Friday, May 29, 2020

The Parker Inheritance - A Middle Grade Mystery (with an LGBTQ main kid character)

The Parker Inheritance by Varian Johnson

When Candice finds a letter in an old attic in Lambert, South Carolina, she isn't sure she should read it. It's addressed to her grandmother, who left the town in shame. But the letter describes a young woman. An injustice that happened decades ago. A mystery enfolding its writer. And the fortune that awaits the person who solves the puzzle.

So with the help of Brandon, the quiet boy across the street, she begins to decipher the clues. The challenge will lead them deep into Lambert's history, full of ugly deeds, forgotten heroes, and one great love; and deeper into their own families, with their own unspoken secrets. Can they find the fortune and fulfill the letter's promise before the answers slip into the past yet again?

Add your review of "The Parker Inheritance" in comments!

Wednesday, May 27, 2020

A Home for Goddesses and Dogs - Middle Grade about Loss, and Family, and Love... and "the world's best bad dog"

A Home for Goddesses and Dogs by Leslie Connor

It’s a life-altering New Year for thirteen-year-old Lydia when she uproots to a Connecticut farm to live with her aunt following her mother’s death.

Aunt Brat and her jovial wife, Eileen, and their ancient live-in landlord, Elloroy, are welcoming—and a little quirky. Lydia’s struggle for a sense of belonging in her new family is highlighted when the women adopt a big yellow dog just days after the girl’s arrival.

Wasn’t one rescue enough?

Lydia is not a dog person—and this one is trouble! He is mistrustful and slinky. He pees in the house, escapes into the woods, and barks at things unseen. His new owners begin to guess about his unknown past.

Meanwhile, Lydia doesn’t want to be difficult—and she does not mean to keep secrets—but there are things she’s not telling...

Like why the box of “paper stuff” she keeps under her bed is so important...

And why that hole in the wall behind a poster in her room is getting bigger...

And why something she took from the big yellow dog just might be the key to unraveling his mysterious past—but at what cost?

Add your review of "A Home for Goddesses and Dogs" in comments!

PS - thanks to the unknown commenter on this blog's The Middle Grade Bookshelf post for the heads-up on this one!

Monday, May 25, 2020

My Latest TikTok Video Celebrates Christine Jorgensen!

Christine Jorgensen became world famous in 1952 for transitioning her body to match who she knew herself to be.

@leewind Christine Jorgensen became world famous in 1952 for transitioning her body to match who she knew herself to be. ##transpride ##gaypride ##lgbtq
♬ This Is Me - Alan Walker Relift (From "The Greatest Showman") - Keala Settle & The Greatest Showman Ensemble

Knowing our Queer history is so empowering! (And I love this song from The Greatest Showman soundtrack.)

The light in me recognizes and acknowledges the light in you,

Friday, May 22, 2020

True Letters from a Fictional Life - Soccer, A Sort-Of Girlfriend, A Secret Crush, And Letters That Are The Only Place James Gets To Be Himself

True Letters from a Fictional Life by Kenneth Logan

If you asked anyone in his small Vermont town, they’d tell you the facts: James Liddell, star athlete, decent student, and sort-of boyfriend to cute, peppy Theresa, is a happy, funny, carefree guy.

But whenever James sits down at his desk to write, he tells a different story. As he fills his drawers with letters to the people in his world—letters he never intends to send—he spills the truth: he’s trying hard, but he just isn’t into Theresa. It’s his friend, a boy, who lingers in his thoughts.

James’s secret letters are his safe space—but his truth can’t stay hidden for long. Will he come clean to his parents, his teammates, and himself, or is he destined to live a life of fiction?

Add your review of "True Letters from a Fictional Life" in comments!

Wednesday, May 20, 2020

The Fascinators - Teenage Sam Deals With Magic and Being Gay In His Small, Conservative Town

The Fascinators by Andrew Eliopulos

Living in a small town where magic is frowned upon, Sam needs his friends James and Delia—and their time together in their school's magic club—to see him through to graduation.

But as soon as senior year starts, little cracks in their group begin to show. Sam may or may not be in love with James. Delia is growing more frustrated with their amateur magic club. And James reveals that he got mixed up with some sketchy magickers over the summer, putting a target on all their backs.

With so many fault lines threatening to derail his hopes for the year, Sam is forced to face the fact that the very love of magic that brought his group together is now tearing them apart—and there are some problems that no amount of magic can fix.

Check out this Q&A with the Andrew in Publishers Weekly, where he speaks about what it was like to bring magic to a small town like the one he grew up in, and imagining, "what it would have looked like if a person was out, but still dealing with the pressures of a conservative, religious town."

Add your review of "The Fascinators" in comments!

Monday, May 18, 2020

Gay Tribal Elder with Dr. Donald Kilhefner - a New Podcast About Intergenerational Queer Community

Don Kilhefner is a mentor and elder in my life, and he's launched a new podcast that deserves the spotlight:

Gay Tribal Elder

This blog is really all about Youth (books, culture, politics, all with LGBTQ kids and teens in mind) - but, as Don so rightly understands and shares, we need Adults to be there for Youth. And Elders to be there for Adults and Youth. And, in a way I'm still learning about, we need to know our Ancestors are there for us at every stage of our lives. Until, I suppose, we become ancestors, too.

It's heady, and important, and Don is the perfect intergenerational guide for the journey. I hope you'll listen, and share, and continue to grow along with me.

You can listen to the first episode here.

And if you'd like to be added to Don's newsletter, you can email him at donkilhefner (at) sbcglobal (dot) net.

The light in me recognizes and acknowledges the light in you,

Friday, May 15, 2020

Friend and Ally and Daughter of Two Moms Susan Yeagley On One Thing That Could Make Our World Better

With Mother's Day just past, this post by the wonderful Susan Yeagley is well-worth watching.

She's so right!

We're cheering you on, Susan.

The light in me recognizes and acknowledges the light in you,

Wednesday, May 13, 2020

The Psionics series - A YA Science Fiction Series with a Lesbian Main Character in Book 1 and a Nonbinary Main Character in Books 2-4

I am the Storm (The Psionics Book One) by Tash McAdam

Keep your head down. Don't look anyone in the eye. Never even think about technology if one of those ghostly, grey cars is sliding silently down the road. They'll see the thoughts inside you, if you let them.

Sam's a technopath, able to control electronic signals and manipulate technology with his mind. And so, ever since childhood, his life has been a carefully constructed web of lies, meant to keep his Talent hidden, his powers a secret. But the Institute wants those unusual powers, and will do anything to get a hold of him and turn him into one of their mindless slaves.

Sam slips up once. Just once, but that's enough. Now the Institute is after him in full force. Soldiers, telekinetics, and mind readers, all gunning just for him.

Newly qualified soldier, Serena, doesn't even know she's chasing a person, all she knows is that she has to find whatever the Institute is after before they do. But tracking an unknown entity through an unfamiliar city, with inaccurate intelligence, unexpected storms, and Gav Belias, people's hero of the Watch, on the prowl, will she even survive? Will she get to Sam before the Institute does? His special skills could provide the rebellion with an incredible advantage, but not if they can't get out of the city, and over the huge wall that stands between them and freedom.

We are the Catalyst (The Psionics Book Two)

Kidnapped and imprisoned, telepathic children are forced to gather military intelligence. Repeatedly stripped of their memories, they live in ignorance of the world above. You can't tell anyone a secret if you don't remember it. It's not child abuse if no one knows you exist.

Epsilon 17 appears to be just another mindless tool, empty of thought. But it's a lie. The carefully constructed shell she hides behind protects her from their mind wipes. One day she will destroy the Institute. All she needs is a chance.

That chance could be Toby, if he doesn't die first. He should never have left the safety of the suburbs, but cornered in an alley by a gang, he's out of options. Of course, if he realized he had superpowers, he probably wouldn't have been so worried. Unfortunately, they come at the cost of a finger, and his old life. Injured and panicked, he would have stayed on the dirty ground until the Institute came for him, if it wasn't for Serena. Name-taking, ass-kicking Serena. She can punch through walls and practically fly, surely she can keep him safe...

But the Institute is sending Epsilon 17 to hunt him down, and she's never lost a trail.

Can ARC, the mysterious group Serena works for, protect him? He has to get his powers in order, fast. It's time for Toby to stand up for himself. An underground war is raging, and Toby's just been drafted.

They Are the Tide (The Psionics Book Three)

After escaping from two very different prisons, Toby and Epsilon 17 finally have a chance to live for themselves. Helping to build a new city in the wake of the destruction of the Institute should be all they're worrying about, but Epsilon 17 has a horrific secret that's getting harder and harder to hide. Cassandra isn't dead, she's locked up in the deepest, darkest corner of E17's mind. Pushing E17 to the brink of madness, Cassandra is determined to take over E17 entirely and destroy the rebellion.

Can Epsilon 17 overcome their hidden enemy and learn to trust the people around them? Unwilling to wait for Cassandra to force their hand, Epsilon 17 decides to take control: to go to a city where the Institute still holds sway, and try to destroy them once and for all. Toby, forbidden from joining the mission, has to find his own path forward. Their connection is as strong as ever, but the distance between them keeps growing.

This is the Circle (The Psionics Book Four)

In the middle of two wars, including one that they didn't want and didn't ask for, the Psionics of ARC struggle to turn back the Eaters. The Institute is still waiting for an opportunity to regain control of the city, but right now there are more pressing concerns. Outside the Wall, chaos reigns, and the slums are overrun. Citizens and dwells alike are panicked and rioting. Cassandra hides in Epsilon 17's body, convincing those closest to her that everything is normal as she pieces together plans to escape in the confusion.

But when the Eaters take her, Thea manages to regain control. The tables have turned. Now she has to pretend to be Cassandra to survive--but fortunately her time in the Institute prepared her well. If she tries to flee, she'll be killed, but if she stays with the cannibal hordes she's bound to be discovered. Escape seems impossible, but help--and friendship--comes from an unlikely source.

Toby and Serena have their hands full fighting the invading Eaters and trying to track down leads on where Thea could be. Cut off from his twin, Toby's relationships with ARC deepen and grow, but he's consumed by his guilt and his need to find Thea.

The cannibal threat looms ever closer, and with one of their best weapons either lost or disabled, ARC has to decide what their priorities are. Should they try to kill her, or save her?

Add your review of any of all of the books in The Psionics series in comments!

Monday, May 11, 2020

The May 2020 Lee Wind Video Newsletter - Queer History Really Is Everywhere... Even On TikTok!

Hi Community!

Here's my May 2020 Lee Wind Video Newsletter:

The Transcript:

Hi Community! I'm Lee Wind. It's May, 2020, day 50-something of sheltering-in-place here in California, and I hope you and yours are well.

I'm doing a different kind of eNewsletter because everything feels different, and that feels right.

I wanted to share with you something really cool that I've been doing that came about from taking a personal branding workshop with Jeniffer Thompson. This was through my day job at IBPA. And I had this insight, taking the class, that while my blog, and the books that I write are really directed at kids and teens, my social media has always been about reaching other adults, and sort of the allies of LGBTQ teens.

And I really challenged myself on that, and I thought, 'hmm. Maybe I should be thinking about doing some sort of outreach, via social media to my actual readers, to teens.'

So when I told my teenage daughter that I was thinking about getting a TikTok account, her response was, "Oh, no! Please promise me it won't be you dancing!"

I assured her it would not be me dancing. And so we put together - with the help of my daughter and husband as sort of a family project - I put together my first five TikTok videos, which use really fun famous songs that kids are really into now, to do little snippets, little pieces of Queer history.

So, here's an example. Here's the very first one I did, on Abraham Lincoln being in love with Joshua Fry Speed.

[play Abraham Lincoln and Joshua Fry Speed TikTok video, which you can see and read more about here:]

So I was really excited, because after doing that, I realized that I really was starting to reach teenagers directly, these kids that have these TikTok accounts. So, then, I was very excited and I wanted to do the next one:

[play Eleanor Roosevelt and Lorena Hickok TikTok video, which you can see and read more about here:]

Eleanor Roosevelt and Lorena Hickok - that's a story not a lot of people know. But what's so exciting to me is that even if they don't come back to my blog, even if they don't read my books, there are that many more kids - hundreds and hundreds of teenagers - now know that, well, at least somebody thinks that Eleanor Roosevelt was in love with Lorena Hickok. That's really exciting!

So then I did William Shakespeare!

[play William Shakespeare "Bi Pride" TikTok video, which you can see and read more about here:]

And then the Pharaoh Hatshepsut!

[play Hatshepsut TikTok video, which you can see and read more about here:]

And then, Gandhi and Hermann Kallenbach. So everybody knows Mahatma Gandhi, but hardly anybody knows that the love of his life was this German Jewish architect, Hermann Kallenbach.

[play Gandhi and Kallenbach TikTok video, which you can see and read more about here:]

When I was a kid, Hirschfeld was this man who did these amazing caricatures of Broadway stars, and he would do them in the New York Times. And he would always put a number next to his signature, and it would signify how many hidden "Nina"s – Nina was his daughter's name – and he would hide her name in the drawings. It was really fun, and it was something I really enjoyed.

So as a sort of homage to that, in every TikTok video, I'm including a certain number of keys to unlock the hidden history, unlock the secrets. So that's been really fun, too. And hopefully will bring some of those viewers on TikTok and Instagram over and have them come to my blog, and maybe become more interested in learning more... where I have books and stuff that they can read! Anyway, it's been very fun.

What's really exciting is to think that between TikTok and Instagram, over 3,700 viewers have seen these stories, these little 15 second things that let them know that, yes, Lincoln was in love with another man, and so was Gandhi, and Eleanor Roosevelt was in love with Lorena Hickok, and William Shakespeare was in love with a guy and a girl, and the Pharaoh Hatshepsut changed their gender - how they presented their gender - over the course of 22 years of ruling Egypt. These are really empowering stories, and they're just encapsulated in these fun 15 second animations, live animations, and that is just really, really satisfying.

So, if you have teens in your life, please let them know.

[TikTok link:]

And I hope you and yours stay well and safe,

and until next time,

the light in me recognizes and acknowledges the light in you.



Stay safe,

Friday, May 8, 2020

Want to Be An Ally to the Disability Community? First Step, Let's Listen To Them and Respect How They Identify

I do want to be an ally, and to empower allyship across and amongst queer and other marginalized identities.

My friend Karol (author of the amazing Schneider Family Book Award-winning YA novel Cursed) and I recently discussed this, and she shared this article by Ryan Theodosia with me, How person-first language isolates disabled people.

I was really struck by this line,

"When deciding how to treat disabled people, the disabled people’s opinions should always outweigh those of able-bodied people."

Yes. That makes total sense.

And wanting to do the right thing and having the information to actually do the right thing are distinct. I've used the phrase "people with disabilities" before, not knowing any of this. I won't use that expression going forward, to respect my disabled friends and their community.

I encourage you to read the full piece here.

The light in me recognizes and acknowledges the light in you,

Stay safe,

Wednesday, May 6, 2020

Blood Sport - Jason, A Trans Male Teen, Tries To Solve His Sister's Mysterious Death

Blood Sport by Tash McAdam

Jason is sure his sister, Becca, was murdered, but he's the only one who thinks so. After finding a photograph Becca kept hidden, he decides to infiltrate a boxing gym to prove that she didn't die accidentally. As a transgender kid, Jason's been fighting for as long as he can remember, and those skills are going to come in handy as he investigates. Quickly invited into the inner circle, Jason must balance newfound friendships with the burning hate that drives him. Jason soon feels torn between two worlds, determined to discover what happened to his sister but struggling with the fact that this is the first time he's ever felt like he belonged somewhere.

This #OwnVoices novel got a starred review from School Library Journal, who called it "a rip-roaring read..." Add your review of "Blood Sport" in comments!

Monday, May 4, 2020

Camp Brave Trails Campers Tell Us: "What Do LGBTQ+ Youth Need Right Now"

Love this post from Camp Brave Trails Instagram.

Love Camp Brave Trails.

Love our LGBTQAI2+ Teens.

The light in me recognizes and acknowledges the light in you,
Stay safe,

Friday, May 1, 2020

Nature's Pride Flag - Quarantine Edition

Walking in my Los Angeles neighborhood, this past week, Spring has sprung. So many birds. So many flowers! Such a great balance to all the stress and uncertainty of this global pandemic.

So I challenged myself to focus on the colors, and see if I could put together a diversity pride flag...









And here they are, all together...

Flower Pride!

Stay safe, and don't forget the beauty in our world... including YOU!

The light in me recognizes and acknowledges the light in you,Lee