Tag Archives: LBGTQ

Mental Download 4/22/11

I had grand plans to blog over spring break, but now it is Friday, and I’ve only published one post. I thought I would do a little stream-of-consciousness ramblings.


ALA, AASL, and YALSA members: voting for this election ends tonight! Be a responsible member and vote, please! As you vote, the ballot has links to profiles and statements for each candidate so you can make thoughtful decisions. Want more school librarians or teen librarians to have a strong voice in ALA? There are many running and your vote could help put them in a place of advocacy!


As someone who enjoys live tweeting a conference, this cracks me up!


I’m ready for Gwyneth to leave Glee now. Go back to GOOP.


Happy Earth Day! My new compost tumbler should arrive today. I admit that I will be a lazy composter and that the best way to get started is to just get a bin that I can close up and spin. No digging or stirring required. I’m excited! (And 30 minutes later, it is here!)


My husband’s grandmother passed away yesterday. She was 93. She was an amazing person. She bought her house as a single woman back then women didn’t do that sort of thing. She had 4 children, and outlived her husband by over a decade. Not only was she blessed with grandchildren, but she was also blessed with great-grandchildren, and has been able to watch them grow. (Her oldest great-grandchild is now an amazing elementary school teacher.) She will be missed.


ALA Annual is two months away! So exciting, especially since I cannot attend BEA like many other bloggers. (Testing season at school = all hands on deck.) I’m starting to consider what I can and want to see in New Orleans while I am there. Cemetery tours are on my radar.


Awesome read about homosexuality and the church.


Have you watched the new Beastie Boys short film? It’s pretty funny. I live-Tweeted my reactions while I watched it. NPR did a short piece on it, and I love the end quote from MCA. It is a humorous video with lots of cameos. I have to admit, seeing MCA with grey hair AND a gray beard makes me feel like I’m on the speed train to old age.


I spent part of yesterday catching up on HBO’s Mildred Pierce. There’s a lot of naked Kate Winslet and Guy Pearce. Also, Mildred’s daughter Veda is possibly the worst daughter ever.


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Wildthorn by Jane Eagland

Wildthorn by Jane Eagland; read in July, 2010.  Copy provided through Netgalley by Houghton Mifflin

Louisa Cosgrove is an independent-minded young woman living in Victorian-era England in Jane Eagland‘s Wildthorn.  The novel opens on Louisa traveling in a carriage towards what she believes will be a sort-of job.  When she arrives, she realizes that she has been delivered to an insane asylum!  The staff insist on calling her by another name and point out the identity confusion as proof that she is in the right place.  Why is Louisa here?  Is she really who she says she is?  Can she rely on any family members to help her, or is she stuck inside this oppressive place?

I shudder to think of the number of women who must have suffered similar fates; locked away because they did not have the desire to follow society’s rules at the time, punished for being smart and wanting to read.  (I would not have survived!)  I’ve always had a mild fascination with old insane asylums and sanitariums/sanatoriums, the reasons people entered the facilities, and how they were treated.  Ms. Eagland allows the reader to get a realistic glimpse into these details, especially as Louisa moves throughout the asylum and sees different levels of care.

The book kept me on my toes, trying to figure out how exactly Louisa ended up in the asylum.  I liked Louisa a lot, and found her believable and sympathetic.  Her family, on the other hand, all had their faults, and I felt sorry for her being stuck with them.  None of them are likable.  One female relative (I’ll avoid saying who because it could slightly spoil the plot twists) could be an exception, but in the end of the book, I disagreed with the choices she made.  I do think said choices are what women in that time period would have done, so I think it’s just something I need to accept in my head.  I liked Eliza and could appreciate her character development.  She reminded me of Martha in The Secret Garden, which is a comparison I have since seen mentioned elsewhere.

I will definitely be adding this to my high school library once it is released.  The cover is very eye-catching and will sell itself to a number of readers.  I look forward to reading her other book, Whisper My Name.

I am an Amazon Associate. If you click from here to Amazon and buy something, I receive a percentage of the purchase price.


On a side note, this is the first full book I have read on a Kindle.  I don’t think I read it any slower or faster than a paper book, but I have to admit that at times, I was distracted.  The “page size” is too small.  The text size is fine, but I want the screen to be bigger, to fit more text on it.  I also took a while to get used to the button set-up.  I wanted the “next page” button to the left of the screen to be a “previous page” and I kept hitting that to go back.  It’s an older release, so it appears the buttons have changed.


Filed under review, young adult lit

ALA Annual Washington D.C. 2010 Recap

ALA Annual was a blast this year!  It has taken me a bit to get my recap together as I am working summer school right now, but here it is.  (Better late than never – behind the cut!)

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Commencement: a Novel by J. Courtney Sullivan

Commencement: a Novel by J. Courtney Sullivan; read in July, 2009. Copy purchased by me.

Description from GoodReads:

A sparkling debut novel: a tender story of friendship, a witty take on liberal arts colleges, and a fascinating portrait of the first generation of women who have all the choices in the world, but no clear idea about which choices to make.

Classmates their first year at Smith College, Celia, Bree, Sally, and April couldn’t be more different. Alone and together, they soon learn that Smith is a hothouse: of sexual discovery, political activism, female bonding, and carbohydrates eaten with abandon. And although several years after graduation they live in far-flung places, their Smith years have left them fiercely devoted to one another. Schooled in the ideals of feminism, they must decide how it all applies to their own real world in matters of love, work, family, and sex. For Celia, Bree, and Sally, it will mean grappling with one-night stands, loneliness and heartbreak, parental disapproval, and changing maiden names. But for April, whose college activism becomes her life’s work, it will mean something else entirely.

Written with radiant style and a wicked sense of humor, Commencement not only captures the intensity of college friendships and first loves, but also explores with great candor the complicated and contradictory landscape facing young women today.

Commencement is an adult novel that came out last year.  I was up and down with this novel.  I enjoyed the sections set in college; it was fun to follow the girls as they explored their identities (including politics and sexuality) and the options available to them.  The bond developed based on room location is something many college freshmen can relate to.  I grew less interested in their post-college life and found April’s storyline downright irritating and unbelievable.  All four of the main characters never felt completely developed and I was unable to care about any of them.  The author takes advantage of many opportunities to discuss feminist ideas.  This was interesting to a certain extent but I can only read so much about what private school-educated white girls think about being a woman in today’s world before it grows tiresome.

Commencement is chick lit wanting to be more literary but not quite making it.  I think with more work, Ms. Sullivan could have put together a better book, but there is too much she is trying to accomplish.  It is a decent fluff read, just don’t expect too much, and be prepared for the outlandish storyline involving April in the second half of the book.

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The Danish Girl by David Ebershoff – brief review

The Danish Girl by David Ebershoff: read in July, 2009; copy checked out from my local library

Description from GoodReads:

Though the title character of David Ebershoff’s debut novel is a transsexual, the book is less concerned with transgender issues than the mysterious and ineffable nature of love. Loosely based on the life of Danish painter Einar Wegener who, in 1931, became the first man to undergo a sex-change operation, The Danish Girl borrows the bare bones of his story as a jumping-off point for an exploration of how Wegener’s decisions affected the people around him. Chief among these is his Californian wife, Greta, also a painter, who unwittingly sets her husband’s feet on the path to transformation. While trying to finish a portrait of an opera singer who has cancelled a sitting, she asks Einar to stand in for her subject, putting on her dress, stockings, and shoes. The moment silk touches his skin, he is shaken:

Einar could concentrate only on the silk dressing his skin, as if it were a bandage. Yes, that was how it felt the first time: the silk was so fine and airy that it felt like a gauze–a balm-soaked gauze lying delicately on healing skin. Even the embarrassment of standing before his wife began to no longer matter, for she was busy painting with a foreign intensity in her face. Einar was beginning to enter a shadowy world of dreams where Anna’s dress could belong to anyone, even to him.

Greta soon recognizes her husband’s affinity for feminine attire, and encourages him not only to dress like a woman, but to take on a woman’s persona, as well. “Why don’t we call you Lili?” she suggests. What starts out as a harmless game soon evolves into something deeper, and potentially threatening to their marriage. Yet Greta’s love proves to be enduring if not immutable. As Einar inexorably transforms, he steps beyond “that small dark space between two people where a marriage exists” and Greta lets him go.

Ebershoff does a remarkable job of historical prestidigitation, creating the sights and sounds and smells of 1930s Denmark and making it seem easy. Even more remarkable is his treatment of Greta: he gets inside her head and heart, and renders her in such loving detail that her reactions make perfect sense. Einar is more of a cipher, and ultimately less interesting than his wife. But in the end, this is Greta’s book and David Ebershoff has done her proud.The Danish Girl marks a promising fictional debut.

I read this after reading and enjoying The 19th Wife.  If I were to recommend one of these, I would go with The 19th Wife.  I liked this; it was a quiet book, but I never came to care much about any of the characters.  The story itself is heartbreaking, but I was less emotionally invested in the outcome than I usually would be.  Read it if the story sounds interesting, or if you like to read the book before seeing the movie as a movie version is in the works starring Nicole Kidman and Charlize Theron.

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King of the Screwups by K. L. Going


Book description from Good Reads:

Liam Geller is Mr. Popularity. Everybody loves him. He excels at sports; he knows exactly what clothes to wear; he always ends up with the most beautiful girls in school. But he’s got an uncanny ability to screw up in the very ways that tick off his father the most. When Liam finally kicked out of the house, his father’s brother takes him in. What could a teenage chick magnet possibly have in common with his gay, glam rocker, DJ uncle who lives in a trailer in upstate New York? A lot more than you’d think. And when Liam attempts to make himself over as a nerd in a desperate attempt to impress his father, it’s his “aunt” Pete and the guys in his band who convince Liam there’s much more to him than his father will ever see.

I enjoyed King of the Screwups. I have only read one other book by K. L. Going , Fat Kid Rules the World, which I also liked. Liam is a unique character in the fact that he’s popular. (The main characters in YA lit seem like they lean toward the not-so-popular crowd, unless you get into the fluffier stuff like Gossip Girl.) Liam isn’t perfect; while some of his choices are definitely not wise (see the opening scene where Liam is found with a girl on his dad’s desk) a lot of his screwups have been exaggerated by his father. Liam takes after his mother, which is a big disappointment to his father and he refuses to come to terms with who his son is. Over the course of the book, the reader and Liam learn about the dynamic in the relationships of his father, mother and uncle, which helps Liam find the courage to accept who he is and stand up for himself.

Most of the other characters is the book are a lot of fun. Pete has a group of best friends/band mates. All of them are gay, and while they talk about when they came out and the difficulties they experienced, they are all comfortable with who they are now and accepted in their community. They are great role models for Liam and the reader. I never felt like I got a good grasp on Darlene, the girl next door. I also found myself frustrated with Liam’s parents, not really understanding who they are and why they have made the choices they have over the years. This did not affect my enjoyment though, since these are minor characters.

While it is a book that deals with serious issues, it is full of humor and is a fast read. 3.5 stars

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Update on Amazonfail

I was going to do a post about the latest news on the Amazon fiasco, but Carlie covered it well and briefly, I’ll just direct you there.

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