Book Review · Books

Why I Never Finished My Dissertation

Poetry is a language I speak fluently. Even though I love to express myself in this medium, I rarely read other’s poems. I’m glad I chose to. Why I Never Finished My Dissertation, is a slim volume of poetry that grabs you by the collar to make sure you are fully immersing yourself in the author’s words. Her poems are vivid, joyful, sad, and if nothing else, deep. Just from this collection I can gather that Laura has had a rough life, but that through it all she had crafted a sweet life for herself.

If you love poetry, love memoirs in free verse then you will want a copy of this book of poetry. After finishing this book I want to go hunt down Laura’s other books of poetry. She is talented and inspiring.

I received my complimentary copy of Why I Never Finished My Dissertation by Laura Foley from TLC Book Tours and the author. The views are mine and my own choice. This book was intriguing.

Book Review · Books

Honey Girl

Grace Porter is a people pleaser through and through. Her dad, Colonel has his daughter’s life plan mapped out for her. She’s worked this path and hauled ass getting her title of Doctor. Her passion? Astronomy. She has her two best friends, Ximena and Agnes and her surrogate family of sorts in siblings, Raj and Meera to help keep her sane. Life seems to be going fairly smoothly until a girlfriends trip to Vegas turns wild.

Grace wakes up with fuzzy memories of the night before. Her clues as to her night are a ring on her finger and a shirt with the word bride scrawled across. What had she done? Grace is always in control of herself and when she finds the note from the mystery woman of the night before she’s shocked back into reality. Who did she end up marrying on a whim?

Ximena and Agnes want Grace to find this mysterious woman. Grace is nervous and yet dying of curiosity. She must have either really fallen for this woman, or the alcohol was supper strong.

Grace is worried this new turn of events will derail her career path, but she doesn’t take vows lightly and desires to do the right thing. When her friends discover the mystery woman’s podcast they listen in. Grace decides to be brave and call in. Will this other woman remember their night in Vegas? Will she want to connect with Grace?

I received my complimentary copy of Honey Girl by Morgan Rogers from Harlequin- Trade Publishing, care of NetGalley. The views are mine and my own choice. This novel is filled with characters who I wish were real. The author does a wonderful job of captivating you from page one. Observing Grace as she wakes up from her wild night in Vegas to discover she has a wedding ring on with no clear memory of what the other woman looks like is an intriguing intro. The sisterhood between Grace, her best friends and her chosen family is playful, thought provoking and also, sweet. The author also, shows the challenge of having divorced parents and juggling your allegiance to them, even when one is a hard ass and other is flighty. This story will stay with you long after the last page. Grab a copy this upcoming spring.

Book Review · Books

Affirming

Sally was raised in a Christian church that adamantly believed being gay was a sin and not what God wants. She was devout in her faith and loved her church. She was raised in a strong Christian home where her parents and grandparents showed and reflected their faith to her through how they lived their lives. The challenge came when she noticed she didn’t like boys in the same way her girl friends did. Instead she got crushes on girls. This quandary bugged Sally because she wanted to the do the right thing. She tried, prayed and begged God to change her desires. Nothing worked. When Sally encounters believers who have a different view of monogamous gay relationships between believers what she has tried to believe is challenged. Follow Sally as she goes on a faith journey to figure out just what exactly God wants.

I received my complimentary digital copy of Affirming by Sally Gary from William B. Eerdman’s Publishing Company care of NetGalley. The views expressed are mine and of my own choice. This memoir I couldn’t put down. Sally is candid and not preachy, but kindly shares her faith throughout. She talks about how not only how her church helped shape who she is, but the impact her family had on her with how they showed love to others through their hospitality. I can relate to Sally when it comes to always having different people coming over for dinner or staying with your family for months at a time when you are growing up. Flexibility and patience is key. I think this is an excellent book to help open up an important discussion within the church. If you have read God And The Gay Christian or Torn, then you’ll want to add Affirming to your Christian LGBTQA library collection.

Book Review · Books

A People’s History Of Heaven

Step into fictional Heaven. It’s a slum in India where developers are trying to bulldoze it down to build more shopping centers. The only thing is that they have to contend with the residents of Heaven who want to keep their homes. This story dives into the lives of each protester whether it be a mother, or their daughter. It’s a clear story of how the caste system works and when you live in a slum you don’t always get to choose when the big wigs want to expand your area.

This story is rich in description, characterization and brings India to life. I have never been to India before, but growing up my grandmother would make me chapatis. They are unleavened flatbread. We’d eat them for breakfast with whipped cream and honey or jam depending on your flavor preference.

There has great LGBTQA and religious representation in this novel. Some of the characters are figuring out who they are and who they love wether it’s to a boy, or girl and if they were born a particular gender that it may not be who they truly feel they are. The different characters share a variety of faiths from Hindu, Muslim and Christian.

I received my complimentary copy of A People’s History Of Heaven by Mathangi Subramanian from Algonquin Books and NetGalley. The views are mine and of my own choice. This a beautiful novel that needs to be read, shared and talked about it. It’s a women empowering women story that shows that you don’t have to be rich to be powerful in spirit. Thank you for allowing me to win a copy of this book Algonquin Books.

Book Review · Books

The Stone Rainbow

Jack recently came out to his mom and is slowly befriending Cody, whose teaching him how to swim. He hangs out with his friend Ryan and likes to get advice from Ryan’s girlfriend Clare. Life is improving from the previous year when things felt hopeless.

When cute new kid Benjamin starts talking to Jack in art class, Jack is surprised since Benjamin is the school VP’s son. Jack can’t tell if Benjamin is just being polite, or actually likes Jack. He doesn’t know of any other gay kids in their town.

When Benjamin and Jack have to make an art project for class, Jack is surprised how out Benjamin is. He makes a rainbow out of stones he colors and then writes the meaning behind the different colors. Jack is concerned for his safety once everyone in town knows Benjamin is gay. Benjamin on the other hand is out and not shy about being obvious.

Benjamin starts talking about how their small town should have a Pride parade, but Jack knows with how conservative their town is there’s no way they’d get it approved. When there’s an incident Jack has to decide if hiding who he is, is worth it.

I received my complimentary digital copy of The Stone Rainbow by Liane Shaw from NetGalley. The views are mine and of my own will. If you haven’t read Caterpillars Can’t Swim you can still read The Stone Rainbow without being lost as to what happened in the first book. A lot of times sequels don’t live up to the first book. This one surpassed it. This book is a powerful story of friendship, family, community and being true to who you are no matter what others think, or do.

Book Review · Books

Caterpillars Can’t Swim

Ryan is minding his own business when he notices a woman down by the water twirling in a yellow skirt. She looks happy. One minute she is there and the next she disappears. Ryan looks over the railing to see if he can see her, but he sees no one. The water is down a bit of a hill and to get to it he’ll need to crawl. Ryan has cerebral palsy. He doesn’t think of anything else, but to find the unknown woman.

After saving the unknown woman Ryan realizes he knows this person. This person is Jack. Why was he wearing a skirt? Jack is a quiet classmate of Ryan’s, but he’s not friends with Jack. Both boys don’t want what happened to be blown out of proportion. Wouldn’t anyone else do the same if someone was drowning?

Enter Cody, Jack’s best friend from swim team. He’s a classic jock whose got an ego the size of the sun, trying to shine brighter than anyone around. Cody is determined to find out more about Jack and what really happened, but Ryan’s not sure on the fine details either of the why. When Ryan invites Jack to accompany both him and Cody to Comic Con in a gesture of friendship is it a recipe for disaster, or will it bring the boys together?

I received my digital copy of Caterpillars Can’t Swim by Liane Shaw from NetGalley. The opinions are my own and of my own accord. This young adult novel tackles the challenging subjects of depression, identity, friendship and what it means to be true to who you are. I loved this novel. I thought Ryan’s character is fleshed out well. I don’t have to depend on a wheelchair to get around, but this novel shows the realistic struggle to be noticed for who you are minus any handicap assistance you come with. Cody was a well represented high school jock, though how he changes throughout the story is interesting to watch. Jack is the classic sensitive kid who is scared to trust to be himself in front of others. This book will be a great edition to any YA fan’s bookcase, as well as any high school library. Let’s get the conversation going. Never let anyone suffer in silence.

Book Review · Books

Bent But Not Broken

I don’t have a penis. I always wondered what it would be like. I wondered why men are so obsessed with their manly parts. After reading Bent But Not Broken I think I understand much better.

Don Cummings noticed his penis was changing and not in a comfortable way. He goes to a doctor to find out what’s wrong and discovers he has Peronie’s disease. His manly part curves which makes intimacy a tad challenging and gives him anxiety. He wants his penis to be like it was and wants a cute. This book is his journey in finding a way to cure his disease. He openly talks about how this affects his relationship with his partner Adam and how the treatments for this disease affected him.

I received my complimentary copy of Bent But Not Broken by Don Cummings from Heliotrope Books, care of TLC Book Tours. The views expressed are of my own accord and strictly mine. I recommend this book even if you are straight. This disease effects countless men and could potentially affect your partner, or spouse. To understand how this disease affects a man’s self esteem and how it changes him physically is vital to understand, to know how to be supportive and patient. This memoir was a tad outside my comfort zone due to said topic, but it was educational, has humorous moments and you’ll be cheering for Don throughout his book. To buy a copy click here and to find out more about the author.

Book Review · Books

Waves

I am not into graphic novels. I shy away from comics. This graphic novel though stole my heart and converted me by the end. I want to read more memoirs that are in graphic novel form. Please recommend away because if you don’t like that genre either then I know this short little book will convince you otherwise.

In this book the author is going to have a child. Her and her wife are beyond ecstatic, except tragedy strikes. This book is how the author dealt with her loss and survived the deep grief she went through.

I love how the author loves to write and that her writing comforted her while she was recouping in the hospital. I swooned when her wife gave her a new journal because she had used up her current one. I’m a sucker for a brand new journal.

Whether you have dealt with the loss of a child, or not this book shows the range of mourning and how the importance of family and your partner help in getting you through the days that are the toughest.

I received my complimentary digital copy of Waves by Ingrid Chabbert and Carole Maurel from NetGalley. My views are of my own accord and strictly mine. This book was gut wrenching to read at 4:30AM. The artwork is vivid and so much meaning stuffed into the imagery chosen. I high recommend this graphic novel. Some stories are more powerful through artwork vs written word. This is one of those stories.

Book Review · Books

Cockloft

The cover to Cockloft endeared me right away as it reminded me of the cover of Jenny Lawson’s memoir, Let’s Pretend This Never Happened. Jenny’s cover has a mouse and Kyle’s has a squirrel, but both their poses are the same. Dramatic and hilarious.

If you love short chapters, have a healthy dose of snarky humor then you will enjoy this memoir of sorts. Kyle takes you behind the scenes of what gay married life is like in NY before Trump and during Trump. He also, takes you along on a few of his and Julius’ vacations. Some of my fave chapters include: Amsterdam, France, the squirrel chapters, and many others.

I received a complimentary ARC of Cockloft by Kyle Thomas Smith from Gatekeeper Press through Smith Publicity. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

Book Review · Books

Shameless: A Sexual Reformation

If you love edgy, outside the box Christian then you’ll love any book by pastor Nadia Boltz-Weber. When I saw Shameless, as an option to possibly get to review I had to request it since I loved reading her book, Pastrix.

Shameless is a book about how the church and Christianity has made sex and sexuality something to be ashamed of if it doesn’t fit in the white conservative Christian picket fence family dynamics. Pastor Nadia shares some stories from a few of her parishioners that are gut wrenching and disturbing. She also, shared stories from her own life in how the way the church talked about sex was seen as dirty unless you were married. Pastor Nadia also, talks about the gender stereotypes kids are shaped into by their church and family. If you aren’t straight you can be viewed as sinful, off the straight and narrow and needing to be reigned in.

If you were a Christian teen in the 90’s you may recall the True Love Waits Movement that swept Christendom up in its hype. Did this movement prepare young Christian couples for intimacy in marriage? I’d wager no. Hearing your whole life you have to wait till marriage doesn’t exactly prepare you for the wedding night part. I get waiting for sex till you’ve found your forever partner, but just being told no without any directions on what to expect once there’s a green light is the blind leading the blind.

Sadly Christian schools and some Christian families are against sex education in schools. If Mom and Dad won’t have any in-depth talk then all those kids being pulled out of Sex Ed are oblivious to potential dangers when they slip up and go too, far when their sex drive awakens and I’m not meaning the potential pregnancy scenario.

This book was a really personal read for me being raised in a Christian home. I did survive public school Sex Education class. All I recall is there being a fill in the blanks body part test in fifth grade. I recall my parents helping me study for that. Only main thing I was told was not to wind up pregnant like so and so. Ah, how could I forget the book for preteens my parents gave me to read. I’ve always been a bookworm, but something’s are more personal when talked out vs being given a manual of sorts. I know talking about literal private things can be awkward for a parent, but I’d rather hear from my own parents on what to expect. I can relate in more ways than that with this book, but that could be a separate blog post.

This book gives me hope for Christendom. I have so many evolved views on sexuality, marriage, education and more. This one is a keeper and I can’t wait for it to come out so I can have a physical copy to highlight and notate to death.

This review is for a digital ARC of Shameless: A Sexual Reformation by Nadia Boltz-Weber from NetGalley and is my own unbiased opinion. I loved this book. I adore how wise and snarky Pastor Nadia is with such an important topic. If you need someone who understands and has been through a similar upbringing then you’ll want to preorder a copy of Shameless. If you need someone to talk to or vent to feel free to contact me.