family relationships

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

Reading Resolutions for 2017

 Oh, reading challenges. I love them, and yet, I fare better with the types of reading challenges that quantify, rather than qualify, my choices. For example, Goodreads only asks how many books I plan on finishing between January and December. That’s pretty straightforward, simple, and, in some ways, not that much of a challenge. I can set the bar at 5 books, if I wanted (I would wither away if I was only able to read five books in a year).

My excuses/reasons for failing to cross the finish line of the 2016 PopSugar challenge are many. I’m like that dog in the Pixar movie “Up”; I get distracted by every book that crosses my path. There are certainly not enough hours in the day for work, commuting, and my myriad of interests. I am also unable to read less than ten trillion books at a time. There is currently one book in my glove compartment of my car; an audiobook in my car’s disc drive and on my smartphone; Analog magazine on my phone for endless lines at the grocery store; eBooks on my Nook; and on and on.

I don’t give myself a hard time for not living up to my own reading standards. It’s supposed to be so many other things above and beyond a mere assignment. I will, however, craft mini challenges for myself that highlight voices and genres I haven’t spent much (if any) time with. And then there is the news… So long 2016!

How about you?

Categories: anthology, audiobooks, erotica, essay, family relationships, fantasy, fiction, friendship, historical fiction, history, Holiday, horror, lgbt, librarians, literary fiction, Memoirs & Autobiographies, nonfiction, novella, paranormal, poetry, primary sources, retellings, romance, romantic friendships, short stories, Uncategorized, young adult | Tags: , , , | 1 Comment

Not-So-Straight Sue

not-so-straight-sue

Not-So-Straight Sue, the second installment in Cheyenne Blue’s “Girl Meets Girl” series, goes fossicking about the Australian Outback with Sue Brent, a lawyer determined to keep her sexuality under wraps. Despite creating a life in London as a successful lawyer with great friends (Ger and Nora from Never-Tied Nora) – leagues removed from Yeringup, the small town that sent her deep into the closet as a teenager – she still can’t fully live her life. 

The story kicks off when Sue decides that she’s had enough of running from herself. Life in the big city teems with exciting entertainment, career opportunities, and kindred spirits. However, she steps away from a promotion to Senior Associate at the prestigious law firm where she works. Instead, she heads off to substitute at a small, one person practice in Mungabilly Creek, a small town a day’s drive from her hometown. The terrain is full of interesting characters, including the landscape. Felix, a woman living out between towns with her horses, provides potential for rich friendship when Sue first arrives. Mrs. T, housekeeper extraordinaire and all-around amazing woman, anchors the home front. And Moni, an American doctor serving rural areas of Queensland, reconnects with Sue, a handful of years after their first meeting in London. The romance of place and people is blended wonderfully. It’s also a fun distraction.

NSSS is an engrossing, entertaining story about a whole myriad of things, including coming out, rebuilding family relationships, and discovering that what and who you think you know can surprise you…in a good way. 

Recommended reading companions for this volume: a good red wine and a loyal pup.

Not-So-Straight Sue
Author: Cheyenne Blue
Publisher: Ylva Publishing
Publication date: October 2016

Available from Ylva Publishing, AmazonBarnes & Noble, and Overdrive (check your local public library for availability), as well as many other retailers.

Join the discussion on Goodreads!

 

 

 

Categories: family relationships, friendship, lgbt, romance | Tags: , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Curbside Wanderlust

As soon as June rolls around, I get the itch to pack up my gear and go camping or drive aimlessly down random highways. Most of the time, though, I can rely on my never-ending stash of books to satisfy my craving for adventure. I have paperback books squirreled away in my car for trips on the ferry; books on my smartphone for long queues; audiobooks on my Kindle Fire for my lengthy commute; and various books on my Nook for any time, any place. Right now I’m looking to satisfy my wanderlust vicariously via stories featuring fun road trips and camping. Not quite a substitute, but a good supply of fun, outdoorsy-based reads is worth is its weight in gasoline.

There are a lot of engrossing stories out there and it would take me much longer than the length of this post to list them all. I’ve chosen instead to highlight a few that I’m currently reading.
the trip

Robin Alexander’s The Trip is an entertaining story about a  crazy making family road trip. Jill Savoy,  is wrangled into a weeks long road trip by her grandmother and her grandmother’s best friend. Charged with maneuvering Sally, the mammoth RV and apple of her father’s eye, she tries to retain her sanity in the face of blatant matchmaking, raucous senior citizens, and surprise detours.
infinite loop.jpg

 

Meghan O’Brien’s Infinite Loop, on the other hand, is a road trip prompted by personal tragedy. The tale’s leading ladies, Regan O’Riley and Mel Raines, form an instant connection at a straight bar. Soon after meeting, a close friend of Mel’s is shot and the world turns upside down. Road trips can bring out all sides of a person and provide plenty of opportunities for Murphy’s Law to manifest.

 

camptown ladies

 

Camptown Ladies by Mari SanGiovanni continues the zany adventures of the Santora clan as they take on a seemingly Sisyphean task of sprucing up a dilapidated campground. They’re a tight knit bunch, so when something goes awry, there’s sure to be more than one pair of hands involved.

 

More stories, this time featuring outdoorsy thrills + romance + laughs

When the idea for this post germinated, I struggled to find novels that featured the great outdoors as the primary backdrop, but no as a setting for suspense novels or thrillers or crime dramas. A pile of stories with heart melting romance, raucous adventure, and friends for life, awaits you! Enjoy!

Categories: family relationships, fantasy, fiction, lgbt, librarians, romance, suspense | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Saving Alex – audiobook review

Saving Alex

 

Saving Alex
Authors: Alex Cooper with Joanna Brooks
Narrator: Luci Christian Bell
Produced by HarperAudio
March 2016
Length: 8 hours, 48 minutes

“You can be here three months or three years…” Johnny emphasized upon Alex’s arrival at the unlicensed residential treatment center. She would hear this same speech reiterated many times over the course of the next eight months. And so began her harrowing experience…

Saving Alex is the powerful memoir of Alex Cooper, a young woman who endured conversion therapy in St. George, Utah. Alex grew up in a devout Mormon family in Southern California. Although she had anticipated a less than warm reception when she came out as a lesbian to her parents at the age of 15, she was shocked when her parents demanded she leave immediately. After a few weeks in exile at the home of the local Mormon congregation’s bishop, she is whisked away to St. George, Utah, to stay with her grandparents. Instead, her parents deposited her at an unlicensed “residential treatment program”, led by Johnny and Tiana Siale, a married couple in the local Mormon community. It is here that she spent eight arduous months struggling to retain her identity and sanity in the face of aggressive homophobia. Her journey led her to challenge (and win) the courts for the right to protection under Utah law as an openly gay teenager.

Alex also invites the reader/listener to know her as a complete person, rather than hide a trait that may paint her as less than perfect. As a child and a teenager, she recalled feeling restless and how she sometimes clashed with her parents. Just as she acknowledged the parts that make her whole, so did she look (and continues to look) for the humanity in her parents and the community that refused to see her or hear her.

Luci Christian Bell narrates this intimate, moving account with sensitivity and respect. Her youthful voice transports the listener inside the account, revealing Alex’s uncertainty, pain, and loneliness, as well as highlighting moments of hope and joy. She delivers a nuanced performance as the stand-in narrator for Alex Cooper’s memoir.

It’s hard not to feel your blood boil as you hear Luci give voice to the demeaning treatment that the couple subjected Alex to in an attempt to break her down and “cure her”.  Tiana’s behavior seemed more insidious and complex as she vacillated between comforter and victimizer: hatching new punishments, such as demanding that Alex face a wall for weeks with a backpack full of rocks on her back, and calling Alex by the sugary nickname “Alexi” and confiding her fears about her husband’s violent temper.

I cringed every time that Luci, speaking as Tiana and Johnny, called Alex by a cutesy nickname. Luci’s delivery of their manipulative affection made my skin crawl. The couple seemed to believe that they acted in Alex’s best interest. This is especially evident at the end of the book when they are angered by Alex and her legal defense. Luci’s voice seamlessly transitions from affectionate and chiding to explosive and combative.

I highly recommend this audiobook. The production quality is fantastic and Luci excels at the helm. The only times I pressed pause was to go to work and sleep.  For a woman who once felt like her voice fell upon deaf ears, Alex  now has the opportunity to be heard by countless ears.  I hope that by sharing her experiences more laws will pass outlawing “conversion therapy”.

Additional Reading

 Human Rights Commission: Policy and Position Statements on Conversion Therapy 

Read the White House’s response to the We the People petition to ban conversion therapy in all 50 States.  https://www.whitehouse.gov/blog/2015/04/08/petition-response-conversion-therapy

Categories: audiobooks, family relationships, lgbt | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

The Language of Hoofbeats – audiobook review

 

Summary

When the opportunity arises for Paula to take on a Veterinarian practice in the small California town of Easley, she and her wife Paula round up their menagerie of animals, along with their adopted son, Quinn and two teenage foster children, Mando and Star.  Before the movers have a chance to unload the first box from the truck, taciturn Star angers their neighbor, Clementine (though Vern, her husband, weary of his wife’s unrelenting unhappiness, has other concerns on his mind), when she trespasses to visit the horse, Comet.  Jackie and her family struggle with Clementine’s behavior.  A tragic past event plunged Clementine into a dark, bitter place and she seems determined to stay that way.  It takes another jarring event to allow the wounds of these families to begin to heal.  The novel explores family relationships,  humanity’s connection with animals, and dealing with intense grief and disappointment.

Narration

 Catherine Ryan Hyde’s writing paints a range of emotions and promotes a deeper understanding of human behavior.  The Language of Horses (LoH) is complex, yet accessible.  Seasoned narrators Kate Rudd and Laural Merlington are a perfect fit for this story.  LoH alternates between Jackie’s and Clementine’s points of view.  Rudd narrates the “Jackie” chapters.  Merlington narrates the “Clementine” chapters.  They craft distinct primary and supporting characters.  The pacing of the dialogue appropriately reflects the differences between the characters and where they are on their personal journeys.  It is quick or slow, high or low, varying as needed, to bring the world into focus.  Listeners will look forward to this wonderfully engaging production.

Narrator Kate provides youthful buoyancy and intensity to the children’s voices, as well as a mixture of levity, uncertainty, and strength for Jackie and Paula.  We hear the emotional journey the characters take and how they evolve as the events unfold.  Kate’s voice hitches when eight year old Quinn is seized by the fear that he will lose his family, again, if they ride together in one vehicle; rises when tempestuous Star talks about Comet, the neighbor’s horse; and descends into a deeper, hesitant register as Clementine flounders with her anger.  Kate masterfully lifts the characters off the page and infuses them with life.

Narrator Laural gives additional weight to the complicated emotions swirling through Clementine’s heart and mind.  The older woman has an insistent need-to-know everything-about-everything (and hate it)-right-now personality that has her voice rising, with quick repetition of her words when she wants to make sure she’s heard.  Vernon, her husband, speaks with a more measured cadence and has a thoughtful tone to his voice. Although Vernon is a man of few words, Laural’s skillful narration amplifies his every word.  It is because of Laural’s nuanced narration, that I found myself empathizing with the almost impossible to like Clementine.  No small feat!

———-

There is a slim selection of audiobooks featuring lesbian protagonists in the three public library systems of which I am a member.  Perhaps I just need to fine-tune my search strategy.  Aside from Sarah Waters complete catalogue, I find titles if they have record tags for “lesbian” or if I know a specific title, author, or publisher.  I purchased The Language of Hoofbeats from Audible.com.

My goal this year is to locate as many sources for lesbian audiobooks as possible, without breaking the bank.  If you have a favorite narrator, story, or audiobook production company, drop me a line in the comment box below.  

Author: Catherine Ryan Hyde
Narrators: Kate Rudd, Laural Merlington
Produced by Brilliance Audio
Available from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Audible, iTunes, and your local bookseller.
Join the conversation on Goodreads.

Categories: audiobooks, family relationships, fiction, lgbt | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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