Thursday, April 28, 2011

LGBT News of the Week

First off, I'm sorry for the delay on keeping up with posts. It should be known by now that I do post here a little less than my other blog most days, but lately, it's just been school crazy. Thankfully, it's almost the summer. For now though...I wanted to share the LGBT News of the Week.

Evan Rachel Wood has stated that she is bisexual. She even discusses of her love of androgyny. I always think it's great when people can be honest and open about who they are...and Evan is one of my favorite actresses. She's what you would call my "girl crush" so I was particularly pleased to read about her being even more okay with who she is.

Jordan Todosey, who plays the first transgender character (Adam) on Degrassi, recently did an interview with AfterEllen. I haven't kept up with Adam's storyline as much as I wanted to, but it seems to be going along really well...and I think Jordan sounds like a very great person!

Actor Avan Jogia has started a campaign titled Straight But Not Narrow. It seems to mostly be about straight guys supporting gay guys and trying to show others that it's not an issue, so why make it one? This is amazing and I applaud everyone already involved in this process (and the others that are sure to join). Josh Hutcherson (The Kids are Alright) is even involved! They have some PSA's filmed, which I still need to watch but you can read Jogia's interview on AfterElton.

Daniel Radcliffe is more than happy to say he believes that gay marriage should be legal, and I'm incredibly happy he agrees!

John Waters has a collection of essays out...I have to say, I'm really tempted to check it out. Plus, you can read about Alex Sanchez's latest which I just got in the mail (yay amazon gift cards). Oh, and a new comic This Gay Existence looks great!!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

The Raising by Laura Kasischke

The Raising by Laura Kasischke

Review by: Lauren

Copy From: Publisher

Amazon Associate: Buy book, our site gets a small percentage

Official Summary: Last year Godwin Honors Hall was draped in black. The university was mourning the loss of one of its own: Nicole Werner, a blond, beautiful, straight-A sorority sister tragically killed in a car accident that left her boyfriend, who was driving, remarkably—some say suspiciously—unscathed.

Although a year has passed, as winter begins and the nights darken, obsession with Nicole and her death reignites: She was so pretty. So sweet-tempered. So innocent. Too young to die.

Unless she didn’t.

Because rumor has it that she’s back.

Review: The Raising is a bit of a feat to get through. Part of that is its size, as it is quite long, but most of that comes from the fact that it's just so jammed pack with so many emotions. There is the overreaching story that concerns Nicole Werner and her mysterious death...but that's not all. There is love, hate, jealousy, anger, happiness...just so so much!!

The book goes through various point of views, which I loved. It reminded me of Jodi Picoult in that regard except The Raising has even more than Picoult's usual two. First, you have Craig...Nicole's boyfriend and who people are calling her murderer. Then, you have Perry...he grew up with Nicole, went to college and became roommates with Craig. He's also one of the few people on Craig's side after the accident. Then there is Mira, a professor at the college and someone who Perry enlists to help him figure out the mystery of Nicole's death. Finally, we get Shelly and the reason I'm posting this review at Let's Get Beyond Tolerance. She works in the music department and had Josie (Nicole's roommate) as a work-study student after the car wreck. Josie somehow finds her way into Shelly's bed...but not everything is bliss.

All four of these people always were or become connected to Nicole somehow, and because of that, their lives are forever changed. It was fascinating to get inside the minds and lives of all these men and women. It isn't just about Nicole, especially with the two women: Mira and Shelly. But somehow, it all comes back to Nicole.

Is Nicole dead? Is she hiding out at her sorority's house? Is she haunting Craig, Perry...? It's hard to tell. The questions and mysteries just keep piling up as you read and I found myself desperate for answers. I can't say everything is wrapped up nice and neat at the end. I suppose we really wouldn't want that. I know I wouldn't. At first, there were things I was upset about. I wanted to throw the book against the wall for different reasons. But it's's life. Not everything is perfect or pretty...especially not when all is said and done.

As for the characters, I love that they aren't perfect...anything. They aren't perfectly good or perfectly bad. They all make mistakes, they all seem to let other things take over in their lives...It's real though. It's not some make-believe faiy tale where everything always goes well. Get the girl, all is great. Get the job, all is wonderful. It doesn't happen that way. It's give and take, it's work, work work. It's pain and hurt and triumph and success.

I just really loved this novel. It's something that would generate many discussions. It's definitely a great book club book. I just wish I knew if author Kasischke has all the answers I'm dying to know...not that she'd give them up I'm sure.

YA Level (again, this is not a book rating. It's how YA-appropriate the book is): 6/7 out of 10. 10 out of 10 is perfect YA!

Friday, April 8, 2011

Snowball in Hell by Josh Lanyon

Snowball in Hell by Josh Lanyon

Review by: Lauren

Copy From: Netgalley

amazon associate: buy book, we get small percentage

Official Summary:

Los Angeles, 1943

Reporter Nathan Doyle had his reasons to want Phil Arlen dead, but when he sees the man's body pulled from the La Brea tar pit, he knows he'll be the prime suspect. He also knows that his life won't stand up to intense police scrutiny, so he sets out to crack the case himself.

Lieutenant Matthew Spain's official inquiries soon lead him to believe that Nathan knows more than he's saying. But that's not the only reason Matt takes notice of the handsome journalist. Matt's been drawn to men before, but he must hide his true feelings—or risk his entire career.

As Nathan digs deeper, it becomes increasingly difficult to stay one step ahead of Matt Spain—and to deny his intense attraction to him. Nathan's secrets may not include murder, but has his hunt put him right in the path of the real killer?

Review: I love that Snowball in Hell is not just an LGBT book. It's first, and foremost, a mystery novel. Somebody has been found dead and they figure he must have been murdered...after all, he was apparently kidnapped, though the family never told the police. I'm not the most savvy when it comes to mysteries, so feel free to take this with a "grain of salt" if you will...but I didn't know who the murderer was until the end. To be honest, I thinkt it would be a surprise for most people...and for those that do figure it out, I don't see how you would until close to the end anyway.

As for the LGBT content, it is there. Being gay in 1943 is much, much harder than being gay today so Nathan keeps it quiet and meets up with people in secret. It's not ideal, but he cannot stop it. He has to be with people he's actually attracted to. Matt, on the other hand, never really allowed himself to think about his attraction to the same sex...not until he meets Nathan. While Matt finds himself attracted to Nathan, he's also curious as to just how this guy who was recently out of town found himself amongst a murder case (besides being a reporter).

The relationship between Matt and Nathan was very interesting to read. I liked that they came from two different sides of things, and they really show that the care for the other (especially Matt, who finds himself wanting to make sure Nathan is taken care of and not hurt by anyone).

You know, whenever I review something here, I make sure to talk about anything in the book that might not be suitable for the YA set. Again, being a young adult varies in many years...or so I obviously, I think this book is appropriate for some YA but not all. The ones that might want to wait would be a much younger set...15 or 16 and under. The sexual content you would read about (and that's about everything that's 'adult') takes place near the end of the book and pretty much constitutes a chapter. The rest of it is much more focused on the "innocent" side of romance as well as the mystery.

I do recommend this book. I also heard it was the first in a new series, so I'm excited about that. I'd definitely enjoy reading more of Nathan and Matt's story.

On the level of YA...I'd give this a 7 out of 10! (this is not the book's rating. I don't really rate books. This number is what I talked about appropriate for YA).

Monday, April 4, 2011

Between Mom and Jo by Julie Anne Peters

Between Mom and Jo by Julie Anne Peters

Review by: Lauren

Copy from: I bought it

Amazon Associate: buy book, we get small percent

Official Summary:

Nick has two Moms. That makes him different than most everyone else at school.

And now his parents are splitting up.

Suddenly he has the same problem faced by lots of other teenagers:

How are you supposed to choose between them?

Review: Nick doesn't think it's weird to have two moms. He has "Mom" and "Jo" but they are both huge parts of his life. The problems usually come from the outside...people making fun of him, telling him his family is weird. So when the trouble starts showing up inside his house, that's the hard part. He wants his parents to stay together, but he can't stop them from drifting apart.

I liked that the beginning of the book were memories of Nick growing up. At the end of the chapter, there would be a present day Nick stating his thoughts about that particular time. It gives you a nice look into his life and how he grew up. Nick also keeps a scrapbook, and this is a nice way of showing that...little things he includes in his scrapbook have to do with various memories (like a watermelon seed).

After a point, it's just Nick and his life now. He has to deal with his mom getting cancer, Mom and Jo fighting, Jo moving out, Mom not wanting him to see Jo, and Mom falling for someone new. It's crazy and intense and Nick hates it. He just wants his life to be normal again.

I loved that Peters didn't make his moms perfect or saints. It would be easy to have a book with two moms showcasing them as the perfect parents. After all, with so much anger about LGBT men and women having wouldn't want a book going along with that, would you? But Peters doesn't focus on that. She simply shows a regular family going through their problems. Sure, Nick might have two moms...but that doesn't mean they are bad parents. They fight, they make mistakes. It's normal.

In the end, everything isn't sunshine and daises...but everyone has grown. They have all realized they have to move forward. They can't blame others, and they can't get mad about the things that life throws on them. Nick, especially, changes...and as he does, things begin to work out for him. They aren't perfect, but whose life is? He's finally getting back a new sort of normal.

I'm a big fan of Julie Anne Peters, and after read this one, I know I'll just keep grabbing her work off the shelves.