when their feelings get hurt and of course hot sex (which I am not complaining about at all).

I did like this book. I’m struggling with the rating. Santino knows how to write characters that feel like real people, which I love. I understand their inner struggles and easily relate to them feeling like they’re just flailing around trying to survive. However, like I said, David really brought the drama in this one, which just doesn’t make me as enthusiastic to read the next one, especially considering the fact that it’s about Caleb, David’s ex, and Oliver, his friend.

Anyway, the rating. I’m gonna go with 3.5 stars. Anything less would feel wrong because as a whole the book is well written, the characters are engaging, and I love a happy ending.

Next week we’ll be reading and reviewing How We Survive by Michele Notaro.

Of course if you have any questions or recommendations feel free to leave them in the comment section below. Remember to go check out my Goodreads profile to see what I’m reading in between posted reviews and follow me on Instagram to catch glimpses into my life.

Night kids!

Until later, stay wonderfully wild!

Chels

Made it!

Hello wild ones! Whew, I fell asleep ealier and just jerked awake because I hadn’t posted Mt blog yet. Did not want another repeat of last week.  
Alright, so not a ton going on this week. I’m still trying to get my house in order…

I didn’t realize how dirty my room was until I started cleaning it…this little cleaning stint began in my closet, which honestly isn’t that bad. 

Here’s the left side…

the right side…

And the view full on. I’m sure there’s women out there, men too, who would kill me for having all this space and only need like 40% of it for my clothes, my own family members included. I just don’t have that many clothes, so the majority of my closet becomes storage for stuff that I can’t just have laying around in my room. 

I’m purging and reorganizing my entire room/bathroom. This deal cleaning thing occurred because I really want to get the garage sorted, but some of the stuff out there is going to need a new home and I’ve got lots of underutilized space throughout the house. So now I’m going through my room, my bathroom, the hall closet, living room, and kitchen to get rid of the crap I don’t need. 

This will help in the long run if I do end up having to move at the end of this month, less clutter means less to pack away. I’m nearly done with my room as of right now, I just gotta go through my dresser and then I can move on the the hall closet, which should take no time at all, and then I can start pulling boxes in from the living room and going through them. I’ll post pictures after I’m done in my room hopefully tomorrow on Instagram. 

Okay, so obviously this week’s goal is just to get the house in better shape. I bought some supplies today that should help me get that accomplished. Dear sweet jesus, mommy bloggers on YouTube have some great ideas. I’ve spent the time in between cleaning boughts, you know when I need a breather and I’m too sweaty to continue, watching these women clean their homes, cars, and other crap. If you’re looking for inspiration or ideas, go search YouTube,  or maybe don’t. It might send you on a cleaning craze…

This week’s book is going to be the second in the series I featured last week. 

Sorry, I’m posting from my phone and the damn thing wouldn’t let me just copy and paste the blurb…

Come back Wednesday to see what I though and to find out what I’ll be reading next. 

Also, go follow me on Instagram so you can see the mess that my life was and how I got it sorted, you can find me there as @chroniclesofacrazydame. And don’t do get to check out my Goodreads profile for any other reviews and to see what else I’m reading. 

Night kids!

Until later, stay wonderfully wild!

Hodge Podge

Hello wild ones! Woah, this week kind flew by. Tonight is my last night at work, so I am ready to blow out of this place and enjoy my days off.

Not a ton going on this weekend. I need to get my garage cleaned, deep clean the house, try not to spend all my damn time reading, and come up with a way to create a goal section in my planner.

I went to Wal-Mart before work today. I only went in to grab something for lunch and ended up taking a detour down the stationary aisle…big mistake. They had some new file folders that I fell in love with, so tonight while work is trudging on I’m making stuff for my planner once again.

Feel kind silly for remaking all this stuff I literally just finished a few weeks ago, but maybe this is one way to keep me actually using the planner.

Here are the really cute file folders that I just could not pass up. They came in a pack of 6, for like $1.50, so I guess I told myself that was a bargain and grabbed 1 pack of each.

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Following some tutorials I found on YouTube forever ago I turned those pretty little folders into a new front & back cover, as well as a dashboard (for my sticky notes), a double sided folder, and an envelope to store important size guide lines for this planner.

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If you’re looking for cool, affordable ideas to take your planner game up a notch go check out Coupons to provide, she’s amazing. I’ve been watching her planner videos and creating my own playlist for the things I want to try.

Okay, enough about the boring planner stuff. I just realized that I still haven’t really told you about my elephant adventure, which is strange because I’ve been gushing about it to any idiot who would listen since I got home.

I learned so freaking much and I’m one of those people who likes to spread the knowledge, so I’ve been spouting every single elephant fact they gave. Seriously, my family probably wants to punch me in the face.

We left Dallas before the sun rose and drove 2.5 hours further across Texas to get to Hugo, Ok and the Endangered Ark Foundation. Nearly hit a deer and totaled my new car, not even exaggerating, scared the crap out of me. Met a baby elephant, look how cute she is!!!

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Got up close and personal with 2 other beautiful ladies, who were only interested in me because I had a banana in my hand and got soaking wet. In the middle of our introduction to the elephant spa it started spitting rain, that light spit turned into a full on downpour while they tried to shuffle us back to the feeding zone.

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Before the tour started…while we were still dry. 

Even though we got really wet and a little cold it was an amazing experience. And the people who run the tours felt so bad about ours getting cut short due to the bad weather that they offered us a rain check, so I get to go back for FREE! Which I am beyond excited about. We’ve got tentative plans to return in October and I think I’m going to try and convince LB to take us to the wildlife rescue she visited last year. The bitch got to hold a fucking bear cub! Hello!! Sign me up for that shit.

Right, well I think that’s about all I’ve got for today. I’ll be posting pictures of the mess that is my garage this weekend on Instagram, so make sure you’re following me there. Check me out on Goodreads to see what I’m reading and have a great weekend!!

Night kids!

Until next time, stay wonderfully wild!

Chels

Walking Down Stuphin Boulevard

Hello wild ones! I hope your hump day is treating you well.

As you already know, if you keep up with the shit show that is my blog, this week I read Santino Hassell’s Stuphin Boulevard. Forewarning, this book is fraught with witty exchanges, hot dudes, hotter sex, and a ton of depressing insight into life.

I am in like with this book, but it did give me some serious pause. I love Santino’s style, he’s gritty, sassy, and super sexy all while still being completely real.

Our two MC’s, Michael Rodriguez and Nunzio Medici, have been best friends for 20 years. You would think in all that time that any kind of attraction would have made it’s self known by now, but you’d be wrong…sort of.

A drunken sort of threesome makes Mickey’s see Nunzio in a new light. While his best friend is away over the summer, he tries to deal with the fact that after being friends for so long he;s sexually attracted to his best friend.

Over the course of a few months these two start a casual affair, both pretending that it’s nothing more than sex while still leaning on each other to navigate through life. However, things take a turn when Michael’s father dies and he starts to spiral out of control.

I think this is the first book I’ve read that deals with substance abuse. I tend to stay away from books like this due to my family, but Michael’s alcoholism kind of sneaks up on him and the reader. I kept frowning every time he picked up a drink to deal/not deal with what was going on around him. Using alcohol and Xanax to numb himself turns into him pushing away the only family he has left, his brother Raymond and Nunzio. And then a run in at work with his team leader, David, turns into a full on breakdown resulting in an overdose.

It was all so beautifully tragic. You can feel the desperation and while I may not agree with his methods, I get wanting to numb yourself to the world. Michael searched for nothingness at the bottom of a bottle and I tune out the world in the pages of books like this. This one kind of backfired though, because I could see a little of myself in Michael.

After a stint in rehab our tragically fucked up Michael comes out knowing exactly what he needs to be happy, his job teaching and Nunzio, but he worries it’s too late.

Our very real MC gets a very real happy ending.

While this book bordered on depressing as shit, it was still entertaining. There were a few times I laughed, I smiled some, but gosh this one just made me think, which is what I really want in a good book.

I’m gonna give this one 4 stars and while we’re here I may as well tell you that I’m going to be reading the second book in this series for next week’s review.

Now I’m gonna go bury my head in another book, so I don’t have to deal with my own family drama or any of the other shit that’s going wrong in my life.

NIGHT!

Until later, stay wonderfully wild!

Chels

Forgetful Fanny

Hello wild ones! WOW, I know this is probably going to sound really unbelievable, but I promise it’s completely true. I forgot that yesterday was Monday. I’ve been home since Sunday night from my Dallas trip and yesterday was kind of uneventful as Mondays go, but it seriously spaced on the fact that it was in fact Monday and that I needed to post my entry for the day. Sooooo, while I was sitting on my sister’s couch, reading and waiting for my laundry to get done I could have been writing, but because I’m a fucking space cadet I didn’t. Once I made it home I was a bit busier, but by then it was past midnight, so even if I had remembered that I forgot to post it would have been to late.

I may have to set an alarm on my dang phone.

Anyway…let’s just pretend it’s Monday.

I don’t have any major plans this week. So at least it will give me time to decompress from this weekend, I guess I didn’t realize that being around people nearly all day for 2 days straight was going to mess with me, but it really did. I felt cagey all the way home and well into Monday. I was just done with people, unfortunately, I couldn’t tell my family that, so my mom came to hang with me Sunday night until I ducked out to nap. The trip really fucked with my sleep schedule. I feel like I’m getting back to normal though, it just worries me that being around so little people made me feel that strange.

Our book for this week is:

Sutphin Boulevard (Five Boroughs Book 1) by [Hassell, Santino]

Michael Rodriguez and Nunzio Medici have been friends for two decades. From escaping their dysfunctional families in the working-class neighborhood of South Jamaica, Queens, to teaching in one of the city’s most queer-friendly schools in Brooklyn, the two men have shared everything. Or so they thought until a sweltering night of dancing leads to an unexpected encounter that forever changes their friendship.

Now, casual touches and lingering looks are packed with sexual tension, and Michael can’t forget the feel of his best friend’s hands on him. Once problems rear up at work and home, Michael finds himself seeking constant escape in the effortless intimacy and mind-blowing sex he has with Nunzio. But things don’t stay easy for long.

When Michael’s world begins to crumble in a sea of tragedy and complications, he knows he has to make a choice: find solace in a path of self-destruction or accept the love of the man who has been by his side for twenty years.

 

I’m excited about this one guys. I’ve read 4 books that Santino co-wrote and I loved them, so hopefully this one will be just as great. Come back tomorrow and see.

My goal for this week…get my garage in order. I don’t know if I’ve mentioned it or not yet, but I’m moving soon (just got moved up to the end of this month) so I really need to get my shit in order. The garage is currently a problem area. I’ve got a ton of crap in there, so this week I’m going to get it sorted and start thinking about storage options because the place that I’m moving does not have a large storage area.

Another goal for the week is to go walking every morning after I get off of work. There were some pictures taken this weekend that gave me a wake up call. Last year I was doing so well, I felt great, and was moving more and then this year I’ve become a bump on a log again…not cool. So, I’m going walking (weather permitting. It’s raining here right now) tomorrow.

I need to get the pictures from the Dallas/Hugo trip sorted and then I’ll give you a full post about it on Thursday. I’ve been gushing about the elephants since I got home, so I want to give the trip the full attention it deserves. But in the mean time if you want to see a few of them you can head over to my Instagram to check them out.

That’s all I’ve got for you today kids. I’m sorry this was late…bleh. Okay, NIGHT!

Until later, stay wonderfully wild!

Chels

Adventures in Dallas

Hello wild ones!

Ugh, I’ve had a looooong day. After getting off work this morning at 5 am, I went home, made sure my bag was packed, slept for about 4 hours, and the hit the road with TJ. 

Good grief, it felt like the longest car ride of my entire life. I swear we hit every single patch of traffic north of Pleasanton. 

Though the journey was frustrating, long, tiresome, and headache endusing, we made it here safely. And M and LB greeted us with delicious chinese, two long island ice teas (for me, TJ is a minor), and a bucket of laughs. I think I was in tears towards the end of dinner before staggering back to LB’S apartment. 

Currently I’m safely tucked into my air matress, hoping that as soon as I put this phone down I crash for a good solid 8 hours. We have to be up super early to head to Hugo, OK to visit the elephant scantuary. Keep a look out on Instagram for photos of tomorrow, otherwise you won’t get to see the fun until Monday. 

Ok kids, I gotta get some sleep. Have a great weekend! NIGHT!

Until later, stay wonderfully wild!

Chels

Dear Aaron, I’m Conflicted

Dear wild ones,

This book review is giving me some serious trouble. I finished Dear Aaron by Mariana Zapata early this morning and immediately sent a pissed off text to my sister. Dani finished the book a few days prior and had some not nice things to say about the ending, so I had to let her know I felt the same way. Seeing as it would be silly to start a review at the end of the book, I’ll hold back my comments for a bit.

I’m not kidding when I say that I’m seriously conflicted about this book. Usually when a book makes me grin and laugh like a loon it means it’s on it’s way to the top of my favorites list, this book however is hovering somewhere in the middle.

It’s just…ugh…I can’t even decide what kind of rating I want to give this one. It’s a Zapata book, so I want so badly to just run down the street screaming that this was a 5 star read, but that doesn’t feel honest. However, when I think about downgrading it to anything less than the 5 stars my heart tells me to throw at it I start to get a little pissy with myself. So…here’s hoping that this review doesn’t sound like it was written by a complete airhead who has no idea what she’s doing, even if that might very well be the case.

Let’s start with what I liked about the book.

  • It made me laugh, I swear if I had been reading this in public I would have gotten some curious stares. Between the loud bursts of laughter and the goofy smiles I probably would have been committed, but lucky for me I was alone at work.
  • It’s unlike anything I’ve read yet. Prior to this one I have only read two other books where the main characters meet via the interweb, and I loved both of those, but this one was completely different than the others. The bulk of this book is strictly emails exchanged between our MCs, Ruby Santos and Aaron Hall, via the HaS program, a sort of pen pal thing that pairs people with soldiers over seas.
  • The understanding and vocalization of the awesomeness of mini pigs. That one little thing made me so ridiculously happy it wasn’t even funny. I love mini pigs!! As soon as I’m adult enough to have my own home I am going to have a cute little piggy companion for Watson.
  • This one was a fairly easy read. Mariana is the queen of slooooooooooow burn. That being said, sometimes her books can take me a bit to really get into a flow of reading, even my favorites took me some time to focus to get through them. That was not the case with this book. I guess it’s because of the email format, the pages didn’t seem as long maybe…I don’t know for sure, but I didn’t have any difficulty getting through this book, though it was frustrating as hell.

 

Moving on to the things that were not my favorite.

  • The emails. Ugh, as much as they made me laugh and smile, I found myself getting really frustrated with this book (even though it was an easy read). We don’t get to “meet” our leading lady, Ruby Santos, until the 45% mark! Up until then it’s strictly emails and messages passed back and forth between the pair.  For me it made it really hard to connect with both of them. I liked both of them, but I wasn’t necessarily cheering for them. Reading this book was kind of like watching real life, you get the conversations but none of the underlying emotion or thoughts of either character. And once the brief scene between Ruby’s siblings is over, it’s seriously just a few pages, it goes straight back to messages for another 10%. So about 50 – 55% of this book is just flat conversation. I guess we’re supposed to read between the lines, but it wasn’t fun for me. My favorite thing about reading is the all of the stuff that goes on in characters heads throughout their journeys and I guess I felt a little cheated for a bit there.
  • I’m not the biggest fan of either of the main characters. Again, this probably stems from the fact that for half of the book there wasn’t really anything to connect to them about on an emotional level.
    • Ruby came across as a little weakling whiny baby for me, which makes me feel ridiculous for saying because I can be a serious whiny baby, but I swear she cries like a hundred dang times. I will freely admit that there’s a lot that makes me cry, sad commercials, happy stuff, when I get really angry I tend to cry, but even I thought the amount of time this chick spent tearing up was kind of silly. I tried to be gracious and keep her age in mind, she’s 24, but she felt immature. She still lives at home, still has the same two jobs she’s had since she was 16 and was hired by family, and despite the fact that Aaron constantly tells her she’s brave I didn’t buy it. Sorry…
    • Aaron was kind of a mystery. Good ole boy from Lousiana who’s family is loaded, we seriously don’t find that out until like the end of the book, and who went into the service because he wasn’t sure what he wanted to do with his life. At 28 he’s still not sure what he wants out of life, which is understandable, I’m in the same boat, so I get it, but after spending nearly 10 years in the army you would figure he would know himself a bit better. He’s a bit moody/broody, which I usually love, but he came across as petulant at some points. There were a few instances where he got all silent on Ruby, typical male bullshit I guess, but it bugged me.
  • Now, let’s talk about that ending. I wanted to throw my tablet. Though I should have not been surprised, Dani warned me that she hated the ending, but I didn’t think it would be as bad as it was. I don’t think I’ve ever been left feeling as lost as the epilogue in this book left me. Per her usually MO, Mariana gives us a sweet/steamy sex scene and then promptly ends the book, this one however went a step further on the fucked up scale. *SPOILER AHEAD* After their little love fest we get a goodbye scene that seriously makes you think it might be the end. Ruby is sobbing, Aaron is trying to convince her that it’s not really goodbye, but if you honestly look at it logically it felt like they could be done. He’s stationed in Kentucky, she lives in Houston (shout out to Mariana for yet another book based in my home state!) and he’s not done with his enlistment. Aaron hugs Ruby before her flight home and then we get the most unfulfilling epilogue in the world. Our epilogue was text messages. FUCKING TEXT MESSAGES! UGH!!! I’m still super pissed about the let down at the end of this book. The only thing you can glean from the texts is that 4 years have passed and the duo is still together, they obviously live together (I think in Houston), he’s still in the service, she’s making dog bandannas and they’re thinking about starting a family. That’s it. I’m assuming the point of doing the epilogue in text format was so it felt like a true part of their love story, you know two people who fell in love online, and we get a few pieces of pertinent information let’s us know that they’re together and living their happily ever after, but none of that made me feel any better. It was a let down of epic proportions.

Okay, now that I’ve done some ranting and raving it’s time to get down to the rating. Oh god, I’m sweating here. Looking at the above points it would seem like I had way more bad to say about the book than the good, however, you can’t factor in the happy little sighs that sometimes escaped me, or the frowns…soooooo. Shit. I thought it would be easier once I wrote everything out, but it’s really not.

I want to give it 5 stars, I really do. Mariana has become of my favorite authors and I’ve read some of her books so many times I could recite them. This book however, I don’t think I want to read again. Don’t get me wrong, it’s well written as a whole, but I don’t feel the itch I usually do when I’ve read a book that I love. Most of the time once I’ve finished something I really love I can start all over again almost immediately and love every second again, that’s not the case here. When I thought about reading it again before I wrote this review my heart said, “NOOOOOOOOOOO!!!” and my brain agreed, so I guess that means I can’t go with 5 stars.

So with a heavy heart and hand, I’m gonna give this one 3.5 stars. I think I can feel good about 3.5 stars. Okay, so 3.5 stars it is.

Sheesh, that was a toughie. Okay, I’m gonna go start looking for my next literary fix. If you have any suggestions or requests please feel free to leave them in the comment section.

I’ll be posting next week’s selection on Monday, though I was thinking last night it might be better to tell you guys on Wednesdays what book I’m gonna read next, just so maybe you can read it too before I do the review. Hmmm…I’ll have to ponder that this weekend while I’m hanging with elephants, LB, M, and TJ.

NIGHT!

Until later, stay wonderfully wild!

Chels