fiction

Marriage of a Thousand Lies – audiobook review

Marriage of a Thousand Lies Audiobook

Narrator Emily Woo Zeller guides Lakshmi “Lucky”, a first generation Sri Lankan-American, through a myriad of tangled decisions. After Lucky’s mother disowns her in college after finding text messages that Lucky exchanged with a former girlfriend, the distraught student makes a deal with a gay college friend, Krishna, to get married. The couple pays a steep price in order to retain family ties and approval. Marriage of a Thousand Lies grapples with a myriad of complex topics, weaving them into a compelling narrative. Cultural and generational divides, the needs of family and self, and race and sexuality, are the realities that Lucky navigates in SJ Sindu’s recent novel. Ultimately, Lucky must decide if a life built on lies is one she can live with…

Woo Zeller invokes the potent mix of emotions roiling through Lucky after she moves in with her mother to care for her ailing grandmother and reconnects with her best friend on the eve of an arranged marriage. Lucky’s family and friends are equally vibrant in their characterizations; Woo Zeller’s intuitive use of tone, pacing, accents, and energy, infuses the story with additional depth and nuance. All around her, Lucky sees different ways of being. Whether it’s her mother, who fled Sri Lanka in the early 1970s as civil war erupted, and retains strong cultural ties to her homeland; or Lucky’s sisters, who also struggle with reconciling their multicultural identities; or Nisha’s agony over choosing between her family and the woman she loves. As a listener, you feel all of these conflicting paths and emotions, and the richness of their lives and relationships all the more keenly. 

Marriage of a Thousand Lies by SJ Sindu
Narrated by Emily Woo Zeller
Produced by HighBridge, a Division of Recorded Books
Length: 7 hours, 45 minutes
June 2017

Available from Amazon/AudibleBooks-a-Million, Barnes & Noble, and other retailers.  Join the discussion on Goodreads!

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

Coffee Connections: A booklist


In my last booklist I paired women, wine, and romance. This go ’round it’s all about that rich, full-bodied brew, coffee. And of course, romance. Most mornings before I head out to work, I brew up a pot of Yuban and pour it into my trusty Stanley thermos. It’s as much a part of my day as getting dressed. This beloved ritual and cherished sensory experience goes well with both solitude and company. 

My idea of a perfect first date starts at a coffee shop. If nothing else goes right, at least there’s a steaming (or chilled or frozen) coffee concoction to enjoy. Want to make that outing even better? Combine it with a good book, of course! The characters in the stories below geek out on B-grade sci-fi flicks, grapple with long-distance, attempt to run a cafe while still attending high school, and much more. Just add coffee. If you have any stories in which coffee plays a role, please share them in the comments below!

long macchiatos and monsters

Long Macchiatos and Monsters (Geek Out: A Collection of Trans and Genderqueer Romance) by Alison Evans
Published by Less Than Three Press
Available from Less Than Three Press, Amazon, Barnes & Noble.  Join the discussion on Goodreads!

“Jalen, lover of B-grade sci-fi movies, meets the far-too-handsome P in a cafe while deciding whether or not to skip uni again. When P invites them along to a double feature of Robot Monster and Cat Women of the Moon, Jalen can hardly believe that hot boys like bad sci-fi, too. But as their relationship progresses, Jalen realizes P leaves them wondering if they’re on the same page about what dating means, and if that’s what they’re doing.” – from Less Than Three Press

coffee date

Coffee Date by K. Lynn
Published by Less Than Three Press
Available from Less Than Three PressAmazon, Barnes & Noble, Smash Words.  Join the discussion on Goodreads!

“Alice is finally happy with her body and her life—except for the part where revealing she’s trans winds up leaving her hurt and abandoned over and over again. She’s decided she’s done making herself miserable by looking for love.

Love finds her anyway, in the form of Hank, the new guy at her local coffee shop. He’s sweet, friendly, charming… and will probably turn out like all the rest. Determined not to shatter the fantasy and lose him before she has to, Alice holds fast to her secrets. 

But if the truth doesn’t ruin everything, the lies will, and it seems no matter which choice she makes Alice is set for just one more heartache.” – from Less Than Three Press

Get it together delilah

Get it Together, Delilah! by Erin Gough
Published by Chronicle Books
Available from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and other retailers.  Join the discussion on Goodreads!

Originally published as The Flywheel in Australia, 2015.

“Seventeen-year-old Delilah Green wouldn’t have chosen to do her last year of school this way, but she figures it’s working fine. While her dad goes on a trip to fix his broken heart after her mom left him for another man, Del manages the family cafe. Easy, she thinks. But what about homework? Or the nasty posse of mean girls making her life hell? Or her best friend who won’t stop guilt-tripping her? Or her other best friend who might go to jail for love if Del doesn’t do something? But really, who cares about any of that when all Del can think about is beautiful Rosa who dances every night across the street. . . . Until one day Rosa comes in the cafe door. And if Rosa starts thinking about Del, too, then how in the name of caramel milkshakes will Del get the rest of it together?” – from Chronicle Books

something-true

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Something True (Out in Portland, #1) by Karelia Stetz-Waters
Published by Forever Yours, an imprint of Grand Central Publishing
Available from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Google Play Books, Kobo, and other retailers. Join the discussion on Goodreads!

“Tate Grafton has a tough exterior, but underneath she’s kind, caring, and fiercely loyal. That’s why she first started working at Out in Portland Coffee-it was her way of repaying the shop’s owner for taking her in as a homeless teenager. Nine years later, the coffee shop is floundering and Tate feels like she’s letting life pass her by . . . until she shares an unforgettable night with a beautiful stranger. When the mysterious woman disappears the next morning, Tate doesn’t even know her name.

Laura Enfield was supposed to be in Portland for only a few days-just long enough to oversee a simple business deal before joining her conservative father on his political campaign. But when the closeted Laura romances an employee of the coffee shop her company is shutting down, things get suddenly complicated. Now, the lies she’s told for years are beginning to unravel, and her biggest secret is about to be exposed. Laura can’t stop thinking about the barista with the soulful eyes, but after a lifetime of deception, can she finally embrace something true?” – from Karelia Stetz-Waters

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Don’t Bang the Barista! by Leigh Matthews
Published by Leigh Matthews
Available from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and other retailers.  Join the discussion on Goodreads!

“Drawing on the classics of lesbian pulp fiction, Don’t Bang the Barista! is set in the hipster-dyke triangle of East Vancouver, where friends Kate and Cass discuss the politics of hooking up with a hot barista crush. Is Cass warning Kate off over concern for her favourite coffee shop hangout, or does she have ulterior motives for keeping Hanna and Kate apart? What if Hanna actually has her sights set on someone else… someone already in a seemingly monogamous and hetero relationship? Navigating life in the queer East Van community certainly isn’t simple for Kate and her trusty canine, Jupiter, especially when Kate’s ex gets back into town looking more fabulous than ever. Can Kate finally figure out who she wants to be with before it’s too late?” – via Amazon.com

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Confessions from a Coffee Shop by T.B. Markinson
Published by CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform
Available from Amazon.  Join the discussion on Goodreads!

“Cori Tisdale was on top of the world. A basketball star at Harvard and a promising author with a lucrative book deal.

A few years later, Cori’s life is falling apart. Her beautiful girlfriend, Kat Finn, has a shopping addiction. To make ends meet, Cori takes a part-time job at a coffee shop.

Just when Cori thinks her life can’t get any worse, an old crush appears out of the blue. Cori’s friendship with Samantha Clarke pushes Cori further into a dangerous abyss when Sam reveals two secrets to Cori and asks her not to tell a soul, including Kat.

Will this be the end of Cori’s and Kat’s relationship?” from T.B. Markinson

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A Caramel Macchiato with a Friend by Lila Bruce
Published by Sapphire Books|
Available from Sapphire Books, Amazon, and other retailers.  Join the discussion on Goodreads!

(A short story from the A Heart Well Traveled: Tales of Long Distance Romance and Unlikely Outcomes)

“Discover the many facets of romantic relationships as authors in volume one of, A Heart Well Traveled, unravel the trials and tribulations of long distance love affairs.

Each author, with their own unique style of storytelling, will leave the reader begging for more. Go from wild rides to gentle love stories, exploring the twists and turns lovers go through as they work to be together despite the distance between them.

Explore bonds beyond friendship, chance meetings, family drama, gender complexity, longstanding love and unexpected passion as lovers seek their happily ever after.

A Heart Well Traveled is a collection of short stories where women who love woman share the joys and challenges of long distance relationships.

Can love really conquer all?” – from Sapphire Books

Categories: booklist, erotica, fiction, lgbt, romance, science fiction, Uncategorized, young adult | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Shorties: 3 Audiobooks, 3.5 hours

I dunno about any of you, but right now I’m buried under a pile of incredible books and a million other things (WNBA All-Star weekend, here I come!). My attention-span is also scattered to the four winds, so what I really need are bite-sized (audio) story morsels. One of my favorite things is being read to. The Seattle Public Library hosts a bag lunch story time for adults (I’ve always wanted to go!). Audiobooks are, for the most part, the closest I get to replicating that wonderful feeling of being told a tale. In honor of the busy and multi-tasking folks out there, I scrounged up a few stories that you can listen to in a half hour, an hour, and two hours. They’re great for one sitting; while finishing up odious household chores; noshing on munchies and crunchies; or running around doing errands!

Use the advanced search on Audible to sort by length. If you do a search for “lesbian” in the less than one hour search, you’ll come up with a list that includes M/M romance, sensationalist erotica, and titillating titles. I had to dig around before I found anything that I wanted to listen to, though. Searches for “bisexual” short titles proved even less inspiring. But. You may find more in these results that are to your liking. I’d love to hear from folks who have listened to these stories or have audiobooks under three hour recommendations to share!

*Denotes To Be Listened (TBL) audiobooks.

I’ve listened to Rift Jumpers twice. Once on a lunch break and the second time this morning on my commute. It’s a short story prequel, to what, I can only assume is going to be a fantastic cosmic adventure series. Jane Henningsly, Commander of the research ship, Dauntless, and her crew, embark on a voyage of discovery across the cosmos. Long divided by distance and unattainable “faster than light” space travel, they seek out “rifts”… 

Narrator Kristin James delivers another immersive performance as a crew on the cusp of exciting scientific discovery (though her Aussie and Scottish accents are slightly off the mark, I’ll chalk those characterizations up to the dilutions of years spent in outer space amongst folks from all over). She enhances humorous and tender moments between crew members as they cycle through routine, yet crucial, maneuvers, as well as creating emotional depth through her nuanced narration.

Appeals: hardish sci-fi, a touch of F/F romance, great cast chemistry (blending professionalism & personal connections), humor, kick ass female protagonists

Rift Jumpers: Faster Than Light (A Short Story Prequel) by Erik Schubach
Narrated by Kristin James
Length: 29 minutes
ASIN: B01IFGCWVU
Released: July 2016

Available as an audiobook from Amazon/Audible and iTunes.  Join the discussion on Goodreads!

 

North Star: A Western Lesbian Romance Audiobook

L.A.-based journalist Megan Hill is a true town mouse. She loves her permanent cell signal, her shitty public transport, and her Starbucks on every corner – and all of that is about to disappear for an entire summer. Soon, she’s going to regret suggesting a “town vs. city” article for the next magazine issue, as it’s her the magazine is sending to Iron Road, Utah to make the report.

Out there, she’ll find Jessie North, the confident and cantankerous owner of North Star Books in the small western town – and apparently the only out and proud lesbian for miles around. Jessie has no fear and no filter, and it’s gotten her into quite a few confrontations over the years. Maybe it’ll get her into a confrontation with this Barbie doll of a city girl who’s just turned up.

Only…Megan and Jessie don’t hate each other like it seems they should. There’s something pushing them together – and it’s not just Jessie’s mother. Whatever fairytale or chemistry is drawing these two women to each other, it’s drawing them pretty strong. Whether it’s strong enough to resist the hate of homophobic Iron Road residents and a cruel, cruel request from Megan’s editor, however, has yet to be seen. ©2016 Bridgette Jensen (P)2016 Bridgette Jensen

Wow, just from the publisher’s description alone, I’m ready to saddle up and head out into the country for adventure! You get well-trod match-ups: city vs. country and fast-paced career vs small town business owner. The sample of narrator Sara Lorn’s performance sounds very promising, too! 

Also, have you watched “Cowgirl Up” from Tello? It’s two seasons of city girl shenanigans on a ranch. If you grew up on Nickelodeon’s “Hey Dude” (1989-1991), City Slickers (1991), and other humorous Westerns pitting unlikely cowgirls and cowboys against the elements, then definitely check out this series! 

Appeals: city mouse vs country mouse, Western setting, F/F romance

*North Star: A Western Lesbian Romance by Bridgette Jensen
Narrated by Sara Lorn
Produced by
Length: 56 minutes
Released: August 2016

Available as an audiobook from Amazon/Audible and iTunes.  Join the discussion on Goodreads!

 

Pomegranate Audiobook

What if everything you thought you knew was a lie?

Crafting spells, running her shop, and hanging with her lover, Hayden, was all Persephone Carraway wanted out of life. The future was filled with endless possibilities as long as it was with the girl of her dreams. But Hayden has a secret and, it turns out, so does Persephone.

One night in the Underworld will change things forever….

Demi, Persephone’s mother, has developed a designer pomegranate, infusing it with her daughter’s blood. A single act of betrayal will craft war with the old gods and the fae, leaving destruction in its wake. Persephone is drawn into a web of myth and magic where nothing is at it seems, even herself.

Myth. Magic. Pomegranates….

©2015 Erzabet Bishop (P)2015 Erzabet Bishop

Oh my dear, Persephone, what have you gotten yourself into? This will be the second audiobook featuring a retelling of Persephone and Hades (aka Hayden), that I’ve listened to this year. My finger is poised above the play button and I look forward to another version of Greek god and goddess drama! Hollie Jackson’s narration sounds like her standard style, but is still very enjoyable so far.

Appeals: Fantasy, erotica, F/F romance, mythology, retellings

*Pomegranate: Myth & Magic, Book 1 by Erzabet Bishop
Narrator: Hollie Jackson
Published by Decadent Publishing Company, LLC
Length: 2 hours
ASIN: B015S1FVUE
Audiobook production date: December 2015

Available as an audiobook from Audible. Join the discussion on Goodreads!

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

Love on the Vine: Romance Booklist

Spritzer

Summer spritzer

Would you like some wine with your summer romance? (I’m going to straight up admit that I am super tempted to use a bunch *cough* of grape puns. I do not resist temptation very well…). In college, I had a couple of professors who enjoyed taking our French-in-France cohort to many a vineyard. As a result, I gained a deeper appreciation of wine grape cultivation, its history and social context, and, of course, a better informed palate.

I’ve also enjoyed many films set in vineyards  or had something to do with wine (A Walk to Remember (1995); Terroir (Korean drama series, 2008/2009); French Kiss (1995); and Bottle Shock (2008)), but I don’t think I’ve ever read one. Below you’ll find a handful of romantic encounters, from Karin Kallmaker’s retelling of Pride & Prejudice (Just Like That) to a midlife change at the Wild Love Winery in Michigan (Nicolette Dane’s Full Bodied in the Vineyard), and more. The romance that finds these women arises from unexpected corners and circumstances. 

Full Bodied Nicolette Dane

“After yet another breakup and on the cusp of her 40th birthday, Shannon Laughlin is feeling lost. Life hasn’t gone quite how she expected and she’s ready for something new, a new outlook, a new adventure. A new love. One night, as she tries to figure out what’s next, a chance post on social media by an old friend offers to give her that change she’s been seeking.

That old friend is Alina. Alina is a seasonal worker at Wild Love Winery up on Leelanau Peninsula in Michigan’s wine appellation. A free-spirited woman, Alina has orchestrated a life for herself that revolves around following her bliss. It’s something Shan has always admired in her friend. That, and Alina’s undeniable sensuality. Shan can’t help but remember the one night in college that the two women shared a bed. And the possibility Alina is offering is just too good to pass up.

Will Shan figure out how to get both her work life and her love life back on track as she stumbles into her 40s? Can the magic of Michigan’s wine country and the surrounding beauty convince Shan that there’s more to this world than she’s been able to see? Or will this second chance at making it work with Alina prove to be out of her reach? Sometimes life is only just beginning at 40, as Shan is about to find out. And there’s so much more of it to live.” via nicolettedane.com

Just Like That Karin Kallmaker

“Syrah Ardani tried independence—but the call of the Napa Valley hills and rolling vineyards of her family’s winery have brought her home again. She is content with her ordered world until she learns that her father’s feckless management has put Ardani Vineyards into receivership. 

Corporate turnaround specialist Toni Blanchard’s arrival is preceded by tales of her slash-and-burn techniques. Determined to meet this soulless corporate raider head on, Syrah proudly prepares to do battle for her home and family business. 

Toni has reason to retreat from a high-pressure Manhattan lifestyle, not the least of which is a bitter break up. She’s been told that Syrah Ardani is attractive and single, but Toni never mixes business and pleasure.

Creditors clamor for a quick sale and payment. The beautiful—and hostile—Syrah wants Toni off her land and out of her life. 

Their clashes smolder with distrust and resentment, but also threaten to light a completely different kind of fire. Most dangerous of all is the one thing Toni can’t control—the way her heart reacts when Syrah looks at her…just like that.

Karin Kallmaker’s lesbian retelling of Pride and Prejudice pits first impressions against last chances in this lush wine country story.” via Bella Books

crush

“Piper Campbell has spent the last fifteen years of her life raising her younger sister. Charlie is now an adult—and on the brink of stardom. Piper swears she can keep her head even as she’s recruited into Charlie’s retinue, but then along comes Haley–someone who has been burned too many times to believe the vow of a woman who hasn’t yet experienced the seductive, entrancing power of Fame.” via susanxmeagher.com

wine

“This is a second, revised edition of Jae’s award-winning lesbian romance Something in the Wine. It includes the sexy follow-up short story “Seduction for Beginners” as a bonus.

All her life, Annie Prideaux has suffered through her brother’s constant practical jokes. But Jake’s last joke is one too many, she decides when he sets her up on a blind date with his friend Drew—neglecting to tell his straight sister one tiny detail: her date is not a man, but a lesbian.

Annie and Drew decide it’s time to turn the tables on Jake by pretending to fall in love with each other.

At first glance, they have nothing in common. Disillusioned with love, Annie focuses on books, her cat, and her work as an accountant while Drew, more confident and outgoing, owns a dog and spends most of her time working in her beloved vineyard.

Only their common goal to take revenge on Jake unites them. But what starts as a table-turning game soon turns Annie’s and Drew’s lives upside down as the lines between pretending and reality begin to blur.

Something in the Wine is a story about love, friendship, and coming to terms with what it means to be yourself.” via Ylva Publishing

Categories: fiction, lgbt, lists, retellings, romance | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

California Skies

California Skies

Even on vacation, I pack several books into my carry-on. While I never know what I’ll be in the mood for, I know I’ll feel restless enough to switch back and forth between every single story. Last week as I sat piggy in the middle on my flight from New Orleans back home, the windows obscured by bodies and blinds, I rummaged around for something short and entertaining. Postcards from the Edge written and narrated by Carrie Fisher, took me from NOLA to Denver. For the next part of my trip, I returned to a new favorite novelette, California Skies by Kayla Bashe.

California Skies is an exciting adventure featuring revenge, love, a badass bounty hunter, a woman on a mission, and a wild west posse. The curtains open on a battered, but not broken Maggie leaving the hospital. Bandits murdered her brother and leave her and her sister for dead, as they ravage the family’s land in search of its reputed treasure. To hell with everyone’s warnings, Maggie doesn’t give a damn about bounty hunter California Talbot’s reputation. All she knows is that Talbot was a wonderful childhood friend of both her and her brother. Vengeance has nothing to do with Maggie being a “nice girl”.

Author Kayla Bashe conjures up rough and tumble, adventure fun. Bashe creates a rich, full story in less than 12,000 words. With her precise pacing, she never lingers overlong on any one part of the tale. The titular character, California Talbot, defies those who would say that they are a “no good” bounty hunter. Despite appearances, Talbot is a complex character. They would give up their best pale blue calico garment if it meant helping orphans and widows. Maggie, for her part, is stronger than her imaginative nature might convey. She doesn’t so much need Talbot to act as a savior so much as she needs a partner. The two pair up to round-up and dispose of the vicious Chelson gang. Along the way, Maggie and Talbot discover they have a deeper connection.

I highly recommend California Talbot for anyone longing for a satisfiying, bite-sized ride in the old west featuring strong characters.

California Skies by Kayla Bashe
Published by Less Than Three Press
Publication date: January 2016
ISBN: 9781620046944  

Join the discussion on Goodreads.

Categories: adventure, fiction, lgbt | Tags: , , , , , , , | 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

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

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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 😀

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

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