friendship

Power & Magic: The Queer Witch Comics Anthology

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Something witchy this way comes! This Saturday, April 29, Western Washington University will host its first Queer Con in Bellingham, Washington. My time-off has already been spoken for, so I won’t be able to attend. In lieu of gorging myself on panels and queer comics, I curled up with Power & Magic: The Queer Witch Comics Anthology. Collection editor Joamette Gil will be one of the event guests.

This collection is another powerful testament to community funded campaigns. Last year, the folks behind Power & Magic Press set about making this book a reality. Thanks to its success, you can now buy a print or digital copy. Fifteen black & white short stories reflect the creative contributions of seventeen women, demigirls, and bigender people of color. A handful of stories also have content warnings in the table of contents (ToC). It’s impossible for me to claim favorites; this magical gathering is all-around amazing.

“Her Gift” by Coco Candelario, reminds me of Kiki’s Delivery Service in both spirit and style. April, spunky delivery witch, is in love with her best friend, Pam, a baker with no magical powers (not in the traditional sense, anyways; her family confections are scrumdiddlyumptious!). They live in a world of “Gifted” = witches and “Ungifted” = non-magical folks. It’s an adorable, endearing story about love and friendship.

Veronica Agarwal’s “Fluid” follows Ramona/Ramon as they navigate a world in which limitations and expectations are assigned based on gender, much like our own (“Boys can’t be witches!”). The story shows affirmation and support coming when you least expect it (and need it most). “Fluid” is accompanied by a content warning in the ToC: Gender questioning, misgendering.

Imagine, if you will, a life in which you wake up every morning in a different place and time. Welcome to “The Shop that Never Stays” by Gabrielle Robinson and Hannah Lazarte. After stumbling upon a magic shop with just the ingredients needed, our witch is tethered to it. Who know how many days, months, or even years, have passed. Until…one day… I’m one of many who get caught up in the rote of life, sometimes feeling like it won’t be any other way, until an experience or a person steps through the door and rocks life off it’s hinges.

 There are so many stories that I have not highlighted here, but only because I want you to experience it for yourself! If you happen to attend Queer Con at WWU, I would love to hear about it in the comments below!

Power & Magic: The Queer Witch Comics Anthology edited by Joamette Gil
Published by Power & Magic Press
Publication date: January 2017

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Categories: anthology, comics, fantasy, friendship, lgbt, romance | 1 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

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

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.

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

You Know Me Well – audiobook review

 

You Know Me Well

 

You Know Me Well, an entertaining collaboration from authors Nina LaCour and David Levithan, follows a pair of teenagers as they navigate turning points in their lives at the end of the school year. The story is told in alternating, intertwined narratives through the eyes of high school students Kate and Mark. Although they have sat next to each other in math class all year, the two first really see each other at a bar during San Francisco’s Pride kick-off festivities. Despite being virtual strangers with a recognizable face, the emotional maelstrom of love and the unknown lead Kate and Mark to become instant friends.  It’s a jubilant story of new beginnings, dashed dreams, and evolving relationships. I highly recommend the audiobook version of this story as a great road trip or seaside companion.

If I didn’t already love David Levithan’s storytelling, I would have picked up this title for the sole reason that Emma Galvin narrates Kate’s sections. Previously, I enjoyed her turn as Tris from Divergent, the dystopian YA trilogy by Veronica Roth. She has the type of voice well-suited for playing strong and conflicted young women. If she reads the dictionary next, I’ll be first in line to listen. As Kate, a high school senior standing on the brink of the planned and the unknown, Emma explores the rocky terrain of desire, anxiety, friendship, and more, through skillful narration. The supporting cast of friends, family, and acquaintances are also wonderfully realized by both narrators.

Matthew Brown characterizes Mark, a high school junior in love with his best friend/secret non-boyfriend, so genuinely that I can’t imagine him as any one but Mark (and the other people he voices). Unlike Kate, Mark clings to what he wants, even when Ryan tells him that he just doesn’t feel the same way. Their relationship is complicated and it takes Kate and her outsider’s point-of-view, to help him through it all. Matthew provides nuanced characterization that aptly reflects the struggle Mark is experiencing. When the world feels like it’s falling down around Mark, the listener can’t help but feel it, too. Every awkward moment and new experience feels real.

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

You Know Me Well
Authors: Nina LaCour, David Levithan
Narrators: Emma Galvin, Matthew Brown
Produced by Macmillan Audio
Length: 6 hours, 36 minutes
Release date: June 7, 2016
ISBN: 1427279500

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

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Categories: audiobooks, fiction, friendship, lgbt, romance, Uncategorized, young adult | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

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