romance

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 ūüėČ 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: lgbt, young adult, fiction, romance, librarians, friendship | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

Must Love Chickens

must-love-chickens

Jea Hawkins’s charming romance,¬†Must Love Chickens, bonds two women over, among other things, the love of a precocious chicken named Esmerelda. It is Esmerelda who truly tips the scales between Jess Morgan and Natalie Wells, two women who have seemingly nothing in common.

Natalie is at dead ends with her job as director of a small art gallery in New York City. Several exhibitions have failed to generate interest and commissions (the life-blood of the gallery’s existence). Throw in a dash of phoning it in, an ambitious underling… and Natalie finds herself packing up for a job interview as a farm hand at¬†an orchard. Owner and operator of Morgan¬†Orchards, Jess couldn’t be happier with her bountiful McIntosh apple crop. However, the increased work exhausts both her and her long-time hand, Joe. When Jess reviews Natalie’s qualifications, or lack thereof, she is quick to scratch her name off the short (and uninspiring) list of applicants.¬†

At first glance, Natalie and Jess are city and country, two women with lives lived on polar ends of the universe. However, it becomes quickly apparent that both women possess a strong drive and desire for meaningful lives. What starts off for Natalie as just a job, something to exhaust her in mind and body, becomes a surprising avenue for fulfillment and love. The attraction and rapport between them develops easily as they bond over chores and chickens, though their initial assumptions of each other and baggage constantly pull at them. 

While Natalie has fled the trappings (and suffocation) of her city life, she is unable to ignore it. Newly found purpose, love, and confidence help her confront the boogeyman of her life: her grandmother. Jess, on the other hand, drowns out her pain in hard work. What ultimately makes this romance work is that they bring out the best in each other. They try to uncover what they really want out of life, as well as what they are willing to invest in the world.

The cast of rural, community folk give the setting a lived-in feel. Chosen family, Joe and Kate, who works as the orchard’s manager and part-time matchmaker, form a support network for both women and add much needed prodding and levity. Only a few hours from New York City, the town is a small, tight-knit community where folks know you by name and lend a hand if you need it. It’s not without flaws; privacy is often at a premium. Yet, it is a wonderful place to spend an afternoon or a weekend.

Must Love Chickens is the kind of comfy romance that I read with ice cream, tea, and/or pizza (or homemade mac ‘n cheese, etc.), curled up on a futon with my cats. And it doesn’t hurt to imagine Diane Lane in a starring role, either.

Must Love Chickens
Author: Jea Hawkins
Publisher: Wicked Hearts Publishing

Released: November 2016
ASIN: B01N0F3S05

Available from Amazon. Join the discussion on Goodreads!

Categories: lgbt, romance | Tags: , , , , | 1 Comment

The Next Girl & Other Lesbian Tales

The Next Girl & Other Lesbian Tales

Sexy, suspenseful, and full of surprises, The Next Girl & Other Lesbian Tales features an array of previously published short stories starring women of color. Tawanna Sullivan serves up a sampler platter of genres: erotica, horror, suspense, thriller, fantasy, and romance. This slender volume is the perfect companion for any spare moment or a leisurely morning.

Just Desserts mixes a tryst and voyeurism between two couples stranded at an airport. The Getaway runs off to the countryside in the midst of a murder investigation. How far would you go for the woman you love?¬†Operation Butch Ambush forces two groups with opposing gender ideals (Butch/Femme Preservation Society vs the Toi Bois’ “no matter whom you find yourself attracted to, be fierce enough to admit it and act on it” philosophy) to team up in order to save fellow butches from a reality television show.¬†Famished reminds me of those six word memoirs. Though it’s only a page (a page meaning a Samsung Galaxy 5 screen-sized page), the story follows a relationship’s devolution over sack lunch; the ending offers smug satisfaction. The collection’s titular story, The Next Girl, involves a complicated case of romantic dibs between two friends.

Many of the stories felt like they ended abruptly, the rest of the tale just beyond the precipice. Granted, the author does note that a few are flash fiction pieces. Despite this, Sullivan creates vivid scenes and complex characters. The dialogue and pacing flow easily, adding to the overall immersive, enjoyable reading experience. She is currently at work on her debut novel. I’m excited to see how her talent at the abbreviated short form translates to feature length.

The Next Girl & Other Lesbian Tales
Author: Tawanna Sullivan
tpsulli publications

Released: January 2017
ISBN: 9780998432717
ASIN: B01MS3AKYU

Available from Amazon and Kobo. Join the discussion on Goodreads!

Categories: erotica, lgbt, romance, short stories | Tags: , , , , , | 1 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: , , , | Leave a comment

Holiday Romance

“Baby, it’s cold outside”, so let’s curl up in front the¬†fire with a glass of holiday cheer and a pile of romances! I had a good time marathoning¬†holiday romance movies with my mom the other week, but it would be nice if there was a LGBT version of the Hallmark Movie Channel. Or maybe there is and you would be a wonderful dear if you shared it in the comments below. In the meantime, here is a list of novels, novellas, and short stories that I hope will warm up your December with love, cheer, and hope. I haven’t read all of them yet and this list is by no means comprehensive, but I wanted to share the list I’ve compiled before the season is over. Please help make this list bigger and better by sharing titles (featuring queer women-identified protagonists falling in love with other queer women) I’ve left off, in the comment section below.

the-miracle-of-the-lights

The Miracle of the Lights
Cindy Rizzo
Publisher: Ylva Publishing

ISBNs: 978-3-95533-352-2 (mobi), 978-3-95533-353-9 (epub), 978-3-95533-354-6 (pdf)
Publication date: January 2015

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When her girlfriend, Tova, leaves their upstate New York Hasidic community to avoid an arranged marriage, eighteen-year-old Chava goes in search of her among the hundreds of homeless LGBTQ youth in New York City.¬† Once there, she faces the challenges of life on the street and must reconcile the insulated world she has known with¬†the new and unfamiliar choices she confronts.¬† But nothing else matters‚ÄĒnot the cold, the onset of an illness, or her brush with danger‚ÄĒnothing, except finding Tova. (Ylva Publishing)

 

unwrap-these-presents

One of the great things about this anthology is that 100% of the profits benefit organizations that help homeless LGBT youth in the UK and New York City.

Unwrap These Presents
Various Authors; Edited by Astrid Ohletz and R.G. Emanuelle
Publisher: Ylva Publishing

ISBNs: 978-3-95533-278-5 (mobi), 978-3-95533-279-2 (epub), 978-3-95533-280-8 (pdf)
Publication date: November 2014

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Twenty-three authors of lesbian fiction contributed holiday stories that give you snow, presents, plenty of food, Holiday cheer and nicely wrapped curvy women under the tree. (Ylva Publishing)

 

mama-knows

Mama Knows
Cheri Crystal
Publisher: Ylva Publishing

ISBNs: 978-3-95533-334-8 (mobi), 978-3-95533-335-5 (epub), 978-3-95533-336-2 (pdf)
Publication date: December 2014

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At thirty-five, Rue is settled in her life. She lives at home so she can look after her aging mother, works as a farmhand, and scores with more ladies than the cowboys she hangs with. Why would she search for a place of her own, a permanent job, or a long-term relationship when she already has everything she needs?

But then her mother buys her a trip on a chartered singles’ tour in Europe for Christmas to broaden her horizons. On a bus with a bunch of chatty breeders, Rue is prepared for boredom.

To her surprise, the local culture and history‚ÄĒand a feisty gal named Billie‚ÄĒcapture her interest. As she and Billy share a heated encounter on the ferry to France, Rue begins to think that maybe, just maybe, Mama really knows best.

(Previously published in the anthology Unwrap these presents.) (Ylva Publishing)

the-gift

The Gift
Catherine Lane
Publisher: Ylva Publishing

ISBNs: 978-3-95533-306-5 (mobi), 978-3-95533-307-2 (epub), 978-3-95533-308-9 (pdf)
Publication date: November 2014

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On Christmas morning, Paige finds a mysterious gift for her wife under the tree. The card says it‚Äôs from Paige, but she has no recollection of buying it. Even more curious‚ÄĒstrange noises are coming from other rooms in the house. Opening this gift changes everything in this lesbian romance. (Ylva Publishing)

 

chasing-a-brighter-blue

Chasing a Brighter Blue
Gerri Hill
Publisher: Bella Books

ISBNs: 9781594934698
Publication date: December 2015

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A Christmas wedding in Colorado? A two-week celebration with family and friends? Who does that?

Photojournalist Reagan Bryant has just returned from six month stint in Afghanistan. Haunted by the tragedy that ended her last assignment, she‚Äôs searching for some peace‚ÄĒsomething to end the guilt and chase the trauma away. Two weeks at the resort hotel owned by her future sister-in-law‚Äôs father seems like the perfect escape.

Shelby Sutton doesn’t trust women. They always seem more interested in her father’s money than in her. But at her sister’s request, she vows to make friends with Reagan, a woman whose sad and haunted eyes are nearly impossible to ignore.(Bella Books)

 

love-beneath-the-christmas-tree

Love Beneath the Christmas Tree
Jae
Publisher: Ylva Publishing

ISBNs:978-3-95533-135-1 (mobi), 978-3-95533-136-8 (epub), 978-3-95533-137-5 (pdf)
Publication date: December 2013

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Three short stories that follow the lives of Rachel Lewis, self-confessed Christmas Grump,  and Lillian Coleman, the woman who makes her believe in the magic of Christmas again. (Ylva Publishing)

 

twist-of-the-magi

Twist of the Magi
Caren J. Werlinger
Publisher: Ylva Publishing

ISBN: 978-0-9960368-2-5
Publication date: November 2014

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Christmas is not looking very merry for Penny Havers ‚Äď she won‚Äôt be seeing her family for the holidays; she hasn‚Äôt had a girlfriend in forever; she can‚Äôt get her stories published. When two young women are hired at the shop where she works, Penny begins to think her luck may have changed. Penny is about to learn that, when Christmas works its magic, what you hope for isn‚Äôt always what you get. (Ylva Publishing)

 

fresh-tracks-georgia-beers

Fresh Tracks
Georgia Beers
Publisher: Bold Strokes Books

ISBN: 9781933110639e
Publication date: November 2006

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Seven women, seven days. A lot can happen. Childhood friends, new lovers, and old rivals share beginnings, endings, and the uncommon bonds of friendship in a story filled with romance and possibility. (Ylva Publishing)

 

houses

Gingerbread Hearts: Six Lesbian Christmas Stories
Various Authors
Publisher: Ylva Publishing

ISBNs: 978-3-95533-023-1 (mobi), 978-3-95533-022-4 (epub), 978-3-95533-024-8 (pdf)
Publication date: November 2012

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The anthology consists of four new and two republished, re-edited short stories. (Ylva Publishing)

 

all-i-want

All I want for Christmas
Clare Lydon
ISBN: 9781310614231
ASIN: B0178TUVEU
BN ID: 2940153512099

Publication date: October 2015

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Her ideal present under the tree would be a shiny new girlfriend, so Tori gives herself one month to find that special lady by December 25th. Christmas spells romance and she’s going to grab some. (Clare Lydon)

 

puprle-owl

Christmas Eve at the Purple Owl Café
Cora Buhlert
Publisher: Pegasus Pulp Publishing

ISBN
Publication date: December 2014

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After a massive row with her parents over intolerable relatives, Katie finds herself all alone for the holidays. So she heads for the one place in town where everyone is welcome on Christmas Eve, the legendary Purple Owl Café.

The Purple Owl Café has a chequered sixty-year history. These days it’s not just a place for good music and conversation, it also happens to be a lesbian bar.

Katie doesn’t mind, though so far her life was too busy for romance of any kind. But that’s about to change when Katie meets Jess at the Christmas Eve party at the Purple Owl Café… (PPP)

 

all in the seasoning

All in the Seasoning
Various Authors; Edited by Katherine V. Forrest
Publisher: Bywater Books

ISBN: 1932859330
Publication date: 2006

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Celebrate the holidays . . . lesbian style! Celebrate solstice with women journeying along California’s rugged north coast. With a firefighter on the job in New York City. Overlooking a plain, filled with waiting children, north of Los Angeles. Experience Thanksgiving with a lesbian border patrol agent along the Arizona-Mexico border. (Bywater Books)

 

the-bureau-of-holiday-affairs

The Bureau of Holiday Affairs
Andi Marquette
Publisher: Ylva Publishing

ISBNs: 978-3-95533-550-2 (mobi), 978-3-95533-551-9 (epub), 978-3-95533-552-6 (pdf)
Publication date: November 2015

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Executive Robin Preston has dedicated her life to climbing the corporate ladder, using whatever means necessary. In the shark-infested culture at Frost Enterprises, anything goes, and Robin is a master at the game.

On the verge of a major promotion, Robin receives a strange visit from Agent Elizabeth Tolson of the Bureau of Holiday Affairs, who informs Robin that, though Robin may be a lost cause, the Bureau has scheduled her for intervention. Robin will receive three visitors in the two weeks before Christmas, who will escort her on visits to her past, present, and future. (Ylva Publishing)

 

comfort-joy

Comfort and Joy
Karin Kallmaker
Publisher: Bella Books

ISBN: ss032e
Release date: December 2015

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Home from Afghanistan to surprise her mother, Milla doesn’t expect more than the best apple pie in the world and the bliss of unrationed hot showers. She’s not counting on futures‚ÄĒor meeting a woman like Tyna. Novella length romantic holiday story. (Bella Books)

 

christmas-kisses

Christmas Kisses: Five Merry Tales of Lesbian Lust
Various Authors
Publisher: Ladylit Publishing

ISBN: 978-988-14205-3-4
Publication date: December 2015

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’Tis the season to be… frisky. The Ladylit Fab Five have come together once more for a sizzling seasonal mini-anthology. Decorating the tree or working the holiday shift, at a family party or avoiding the shopping crowds, the ladies in these stories find reason to get merry in any circumstance.

Caution: This title contains graphic language and christmassy lesbian sex and is suitable for adults only. (Ladylit Publishing)

yours-for-the-asking

Yours for the Asking
Kenna White
Publisher: Bella Books

ISBN:1594931631
Publication date: 2009

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The responsible one. The steady, reliable one. Lauren Roberts has had her fill of it.

Running her bed-and-breakfast like clockwork and hosting her younger, glamorous, songbird sister for the holidays only underscores Lauren’s choice of order over risk. Kelly’s vibrant and impetuous nature doesn’t stick to anything‚ÄĒor any one woman‚ÄĒfor long. That includes an old girlfriend of Lauren’s who was dazzled by Kelly, then dumped, shortly after Lauren stepped aside.

Old memories are sharply painful with Kelly under her roof. With the inn full, Lauren’s patience and control is stretched to the limit. When Kelly brings home Lauren’s friend Gaylin Hart, Lauren realizes Kelly has again laid claim to something she might well have wanted for herself. It looks like history might repeat itself‚ÄĒif Lauren lets it.(Bella Books)

 

do-you-feel-what-i-feel-a-holiday-anthology

Do You Feel What I Feel? A Holiday Anthology
Various Authors
Publisher: Ylva Publishing

ISBNs: 978-3-95533-546-5 (mobi), 978-3-95533-547-2 (epub), 978-3-95533-548-9 (pdf)
Publication date: October 2015

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Twelve lesbian fiction authors bring you a heartwarming collection of holiday-themed short stories.

From a tattoo artist hiding an origami angel in her lover’s desk to a seventy-year-old woman hesitating to accompany her partner to a family celebration on the first night of Hanukkah, this anthology will delight you with romantic holiday moments. (Ylva Publishing)

Categories: anthology, Holiday, romance, short stories | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a 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, Amazon, Barnes & 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

Eleanor & Hick

Two audiobooks have been released this year about the 30+ year relationship between former First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt and journalist Lorena “Hick” Hickok.¬†The relationship¬†began as a romance and mellowed into a sustaining, supportive friendship.¬†¬†

Volumes have been written by and about Eleanor and to a more limited extent, you can find writings by and about Hick. Every nook and cranny of Eleanor’s life poured over by historians, journalists, critics, and politicians. Happily, however, these two books contribute to a more complete view of the women behind the personages. I’m miles behind folks, though, since I have only just now got my hot little hands on a copy of Empty Without You, a collection of the letters, annotated by Rodger Streitmatter. I recommend listening to Loving Eleanor and Eleanor and Hick: The Love Affair that Shaped a First Lady. It isn’t necessary to start with one over the other, though. Enjoy!

 

loving-eleanor

 

¬†Loving Eleanor by Susan Wittig Albert is told with through the framework of a fictional memoir written by Hick and left with the voluminous correspondence she shared with Eleanor (known to her, fondly, as Madam, ER, and Eleanor). The letters were donated to the FDR Presidential Library in Hyde Park, with the provision that they remain sealed until ten years after Hick’s death. Albert, known for The Cottage Tales of Beatrix Potter and mystery series, draws from extensive research to pen a vivid story surrounding the the two women’s romance and friendship. Albert includes information at the end of the story for readers who want to find out more. She also clarifies which parts of the novel are creative license. These additions reflect important truths that were hidden away or reinterpreted by persons who found the letters unpalatable. Albert highlights Doris Faber’s 1980 biography of Hick, which demeans its subject; a result, Albert writes, of Faber’s disapproval and disgust with the relationship revealed by the letters. The novel spans four decades, covering the women’s first meeting prior to FDR’s term as Governor of New York until Hick’s death in 1968. It’s an engrossing read. Told through Hick’s eyes, it takes on an especially personal, candid tone.

Karen White narrates this story with a wonderfully straight forward style suited to the personality of it’s primary voice. Lorena eschewed jewelry for suits; built a successful career as a journalist; and relished solitude, a stark contrast to the life she lived while active and as part of Eleanor’s life. Skilled narrators resist exaggerated imitations of real persons. Eleanor Roosevelt has a very distinctive voice. White’s performance of ER reflects the cadence produced by a patrician upbringing. I enjoyed the depth of her delivery, as the emotional weight of ER’s experiences, hopes, and passions, pour through the speakers.

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

Loving Eleanor
Author: Susan Wittig Albert
Narrator: Karen White
Produced by Tantor Media
Length: 10.5 hours
Release date: March 22, 2016

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

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~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

eleanor-and-hick

Eleanor and Hick is a sympathetic, well-researched exploration of the relationship between the two women. While not all readers will agree on the weight or interpretation of the materials sources, the book will definitely inspire spirited conversation.Author Susan Quinn delves into primary source material and other resources from collections housed at the FDR Library, the Library of Congress, and universities,¬†in order to present a¬†balanced, informed, and contextual look at the women’s lives together and as individuals.¬†

Narrator Kimberly Farr delivers a solid performance. Her frank tone, with upticks of emotion for direct quotes, draws out the public and private personas of Eleanor and Hick.

Eleanor and Hick: The Love Affair That Shaped a First Lady
Author: Susan Quinn
Narrator: Kimberly Farr
Produced by Penguin Audio
Length: 13 hours, 44 minutes
Release date: September 27, 2016

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

Join the discussion on Goodreads!

 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 

Rodger Streitmatter curated and annotated a collection of letters Hick and Eleanor wrote to each other. He provides important context and discussion of their relationship. Prior to her death in 1968, Hick donated thousands of these letters to the FDR Presidential Library in Hyde Park, New York, with the directive to keep them sealed until ten years after her passing. When the cache became available to researchers, some were dismayed and unsettled by what they discovered. One of Hick’s biographers, Doris Faber, produced a less than favorable book after she read them, according to the author’s note at the end of¬†Loving Eleanor. I’ve just picked up a copy for my own library and look forward to reading them.

Empty Without You
Editor: Rodger Streitmatter
Published by Free Press
Originally published in 1998
Hardcover, paperback, and ebook copies are available. Don’t forget to check with your local public library for availability.

Categories: audiobooks, history, lgbt, Memoirs & Autobiographies, primary sources, romance, romantic friendships | 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

Curbside Wanderlust

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

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

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

 

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

 

camptown ladies

 

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

 

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

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

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

Books as Comfort Food & Security Blankets

Books have always been my comfort food, my security blankets. When I reach for a well-worn favorite, I don’t have to explain my need. The book is simply there, waiting to wrap its words around me, to weave its pages through my soul. The recent shootings at Pulse in Orlando were (and are)¬†awful *understatement*, but the outpouring of love and support from people around the globe is heartwarming and a sign that all is not hate and darkness.

I have a few lesfic books nestled amongst my pile of comfort reads. The angsty drama is at a minimum because having my emotional guts churned into puree isn’t the kind of story that I want to curl up with alone at night…or during my lunch break at work *no thank you ugly tears*. They share loving affirmations that you can find light even in the dark. If you have any comfort reads featuring queer women, please share them in the comments below! Thank you ūüôā

 

Annie on My Mind covers AE

via AfterEllen.com

 

I’ve read and listened to¬†Annie on My Mind by Nancy Garden, narrated by Rebecca Lowman,¬†countless times. Annie Kenyon and Liza Winthrop, two 17 year-olds from¬†different New York City neighborhoods, meet by chance at¬†the Metropolitan Museum of Art. They expand their horizons as they share the city with each other and discover love. Part of the novel’s charm for me lies in the setting and in the time period. Garden (and Lowman, through her narration) characterize all of the joys, uncertainties, and angst teens on the brink of adulthood experience. It was written at a time when young adult novels for lgbt youth were slim pickings. The girls navigate uncharted emotional territory with imagination and heart. Some may find it dated, but I’ll return to it for as long as I need it.

Curious Wine KVF

Every winter I¬†return¬†to¬†the cabin where Diana and Lane first met, in Katherine V. Forrest’s Curious Wine. The women¬†gathered at the cabin seek different things from the¬†excursion.¬†You can read more about this book in-depth¬†via my posting in¬†February. The story radiates warm fuzzies through Forrest’s use of language, setting, and characterizations. Love and possibility pervade this story, even when the going gets rough.

Desert of the Heart book cover

Jane Rule‘s Desert of the Heart (1964) is a more recent addition to my favorites list. I’d watched the 1985 film adaptation (“Desert Hearts“) quite a few times before picking up this slender tale of romance and self-discovery. All I can say is that I can’t believe I waited so long to read it. It contains all of the ingredients that I enjoy in a romance: strong, intelligent women who struggle with themselves and outside odds, but eventually prevail. Mid-century Reno provides a wondrous landscape. Evelyn Hall is an English professor in town to get a divorce. She meets Ann Childs, a cartoonist and change operator at a local casino, while staying at a lodging house. Their burgeoning romance navigates age differences, career paths, and mixed levels of support from family and friends.

 

 

 

 

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

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