Cozy Witch Mini Booklist

“I put a spell on you and now you’re mine!” “Double, double, toil, and trouble!” Microwave some popcorn and pop in a film. I love witchy goodness of the comfort variety, whether it’s Bette Midler siphoning off the life force of Salem’s children, the Olsen twins freeing Cloris Leachman from her evil witchy twin, or Debbie Reynolds watching over her family in the TV movie series “Halloween Town”. Heartwarming and fun magical adventures are some of my favorite, go-to staycations. There’s a dash of quirky, a handful (or two) of sexy, and a lot of fun.

I found a few books that seem to fit the bill. Since I haven’t yet read these (only sample chapters), I can’t fully vouch for them. If you have any suggestions, please let me know in the comment section below. After you out check out these series, why not pitch cozy queer witch movie ideas to Hallmark. The one I borrowed via my library Hoopla account, You Cast a Spell on Me, seemed to have everything but F/F. Please and thank you in advance!

Witchcraft & Winds (Weather Witch, Book 1) by Emilia Spring
A Charmed Life (The Ashland Witches, Book 1) by Jea Hawkins
The Cupid Conundrum (Burgundy Hart, Book 1) by Lucy True

Jane Madison isn’t queer, but I adore this Washington D.C.-based specialty reference librarian. She foams milk for lattes and researches obscure data from primary sources at the Peabridge Library. On one fateful day, she discovers witchy powers, a familiar, and more problems than her budget allows. And I just found out that there is a road trip novella, Magic and Mayhem: Nice Witches Don’t Swear by Mindy Klasky! Hells yeah! It’s been ten years since I went on a road trip, so this is a perfect read for my upcoming trip. Pack it up and boost off!

 

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Wild Mares: My Lesbian Back-to-the-Land Life – review

I’m on the tail end of my vacation and I am definitely not ready to get back to work. Last week I visited San Francisco on a week-long road trip down the West coast. It’s been on my fantasy list of places to visit for most of my life. The closest I had ever been prior was a camping trip in the Redwoods 8 years ago and vicariously through my older sister’s high school year book trip. I have a lifetime of pop culture-colored glasses and history stored up in my mind. You’d think that could be the recipe for a major let-down. Reality versus fantasy. The only disappointment I experienced was my lack of time to explore all of the nooks and crannies. I’ll return someday and go on that drag queen historian tour while munching on some savory sourdough! 

Being the super bookworm that I am, I made the requisite pilgrimage to the iconic City Lights Bookstore. Perched on the edge of Chinatown, it occupies an unassuming space. Inside, two floors of bookshelves line hardwood floor with the occasional postcard. Downstairs I found my vacation date (to pair up with the 3-4 other books I brought on the trip ‘cuz you never know what you will be in the mood for on any one day): Wild Mares by Dianna Hunter. 

 

Wild Mares: My Lesbian Back-to-the-Land Life shares author Dianna Hunter’s lesbian farm life and activism from the 1960s-1980s. She acknowledges the vagaries of memory don’t always leave crystal clear recollections; so she checks in with friends, family, correspondence and diary entries, and others to square up details of events. I love memoirs and biographies of queer women. Their everyday lived experiences, activism, and careers captivate me. I guess you could say I’m very nosy, but I think it’s just my appreciation for the countless, and often anonymous folks, whose lives made it a difference for how the world looks today. If not for these kinds of memoirs, I wouldn’t necessarily have heard about certain feminist and queer organizations in Minnesota; lesbian publications like So’s Your Old Lady; and farms with names like Haidiya FarmRising Moon, and Happy Hoofer Farm, products of the back-to-the-land feminist movements. 

Hunter’s memoir pulled me in even more so because she illuminates lesbian community outside of major coastal hubs like Los Angeles and New York. Having grown up in a small county, I enjoy connecting with novels like Patience and Sarah by Isabel Miller and author Catherine Friend’s memoir about raising sheep in Minnesota, Hit by a Farm: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Farm (2006). Ivan Coyote’s storytelling and Lucas Crawford’s poetry collection Sideshow Concessions feature small-town life in Canada. All of these titles are hard to put down and imprint you forever after the final page. If you have any suggestions for lesbian herstory, historical fiction, and queer life in small and rural areas, please let me know in the comments below. I have one related book on the back burner, Queering the Countryside: New Frontiers in Rural Queer Studies (2016), edited by Mary L. Gray, Colin R. Johnson, and Brian J. Gilley.  An important project, Country Queers, gathers contemporary stories of queer country life in the United States. 

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Wild Mares: My Lesbian Back-to-the-Land Life by Dianna Hunter
University of Minnesota Press, 2018
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Review – My Shot: Balancing It All and Standing Tall

Image result for elena delle donne book

It’s April and that means the WNBA season is right around the corner. Elena Delle Donne’s (EDD) recently released memoir shares her life on and off the basketball court. EDD, for anyone unfamiliar with the 6″5 forward guard, is an indomitable presence on the floor as a WNBA MVP and gold medal Olympian. My Shot: Balancing it all and Standing Tall reveals personal challenges she faced in finding a healthy balance between basketball and her personal life.

EDD is remarkable off the court, as well. She shares her passions for family; raises awareness and funds for Lyme Disease through her Elena Delle Donne Charitable Foundation; and connects with Special Olympics athletes as a Global Ambassador. Demand Excellence, her personal motto, motivates and sustains EDD through all of life’s challenges. It’s not the same as the mentality that drove her love of basketball and boundaries into the ground. Rather, it’s a key part of the toolkit she uses to enjoy her life to the fullest. As I read, I strongly empathized with the “I Should” mentality. “I should” pursue this career route. “I should” do this and that and if I don’t then I’ve somehow failed others and myself. 

While this memoir is written with young readers in mind, people of any age can connect with EDD’s message of honoring your inner voice and sharing your strengths with the world around you. I’m looking forward to the Washington Mystics, her current WNBA team, having a kick ass season! My 2018 season dream: Seattle Storm vs Washington Mystics in the finals. 

 

make it so

My Shot: Balancing it all and Standing Tall by Elena Delle Donne
Simon & Schuster, 2018

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Charming the Vicar – audiobook review

Charming the Vicar cover art

 

“Axdale had a gay, female vicar in heels and a biker jacket. Had she walked into the Twilight Zone?”

This audio edition of Jenny Frame’s Charming the Vicar pulls you into a journey of heartache and loss on the way to love and healing. Famed mentalist and avowed atheist Finnian Kane has no idea what she’s in for when she selects the small English village of Axedale as her retreat from the world and her sorrows. Not thwarted by a chilly reception to her doorstep one-woman welcome committee, Reverend Bridget Claremont engages Finn in discussions and activities. I’ve listened to and read few queer romances  in which faith plays an important role in the characters’ lives. The ways in which Bridget’s Christian faith and Finnian’s deep disdain for religion play out separately and together is thoughtfully done. As you listen, you won’t find that one way is the only way. Faith and sexuality are partners in the journey of this story.

Attraction between the women build, smoldering and sparking, though the Church prevents Bridget from having relationships with women. Nicola Victoria Vincent delivers wonderful characterization of leads and supporting cast, though her delivery sounds hurried at times. She heats up sex scenes, stepping into Mistress Black (Bridget’s buried persona) in much the same way that Bridget dons her persona and attire, with firm and sensual tones. Finn’s need also amplifies these scenes as she pleads and takes. Take some time for yourself and enjoy this delectable blend of sweet and spicy! 

See Courting the Countess for more Axedale romance!

Charming the Vicar by Jenny Frame
Narrated by Nicola Victoria Vincent
Produced by Bold Strokes Books
Length: 7 hours, 49 minutes
Release date: January 2018

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Lesbian Book Bingo square: Age Difference

 

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Cracking Love by Emily King: a review

Cracking Love by Emily King

 

Cracking Love by Emily King
Release date: February 15, 2018
Publisher: Bella Books
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Is love all that it’s cracked up to be? Does it make you go a bit nutty? Have sour experiences made your heart a tough nut to crack? Okay, okay…okay, I’ll stop with the delightful nut puns (for now) and talk about Cracking Love, Emily King’s debut romance. Janet Webber feels burned out by constant travel and low satisfaction she gets from her new job as a regional pharmacy manager. Newly relocated to a small California town, she chats up an airport shuttle driver and ends up invited to a house party. Mingling and noshing on BBQ, Janet meets other local lesbians and L.A.-based friends of the host couple. However, she only has eyes for walnut & veggie farmer, Gail Lawrence. The two hit it off, but personal baggage gets in the way.

Along the way to love, Gail grapples with deeply rooted issues of mistrust and the prospect of losing clients for her produce. Trust issues arising from past partner infidelity and gold digging college girlfriends creates much of the drama separating Janet and Gail from HEA with each other. Line dancing connects the women to their community, to each other, and to themselves. This is especially true for Janet. It mirrors the steps they learn as they negotiate relationships and careers. Once you figure out the basic step combinations, you can move on to more complex patterns with confidence.

Quick pacing makes this story easy to devour in a sitting or two.  I chalked up their expedited pairing to deep thirst for emotional and romantic validation. The intensity of their feelings clashes often with what they want and with their insecurities. Ultimately, Janet and Gail seem to balance each other out. In-between flights for work, tending to crops, and line dancing lessons, there is a lot of steamy bedroom scenes. It’s an enjoyable debut romance, overall. If you’re looking for romance set in small towns, women that work with their hands, midlife career changing magic, and some boot scootin’ boogie, then this just might be up your alley.

Hungry Reads

Eat with snacks nearby! All the talk of walnut bars and candies had me craving the praline treats I ate in New Orleans last year. I can’t vouch for any of these recipes (yet), but here are a handful of walnut bar and candied walnut recipes I found via Allrecipes.com and Martha Stewart. I wonder if author Emily King has a stash of go-to baking recipes…

 

 

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Lighthouses: A Cover List

The unifying element between these ten books is the fact that they have a lighthouse on the cover. This in itself makes these books awesome and irresistible to me. Last Christmas, happenstance tossed Lighthouse Christmasa delightful historical fiction picture book about the Flying Santa program, across my path. And I still need to watch The Light Between Oceans. It’s waiting for me at home. Life on a coast also means that I have lived a good portion of my life less than an hour from a lighthouse. Pretty dang sweet, I agree. May these beacons guide you to romance, excitement, thrills, and mystery. If you have other books that you want to share, please write them in the comments below. Cheers!

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Almost-Married Moni

Almost-Married Moni (Girl Meets Girl, #3.5)

 

Happy Valentine’s Day everyone! This morning started off on the right foot when I found a bowl full of York peppermint patties in the break room at work 😀 Since many of us are clocking in at our jobs, there probably isn’t much time leftover for romance when you get home. Between making dinner, running errands, and everything else in between, the 14th seems a bit much. A nice glass of wine, some chocolates, comfy pajamas, and a stash of romance novels is my recipe for a great night. 

Almost-Married Moniheartwarming celebration-slice-of-life, features Moni and Sue from “Not-So-Straight Sue“. Three years after their engagement, marriage equality becomes an Australian reality. We reunite in the Outback with couples from all three of Cheyenne Blue’s “Girl Meets Girl” series, as well as their friends, family, and a surprise guest. Treat yourself to this short and sweet Valentine.

Almost-Married Moni by Cheyenne Blue
Ylva Publishing, December 2017
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2018 Winter Olympics: A booklist

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Public Domain. Bibliothèque nationale de France, département Estampes et photographie, EI-13 (67)

The drama for Winter Olympics bronze-silver-and-gold glory will unfold in PyeongChang, South Korea. Every four years ice skating, skiing, curling, and snowboarding, and other ice and snow-based sports receive maximum exposure via television, radio, and internet platforms. Audiences around the world can thrill to speed skating and women’s hockey, and kids can imitate the intricate, powerful moves of ice skaters (like I did in my socks around the kitchen). Growing up, the Winter Olympics were my primary exposure to sports that I could never hope to play. For many of the countries competing, it is reflective of who can afford to train with equipment and facilities that far exceed a pair of sneakers and an open road.

I’ve gathered up a handful of books that center on the high stakes Olympic drama, as well as stories that feature winter sports, but don’t take place during the Olympics. I’ll continue to add books through the 25th. Please share any related books in the comments below! Let the games begin!

Olympics

Edge of Glory (2017) by Rachel Spangler
Delay of Game (2017) by Tracey Richardson
Fire on Ice (2018) by Jea Hawkins

Winter Sports (non-Olympics)

Rebirth (2017) by CS Patra
Castles in Flames and Ice, Book 1

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Delay of Game by Tracey Richardson – review

BEL-DelayGame

 

Thanks to the TV monitors affixed to cardio machines at my gym, I can watch all kinds of sports that I’m not able to at any other time (being one of the cable-free, I’m bound to the internet). On one particular night in late December, I watched men’s college football and basketball, and the final minutes of a pro Hockey game. There was a period in high school when I was pretty into watching hockey on ESPN, though I had no other connection to it. The speed and dexterity on ice, the full body contact drew me in like a moth to a flame. I participated in something called “broom hockey” on ice years later and ice skate occasionally, but that’s it.

As the on and off ice drama in Delay of Game sucked me in, I felt a new appreciation for the hard work involved in setting up and executing plays, not to mention extensive traveling and low pay for women. While I watch men’s games, I can’t but think about Eva Caruso and Niki Hartling, passionate players representing the United States and Canada, respectively, on the grand stage that is the Winter Olympics.

The two women have a deep history, one severed by youthful passions and manipulation. Niki has moved on from professional hockey, teaching at a university and raising a precocious daughter. Recently widowed, she isn’t looking for anything that will upend the delicate balance she’s achieved. However, a scandal rocks Team Canada months before the 2010 opening ceremonies in Vancouver, BC, and Niki is pulled in as a reluctant head coach. Eva, meanwhile, hasn’t hung up her skates just yet. Hungry for another chance at an Olympic medal, she relies on her competitive nature and Hall of Fame level skills carry her through injuries and the pains of life on the road. As the oldest on Team USA, Eva also shoulders some of the leadership responsibilities, helping focus her younger teammates’ drive.

Hockey and romance given equal time on the ice, making for a satisfying sports romance. As a reader, you get a good feel for the investment players make in ascending to the championship level, as well as the personal costs it exacts. Meanwhile, the complicated history between Niki and Eva, escalating stakes for Olympic glory, and the struggle Niki feels about romance after the death of her wife, adds drama on the personal and broader levels. In the midst of all this, there is added mystery of a fox in the hen houses of Team Canada and Team USA.  Delay of Game sat on my TBR shelf for several months, but once I picked it up, I couldn’t put it down. And once you read it, you’ll be itching for some hockey action. Below you’ll find a link for the 2018 Olympic women’s hockey schedules. Opening ceremonies in PyeongChang are on February 9th. Cheers!

Women’s Hockey, Olympic schedule here.

Delay of Game by Tracey Richardson
Bella Books, 2017
Available from Bella Books, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and other retailers. You can ask your local indie booksellers to buy a specific lesfic title and they just might! Also, check with your public library (request purchase if they don’t carry it).

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Tax Season Romance: Close to Home by Rachel Spangler

Image result for close to home rachel spangler

Close to Home: a Darlington romance (2017) by Rachel Spangler
Available from Bywater Books, AmazonBarnes & Noble, and other retailers. Be sure to check your local public library for availability.

It’s tax time! I bet you never thought you’d get excited to hear those words, did ya? Close to Home by Rachel Spangler takes on Kelly Rolen, a minor character from The Long Way Home, a Darlington romance. She isn’t the most likable character, but that is just how Kelly wants it. The thicker the barrier, the less likely you are to stick around and try to get to know who she is beneath the armor, especially her attraction to women. Beth, her ex-girlfriend, knows the claustrophobic veil of the closet all too well. Events conspire to make it impossible for Kelly to operate her family’s small tax firm alone. When Elliot Garza, an accounting student at the local college and irresistibly dapper, needs intern credit in order to graduate, Beth intervenes and pairs the two together. Heads butt, sparks fly, and every step forward earns two steps back. Friends and family help this pair slog through doubt, fear, passion, and career challenges. While Kelly (especially) may tax your patience and empathy, you won’t want to give up. Even the most cantankerous, prickly pear has a shot at HEA. Also, Elliot is a sexy package of smarts, confidence, and swagger. Gimme that 1040 form, already! 

Craving more f/f romance starring accountants? Try these:

 

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