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?

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!


2015 Diversity Reading Challenge Books

Caitlin Jenner, Al Pacino, and A Boy Like Me by Jennie Wood

The phrase “gender dysphoria’ is becoming more well known these days and that’s a good thing. Plainly said, gender dsyphoria is the feeling that you don’t belong in the body you’re in. That’s how transgendered people feel. I wish more transgendered people could take the attitude of Al Pacino:

A Boy Like Me by Jennie Wood

“Everything Aint for Everybody”

I devoured A Boy Like Me by Jennie Brown in one night. I couldn’t put it down! Our protagonist was born a girl but didn’t feel or act like a girl. To make the situation even worse, her mother didn’t accept her and she liked girls. Many people in Katherine’s (called Peyton) life tried to label her. In fact, she thought she was a freak.  As you see our character struggle through the book, your heart hurts for her.  You know her life is going to be hard and you want to help but what can you do?

I’m scared for Peyton and I can imagine there are plenty of real Peyton’s who share her struggle.  If people minded their own business then there wouldn’t be kids who consider suicide or self harm because of the pain ignorant people inflict on them.  I wonder how Caitlin Jenner, Chaz Bono, or Laverne Cox would feel if society was more accepting of them at an earlier age?  Maybe they wouldn’t have struggled for as long as they did.

A Boy Like Me is good insight into the life of a transgendered person. It’s not an easy ride for anyone involved.

Wait a minute, I take that back.

It can be easy.

Just love your loved one.

They’re gonna need it.


Everything ain’t for Everybody.

This book contains a brief sex scene but I think is otherwise appropriate for older teens. The insight into the life of a transgendered teen is invaluable.  Also qualifies for the Diversity Challenge!



2015 Diversity Reading Challenge

Diversity Reading Challenge: Check Up

Diversity Reading Challenge Check Up


It’s check up time!

How has the Diversity Challenge been treating you?

I’ve seen some great posts over the interwebs of people interpreting Diversity in many ways.


Here are the books that I’ve read since January 2015  that fit the Diversity Reading Challenge:

 The Living by Matt De La Pena. Young Adult. Here’s my review.


While We Run by Karen Healey. Young Adult. Here’s my review.


Kane Chronicles: . Middle Grade.  Here’s my review.


Tiger Boy by Mitali Perkins. Middle Grade. Here’s my review.


The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao. Warning this is NOT for children. Adult Fiction.  Here’s my review.


The Hiding Place by Corrie Ten Boom. Adult Nonfiction. Here’s my review.

The Hiding Place

Copper Sun by Sharon Draper. Early Young Adult. Here’s my review.

copper sun

The Adventures of Isabelle by Nicole Cutts. Young Adult & Adult Fiction. Here’s my review.


Grasshopper Jungle by Andrew Smith.  Young Adult. Here’s my review.

Grasshopper Jungle

Peace, Bugs & Understanding. Here’s my review.


Trombone Shorty. Review forthcoming.


Kinda Like Brothers.   Here’s my review.


LuLu and the Very Big Meanies. Here’s my review.


 How did you do? Share some of your reads down below so we can all discover new titles!

2015 Diversity Reading Challenge

An Unconventional Librarian’s 2015 #DiversityReadingChallenge


I’ve been wanting to start my own reading challenge and I’ve finally done it! Let’s ring in 2015 with a reading challenge that celebrates the multicultural reader and challenges the status quo.

Presenting the Diversity Reading Challenge!fd



This challenge pairs well with almost any other challenge you’re participating in; there are multicultural books in every genre. If you’re new to reading diverse books, you’ll be hooked. If you’re an avid consumer of multicultural reads, then this challenge will suit you just fine.  There are no complicated rules to this challenge; participate how you want, when you want.

Wanna chat about books? Tweet me @pamlovesbooks with #DiversityReadingChallenge, leave a comment here, or leave a link to your #DiversityReadingChallenge page! Let’s keep this conversation going…

Books Young Adult

Just Girls by Rachel Gold; when LGBT (Q?) Goes to College.


I want to tell you about my new fave book, Just Girls, by Rachel Gold.  The book is about a young girl who goes off to college.  While going to college is difficult enough, it is made even more difficult by Ella’s body. She was born in a boy’s body and now lives as a girl.  She’s transgendered.


Jess Tucker sticks her neck out for a stranger—the buzz is someone in the dorm is a trans girl. So Tucker says it’s her, even though it’s not, to stop the finger pointing. She was an out lesbian in high school, and she figures she can stare down whatever gets thrown her way in college. It can’t be that bad.
Ella Ramsey is making new friends at Freytag University, playing with on-campus gamers and enjoying her first year, but she’s rocked by the sight of a slur painted on someone else’s door. A slur clearly meant for her, if they’d only known.

New rules, old prejudices, personal courage, private fear. In this stunning follow-up to the groundbreaking Being Emily, Rachel Gold explores the brave, changing landscape where young women try to be Just Girls.

Check it out below.


I chatted with number 1 son because I wanted to make sure I was understanding the proper word usage regarding the LGBT community. His insight left me thinking  and I thought you might find interesting also.


What are your thoughts on gender identity?

Young Adult

I’m on the Guardian Blog Tour!

GUARDIAN (Proxy, #2) by Alex London
Release Date: May 29, 2014
Hardcover, 352 pages
Publisher: Philomel
Genre: YA / Dystopian / LGBT

The pulse-pounding sequel to Proxy! Inspired by The Whipping Boy and Feed, this adrenaline-fueled thriller will appeal to fans of The Hunger Games and Divergent.

In the new world led by the Rebooters, former Proxy Syd is the figurehead of the Revolution, beloved by some and hated by others. Liam, a seventeen-year-old Rebooter, is Syd’s bodyguard and must protect him with his life. But armed Machinists aren’t the only danger.

People are falling ill—their veins show through their skin, they find it hard to speak, and sores erupt all over their bodies. Guardians, the violent enforcers of the old system, are hit first, and the government does nothing to help. The old elites fall next, and in the face of an indifferent government, Syd decides it’s up to him to find a cure . . . and what he discovers leaves him stunned.

This heart-stopping thriller is packed with action, adventure, and heroics. Guardian will leave you breathless until the final page.

A fast-paced, thrill-ride of novel full of non-stop action, heart-hammering suspense and true friendship—just as moving as it is exhilarating. Fans of Anthony Horowitz’s Alex Rider series, James Dashner’s Maze Runner, Patrick Ness’s Chaos Walking series, and Marie Lu’s Legend trilogy will be swept away by this story.


Amazon | B&N | IndieBound | Goodreads


Chapter One – GUARDIAN by Alex London

At night, they disposed of the bodies. There was no ceremony, no ritual, no remembrance.

“They’re human,” some argued.

“They were human,” said others. “Now they’re meat.”

“We have to study the infection,” said the doctor.

“We have to contain it,” said the counselor and gave her orders. “Burn the bodies.”

A work detail was tasked with the burning. One by one, in the dead of night, green uniforms with white masks hauled corpses to the pile. The corpses were webbed with black veins, their entire network of blood vessels visible through the pale skin. Dried blood obscured their faces and each had a single hole in the temple by the eyes, where the killing bolt went in. They were put down like livestock, burned like sacrifices.

As the bodies crackled, the doctor watched the flames, her face half in shadow, half dancing in firelight. “I believe there is a cure for this,” she said.

The counselor, standing beside her, nodded, but did not turn to look her way. “Your cure is worse than the disease.”

“You believe that?”

“It’s the truth. Your way is treason.”

“You’re in denial,” the doctor said. “This is going to get worse if we don’t stop it.”

“It’s a new world, Doctor,” the counselor replied. “We can’t turn back the clock.”

“Even to save people’s lives?”

“These”—the counselor gestured at the bodies—“are not people.”

“If it spreads?”

“Is it spreading?”

The doctor watched the young members of the work detail tossing the bodies on the pyre. They moved with the assurance of youth, the kind of attitude that
allowed them to stare infection and death in the face and believe it would never touch them. “I don’t know.”

“It is your job to know.”

“I can hardly understand it. The blood turns against the body. Itching, burning. Then, expulsion. Half of them bleed out.”

“And the other half?”

The doctor clenched her jaw. “They haven’t bled out yet.”

“They are in pain?”

“They can’t communicate, but we have to restrain them to keep them from scratching their skin off with their fingernails.” The doctor sighed. “So, yes, they are in pain.”

“Put them out of their misery,” the counselor ordered.

“But, we can still learn—”

“Those are the orders.” The counselor walked away, two green uniforms trailing her into the jungle. The doctor took off her white smock, pulled the blue gloves from her hands with a loud synthetic snap, and stood before the flames. She watched her latest failed experiments turn to smoke and ash in the bonfire, every bit of blood boiled away, with all the information it might have contained.

She had ideas, dangerous to share; but if she didn’t find a way, she feared, this sickness would go further than any of them could imagine. She would record a message in case she failed. She hoped that someone would still be alive to receive it.






Read the Exclusive 3 Chapters from London’s new release, GUARDIAN here: 

You can read the short story PUNISHMENT, the PROXY prequel on Wattpad for free right now! Meet Syd, Knox, and Liam (from Guardian) at 15…

C. Alexander London grew up in Baltimore, Maryland. He’s an author of nonfiction for grown-ups (under a slightly different not very secret name), books for teens (as Alex London…see above), and, younger readers. He once won a 12-gauge skeet-shooting tournament because no one else had signed up in his age group. He’s a Master SCUBA diver who hasn’t been diving in way too long, and, most excitingly, a fully licensed librarian. He used to know the Dewey Decimal System from memory.


He doesn’t anymore.

While traveling as a journalist, he watched television in 23 countries (Burmese soap operas were the most confusing; Cuban news reports were the most dull), survived an erupting volcano in the Democratic Republic of Congo, a hurricane on small island in the Caribbean, 4 civil wars (one of them was over by the time he got there, thankfully), and a mysterious bite on his little toe in the jungles of Thailand. The bite got infected and swollen and gross and gave him a deep mistrust of lizards, even though it probably wasn’t a lizard that bit him.

Although he has had many adventures, he really does prefer curling up on the couch and watching some good television or reading a book. He enjoys danger and intrigue far more when it’s happening to somebody else.

He lives in Brooklyn, NY.

Goodreads | Twitter | Facebook | Website

August 7thBook Chic Club – Review/Interview
August 8thCheryl Rainfield ~ Guest Post
August 9thBookish – Spotlight
August 9thI Read It & Wept ~ Review (Proxy/Guardian)/GP
August 9thLike A Bump On A Blog – Spotlight
August 10thBook Escape – Top 10/ Spotlight
August 11th – A Leisure Moment ~ Review (Proxy/Guardian)
August 11th – Reads All The Books – Review (Proxy/Guardian)
August 12th – Debbie Bookish – Review (Proxy/Guardian)
August 13th – Unconventional Librarian – Review
August 14th – Word Spelunking ~ Review (Guardian)
August 14th – Kate Tilton’s Blog – GIF Interview
August 15thFangirlish – Review (Proxy/Guardian)
August 15thWhat A Nerd Girl Says – Review (Guardian)
August 16thBooks To Remember – Review (Guardian)
August 16thA Bookshelf Full of Sunshine – Review (Guardian)
August 16thThe Reading Date ~ Review (Guardian)
August 16thReading Fictional ~ Review (Proxy/Guardian)
September – Bookish Tiffany – Review (Proxy/Guardian)
September – Bookish ~ Review (Proxy/Guardian)

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Tour Hosted by:
Young Adult


Deborah Ellis Q: How did you learn about the two young women who inspired Moon At Nine? A:The real-life Farrin now lives in Canada, and I met her through my publisher.  We spent time together and she told me what her life was like growing up in post-revolutionary Iran.  She told me about falling in love with the real-life Sadira and what happened to them both as a result of that love Farrin and Sadira’s tale is, sadly, not unique – not in Iran and not in many parts of the world.  It varies by degree, and in some places it is getting hugely better. But it still goes on. Q: Moon at Nine is fiction but based on true events.  Is it harder to write stories based on reality? What aspects of the story changed between fact and fiction? A: Most of my books are based on real-life situations of war or other forms of injustice, so I am used to working hard to make the stories as realistic and factual as possible.  One of the differences with this book is that I was basing the story on the experiences of real individuals who did not want to share their identity.  I had to honor the essential truth of their story while creating enough fiction around it to preserve their anonymity.  Also, the real-life Farrin and Sadira story is much more brutal than the one I felt competent enough to relate in a book for young people.  Plus, I wanted to leave the reader with a sense of respect for the strength, beauty, compassion and diversity of the Iranian people.  Putting all the brutality these young women went through into the story might leave the reader with the impression that the whole country is brutal.Q: Farrin writes fantastical stories about a demon slayer, and Sadira imagines her past as if it were a story that happened to someone else.  What do you think makes storytelling so important, especially in a situation like this? A: Telling stories allows us to see ourselves as heroes. Whether we are slaying vampires, opposing dictators, escaping religious oppression or standing up to family, we can get strength from picturing ourselves as braver than we think we are.  Stories help us feel connected to others.  They can give us a sense of community, even when all around are hostile, and they can remind us that our sorrows are not original – others in history have shared the same pain. image005Q: How have LGBT rights changed or advanced in Iran since l988? A: Homosexuality is illegal in nearly 80 countries.  In seven countries, including Iran, gays and lesbians can be put to death.  According to the Iranian Railroad for Queer Refugees (IRQR), lesbians in Iran are also forced into marriage, are victims of extortion, are raped and tortured.  It is still very dangerous to be lesbian or gay in Iran.  Having said that, Iran is also a nation with a wide diversity of opinion, as reflected in their film industry.  A female film-maker, Maryan Keshavarz, recently made a film about women falling in love with each other in Iran. Q: With this and all your books, you are known for your extensive research.  What is the most surprising thing that you discovered regarding Iranian life/history/culture? A: Iran is a nation that values education and has a highly educated population.  It is a nation of strong women who hold and exercise power in a multitude of ways.  A rich body of literature stretching back thousands of years, extensive artistic traditions and a huge diversity of cultures combine into a country that is complex and fascinating.  I hope to be able to travel all over Iran some day. Q: All of your books focus on hard-hitting social justice issues.  Do you approach these topics differently for younger readers than you would for adults? A: Younger people often deal with the fallout of adult decisions without really understanding those decisions.  When writing stories for young people, I have to try to see the situation through the young character’s eyes.  What would they see, what would they feel, what would they understand and what would their choices be?  The stories also need to end with at least a little bit of hope. Even if the situation is still bleak, the character has a bit more wisdom and a bit more strength to be able to face the next challenge with at least the hope of success. Q: What advice would you give readers who are facing prejudice themselves? A: First off, survive.  Stay alive.  Look after yourself.  Eat healthy, study hard, stay away from drugs and booze.  Find things you enjoy.  The adults around you who have created or tolerated the environment of prejudice might never let go of their ignorance.  They might not change, so you may have to stop wanting them to change, for your own sanity.  You might have to learn how to thrive and succeed without their approval, which will feel very lonely at times – but you can get through it.  There are allies out there for you.  Keep looking until you find them.  Build a healthy supportive community around you and learn to give that support to someone else.  Volunteer in your community to keep yourself busy and feeling good about your contributions.  Get strong.  Achieve.  Find joy.  Stay alive.  Build a new world over the stupidity of the old. Wow wasn’t that a great interview? I love Ellis’ advice to young people facing adversity: STAY ALIVE. Thank you Ms Ellis! Have you read Moon at Nine? What did you think? Are you facing any prejudice? How are you dealing with it?

Books Young Adult

Moon at Nine by Deborah Ellis for LGBT Pride Month

image005At a time when issues of homosexuality and human rights are making headlines around the world, Pajama Press is proud to stand behind internationally acclaimed author and humanitarian Deborah Ellis and her groundbreaking new novel Moon at Nine. Based on a true account, Moon at Nine is the gripping story of two young teenaged girls who are arrested for being gay in Iran—a country in which homosexuality is considered so abhorrent that it is punishable by death.

Fifteen-year-old Farrin has many secrets. As the daughter of an aristocratic mother and wealthy father, Farrin must keep a low profile at her school for gifted girls in Tehran. It is 1988; in the ten years since the Shah was overthrown, the deeply conservative and religious government controls every facet of life in Iran. If the Revolutionary Guard finds out about her mother’s Bring Back the Shah activities, her family could be thrown in jail, or worse.

The day she meets Sadira, Farrin’s life changes forever. Sadira is funny, wise, and outgoing; the two girls become inseparable. But as their friendship deepens into romance, the relationship takes a dangerous turn. Refusing to deny their love for one another, the girls are arrested. Separated from Sadira, Farrin can only pray as she awaits execution. Will her family find a way to save them both?

Deborah Ellis is the internationally acclaimed author of nearly thirty books for children and young people, most of which explore themes of social justice and courage. A peace activist, feminist, and humanitarian, Deborah has won many national and international awards for her books, including the Governor General’s Award, the Ruth Schwartz Award, the Vicky Metcalf Award, the American Library Association’s Notable List and the Jane Addams Children’s Book Award. In 2010, she received the Ontario Library Association President’s Award for Exceptional Achievement. Deborah lives in Ontario, Canada.

Since June is LGBT Pride month, I thought it would be great to highlight some popular and/or little know books that contain LGBT characters. Last year I discovered: If You Could Be Mine by Sara Farizan. Here’s the link to my blog post.  It’s a tale of two young girls who hide their lesbian secret.

Two great books that you MUST read!

Books Young Adult

Hotlight Spotlight: A YA book tackling LGBT issues


WOW.  Got your attention with that title, didn’t I? The title of the book is Fag by author Krissy Bells.

Fag_-_High_Resolution   I think you can guess what the book is about, can’t you? Here’s a bit about the title:

Aaron Garrett is many things in life: he is a son, a friend, a student, and caring boyfriend to his lovely girlfriend Leigh Ann. In these roles, he is kind, hardworking, smart, loving, dedicated, and considerate. At Jefferson High School, he is a leader, a football star, and well-respected by his peers. Aaron’s life is perfectly on track, he is pursuing a college scholarship and hopeful for the future, except for just one thing: Aaron Garrett is gay. When a former child star from Aaron’s small Southern town saturates the national media after making homophobic comments, Aaron’s life is turned upside down as supporters rally around the sentiments. Social media attention begins to swell nationally and locally until it begins to eat away at every part of Aaron’s existence.

Wow. And you think your life is tough. Try being a teen who’s gay who gets outed.  Not fun.  Reminds me of a lot of issues the LGBT teen population is facing now. BellsauthorThe author, Krissy Bells, was born and raised in the Detroit metro area. A former school secretary, she now spends her days as a stay-at-home mom. She is passionate about her family and friends, her Dachshund named Harry, and anything topped with cheese or chocolate. She can be contacted at authorkrissyb[email protected].