Monthly Archives: March 2017

Women on Fire: Marie Equi & Mary MacLane

In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, two American women challenged social norms and pushed themselves, and the world around them, to their limits. Mary MacLane, hailing from Butte, Montana, bucked convention for a shining moment in the sun, for a chance to live life as fast as she could instead of accepting a life that didn’t fit. Marie Equi always strove for the betterment of working class communities and advocated suffrage for women. She left high school to work in a textile mill, only to return to academia with a vengeance and graduate from medical school.

Both women seemed larger-than-life. And yet, despite the indelible impressions they left on their time and place, Marie and Mary all but disappeared from collective consciousness, even within their own lifetimes. Neither women expected to fade from the history pages they had helped write. Historian Michael Helquist drew from numerous resources to resurrect Equi’s life. Melville House reissued MacLane’s memoir through their Neversink Library (which follows the sentiment that when you have your best books by your side, you’re never alone and never totally bereft).

It’s the last day of Women’s History Month, but, as we all know, women are making history every minute of every day. Learning of LBGTQ2IA women in history is one of my passions and someday I will visit the Lesbian Herstory Archives in New York City. Also, check out the Gay Lesbian Archives of the Pacific Northwest‘s website. Please share books by or about historical figures in the comment section below. I would love to add to my personal library!

 

Marie Equi was bold, brassy, smart, and driven by her social conscience. Born in 1872 in New Bedford, Massachussets, she grew up in a large, working-class Irish-Italian family. She was never one to let her social or economic circumstances (much less allow society to dictate to her based on her gender) keep her down or accept the status quo. The roller coaster of her life includes forays into homesteading near the Dalles in Oregon; treating San Francisco earthquakes victims in 1906; supporting striking laborers; and providing abortions. Not to mention her relationships with strong, community-minded women. 

Marie Equi: Radical Politics and Outlaw Passions by Michael Helquist
Publisher: Oregon State University Press
Released: 2015
ISBN: 978-0-87071-595-2

Check your local public library for availability. I asked mine to purchase it and they did! Join the discussion on Goodreads.

wood floor

Mary MacLane was born in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada on May 1, 1881. Growing up in small Minnesota and Montana towns, she yearned for adventure, unconventional thrills, and helter skelter big city pulsations. She wrote for her school newspaper, as well as kept a diary of her experiences and inner-life. Originally published by Herbert S. Stone & Company in 1902 as “The Story of Mary MacLane” (that title reflects a change from the author’s more fiery, intended title “I Await the Devil’s Coming”, as noted in the book’s 2013 foreword by Jessa Crispin). The memoir was lauded by critics and launched into bestseller status by a voracious public. MacLane’s conversational style and openness about most facets of her life connected with many readers. I can only imagine her Twitter feed and YouTube channel. 

I Await the Devil’s Coming by Mary MacLane
Published by Melville House
ISBN: 9781612191959
Publication date: March 2013

Check your local public library for availability. Join the discussion on Goodreads.

Categories: biography, history, lgbt, Memoirs & Autobiographies | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

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: audiobooks, awards, essay, lgbt, Memoirs & Autobiographies | 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

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