Are you an avid reader looking for your next "fix"? Can't bear to be without some form of reading material in your spare time? Welcome to my world! Whether you are seeking a new book to "feed your need", or you are an author seeking an unbiased point of view on your own recent masterpiece, this is the place to be. With life as with books, you never know where the next step might take you...

Friday, June 2, 2023

READ WITH PRIDE all month long!

JUNE is Pride Month...
..and whether you identify as a flag flying member or an ally spreading the love and providing a safe space, this month is all about the big, beautiful world of ACCEPTANCE, OPENNESS, and LOVE in all its forms!  We hear quite a bit of conversation regarding readers being able to find themselves in a story, aside from the power of their imagination, and, if you're an active reader, you may have noticed a shift in the stories shared, characters cast, and range available out there.  Is the net cast wide enough?  I honestly don't think it could ever be, but that's not a bad thing, per se, it just means there are THAT many more stories to write, feelings to share, and experiences to explore.

I've sat on a few of these reviews for a while now (see the prior post about the book avalanche) not simply because I've been uber busy in life, but also because the more I read, the more I felt the impact of sharing these would be THAT much greater THIS month.  I've chosen four for this specific post, but rest assured, I'll share others throughout the month for those looking for more community friendly reads!  The titles selected come from the Young Adult and Picture Book categories, allowing readers just starting out, and just heading out to get a piece of the bookish pie.  
Ready?  Set?  LET'S READ!

Sean Hayes and Todd Milliner with Carlyn Greenwald
Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers

Barclay comes out in a BIG way in this story as it unfolds in the hallowed halls of high school.  I know, I's out for summer (in my neck of the woods, at least), so who wants to talk about all that?  Trust me, you do!  One question that this book raised for me was why does someone even have to come out?  I don't mean they shouldn't be out there, being their authentic selves, but heterosexual kids/teens/adults don't announce their preference...why should anyone have to?  If we just accepted each other, as is, no judgements, no reservations.  If we could build an environment, community, nay nation, that is open to people simply being people...think of how much more we could accomplish, how much better our relationships could be, instead of worrying about what others will say, or do because they don't subscribe to the same interests.  Anywho, I'm off my soapbox, but this book was certainly eye-opening.  What Barclay went through was TOUGH to say the very least.  Why people took his act as selfish, I'm still not certain I understand, but reading through the ups and downs as he finds his footing once again was definitely worth it, and reminds you that while we might have problems, there are always those that have bigger ones than ourselves, no one is unafraid of everything, and kindness is never wasted.

🌈   💜   🌈   💜   🌈   💜   🌈

F.T. Lukens
Margaret K. McElderry Books

This one is for fans of YA Fantasy, and what a trip!  I read the release prior to it (completely separate story...So This is Ever After), and thoroughly enjoyed the reading escape with a magical twist, so when I saw this one releasing, I was TOTALLY on board!  We definitely have representation here with several characters, each with different lifestyles, and well woven talks about pronouns, and personal space, but while it's a part of the story, it does a GREAT job of not MAKING it the story.  Grant it, there wouldn't have been a problem if it had been, but I love when author's take this path because it opens it up to readers that aren't necessarily looking for themselves in a story, but a really good story to lose themselves in!  Rook is a kick butt character, heartfelt, but strong, and determined to reach their that same vein, Sun isn't anyone to ignore either, just a lot more on the straight and narrow path of honesty.  Anywho, Antonia was Rook's way in, and she's...formidable, to say the least.  She doesn't take no for an answer, flaunts the rules of the Consortium, but in ways that she won't be caught (...again)...and is pretty much a tiger in a magically constraining cage just waiting for the gamekeepers to slip up, so she can slip out.  Following the story until the big to-do is exciting enough, but when things get really out of hand, THAT'S your golden moment.  Definitely one not to miss!

🌈   💜   🌈   💜   🌈   💜   🌈

A.J. Irving
Illustrated by
Kip Alizadeh
Knopf Books for Young Readers

This story was beautiful!  Birdie and Sunny capture your heart from the first moment they meet.  It was like the sun meeting the sky, the ocean meeting the depths....or a bird meeting the sun.  😉  The moment they share in the classroom while sweet!  I felt so much for both of these girls as they tried to find someone with whom to connect, someone that understood them, someone like themselves.  When it comes to pass, it's like a cloud moving to set lose the sun!  The joy on their faces, the happiness that's set free.  Life is hard enough, but to go through it without a companion, a friendly face with whom to share the moments, that just adds loneliness to the unhappy mix.  The charming illustrations let us watch these two little ones reach out for more, and accept others with their hearts wide if only everyone else, child and adult alike, could do just the same?

🌈   💜   🌈   💜   🌈   💜   🌈

Christian Trimmer
Illustrated by
J. Yang
Abrams Books for Young Readers

This story totally screams YOU DO YOU!  Noah may have grown up in a family filled with love and care, but what this little man really wants is long hair!  The thing is, he's never expressed every birthday, his hair gets cut, and away any length of locks falls to the wayside.  All his male role models have short hair, but he longs for luscious length like his make a ponytail and swish it about, to dance with abandon while shaking his locks about, and feel the wind rush through!  Who's to say that he can't have long hair?  Who's to say it's less manly to have length versus sideburns?  There's not a standard to uphold that says you must do this or that, and thank goodness his family finally pays attention to what he hasn't been able to say all along, granting his long hair dreams in a very special way!  The moral of the story, YOU DO YOU, and never be afraid to express yourself.  You're the only version of you that there is and be your unique self with your head held high!

🌈   💜   🌈   💜   🌈   💜   🌈

Special thanks to the publishers listed above for the copies for review.  (THANKS!)  For more information on these titles, the authors, illustrators, or publishers, feel free to click through the links provided above.  These titles are available now, so click on over to your favorite online retailer, or visit your local brick and mortar!

Until next time, remember...if it looks good, READ IT!

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