Sunday, January 31, 2016

Repost Review: The Danish Girl by David Ebershoff

For those that may be new to the blog, Repost Reviews are reviews that I originally posted on Shooting Stars Mag, and that I want to share here! With The Danish Girl now in theaters (movie poster above on the right, book cover the left) and the two main actors being nominated for Oscars, I thought it was important that I share my review for the book The Danish Girl, which I originally read and reviewed in 2010. I mention a movie being in the works then and now it's finally out! I'll have a review of the film later in the week.

Repost Review of The Danish Girl by David Ebershoff 

Review by Lauren

copy for review; all opinions are my own

Summary from Author Site: Inspired by the true story of Danish painter Einar Wegener and his California-born wife, this tender portrait of a marriage asks: What do you do when someone you love wants to change? It starts with a question, a simple favor asked of a husband by his wife on an afternoon chilled by the Baltic wind while both are painting in their studio. Her portrait model has canceled, and would he mind slipping into a pair of women's shoes and stockings for a few moments so she can finish the painting on time. Of course, he answers. Anything at all. With that, one of the most passionate and unusual love stories of the twentieth century begins.

My Review: The Danish Girl is a beautifully written story about the love between two people, one of which just happens to have been born a girl named Lili stuck inside a boy named Einar. Einar's wife, Greta, gives up her own needs to make sure that Lili can grow and become who she was meant to be. It's a brave idea, especially in the 1930's when many are telling Greta that her husband is not well and could be a harm to himself or society...Greta, however, believes otherwise.

Ebershoff, just like the painters' story he weaves, has painted a world that is both wonderful and awful all at the same time. The settings and world around these characters is carefully constructed so that the reader can fall into their lives, as if reading about a pair of friends who live away.

Overall, The Danish Girl was a fast read and leaves you with many thoughts. What is the true meaning of love, inside and out of marriage? Could you give up the man you love, knowing that once the girl in him is nurtered, there is no turning back and you have to move on alone?

I'm grateful that I was allowed to take part in the TLC tour. I think this is a wonderful book for many to read and is surely something that you would find discussed in Oprah's bookclub. I just realized from the author's site that film plans are in the works and I really hope it works out. This is one story that is sure to come alive on screen and deals with a topic that should be discussed with grace and understanding...just like the book did. 

If you click the link before the summary, it will bring you to the Danish Girl page on Ebershoff's site, where you can find links to an excerpt, information on the film, and quotes from others about the novel.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Adam Lambert's 2016 U.S. Tour Dates

If you've been reading the blog for awhile now, then you know that I'm a huge fan of Adam Lambert. I've been lucky to see him live once already, and it was a fairly small venue too (close after American Idol, I believe) so it was great. I would love to have the opportunity to really see him put on a show though. Unfortunately, he's not coming near enough for me to see him this time around. However, if you're in the United States, there might be a tour date near you and tickets are on sale now! talks to Adam Lambert about the new tour, as well as his previous touring dates with the band Queen. His upcoming tour sounds like it will be a ton of fun and I'd highly recommend you see Adam live if you can. He's fantastic! It looks like he'll be performing most of the album, The Original High, with some older hits too. I still need to buy his third album, so I can't say much about it but I pretty much love anything that Adam does.

What about you? Would you see Adam live? Is he touring near you?


Tour dates below (from

Feb 23 - Huntington, NY @ The Paramount
Feb 24 - Boston, MA @ House of Blues Boston
Feb 26 - Mashantucket, CT @ MGM Grand Theater at Foxwoods
Feb 27 - Atlantic City, NJ @ Caesars Atlantic City - Circus Maximus
Feb 28 - Bethlehem, PA @ Sands Bethlehem Event Center
Mar 1 - New Brunswick, NJ @ State Theater
Mar 3 - New York, NY @ Terminal 5
Mar 5 - Washington, DC @ Lincoln Theatre
Mar 6 - Charlotte, NC @ The Fillmore Charlotte
Mar 8 - Atlanta, GA @ The Tabernacle
Mar 10 - Nashville, TN @ Ryman Auditorium
Mar 12 - Hollywood, FL @ Seminole Hard Rock Live Arena
Mar 13 - Orlando, FL @ Universal Studios Florida - City Walk
Mar 14 - Clearwater, FL @ Ruth Eckerd Hall
Mar 22 - Milwaukee, WI @ Riverside Theater
Mar 23 - Chicago, IL @ The Vic Theatre
Mar 25 - Detroit, MI @ Fillmore Detroit
Mar 26 - Mt. Pleasant, MI @ Soaring Eagle Casino Resort
Mar 28 - Wichita, KS @ The Cotillion
Mar 30 - Denver, CO @ Paramount Theatre
Apr 1 - Las Vegas, NV @ LIFE at SLS Hotel
Apr 2 - Los Angeles, CA @ Orpheum Theatre

Monday, January 25, 2016

Celebrate Valentine's Day with UStar Novels

Valentine's Day is fast approaching and if you are someone that celebrates, then I thought I would introduce you to U Star Novels. They did not ask me to write this. I just wanted to share a fun product that you could share with a loved one! U Star Novels allows you to personalize your own book. They have books for Kids, Couples, Classic Books, and yes, even Same-Sex couples!

Let's say you wanted to personalize the classic novel Anne of Green Gables. The page where you order gives you the list of characters that you can personalize - this means you put in new names for these characters, using your family or friends. If you want to see how this looks/reads, you can try it out before you buy by visiting the book's page and clicking Free Excerpt. It will give you empty boxes next to characters that feature in the excerpt and you put in new names and then check out the excerpt!

As this is an LGBT+ blog, I wanted to show a company that offered books for Same-Sex couples, as I think this is an important addition to a personalized book site. The Same-Sex books section offers two books for men and two books for women. The men have a book titled Romeo and Romeo, while the women have Juliet and Juliet. Along with these, the m/m novel is Back for Moore and the f/f novel is Secrets of Sydney.

The prices all seem to be around the same. Back for Moore and Secrets of Sydney are both $39.95 for a paperback and $17.95 for an e-book. Most of the classic books are $29.95 for paperback and still $17.95 for an e-book. As for other original book titles, like the two mentioned in the Same-Sex Couples section, the price seems to be similar to those (around $40 for a paperback). Yes, it's a bit of a high price for a paperback for some of these, but at the same time, this is a book that you or your loved one will enjoy for years to come! Maybe they will even want to re-read it every year.

U Star Novels has a U.S. based website, but they also have one for the U.K. and Australia.

Friday, January 22, 2016

LGBT Book Reviews from ShootingStarsMag

For those of you that regularly read this blog, you know that I also blog over at ShootingStarsMag. I often have review books for that blog that feature LGBT+ characters and I want to make sure that none of you here are missing them. Therefore, I thought I'd share some of my latest LGBT+ book reviews from ShootingStarsMag.

Just today I posted a review for We Are the Ants by Shaun David Hutchinson. This book is a YA novel and it's fantastic. It features a lot of tough issues and asks some interesting questions. It's one I'd love to read again!

On January 13, I shared my review for Tied to Trouble by Megan Erickson. I have only read Erickson's m/m novels and I love them, so I was excited to see she had an m/m novel attached to an m/f series of books. You don't have to read the previous books to understand and enjoy this one! This is an adult novel full of passionate and steamy scenes, but I also loved the real and emotional relationship between the main characters.

On January 8, I posted my review for Icarus Ascending by Lee James as well as a short interview with the author himself. This is another m/m adult novel but it's mostly a mystery novel. The romance is an addition to the book and I did enjoy it, but I also liked that this book wasn't solely focused on that. There is a lot of suspense and questions to work through as you read!

On January 6, I had one post with two book reviews. These include Tied Together by Z. B. Heller and Give Yourself Away by Barbara Elsborg. Tied Together takes place over many years, showing the progressive relationship between two friends. I did enjoy this form of storytelling and it was intriguing to see how the two would ultimately work things out. Give Yourself Away was a really emotional novel but I LOVED it. It's a romance, but it also deals with an abduction from years previous.

I'll stop there as it gives you all the LGBT+ books that I reviewed (thus far) for the month of January.

Have you read any of these? Which of them would you like to read, if any?

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Celebrate Kindness: No-Name Calling Week


GLSEN (Gay, Lesbian, Straight, Education Network) is celebrating No Name-Calling Week this week. From January 18-22, be sure to keep in mind the power of words. Of course, this is something we should always keep in mind but this is a good week to especially consider the topic and to spread the word to whoever you can! Name-calling is obviously more present in a school setting, but even adults name- call when frustrated with a family member, friend, co-worker, or even a complete stranger!

Check out GLSEN's website if you want to learn more/find various links.

You can also like the No Name-Calling Week profile on Facebook!!

Courtesy of the GLSEN website, I wanted to share how No Name-Calling Week began, since I know a lot of you reading this are fellow book lovers! In the book The Misfits by James Howe, characters in the book create a "No Name-Calling" Day at their school and with that in mind, GLSEN and Simon and Schuster Children's Publishing banded together and created No Name-Calling Week. Pretty cool, huh?! This is just another example of the power of books!

I know the week is almost over, but be sure to share No Name-Calling week with anyone in your life you feel may benefit: children, grandchildren, niece/nephew, students, library patrons, etc.

Monday, January 18, 2016

Not Otherwise Specified by Hannah Moskowitz

Not Otherwise Specified by Hannah Moskowitz

Review by Lauren

source: copy from library; all opinions are my own

Official Summary: Etta is tired of dealing with all of the labels and categories that seem so important to everyone else in her small Nebraska hometown.

Everywhere she turns, someone feels she’s too fringe for the fringe. Not gay enough for the Dykes, her ex-clique, thanks to a recent relationship with a boy; not tiny and white enough for ballet, her first passion; not sick enough to look anorexic (partially thanks to recovery). Etta doesn’t fit anywhere—until she meets Bianca, the straight, white, Christian, and seriously sick girl in Etta’s therapy group. Both girls are auditioning for Brentwood, a prestigious New York theater academy that is so not Nebraska. Bianca might be Etta’s salvation…but can Etta be saved by a girl who needs saving herself?

Review: This book just screams diversity! Etta is a lesbian, until she ends up dating a guy. She's bi-racial and she loves to do ballet, but she doesn't have a ballet dancer's body. Added to this, Etta has ED-NOS, which is Eating Disorders Not Otherwise Specified. So yes, that's Etta.


She's having a tough time dealing with her hometown in Nebraska. Her ex-girlfriend is now in NYC and Etta is desperate to find herself there after her own graduation. It's not so much about the dance schools or the arts; she just wants out. She's been kicked out of the Dykes, a group of lesbians who all hang out in 70s clothes and obviously date girls. Etta doesn't care about most of them, but the group includes her best friend, and she misses her.

However, Etta is in therapy for her eating disorder and there, she meets Bianca, who is obviously sick. She's so tiny, but she has the biggest voice. Etta becomes closer to Bianca and her brother, James, as well as James' friend. This new, quirky group work together. They all have their "issues" and battles to face, but they also put a lot of time and energy into auditioning for a big arts school in New York. You desperately want all of them to make it, but you also know it would be shocking for even one of them to get through.

As we follow Etta's point of view, it's easy to want her to make it to NYC. You want her to find a new life away from Nebraska where she can be fabulously her. She doesn't feel like she fits in anywhere, but that's also a beautiful thing. She's uniquely herself and she ultimately realizes that that's okay. She can be Not Otherwise Specified and still shine

Saturday, January 16, 2016

Teen Wolf's Charlie Carver Comes Out

I came across this article on about Teen Wolf actor, Charlie Carver, who made a series of five posts on his Instagram, officially coming out. If you would like to check out his Instagram, go here, and if you want the EW article, check it out here.

I won't share any particular quotes here as I really do think you should check out his Instagram and read the entire letter he shares. Each one says Part 1 through Part 5, so be sure you're reading in the right order.

However, I really wanted to share this story because I think it's great when people in the spotlight are comfortable enough to come out and share that side of themselves. Carver states that he was out in his private life and he didn't feel like he had to talk about his sexuality to the public, and that's true. You shouldn't have too. People will start to pick at you sometimes though and they'll start to question and wonder...and that often leads back to them badgering you and making you feel like you have to come out. It doesn't seem like Carver really felt that, but he did feel a responsibility of sorts to share his story and be known as a gay man for those that are younger and dealing with their sexuality.

You don't have to hide. You can be yourself.

I do like that he mentions to be wary about coming out if you aren't in a safe environment. Many LGBT+ men and women become homeless because of unwelcoming households and families. We don't want this to happen to you, so please find someone safe to talk too!

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Etsy Pride (13): Serving Set + Rainbow Mirror Necklace

It's time for another Etsy Pride for 2016! I'm trying to make sure I feature a variety of items (rainbow and/or LGBT pride) and that these items have varying prices. Let me know what you think!

Three-Piece Clay Covered Serving Set - Rainbow Mosaic

*serving spoon
*slotted spoon
*serving fork

This set is $35 from the etsy shop CC's Artworks.

This set would make such a nice home warming present!

Hologram Necklace - Rainbow Mirror Snowglobe Necklace

Demiflux on Etsy is selling this lovely necklace for $29!

This shop has a lot of other rainbow-inspired items if you're looking for something else! Be sure to shop around.

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

What We Left Behind by Robin Talley

What We Left Behind by Robin Talley

Review by Lauren

Source: copy for review; all opinions are my own

Official Summary: Toni and Gretchen are the couple everyone envied in high school. They've been together forever. They never fight. They're deeply, hopelessly in love. When they separate for their first year at college—Toni to Harvard and Gretchen to NYU—they're sure they'll be fine. Where other long-distance relationships have fallen apart, theirs is bound to stay rock-solid. 

The reality of being apart, though, is very different than they expected. Toni, who identifies as genderqueer, meets a group of transgender upperclassmen and immediately finds a sense of belonging that has always been missing, but Gretchen struggles to remember who she is outside their relationship. 

While Toni worries that Gretchen won't understand Toni's new world, Gretchen begins to wonder where she fits in this puzzle. As distance and Toni's shifting gender identity begin to wear on their relationship, the couple must decide—have they grown apart for good, or is love enough to keep them together?

Review: I read Talley's debut, Lies We Tell Ourselves, and really loved it, so I was excited to see what else she had in store. While I did enjoy What We Left Behind and I think it talks about a lot of important issues, it's not one I would tell people to run out and buy. Instead, check it out from your local library and see what you think!

Toni starts to identify as genderqueer, where before she told people she was a lesbian and she had a great girlfriend in Gretchen, who also identified as lesbian. Genderqueer is a term that can be difficult to understand, so I'd suggest checking out the term here or doing your own search online. I'm not an expert on the word and what it means for different people. For Toni, it seems to be that she doesn't want to relate to just one gender. She's not transgender at the moment because she's fine being a girl and not having surgery or doing anything to really change that. However, she doesn't really like being called a girl.

Confusing? Yeah, a bit...but I do think Talley did a good job. I know I read another review for this book where they thought genderqueer was being lumped into transgender and they didn't like that, but I didn't really think that was the case. I think they have some similarities at times, and it's important to talk about both of these terms and how they relate to real live people.

Beyond all of this, the book is mostly about two girls growing up and going to two different colleges and trying to make that work. Toni is so focused on figuring out who she is and/or wants to be, and Gretchen is worried she's being left behind and has sort of forgotten what it's like to be one whole person instead of one half of a couple. These are all important topics and the two main characters do their best to figure life out. They didn't always act in the way I wish they would, but then again, not everyone does. People make mistakes; people are sometimes a bit blind. It's all about figuring it out.

In the end, I'd say this was more of a 3/5 for me if I were to rate it. Good, but not great.

Saturday, January 9, 2016

LGBTQIA Challenge Update + Add Me on Goodreads

Hello everyone-

As 2016 slowly creeps along, I wanted to let you know how I'm doing on the LGBTQIA Reading Challenge. Pretty Deadly Reviews will do monthly link ups so people can share their posts (that will probably be at the end of the month) but before that happens, I thought I'd let you know that I have already read two books that suit this challenge. If you would like to know more about those books, please follow me on Goodreads. I will have reviews for these books so I won't go into too much detail here or on Goodreads, but I wanted to say, at the very least, that I really enjoyed both books! Here is a direct link to my LGBTQIA Reading Challenge shelf on Goodreads.

Are you on Goodreads? How are your 2016 challenges going thus far?


Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Repost Review: First Person Plural by Andrew W.M. Beierle

First Person Plural by Andrew W.M. Beierle

Review by Lauren

Buy through The Book Depository

bought a copy; all opinions are my own

Official Summary: Owen and Porter Jamison are conjoined twins inhabiting one body with two heads, one torso, and two very different hearts. As children, they're seen as a single entity-Owenandporter, or more often, Porterandowen. As they grow to adulthood, their differences become more pronounced: Porter is outgoing and charismatic while Owen is cerebral and artistic. When Porter becomes a high school jock hero, complete with cheerleader girlfriend, a greater distinction emerges, as Owen gradually comes to realize that he's gay.

Owen, a reluctant romantic, is content at first to settle for unrequited crushes. Porter's unease with his brother's sexuality leaves Owen feeling increasingly alienated from his twin, especially when Porter falls in love with Faith, and Owen becomes the unwilling third side of a complicated love triangle. When Owen finally begins to explore his own desires, the rift grows deeper. As Porter and Owen's carefully balanced arrangement of give-and-take, sacrifice and selfishness, is irrevocably shattered, each twin is left fighting for his relationship-and his future-in a battle of wills where winning seems impossible, and losing unthinkable . .

Review: I've been trying to read some of my own books more these days, especially titles I've had on the shelf for years, like this one. I'm glad that I finally opened this one up because it's such a fascinating premise. Conjoined twins are interesting to me, because it's difficult to think of what life would be like if you were never able to leave someone. What makes First Person Plural even more interesting, of course, is that one of these twins is gay.

Porter is the "alpha" brother if you will. He's the high school jock with the cheerleader girlfriend. On the other hand, you have Owen who is more internal and would rather hide in the background than be a part of the party crowd. First Person Plural is entirely told through Owen's point of view, so it's easy to relate to him more and push most of your sympathy his way. However, one must remember that despite Porter's tendency to take control and make Owen do things his way, he's still in a similar situation as his brother - neither of them can leave each other.

The novel covers a lot of years, going through various stories and moments in the twins' lives. It isn't until about halfway through that the book focuses on a more condensed period of time. This is when Porter has fallen for a young girl named Faith, and now Owen has to deal with a serious relationship in Porter's life that equally affects him. There is the issue of sex, of course, which is a topic discussed throughout the book. While there is descriptions of and discussions about various aspects of sex, I wouldn't say it was overly graphic. It seemed to be just enough to get the point across without overdoing things, which was nice. Obviously, sex isn't something you can ignore when one of the twins has fallen for someone (first Porter, but later Owen does too) because the brothers have to figure out how to deal with each other's different sexualities. Porter is ultimately more and more accepting of Owen, but he wants there to be a clear line that shows everyone he is not gay. Owen is more understanding about the issue. He wants Porter to be able to find and keep love, and when it comes to Faith, he doesn't want her to be uncomfortable with having him there.

Things never stay good for long though. It always seems to come down to Porter and Owen. They have to find what works for them both, despite what others in their life believe or can deal with. It isn't always easy, but as a reader, you hope they can make it work and find happiness.

First Personal Plural was a fascinating book, though sometimes I wished we had more about Owen's life. It seemed to focus a lot on Porter... and Owen having to deal with Porter's wants and needs. Also, there were things that Owen seemed to repeat throughout the novel concerning his relationship with Porter, like how he's always second-best and the child that their parents didn't really want. It's certainly a sensitive topic for him, but it's a bit repetitive after awhile. Overall, I am glad to have read this one!

*This was originally posted on my blog ShootingStarsMag in 2013, but I wanted to share it here as a Repost Review since it contains LGBT characters/themes*

Sunday, January 3, 2016

Music to Start the Year: "Young Love" by Eli Lieb

Happy New Year, everyone! I wanted to share "Young Love" by Eli Lieb with you all today. I feel like this is a nice new year song. It's all about living life and falling in love.

Watch the video:

Thank you so much for following the blog and leaving your thoughts in 2015! I hope 2016 will be even better and I can continue to grow and expand the blog.