lgbt

Surpassing Certainty – audiobook review

Surpassing Certainty

Janet Mock’s highly anticipated second memoir, Surpassing Certainty: What My Twenties Taught Me, picks up where she left off in Redefining Realness (2014). She relives her college days and the year spent working at a strip club in Hawaii; first marriage; and acclimation to life in New York City as she navigates a career in media. She also discusses the importance of owning when and with whom she disclosed her trans womanhood; the impact of having a strong network of family and friends; striving for professional success as a woman of color; and loving herself.

“This book describes the path I took as I figured out who I was and processed who I didn’t get know I’d become: The woman who thrives as a storyteller, an advocate, and a wife. This is my attempt to show up for that girl who is yearning to be let in, to be accepted; who believes that obscuring herself is her only possible gateway.”

Mock’s voice is a steady hand as she recounts her triumphs and struggles. Intensely personal, deeply relatable, and a must-listen for everyone. 

Surpassing Certainty: What My Twenties Taught Me by Janet Mock
Narrated by Janet Mock
Produced by Simon & Schuster Audio
Length: 7 hours, 51 minutes
Released: June 13, 2017

Available as an audiobook from Amazon/Audible, Audiobook.com, iTunes, and other retailers.  Join the discussion on Goodreads!

Categories: audiobooks, lgbt, Memoirs & Autobiographies | 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

Shadows of the Heart – audiobook review

Shadows of the Heart

While it has been a while since I’ve read a Gothic romance, pressing play on the audiobook for Patty G. Henderson’s Shadows of the Heart made me feel like I never left that world. It’s full of my favorite elements: secret passages; an isolated, ailing, and neglected young wife; stolen kisses and forbidden romance; dark visages hiding darker deeds; a strong and strapping woman astride a steed, hair and mane flying in the face of convention; stodgy dowagers; a duplicitous lady’s maid; dinner parties and masquerade balls; poisonous plants; a cavernous, dank and oppressive castle; and, of course, a heroine of former social standing who must couple her wits with opportunity, while also standing up for those in need and staying true to herself! *Phew! Take a breath.*

The novel unfolds through the eyes of Annalee Stewart, amidst early 1820’s England social conventions and the atmospheric grounds of Blackstone Castle. Our heroine must accept a position as a companion to Lady Lenore Blackstone, the Earl’s wife. At once, Annalee finds the situation strange and disconcerting. If there is a Gothic term for “Spidey sense”, it would aptly describe her feeling of unease as soon as she sets foot on the premises. Lady Lenore does not benefit from medical care and is confined to her quarters by her lady’s maid. Lord Blackstone, for his part, keeps a fair distance between himself and his estate, leaving his wife to the attentions of his mother and sister, Victoria, who becomes a trusted confidante and ally. When he does return, events spiral quickly out of control. 

Henderson is a masterful storyteller. She paints a vivid world, full of intrigue and dark corners; brooding servants and duplicitous spouses; and of course, inquisitive heroines and vulnerable dames. I also love Annalee’s romantic pragmatism. Her uncertain financial situation balanced with her love for Lenore feels appropriate to her personality and the time period. The story is also wonderfully paced, essential to maintaining a moody, romantic atmosphere.

Narration

Cathy Conneff delivers terrific characterization of the leads and secondary cast members. Her vocal range and pacing plunges listeners into the rolling emotional terrain. Aside from her strong performance as Annalee, there are several strong characterizations that stand-out. As the dour dowager of Blackstone and as Annalee’s godmother (referred to in flashbacks), Conneff’s voice uses a crotchety register and entitled intonations. The ailing Lenore is a blend of delicate eagerness and vivacious affections. And Veronica is pure velvet seduction.

I recommend pairing it with a foggy morning and a strong cup of tea! I think I’ll revisit the story in October so that I can perch atop the bluff and gaze out upon the gray horizon and white-capped waves.

Bluff Julie

Shadows of the Heart (Gothical Historical Romances #4) by Patty G. Henderson
Narrated by Cathy Conneff
Produced by Audible Studios
Length: 6 hours, 29 minutes
ASIN: B06XNJ94TK
Audiobook version released: March 16, 2017

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

Categories: audiobooks, historical fiction, lgbt, romance | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

Basketball Dreams: A booklist for sports fiction fiends

It’s that time of year when all I can think about is basketball. The WNBA (Women’s National Basketball Association) is now just over a week into its 21st season. It spans May through September, and, if you’re like me, you follow your favorite players as they shoot hoops for their various overseas teams in Europe, Asia, and beyond, too. I squeeze in games before work, at lunch, on breaks, and at home. Did you know that a fifteen minute break equals about half a quarter of game time, if you fast-forward through commercials?

This isn’t the first year I’ve wondered this, but: What do you get the woman who has season tickets, streaming video, and all the Twitter-Tumblr-Official Team Sites-Sports Analysis she can handle? Why, a bag full of fiction, of course! The basketball books that I have crossed paths with during my time in the WNBA-Tumblrverse and elsewhere, are either memoirs by players (too few) or are super outdated nonfiction at the library (to be fair, there really aren’t any new books arriving to take their place on the shelves). Not to mention the deluge of stories by and about their male counterparts in the NBA.

Sue Bird circa 2004! Image via Amazon.com

 

Sixth Woman” shout out to The Lesbian Review Book Club Facebook group for helping me find these novels! I searched high and low, but every query came up short. Many thanks and may all of your three point shots hit nothin’ but net!

And now, our starting lineup! Please share your recommendations in the comments below 😀

337649

Romancing the Zone by Kenna White

A successful business woman and single mother, Liz Elliott is fast approaching the age of forty. Her nineteen-year-old daughter Becca is a freshman at Chilton College in Ashton, Vermont. Becca also happens to be a rising star for the Lady Stingers basketball team – just as her mother had been twenty years ago. But back in those early days a dirty little secret had collapsed Liz’s world – a secret she has kept hidden from everyone – especially her daughter. Now Liz finds herself accepting her daughter’s challenge to return to college and finally earn the degree that has so long eluded her. As if that isn’t enough, Liz has also somehow found herself back in the gym – and playing out her final year of basketball eligibility. Soon sparks fly when Liz encounters resistance from the new head coach, Sheridan Ross.

Coach Ross has no patience for babysitting an over-the-hill athlete – not while she’s worried about her own plans to move up the career coaching ladder as quickly as possible. Now in addition to battling the coach, Liz’s world begins to crumble when the secret from her past returns to Ashton… (Goodreads)

7754327

Full Court Pressure by Lynn Galli

When Graysen Viola moves across the country to coach a college basketball team, she thought the hardest part of her job would be establishing a winning record. Being wrong has never been so challenging. A misunderstanding puts her in the unique position of coaching the men’s team, which is struggling just to be competitive. The last thing this team wants or thinks it needs is a female coach. Together they must find a way to understand and trust each other in order to succeed. Complicating matters is the lovely and persistent volleyball coach, Darby Evan, a former crush from their college days. Graysen isn’t sure starting a relationship with a colleague amidst her job turmoil is the wisest idea, but feelings rarely follow practicality. If she can figure out how to handle a team that disapproves of her, then dealing with an unexpected love life should be a breeze by comparison. Or so she hopes. (via Goodreads)

34440209

At Last by Lynn Galli

Willa Lacey is confident, smart, and ambitious. A few months away from being granted venture capital to start her software company, she’s barely able to maintain her day job, attend to her family, and keep up with friends. It’s been a long process, but her hard work is about to pay off. So, why is it that all she can think about is the friendship she’s just made with a professional basketball player? She’s never been distracted before, yet something about Quinn Lysander is making her rethink her priorities in life. Can the potential for a relationship outweigh the importance of her life’s ambition?

Note: The first seven chapters of At Last were previously published in the anthology, Finally. At Last is an expanded novella and includes nine all new chapters. Learn how the Virginia Clan came to be and watch as Willa and Quinn settle into their new life together. (via Goodreads)

20805149

Rebound by Lynette Mae

Women’s basketball star Conner Maguire has the world by the tail. She’s at the top of her game, in demand, and life is good.

One day the unthinkable happens and her world is ripped apart. That split second event forces Conner to re-evaluate her entire existence.

Shawn Tyler, a beautiful warrior with a shattered heart and incomparable spirit may be the key to conquering her fears, if Conner can open her heart enough to see the world from a new perspective. (via Goodreads)

32867150

To Have Loved & Lost by Eliza Andrews

Alexis Woods knows who she is — or at least, she thought she did. She’s number 17, point guard, MVP, all-star, co-captain of the Lady Raiders NCAA Division I women’s basketball team. But there’s a darkness growing inside of her, a darkness that started the night her beloved died in her arms, and if she doesn’t turn things around soon, the darkness just might swallow her whole.

Graham Griffin knows a thing or two about darkness. That’s been her zip code ever since the car accident that took her boyfriend’s life — the car accident she caused. When she meets Alex, she sees a reflection of her own sorrow. And she can’t help but want to fix it. (via Goodreads)

23258877

Bouncing by Jaime Maddox

Bouncing has always been a way of life for Alex Dalton. The former basketball star and new coach likes to keep life simple, bouncing from woman to woman, with no responsibilities and no complications. Then a summer fling opens her eyes to other possibilities, and now Alex wonders if a relationship might be what she really needs. There is an instant attraction to her new assistant coach, Britain Dodge, but for some reason, Brit wants nothing to do with Alex. Then a spontaneous kiss under the stars forces them to admit their feelings and work on their issues. Their love grows, but so do the outside pressures that influence them, and they have to decide if they should forfeit their love or play until the final buzzer. (via Goodreads)

29507711

Personal Foul by Lucy Madison

Kat Schaefer’s career is on autopilot. She’s an elite basketball official in the WNBA after surviving an extremely rocky childhood but still finds herself adrift in her personal life almost two years after her longtime girlfriend dumped her. Kat’s well-ordered world turns upside down again when she meets a hotshot rookie named Julie Stevens who knocks her world off balance with her stellar play and captivating eyes.

Despite Kat’s best defense, she falls hard for the young player but she’s unable to open herself up to love again. Her solution is to retreat alone to the magnificent beaches of Provincetown, Massachusetts to heal old wounds and to figure out what the future holds. (via Goodreads)

Categories: lgbt, romance, sports | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Hallowed Murder – audiobook spotlight

25186746

The Mystery Writers of America recently bestowed the title of Grand Master upon Ellen Hart, author of the Jane Lawless and the Sophie Greenway mystery series. Grand Master is bestowed upon writers who have made outstanding contributions to the genre. My first introduction to Hart was when I happened upon Hart’s long running mystery series, stars Minneapolis restaurateur, Jane Lawless, on the shelf at my local public library. The amateur sleuth has languished in my TBR pile ever since. When I read about Hart’s literary distinction on Women and Words, last week, I put most of my other in-progress books aside and bought an Audible copy of the series first installment, Hallowed Murder (1989).  

The series introduction finds Jane volunteering as an alumnae advisor at her old sorority house at the University of Minnesota. On a morning walk along the river, Jane and her longtime pal, Cordelia, stumble upon the drowned body of the sorority’s social chair, Allison Lord. The police readily dismiss the young woman’s death as a suicide, because in their dim view lesbians are all suicidal and otherwise loathsome creatures. Jane, however, believes that something foul is afoot and pursues a twisting road of secrets, prejudice, homophobia, loaded motives, and more, in order to learn the truth. 

A few days prior to hearing about the award, I finally acted on my longstanding desire to learn how to play chess. Grand Master in mystery and in chess are two different things, but they do share commonalities. Both require plotting several moves ahead, taking into account as many outcomes as possible. As a new piece of potentially vital intel came into play in the story, I mentally moved another chess piece ahead. Sometimes a piece was removed from play; other times, a piece made an unexpected move. He did what? She spoke with so-and-so? Someone wasn’t where they said they’d be? Hmm… It was fun to try and figure out the murderer’s identity. I loved finding plausible motives for several characters, too. There are twenty-three additional novels in the series and many of them are available on audiobook. 

I enjoyed Aimee Jolson’s narration. In Hallowed Murder, she adopts a straightforward style suited to Jane Lawless’s pragmatic personality and understated sense of humor. Even with a maelstrom of emotion (confusion, anger, fear, love, etc.) swirling around her, even when her own life comes into the culprit’s cross-hairs, Jane never loses her cool. Jolson also infuses her narration with subtle characterization of the sorority sisters and household staff. Cordelia, on the other hand, is a woman who abides no subtlety. There are a few minor points that, while not detracting from my enjoyment of the story and narration, could enhance the audiobook. I would like a beat more spacing between sections, to better differentiate a change of scene. Jane’s vocal nuances were underrepresented. Her formative years were spent in England with her American father and British mother. Later, in high school, Jane moved to the United States, remaining a resident afterwards. I did not detect the accent blend, though it is mentioned early on in the novel.

This has nothing to do with the storytelling or narration, but I’ve never listened to an audiobook that gave me a 30 minute preview of the next book in the series, Vital Lies (1991). That was a very pleasant surprise! Bonus points to Griffindor!

Hallowed Murder by Ellen Hart
Narrator: Aimee Jolson (Goodreads and a few other places online list Carol Jordan Stewart as narrator. She seems to be the narrator of the 1995 release. The Audible copy I have is narrated by Jolson. Maybe someday I’ll be able to compare their performances.)
Original print edition released in 1989 by Ballantine Books, an imprint of Random House
Length: 8 hours, 25 minutes
Audiobook release date: 2014

Available as an audiobook from Amazon/AudibleiTunes, and other retailers. Check your local public library for availability in print and/or audio.

Join the discussion on Goodreads!

Categories: audiobooks, lgbt, mystery, series | Tags: , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Ramona Blue by Julie Murphy

Ramona Blue

“My sport — the special skill I’ve developed my whole life — is surviving, and that doesn’t leave much room for following Cinderella dreams.” – Ramona Blue Leroux

Ramona Leroux’s life in the small town of Eulogy, Mississippi is a well-trod, predictable path. She knows that her mother will always disappoint her; that her older sister Hattie, will always need her; that her dad will work himself into the ground; and that she is a lesbian. As she starts her senior year of high school, flush with summer romance and the rising quicksand of her life in Eulogy blocking out the horizon, it seems that life will go on in this fashion indefinitely. 

At least, it seems that way, until her childhood beach buddy, Freddie, moves to town with Agnes, the grandmother who raised him, and her husband, Bart. As a kid, Ramona lived in the water (hence the nickname). Along with the reappearance of her summer family, she starts swimming again. The novel unfolds from August through the end of the school year in June. As the story progresses, we see how deeply Ramona’s family ties and socioeconomic status, more so than her sexuality, impact how she views herself, her future plans, and relationships. No matter what opportunities and burdens land on her doorstep, Ramona views them through these lenses.

As Ramona grapples with what her burgeoning attraction to Freddie means, she also has to deal with her mother’s belief that her daughter is going through a lesbian “phase”. The thought of being open about her feelings for Freddie is more about how other people, like her mother and her friends Ruth and Saul, might react. Ramona finds herself in a position similar to the one her summer girlfriend, Grace, found herself in when confronted about her “real” sexuality. Are you gay, straight, bi? She sums it up for herself as:

“I choose guys. I always choose girls. I choose people. But most of all: I choose.” 

I hope this book resonates teenagers who are agonizing over questions such as “What does it mean that I’m attracted to people of more than one gender? Shouldn’t I be one or the other: gay or straight? And what will my friends, family, society think of me if I’m attracted to more than one gender?”. And also, yes, Ramona, I totally agree: dresses without pockets are useless! xD

As an aside from the main review, I wanted to briefly touch on some of the criticism I’ve read about Ramona Blue. It is incredibly frustrating and aggravating that some readers have called this book lesbophobic or claim that it is disrespectful story about a lesbian-identified girl who “finds the right guy” to “turn her straight”. I feel that anyone who has made such emphatic statements hasn’t read the book. As a bisexual, it wasn’t an easy journey for me to accept myself. None of this is meant to erase or downplay the discrimination and ignorance expressed towards lesbians. I’m just saying that Julie Murphy did a great job depicting a teenager’s experiences with discovering her bisexuality (***I’m using “bisexual” as a term to encompass all identities that are not monosexual). 

I won’t give too much away since Ramona Blue doesn’t hit bookstores until next Tuesday. Despite the emotional journey it takes you on, the novel is also a lot of fun. 

Beach blanket tote bag:

                           Swimline Pool Pizza Slice Float blue hair dye red schwinn bike

Author: Julie Murphy
Publisher: Harper Collins
Release date: May 9, 2017
ISBN: 9780062418357
ISBN 10: 0062418351

Available soon from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and other retailers. Be sure to check your local library for digital and print copies!

Join the discussion on Goodreads!

Categories: lgbt, young adult | Tags: , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Power & Magic: The Queer Witch Comics Anthology

33403762

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

Join the discussion on Goodreads.

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

2017 Goldie Awards’ finalists

The Golden Crown Literary Society announced finalists for its fiction and nonfiction 16 categories. GCLS will announce the winners sometime between July 5-9 at its annual conference. Since it’s still April, National Poetry Month, I’m featuring the poetry collections that have earned nominations. All of these poets and most of the publishers are new to me, so I’m pretty jazzed! They represent a range of experiences, styles, and themes.

Also: I’ve been looking for poetry collections by queer female-identified poets who grew up in and/or reside in rural areas of the Pacific Northwest. If you know of any, please let me know in the comments below.

Acquired Community by Jane Byers

Acquired Community by Jane Byers
Publisher: Dagger Editions, Caitlin Press
2016

“Jane Byers’ Acquired Community is both a collection of narrative poems about seminal moments in North American lesbian and gay history, mostly post-World War II, and a series of first person poems that act as a touchstone to compare the narrator’s coming out experience within the larger context of the gay liberation movement.” (via Jane Byers Poetry)


In and Out of Love

In and Out of Love by Shelley Thrasher
Publisher: Sapphire Books Publishing
2016

“Lammy-nominated novelist, editor, and college professor Shelley Thrasher, who grew up in a small, conservative town in East Texas, was a late bloomer. Her first published poetry collection, In and Out of Love, chronicles personal ups and downs during the 1980s and ’90s, when she came out. Most of these 150 brief, haiku-like poems feature images that speak for themselves, influenced by poets such as Allen Ginsberg and Anne Waldman, with whom she studied writing.

The first poems portray the crushes and lovers the author was involved with during this period of her life. In part two, they express the longing for something she didn’t understand. Section three chronicles the painful rough spots she encountered during her journey of accepting herself as a lesbian. And the final section celebrates being in love with the woman she has now been joined with for twenty-five adventurous years.” (via Sapphire Books)


Night Ringing by Laura Foley

Night Ringing by Laura Foley
Publisher: Headmistress Press
January 2016

“Poet Laura Foley’s strong fifth collection, Night Ringing, ruminates on romance and family via autobiographical free verse.” (via LauraDaviesFoley.com)


Showtime at the Ministry of Lost Causes by Cheryl Dumesnil

Showtime at the Ministry of Lost Causes by Cheryl Dumesnil
Publisher: University of Pittsburgh Press
November 2016

“The poems in Showtime at the Ministry of Lost Causes are survival songs, the tunes you whistle while walking through the Valley of Shadows, to keep your fears at bay and your spirit awake.” (via University of Pittsburgh)


4630117334_329x504

SPLIT by Denise Benavides
Publisher: Kórima Press
December 2016

“Denise Benavides’ debut collection Split  is a dedication to motherlessness and abandon—to a nightly killing and rebirths. At its worst, it is all teeth masticating through the body in an attempt to interrogate and cut out what no longer serves the Self. It is a collection not meant for the weak, but for those willing to walk through what haunts them the most.” (via Kórima Press)


The Body's Alphabet by Ann Tweedy

The Body’s Alphabet by Ann Tweedy
Publisher: Headmistress Press
2016

Katrina Vandenberg: “… This is a book about finding homes for ourselves—homes for our adult selves, even as complex memories of our childhood homes still live inside us; homes for our bodies; homes in the natural world. …” (via Headmistress Press)


The Off Season Jen Levitt

The Off-Season by Jen Levitt
Publisher: Four Way Books
2016

“The poems in The Off-Season are populated with things—‘90s TV shows, mix-tapes, crosstown buses, winter beaches—signifiers that trace a trajectory from girlhood to adulthood and bring to the surface feelings and desires that ordinarily stay hidden. We witness the strangeness of modern life, relive our own adolescent awkwardness and listen in on conversations with dead poets, TV characters, family members and intimates. With humor, fierceness and generosity, The Off-Season grapples with the question of how to be in the world.” (via Four Way Books)

Torn from the Ear of Night by Jimmie Margaret Gilliam

Torn from the Ear of Night by Jimmie Margaret Gilliam
Publisher: White Pine Press
2016

Joan Murray describes it as a “balance between the child’s immediacy of experience and the adult’s analytical recollection” set in the Appalachian hills. (via Goodreads)

Categories: awards, lgbt, poetry | 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

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

Create a free website or blog at WordPress.com.

Nerdy Book Club

A community of readers

Porkbelly Press

made in Cincinnati, Ohio

Trans Book Reviews

Where trans characters and trans readers meet

Shira Glassman

Queer Jewish feminist author

Bridget Essex, Author

Lesbian Romance Novels & Love Stories

Claudia Moss

writer | renaissance woman

danielledreger

YA Librarian by day, YA Writer by night

Madness & Joy

Dark-eyed daughter of the sun...

A. L. Brooks

Writer of Filth—and more...

WOCreads

Reading & Reviewing Works by Women of Color