Friday, July 1, 2016

LGBTQ Movies


With this post I thought that instead of just recommending music and books, I would also make a list of films.  Visual stories are just as powerful as written ones.  Who has not connected with a character on screen?  Even at their most vulnerable of moments?

There are so many LGBTQ themed films now from all over the world that there is definitely a lot to choose from.  I narrowed my list down to 7 exciting items but feel free to comment and tell me about other films you loved.



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Priscilla Queen of the Desert

Two drag queens and a transgender woman travel across desert roads in Australia to perform their drag act at a faraway resort and casino.

Aside:  This movie is brilliant.  Funny, emotional, scary and powerful.  It has it all.  It is also just about people who are proud to be who they are and live it.  A great Australian film, one of many.

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Shelter

Zach works to make ends meet and takes care of his nephew in the place of his sister.  He is used to not getting what he wants.  So he works, surfs and creates the art he loves. 

Until Shaun arrives and challenges everything Zack expects from life, love and family.

Aside:  This movie is one of my favorites.  It is such a sweet and romantic movie. Nothing feels really cliche or ridiculous.  It feels like it could be a genuine story.

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Were the World Mine

A bullied gay teen discovers the recipe for creating a magical flower from Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream.  He decides to use it on the people in his town so that they can understand how he feels.

Aside:  This one is another favorite.  Partly because the story idea is fun and partly because there is some Shakespeare in it.  Also, the music is really quite good.  It's such a charming movie.

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Pariah

Alike is a 17-year-old girl living in Brooklyn and coming to terms with the fact that she is a lesbian.  Trying to keep her family happy, Alike struggles to embrace who she is.

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Hoje Eu Quero Voltar Sozinho 
(translation: Today I Want to Go Home Alone)

Leonardo, a blind teenager, struggles for independence in a world that treats him with too much care.  Everything changes when Gabriel, a new boy, takes a seat behind Leonardo in his class.

Aside: This film is Brazilian and after watching Gaycation and seeing the hardships many people from the LGBTQ community face there, this positive and sweet story is even more important.

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Fire

Sita marries into a hopeless situation.  Overworked, ignored and lonely, she longs for a better life.  The only happiness she feels is when she is with Randha, her sister in-law. Randha understands everything she feels and desires.

Soon they find solace in each other and a love that they always hoped for.

Aside:  This film is a little dated but it is still so relevant.  It sparked protests that called for equality and freedom of expression In India. It faced censorship boards and riots.  It deserves an audience if only for its determination to tell this important story.

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Tomboy

A family moves into a new neighborhood in Paris. When meeting and making new friends, 10-year-old Laure tells everyone that his name is Mikael.

Aside:  This is a French film.  Do not let that deter you.  It has a lot to say about gender and a person's exploration of it.  


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The song I am recommending in this post is Girls like Girls by Hayley Kiyoko.  The music video has a very teen indie movie feel to it that I really love.  Also, the artist is an out and proud bisexual.  She is one to watch.

Friday, June 17, 2016

Pride Month! Boys Like Boys

I am making a second book post for Pride Month. [Insert the crowd going wild]. 

This time it will focus on the stories of boys so gear up for some emotional stories of bros falling for other bros.  

                                                                                                                               


True Letters from a Fictional Life
by Kenneth Logan

James lives a life of fiction where he is the star athlete with the perfect girlfriend and the happy home.

It is only in the letters he never intends to send that he finds himself being honest. He is not happy. He is struggling to keep it together. He has feelings for another boy.


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Been Here All Along
by Sandy Hall

Gideon knows what he wants out of life and his plans have no room for a crush on his best friend, Kyle.


Kyle has everything going for him right now.  Except his best friend and his girlfriend are acting strange and he has no idea why.


Note:  This book is coming out August 30th, 2016.  I'm hoping this one is a fun one!

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One Man Guy
by Michael Barakiva

Alek is being sent to summer school by his parents to bring up his depressing grades. There he meets, Ethan, someone so cool and different that Alek can hardly believe they are friends.

Soon Alek finds himself, unexpectedly, falling for Ethan but not knowing how to handle it. Alek is still figuring out who he is.


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Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda
by Becky Albertalli

Simon is not out at school.  In fact, he's so not out that when one of his emails falls into the hands of the class clown, Simon finds himself being blackmailed.  


Simon has to figure out a way to keep his friends, keep himself together and keep a budding romance with a pen pal safe.

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When Love Comes to Town
by Tom Lennon

Neil Byrne is gay but it is a secret.  He hides behind his popularity and tough rugby player image.

On the dark streets of Dublin, Ireland, Neil struggles  to work out  how to be honest with the world about who he is and how he feels.


  MUSIC RECOMMENDATION                                                                         

Years and Years is a fantastic group.  Not only is the lead singer gay but he made a point of including male pronouns in their songs so listeners would know they were about other men. It's all about true representation with this band and I hope you'll check them out.

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Orlando Tragedy

I woke up this morning to the news coming from Orlando, Florida.  I am horrified and heartbroken that this has happened to such a powerful, resilient, and loving community.

It is Pride Month, where people from the LGBTQ community celebrate who they are, together and with friends. Love is love.  It is also Ramadan, a holy time for Muslims all over the world. And yet this tragedy has occurred during that time.  

Nothing I say feels like enough.  All I can do is offer my support in any way that I can give it and so should everyone else.  Be a friend, protect others, donate blood and donate money where you can. Hatred should not be met with more hatred.

If you're in the Tampa Bay area and want to donate blood, head to to OneBlood Blood Donation Center.

The phone number for the family hotline is (407) 246- 4357.

This post on tumblr collects information on blood donation centers, helplines, monetary donation sites.



Thursday, June 9, 2016

Pride Month! Happy Pride to the Ladies!

It's Pride Month in my city.  That's right, MONTH.  It's no longer just a week.  I'm going to celebrate it on the blog by bringing up some awesome books.

This post contains some YA books of girls that fall in love with other girls.  Lovely, right? 

                                                                                                                                       

Look Both Ways
by Alison Cherry

Brooklyn Shepard is having an exciting summer.  Her theater apprenticeship at Allerdale is going well and her roommate for the summer, Zoe, is amazing. But then her friendship with Zoe becomes something more and intense and Brooklyn starts to doubt herself.

Brooklyn Shepard still has a lot to figure out and discover before the summer is over.

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Forgive Me If I've Told You This Before
by Karelia Stetz-Waters

Triinu Hoffman does not fit in in her town.  From her clothes to her shyness to her crushes on girls, everything makes her a target.

As the battle for equal rights reaches her town and divides it, Triinu will fall in love, have her heart broken, take a stand and find out what it means to be her own person.

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Keeping You a Secret
by Julie Anne Peters

Holland Jaeger has everything she could possibly need: a boyfriend, a position on the student council, great friends and a good chance of getting into a good college.  Everything is as it should be for a girl her age.

When Cece Goddard moves to her school, she changes Holland's world.  Cece does not hide who she is.  New feelings and confusing thoughts take over Holland's life.  She has to figure out who she is and what she wants.

Also, check out her other novel Lies My Girlfriend Told Me.  It's about a girl dealing with the aftermath of her girlfriend's death and the secrets she discovers afterwards.

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No One Needs to Know
by Amanda Grace

Olivia has always been able to drive away her twin brother's girlfriends.  But this summer that all changes when her brother meets Zoey.  She is outspoken and smart and even worse is she sees through every one of Olivia's schemes.

As they get to know each other, Olivia and Zoey go from enemies to friends to something more.  Olivia falls hard for Zoey but so does her brother.  Olivia will have to decide whether or not her happiness is more important than her brother's.

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Tell Me Again How a Crush Should Feel
by Sara Farizan

Leila is not a risk taker.  She keeps to herself and has avoided crushing on anyone at her school.  Enter Saskia, who is beautiful and elegant and Leila is unable to stop herself from falling for her.

But does Saskia feel the same?  Leila sometimes thinks that she might.  As Leila explores her feelings and shares them with some of her classmates, she begins to realize that everyone's lives are complicated and everyone is keeping a secret of their own.

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Skim
written by Mariko Tamaki
illustrated by Jillian Tamaki 

When the boyfriend of a classmate commits suicide, the school Skim goes to goes into mourning.  As everyone around her tries to support each other and push the positives of life, Skim falls into an even deeper depression.

And when love finds Skim, it only makes things worse.

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   MUSIC RECOMMENDATION                                                                           

Tegan and Sara do not need any introduction.  They are amazing women who are open and positive about who they are.  Also, they turn out some amazing tunes.  Check them out!



Thursday, June 2, 2016

Eurotrip: 3 Countries

My other list was about travelling all over the map, this time I am keeping things locked to three countries: France, England and Italy.  I also added three extra books at the end involving countries that did not fit in.

 France                                                                             

Vidalia in Paris
by Sasha Watson

Vidalia is away in Paris studying art, the thing she loves most.  There she gets to explore the city of lights, meet new people, make bad decisions and figure out how to survive on her own.

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Romancing the Dark in the City of Light
by Ann Jacobus

Summer Barnes is in Paris after being kicked out of another boarding school. She has to make this one work or risk losing her inheritance.  She is convinced that meeting the right person at the right time will save her.    In Paris, she meets two.  One who encourages Summer to embrace the light.  The other tells her to embrace the dark.

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Just One Day
by Gayle Forman

Allyson Healey lives a planned and ordered existence.  On the last day of her strict European vacation, she abandons those things and takes a risk.  She accepts a young traveling actor's invitation and together they spend 24 hours in Paris.

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One Paris Summer
by Denise Grover Swank

Sophie Brooks had plans to practice her piano and win a scholarship competition that would help her achieve her dream of becoming a pianist. Instead, she is going to Paris for the summer to spend time with a father who abandoned her a year ago.

With her new stepsister determined to make her life miserable, how will Sophie get the chance to work towards her dream?

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  England                                                                       


Meant to Be
by Lauren Morrill
While on a school trip in London, Julia starts to receive romantic messages from a secret admirer. Teaming up with her arch nemesis, Jason, they race through London and break rules together to track the admirer down.

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The Heir and the Spare
by Emily Albright

Evie Gray is on a journey of self-discovery. One that will take her all the way to Oxford to find out just what kind of person her mother was. Through her mother's letters, Evie is set on an adventure that will find her running into a real life prince.
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Sophomore Switch
by Abby McDonald

Tasha is off to Oxford in an effort to avoid the tabloids and leave behind her party girl ways.  Emily is going from Oxford to U.C. Santa Barbara to escape a broken heart.

Soon both girls are exchanging tips and tricks to help each other fit in, find love and figure out who they are.

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Falling in Love with English Boys
by Melissa Jensen

Catherine Vernon is stuck in London while her mother is off working on a research project.  With no friends and no one to show her around, she has nothing to do except read the diary of a girl from 1815.

But when Catherine meets a descendant of the diary writer, things start to get interesting.



 Italy                                                                                  


Flirting in Italian
by Lauren Henderson

Violet travels to Italy on a mission to uncover the history behind a painting of a girl that looks exactly like her.  Her three best friends tag along for the ride and together, they are looking to unravel a mystery, eat amazing food and meet Italian boys.

Note:  This one is a series!  Book 2: Kissing in Italian is already out.  A third is also expected to be released soon.  So if you love this one, there is more to read.

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Love, Lucy
by April Linder

While traveling in Florence, Italy during summer, Lucy falls for the city, the people and the culture.  She even falls a bit in love with a street musician named Jesse.  But now that she is home and getting ready for college, is what they had over or can it last for more than one season?

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Love & Gelato
by Jenna Evans Welch

Following her mother's dying wish, Lina heads to Tuscany to spend time with a father she hardly knows.  Once there, she is given a journal written by her mother.  It details her experiences in Italy from hidden spots to amazing art to romance.

This journal also has the power to reveal from secrets from her mother's past that will change Lina's life.

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Instructions for a Broken Heart
by Kim Culbertson

On the eve of her trip to Italy with her drama class, Jessa finds her boyfriend out with another girl.  Armed with a care package from her best friend, Jessa goes to Italy as planned.

She also goes with the promise that she will do one new thing every day.  One thing she would never do.




 PLUS THREE                                                                 


Sophomore Year is Greek to Me
by Meredith Zeitlin

Zona Lowell calls New York City home but for the next six months, she'll be living in Athens, Greece. Her journalist father says he is chasing a story but Zona isn't so sure. Her mom's side of the the family lives in Athens but they cut her off after she married an American. Zona thinks this might turn out to be a long lost family reunion.


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My Best Friend, Maybe
by Caela Carter

Colette and Sadie are no longer friends.  She has no idea what happened but the summer before they start high school, Sadie ends their friendship.  Colette may be lonely but she pushes forward for her parents, her boyfriend and her brothers.

Then Sadie shows up and begs Colette to come with her on a family vacation to the Greek Islands.  Despite the sadness and the hurt, Colette agrees to go. Eventually, the secret to why Sadie abandoned her and the reason for the trip come out.

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The Boy on the Bridge
by Natalie Standiford

In 1982, Laura Reid travels to Leningrad for a semester abroad.  There she meets Alexei, an artist, who takes her on a tour of the beauties of Russia.  But it is the Cold War and they must keep their relationship a secret or face the consequences.  Is it true love or does Alexei have secrets?

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If you want a little more travel & adventure, I wrote a post about an old book series that you can still find in used bookstores and on amazon.

Monday, May 23, 2016

Eurotrip: All Over the Map

I wanted to make a  post about books that took characters all over the map.  Travel books make such great summer reads.  You may be stuck in your city or hometown but reading these books takes you far away and on an adventure.  Here we go!

For Real
by Alison Cherry

Claire is the shy sister while Miranda is the one who lives life to the fullest. After having her heart broken by her boyfriend, Miranda wants to wallow in despair.  Surprisingly, it's Claire who picks her sister up and convinces her to join in on a reality TV race around the globe.  The prizes? A million dollars and sweet sweet revenge.

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Girl at Sea
by Maureen Johnson


Clio Ford is stuck on a boat for the summer, travelling the Mediterranean.  She must survive her Dad's crazy antics and the wacky crew.  Along the way, she might discover long hidden secrets, buried treasure and her own heart.
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Wanderlost
by Jen Malone

Aubree Sadler is ready to settle in for a regular and relaxing summer in Ohio. But a situation with her sister Elizabeth has Aubree taking her place as a guide on a European tour for seniors.

Things get off to a bad start when Aubree completely misses the first stop, gets stranded without a phone, and ends up with an extra guest.  Pretending to be her sister is hard, especially when she starts falling for the tour company owner's son.

This book comes out May 31st, 2016.

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The Land of 10, 000 Madonnas
by Kate Hattemer

In this emotional story, a dying boy plans a trip for his friends that will set them on a quest across Europe to fulfill his last wish.  The trip will see each character tested as each one tries to cope with the loss of their friend.


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The Loose Ends List
by Carrie Firestone

After her grandmother announces that she is terminally ill, Maddie O'Neill Levine finds herself on a cruise ship with her family for the summer.  Her grandmother has decided that if she is dying, she is going to die on her own terms.

The cruise opens Maddie's eyes to the world, to new friends, to first love and to grief that is just around the corner.

This book comes out on June 7th, 2016.

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Royally Lost
by Angie Stanton

Becca may be on a trip to Europe but she is trapped with a family she cannot stand.  Her Dad doesn't pay her any attention.  Her stepmother tries too hard. Her brother is annoying.  She would rather be back home.

Until she runs into Nickolai, a runaway prince.  Together they outrun royal guards and explore Europe.

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No Holding Back
by Kate Evangelista

Nathan is in love with his best friend, Preston.  He wants to tell him how he feels before they go their separate ways for the foreseeable future.  One last adventure in a trip to Europe just might be the best and only chance he has.

This book comes out October 16, 2016.

Thursday, May 19, 2016

The Heir and the Spare

The Heir and the Spare
by Emily Albright

Evie Gray is on a journey of self-discovery.  One that will take her all the way to Oxford to find out just what kind of person her mother was.  Through her mother's letters, Evie is set on an adventure that will find her running into a real life prince.

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While I was charmed by the writer's hope that I would like her story, I sadly did not.  The book sounded cute and exactly like the fluff I usually love reading.  I gave this book one star because the reading experience from the beginning was unsatisfying. 

While the author created a story that is fast paced, I believe a lot was sacrificed in order to do this. For one, any emotional connection the main character would have built with her classmates at Oxford. She made friends in an instant because one of them happened to notice her.  Their loyalty towards her was also instantaneous and wholly unrealistic.  Sometimes it is okay to slow down a book if it is needed.  Build that foundation.

This book also suffered from a romantic male lead that liked the main character because "she wasn't like all the other girls".  Indeed, why? Because she is a rare breed of female that enjoys museums. That already is suspect and he is the guy we're supposed to hope the girl wins? Yikes.  And while that belief is addressed, it does not feel like there is truly any resolution to it.  You do not get points for just addressing it.  The person who holds those beliefs has to actually change (spoiler: he kind of doesn't).

The main girl also falls for the main guy as soon as she sees him.  Call me old fashioned but I appreciate relationship foundation and meaningful buildup.  All I received over and over again was how cute and alluring he was.  The main character herself even questions at one point if she trusts him while also contemplating wanting to touch his body.  Not to mention that I felt no spark or connection between them despite the many descriptions of their eyes meeting in the window.  This romance was as awkward and unbelievable as Black Widow and the Incredible Hulk. 

The author also had no real concept of what English culture is like.  Apparently, throwing in some stereotypical British words means you have yourself an authentic novel that transports you to England.  And this is the not the most grating thing, I feel like so much of the story was underdeveloped (i.e. characters and setting) and too focused on, frankly, an undesirable Prince.  And the supposed emotional crux of the story?  It was executed better in 13 Little Blue Envelopes by Maureen Johnson.

Overall, the novel felt like the author's own wish fulfillment in book form.  Seriously, there are similarities between her and the main character that are actually written into the book. Something that I could have read on Quizilla in the days of yore instead of in a published novel. 



Friday, April 29, 2016

Anne Frank: A Girl Remembered

January 27th was the International Holocaust Remembrance Day and I wanted to focus this post on Anne Frank. She had such a voice and such a strength.  You feel it when you read the words in her diary.

I will be posting a few Anne Frank related items below for others to explore or stumble upon.

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The Diary of a Young Girl
by Anne Frank

This book contains the diary entries of Anne Frank that were found after her family had been taken from the Annex.  It was only when Otto Frank returned to the Annex that he received the diary and its collected pages.



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Anne Frank
written by Josephine Poole
illustrated by Angela Barrett

A picture book that introduces readers and little listeners to Anne Frank.  It shows her life starting from when she was born to the time she was taken from the Annex.



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The Tree in the Courtyard
written by Jeff Gottesfeld
illustrated by Peter McCarty

A chestnut tree in a courtyard watches a girl through a window.  It sees her write and it sees the world change.

It watches as the girl and her family are taken away.  It waits for her to return.  It watches as only her father comes back.


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Anne Frank: Beyond the Diary
by Rian Verhoeven , Ruud van der Rol & Anna Quindlen

In this book, photographs bring Anne Frank's story to life.  Photos of her family and life before the Annex and during her time in the Annex.




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The video below takes you on a tour of the Annex.

It shows you the rooms and the items that belonged to each resident. Take a look.