Wow, No Thank You

Author: Samantha Irby

Published: March 31, 2020

Publisher: Vintage

Where I picked up my book: Purchased from my local Indie (Old Firehouse Books)

Key Words: Non Fiction, Essays, Humor

My Rating: 5 stars

70FDC9B8-4987-485D-A231-14032311AF51

My Thoughts:

I’m not sure I’ve EVER laughed so hard at a book. I literally laughed so much that at some points, I got cheek cramps and my wife stared at me from across the room (as she was probably reading some non-fiction book about presidents and economics or something equally out of my realm of thinking and definitely NOT hilarious).

This was also one of the most relatable books that I’ve ever read (which is probably another reason I found it so funny). Is it because both Irby and I were born with snark in our bones? Maybe. Is it because we are both 40ish and life is bitch-slapping us in the face now? Quite possibly. Is it because I all of a sudden wake up with neck cramps, knee pain and feel nervous to eat certain foods for fear my stomach will rebel (but it’s perfectly fine if all I’m doing is staying home for the night-which is basically always. Even when Covid isn’t happening)? Yep, I bet. Is it because we both count our pennies and feel like maybe we are the WORST accounting/math people on the Earth? Very likely. But for whatever reason, I felt like I was reading a much more entertaining and well-written version of my own life. The good, the bad and the ugly.

This is a laugh-out-loud, knock you in the gut, nearly pee your pants kind of book that will have you laughing yourself into tears. I highly suggest you grab this collection of essays if you’re in the mood for a laugh. With all the fear and craziness going on in the world right now…this might just be the thing you need!

As always, come chat books with me on Instagram (@booksihfolk), check out my greeting card shop online-PAGEFIFTYFIVE and happy reading!

bookishfolk…read instead.

In at the Deep End

Author: Kate Davies

Published: June 4, 2019

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt  

Where I picked up my book:  gift from publisher (THANK YOU!!!)

Key Words: LGBTQ+, Romance, Adult themes 

My Rating: 3

70DCAB9D-AB18-40E5-98A7-75F9BE90088A

My Thoughts:

Wow this was a steamy book. I mean, for me-this might have been the steamiest book I’ve ever read. BUT the cherry on top is-this is a queer, steamy novel and as a queer myself…I ‘m ALWAYS here for more representation! Just a quick note: when reading this, I think it’s good to keep in mind that all people are different, relationships are different, what goes on behind closed doors is different and if you like what is going on in your life behind those closed doors-keep doing you! This is an example of one person’s, fictional, sex life, so don’t get concerned that your life might not look like this. You do you. And if it does look like this-that’s great too! I’ve talked to a few other queer bookstagrammers and we all kind of had the same slight panic of, “are we doing something wrong?!” when reading this book. I’m here to tell you that no, no you’re not. In any relationship, if you and your partner are happy-you’re doing it right!

First, ‘let’s talk about sex ba-by’ (Salt-N-Pepa fans unite. Wait, am I showing my age?! I digress…). In at the Deep End is full of sex, so you’ve been warned. Think, a queer Fifty shades of Grey sort of book maybe? I don’t really know-I never read any of the Fifty Shades of Grey books, but from what I’ve read ABOUT them, this one is up there with those descriptions. I’m not opposed to it. I don’t think woman talk about sex enough, let alone queer sex-in a frank way, without shame and with free abandon. So bring it and let’s make it part of the mainstream discussion.

Second, this book brings up some thoughts about consensual versus non-consensual sex and/or relationships dynamics. Not only should both parties be comfortable with the sex they are having (or not having for that matter) between themselves, but they should also both be comfortable about what goes on in all aspects of their relationship. So maybe S&M might be something you want to experiment with, but you’re not okay with bringing another partner into their relationship or having an open relationship. Talk, talk, talk and talk some more. Communication is the key to life and this book rode that point home for me. Not necessarily in the character’s actions, but in what I was thinking while reading it.

Third, family and friends can be important compass points for you in all aspects of your life, but especially when it comes to relationships. You might be all-consumed with those love feels that come when you’re in a new relationships, so hopefully you have good people around you to check in with. If not, find some good people that will check in with you. I think the idea of “it takes a village” pertains to all aspects of life. Find your village, listen to your village, and trust your village. If your village is warning you that a relationship doesn’t look healthy, trust them.

Fourth, coming out can be (and should be) exhilarating and freeing. Granted, that’s not the case for everyone, but most people get to feel a sense of relief and excitement when they finally find and admit their truth. I still remember collecting all things rainbow because that rainbow now belonged to me. I remember experimenting with clothes, biking home with a pile of LGBTQ+ books to use as research, and listening to the queer artists I always loved, but this time on full volume! The thrill of holding a woman’s hand in public equally excited me and scared me a little, but I was here for it. I couldn’t wait to visit the gay mecca of the world (San Francisco, where I later moved to with my now wife-dreams do come true) and call it my own. I remember thinking with all the pride in the world, that I was now part of the lesbian club. A group of people who walked their own walk and went against the grain and I was wanted and loved and embraced by that community. It was the best feeling in the world and I got to feel it all over again with Julia’s (the main character’s) coming out. It was, hands down, my favorite part of the book.

Yea, this book might have been a bit more steamy than what I am used to, and isn’t as literary as I might usually read, but it is a unique, frank, funny, energetic book, with a positive plot and I think if you go into it with the proper expectations and knowledge…you will enjoy the ride. Side note: There is a scene where one of the characters role plays being Mexican, and it felt problematic to me. I just wanted to put that out there in case you think it feels the same to you too. Have you read it yet? What did you think? I’m really excited to see what else Davies writes. I will definitely be on the look out or it! As always, come and find me on Instagram and let’s chat books!

Bookishfolk…read instead.

#TakePrideInReading

sara-rampazzo-769039-unsplash

June is Pride month here in the U.S. and myself, along with a bunch of other Bookstagrammers, started a reading challenge to help spread the word and raise awareness about queer authors characters and topics AND to celebrate just what this month truly means to so many of us. Here is how we’ve planned it out. Each week, there are 2 prompts. Our job is to read books that fit the prompts for the week, post about books that correlate, talk about books and authors that fit into each week, and/or post stacks of books that we pull from our shelves or pick up from the library that check the box for that week! It’s a fantastic way to read more queer lit, but also, it’s a great way to really think about our history, where we came from, how we got there, who helped us along the way, see where we stand now and to celebrate all there is to come. It’s only been a little over a week but it’s just been the BEST time! I love reading queer lit, but this has expanded my TBR pile exponentially and I couldn’t be more excited! So I wanted to make sure all of my blog friends knew about this challenge as well! Again, all the fun takes place over on Instagram-so find me there at bookishfolk and follow along using the hashtag #takeprideinreading. And bonus, I’ve seen SO many people over on Instagram talking about how they want to read more queer books and learn more about our history and I basically sob the majority of the day now just thinking about how something so small (like a reading challenge on Instagram) can have such an effect on so many people. It makes me the happiest.

Prompts:

Week 1: Voices Across the Spectrum, Breaking the Binary

Week 2: Community Classic, Unsung Classic

Week 3: Intersectional Voices, Know Our History

Week 4: LGBTQIA+ Genre Fiction, Personal Awakening

As you can see, we’re only on week 2, so we’ve still got a ways to go exploring these themes and celebrating the diversity of queer life! And please know, this is for all of us-you don’t have to be queer to participate. As long as you’re here to be respectful, ready to learn and grow, and read some fantastically queer books-we’re happy to have you along for the ride 🙂

In case you’re interested, here are the bookstagrammers that are hosting the challenge: These humans are wonderful people to follow for all sorts of reasons! Give them a look over on the gram!

@thefeministreader @readrunsea  @allisonreadsdc @basiclandcave @bklnbooks @caseythereader @franniereads @hisreadingnook @inkoneverypage @lesbeebooks @lupita.reads @mina_reads @readingschmitt @readmollyread @shelfbyshelf @thealchemyofbooks @whatsjennareading @booksnblazers @bowtiesandbooks @caseythecanadianlesbrarian @djenneg.reads @khakipantsofsex @queerafricanreads @roams.and.reads @talialune @ultimatelybookish @bookishfolk

YAY PRIDE MONTH and YAY QUEER BOOKS! As always, find me on Instagram and please let me know what books you’re reading this month! I’d love to hear!

bookishfolk…read instead.

 

 

The Lost Coast

Author: Amy Rose Capetta

Published: May 14, 2019

Publisher: Candlewick

Where I picked up my book: Free from the publisher via NetGalley-THANK YOU! (this does not influence my options at all)

Key Words: Queer, witches, fantasy, YA, magical

My Rating: 5

The Lost Coast bookishfolk

Synopsis (via Candlewick Press website):

Danny didn’t know what she was looking for when she and her mother spread out a map of the United States and Danny put her finger down on Tempest, California. What she finds are the Grays: a group of friends who throw around terms like queer and witch like they’re ordinary and everyday, though they feel like an earthquake to Danny. But Danny didn’t just find the Grays. They cast a spell that calls her halfway across the country, because she has something they need: she can bring back Imogen, the most powerful of the Grays, missing since the summer night she wandered into the woods alone. But before Danny can find Imogen, she finds a dead boy with a redwood branch through his heart. Something is very wrong amid the trees and fog of the Lost Coast, and whatever it is, it can kill. Lush, eerie, and imaginative, Amy Rose Capetta’s tale overflows with the perils and power of discovery — and what it means to find your home, yourself, and your way forward.

My Thoughts:

Oh I really, REALLY loved this book. Witches, unapologetic queers, beautiful scenery, outsiders that stick together, a diverse group of friends, feminism and imperfectly perfect characters are just the beginning of why I loved this book so much. Let me break down my love a little bit more.

First, growing up, I didn’t get to see characters like these in books, or movies, or in real-life either, if I’m being perfectly honest. People that are unapologetically being themselves-whether that entails the color of their skin, their culture, their sexuality, what they like or how they like it, how they identify, or a combo of all of the above. I wasn’t seeing that anywhere. Here it is though! These characters showed us what it’s like to be different from mainstream culture and then how to embrace those differences. I found myself fist pumping for each of them every step of the way. They are the ones we all aspire to be. And after reading the author’s notes at the end where she made mention of this book being for those different ones, those who don’t know where they fit and those who live in places where being different is hard, it really solidified my thoughts. Basically, she wrote this book for the magical ones and I’m forever here for anything like that! I hope this one gets into the hands of as many young people as possible so they all know just how magical they really are.

Second, the scenery descriptions in this book were everything. I lived for a year in San Francisco and I remember those majestic redwoods and their smells and the fog surrounding life at times and it was all brought back to me through Capetta’s words. I could smell the woods, feel the fog on my face and walk in the soft earth below the trees. The writing alone in this book felt magical to me. Trees are truly my love language and right from the beginning, I knew I was set up to LOVE this book.

Third, the queer witch talk. Let me repeat…so much amazing, carefully crafted, inspiring, exciting queer witch talk. And I’m in for all of it! I’ve always thought of queers as a little bit witchy anyways (myself included in this) so all the YESES!

Fourth, I’ve always thought that we (those outside of “societal norms”)  carry each other. Queers, witches, women, people of color, and any others living outside of the societal norm…we are all a part of each other and we hold each other up. We may not interact on a daily basis, but when you come for one of us, you come for all of us. I’ve always felt that whether it’s in politics, in a classroom, in a bar, or in my daily life. I will stand tall and strong behind my other weirdos and this book might be the one that has made me feel that the strongest. Throughout the book I kept thinking of that concept and it would make me so emotional I wanted to cry, or yell my loyalty from a mountaintop while pounding my chest. (side note: I stuck with crying for all of those waiting for the live mountaintop feed).

Lastly…my life goal is to now become a Gray.

There is so much more to talk about in this book, but I’ll leave you to go read it now. If you enjoy witches, magic, queers, YA literature and writing that you can taste-I would highly suggest this book. I don’t think you will be disappointed. As always, let me know what you think! You can find me over on Instagram at bookishfolk or right here on the blog! Happy reading and thanks again Candlewick Press for the free copy!

bookishfolk…read instead.

 

Willa and Hesper

Author: Amy Feltman

Published: February 5, 2019

Publisher: Grand Central

Where I picked up my book: Library

Key Words: Romance, LGBTQ+, family dynamics

My Rating: 3.5

B31CE406-4A8E-425E-960D-E43969B31D1A

Synopsis (via Goodreads):

In WILLA & HESPER, two young women fall in love. When they fall apart, they unwittingly take the same path to heal from their breakup, seeking answers in the lands of their ancestors. From Tbilisi, Georgia to the war sites of Germany, they discover what can break and what can mend when you look to the past to understand your present.

Willa’s darkness enters Hesper’s light late one night in Brooklyn. Theirs is a whirlwind romance until Willa starts to know Hesper too well, to crawl into her hidden spaces, and Hesper shuts her out. She runs, following her fractured family back to her grandfather’s hometown of Tbilisi, Georgia, looking for the origin story that he is no longer able to tell. But once in Tbilisi, cracks appear in her grandfather’s history-and a massive flood is heading toward Georgia, threatening any hope for repair.

Meanwhile, heartbroken Willa is desperate to leave New York that she joins a group trip for Jewish twentysomethings to visit Holocaust sites in Germany and Poland, hoping to override her emotional state. When it proves to be more fraught than home, she must come to terms with her past-the ancestral past, her romantic past, and the past that can lead her forward.

Told from alternating perspectives, and ending in the shadow of Trump’s presidency, WILLA & HESPER is a deeply moving, cerebral, and timely debut.

My Thoughts:

This book had a lot going on and it took me a few days to sort through all of my feelings before I could actually write anything down. First things first, I was ecstatic to find a book that depicts a lesbian relationship without a man involved as a part of the main plot AND, that doesn’t revolve the character’s coming out story. I’m not against a good coming out story (we all had to come out at one point or another and it’s usually not easy, has a story behind it and deserves to be told). BUT…I’m quite a bit past that point in my life and it’s so refreshing to just see queer characters living their authentic lives like the rest of society (fictional or not) does.

My second thought was that this book is a journey and in order to enjoy it, you need to be down for the ride. When I first heard about this book, I thought I was going to read about a pretty straight forward (no pun intended) lesbian romance, and although romance is not a genre I usually lean toward, I was in for a lesbian romance because we don’t see those very often in literature. So I picked it up and oof…I was happily mistaken. The romance that takes place is a relatively short part of the story and seems to only be there to act as the catalyst. It’s really there for each woman to individually explore themselves, their place in life, their faith, their family, their goals, aspirations and their fears. It’s really a sweeping observation of what it’s like to be a queer in your 20’s, just trying to figure out all the things in life. It’s quite a journey and as long as you’re in for that, you’ll love this book.

If I’m being honest, my main caveat with this book was that it was was sometimes hard to decipher between the two main characters, Willa and Hesper. I say this with caution, because I despise when people tell my wife and I that we look alike (we literally don’t look alike at all). Or they say that can’t tell the difference between out voices on the phone. Or they ask us if we are sisters. Here’s a little PSA-don’t do that to lesbian couples. Like, ever. It’s degrading and rude. BUT…this is fiction, so I will say this with a grain of salt. It’s not because it is two women that I couldn’t tell decipher these characters (although I will say that writing lesbian relationships-this is another challenge that we face). But…giving these characters more unique, and individual voices would have been a bit better for me as a reader and lead to a lot less confusion overall. I found myself flipping back quite a bit to figure out which one was which.

Besides that little caveat, I thoroughly enjoyed this book and am really looking forward to seeing what else Feltman has to offer us! <<Please more lesbian literature. Please>>.

bookishfolk…read instead.