Monthly Archives: September 2016

As I Descended – audiobook review

as i descended.jpg

 

It’s barely fall, but the early mornings are darker and colder. Every sound in an empty room makes me jump a little. Amielynn Abellera’s narration plays a huge role in bringing out the full richness of the story. The eerie atmosphere, setting, and murky moral territory infiltrate every nook and cranny, like fog. As I Descended by Robin Talley draws some inspiration from Shakespeare’s Macbeth. Listening to the story with headphones on in a quiet library intensifies the creep factor. 

I don’t believe in Ouija boards, yet I won’t touch one with a twenty foot pole. The story is a deliciously chill, vicarious thrill for those of us who looked under the bed as a kid. It pulls readers into the supernatural and what happens when a trio of friends — Maria, Lily, and Brandon— lay their hands on an antique Ouija board. Be careful what you wish for and never forget to say goodbye.

What better place to invoke the spirits than a private boarding school on a former plantation in Virginia? Ghost stories involving former tenants are dismissed by students, who enjoy being scared, but that’s about it. Maria, on the other hand, has a secret past with spirits and isn’t so quick to dismiss the tales. The story wastes no time in setting the mood with the initial events in the old cafeteria and doesn’t let up. Since the story is told in the third person, you find yourself inside the heads of the primary and secondary characters. The effect shows the increasing doubt, fear, and isolation the students experience as events unravel. The story includes a diverse cast, with no one person being singled out as a “villain” because of their social status, ethnicity, physical abilities, or sexual orientation. Though, that being said, the story shows high school kids at their best and worst…and worst.

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Amielynn Abellera is perfectly cast as the narrator. Her strong characterizations allow the story to come fully alive. The students that she voices converge on Acheron Academy from different regions in the United States, as well as Puerto Rico. Lily has a soft Southern drawl; Mateo speaks with Spanish accented English. Some students sound stoned, serious, or ditsy. The heights of elation and the depths of fear and despair will crawl under your skin. Abellera’s pacing allows the suspense to build and grab you, but never fully allows you to relax. She doesn’t rush the story or exaggerate her voice for a cheap scare, either.

As I Descended is a great companion for the long, dark nights ahead.

You can learn more about the authors, narrators, and where to purchase a copy of this audiobook via the links below.

As I Descended
Author: Robin Talley
Narrator: Amielynn Abellera
Produced by Harper Collins
Length: 9 hours, 9 minutes
Release date: September 2016
Audio CD: ISBN-10: 1441708952, ISBN-13: 987-1441708953
Digital Audio: ISBN 9780062571823, ISBN-10: 0062571826

Available as an audiobook from AmazonAudible, Audiobooks, and Overdrive (check your local public library for availability in both eAudio and CD), as well as many other retailers.

Join the discussion on Goodreads!

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Categories: audiobooks, horror, lgbt, paranormal, retellings, young adult | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Here Comes the Sun – audiobook review

here-comes-the-sun

 

In Nicole Dennis-Benn’s novel Here Comes the Sun, Jamaica is not a paradise for everyone. Those with money fly in and stay at expensive resorts, like the Palm Star Resort. The men, women, and children who call the island home live in another world. Margot and her younger sister Thandi, along with their mother Delores, live in the financially impoverished community of Montego Bay. Margot works at Palm Star Resort and offers its customers a sanitized pleasure-scape. She trades her body for money to provide a better life for her sister and for her own deferred dreams. On stolen nights, she steals a piece of love for herself at Verdene’s home. After years in London, Verdene returns to Jamaica and finds herself on the outside. Thandi struggles to live up to the high expectations of her family and her own self-image. 

When a new resort threatens to destroy Montego Bay and its residents, long-held secrets and desires spill over. Here Comes the Sun illuminates a world of compromises, lost innocence, and love in hard places. How far would you go for the people you love? How much of yourself would you push below the surface? Each woman will make difficult choices and discover for themselves where to draw the line in the sand. 

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Bahni Turpin delivers stunning, immersive performances as Margot, Thandi, Dolores, and the rest of the Islanders. Her characterizations of the people who inhabit Jamaica are so vivid that I feel like I’m leaving a conversation midway when I turn my car off. The accents she uses convey what parts of the island, socioeconomic, and life experiences the people inhabit. The rhythms of the community flow from the region’s patois, which Nicole Dennis-Benn uses for the novel’s dialogue. Turpin brings the language to life in a way that as a reader I would not do justice.

The way in which the women speak to each other changes depending on the person they are talking to and the role they assume. Thandi consciously moves between her two worlds – the expensive private high school she attends and the economically disadvantaged Montego Bay – by switching back and forth from the studied tones of her wealthier peers to the dialect of her home neighborhood. Verdene, a woman who has returned to Jamaica after living in London for several years, has a complex accent. Her voice is a blend of her homeland, the high level of education she received, and the British English she steeped in during her life abroad. Her neighbors treat her like an outcast, a witch with sexual appetites to avoid. The elderly woman next door leaves dead animals and noisy, high-pitched Biblical condemnations. 

The sun never sets on this listening experience.

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You can learn more about the authors, narrators, and where to purchase a copy of this audiobook via the links below.

Here Comes the Sun
Author: Nicole Dennis-Benn
Narrator: Bahni Turpin 
Produced by HighBridge Audio
Length: 11.75 hours
Release date: July 19, 2016
Audio CD ISBN: 9781681682709
Digital Audio ISBN: 9781681682716

Available as an audiobook from Audible, Barnes & Noble, iTunes, and Overdrive (check your local public library for availability in both eAudio and CD), as well as many other retailers.

Join the discussion on Goodreads!

Categories: lgbt, literary fiction | Tags: , , , , | 2 Comments

Check out my review of “You’re The Most Beautiful Thing That Happened” by Arisa White at The Lesbrary

Arisa White’s newest poetry collection, You’re the Most Beautiful Thing That Happened, plumbs the depths of what it means to exist in the world as queer, female, a person of color, and beyond. She undresses a multitude of topics, including race, family, and relationships. The collection offers tender, tumultuous, and light moments. In the introduction, […]

via Julie Thompson reviews You’re The Most Beautiful Thing That Happened by Arisa White — The Lesbrary

Categories: lgbt, poetry | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

GRNW 2016 – Read the Rainbow

The Gay Romance Northwest (GRNW) 2016 conference only 3 weeks away. It will be held at the Seattle Public Library on Saturday, September 24th from 12 pm to 6pm, plus an after party. Registration is required to attend panel sessions, but all are welcome to peruse the books for sale and chat up authors. If you want to pre-funk for the conference, I’ve included a list of the attending authors and panelists, as well as links to their websites and books.

I’m super excited not only to attend my first book conference, but one that focuses on LGBTQIA+ romance! A friend and I are arriving early so that we can score some seriously awesome swag. 

 

Love-Between-the-Covers

 

I also highly recommend watching “Love Between the Covers“, a romance documentary featuring numerous writers, including Radclyffe. You can watch it via Amazon, Vudu, YouTube, and Google Play. You can also watch it for free if your library subscribes to Hoopla or has DVD copies available. 

 

 

If you haven’t visited the Seattle Public Library before, make sure you take time to look around and visit their Friends of the Library store. It’s candyland for bibliophiles. When I went down to check out the Shakespeare Folio exhibit, I ended up dumping a good chunk of my paycheck at their store. All for a good cause, right? 😀

Thus far, the only author on the list that I’ve read is Sheri Lewis Wohl (Necromantia is a fantastic mystery with supernatural elements and romance. I highly recommend it!). It’s a daunting challenge to read even a quarter of this list before September 24th; my TBR pile on Goodreads will be flush with new-to-me titles! Most excellent! I will definitely read as many summaries as I can squeeze in and then take the slow route of enjoyment over the next few months. Attending the event is going to be a great way to meet authors and fellow readers.

 

Washington State

Astrid Amara
Science Fiction, Fantasy, Romance

***

Austin Chant
Romance, Fantasy

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Laylah Hunter
Science Fiction, Fantasy

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Amanda Jean
Romance

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Eric Andrews-Katz
Contemporary Romance, Adventure

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Nicole Kimberling
Science Fiction, Fantasy, Mystery

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AK Rose
Romance

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Tracy Timmons-Gray
Event Coordinator for GRNW

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Sheri Lewis Wohl
Romance, Paranormal

Oregon

Jove Belle
Romance, Thriller & Suspense, Erotica

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Charley Descoteaux
Romance

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EJ Russell
Contemporary & Supernatural Romance

Other

Dev Bentham (WI)
Romance

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L.C. Chase
Mystery, Thriller, Paranormal, Contemporary Romance

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Rhys Ford (CA)
Mystery, Thriller, Romance

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Ginn Hale (PNW)
Fantasy

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Lou Harper (CA)
Paranormal

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Tobi Hill-Meyer
Non-fiction, Erotica

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Isabella (CA)
Fantasy, Suspense, Romance

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Morticia Knight
Erotica, Romance

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Christopher Moss
Romance, Historical fiction

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M.J. O’Shea (PNW)
Romance, Young Adult

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EE Ottoman
Romance

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JK Pendragon (BC)
Romance, Speculative Fiction

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Alex Powell (BC)
Romance, Science Fiction, Fantasy

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Andrea Speed
Mystery, Thriller, Horror

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Karelia Stetz-Waters
Romance

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Yolanda Wallace
Fiction

 

One Last Thing…

GRNW is releasing a charity anthology of fiction and nonfiction called Magic & Mayhem. Proceeds support future GRNW programming and resources. You can pre-order a copy from Amazon and Smashwords. Release date: September 6, 2016.

Magic and Mayhem

Categories: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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