young adult

Lambda Literary 2018 Award Winners

Lambda Literary

Image via Lambda Literary

 

Lambda Literary announced award winners earlier this week at its 30th annual celebration of queer literature. As usual, I have a lot of reading to do after browsing Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender, Gay, and LGBTQ anthologies in fiction and nonfiction categories. Her Body and Other Parties by Carmen Maria Machado and Like Water Rebecca Podos, winners of Lesbian Fiction and LGBTQ Children’s/Young Adult, respectively, are available as fantastic audiobook productions*. This list is drawn from Lambda Literary’s official list of winners. For an even greater swell to your TBR, check out the full list of category finalists.

*Note: I reviewed these audiobooks for AudioFile Magazine.

 

Lesbian Fiction
Her Body and Other Parties, Carmen Maria Machado, Graywolf Press

Gay Fiction
After the Blue Hour, John Rechy, Grove Press

Bisexual Fiction
The Gift, Barbara Browning, Coffee House Press

Bisexual Nonfiction
Hunger, Roxane Gay, HarperCollins

Transgender Fiction
Transcendent 2: The Year’s Best Transgender Speculative FictionBogi Takács (ed), Lethe Press

LGBTQ Nonfiction
How We Get Free: Black Feminism and the Combahee River Collective, Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor, Haymarket Books

Transgender Nonfiction
Black on Both Sides: A Racial History of Trans Identity, C. Riley Snorton, University of Minnesota Press

Lesbian Poetry
Rock | Salt | Stone, Rosamond S. King, Nightboat Books

Gay Poetry
While Standing in Line for Death, CA Conrad, Wave Books

Transgender Poetry
recombinant, Ching-In Chen, Kelsey Street Press

Lesbian Mystery
Huntress, A.E. Radley, Heartsome Publishing

Gay Mystery
Night Drop, Marshall Thornton, Kenmore Books

Lesbian Memoir/Biography
The Fact of a BodyAlexandria Marzano-Lesnevich, Flatiron Books

Gay Memoir/Biography
Lives of Great Men: Living and Loving as an African Gay Man, Chike Frankie Edozien, Team Angelica Publishing

Lesbian Romance
Tailor-Made, Yolanda Wallace, Bold Strokes Books

Gay Romance
Love and Other Hot Beverages, Laurie Loft, Riptide Publishing

LGBTQ Erotica
His Seed, Steve Berman, Unzipped Books

LGBTQ Anthology
¡Cuéntamelo! Oral Histories by LGBT Latino Immigrants, Juliana Delgado Lopera, Aunt Lute Books

LGBTQ Children’s/Young Adult
Like Water, Rebecca Podos, Balzer + Bray

LGBTQ Drama
The Gulf, Audrey Cefaly, Samuel French

LGBTQ Graphic Novels
My Favorite Thing is Monsters, Emil Ferris, Fantagraphics Books

LGBTQ SF/F/Horror
Autonomous, Annalee Newitz, Tor Books

LGBTQ Studies
Punishing Disease: HIV and the Criminalization of Sickness, Trevor Hoppe, University of California Press

 

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Categories: anthology, awards, contemporary, fiction, lgbt, Memoirs & Autobiographies, mystery, nonfiction, romance, short stories, young adult | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Review: Pulp by Robin Talley

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Few books make me feel as giddy as I felt when I learned that Robin Talley penned a young adult novel set in the world of lesbian pulp fiction. Washington D.C. High School senior Abby Zimet struggles with a shaky home life, a complicated relationship with her ex-girl friend, and a nebulous future. When she stumbles across a lesbian pulp novel by Marian Love during research for a creative writing project, her thoughts become increasingly consumed by it and with finding the elusive woman behind the story. 

Tracking down an author, especially a writer of 1950s lesbian fiction, is a near impossible task. Abby learns this lesson quickly: not everything is available online, but human connections remain a powerful channel. If you were a queer female author, you cloaked your identity behind a pseudonym. You didn’t want to be found. Pulp shares the impact of lesbian pulp novels within the context of their time. Queer people were hunted out of government jobs, blacklisted from future employment, and exiled from families they were born into. Authors like Ann Bannon, who later revealed her identity as a pulp writer, wrote their first novels from dens of crumbling heteronormative domesticity.  Patricia Highsmith published The Price of Salt under the name “Claire Morgan”, so as not to derail her nascent mainstream writing career.

Told in parallel narratives, Pulp traces Janet Jones’ pivotal year in 1955 as a teenager in D.C., and Abby’s present-day travails and literary sleuthing. As the story builds, readers see more than just a chasm of differences between the modern teen’s openness with her family and friends as a lesbian, and Janet’s furtive attempts at secrecy. Readers discover threads that not only connect the characters through time, but also reflects the continuity of history and social activism in our own lives. 

Robin Talley delivers an immersive and emotionally engaging novel that rewards repeat readers. Sprinkled throughout are Easter eggs for lesbian history enthusiasts and those eager to learn more about this period in our history. I believe that fiction can be a powerful draw in pulling readers of all ages into a deeper examination of historical events. Talley again creates a compelling story that intrigues and informs. I’ll leave most of the trivia for you to discover when the book is released in November. Hint: Start with Abby Zimet’s name. If you’re new to lesbian pulp, you can find plenty of examples of their covers online. Salacious, technicolor covers make for great magnets and other novelty items.

Pulp by Robin Talley
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Release date: November 13, 2018

Further Reading

A major portion of Abby’s journey involves an education in lesbian herstory.  I am especially drawn to mid-20th century queer history and fiction. This bibliography reflects some of the material that I’ve read so far. It is by no means comprehensive or complete. If you have any recommendations for me, please share them in the comments below. I’ve said this before, but someday, I will visit the Lesbian Herstory Archives in New York City.

Nonfiction

Articles & Websites

Fiction

A mix of pulp fiction and novels set in the 1950s (and in New York City, for the most part).


Coloring book bonus!

The Butch Lesbians of the ’50s, ’60s, and ’70s Coloring Book from Stacked Deck Press is currently out-of-stock, but worth keeping an eye on. 

Categories: booklist, contemporary, historical fiction, lgbt, young adult | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

Golden Crown Literary Society 2018 Award Finalists

For the past 14 years, the Golden Crown Literary Society has hosted “The Goldies”, literary awards for lesbian literature in sixteen genres and five special categories. Winners will be announced on July 7th at the awards ceremony in Las Vegas. I’m excited to see so many novels that I’ve enjoyed (as well many more piled atop my TBR shelf) over the past year appear as finalists.

For more information on how books are nominated and considered, head on over to Golden Crown’s website. Click on any title below to learn more about each nominee.

Genre Categories

 

 Anthology/Collections (Fiction)

 

 


Conference Call
, Ann Roberts (ed.), Bella Books

Our Happy Hours, LGBT Voices from the Gay Bars, S. Renee Bess and Lee Lynch (Story Collectors), Flashpoint Publications

 

Combined Non-Fiction

 

 


Fried & Convicted: Rehoboth Beach Uncorked
 by Fay Jacobs, Bywater Books

Grief Map by Sarah Hahn Campbell, Brain Mill Press

 

 Contemporary Romance (Short Novels)

 

 


Bait and Switch
 by Blythe H. Warren, Bella Books

Echo Point by Virginia Hale, Bella Books
Fake it till You Make It by M. Ullrich, Bold Strokes Books
Forget Me Not by Kris Bryant, Bold Strokes Books
Highland Fling by Anna Larner, Bold Strokes Books
Pausing by Renee Mackenzie, Affinity Rainbow Publications
Unbridled by Fox Brison, Bold Fox Publishing
Unexpected by Jenny Frame, Bold Strokes Books

 

Contemporary Romance (Mid-Length Novels)

 

 


Ask, Tell
 by E. J. Noyes, Bella Books

The Butterfly Whisperer by Lisa Moreau, Bold Strokes Books
Delay of Game by Tracey Richardson, Bella Books
Love After Hours: A Rivers Community Romance by Radclyffe, Bold Strokes Books
Nantucket Rose by CF Frizzell, Bold Strokes Books
Night Voice by CF Frizzell, Bold Strokes Books
Right Here, Right Now by Georgia Beers, Bold Strokes Books
Sidebar by Carsen Taite, Bold Strokes Books
What Matters Most by Georgia Beers, Brisk Press
Wishing on a Dream by Julie Cannon, Bold Strokes Books

 

Contemporary Romance (Long Novels)

 

 


Casting Lacey
 by Elle Spencer, Self-Published

Crescent City Confidential by Aurora Rey, Bold Strokes Books
Edge of Glory by Rachel Spangler, Bywater Books
Perfect Rhythm by Jae, Ylva Publishing
Rock and a Hard Place by Andrea Bramhall, Ylva Publishing
The Secret Pond by Gerri Hill, Bella Books
Vacationland by Susan X Meagher, Brisk Press
Who’d Have Thought by G Benson, Ylva Publishing
 

Debut Novel

 

 


Bend
 by Nancy J. Hedin, Anglerfish Press an imprint of Riptide Publishing

Falling into Her by Erin Zak, Bold Strokes Books
Frame by Frame by CJ Murphy, Desert Palm Press
Just Beyond the Shining River by Lynnette Beers, Regal Crest Enterprises
Marriage of a Thousand Lies by SJ Sindu, Soho Press
The Road to Wings by Julie Tizard, Bold Strokes Books
The Square Donut by Lauren Crane, Backyard Bird Publishing
The Tiger’s Daughter by K. Arsenault Rivera, Tor/Forge Books
The Winter Loon by Lori Henriksen, Cougar Creek Books
 

Erotica

 

 


Her Best Friend’s
 Sister
by Meghan O’Brien, Bold Strokes Books

Party Favors by Jaime Clevenger, Bella Books
This Foreign Affair by Harper Bliss, Ladylit Publishing
 

General Fiction

 

 


Bend
 by Nancy J. Hedin, Anglerfish Press an imprint of Riptide Publishing

Bitterroot Queen by Jove Belle, Dirt Road Books
Changing Perspectives by Jen Silver, Affinity Rainbow Publications
Goldenrod by Ann McMan, Bywater Books
The Price of Cash by Ashley Bartlett, Bold Strokes Books
 

Historical Fiction

 

The Ada Decades by Paula Martinac, Bywater Books
Crossing the Wide Forever by Missouri Vaun, Bold Strokes Books
The Sniper’s Kiss by Justine Saracen, Bold Strokes Books
The Winter Loon by Lori Henriksen, Cougar Creek Books

 
Mystery/Thriller

 

 

A Quiet Death by Cari Hunter, Bold Strokes Books
Forsaken Trust: A Luce Hansen Thriller by Meredith Doench, Bold Strokes Books
Genuine Gold by Ann Aptaker, Bold Strokes Books
The Girl on the Edge of Summer by J. M. Redmann, Bold Strokes Books
Lethal Care by Claire McNab with Katherine V. Forrest, Bella Books       
Taken In by Erica Abbott, Bella Books
 

Paranormal/Horror

 

 

Five Moons Rising by Lise MacTague, Bella Books
Little Dip – Garoul Series Book V by Gill McKnight, Dirt Road Books

 
Poetry

 

 

The Girls with Stone Faces by Arleen Paré, Brick Books
Hanging on Our Own Bones by Judy Grahn, Arktoi Books
Walking Through Turquoise by Laurie MacFayden, Frontenac House Ltd.

 
Romantic Suspense/Intrigue


A More Perfect Union
 by Carsen Taite, Bold Strokes Books

Heart Stop by Radclyffe, Bold Strokes Books
Into Thin Air by Jeannie Levig, Bold Strokes Books
Letter of the Law by Carsen Taite, Bold Strokes Books
Lucy’s Chance by Jackie D, Bold Strokes Books
Mine to Keep by Wendy Hudson, Ylva Publishing
Moment of Weakness by KG MacGregor, Bella Books
The Road to Wings by Julie Tizard, Bold Strokes Books
The Scholarship by Jaime Maddox, Bold Strokes Books
 

Science Fiction/Fantasy


Ardulum: Second
 Don
by J.S. Fields, Ninestar Press

The End by Roselle Graskey and Cheyne Curry, Bossy Pants Books
Erased by Robbi McCoy, Bella Books
Fury’s Choice by Brey Willows, Bold Strokes Books
House of Fate by Barbara Ann Wright, Bold Strokes Books
Phoenix Rising by Rebecca Harwell, Bold Strokes Books
Seoul Circuit by Tamara Boyens, Supposed Crimes
Shattered by Lee Winter, Ylva Publishing
Spark by Catherine Friend, Bold Strokes Books

 

Young Adult


Girls Like Me
 by Nina Packebush, Bedazzled Ink Publishing

Sovereign by April Daniels, Diversion Books
The Square Donut by Lauren Crane, Backyard Bird Publishing

 

Special Categories

 

Ann Bannon Popular Choice Award

 

An Outsider Inside by R.J. Samuel, Self-Published
Edge of Glory by Rachel Spangler, Bywater Books
Goldenrod by Ann McMan, Bywater Books
Our Happy Hours, LGBT Voices from the Gay Bars, S. Renee Bess and Lee Lynch (Story Collectors), Flashpoint Publications
Perfect Rhythm by Jae, Ylva Publishing
Right Here, Right Now by Georgia Beers, Bold Strokes Books
Sappho’s Bar and Grill by Bonnie J. Morris, Bywater Books
Strawberry Summer by Melissa Brayden, Bold Strokes Books
Time’s Rainbow: Writing Ourselves Back into American History, Lori L. Lake & Christopher Hawthorne Moss (eds.), Launch Point Press

Directors’ Award – TBD

Lee Lynch Classic Award – TBD

Tee Corine Award for Outstanding Cover Art


The Ada Decades, Ann McMan, TreeHouse Studio, Bywater Books
An Outsider Inside, Ann McMan, Treehouse Studio, Self-Published
Buried Heart, Melody Pond, Bold Strokes Books
Close to Home, Ann McMan, TreeHouse Studio, Bywater Books
Edge of Glory, Ann McMan, TreeHouse Studio, Bywater Books
Goldenrod, Ann McMan, TreeHouse Studio, Bywater Books
On a LARP, Ann McMan, TreeHouse Studio, Bywater Books
Our Happy Hours, LGBT Voices from the Gay Bars, Ann McMan, TreeHouse Studio, Flashpoint Publications

Trailblazer Award – TBD
 

Categories: anthology, awards, contemporary, erotica, fantasy, fiction, history, lgbt, lists, literary fiction, mystery, paranormal, poetry, romance, science fiction, short stories, sports, suspense, thriller, young adult | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Coffee Connections: A booklist

Most mornings before I head out to work, I brew up a pot of Yuban and pour it into my trusty Stanley thermos. It’s as much a part of my day as getting dressed. This beloved and essential morning ritual goes well with both solitude and company. 

For example, my idea of a perfect first date or family gathering starts with a cup of coffee. If nothing else goes right, at least there’s a steaming (or chilled or frozen) coffee concoction to enjoy. Throw in a good book and its game over perfection! The characters in the stories below geek out on B-grade sci-fi flicks, grapple with long-distance, attempt to run a cafe while still attending high school, and much more. Just add coffee. 

long macchiatos and monsters

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

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

coffee date

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

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

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

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

Get it together delilah

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

Originally published as The Flywheel in Australia, 2015.

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

something-true

Something True (Out in Portland, #1) by Karelia Stetz-Waters
Published by Forever Yours, an imprint of Grand Central Publishing

Available from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Google Play Books, Kobo, and other retailers. Join the discussion on Goodreads!

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

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

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

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

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Confessions from a Coffee Shop by T.B. Markinson
Published by CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform

Available from Amazon.  Join the discussion on Goodreads!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Can love really conquer all?” – from Sapphire Books

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

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

LGBT Audiobooks 2016 Listen List

I’m just a tad late in posting all of the glorious audiobooks that I listened to in 2016 (though they did make it into my year-end-stravaganza posting). Compared with 2015, there was an aural explosion! I think this in part because I had more options as far as buying and borrowing audiobooks (Overdrive, OneClick Digital, Audible). I’ve also spent more time perusing audiobook reviews on sites such as AudioFile Magazine and participating in a fantastic Facebook group, Lesbian Audiobooks

Now when I find an interesting book, I ask myself “is there an audiobook version?” Publishers seem to produce more and more audiobook versions these days, as opposed to limiting the production to “big” names and blockbuster series. What a time to be a listener!

My taste in listening varies from one day to the next. Below you’ll find my moods and interests reflected in the covers below. I enjoy literary fiction, modern-day retellings of Shakespeare plays, memoirs, YA, fantasy adventure, contemporary romance, far-flung settings, and historical fiction.

However, if I don’t enjoy the narrator, no matter how good the storytelling, I stop listening. And that’s just me; other listeners might find the narrator is a great fit for their ears. Some new-to-me narrators that I really enjoyed in 2016 include Laural Merlington and Kate Rudd (The Language of Hoofbeats); Amielynn Abellera (As I Descended); Sarah Grace Wright (Fallen Elements); and Bahni Turpin (Here Comes the Sun). These narrators deliver immersive experiences with wonderful pacing, tone, and excellent characterization.

As for 2017? Well, I’ve already listened to a contemporary romance and a fantasy-adventure! My Audible wishlist is long and getting longer. What LGBT+ fiction and/or non-fiction audiobooks did you listen to last year?  

The book covers are linked to either a review I posted or to a related external site (like Overdrive, AudioFile, publishers, etc.).

Buffering: Unshared Tales of a Life Fully LoadedSaving Montgomery SoleAs I DescendedHere Comes the Sun by Nicole Y. Dennis-BennYou Know Me Well by David LevithanThe Rainbow Comes and Goes by Anderson CooperHit by a Farm by Catherine FriendThe Warrior's Path (When Women Were Warriors, #1)Being Jazz Audiobook2497445115726317327959Image result for if i was your girl audiobook207637391582434313587076937547633163705232513262325817288219421892292974125893681

Categories: audiobooks, family relationships, fantasy, fiction, friendship, historical fiction, lgbt, librarians, literary fiction, Memoirs & Autobiographies, mystery, nonfiction, paranormal, romance, suspense, young adult | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Secret Heart

Image result for secret heart danielle dreger

Secret Heart, Danielle Dreger’s debut novel, strums the angsty heartstrings of its leading ladies: Avery and Madison. On first glance, the two girls could not be more different. Avery is openly queer, a badass rocker, an only child, and far from a star student. Madison is a poster child for perfection: stellar grades, student council President, soccer star, and all-around super nice person. Not that Avery isn’t nice 😉 Casual acquaintances for most of their high school lives, their lives intertwine on the inaugural meeting of their school’s Gay-Straight Alliance (Lion Pride).

Senior year can be a crazy time and it’s easy to lose sight of which way points up. The instant chemistry and intense desire surprises both girls. Avery and Madison both face heavy expectations (from bandmates, parents, friends, Lion Pride). They struggle to find a personal balance for their lives after high school and if their burgeoning romance (plus the secrecy that Madison wants) is worth the stress. As I read, I marveled at the elasticity of their hearts. Was the trust worthily bestowed? How much of themselves, of their core being, would they be willing to sacrifice in order to appease others?

Had I never met the most unreal-ly nice person before reading this book, I would have scoffed at a character so kind-hearted, successful, and popular. Madison’s life, however, is far from perfect and she plays her cards close to her chest. My inner cynic was pacified by the complexity embodied by both leads. They challenge stereotypes (Avery’s affinity for Taylor Swift and marathoning Zac Efron films with her best friend, Scott, for example) and some other surprises. By the end of the story, I was more satisfied with the characters’ personal growth than with their romance.

Secret Heart is a fun, angsty roller coaster of love and self-discovery.

“Avery’s Playlist” (condensed)

Dreger curated the perfect playlist for this book. The song selections in themselves reflect the storyline and emotional roller coaster of teenage romance. It makes me want to record a mix tape from vignettes of my own life. For a full set list, turn to pp. 247-248 of Secret Heart.

Secret Heart
Author: Danielle Dreger
Publisher: DDB Press
Released: October 2016
ISBN (print) 978-0-9977659-1-5
ISBN (ebook) 978-0-9977659-0-8

Available from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and other retailers. Don’t forget to check your local library for availability! A part of the proceeds from every book sold goes to support the Gay Lesbian Straight Education Network (GLSEN).

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

Reading Resolutions for 2017

 Oh, reading challenges. I love them, and yet, I fare better with the types of reading challenges that quantify, rather than qualify, my choices. For example, Goodreads only asks how many books I plan on finishing between January and December. That’s pretty straightforward, simple, and, in some ways, not that much of a challenge. I can set the bar at 5 books, if I wanted (I would wither away if I was only able to read five books in a year).

My excuses/reasons for failing to cross the finish line of the 2016 PopSugar challenge are many. I’m like that dog in the Pixar movie “Up”; I get distracted by every book that crosses my path. There are certainly not enough hours in the day for work, commuting, and my myriad of interests. I am also unable to read less than ten trillion books at a time. There is currently one book in my glove compartment of my car; an audiobook in my car’s disc drive and on my smartphone; Analog magazine on my phone for endless lines at the grocery store; eBooks on my Nook; and on and on.

I don’t give myself a hard time for not living up to my own reading standards. It’s supposed to be so many other things above and beyond a mere assignment. I will, however, craft mini challenges for myself that highlight voices and genres I haven’t spent much (if any) time with. And then there is the news… So long 2016!

How about you?

Categories: anthology, audiobooks, erotica, essay, family relationships, fantasy, fiction, friendship, historical fiction, history, Holiday, horror, lgbt, librarians, literary fiction, Memoirs & Autobiographies, nonfiction, novella, paranormal, poetry, primary sources, retellings, romance, romantic friendships, short stories, Uncategorized, young adult | Tags: , , , | 1 Comment

Girl Mans Up – audiobook review

girl-mans-up

Girl Mans Up by M-E Girard tells the story of how Pen, a gender non-conforming teen at a private Catholic high school, learns how to stand up for her truth. On the way she struggles with unhealthy friendships, parental disapproval of her and the older brother she adores, and vile fellow students. Not to mention finding someone who seems to understand, support, and find Pen super irresistible.

Her biggest allies in the story are her older brother, Johnny, and Blake, a kickass, rocking bisexual character who Pen finally works up the nerve to talk to while scooping up girls for her odious friend Colby.

Girl Mans Up continues the discussion on gender presentation. Pen strives to figure out how to stay true to herself in the face of difficult friendships and a combative home life. The novel comes together in the end as a beginning and not an ending. Vague as that statement is, it will make sense when you finish the book!

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As soon as I heard “narrated by Emma Galvin” I pressed pause on the audio sample, too excited to listen to the rest. Emma Galvin has a voice perfect for voicing teens. By random chance, I’ve landed on two audiobooks released this year that are narrated by Galvin. Her voice gives her protagonist a rough and emotional, and living between certainty and uncertainty. The rest of the cast is rich with characterization and it shows in the way certain characters inspire deep loathing.

Accents are a challenge for every narrator. Galvin does a serviceable job as Pen’s parents (immigrants from Portugal) and extended family. I felt like Pen’s mother sounded young, but I come from a line of youthful voices, so I can’t entirely discount her performance based on that. Pen struggles to coexist between the cultures of her Portuguese family and Canadian culture. There is a gap in communication between Pen and her parents, for a number of reasons, including her limited Portuguese language skills and gender identity.

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

Girl Mans Up
Author: M-E Girard
Narrator: Emma Galvin
Produced by HarperAudio
Length: 9 hours 32 minutes
Release date: September 2016
ISBN: 9780062642868
ISBN-10: 0062642863
ASIN: B01J21ARTG

Available as an audiobook from Amazon, Audible, iTunes, Audiobooks, and Overdrive (check your local public library for availability), as well as many other retailers.

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Categories: lgbt, young adult | Tags: , | 4 Comments

As I Descended – audiobook review

as i descended.jpg

 

It’s barely fall, but the early mornings are darker and colder. Every sound in an empty room makes me jump a little. Amielynn Abellera’s narration plays a huge role in bringing out the full richness of the story. The eerie atmosphere, setting, and murky moral territory infiltrate every nook and cranny, like fog. As I Descended by Robin Talley draws some inspiration from Shakespeare’s Macbeth. Listening to the story with headphones on in a quiet library intensifies the creep factor. 

I don’t believe in Ouija boards, yet I won’t touch one with a twenty foot pole. The story is a deliciously chill, vicarious thrill for those of us who looked under the bed as a kid. It pulls readers into the supernatural and what happens when a trio of friends — Maria, Lily, and Brandon— lay their hands on an antique Ouija board. Be careful what you wish for and never forget to say goodbye.

What better place to invoke the spirits than a private boarding school on a former plantation in Virginia? Ghost stories involving former tenants are dismissed by students, who enjoy being scared, but that’s about it. Maria, on the other hand, has a secret past with spirits and isn’t so quick to dismiss the tales. The story wastes no time in setting the mood with the initial events in the old cafeteria and doesn’t let up. Since the story is told in the third person, you find yourself inside the heads of the primary and secondary characters. The effect shows the increasing doubt, fear, and isolation the students experience as events unravel. The story includes a diverse cast, with no one person being singled out as a “villain” because of their social status, ethnicity, physical abilities, or sexual orientation. Though, that being said, the story shows high school kids at their best and worst…and worst.

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Amielynn Abellera is perfectly cast as the narrator. Her strong characterizations allow the story to come fully alive. The students that she voices converge on Acheron Academy from different regions in the United States, as well as Puerto Rico. Lily has a soft Southern drawl; Mateo speaks with Spanish accented English. Some students sound stoned, serious, or ditsy. The heights of elation and the depths of fear and despair will crawl under your skin. Abellera’s pacing allows the suspense to build and grab you, but never fully allows you to relax. She doesn’t rush the story or exaggerate her voice for a cheap scare, either.

As I Descended is a great companion for the long, dark nights ahead.

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

As I Descended
Author: Robin Talley
Narrator: Amielynn Abellera
Produced by Harper Collins
Length: 9 hours, 9 minutes
Release date: September 2016
Audio CD: ISBN-10: 1441708952, ISBN-13: 987-1441708953
Digital Audio: ISBN 9780062571823, ISBN-10: 0062571826

Available as an audiobook from AmazonAudible, Audiobooks, 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, horror, lgbt, paranormal, retellings, young adult | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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