Wednesday, June 29, 2016

George by Alex Gino

George by Alex Gino

Review by Lauren

Source: personal copy; all opinions are my own

Official SummaryWhen people look at George, they think they see a boy. But she knows she's not a boy. She knows she's a girl.

George thinks she'll have to keep this a secret forever. Then her teacher announces that their class play is going to be Charlotte's Web. George really, really, REALLY wants to play Charlotte. But the teacher says she can't even try out for the part . . . because she's a boy.  

With the help of her best friend, Kelly, George comes up with a plan. Not just so she can be Charlotte -- but so everyone can know who she is, once and for all.

ReviewWonderful MG novel about a girl named George who believes she was born in the wrong body - a boy body. The author does a great job sharing this story, as well as what it means to be transgender, for a younger audience. George is desperate to be Charlotte in her school's play of Charlotte's Web, but that's a girl's only part since so many girls already want it. What's a girl to do when nobody realizes she's a girl? 

Enjoyable story for all ages and I think every school library should have a copy for their students! It's an important topic that is shown with sensitivity and care in this novel. I appreciated that the author showed mixed emotions/reactions concerning George's feelings. It made it more realistic, yet still easy to read.

Monday, June 27, 2016

Broadway for Orlando: What The World Needs Now is Love...

I watched this video for the first time last week and it gave me chills. May it do the same for you!

Members of the Broadway community came together after the Orlando shootings to cover the song "What The World Needs Now is Love" with ALL of the proceeds from the sales of this song going to the GLBT Community Center of Central Florida.

You can learn more about how this came together, as well as where to go to purchase the song, here.

What the world needs now IS love, so please spread the word, buy the song, support however you can.


Friday, June 24, 2016

#UncapLove: Burt's Bees and GLSEN Team Up

Burt's Bees has teamed up with GLSEN (Gay, Lesbian, Straight, Education Network) with a limited edition Rainbow Pride Lip Balm Pack. I love this! I think it's great to see companies willing to support LGBT+ rights in such a large scale. Plus, don't you just love the packaging for these lip balms? Definitely #UncapLove!!

When you purchase this Lip Balm pack, you get six flavors for $16.99 and Burt's Bees has promised to give $10,000 to GLSEN and their work!

Flavors Included: Pomegranate, Mango, Beeswax with Vitamin E and Peppermint, Medicated with Menthol and Eucalyptus, Vanilla Bean, and Acai Berry!

There was a press release for this collaboration and I loved this quote from Burt's Bees:

“As a member of the North Carolina community and an employer of LGBT people, Burt’s Bees affirms the rights and opportunities of all LGBT citizens. We value diversity and inclusion in all cases, and in light of recent events in our home state of North Carolina, we stand firmly against any act or institutionalization of discrimination in any public or private venue,” said Burt’s Bees General Manager, Jim Geikie.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Saving Montgomery Sole by Mariko Tamaki

Thank you so much to Fierce Reads for allowing me to take part in the blog tour for Saving Montgomery Sole in honor of Pride Month!! You can visit this link to find the full blog schedule! I'm on this tour for my blog, ShootingStarsMag, but since this is an LGBT+ read, I wanted to share here too!

Saving Montgomery Sole by Mariko Tamaki

Review by Lauren 

Source: copy for review; all opinions are my own

Official Summary:

In sight not see
black light not be

This is the curious instruction that comes with the Eye of Know, the possibly powerful crystal amulet that Montgomery Sole buys online for $5.99. It’s also the next topic of discussion at Mystery Club (members: Monty and her two best friends, Thomas and Naoki), dedicated to the exploration of the strange and unexplained.

When Monty wears the Eye of Know, strange things happen, all targeted at people she despises. Maybe it will help Monty take down her newest enemy, a preacher who has come to save her town from so-called sinners—sinners like Monty’s moms. Or will its mysterious powers mean the end of the friendships Monty cherishes most?

Review: This book is suitable for pride month because Monty has two moms and a gay best friend named Thomas. Not only do these characters appear full-fledged in the book, but Monty has to deal with the idea that other people don't think being gay is alright. There is a new Reverend in town who is putting up posters about the true way to be a family and every time Monty sees one, she gets so angry and starts tearing them down. I appreciated Monty's loyalty to those she loves, but she also has to learn a lot herself about not judging others, as well as talking out her problems instead of trying to rely on things like the Eye of Know.

The Eye of Know was interesting! Monty wears it and bad things happen to people that she doesn't like, but is it coincidence or the actual Eye? Regardless, if Monty believes it's real, she shouldn't be wearing it at all unless she truly wants to hurt people. Along with the Eye of Known, Monty and her two best friends have a Mystery Club they created at school where they look into things like hypnotism and other "mysteries." I thought this was cool, and I liked that she had a couple people in her life that were interested in the same things she was!

I think Monty is a good person, but the book is definitely a growth for her. She does things you wouldn't necessarily agree with, but she's coming into her own and learning what is right and wrong. Sure, she understands that being gay doesn't mean something is wrong with you, but she has her own ideas and prejudices about people that she needs to overcome. I appreciated that though!

Monday, June 20, 2016

Difficulties Writing Authentic Autistic People + Book Giveaway

A Bouquet for Adam: Difficulties Writing Authentic Autistic People

By K.T. Spence

In "A Bouquet for Adam," my co-author, A. J. Marcus and I dove into the deep end when it came to writing a person with autism. For me, this had both simple and complex attributes.

My nine-year old daughter, N, was diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder when she was 5. For two years prior to that, she spent time in occupational and speech therapy including hippotherapy (therapy on horseback) and a play-based therapy called Floortime. 

I felt well-versed in autism. At least, enough to write this character, Adam.

However, the longer A. J. and I wrote, the more I began to question the authenticity of the character. After all, I only have a nine-year old and I was trying to expand what I knew about autism from her behaviors into a thirty-year old male. 

We knew that if we didn't get the character right, the book wouldn't work. Adam had to know what he was doing -- Trent couldn't just "come on" to Adam; he had to know that Adam was gay. We wanted to completely avoid anything that would give the impression that Trent was taking advantage of Adam's innocence, yet we still wanted to show that Adam was awkward in social situations, that he was still on some type of a schedule (as in the beginning when he was driving home from work), that he was mostly dependent upon his mother (who was his rock, or, to use another apt phrase, his port in the storm). 

Our beta readers included some of A.J's normal betas, but I added one more. During the time we were writing the story, I had been introduced to another writer in our local writing group who happened to not only be a psychology professor but who also happened to be autistic as well. We asked him to read the first draft with an eye towards authenticity -- did Adam sound realistic? More importantly, did Adam sound his age? His notes were invaluable to us in getting Adam to sound right.

I hope readers enjoy the book -- on top of that, I hope they learn something from it. Yes, people with autism are "different" in some ways from neurotypical people, but they're not all that different. I know that my daughter has been the greatest joy in my life and I can't imagine what she would be like without the autism. It's not something you can simply separate out and say, "Oh, that's the autism speaking." It's simply an aspect of who they are. 

Now, let's give away a book! For one of the commenters below in the next week, I'll give away one book from A.J. Marcus's back list on Dreamspinner Press!

I'd love to hear any comments you might have, regarding writing, autism, or anything else you'd like to discuss.

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Other Bloggers Talk about Orlando

I wrote some of my own thoughts on the Orlando, FL shootings the other day. I'm not the only one affected by this horrific tragedy though, so I wanted to share some posts I found on other blogs. If you write something on your blog or see other posts about the tragedy, please do let me know and I can try and post them soon!

* DudeMom shares a post called "Talking to Your Kids About Orlando" which is wonderful, because I know it must be difficult to explain these things to children. Her son even came up with a way to help spread love, not hate, so do check it out!

* Bubby and Bean has a post titled Orlando On My Mind- about how she can't stop thinking about the tragedy that occurred Sunday morning, and how she doesn't think we should. This can't keep happening. We can't forget.

* Angelic Muse's blog post On Coming Out and Reaching Out shares her personal thoughts on the Orlando massacre, but it's also written in the point of view of a bisexual woman who hasn't always felt accepted in the LGBT+ community.

* And finally, Shop Girl Daily wrote a post titled How to Help Victims of the Orlando Shooting which gives you links on where you can donate money to help with funeral costs and other expenses. I know some of you who read this blog aren't from the U.S., so I wanted to explain that Sandy Hook (mentioned in this blog post) was an elementary school where a young man came and shot many children and teachers. It was a horrific day in U.S. history, just like the Orlando shootings this past Sunday.

Monday, June 13, 2016


I meant to post something about this yesterday, but what do you say really? I posted and re-posted many things on Twitter and Facebook yesterday and today that reflected how I felt and what I wanted other people to know or understand. However, this blog is all about LGBT+ news and entertainment, so I knew I had to talk about this. For those that aren't aware, there was a mass shooting in Orlando Florida, early Sunday morning at a gay nightclub called Pulse. 49 people were killed and 53 more people were injured, not to mention the other people at the club that night as well as all their friends and family members affected. This is something that rocked the LGBT+ community because no matter what reasoning is given, this was a hate crime.

This was something that deeply affected the LGBT+ community, but I hope that it didn't just hit those who identify as Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Asexual, etc. This should be a moment in history that affected all Americas, as well as every other decent human being in the world. Innocent people were murdered because someone didn't agree with them. They decided the answer was to gun down 49 people and injure 53 more because of their personal beliefs. This is not right. This is not acceptable. Regardless of what you think about guns and gun control, there needs to be change. This cannot keep happening.

America is the land of the free. And yet, we keep having mass shootings. People die in churches, in colleges, in elementary schools, in LGBT+ nightclubs. It needs to stop. It is not fair that we should live in fear of not only who we are, but where we go. It is not fair. It is not right.

We need things to change.

This is not an overtly political blog, but I'm not talking politics here. I'm talking human lives. I'm talking love. I'm talking compassion. We have it - let's show it.

NBC News released the names of all 49 confirmed dead in this tragic shooting. I went to a vigil tonight in downtown Cincinnati, Ohio and one of the speakers mentioned that you can read these names online, first name- last name - age - but that they were so much more than that. This should be remembered. These were people; they were more than names on a list. Much more than just someone who was shot in a tragic hate crime. We need to remember.

This is what hate looks like. This is what it feels like.

But hate doesn't win. Love does. Keep loving. Keep being brave.

I'll be posting more about these shootings in the coming weeks, but I wanted to make sure I posted something sooner rather than later. I'll be including lighter posts too - reviews, music, etc. - so please feel free to read what you can handle.

Share your thoughts below, but remember:

Be Kind.

-Lauren Becker

Thursday, June 9, 2016

Being Jazz: My Life as a (Transgender) Teen by Jazz Jennings

Being Jazz: My Life as a (Transgender) Teen by Jazz Jennings 

Review by Lauren

source: copy from BEA: all opinions are my own

Review: Jazz Jennings from the TLC show I Am Jazz is releasing her memoir today. It's a great look at her life so far - she's only 15 at the moment- and how she always knew she was a girl in a boy's body. I loved hearing stories from her childhood. I'm sure it was tough for her parents to deal with this news, but they seem like great people who only want the best for their children. They allowed Jazz to dress as a girl at home for awhile, and eventually in public. They were constantly learning and advocating for trans rights.

Being Jazz is an easy book to read; it's almost like Jazz is speaking to a friend. It's great how open and honest she is about a lot of different aspects in her life. I have an advanced copy that I was given to read/review, so the photos throughout are all in black and white. Each chapter starts with a new photo, which I loved. I believe the finished version will include some in color, but I can't 100% say for sure. Overall, I highly recommend this one! It's a great way to get an insider's look at what it means to be transgender.

I read this book for #ReadProud, a reading challenge author Julia Ember created for Pride Month! 

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Interview with Author Dahlia Adler

I'd like to thank author Dahlia Adler for answering my questions and agreeing to be on the blog today. I'd also like you to know that Out on Good Behavior, an f/f NA novel, is out on June 14 (Just one more week! Add to Goodreads now)!

1. Your upcoming NA novel, Out on Good Behavior, features an f/f couple. You have also written a YA f/f novel, Under the Lights. Did these characters come to you within these relationships, or did you set out to write about two females falling in love?

Very different answers for those two books, actually! With Out on Good Behavior, I always knew it was going to be an f/f book. The main character, Frankie, is Pansexual, which you know from the first book in the series, and the romance is set up in the second book. 

Under the Lights, however, originally had the main character Vanessa in a straight romance. They had zero chemistry, though, and I couldn't figure out why that storyline was tanking so hard. Then in a fit of frustration I said to my critique partner, "I feel like I just want to make her a lesbian," and it was a total light bulb moment; I didn't have to make her anything. In fact, when I went to revise the book to write it as f/f romance instead, I found that the only character she had any chemistry with was a waitress she meets early in the book. That scene is still in there, only instead of a random interaction, it's how she meets her future girlfriend.

2. Out on Good Behavior is the third Radleigh University novel you have written. Do the previous two feature any LGBT+ characters? Do readers of Out on Good Behavior need to read the first two, or do they all stand on their own?

Yes! Frankie (the main character in OoGB) is in all three books, and Samara, the love interest, is in two of them. There's also a major subplot in the second book featuring a gay male athlete, and two of Frankie's good friends in OoGB are a trans guy and a bi girl. And, of course, because it's supposed to be depicting real life, there are plenty of LGBT+ characters around campus, and the books are explicit about that.

Each book does stand on its own--they're companions, rather than direct sequels--but I do think it adds a lot to read the earlier books, especially because the romance gets its start in book 2. 

3. Why do you think featuring LGBT+ characters in literature is important? Do you plan to just focus on f/f couples in future novels, or does it just depend on the story line?

I think it's important that books acknowledge what real life looks like, and to fail to do so sends an invalidating message to the people who never see themselves in books. But LGBT+ characters in particular, especially in kidlit, are of monumental importance to me, because there are so many kids who have these feelings they don't feel safe to talk about with friends and family; they may not know anyone in real life who feels the same way. So to make sure they know that same-sex attraction and/or gender identity issues are real and valid and that they're not the only ones experiencing them, sometimes books are going to be the best company they have until they're old enough to be free to seek out like-minded people on their own.

I definitely plan to continue writing f/f couples in future novels, but not strictly so; I have plans for m/f, f/f, and m/m romance in the near writing future.

4. What are some LGBT+ novels that you are personally a fan of and would recommend to others?

I have a lot of LGBT+ novel love, but a bunch I have to shout out: Black Iris and Cam Girl by Leah Raeder, Strong Signal by Megan Erickson and Santino Hassel, Far From You by Tess Sharpe, More Happy Than Not by Adam Silvera, Simon Vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli, Not Otherwise Specified by Hannah Moskowitz, Everything Leads to You by Nina LaCour, Symptoms of Being Human by Jeff Garvin, Lies We Tell Ourselves by Robin Talley, and If I Was Your Girl by Meredith Russo. 

5. Finally, what is one thing that fans can do to really help an author when they release a new book?

It's so, so important to show that there's a market for these books, and nothing does that like buying or requesting from a library. Nothing can top that. (But reviewing, especially on Amazon, is pretty key too!)


Thank you Dahlia! Don't forget to grab one of her novels, especially teh two NA novels before  Out on Good Behavior. Keep up with Dahlia at the following places:


Monday, June 6, 2016

Music Monday: Jesse Thomas' "Lorraine"

I haven't done a music post in awhile, so I thought it was about time I shared a song that I love! The artist is Jesse Thomas and I found out about her at the Bunbury Music Festival in Cincinnati, Ohio a few years ago. She's actually from the area but she currently lives in California. The song/video I'm sharing today is "Lorraine" which is a beautiful song on her album Burn the Boats, which I own and I highly recommend!

As I'm sharing this here, I suppose it doesn't need to be mentioned, but in case you're wondering, Jesse is an out artist and I highly commend her for that - along with her great music!

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

The Art of Being Normal by Lisa Williamson

The Art of Being Normal by Lisa Williamson

Review by Lauren

source: copy from Netgalley; all opinions are my own

Official SummaryDavid Piper has always been an outsider. His parents think he's gay. The school bully thinks he's a freak. Only his two best friends know the real truth: David wants to be a girl.

On the first day at his new school Leo Denton has one goal: to be invisible. Attracting the attention of the most beautiful girl in his class is definitely not part of that plan. When Leo stands up for David in a fight, an unlikely friendship forms. But things are about to get messy. Because at Eden Park School secrets have a funny habit of not staying secret for long , and soon everyone knows that Leo used to be a girl.

As David prepares to come out to his family and transition into life as a girl and Leo wrestles with figuring out how to deal with people who try to define him through his history, they find in each other the friendship and support they need to navigate life as transgender teens as well as the courage to decide for themselves what normal really means.

Review: I think any book about being transgender is important in some way because it's a topic that is important and needs to be focused on. I read a couple mixed reviews of this book before I ever started, so I was a bit wary going in, mainly when it came to how the author represented the character of David. Throughout the book Leo is called Leo, his chapter titles are named Leo, and everyone thinks of him as he is - a boy. This makes sense because Leo is living as a guy from the beginning of the book. David is still living as a guy, not a girl like he wants. I think the issue for people is that David isn't referred to as his chosen name once he reveals it. but again, this didn't really bother me.

David might eventually reveal what he wants to be called and that he wants to live like a girl and not a boy, but he isn't officially "out" or living this life until the very end. Once we get to that point, David is no longer David. Because this was an issue for people, I just thought I'd share my two scents, as well as prepare any future readers who may find it strange! Again, this is just my opinion and kind of how I see the author's reasoning for how she titles her characters.

As for the overall story, though, I thought it was done fairly well. It's a good book for teens who don't necessarily know what transgender means or who have negative connotations. It's easy to see that both David and Leo are regular teenagers in a lot of ways. They have friends, problems with their families, siblings, crushes, and everyday school to deal with. Of course, their lives are not as easy as some other teens because of their unique situation of having been born in the wrong body, but I appreciated that Williamson made these characters are realistic as possible. That's important with these books. They might have differences, but they are just teenagers at the end of the day.

Because I live in the United States, any novel that is written and set in a different country, counts as a Bridge the Gap book. The Art of Being Normal qualifies as it's set in England.