What Fresh Hell Is This? by Heather Corinna Book Review

Author Information

Heather Corinna is an insufferable queer and nonbinary feminist activist, author, educator, artist, organizer, and innovator. They’re the founder, director, designer and editor of the web clearinghouse and organization Scarleteen, the first comprehensive sex, sexuality and relationships education site and resource of its kind. Heather and the team at Scarleteen have provided millions of young people accurate, inclusive information and support for over two decades. They’re often tired.

Heather’s also the author of the inclusive, comprehensive and progressive sex, sexual health and relationships book for young adults, S.E.X: The All-You-Need-To-Know Sexuality Guide to Get You Through Your Teens and Twenties (Hachette, 2006, 2017), now in its second edition; and, with Isabella Rotman and Luke Howard, Wait, What?: A Comic Book Guide to Relationships, Bodies, and Growing Up (Oni Press/Lion Forge, 2019), for older middle readers and younger teen. They’ve been an early childhood educator, a sexuality, contraception and abortion educator and counselor, a member of the editorial board for the American Journal of Sexuality Education and the Board of Directors for NARAL Pro-Choice Washington; a writer and contributing editor for the 2011 edition of Our Bodies, Ourselves, and a plaintiff for the ACLU where they eventually got to stick it to the Bush administration, which was one of their Best Days Ever. By working themselves to a pulp, Heather has won acclaim and several awards in their field, and a lot of places and people say they’re awesome. Some do not.

They’re navigating middle age and all it entails with as much grace as they can muster (spoiler: not much), and currently, and begrudgingly, live and work in their hometown of Chicago after 20 years away. When not locked in a small room feverishly writing a book in a pandemic or otherwise overindulging in labor, Heather hangs out with their dog, partner and friends, goes outside, makes and geeks out about music, cooks, babies houseplants, and tries to enjoy the purportedly existential theater of life. 

Book Description

An informative, blisteringly funny, somewhat cranky and always spot-on guide to perimenopause and menopause by the award-winning sex ed/health educator and author of S.E.X.
If you don’t know award-winning sex educator and all-around badass Heather Corinna, let them introduce themselves and their new book:
“I’m going to do what I’ve done for millions of people of all ages with sex and relationships: to simplify and share solid, explicit information, to provide support and be sensitive, and to help make everyone feel less alone and get us all through hard, thorny, touchy stuff so we can make it to the other side. I’m going to do this in a similar way I’ve done it for sex and relationships in my work over the last couple decades for young people and adults alike: by talking out loud, shamelessly and frankly, about what others are afraid or ashamed to, much in the way your favorite loudmouth aunt might have if she made this kind of stuff her life’s work and if your family also didn’t always apparently forget to invite her to everything.”
Corinna has been on the cutting edge of health for more than twenty years, always talking about what people are most afraid, ashamed, or embarrassed of. What Fresh Hell Is This? is no different. It’s a companion for everyone who’s reached this “what to expect when you’re not expected to expect anything” time of life. It’s a health-forward, feminist, no b.s. (and damn funny) perimenopause guide for the generation that time forgot (aka GenXers), offering straightforward descriptions of our bodies, minds, lives and what’s going on with them during this time of hormonal chaos. Heather Corinna tells you what to expect and what to do, all while busting some myths and offering real self-care tips so you can get through this. With practical, clear information that also includes affected populations who have long been left out of the discussion, like those with disabilities, queer, transgender, nonbinary and other gender-diverse people, the working class and other marginalized folks, What Fresh Hell Is This? an accessible and inclusive guide for anyone who is experiencing the hot fire of perimenopause.

Review

Since this book is non-fiction, there is no need for me to have this separated into characters and writing style. I was quite surprised with how much I enjoyed this book as I was worried it wouldn’t be relevant to me.

I really liked the way that this book was written and how everything is separated into different chapters based on what is being discussed. I liked how this book talked about a lot of the changes that happen with menopause and not just what happens to the reproductive system. I was quite surprised about the many things that people who may go through menopause don’t know about their bodies. I shared a copy of this book with my mom and kept one for myself so I can reference it in the future.

Something else that I really enjoyed about this book was how the language that is used throughout this book is gender neutral. As someone who is non-binary and one day will experience menopause, it was nice to not have this tied to being a woman. There was no point in this book that I felt like they were not including me in the group of people who experience that phenomenon.

I highly recommend this to those of you who may experience menopause, who are currently experiencing menopause, and those of you who want to better understand those of us who go through menopause. There was so much that I learned through reading this book and a lot of things that I was amazed by. I think its very important to be familiar with the changes that happen to your body so you are prepared when they come.

All Kinds of Other by James Sie Blog Tour Post

I am so excited to get a chance to be a part of this book tour hosted by Turn the Page Tours. Make sure you check out the rest of the posts that are a part of this tour by looking at the schedule for the tour found here. 

Author Information

JAMES SIE is the author of STILL LIFE LAS VEGAS (St. Martin’s Press, 2015), a Lambda Literary Award finalist for Best Gay Fiction, and the YA novel ALL KINDS OF OTHER (Quill Tree Books, 2021) He is an award-winning playwright of literary adaptations, receiving a Joseph Jefferson Citation for his adaptation of ISLAND OF THE BLUE DOLPHINS, and an After Dark Award for the original work THE ROAD TO GRACELAND. He has contributed essays for The Rumpus, Pen USA, FSG’s Book Keeping and The Advocate. In addition to writing, Sie can currently be heard as a voiceover artist in animation and audiobook narration.

Author Links:

Author Website ~ Instagram ~ Twitter

Book Description

Publisher: Quill Tree Books

Release Date: May 4, 2021

Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary, LGBT, Romance

Goodreads link: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/54798457-all-kinds-of-other

Book Purchase link: https://www.harpercollins.com/products/all-kinds-of-other-james-sie?variant=32260054155298

Book Description: 

In this tender, nuanced coming-of-age love story, two boys—one who is cis and one who is trans—have been guarding their hearts to protect themselves, until their feelings for each other give them a reason to stand up to their fears.

Two boys are starting at a new school.

Jules is just figuring out what it means to be gay and hasn’t totally decided whether he wants to be out at his new school. His parents and friends have all kinds of opinions, but for his part, Jules just wants to make the basketball team and keep his head down.

Jack is trying to start over after a best friend break-up. He followed his actor father clear across the country to LA, but he’s also totally ready to leave his past behind. Maybe this new school where no one knows him is exactly what he needs.

When the two boys meet, the sparks are undeniable. But then a video surfaces linking Jack to a pair of popular transgender vloggers, and the revelations about Jack’s past thrust both Jack and Jules into the spotlight they’ve been trying to avoid. Suddenly both boys have a choice to make—between lying low where it’s easier or following their hearts.

GIVEAWAY

Enter to win one finished copy of All Kinds of Other by James Sie! Open USA only. There will be 1 winner.

Giveaway starts: Tuesday, May 4, 2021

Giveaway ends: Tuesday, May 11, 2021 at 12:00 a.m. CST

http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/1e4a114d39/

Review

Thoughts and Themes: This one I had to sit on before writing the review because of how much I really enjoyed it. As a trans person there was several portions of this book that I had to just set the book aside because the Transphobia was too much. Our main character never really gets a break from all the transphobic people in his life and the first thing that I noted was see these things happen in liberal spaces too.

As soon as I started reading, my favorite thing was that this book took place in Los Angeles. I think the setting is really important for many of the events that occur throughout this book. I think the book shows how sometimes people like to think that transphobia and homophobia only exists in small towns and conservative places, but this book shows how it exists in what we think of as a safe town. I also really loved the setting because it felt like I was going to these places with the characters, I could picture all the places they went as these are the places I grew up going to.

Something else that I really loved that this book addresses is the transphobia within the queer community. I thought it was important that the lack of trans awareness in the school’s GSA was addressed and we also saw some of the LGBTQ+ characters having a hard time when Jack is outed.

The reveal of who outed Jack was so hard to read but also I kind of liked Jack’s response to the person who outed him. I thought it was nice that he took this as a teaching moment while still expressing his anger about what happened. I can’t speak much about this without giving spoilers but I have a lot of feelings about how it went down.

This book has so much packed into it and discusses many topics. This book also briefly goes into being mixed race, and we also see how Jack is treated because he is half Indian. While there is so many layers to this book, and so many different things going on, I don’t think that any of it takes away from the book.

Characters: Through this book you meet several characters through their interactions with Jules and Jack. I really liked getting to know Jack and Jules and thinks the book does a great job of letting you know them both with and without each other.

I really liked reading as the relationship between Jack and Jules developed and then what happens when Jules finds out that Jack is trans. I think this non-linear development of their relationship was realistic. I thought that their relationship was realistic for their ages and really liked how they both were figuring out themselves and what they wanted. I really liked that we do get a happy ending for their relationship because it felt wholesome and I love happy endings for trans people, we deserve them.

I thought that both sets of parents played an important role in this story and was really glad that they were included. I thought it was important that we see Jules’s mom being transphobic and read as how that figures into the story. The dinner scene was so hard for me to get through because of all the transphobia that is packed into just a few pages. It was hard to read as Jack’s dad didn’t stand up for his son, and Jules’s didn’t know how to make it all stop. I did think it was important to see Jack’s dad struggle in this moment and to also see Jack’s response to this.

Writing Style: The story is told through two perspectives and in first person. The book also includes some tumblr posts that Jack is making to Evie along with some video transcripts Jack and Evie made. I liked getting to hear both of their sides to the story and see what was happening for each of them as the story progressed. I really liked getting to see parts of Jack’s past through the tumblr posts and youtube videos because they show how he came to be who he is now.

Camp by L.C. Rosen Book Review

Author Information

Lev Rosen is the author of books for all ages. Two for adults: All Men of Genius (Amazon Best of the Month, Audie Award Finalist) and Depth (Amazon Best of the Year, Shamus Award Finalist, Kirkus Best Science Fiction for April). Two middle-grade books: Woundabout (illustrated by his brother, Ellis Rosen), and The Memory Wall. And two young adult novels: Jack of Hearts (and other parts) (American Library Association Rainbow List Top 10 of 2018) and Camp (School Library Journal Best Books of 2020, Elle Magazine Best Books of 2020). His books have been translated into different languages and sold around the world, nominated for awards and featured on many best of the year lists.

Lev is originally from lower Manhattan and now lives in even lower Manhattan, right at the edge, with his husband and very small cat. You can find him online at LevACRosen.com and @LevACRosen

Book Description

Sixteen-year-old Randy Kapplehoff loves spending the summer at Camp Outland, a camp for queer teens. It’s where he met his best friends. It’s where he takes to the stage in the big musical. And it’s where he fell for Hudson Aaronson-Lim – who’s only into straight-acting guys and barely knows not-at-all-straight-acting Randy even exists.

This year, though, it’s going to be different. Randy has reinvented himself as ‘Del’ – buff, masculine, and on the market. Even if it means giving up show tunes, nail polish, and his unicorn bedsheets, he’s determined to get Hudson to fall for him.

But as he and Hudson grow closer, Randy has to ask himself how much is he willing to change for love. And is it really love anyway, if Hudson doesn’t know who he truly is? 

Review

Thoughts and Themes: I read this one as it was a pick for one of the book clubs that I am a part of. It was one that was already on my shelves so I was glad to have a reason to read it.

This story reminded me of the time that I went to Trans camp and how that made me finally feel at home and at ease with who I am. I love the idea of LGBTQ+ kids getting a space where they are free to be who they are amongst others who are also like them.

When I first started this book there were so many times that I was annoyed with it and the stereotypes that were being shown. It felt that the whole thing was stereotypes and trying to go through so many tropes in a few pages. I was also worried that we would see a lot of stereotypes and problematic behavior without any commentary on it. I was pleased that this shifted mid way through the book as Randy gets called out for his plan and things between him and Hudson shift as the truth is revealed.

I liked that this book focuses on toxic masculinity within the gay community as well as internalized homophobia. The book doesn’t straight out say that that’s what it is addressing which is something that I like. These topics get addressed through conversations that Randy has with Hudson and conversations that he has with his friends. I like that there isn’t a sudden shift in the way Hudson’s parents think because it makes the story relatable.

I teared up at the conversation that Connie has with Randy about Hudson and his parents. It was just so real and relatable. I really felt for Hudson as he shifts back into someone his parents are more comfortable with for his safety and well-being back at home.

Characters: I really enjoyed all of the characters that you meet throughout this story even if Hudson and Randy would annoy me at times. There were times that I just couldn’t stand Randy at the beginning of the story and halfway through as well. My feelings towards Randy shift as he develops as a character and begins to understand where he went wrong.

I love that each of these characters learns more about themselves as the story goes on and we learn more about them. I love that they change throughout the course of this book and they aren’t one dimensional. I really enjoyed the side characters throughout this book and thought that they really added complexity to the story. I like the side story between George and Brad, as well as Ashleigh and Paz.

Something else I loved is that we get a demisexual character in this story. I have yet to read a book that has a demisexual character so it was really nice to see my sexuality represented.

Writing Style: The story is told in first person through the perspective of Randy which is something that I like because we don’t really get into the other’s thoughts. I like that when there is problems occurring we only get to see Randy’s side and feelings because it makes you angrier with him. I think it is good that we don’t get to really sympathize with Hudson until later on and we don’t find him a likeable character immediately. Well at least I didn’t find him likeable as it seemed he was trying to trick Randy into something Randy wasn’t ready for.

The Past and Present Pain of the Queer Community- Guest Post by C.M McGuire

Author Information

When C.M. McGuire, author of Ironspark, was a child, she drove her family crazy with her nonstop stories. Lucky for them, she eventually learned to write and gave their ears a rest. This love of stories led her to college where she pursued history (semi-nonfictional storytelling), anthropology (where stories come from) and theater (attention-seeking storytelling). When she isn’t writing, she’s painting, crocheting, gardening, baking, and teaching the next generation to love stories as much as she does.

Author Links:

Website: http://seeemmcguire.weebly.com/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/seeemmcguire

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/seeemmcguire/?hl=en

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/18849889.C_M_McGuire

The Past and Present Pain of the Queer Community

Coming to terms with one’s queerness is, in so many ways liberating. In other ways, it brings with it a cultural weight with which we were not born. Though increasing waves of tolerance and diversity have perhaps made it easier than ever to be queer in America, that was not always the case. Conversion therapy remains an ongoing debate, as is the very validity of  being transgender, asexual, or any identity more complex than “straight” or “gay.” There will remain, for the foreseeable future, the frightening “what if” for this community. “What if history swings back the other way?” The effect of this history in conjunction with the present reality results in an obviously higher risk for mental health issues in the LGBTQ+ community.

Though the immediate affects of queerness in today’s society can be seen and felt, coming to terms with one’s queerness brings with it the shadow of the past. The pink triangle marked homosexuals as the lowest caste of those incarcerated during he Holocaust, and libraration did not come for them at the end of the war. Many remained imprisoned for decades after the war, and the same laws that allowed this to occur led to such horrors as the chemical castration of Alan Turing. Until 1973, the US still considered homosexuality and any and all subsets to be a form of mental illness, and more than a few lesbians were lobotomized in an attempt to cure this. Even as the US began ponderously removing its sodomy laws, the AIDS crisis left a tangible scar on the community. One that echoes through the modern culture, affecting even those who did not themselves suffer. 

It is difficult to be a queer person and not feel the weight of all of those who came before, who suffered so much more. There is relief to be in a world which is more accepting, grief for those who were not accepted, and fear. Will my rights be taken away? Will the suffering of my predecessors come to haunt me? However, it is also not a grief that can be readily discussed with one’s family, because in so many cases, it won’t be understood. To accept one’s own queerness is to shoulder the weight of this history, with the threat of its resurgence looming over a promising future. 

The communal grief of the queer culture is unique in that it is not automatically shared with the family. It is a grief into which an individual can come of age. I remember a ten-year-old me knew nothing about the history of queer people. It isn’t taught in schools. It isn’t deemed appropriate for  most audiences. Therefore, it was only when I came out myself that I began to learn and, quite without intending to, shouldered this very weight. One which my parents did not wish to know. Unlike many cultural traumas, this is not one which an individual can process with the safety of family. 

In fact, for many queer teens, the family is a greater source of anxiety than not. “Coming out” is still a difficult experience because it comes with the implication that one might not be accepted. The family might deny or disown a previously loved or at least tolerated child for this perceived abnormality. Bullying and social rejection are still the norm in many schools. For these teens, the haunting history of being queer in America is a present and lasting horror. 

For many, the support of a queer community is vital. Online forums and Pride events can provide much-needed support for those who are fortunate enough to access these. However, even within the community, the othering isms of racism, ableism, body shaming, and transphobia serve to further alienate those to whom the community should be a respite. Around half of transgender individuals will have attempted suicide, and well over half the community struggles with depression, anxiety, and PTSD. Homelessness and substance abuse are a greater risk when a teen could be disowned without a lifeline or individuals are forced to wrestle with their trauma alone. 

Perhaps the biggest threat to the mental health of the community is the threat of stigma. There is still a stigma against mental health care today, discouraging people from seeking help for fear of being labeled “crazy” or “broken.” Many members of the community avoid the potentially lifesaving resource of therapy, knowing full and well that therapy can be a gamble if it cannot be confirmed that the therapist is an ally before the first session. 

I wish I could state an easy solution to this issue, but the factors threatening the mental health of queer individuals are many and varied. It is, perhaps, the greatest hope that the fight goes on. With greater representation and education, the isolation and rejection of the community’s past and present may turn to tolerance and understanding. The community may become more welcoming even unto itself, and the current pains of rejection from the medical community may turn to competent and compassionate care as the standard. For the moment, it is important that queer individuals not simply accept the rejection, but fight to secure the care they need. They owe it to themselves and to the next generation, to whom we will be but another chapter of an inherited history. 

YOU CAN FIND her BOOK AT:

Goodreads ~ Amazon ~ Barnes and Noble ~ Book Depository ~ Indigo

Cemetery Boys by Aiden Thomas Book Review

Author Information

Aiden Thomas is a YA author with an MFA in Creative Writing. Originally from Oakland, California, they now make their home in Portland, OR. As a queer, trans, latinx, Aiden advocates strongly for diverse representation in all media. Aiden’s special talents include: quoting The Office, useless trivia, Jenga, finishing sentences with “is my FAVORITE”, and killing spiders. Aiden is notorious for not being able to guess the endings of books and movies, and organizes their bookshelves by color.

Book Description

Yadriel has summoned a ghost, and now he can’t get rid of him.

When his traditional Latinx family has problems accepting his gender, Yadriel becomes determined to prove himself a real brujo. With the help of his cousin and best friend Maritza, he performs the ritual himself, and then sets out to find the ghost of his murdered cousin and set it free.

However, the ghost he summons is actually Julian Diaz, the school’s resident bad boy, and Julian is not about to go quietly into death. He’s determined to find out what happened and tie up some loose ends before he leaves. Left with no choice, Yadriel agrees to help Julian, so that they can both get what they want. But the longer Yadriel spends with Julian, the less he wants to let him leave.

Review

Thank You to The Clever Reader for ensuring this book got into the hands of an own voices reviewer by passing along this book to me so that I could get a chance to read and review it early.

There are so many things to love about this book right from the start of it, well actually more like right from reading the blurb about it. I loved this book right from knowing the protagonist was a gay, Latinx, transgender guy. Books that have so many of my identities in one character are rare to find so I was just happy to be able to see myself in something that I was reading.

One of my favorite parts of this book is the conflict that Yadriel has with the love he has for his family and their unwillingness to accept him as a brujo. There is a portion where Julian questions who Yadriel is trying to be enough for and I put down the book to cry my eyes out at this. My family is so important to me and I feel like I hide so much of myself or make adjustments to who I am to be enough for them without questioning if I am now not being enough for myself. It is such a hard feeling to put into words but that scene just captured so many feelings in a few words.

I love the world building and the character development in this book. Each scene was well crafted and I could picture things as they were happening. The characters all had vivid descriptions of them and they all were easily identifiable. I loved how Yads changes through the course of the book as he learns to love not only someone else but himself as well. I thought that was such an important aspect that this book shows and really was the most important part to this book.

Dia De Muertos is not something that I am entirely familiar with as American culture was what was emphasized for me growing up so I don’t know the traditions of where my parents are from. I love getting to read about this holiday though because each book has a different way of describing it even though it comes down to being about celebrate our loved ones who have passed.

Books can usually make me tear up but not full on cry but this book had to be put down because of the tears. There is so much emotions packed into the last few pages of this book and I just couldn’t get enough. Not only are the last few pages packed with emotions but you get one twist right after another which I really enjoyed.

I really hope that you all go out and read this book that means so much to me. You can pre-order this book at:

Eso Won Books ~ Amazon ~ Barnes & Noble ~ The Book Depository ~ Kobo ~ Google

To check out an interview with the author, Aiden Thomas, learn more about them and their debut novel, click here.