Categories
Diversity Reading Challenge

Have you Read: The Parker Inheritance by Varian Johnson, a 2018 #Cybils Middle Grade winner?

The Parker Inheritance by Varian Johnson

There is SO MUCH to love about this title! The Parker Inheritance has something for everyone:

  • Black History
  • Friendship
  • Bullying
  • Divorce
  • LGBTQ
  • A Mystery to solve

Take all of those ingredients and what comes out is an award winning book. Readers will love how Johnson took his time drawing our main characters into the story making sure to draw fully fleshed out personalities. Brandon and Candice try to solve a puzzle to clear Candice’s late grandmother’s name. And oh what a mystery it is. From learning about Jim Crow laws in the South to modern day experiences of bullying by adults and children, these two form a true friendship built on trust. And they might win a bunch of money too. What’s not to love about that?

The Parker Inheritance is having a great year: A Cybils award, my blog, a Diversity Reading Challenge feature, and Coretta Scott King (Author) Book Honor Award! Way to go Parker Inheritance!

If you’re keeping track, The Parker Inheritance ticks off the box for an African American young woman as the main character.

Bam.

 

 

Categories
Diversity Reading Challenge

Me, Myself & Him by Chris Tebbetts. LOOOOOOOOOOOOVE.

Me, Myself and Him

 

Here’s a book that you need but don’t know you need. Why is that? Because #1 if you’re looking for books containing an LGBTQ hero, here’s your book. But not because it’s your typical Coming Out. Story. While those are important, we’re past that. We need books where the kids are out and they’re living their lives (not everyone is Tiny Dancer, even though we love him too).

The problem with LGBTQ kids living their lives in Me, Myself, and Him is that there are alternating realities in this book. Whaaaaaaaaaat?

Yep. So if you don’t like the first timeline, hang around til the next chapter and you’ll get to the OTHER reality. Or vice versa. Or maybe you’ll like both timelines? So, yeah. That’s not REALLY a problem is it?

When Chris Schweitzer takes a hit of whippets and passes out face first on the cement, his nose isn’t the only thing that changes forever. Instead of staying home with his friends for the last summer after high school, he’s shipped off to live with his famous physicist but royal jerk of a father to prove he can “play by the rules” before Dad will pay for college.

Or . . . not.

So. Much. Fun.

I don’t need to tell you that this qualifies for the Diversity Reading Challenge, right?

Categories
Diversity Reading Challenge

The Parker Inheritance by Varian Johnson, a #Cybils Middle Grade winner!

The Parker Inheritance by Varian Johnson

There is SO MUCH to love about this title! The Parker Inheritance has something for everyone:

  • Black History
  • Friendship
  • Bullying
  • Divorce
  • LGBTQ
  • A Mystery to solve

Take all of those ingredients and what comes out is an award winning book. Readers will love how Johnson took his time drawing our main characters into the story making sure to draw fully fleshed out personalities. Brandon and Candice try to solve a puzzle to clear Candice’s late grandmother’s name. And oh what a mystery it is. From learning about Jim Crow laws in the South to modern day experiences of bullying by adults and children, these two form a true friendship built on trust. And they might win a bunch of money too. What’s not to love about that?

The Parker Inheritance is having a great year: A Cybils award, my blog, a Diversity Reading Challenge feature, and Coretta Scott King (Author) Book Honor Award! Way to go Parker Inheritance!

If you’re keeping track, The Parker Inheritance ticks off the box for an African American young woman as the main character.

 

 

 

Categories
Books

The Book of Matt by Stephen Jimenez -The Matthew Shephard Story

bookofmatt

 

 

If you’re unfamiliar with Matthew Shepard, he was a young man murdered in the late 90s and his death was labeled the worst hate crime.  Jimenez wanted to investigate further:

What role did crystal meth and other previously underreported factors play in the brutal murder of gay college student Matthew Shepard? The Book of Matt is a page-turning cautionary tale that humanizes and de-mythologizes Matthew while following the evidence where it leads, without regard to the politics that have long attended this American tragedy.

Late on the night of October 6, 1998, twenty-one-year-old Matthew Shepard left a bar in Laramie, Wyoming with two alleged “strangers,” Aaron McKin­ney and Russell Henderson. Eighteen hours later, Matthew was found tied to a log fence on the outskirts of town, unconscious and barely alive. He had been pistol-whipped so severely that the mountain biker who discovered his battered frame mistook him for a Halloween scarecrow. Overnight, a politically expedient myth took the place of important facts. By the time Matthew died a few days later, his name was synonymous with anti-gay hate.

Stephen Jimenez went to Laramie to research the story of Matthew Shepard’s murder in 2000, after the two men convicted of killing him had gone to prison, and after the national media had moved on. His aim was to write a screenplay on what he, and the rest of the nation, believed to be an open-and-shut case of bigoted violence. As a gay man, he felt an added moral imperative to tell Matthew’s story. But what Jimenez eventually found in Wyoming was a tangled web of secrets. His exhaustive investigation also plunged him deep into the deadly underworld of drug trafficking. Over the course of a thirteen-year investigation, Jimenez traveled to twenty states and Washington DC, and interviewed more than a hundred named sources.

There are many shocking bits to this story:

  • Young Matt Shepard’s brutal death
  • Laramie Wyoming’s horrific drug problem
  • gay and straight sex trade for drugs industry
  • potential cover-ups by police

With so many items to tackle, this story was bound to be difficult to read.  And it was.  I felt sleazy and dirty at times but couldn’t put the book down.  I’m not sure that I liked the story, but it certainly was interesting to unravel the pieces behind the murder.  I still have unanswered questions but what I DO know, thanks to Jimenez, is that young Matthew Shepard’s murder did not appear to be a targeted hate crime.  To be sure, Shepard was gay, but that was probably not why he was killed.

Only Aaron McKinney knows the truth.

This story is not for the faint hearted or for kids!

 

 

Categories
Books Reviews Young Adult

Geography Club by Brent Hartinger

 

Unconventional Librarian Geography Club

Are you looking for a YA book that discusses issues important to LGBT teens?  You can thank my new bestie Brent Hartinger for bringing it to you!  The Geography Club series contains LGBT teens who aren’t stereotypically gay and the book is about so much more than that!

I had a chance to chat with Brent and ask him to provide some insight into what’s going on in Geography Club, page 99.  Here’s what he said:

So page 99 of Geography Club. It’s a scene of Russel and Gunnar riding their bikes home from school. Gunnar has pressured Russel (who is gay) into going out with Kimberly’s friend Trish because that’s the only way Kimberly will go out with him. Got all that? Yeah. High school drama much?

 One of my favorite things about the Russel Middlebrook Series — one of the things I’m most proud of — is the relationship between the three best friends, Russel, Gunnar, and Min. I probably don’t always achieve what I’m trying to do when I write a book, but so many people have commented to me on how that three-way friendship rings interesting and true that I do sort of feel like I achieved what I had set out to do there. And I think this is one of those scenes where we see why the relationship between Russel and Gunnar ends up such a close one. Whatever doesn’t kill you makes you stronger? That’s true of friendships too.
Here Russel is slowly realizing: Kimberly is only using Gunnar to get him to get Russel to go out with her friend Trish. And Russel’s starting to realize this isn’t going anywhere good: Trish will eventually learn that Russel’s not into her, and Gunnar will eventually realize that Kimberly’s not into him. But Russel can’t quite say of this because it would mean revealing uncomfortable truths — truths that he’s really not ready to deal with yet. He hasn’t yet learned that NOT revealing those truths only makes things much worse in the long run.
That’s one of the big themes of the whole book: basically, that secrets have power only as long as they ARE secrets. Turn on the lights and lets look at the monster in the closet. Whatever it is, it can’t possibly be as scary in the light as it is in the dark.
I guess the other thing I’d say about this page that, well, in general, I get annoyed when adults dismiss or belittle teenage concerns. If you really want to, you can always find a reason to feel superior to other people, but what’s the point of that? What good does that do? All of us who are adults were teenagers once. Did your own feelings not matter then? Because that’s what you’re saying when you dismiss teenager feelings now.
The point is, I wrote this book more than twelve years ago, and I took the feelings of teenagers seriously. I think that’s pretty evident on this page. Anyway, I’m happy to see it on page 99 and elsewhere in the book. I think it explains a lot of this book’s success.
A lot has changed in the world over the last twelve years, but I’d like to think a lot of the emotions in this book still hold up.

Doncha love getting inside an author’s head?  I do!

 

Categories
Diversity Reading Challenge Young Adult

2017 #DiversityReadingChallenge-February How Did You Do?

Time for a check up. How is your diversity reading going? Let’s see how I did in February.

Simon vs. The Homo Sapiens Agenda

Oh Oh Oh I loved this book so HARD!!

Sixteen-year-old and not-so-openly gay Simon Spier prefers to save his drama for the school musical. But when an email falls into the wrong hands, his secret is at risk of being thrust into the spotlight. Now Simon is actually being blackmailed: if he doesn’t play wingman for class clown Martin, his sexual identity will become everyone’s business. Worse, the privacy of Blue, the pen name of the boy he’s been emailing, will be compromised.

With some messy dynamics emerging in his once tight-knit group of friends, and his email correspondence with Blue growing more flirtatious every day, Simon’s junior year has suddenly gotten all kinds of complicated. Now, change-averse Simon has to find a way to step out of his comfort zone before he’s pushed out—without alienating his friends, compromising himself, or fumbling a shot at happiness with the most confusing, adorable guy he’s never met.

TOTALLY AND COMPLETELY IN LOVE WITH THIS BOOK.

Counts as an LGBT main character #7. Kinda like You’ve got Mail
for YA.

I can’t believe I didn’t tell you about it?

Go get it NOW.

I read a few other books but they were of the grown up variety and not appropriate for An Unconventional Librarian.

So that’s it for Feb.What did you read?

 

Categories
Books Young Adult

My Top 5 Audiobooks for Young Adult Readers (Listeners)

My Top 5 Audiobooks for
Young Adult Readers (Listeners)

 

whatsinmyear

If you’re like me, you’re always consuming books. Whether hardcover, paperback, e-reader, phone, or audiobook, reading can be done ANYWHERE. I love consuming audiobooks in the car, but you can really listen to them no matter what you’re doing. If you like to listen to audiobooks as much as I do, here are my top 5 suggestions, compiled with help from the Young Adult Library Services Association (YALSA). Also several of these books contain diversity so WINNING.

1. Library of Souls by Ransom Riggs. The third novel in the Peculiar Children series is read by Kirby Heyborne and this dude is GREAT with voices. I mean like it took me a while to figure out whether he was English or not; his English accent was ON POINT. And his scary guy voices? Oh em gee!

library-of-souls

2.  Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell. Fangirl is a great read because if you’re in love with a book or a book series you can relate to our heroine. Also? The handsome-voiced Maxwell Caulfield (from the second Grease movie) helps narrate and he is swoon worthy.

fangirl

3. The Leviathan series by Scott Westerfeld is read by Alan Cumming. If you’re not sure who he is, no worries. Just plug your earphones in and listen. He can do the voices so convincingly I forgot that he was a Scot doing a German accent. Amazing!

leviathan

4. The Hobbit by JR Tolkien. If you’re not a fan of second breakfast or the hobbit life, give this book a try. The narrator is Rob Inglis and he does so many excellent voices you forget it’s just one guy reading. Plus, his voice of Golem is so disgustingly gross that you will wet your pants. It’s the best thing you hate to listen to.

hobbit

5. Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire. Dudes, run out and get this book now. Like NOW. You know why? Cuz it’s read by Lin Manuel Miranda! The story is so awesome and the fact that Manuel-Miranda can speak Spanish (he is a native speaker) puts the book over the top for me! I lived in Texas for 10 years and his voice brought me back to those good old days. Plus the story is so ding dang good.

AristotleandDante

Here’s a bonus: if you’ve already read one of these books, download any book written by Neil Gaiman himself. Because he reads most of his books and there is nothing like hearing the author inflect the words just where they want them to go. It’s kinda like Neil reading you a bedtime story. Full of ghosties and weird things, but whatever right?

 

Categories
Books Diversity Reading Challenge

Banned Book Week: Have you read this banned book?

Banned Book Week:

Have you read this banned book?

 

And Tango Makes Three by Justin Richardson and Peter Parnell

tango

In the zoo there are all kinds of animal families. But Tango’s family is not like any of the others. This illustrated children’s book fictionalizes the true story of two male penguins who became partners and raised a penguin chick in the Central Park Zoo.

I love this book so hard. SO HARD y’all. It’s an absolutely adorbs depiction of family life. And kids love penguins so, what’s the problem, right?  The problem is that the two penguins are males and some folks think that a picture book for the littles shouldn’t include depictions of homosexuality.

As with all things, I think you should give it a read before you judge. And also? I don’t think kids care so much about two mommies or two daddies as long as they are loved. If you’ve read it, it counts toward the Diversity Reading Challenge.

Categories
Books Diversity Reading Challenge

The Curse of the Bridal Chamber by @YeahHunter is My JAM!!

Yall, run to your local bookstore, online store, resident hoarder, or wherever you get books and get this book NOW. Go ‘head. I’ll wait.

bridal-chamber

There. Did’ja get it? Now, here’s what is so AWESOME about this book. Read a little blurb:

The indomitable senior sleuth Imogene and her outrageously endearing Alabama family find themselves in hot water while on a family vacation at a mermaid convention in sunny Florida. When Imogene and her brood, including Goose the bulldog, encounter a dead body floating in the freshwater springs beneath their glass-bottom boat, the local police immediately arrest one of the Alabama visitors for the crime.

Now the aging amateur crime solver must exonerate her own family, but unearthing a killer among the park’s past and present mermaids and employees promises to be no easy task, since so many of them are thrilled that the victim is sleeping with the fishes. And a decades-old curse that has deposited more than one dead body in the Bridal Chamber spring now seems focused on Imogene and her kin, who are wading into dangerous waters indeed. Witty and colorful, The Curse of the Bridal Chamber will keep you enthralled until the final surprising revelation.

So, Imogene is like 70 and her sister is older. But these two rascals don’t let their age get in the way. When I get to be that age I want to be as bad ass as them! These old broads have southern spunk, charm, and family pride that will make you cry from laughing so hard.  The best bit about this book is that two of the characters are gay, but it’s not the driving motivation of the story. They just happen to be that way. It doesn’t detract from the story and it’s in no way in appropriate. It’s good, clean, fun! Heck, even the cursing is cleaner than I’ve seen in recent YA books, although this isn’t targeted to YA.  Mild violence, but again, seen worse from middle grade books.

Imogene, and I believe the correct Southern pronunciation is I as in eye, mo- geen, will be your next favorite read. It’s perfect for EVERYONE!

Totally calling myself Maw Maw when I’m an older person. Heck I think I’d like to be called it now.  Total Diversity Reading Challenge material.

Did I mention MERMAIDS??

 

Categories
Diversity Reading Challenge

Stop what you’re doing and read Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe, NOW

Aristotle and Dante Discover
the Secrets of the Universe

AristotleandDante

Aristotle and Dante has been on my TBR for a short time and I’m so DING DANG happy that I finally got to read it. My advice to you? Stop and read it NOW. Go straight to your local independent bookstore and snag a copy of this gem now. You won’t be sorry.

You know I love opening lines, right?

ONE SUMMER NIGHT I FELL ASLEEP, HOPING THE WORLD would be different when I woke. In the morning, when I opened my eyes, the world was the same. I threw off the sheets and lay there as the heat poured in through my open window.

You can just feel the eye crust in your eyes, right?  There’s so much more of this and it just keeps getting better. Ari and Dante are young Mexican American teens in El Paso Texas in the mid 80s. If you’ve ever been to El Paso you’ll understand how empty you can feel as a young gay teen boy in the 80s in El Paso. It’s practically a social death sentence. Fortunately Ari and Dante meet and form a friendship that will make you yearn for a close friend. You’ll cry ugly tears like a big baby and you’ll cheer oh so loudly at their triumphs.

Being a gay teen is tough enough. Add in Texas and the 80s and you’ve got a setting that that will stay with you forever. Also? Lin Manuel Miranda (of Hamilton)  reads the Audible.com book. SWOOOOOOOON!!!!  Here’s a good addition to your Diversity Reading Challenge list.