Audie Awards Finalist – Buffering

BUFFERING

 

On February 8th, 2017, the Audio Publishers Association announced the nominees of the 22nd annual Audie Awards nominees. 26 categories represent a range of non-fiction and fiction titles, single narrator and full cast productions, and the depth of talent nominated…well, it’s staggering. Bahni Turpin, Marc Thompson, Robin Miles, Juliet Stevenson, Cassandra Campbell, are but a few of the exemplary voices honored this year. They turn great stories into amazing stories. They are the kind of narrators that make you wish your commute was fifty hours long instead of fifty miles. 

Last November I reviewed Hannah Hart’s fully loaded memoir, Buffering: Unshared Tales of a Life Fully Loaded. All of the ingredients that combined to bring her to your computer screen, between your ears, and into your kitchens, with the added magic that is Hart’s accessibility and vivacious personality, make for a great listen. Her memoir received a nomination in the “Autobiography/Memoir” category, along with four other books.

Around the Way Girl written and narrated by Taraji P. Henson

Buffering: Unshared Tales of a Life Fully Loaded by Hannah Hart, narrated by Hannah Hart and Judy Young

The Greatest: My Own Story by Muhammad Ali with Richard Durham, narrated by Dion Graham

The Rainbow Comes and Goes written and narrated by Anderson Cooper and Gloria Vanderbilt

When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi; Foreword by Abraham Verghese, narrated by Sunil Malhotra and Cassandra Campbell

Buffering: Unshared Tales of a Life Fully Loaded
Hannah Hart
Narrators: Hannah Hart, Judy Young (Foreword)

Produced by HarperCollins
Length: 5 hours, 59 minutes
ISBN-10: 1441719202
ISBN-13: 978-1441719201
Released: October 2016

Categories: lgbt, audiobooks, Memoirs & Autobiographies, essay, awards | Tags: , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Kickstarter: Bingo Love

I stumbled upon Bingo Love: A Black Queer romance graphic novella, by Tee Franklin, Jenn St-Onge, Joy San, and Cardinal Rae, in the same way that most of my happy serendipitous encounters start: Twitter. Someone I follow happened to like one of Bingo Love‘s tweets, which then bumped it onto my feed. It was three days into their Kickstarter campaign. As soon as I pressed play on the promotional video, I became enamored of the star-crossed lovers’ tale. The two women first meet as teenagers at bingo hall in Paterson, New Jersey. Separated by forces outside their control, Hazel Johnson and Mari McCray meet again decades after first falling in love in 1963. Bingo Love has fantabulous illustrations! Every personality quirk and emotion is translated perfectly on the page. 

On the fifth day of the fund drive, the project reached its goal. Now they’re working on stretch goals through April 17th. You can learn more about that on their page. It’s amazing how quickly folks came together to support this project. Bingo Love is slated for release later this year.

Bingo Love

Jenn St-Onge’s cover

 

 

 

Categories: graphic novels, romance | Tags: , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Lambda Literary Awards 2017

 

The finalists for the 29th annual Lambda Literary awards were announced on March 14th. As always, I find myself perusing the nominees and ending up with plenty of great books to add to my TBR shelf on Goodreads. Below, you will find a handful of the contenders (plucked from Lambda Literary’s website, where you can find the full list). These are books that I read or listened to last year (or, in the case of Building Fires in the Snow: A Collection of Alaska LGBTQ Short Fiction and Poetry, finally got my hands on last night after two months of round-and-round mail service).

I’m always interested in how a committee selects finalists out of a huge pool of incredible voices. What mixture of style, substance, judges, awareness, etc, produces the award list? Of course, many books that we love and appreciate for a variety of reasons will never make an award list. I tend to view awards as more a tool to help build library collections or create a base from which to grow my awareness of the world around me. I’m so thankful for the wider world of LGBTQIA+ literature discussions. If not for folks on Twitter liking a kickstarter campaigns for incredibly cute graphic novels or sharing a resource; or Tumblr folks reblogging a booklist or poems, my world would be that much smaller. 

The winners will be announced on June 12, 2017 during the organizations gala event in New York City. Are there any books that you feel deserve that extra award bump? Please share then with me in the comments below!

***Click on the link (reviewed or blog) next to select titles for reviews I posted here and at The Lesbrary.***

Lesbian Fiction

Bisexual Fiction

Transgender Fiction

Lesbian Poetry

Transgender Poetry

Lesbian Mystery

Lesbian Memoir/Biography

Gay Memoir/Biography

Lesbian Romance

LGBTQ Anthology

LGBTQ Childrens/Young Adult

LGBTQ Graphic Novels

Categories: Uncategorized | Leave a comment

The Roundabout – audiobook review

Image result for the roundabout audiobook

Leah Rollins rolls (yeah, I went there ^^) into town with the vague idea that she wants to start a business.What kind of business? Well, she hasn’t gotten that far, but at least she’s shed a tech career that no longer fits. Casting off from California, a small town in the Ozarks gives her a fresh start far from her known universe. As long as she can find bottles of her favorite California wines at the grocery store, she’s content. Megan Phenix and her older sister Nancy run a popular restaurant, The Phenix Grill. Eureka Springs being a pond with a limited selection of fish to choose from, Megan often finds herself the recipient of unwelcome advances from other women. After two relationships in which her girlfriends cheated on her, she’s more than happy to never date again. Yet, no matter how many times she tells women she is not interested, at all, they persist. “Oh, you’re just playing hard to get” they tell her.

When the two women first meet, Megan is running red from Mary Beth’s attempts to blackmail her into a date. The last thing she wants to deal with is the parking spots in front of the business next door. Leah treats Megan’s rage over the parking with a sort of bemused tolerance. The older woman seems like a solid oak tree weathering Megan’s tempest. However, both women share a desire to avoid dating. They soon devise a plan to faux date, hoping to lead women off their scent. The more they struggle to convince Mary Beth and the rest that they really are a couple, the more they learn about each other. Romance isn’t far behind.

Mary Beth drove me crazy (“crazy” being a very mild term for how I feel), especially whenever Nancy would brush off her sister’s irritation and concerns with an “Oh, she’s just playing around, don’t take it so seriously”. Some variation of this refrain was oft repeated by Nancy when Megan was struggling with her stalker/harasser. Everyone in town cackles and gapes over the photos of Megan that Mary Beth posts on Facebook. Photos that were taken of a woman undressed without her consent. Only an outsider, Leah, attempts to intervene. At least Megan never let Nancy talk her into accepting this outrageous behavior. Through to the very last second, Megan held everyone accountable. If this had not been the case, I would have been very disappointed. A small dating pool does not equal an “anything goes” environment, as far as toxic actions and comments go.

Thankfully, Gerri Hill creates a compelling, frustrating interplay that makes Megan and Leah’s dating charade convincing. I also enjoy how the characters examine their thoughts on age and their reasons for dating certain types of people. I love how Megan stood up for herself, even when everyone around her seemed to tell her that she deserved to be treated in a way counter to positive mental health. Leah’s character demonstrates how (when some folks might consider 51 “too old”) it’s never too late to shed what doesn’t work anymore for a newer, truer path. 

Nicol Zanzarella delivers an engrossing listening experience as she embodies the story through strong characterization. The emotional weight bore by the main characters reveals itself through her versatile narration. Leah’s voice reflects the strength and patience inherent in a person who truly knows who they are, no matter the situation or location. Zanzarella’s portrayal of Megan, on the other hand, conveys agitation and annoyance through quickened pace and a raised, insistent pitch. Mary Beth’s manipulative and infuriating behavior is enhanced two-fold. If I thought I couldn’t loathe her more, Zanzarella’s narration proves otherwise. The rest of the cast is similarly formed, attention paid to their individual quirks flavoring the identity of the small community. 

The Roundabout takes listeners on a satisfying, roundabout route to love and affirmation. It is an emotionally engaging story paired with fantastic narration. Gerri Hill is an author that I can pick up and know a satisfying literary experience awaits. Make sure to add this one to your TBR (TBL – listen) list today!

The Roundabout by Gerri Hill
Narrated by Nicol Zanzarella
Produced by Audible Studios
Length: 6 hours, 36 minutes
ASIN: B01MU81ZCG
Released: February 2017

Available as an audiobook from Amazon and Audible

Join the discussion on Goodreads!

Categories: audiobooks, fiction, lgbt, romance | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

LGBT Audiobooks 2016 Listen List

I’m just a tad late in posting all of the glorious audiobooks that I listened to in 2016 (though they did make it into my year-end-stravaganza posting). Compared with 2015, there was an aural explosion! I think this in part because I had more options as far as buying and borrowing audiobooks (Overdrive, OneClick Digital, Audible). I’ve also spent more time perusing audiobook reviews on sites such as AudioFile Magazine and participating in a fantastic Facebook group, Lesbian Audiobooks

Now when I find an interesting book, I ask myself “is there an audiobook version?” Publishers seem to produce more and more audiobook versions these days, as opposed to limiting the production to “big” names and blockbuster series. What a time to be a listener!

My taste in listening varies from one day to the next. Below you’ll find my moods and interests reflected in the covers below. I enjoy literary fiction, modern-day retellings of Shakespeare plays, memoirs, YA, fantasy adventure, contemporary romance, far-flung settings, and historical fiction.

However, if I don’t enjoy the narrator, no matter how good the storytelling, I stop listening. And that’s just me; other listeners might find the narrator is a great fit for their ears. Some new-to-me narrators that I really enjoyed in 2016 include Laural Merlington and Kate Rudd (The Language of Hoofbeats); Amielynn Abellera (As I Descended); Sarah Grace Wright (Fallen Elements); and Bahni Turpin (Here Comes the Sun). These narrators deliver immersive experiences with wonderful pacing, tone, and excellent characterization.

As for 2017? Well, I’ve already listened to a contemporary romance and a fantasy-adventure! My Audible wishlist is long and getting longer. What LGBT+ fiction and/or non-fiction audiobooks did you listen to last year?  

The book covers are linked to either a review I posted or to a related external site (like Overdrive, AudioFile, publishers, etc.).

Buffering: Unshared Tales of a Life Fully LoadedSaving Montgomery SoleAs I DescendedHere Comes the Sun by Nicole Y. Dennis-BennYou Know Me Well by David LevithanThe Rainbow Comes and Goes by Anderson CooperHit by a Farm by Catherine FriendThe Warrior's Path (When Women Were Warriors, #1)Being Jazz Audiobook2497445115726317327959Image result for if i was your girl audiobook207637391582434313587076937547633163705232513262325817288219421892292974125893681

Categories: audiobooks, family relationships, fantasy, fiction, friendship, historical fiction, lgbt, librarians, literary fiction, Memoirs & Autobiographies, mystery, nonfiction, paranormal, romance, suspense, young adult | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

A Knight to Remember – audiobook review

 

Dragons and damsels, turrets and turkey legs, colorful banners and noble knights. Holly’s life is not the fantasy adventure story she curls up with most nights at home. She’s a Boston librarian who loves her job, enjoys hanging out with her brother on his coven’s meditation nights, and on occasion ventures out to medieval fairs with her best friend, Carly. Life is pretty peachy, with the exception of her extremely toxic girlfriend of four years, Nicole. A single-minded businesswoman who schedules sex and treats Holly like a turd stuck to her shoe, there isn’t much in the way of redeemable qualities in Nicole. In fact, she’s a stain that just won’t come out, though Holly clings to the ghost of what their relationship once was. Part of her wants to gut it out with Nicole because she’s already lost enough in her life.

It takes a dark and stormy night for Holly’s life to spin on its axis. Out in the night, under cloak of darkness, two figures emerge from the thunder claps and lightning. A knight and an enormous beast battle in her backyard. In an instance, the raucous is over and Holly is left with the imposing form of the now wounded knight, Virago. As their adventure to find and slay the beast unfolds, the two women grow closer. No matter the outcome, however, they must answer the question: can people from two different worlds (literally, there’s a magic portal and everything!) establish a lasting relationship? There is a moment in the book in which Virago pitches woo that puts Heath Ledger’s Patrick Verona from 10 Things I Hate About You to shame! Is that a sword strapped to your back or are you happy to see me? 

A Knight to Remember is a fun, well-paced fantasy/adventure romance. There were times when I wondered at how Virago could put up with playing the waiting game when a monster lurked in the shadows, such as allowing herself to spend a day at the library when Holly has to work. It was still fun to see the characters interact in various places in Boston. Author Bridget Essex leaves plenty of room to expand on character relationships and all of those what nexts in Date Knight, the second installment of her “Knight Legends” series (which was just released on audio in January 2017!). Cheers!

Narrator Rose Clearwater delivers an engrossing and entertaining performance as she guides listeners through a world both ordinary and extraordinary. Her turn as the confident fish out-of-water Virago exploring an alien world (Earth) enhances the story. Listeners view the world through the knight’s eyes: everyday items to Earth-based people, like shopping malls, coffee, and seat belts become curiosities (though she quickly acclimates to her new environment). Clearwater uses a more matter-of-fact tone when Virago tells Holly that a knight does not leave their sword behind, not even to buy new clothes. Holly’s voice is full of the pauses that mark indecision and doubt. Her tone becomes more lively when she’s nervous, excited, or upset. Clearwater does a wonderful job of charting Holly’s personal journey as she takes charge of her life. And, as if listeners needed another reason to despise Nicole, Clearwater enhances those sentiments with the brisk, dismissive, and irritated tones and pacing with which she infuses Nicole’s dialogue. Even now, as I write this, I feel a surge of loathing for this woman who seems to think so little of Holly (in those few moments she does think of her). Ugh!

I look forward to hearing her narrate the continuing adventures of Holly and Virago in Date Knight!

A Knight to Remember by Bridget Essex
Narrated by Rose Clearwater (Note: In at least one place on the author’s website, Kelly Nugent is listed as the narrator and I’ve found an alternate book cover with Kelly’s name listed.)
Published by Rose and Star Press
Presented by Audible.com
Length: 7 hours, 17 minutes
ASIN: B01J2FBO6M
Released: July 2016

Available as an audiobook from AmazonAudible, and iTunes

Join the discussion on Goodreads!

Categories: audiobooks, fantasy, fiction, lgbt, romance | Tags: , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

When We Rise

Related image

Tonight ABC will air the first installment of its new miniseries, When We Rise, starring Guy Pearce, Mary-Louise Parker, Carrie Preston, and Rachel Griffiths. Screenwriter Dustin Lance Black derived partial inspiration for the script from Cleve Jones’ memoir of the same name. The series chronicles LGBT activism during the 1970s and 1980s. It is essential to understand and appreciate where we come from. It is also imperative to raise awareness that there is still much more that all of us can do. I hope that the miniseries does both. The Human Rights Campaign and Glaad are but a couple of the organizations that are working to ensure equal legal rights for LGBT+ persons and encouraging discussion. Click on the images below to learn more about who these organizations are and what they are doing.

hrc-logo  glaad

Since I don’t have a cable subscription, I’ll have to wait a bit until I can watch it (sigh). I was hoping it would be available for purchase à la carte from Amazon, much in the way that I purchase upcoming seasons of The Walking Dead so I can watch episodes the day after they air. In the meantime, I’ll listen to Jones’ memoir on my commute. Every person I read or listen to enriches my understanding of the LGBT+ history. Everyone relays their life through the lens they wear; that being said, I know I can’t count on one book to give me the whole story. I am always in search of more information and I hope you are, too.

When We Rise Book Cover

Cleve Jones’ memoir is a sweeping, profoundly moving account of his life from sexually liberated 1970s San Francisco, through the AIDS crisis and up to his present-day involvement with the marriage equality battle. — summary via NoveList Plus

When We Rise
Cleve Jones
Narrated by Cleve Jones
Produced by Hachette Audio and Blackstone Audio
Length: 9 hours, 31 minutes
ISBN-10: 1478942754
ISBN-13: 9781478942757
Released: November 2016

Available as an audiobook from AmazonAudible, Audiobooks, Barnes & Noble, and other retailers. Join the discussion on Goodreads!

***********************************************************************

Further Readings

If you are a fellow LGBT+ history enthusiast and are interested in learning more about activism, you may also enjoy reading:
*Note: this list focuses on United States’ history.

Love Wins: The Lovers and Lawyers Who Fought the Landmark Case for Marriage EqualityThe Gay Revolution: The Story of the StruggleDifferent Daughters: A History of the Daughters of Bilitis and the Rise of the Lesbian Rights MovementImage result for fire breathing lesbian avengeraint-gonna-let

Categories: audiobooks, essay, film adaptations, history, lgbt, Memoirs & Autobiographies, nonfiction | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Secret Heart

Image result for secret heart danielle dreger

Secret Heart, Danielle Dreger’s debut novel, strums the angsty heartstrings of its leading ladies: Avery and Madison. On first glance, the two girls could not be more different. Avery is openly queer, a badass rocker, an only child, and far from a star student. Madison is a poster child for perfection: stellar grades, student council President, soccer star, and all-around super nice person. Not that Avery isn’t nice 😉 Casual acquaintances for most of their high school lives, their lives intertwine on the inaugural meeting of their school’s Gay-Straight Alliance (Lion Pride).

Senior year can be a crazy time and it’s easy to lose sight of which way points up. The instant chemistry and intense desire surprises both girls. Avery and Madison both face heavy expectations (from bandmates, parents, friends, Lion Pride). They struggle to find a personal balance for their lives after high school and if their burgeoning romance (plus the secrecy that Madison wants) is worth the stress. As I read, I marveled at the elasticity of their hearts. Was the trust worthily bestowed? How much of themselves, of their core being, would they be willing to sacrifice in order to appease others? 

Had I never met the most unreal-ly nice person before reading this book, I would have scoffed at a character so kind-hearted, successful, and popular. Madison’s life, however, is far from perfect and she plays her cards close to her chest. My inner cynic was pacified by the complexity embodied by both leads. They challenge stereotypes (Avery’s affinity for Taylor Swift and marathoning Zac Efron films with her best friend, Scott, for example) and some other surprises. By the end of the story, I was more satisfied with the characters’ personal growth than with their romance.

Secret Heart is a fun, angsty roller coaster of love and self-discovery.

“Avery’s Playlist” (condensed)

Dreger curated the perfect playlist for this book. The song selections in themselves reflect the storyline and emotional roller coaster of teenage romance. It makes me want to record a mix tape from vignettes of my own life. For a full set list, turn to pp. 247-248 of Secret Heart.

Secret Heart

Author: Danielle Dreger

Publisher: DDB Press

Released: October 2016
ISBN (print) 978-0-9977659-1-5                                      

ISBN (ebook) 978-0-9977659-0-8

Available from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and other retailers. Don’t forget to check your local library for availability! A part of the proceeds from every book sold goes to support the Gay Lesbian Straight Education Network (GLSEN).

Join the discussion on Goodreads!

 

Categories: fiction, friendship, lgbt, librarians, romance, young adult | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

Safe Passage – audiobook review

Safe Passage [Audiobook]

 

Jules Delacroix, a former Olympic rower, now math teacher & rowing coach at an all-girls high school, inherits her great-aunt’s New Orleans home in the Garden District. She also inherits a safe full of her great-aunt’s secrets. Encoded letters, with what Jules at first mistakes for French, give her an excuse to enlist the translation services of the sexy French teacher, Gen. Once they figure out that the letters are layered in ciphers (drawing out Jules love of and skill at numeric codes) and then in French (not that Gen needs an excuse to stay on with the project; it’s très intriguing and damn, that Jules is one tantalizing package!). The safe also contains other clues, such as a sketch of a beautiful black woman, a journal, and an antique pistol. Together, the two women develop fantastic chemistry as they delve deeper into the secrets.

Jules receives emotional grounding from her friends Beth and Becs. The rapport between the friends flows naturally throughout the story, infusing the day-to-day, mystery, and romance with love and humor. One of my favorite moments comes when Jules refers to her friend Beth as a “Wal-Mart sports bra of support”. Jules’ friend Becs, a New Orleans police officer, calls her “the world’s most useless butch” in college, though Jules is an amazing cook.

E.V. Grove delivers an engaging, enjoyable performance. While I’m not an expert in the differences between regional Southern dialects, Grove’s voice places me among trellises, creeping vines, and humidity. Aside from being a bit quick at the beginning of the story, Grove provides great characterization and tone. Each woman springs to life, radiating charm, uncertainty, teasing, straight-forward, and eagerness.

There are also many instances in which there is not enough space in narration to denote change between sections. However, I think that is likely the result of editing. Overall, the production quality is good, pulling you into the listening experience, rather than popping you out. By the end of the two hours and twenty minutes, Owen’s storytelling and Grove’s narration left me wanting more.

Safe Passage
Kate Owen
Narrated by E.V. Grove
Published by Less Than Three Press and Produced through Audible
Length: 2 hours, 19 minutes
ASIN: B00SLW82PY
Released: January 2015

Available as an audiobook from Less Than Three Press, AmazonAudible, and iTunes. It is also available as Spanish and French language ebooks! I think that’s a sign to brush up on my French 😀

Join the discussion on Goodreads!

 

Categories: audiobooks, fiction, lgbt, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

Must Love Chickens

must-love-chickens

Jea Hawkins’s charming romance, Must Love Chickens, bonds two women over, among other things, the love of a precocious chicken named Esmerelda. It is Esmerelda who truly tips the scales between Jess Morgan and Natalie Wells, two women who have seemingly nothing in common.

Natalie is at dead ends with her job as director of a small art gallery in New York City. Several exhibitions have failed to generate interest and commissions (the life-blood of the gallery’s existence). Throw in a dash of phoning it in, an ambitious underling… and Natalie finds herself packing up for a job interview as a farm hand at an orchard. Owner and operator of Morgan Orchards, Jess couldn’t be happier with her bountiful McIntosh apple crop. However, the increased work exhausts both her and her long-time hand, Joe. When Jess reviews Natalie’s qualifications, or lack thereof, she is quick to scratch her name off the short (and uninspiring) list of applicants. 

At first glance, Natalie and Jess are city and country, two women with lives lived on polar ends of the universe. However, it becomes quickly apparent that both women possess a strong drive and desire for meaningful lives. What starts off for Natalie as just a job, something to exhaust her in mind and body, becomes a surprising avenue for fulfillment and love. The attraction and rapport between them develops easily as they bond over chores and chickens, though their initial assumptions of each other and baggage constantly pull at them. 

While Natalie has fled the trappings (and suffocation) of her city life, she is unable to ignore it. Newly found purpose, love, and confidence help her confront the boogeyman of her life: her grandmother. Jess, on the other hand, drowns out her pain in hard work. What ultimately makes this romance work is that they bring out the best in each other. They try to uncover what they really want out of life, as well as what they are willing to invest in the world.

The cast of rural, community folk give the setting a lived-in feel. Chosen family, Joe and Kate, who works as the orchard’s manager and part-time matchmaker, form a support network for both women and add much needed prodding and levity. Only a few hours from New York City, the town is a small, tight-knit community where folks know you by name and lend a hand if you need it. It’s not without flaws; privacy is often at a premium. Yet, it is a wonderful place to spend an afternoon or a weekend.

Must Love Chickens is the kind of comfy romance that I read with ice cream, tea, and/or pizza (or homemade mac ‘n cheese, etc.), curled up on a futon with my cats. And it doesn’t hurt to imagine Diane Lane in a starring role, either.

Must Love Chickens
Author: Jea Hawkins
Publisher: Wicked Hearts Publishing

Released: November 2016
ASIN: B01N0F3S05

Available from AmazonJoin the discussion on Goodreads!

Categories: lgbt, romance | Tags: , , , , | 1 Comment

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Shira Glassman

Queer Jewish feminist author

Bridget Essex, Author

Lesbian Romance Novels & Love Stories

Claudia Moss

writer | renaissance woman

danielledreger

YA Librarian by day, YA Writer by night

Madness & Joy

Dark-eyed daughter of the sun...

A. L. Brooks

Writer of Filth—and more...

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Reading & Reviewing Works by Women of Color

Do I Look Like A Writer in This?

On writing, ideas, lesfic, LGBT issues, and other late midlife thoughts.