Waiting on Wednesday

waiting on wednesday

Every week Breaking the Spine hosts the bookish meme for book bloggers to share what books they are waiting on to be released!  For the month of October, Team Midsummer is celebrating LGBTQ History Month.  So for are WOW posts, all the novels we are desperately waiting to be released that are LGBTQ! This week I’m waiting on:

Release Date: February 28, 2017

Think positive.
Don’t worry; be happy.
Keep calm and carry on.

Maeve has heard it all before. She’s been struggling with severe anxiety for a long time, and as much as she wishes it was something she could just talk herself out of, it’s not. She constantly imagines the worst, composes obituaries in her head, and is always ready for things to fall apart. To add to her troubles, her mom—the only one who really gets what Maeve goes through—is leaving for six months, so Maeve will be sent to live with her dad in Vancouver.

Vancouver brings a slew of new worries, but Maeve finds brief moments of calm (as well as even more worries) with Salix, a local girl who doesn’t seem to worry about anything. Between her dad’s wavering sobriety, her very pregnant stepmom insisting on a home birth, and her bumbling courtship with Salix, this summer brings more catastrophes than even Maeve could have foreseen. Will she be able to navigate through all the chaos to be there for the people she loves?

Guest Book Review: The Miseducation of Cameron Post by Emily M. Danforth

 

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Lesley (left) and Cassie (Right)

As you know, many of my best friends are helping out Team Midsummer with our LGBT History Month Celebration, and today’s Guest Book Review is by Lesley!  Lesley and Jess met at church a few years back, enjoyed many a trivia night together, and are now part of the fabulous five best friend group.  Lesley is now married to Cassie (another one of our Guest Reviewers!) and they are the most adorable of the adorable.

 

11595276When Cameron Post’s parents die suddenly in a car crash, her shocking first thought is relief. Relief they’ll never know that, hours earlier, she had been kissing a girl.

But that relief doesn’t last, and Cam is soon forced to move in with her conservative aunt Ruth and her well-intentioned but hopelessly old-fashioned grandmother. She knows that from this point on, her life will forever be different. Survival in Miles City, Montana, means blending in and leaving well enough alone (as her grandmother might say), and Cam becomes an expert at both.

Then Coley Taylor moves to town. Beautiful, pickup-driving Coley is a perfect cowgirl with the perfect boyfriend to match. She and Cam forge an unexpected and intense friendship — one that seems to leave room for something more to emerge. But just as that starts to seem like a real possibility, ultrareligious Aunt Ruth takes drastic action to ‘fix’ her niece, bringing Cam face-to-face with the cost of denying her true self — even if she’s not exactly sure who that is.

I grew up in a very small farming community in rural Michigan.  My parents were evangelical Christians and most of my friends and their families were, in some form, Christian too.  I was a “jock girl”, very tall, athletic, slightly arrogant and underneath it all, very gay.  Given this information, it would seem obvious to anyone reading the notes about The Miseducation of Cameron Post to see why I might have identified with Emily M. Danforth’s plucky main character.

However, Cam’s tomboy antics, Jesus-loving friends and family and pension for lady love aren’t the only things that make her relatable.  In fact, most of us can identify with Cam’s struggle for acceptance and identity regardless of our experiences or sexual orientation.  In The Miseducation of Cameron Post, we follow Cam on a journey from ages twelve to seventeen as she looks for her true self in her relationships, struggles and daily life.  She seeks acceptance from friends, lovers and the adults in her life the way any child would.  In the end Cameron finds the most satisfaction in accepting herself and in starting a life that reflects her beliefs and choices.

After a youthful crush and sugar-sweet first kiss, Cam experiences a devastating loss.  Forced to navigate her formative years with only her born-again aunt and elderly grandma to guide her, Cam gets into the usual trouble created by the boredom of teens in small town America.  Her trouble is often overlooked until her greatest secret is twisted from the truth and revealed as a dark path from which she must be saved.   Instead of finishing out high school, Cam is sent to a rehabilitation school for kids with similar “afflictions”.

This book is one that tells the story of each of us as we grow in a world that prefers the status quo.  While the subject matter is a bit dark, the depth of Danforth’s characters creates a light and lovely story.  It reminds us to celebrate our differences and that a diverse world is a beautiful one.

I absolutely recommend this book for anyone struggling with self-acceptance for any reason.

4 Bards, as I liked the book, but the ending left me hanging, which I didn’t really like.

fourbards

Book Review: Drag Teen by Jeffery Self

Seventeen-year-old JT Barnett lives a humdrum existence in Clearwater, FL, working in the family gas station, drifting through school, and dreaming of fabulous days to come. His one attempt at drag led to public humiliation in a school talent show, so he is reluctant when Seth, his wildly attractive, overachieving boyfriend, encourages him to enter the Miss Drag Teen pageant in New York City.

The prize of a four-year college scholarship ultimately convinces JT, and after lying to their parents, he, his best friend Heather, and Seth embark on a spring break road trip that leads to fights, honest reckonings, and encounters with a cast of remarkable personalities. With the exception of spiteful Tash, the diverse group of pageant contestants offer JT acceptance and a tantalizing glimpse into a brighter world.

I am a massive fan of drag queens and drag in general, in the past year alone I’ve been to three drag shows, one drag brunch, and have binge watched RuPaul’s Drag Race countless times.
So when I got wind of this book, and Jeffery Self, being at the Texas Teen Book Festival, I knew I would absolutely love the story.  I was not disappointed at all.  The narrative is mostly focused on JT’s struggle with accepting himself as who he is, back rolls and all (eyes Alyssa Edwards), and coming to realize that if you start to live in the moment then things can really start to happen for you.

Yes, this is a very positive LGBTQ book, and I love that.  But I also love that other than a few mentions of name-calling, that this was a personal journey of self love and discovery than it was someone trying to grapple with their sexuality—not that it’s a bad thing to have that narrative—I just was pleased to be reading one that was more focused on the individual.  In addition, as someone who has struggled with anxiety and crippling self esteem issues, I related so much to JT and his journey.

JT is in a happy relationship with his boyfriend of almost 4 years, and has been out and proud for a while.  It’s really just his self doubt that holds him back, well, that an the lack of money.

Shenanigans happen and JT finally gets to leave his bubble of Clearwater, FL and goes to the Big Apple to compete in a teen drag pageant. I don’t know about you, but I have helped a friend dress in drag for an amateur drag show and it was so much fun, so it brought back some happy memories.

Clearly there are some characters that were blatantly based off of some of the queens from RuPaul’s drag race, and I totally loved it.  I’m talking about the Pip/Adore Delano hybrid (PARTY), and the bitchy Tash that reminds me of Coco Montrese.

I loved this book.  The writing is punchy, upbeat, and the pacing is excellent.  Do yourself a favor and get into Drag Teen.  You won’t regret it!

5 Bards.

fivebards

Waiting on Wednesday

waiting on wednesday

Every week Breaking the Spine hosts the bookish meme for book bloggers to share what books they are waiting on to be released!  For the month of October, Team Midsummer is celebrating LGBTQ History Month.  So for are WOW posts, all the novels we are desperately waiting to be released that are LGBTQ! This week I’m waiting on:

Release Date: January 31, 2017

Fifteen-year-old Aki Hunter knows she’s bisexual, but up until now she’s only dated guys—and her best friend, Lori, is the only person she’s out to.

When she and Lori set off on a four-week youth-group mission trip in a small Mexican town, it never crosses Aki’s mind that there might be anyone in the group she’d be interested in dating.

But that all goes out the window when Aki meets Christa.

Book Review: Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli

Sixteen-year-old and not-so-openly gay Simon Spier prefers to save his drama for the school musical. But when an email falls into the wrong hands, his secret is at risk of being thrust into the spotlight. Now Simon is actually being blackmailed: if he doesn’t play wingman for class clown Martin, his sexual identity will become everyone’s business. Worse, the privacy of Blue, the pen name of the boy he’s been emailing, will be compromised.

With some messy dynamics emerging in his once tight-knit group of friends, and his email correspondence with Blue growing more flirtatious every day, Simon’s junior year has suddenly gotten all kinds of complicated. Now, change-averse Simon has to find a way to step out of his comfort zone before he’s pushed out—without alienating his friends, compromising himself, or fumbling a shot at happiness with the most confusing, adorable guy he’s never met.

How I have owned this book since it was released in 2014 and not read it before now is definitely something I’m kicking myself for.

Not only does Simon vs The Homo Sapiens Agenda touch on all of the things that a good LGBTQ novel should: the aspects and emotions that come with Coming Out, what chaos can be caused by being Outed by someone else, and the joy in being accepted by those who love you.  ALSO, falling in love for the first time.

Albertalli’s writing is succinct and fast-moving, so much so that I couldn’t put it down and I read this book in one three hour sitting. Also, all of the snark and sarcasm.

Simon is a wonderfully complex character, and the relationships between him and his friends are well developed and equally complex.  It all flows together so well.  I just applaud Albertalli so much for her skill in writing.  It turns out that the author is actually a child psychologist – don’t worry, she doesn’t base any characters off of any of her clients (patient-doctor confidentiality), but is inspired by those she has gotten to know over the years – so it shouldn’t surprise me that she is excellent at developing these complex characters alongside her complex narrator/protagonist.

The narrative structure rotates between first person limited Simon and chapters that show the email exchanges between Simon and his crush, Blue.  I think this was one of my favorite narrative devices that I’ve read recently, (and again, I should have read this book a long time ago! SO GOOD) because it really shows how deep the friendship between the two of them is and it also shows the reader how their relationship progresses and it helps the reader fall in love with Blue alongside Simon.

I applaud Albertalli’s fearlessness when discussion teen drinking, masturbation, and first sexual experiences.  Not to mention all of the cussing.  I love all of it.  It makes the narrative so much more realistic and relatable to the reader.

As a straight, cis woman, I just loved how realistic and emotional Simon’s journey was throughout the whole novel.  He struggles with the need for approval but also his privacy.  He is a normal teenager lusting after his crush, defining his emotions, and finding who he really is.  It was also important for me to really see how much it affected Simon that he didn’t get to choose how he came out, he was forced “out of the closet” by an angry kid in his class.  It was despicable and very hard to read, I broke down into tears for Simon and for his agency that was taken away from him.

All the high fives for the diversity in this novel, not only with two gay main characters, one of them is a person of color, a person of color is Simon’s best friend, there’s a Jewish main character, and a bisexual character.  It really does exemplify the melting pot that is Atlanta and America.  I adore that the two of the couples in this novel are interracial and it is not a big deal.  Because it isn’t. The south has all of these old, ridiculous prejudices and I love that it just wasn’t a major issue in this book.

Some powerful quotes from the novel:

“White shouldn’t be the default any more than straight should be the default. There shouldn’t even be a default.”

“People really are like house with vast rooms and tiny windows. And maybe it’s a good thing, the way we never stop surprising each other.”

“It is definitely annoying that straight (and white, for that matter) is the default, and that the only people who have to think about their identity are the ones who don’t fit that mold. Straight people really should have to come out, and the more awkward it is, the better. Awkwardness should be a requirement.”

I adored this book.

5 Bards.

fivebards

 

 

 

Keep following along with us for Midsummer’s LGBT History Month Celebration!

midsummer-lgbtq-history-month

 

Waiting on Wednesday

waiting on wednesday

Every week Breaking the Spine hosts the bookish meme for book bloggers to share what books they are waiting on to be released!  For the month of October, Team Midsummer is celebrating LGBTQ History Month.  So for are WOW posts, all the novels we are desperately waiting to be released that are LGBTQ! This week I’m waiting on:


Release Date: January 17, 2017

OCD-afflicted Griffin has just lost his first love, Theo, in a drowning accident.

In an attempt to hold onto every piece of the past, he forges a friendship with Theo’s last boyfriend, Jackson. When Jackson begins to exhibit signs of guilt, Griffin suspects he’s hiding something, and will stop at nothing to get to the truth about Theo’s death.

But as the grieving pair grows closer, readers will question Griffin’s own version of the truth both in terms of what he’s willing to hide and what true love means.

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