Tag Archive | homosexuality

How to Be You, by Jeffrey Marsh (book review) – life on your terms, as YOU

book cover of How to Be You by Jeffrey Marsh published by Tarcher Perigee  | recommended on BooksYALove.comStereotypes need not limit you,
perfection is a myth,
learning to respect and love yourself is priority #1!

“Growing up fabulous in a small farming town” wasn’t easy for Jeffrey, but they learned to listen closely to the voice inside, become more confident, and stand up publicly as anti-bullying champion, calling on others to do the same.

Just published on Tuesday (2 August 2016), How to Be You is a question-asking, color-outside-the-lines, story-sharing personal journey that can help you “stop trying to be someone else and start living your life” as the subtitle states.

Be sure to visit the publisher’s website here to read an excerpt opening the book and experience Jeffrey’s writing style and backstory.

What is holding you back from expressing your true self?

Book info: How to Be You / Jeffrey Marsh. Tarcher Perigee, 2016. [author site]  [publisher site]  Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: Reject perfectionism and others’ expectations as you learn How to Be You in this engaging journey of self-discovery and self-connection.

Jeffrey embraces gender-neutral pronouns, created the #NoTimeToHateMyself and #DontSayThatsSoGay online conversations, and revels in sharing stories of hero/ines who transcended race, age, and other stereotypes.

Discover more about owning your own emotions, letting go of always being in control, and getting used to not knowing everything with this book of stories, writing prompts, fill-in charts and coloring vignettes. Especially useful: reframing the excuses you make to avoid new possibilities as positive qualities in your personality.

Conviction, by Kelly Loy Gilbert (book review) – baseball, prejudice & revenge?

book cover of Conviction by Kelly Loy Gilbert published by Hyperion Teen | recommended on BooksYALove.comJust an accident,
Dad didn’t mean to kill him.
What happened to our bargain, God?

Braden just wants to pitch his high school team to the state Finals again and get drafted for a pro baseball team.

But he hadn’t considered that his radio talk-show dad would be jailed for running over the Mexican-American cop who crossed him a while back…
Or his long-gone big brother would come back to keep Braden out of foster care…
Or that he could be called as a witness in Dad’s trial…
Or having to face the cop’s nephew on the ballfield…

Go to the publisher’s website here and click on ‘Sneak Peek’ for a free pdf download of the book’s first chapters, then grab this compelling book at your local library or independent bookstore.

Prayers or promises?

Book info: Conviction / Kelly Loy Gilbert.  Hyperion Teen, 2015. [author’s Facebook]  [publisher site]  Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: Braden was in the car when his dad ran over the cop, but the high school junior can’t imagine being called to testify in the religious talk show host’s trial or having his big brother back home 10 years after Trey left their small California town or trying to calmly pitch to the cop’s nephew in the most important game of the season.

How can Dad say he loves God and then hate people just for being different?
Why doesn’t anyone talk about Braden’s mom leaving when he was a baby?
Can Dad’s lawyer really suggest what he should say at Dad’s trial?

Convolutions of baseball practices and worried prayers and trying to ignore the media and wondering what really drove Trey away from his best friend Kevin (the pastor’s son) … as the trial and baseball playoffs loom just ahead.

Hearts & minds are unsure – Audiobooks on love & memory

This week’s free audiobooks from SYNC delve deep into hearts and minds, asking why we cannot control them.

From today (6/23/16) through Wednesday, you can download either or both of these complete audiobooks and listen to them as long as you keep them on your computer or electronic device.

Thank you, publishers!

CD audiobook cover of Boy Meets Boy by David Levithan | Read by Nicholas Robideau and a full cast Published by Full Cast Audio | recommended on BooksYALove.comBoy Meets Boy (download link here)
by David Levithan
Read by Nicholas Robideau and a full cast
Published by Full Cast Audio

The path to love twists and turns, even at Paul’s high school where gender is a non-issue (cross-dressing quarterback and motorcycle-riding cheerleaders are just everyday pals) as he is smitten by new guy Noah who barely looks his way.


Donny’s Brain (download link here)Cd audiobook cover of Donny's Brain by Rona Munro | Read by Paul Fox, Jared Harris, Siobhán Hewlett, Moira Quirk, Sophie Winkleman Published by L.A. Theatre Works | recommended on BooksYALove.com
by Rona Munro
Read by Paul Fox, Jared Harris, Siobhán Hewlett, Moira Quirk, Sophie Winkleman
Published by L.A. Theatre Works

After a terrible auto crash, Donny cannot remember the past 3 years of his life. What to do when he knows his long-ago ex-wife, but not his steadfast girlfriend?

Can we ever presume to know someone else’s innermost self?

W is We Are All Made of Molecules, by Susin Nielsen (book review) – stepfamily is big step for him

book cover of We Are All Made of Molecules by Susin Neilsen published by Wendy Lamb Books | recommended on BooksYALove.comFinally having a sister will be nice, Stewart thinks.
No, getting a nerdy stepbrother is awful, Ashley thinks.
How is this blended family thing going to work?

A genius with digestive issues and a so-so student who’s a social climber now have to share a house and a high school – not easy.  Add in the new guy on the basketball team with a mysterious past (Ashley’s secret crush!) who attacks Stewart in phys ed, plus Ashley trying to keep the truth about her parents’ divorce a secret – not easy at all.

This laugh-aloud look at serious issues will be released in paperback on May 10, 2016 – if you can wait that long to read it!

Must moving forward mean leaving the best of your past behind?

Book info: We Are All Made of Molecules / Susin Nielsen. Wendy Lamb Books, 2015 (hardcover); 2016, Ember (paperback).  [author site]  [publisher site]  Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: Stewart understands why his dad wants to remarry after Mom’s death, but the gifted 13-year-old is uncertain about his new stepsister’s popularity and academic problems when he transfers to her Vancouver high school, despite her wishes.

Adding Stewart’s favorite quirky possessions to his 14 year old stepsister’s sleek modern house is a balancing act, as is his nerdy presence at Ashley’s school where she’d rather study celebrity gossip than her textbooks.

A handsome new guy on the basketball team, the chance to become school mascot and a Mathlete, not-so-subtle mean girl comments – so much change in high school!

Can Stewart hold onto some of his mom’s molecules among so many new things?
Can Ashley keep the whole school from knowing that her dad is gay?
Why do parents have silly rules about no parties while they’re gone?

Told in alternating chapters by Stewart and Ashley, this Canadian family story brings humor to the often-tricky worlds of high school, stepfamilies, and identity. (One of 6,000 books recommended on www.abookandahug.com)

Willful Machines, by Tim Floreen (book review) – big worries for First Son, first love

book cover of Willful Machines by Tim Floreen published by Simon Pulse | recommended on BooksYALove.comRogue robots,
attacks on America,
risky new love (trumps all the threats!)

Artificial intelligences gone self-aware are US government prisoners, or so AI-in-the-cloud Charlotte claims, as she directs terrorist robot attacks against their captors who are legislating flesh-and-blood as the only humans.

Intrigued by hot new student Nicolas, closeted Lee weighs following his heart against the daunting expectations of his presidential father and war-hero grandfather in this near-future adventure-love story.

What makes a being human?

Book info: Willful Machines / Tim Floreen. Simon Pulse, 2015.  [author site]  [publisher site]   Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: Constantly watched by bodyguards and dronecams, Lee completes his robotic creations and endures boarding school for future world leaders, until new student Nico steals his heart and a self-aware computer threatens world peace – what should US President’s teen son do now?

His mother killed by humanoid robot Charlotte that she helped to create and his father propelled to the Presidency by the resulting Human Values backlash, Lee can’t imagine what his war-hero grandfather/headmaster or dad would do if they discovered he was gay.

But so-hot Chilean transfer student Nico looses Lee’s tightly-boxed heart as they evade surveillance for stolen moments alone – until Lee’s clever robots turn against them, controlled by Charlotte who demands release of imprisoned 2B humanoids.

Can Lee really trust Nico?
Is Charlotte acting alone?
Just how different are humans and self-aware machines?

At the gothic elite school built atop a waterfall, secrets long-buried threaten not only Lee and Nico’s happiness, but humankind’s role on earth in the not-so-distant future.


X is eXactly, as in Me Being Me Is Exactly As Insane As You Being You, by Todd Hasak-Lowy (book review)

book cover of Me Being Me is Exactly as Insane as You Being You by Todd Hasak-Lowy published by Simon Pulse1. Parents shouldn’t change
2. Friends shouldn’t move
3. Lists should make it easier to cope
4. Really, they should help…

Darren’s life seems so out-of-his-hands right now, after the divorce and Dad’s lifestyle change and Nick being at college.

He copes by making lists, and skipping school with amazing artist Zoey to visit Nick, and making lists, and wondering where Zoey has gone…

Just published last week, Me Being Me is Exactly as Insane as You Being You  lets Darren tell his story in his own way.

What have you done to keep things under control during an extremely hectic time?

Book info: Me Being Me is Exactly as Insane as You Being You / Todd Hasak-Lowy. Simon Pulse, 2015.  [author site]  [publisher site]  [book trailer] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: Making lists and enduring all the changes in his life leaves Darren enough energy to skip school (just once), get in trouble at brother’s university (just once), and have two girlfriends at the same time (just once), but the high school junior is still trying to figure things out – in lists.

After Dad and Mom divorced, they both were different – Darren’s not sure he likes either change, but what can he do? Making lists helps.

Names that he’d rather have, reasons that he can’t drive yet, ways to convince Zoey to take him to see Nate at college – lists are good.

But somehow, all the lists haven’t made it easier to tell a girl at band camp that he’s sort of dating Zoey or know why Mom suddenly needs to have Shabbat dinner every Friday or figure out what to tell Dad’s analyst…

Is visiting Dad’s new place going to be okay?
Where has Zoey suddenly gone?
Will anything be back to normal by his 16th birthday? (c’mon, universe!)

This Chicago teen tells his story in lists, but who knows what the last entry will be.  (One of 6,000 books recommended on www.abookandahug.com)

S is Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda, by Becky Albertalli (book review) – secret admirer? too many options!

book cover of Simon vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli published by Balzer + BrayA secret correspondent,
in this age of tell-all social media?
Too romantic for words!
But who can it be?

Hard to blame Simon for wanting to keep all drama in theater class, but he knows that mysterious “BlueGreen” of flirtatious e-mails is a guy at his school and really, really wants to meet in person.

That is, if he can keep his best friends from exploding at each other and outwit a blackmailing classmate who wants to out him before he’s ready.

This early-April release should be in your local library or independent bookstore – if not, ask for it!

Simon says the ‘homo sapiens agenda’ is that straight and white are the norm options, but he believes there should be no default setting for a human being! What do you think?

Book info: Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda / Becky Albertalli. Balzer+Bray, 2015. [author site]  [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher via Edelweiss.

My book talk: Simon has a bit part in the play, but when a classmate threatens to publish his flirty emails with an anonymous guy at school, the Georgia teen must decide whether to step up to protect the sweetest guy he’s never met or set up his best friend Abby on the most awkward date ever.

As ‘Jacques’ he shares favorite music and deepest dreams with ‘Blue’ but they haven’t met in person. No one will probably care when Simon comes out publicly, but Blue hasn’t come out either, so letting nerdy Marty put their relationship on Creekwood High’s gossip tumblr isn’t the junior’s decision to make.

Best friend Abby has a huge crush on best friend Nick (who is completely oblivious), Blue wants to keep his growing relationship with Simon as email-only, and Oliver Twist rehearsals are getting strange as Marty always tries talking to Abby and Simon wonders who, who, WHO is Blue?

As hints about their true identities creep into their emails (Blue is Jewish, Jacques has two sisters), the guys discuss coming-out to their families, music to dream of the future by, and whether they should stay forever unknown to each other.

Wait, not ever get together in person?
Is this a love story or a tragedy? Simon sighs… (One of 7,000 books recommended on www.abookandahug.com)

Pearl, by Jo Knowles (book review) – mystery fathers, faithful friendship

book cover of Pearl by Jo Knowles published by Henry Holt BooksNo dad,
weird mom,
just one friend, ever –
Henry and Pearl feel like they’re in Bizarro World for sure.

Must have been hard for Pearl’s grandfather when his only child was suddenly pregnant at 15, the age that never-had-a-boyfriend Pearl is now. As much as he loved his little ‘Bean’, he blamed her mom for that mistake every single day for the rest of his life.

Her friend Henry’s mom never got over being abandoned when he was a tiny baby, so she just stays in their house, watching soaps endlessly.

Fate does have its twists and turns, especially when 15 years of neighborhood and family secrets suddenly surface. You’ll have to read Pearl  to find out which layers of those secrets are the truth.

Big thanks to author Jo Knowles for helping Kate Messner offer  the summertime Teachers Write program online so that teachers and librarians can get better at their own writing (and maybe finish the next amazing novel we all can’t wait to read).

When is revealing a secret worse than keeping it?

Book info:  Pearl / Jo Knowles. Henry Holt, 2011. [author site]  [publisher site]  [book trailer] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: The summer that her grandpa dies changes everything for 15-year-old Bean and her best (only) friend Henry, trying to grow up despite their oddball moms and missing dads.

Soap operas, junk food, always staying at home – that’s Henry’s mom. Waitressing till late night, always arguing with her dad Gus, never escaping the big mistake she made at 15 – that’s Bean’s mom. Along with grandpa Gus, they’re all that Bean and Henry have, besides one another.

It was Gus who started calling her Bean (instead of Pearl), who took her fishing on the city-smooshed river behind their tired house, who told her stories of the grandmother who died when Pearl’s mom was young.

Gus’s death opens up family secrets, brings Claire into the house (her mom needs her, they both say), makes the summer even hotter and more miserable for Bean and Henry. At least the friends can be together and keep each other sane amid the craziness that their moms and Claire unleash.

Why did Bean’s mom hate her own dad so much?
Will Claire ever go back to her own place?
Why didn’t their dads stick around?

Too many secrets swirl through Bean and Henry’s lives now, but maybe they’re good enough friends to survive it all in this realistic novel of growing up and second chances.  (One of 6,000 books recommended on www.abookandahug.com)

Secret Ingredient, by Stewart Lewis (book review) – psychic to young chef: change is coming

book cover of The Secret Ingredient by Stewart Lewis published by DelacorteTwo food-obsessed dads,
One music-mad brother,
The world’s best best friend,
and a long-ignored question bubbling up, demanding an answer.

Maybe the psychic’s unsought observation is true, and every decision that Olivia makes this summer will be connected. Maybe she’ll find cute Theo again, too.

A movie version is already in the works for this June 2013 book, but it’s set in Birmingham instead of LA.  The Secret Ingredient‘s  SoCal setting is plot-essential, as Ollie gets a summer job with a Hollywood casting agency, counts the palm trees as she passes each one on her bus ride, and harbors a lingering fear of the ocean’s depths. I’ve always said that the book is better than the movie –  just try to imagine two gay men adopting children 17 years ago in Alabama…

In the book, Ollie shares several recipes with her own secret ingredient added – any recipes with your special touch?

Book info: The Secret Ingredient / Stewart Lewis. Delacorte Press, 2013.  [author site]  [publisher site]  Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: This summer should be relaxed for Olivia, but the unexpected jumps in. With a psychic’s warning and a vintage cookbook in hand, Ollie decides to help her dads save their restaurant and finally search for her birth mother.

Bell and Enrique have put everything they have into FOOD, and mortgage payments are coming due too soon. Ollie cooks the special on Saturday nights, always adding a secret ingredient for her own signature touch. Her big brother is totally obsessed with his guitar playing, but his huge talent isn’t exactly paying his bills yet.

They’ve had never been particularly bothered about being adopted by their gay dads (LA is pretty laid-back that way), but Ollie begins to wonder about her own mother when she hears that her best friend Lola’s mother has cancer.

Riding up the elevator to her summer job at a casting agency, a psychic suddenly tells the sixteen year old that her choices will be pivotal and connected, including a young man, guidance from the past, and food, too.

Maybe Theo from last summer will come back?
Perhaps her birth mother is the past part?
And food is always with Ollie – but will FOOD survive, too?

As she supports Jeremy breaking into the music business, creates a backstory for the handwritten notes found in an old cookbook, and stands by Lola during her mother’s treatments, Ollie has to figure out whether the secret ingredient for her own life might be finding her birth mother…or not.

Enjoy the recipes this brilliant young chef shares as she finds her own way in the world during an intense high school summer. (One of 6,000 books recommended on www.abookandahug.com)

Reconstructing Amelia, by Kimberly McCreight (book review) – not a suicide, not a chance

book cover of Reconstructing Amelia by Kimberly McCreight published by HarperPrivate school academic pressure
or vicious peer pressure?
What sent Amelia over the edge?

First love isn’t always easy or simple. Lifelong friendships may break apart or simply drift away during high school. Parents don’t know what their children experience every minute; kids don’t think that their parents were ever in such predicaments. Told in several voices, Amelia’s story is both familiar and unusual, with an outcome you might expect, but an ending you won’t guess.

On her website, author Kimberly McCreight asks folks to post “what would you tell your mother or your daughter” – anonymously, if need be –  if they could only find the courage or the right words or the right time, sharing the conversations on her Facebook page, hoping that the right time is sooner rather than too late.

This mystery-tragedy jumped onto the bestseller lists before I could finish this post, so you should easily find it at your local library or favorite independent bookstore now.

Is it ever too late to say the right thing?

Book info: Reconstructing Amelia / Kimberly McCreight. Harper, 2013.  [author site]  [publisher site]  [book trailer]

My book talk: Amelia would never cheat, so why would she take her own life before fighting against the false accusation? As her mother tries to uncover the truth about her death, pieces of Amelia that no one knew begin to surface through emails, text messages, and notes.

Known as an over-achiever even by Grace Hall school standards, Amelia writes thoughtful, compelling essays all the time, so the idea that she plagiarized an entire English paper about her favorite author is absurd. Her mother rushes from her law office to the posh private school when notified of her suspension for cheating, only to find that the fifteen-year-old hadn’t survived a fall from the roof. Amelia – suicide?

An anonymous text message “Amelia didn’t jump” pulls Kate from her haze of grief, as the single mother realizes that there are parts missing from the story surrounding her daughter’s death and decides that she must get to the bottom of things. With the help of a new police detective, her law firm’s IT department, and interviews with students and parents, a chilling picture emerges, centered on the social clubs which Grace Hall insists are not official school organizations.

Why did Amelia feel under so much pressure?
Who did she fall in love with and hide from everyone?
Why did she stop sharing secrets with her best friend?
What really went on with Dylan, Zaidie and the other Magpies Club girls?

This riveting story of peer pressure, indiscretions, cover-ups, and missteps on Amelia’s voyage of self-discovery is told through her diary entries, Facebook updates, text messages, emails, notes shoved in her locker, a particularly snarky blog devoted to Grace Hall gossip, plus Kate’s narrative and her own college diary.  (One of 6,000 books recommended on www.abookandahug.com) Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.