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Safe Passage – audiobook review

Safe Passage [Audiobook]

 

Jules Delacroix, a former Olympic rower, now math teacher & rowing coach at an all-girls high school, inherits her great-aunt’s New Orleans home in the Garden District. She also inherits a safe full of her great-aunt’s secrets. Encoded letters, with what Jules at first mistakes for French, give her an excuse to enlist the translation services of the sexy French teacher, Gen. Once they figure out that the letters are layered in ciphers (drawing out Jules love of and skill at numeric codes) and then in French (not that Gen needs an excuse to stay on with the project; it’s très intriguing and damn, that Jules is one tantalizing package!). The safe also contains other clues, such as a sketch of a beautiful black woman, a journal, and an antique pistol. Together, the two women develop fantastic chemistry as they delve deeper into the secrets.

Jules receives emotional grounding from her friends Beth and Becs. The rapport between the friends flows naturally throughout the story, infusing the day-to-day, mystery, and romance with love and humor. One of my favorite moments comes when Jules refers to her friend Beth as a “Wal-Mart sports bra of support”. Jules’ friend Becs, a New Orleans police officer, calls her “the world’s most useless butch” in college, though Jules is an amazing cook.

E.V. Grove delivers an engaging, enjoyable performance. While I’m not an expert in the differences between regional Southern dialects, Grove’s voice places me among trellises, creeping vines, and humidity. Aside from being a bit quick at the beginning of the story, Grove provides great characterization and tone. Each woman springs to life, radiating charm, uncertainty, teasing, straight-forward, and eagerness.

There are also many instances in which there is not enough space in narration to denote change between sections. However, I think that is likely the result of editing. Overall, the production quality is good, pulling you into the listening experience, rather than popping you out. By the end of the two hours and twenty minutes, Owen’s storytelling and Grove’s narration left me wanting more.

Safe Passage
Kate Owen
Narrated by E.V. Grove
Published by Less Than Three Press and Produced through Audible
Length: 2 hours, 19 minutes
ASIN: B00SLW82PY
Released: January 2015

Available as an audiobook from Less Than Three Press, AmazonAudible, and iTunes. It is also available as Spanish and French language ebooks! I think that’s a sign to brush up on my French 😀

Join the discussion on Goodreads!

 

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

GRNW 2016 – Read the Rainbow

The Gay Romance Northwest (GRNW) 2016 conference only 3 weeks away. It will be held at the Seattle Public Library on Saturday, September 24th from 12 pm to 6pm, plus an after party. Registration is required to attend panel sessions, but all are welcome to peruse the books for sale and chat up authors. If you want to pre-funk for the conference, I’ve included a list of the attending authors and panelists, as well as links to their websites and books.

I’m super excited not only to attend my first book conference, but one that focuses on LGBTQIA+ romance! A friend and I are arriving early so that we can score some seriously awesome swag. 

 

Love-Between-the-Covers

 

I also highly recommend watching “Love Between the Covers“, a romance documentary featuring numerous writers, including Radclyffe. You can watch it via Amazon, Vudu, YouTube, and Google Play. You can also watch it for free if your library subscribes to Hoopla or has DVD copies available. 

 

 

If you haven’t visited the Seattle Public Library before, make sure you take time to look around and visit their Friends of the Library store. It’s candyland for bibliophiles. When I went down to check out the Shakespeare Folio exhibit, I ended up dumping a good chunk of my paycheck at their store. All for a good cause, right? 😀

Thus far, the only author on the list that I’ve read is Sheri Lewis Wohl (Necromantia is a fantastic mystery with supernatural elements and romance. I highly recommend it!). It’s a daunting challenge to read even a quarter of this list before September 24th; my TBR pile on Goodreads will be flush with new-to-me titles! Most excellent! I will definitely read as many summaries as I can squeeze in and then take the slow route of enjoyment over the next few months. Attending the event is going to be a great way to meet authors and fellow readers.

 

Washington State

Astrid Amara
Science Fiction, Fantasy, Romance

***

Austin Chant
Romance, Fantasy

***

Laylah Hunter
Science Fiction, Fantasy

***

Amanda Jean
Romance

***

Eric Andrews-Katz
Contemporary Romance, Adventure

***

Nicole Kimberling
Science Fiction, Fantasy, Mystery

***

AK Rose
Romance

***

Tracy Timmons-Gray
Event Coordinator for GRNW

***

Sheri Lewis Wohl
Romance, Paranormal

Oregon

Jove Belle
Romance, Thriller & Suspense, Erotica

***

Charley Descoteaux
Romance

***

EJ Russell
Contemporary & Supernatural Romance

Other

Dev Bentham (WI)
Romance

***

L.C. Chase
Mystery, Thriller, Paranormal, Contemporary Romance

***

Rhys Ford (CA)
Mystery, Thriller, Romance

***

Ginn Hale (PNW)
Fantasy

***

Lou Harper (CA)
Paranormal

***

Tobi Hill-Meyer
Non-fiction, Erotica

***

Isabella (CA)
Fantasy, Suspense, Romance

***

Morticia Knight
Erotica, Romance

***

Christopher Moss
Romance, Historical fiction

***

M.J. O’Shea (PNW)
Romance, Young Adult

***

EE Ottoman
Romance

***

JK Pendragon (BC)
Romance, Speculative Fiction

***

Alex Powell (BC)
Romance, Science Fiction, Fantasy

***

Andrea Speed
Mystery, Thriller, Horror

***

Karelia Stetz-Waters
Romance

***

Yolanda Wallace
Fiction

 

One Last Thing…

GRNW is releasing a charity anthology of fiction and nonfiction called Magic & Mayhem. Proceeds support future GRNW programming and resources. You can pre-order a copy from Amazon and Smashwords. Release date: September 6, 2016.

Magic and Mayhem

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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.

Join the discussion on Goodreads!

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

The Fall by Robin Alexander – audiobook review

The Fall Robin Alexander

 

Autumn is seeping into the leaves on the trees and the fog that envelops my morning commute. Last month, as I wended my way along an island highway in the Pacific Northwest, I listened to Robin Alexander’s The Fall, narrated by the perfectly cast Lisa Cordileone. It’s a romantic comedy featuring a multi-generational cast. The Fall is a lot of fun and a satisfying romance, as well. I highly recommend getting comfy with this audiobook and a hot beverage. Add a little wood smoke and it’s perfection

Noel Savino is a dentist with a large, boisterous Italian-American family. After being burned in relationships, she’s just fine with casual encounters. Sunny Chase, new to town, is hesitant to begin a relationship. Upon hearing that Noel is a love-’em-and-leave-’em type, she decides to play it cool and keep it physical. No strings. No demands. Despite instant attraction on both sides, the two women assume that a non-relationship is what the other wants. The other story line features Harper, Noel’s niece, and Lydia, Sunny’s daughter. They navigate high school, new friendship, and sexuality. As the younger pair, Harper and Lydia deal more with the angst and confusion surrounding complex friendship and sexuality.

Along the way they receive solicited and unsolicited advice from their respective families. The Fall has great cast of supporting characters, such as Sunny’s uncle Ethan (a semi-retired hairdresser with energy to power a solar system) and Noel’s parents, Inez and Joe. Cordileone’s vivid characterization of Ethan highlights his tendency towards dramatics, while also presenting his thoughtful moments with softer tones. One of the narration challenges was vocalizing the mish-mash of New Jersey and Baton Rouge, Louisiana among the characters. As soon as she read that description of the accents, I paid closer attention to how she handled the voices of Inez’s and Joe’s adult children. Noel and her siblings grew up with parents who spoke with Jersey accents and with the Baton Rouge accents of their community. It was an interesting vocal blend that ultimately works. The audiobook was an immersive experience because Cordileone brought the characters to life through expert pacing, tone, accents, and wonderful energy.

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

The Fall
Author: Robin Alexander
Narrator: Lisa Cordileone

Audiobook produced by Dog Ear Audio
Length: 7 hrs and 3 mins
Release Date:
June 2016
ASIN: B01GQTYS2Y

Available from Amazon and Audible.

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Check out my review of “Me and My Boi” at The Lesbrary!

“Gender has no boundaries, and neither does lust.” — Sacchi Green, Introduction Me and My Boi, edited by Sacchi Green, is a collection of twenty erotic encounters between those who, in addition to identifying as lesbian, also identify as bois, butches, masculine-of-center, or eschew gender labels altogether. These individuals seek out sexual romps and emotionally […]

via Julie Thompson reviews Me and My Boi edited by Sacchi Green — The Lesbrary

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Literature & Libations: cocktail selections for summer reading

Right now it’s hot and my mind’s floating away down a river somewhere. I can see why a whole month has slipped away from me, since I always seem to be fantasizing about lakes and inner tubes and refreshing beverages. There’s no better way for me to relax than recline in a chair, a book in hand and a sweating glass of something on my TV tray.

I’ve enhanced my staycation of sorts with a handful of beachy-keen books below and paired them with cocktails. I haven’t sampled most of the recipes below. Yet. I’m interested to hear your thoughts. While the stories don’t entirely focus on surf and sand, the locales are hot enough to cause a woman to wither away if not properly tended to. Happy reading and bottoms up!

Greetings from Jamaica

Greetings from Jamaica: Wish You Were Queer by Mari SanGiovanni

Rum and cokes were my go-to cocktail during my senior year of college. For this fun and zany romantic comedy, however, I want to detour from the familiar and mix up something fresh.  Bon Appetit’s “16 Summery Cocktails” offers up a delicious range of rum drinks. 

RTc

  1. Spiced Rum Recipe No. 5
  2. Northwood #2
  3. Goombay Smash
  4. Isle of Pines
  5. Queen’s Park Swizzle
  6. Double R Daquiri
  7. Christmas Caipirinhas
  8. The Golden Age
  9. Rosemary-Tangerine Cooler
  10. Pineapple-Mint Mojito
  11. Strawberry Lemonade Smash
  12. Tropical Storm
  13. Kona Swizzle
  14. Philadelphia Fish House Punch (link MIA)
  15. Boston Tea Party
  16. Luau Coconut

***Photo of Tangerine Cooler via Bon Appetit

 

Miss McGhee

Miss McGhee by Bett Norris

Miss McGhee is a wonderful historical romance set post-WWII in Alabama. The hands down drink selection for this novel is the Alabama Slammer. Although this drink is an anachronistic choice, I can’t help but include it. Joining it will be the classic bevvy, Planter’s Punch. Our hardworking heroines, Mary McGhee and Lila Dubose, might find these help take the edge off.

 

as

Alabama Slammer cocktail

  1. Alabama Slammer: About.com offers up a little drink history and a recipe.
  2. Planter’s Punch:

***Alabama Slammer image via about.com

 

under the southern cross

Under the Southern Cross by Claire McNab

My goal is to travel to Australia sometime within the next ten years. Growing up, a close family friend would often visit us from her home in Melbourne. This, coupled with movies like “Crocodile Dundee” and “Rescuers Down Under” fueled my early fascination with the land down under. For now, though, I’ll revisit Claire McNab’s romance set within the tourism industry and the captivating Australian landscape.

br

***Barrier Reef image via truelocal.com.au

Last Call…

What do you prefer to sip while immersed in your summer reading? Which characters do you envision as a literal tall, cool drink? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comment section below!

Still thirsty, but want to keep some pretensions of class? These few fun boozy guides will satisfy on all counts!

The first two, Tequila Mockingbird and Gone with the Gin are clever and fun drink guides. The Playboy Bartender’s Guide has been my go-to source since college. There are millions of guides out there and quite a few that feature attractive layouts and unassuming recipes. However, for brevity’s sake and to just get right down to it, I’ve stuck to these three.

Tequila MockingbirdGone with the Ginpbbg

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2016 Panel Submissions Now Open! Help Create the Program for GRNW 2016!

Yay! If you have ideas for a panel, be sure to submit them to Gay Romance Northwest by June 22. I’ve already marked my calendar to attend and hope to hear a lot of great discussions 😀 And meet authors!

Gay Romance Northwest Meet-Up

2015Panel_1The 2016 Gay Romance Northwest Meet-Up conference will be held on Saturday, September 24, 2016 at the Seattle Public Library, and the big news this year is that the conference will be FREE to attend!

Submit a Panel for GRNW 2016!

For our fourth annual conference, and like last year, we are opening up panel submissions! We would love for authors and attendees to help co-create the programming for 2016.

  • Do you have a great idea for a panel?
  • Do you know others who could speak on that topic?
  • Do you share our interest in promoting voices from across the LGBTQ romance writing spectrum?

Then check out our 2016 Panel Submission Guidelines for info on what we’re looking for in a panel and how to apply!

Setting up a conference is actually pretty easy! What’s difficult is setting up the foundation for interesting and thoughtful discussions on LGBTQ romance, and

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Love by the Numbers – audiobook review

Love by the Numbers

 

Have you ever wished that you plug your love life into a formula and receive a print-out of your most compatible partners?  Despite protestations to readers that her recent publication, Love by the Numbers, isn’t a love manual, Dr. Nicole Hathaway is swept to the top of the bestsellers by hopeful lovelorns.  Every major book group (and yes, even the coveted Oprah endorsement) touts her title.  During the day, she leads the life of Dr. Nicole Hathaway, a woman focused on a career and conclusions drawn from facts, not opinion.  By night, she dons a black leather jack and slips into her private persona, Cole.  Cole occasionally beds women she meets at bars and other low-key social scenes.  Places where no one connects her to the university behavioral scientist she is to the rest of the world.  No one knows she has a personal life, much less that she is a lesbian.  Not even her mother, Indira, or her younger sister, Kate, both of whom live with Nicole at their shared family home.  Kallmaker highlights the various opposites that inhabit this story: from Nicole’s close family to Lily’s lack of family; worldly and people savvy to antisocial and academic; and Nicole in the closet hiding to Lily hiding from the media; to name a few examples.

As she prepares for a European promotional tour for her book, she is saddled with another unwanted assistant by her publisher.  Lillian “Lily” Linden-Smith has little left to lose as she pulls into the driveway of the author her uncle has arranged for her to accompany.  Her parents financial misdealing and the ensuing circus of a trial left her with nothing that couldn’t be packed into a car.  Despite being cleared of all culpability, one cable news host refuses to leave Lily alone.  She hopes that the more time she spends under the radar, with a new look, will increase the chances that she will be able to finally move on.

Their first meeting follows the usual song and dance.  Nicole is stiff and (for me, at least) frustratingly removed from emotion by her constant application of Spock-like logic.  This behavior on her part is understandable; she hasn’t yet accepted all of herself.  It’s easier to keep emotion at arm’s length than to acknowledge it exists.  It bothers her that Lily immediately develops an easy rapport with her mother and sister.  No matter how Nicole acts, Lily resolves to keep the job.  She needs it, for more reason than one.  I enjoyed how they challenge each other.  If Lily hadn’t such strong motivation to keep her job as Nicole’s assistant, would she have stayed on?  It’s hard to say.  Though, with a boss that constantly asks you to provide proof for every statement you make and feels as likeable as devil’s club, you would think that Lily would tell her boss to take that job and shove it.  The changes that happen between them are incremental.  There were times when they kept missing each other’s cues,

that I felt like:

However, Nicole doesn’t want to compromise their professional relationship by making a pass that she is sure would be unwelcome.  She sees Lily’s feminine dress as a hetero statement.  Such is the invisibility that femme lesbians struggle with…

 

Over the course of their weeks abroad, Lily displays her skill with languages and comfort with different cultures, as well as managing a tough itinerary.  The two women are attracted to each other, but resist acting on it.  Neither are the wiser to their shared dilemma.  However,  events conspire to bring the women close, both emotionally and intellectually.  Nicole faces the choice of casting off Cole and embracing herself completely.  Lily takes her past head on, with Nicole at her side.  It’s a satisfying journey that emerges on the other side with both women ready for whatever comes.      

The story is skillfully handled by Kathleen Roche-Zujko. crafting a distinct cast of characters.  This production provides quality, enjoyable narration through great pacing, tone, and characterization.  Roche-Zujko enriches the text by vocalizing the layers of change in identity that the characters experience.  She embodies Nicole, raising her pitch, and then lowering it slightly for when she goes out as Cole.  Indira, Nicole’s mother, immigrated to the United States from India before her daughters were born.  Her voice is accented with the countries she has lived in and with motherly interest.  Roche-Zujko does a fine job with the Indian and European accents.  Of all the characters, I found Kate, Nicole’s younger sister, annoying.  It was a combination of the woman’s whiny personality and the narrator’s talent at embodying her through nasally delivery and tone that carried it off so well.   

Love by the Numbers
Author: Karin Kallmaker
Narrator: Kathleen Roche-Zujko
Produced by Open Book Audio
Length: 10 hours, 26 minutes
Audiobook production date: July 2013 

Available as an audiobook from Audible, Audiobooks, and iTunes.  Also available as an e-audiobook at US public libraries via Overdrive.

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Julie Thompson reviews Confucius Jane by Kate Lynch

Check out my review of “Confucius Jane” by Kate Lynch on The Lesbrary!

The Lesbrary

confucius jane katie lynch cover
Warning: This novel may induce drooling! Produces a Pavlovian response to descriptions of Chinese cuisine. A platter of deliciousness is advised to have on hand while reading.

Confucius Jane is a wonderful treat. After the emotionally heavy and drama-rama of The Walking Dead and Game of Thrones, it was nice to slip into a world that’s comfy and welcoming, but also dotted with imperfections.

We meet our protagonists, Jane and Sutton, at a crossroads in their lives. New York City’s Chinatown and Upper East Side provide colorful and staid backdrops to the tale. There is also plenty of awkward Will-I-Won’t-I romance dancing between the two women. It’s a great mix of drama, humor, and food for thought.

Jane is the kind of woman who never needs a coat, plucks poetry from the air, and seems to have hidden wells of confidence in reserve. Under the surface, however, lies a…

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