Pride Month Pride Reads

It’s Pride Month once again. Despite the fact that we are in the middle (nearing the end??) of a pandemic, June is the month set aside for celebrating the liberation of the LGBTQ+ community. The Pride Protest continues…and it is far from over. Though we celebrate how far LGBTQ+ rights have become human rights, we can’t lose sight of the fact that Pride is still more Protest than Celebration.

But…we do celebrate.

One thing to celebrate is how far we have come in a very short time with LGBTQ+ literature. The diversification of this literature is blossoming, driven by the demand and desire for LGBTQ+ peoples to see themselves in the fiction they read.

Here’s some LGBTQ+ literature I have been and will be reading in June…

JUST READ:

Can’t Take That Away by Steven Salvatore:

Carey Parker dreams of being a diva, and bringing the house down with song. They can hit every note of all the top pop and Broadway hits. But despite their talent, emotional scars from an incident with a homophobic classmate and their grandmother’s spiraling dementia make it harder and harder for Carey to find their voice.

Then Carey meets Cris, a singer/guitarist who makes Carey feel seen for the first time in their life. With the rush of a promising new romantic relationship, Carey finds the confidence to audition for the role of Elphaba, the Wicked Witch of the West, in the school musical, setting off a chain reaction of prejudice by Carey’s tormentor and others in the school. It’s up to Carey, Cris, and their friends to defend their rights–and they refuse to be silenced.

Told in alternating chapters with identifying pronouns, debut author Steven Salvatore’s Can’t Take That Away conducts a powerful, uplifting anthem, a swoony romance, and an affirmation of self-identity that will ignite the activist in all of us.

This is such a lovely read! I was swoony and teary-eyed half the time I was reading this one. It tackles some tough LGBTQ+ issues around identity and equality in a high school setting. It also balances these issues with a sweet romance. It has genderqueer and bi representation and a high school musical. It’s definitely a summer read one could fall in love with. I can’t say enough about this gorgeous story! I have only heaps of praise.

CTTA on Amazon USA

CTTA on Amazon Canada

CURRENTLY READING:

When You Get the Chance by Tom Ryan and Robin Stevenson:

As kids, Mark and his cousin Talia spent many happy summers together at the family cottage in Ontario, but a fight between their parents put an end to the annual event. Living on opposite coasts—Mark in Halifax and Talia in Victoria—they haven’t seen each other in years. When their grandfather dies unexpectedly, Mark and Talia find themselves reunited at the cottage once again, cleaning it out while the family decides what to do with it.

Mark and Talia are both queer, but they soon realize that’s about all they have in common, other than the fact that they’d both prefer to be in Toronto. Talia is desperate to see her high school sweetheart Erin, who’s barely been in touch since leaving to spend the summer working at a coffee shop in the Gay Village. Mark, on the other hand, is just looking for some fun, and Toronto Pride seems like the perfect place to find it.

When a series of complications throws everything up in the air, Mark and Talia—with Mark’s little sister Paige in tow—decide to hit the road for Toronto. With a bit of luck, and some help from a series of unexpected new friends, they might just make it to the big city and find what they’re looking for. That is, if they can figure out how to start seeing things through each other’s eyes.

I still don’t know where exactly this one is going, but I am obsessively devouring it to find out! I love that it is set in Toronto and Muskoka, here in Ontario. As if the dynamic duo of two wonderful Canadian authors, Tom Ryan and Robin Stevenson, wasn’t enough to make it a must read for my TBR pile, the COVER! I love to see Canadiana represented in fiction. But to see the CN Tower on the cover of a YA book? I couldn’t even imagine it. The second I saw this cover, I knew I had to have it. I’m really loving this story. I’m halfway through and already a little worried I’m going to miss it when it’s over.

WYGTC on Amazon USA

WYGTC on Amazon Canada

NEXT READ:

The Ghosts We Keep by Mason Deaver:

Everything happens for a reason.

At least that’s what everyone keeps telling Liam Cooper after his older brother Ethan is killed suddenly in a hit-and-run.

Feeling more alone and isolated than ever, Liam has to not only learn to face the world without one of the people he loved the most, but also face the fading relationships of his two best friends in the process.

Soon, Liam finds themself spending time with Ethan’s best friend, Marcus, who might just be the only person that seems to know exactly what they’re going through-for better and for worse.

The Ghosts We Keep is an achingly honest portrayal of grief. But it is also about why we live. Why we have to keep moving on, and why we should.

I fell in love with Mason Deaver’s debut novel, I Wish You All the Best. Some authors immediately go on my Must Read list for all future books. Deaver is one of those authors for me. I can’t wait to read this much anticipated story!

TGWK on Amazon USA

TGWK on Amazon Canada

An Incredible Pride Reads Announcement from Julian Winters and Interlude Press/Duet Books!

Everyone on campus knows Remy Cameron. He’s the out-and-proud, super-likable guy who friends, faculty, and fellow students alike admire for his cheerful confidence. The only person who isn’t entirely sure about Remy Cameron is Remy himself. Under pressure to write an A+ essay defining who he is and who he wants to be, Remy embarks on an emotional journey toward reconciling the outward labels people attach to him with the real Remy Cameron within.

From the author of the bestselling novel Running With Lions, a story about overcoming the labels that try to define our lives

Speaking of authors who immediately go on my Must Read list for all future books, Julian Winters made an incredible announcement this week during the Edelweiss Book Fest! His 2nd novel, How to Be Remy Cameron has an audio book in production! Interlude Press is going AUDIO! I can’t think of a better way to begin that journey than with a Julian Winters book! Watch their Twitter account for more information, but THIS IS HAPPENING!

HTBRC on Amazon USA

HTBRC on Amazon Canada

Upcoming Pride Month Pride Release Read:

There are always new LGBTQ titles dropping! So refreshing to see this market growing so rapidly! Here’s a title that is coming out DURING PRIDE MONTH 2021!

L.I.F.E. by Felyx Lawson:

Rider Williams is your typical high school student. He has classes, hangs with friends, plays video games, writes for the school paper, plays guitar, collects comics, and is gay. Okay, so he’s not your typical high school student.

Rider is trying to finish his senior year of high school while struggling to accept himself and hide his secret. It’s difficult and he might have succeeded if not for two challenges in his way. The first, an assignment about the one thing he doesn’t understand and hasn’t experienced: love. The other, Cameron Walker, a transfer student who looks like a stereotypical jock, but seems to be so much more.

Can Rider survive the weight of his secret?

It’s only the start of the school year but Rider already knows L.I.F.E. isn’t as easy as it seems.

Looking forward to this one! It drops on JUNE 25th, but you can pre-order Felyx Lawson‘s debut novel from Deep Hearts YA any time!

L.I..F.E. on Amazon USA

L.I.F.E. on Amazon Canada

My Own Pride Reads Selections:

Okay, this is where I share my own Pride Reads Books! What?! You knew it was coming.

I just so happen to have 3 Pride books of my own. Now’s as good a time as any to share them! Pick one of them up for Pride Month Pride Reads!

Billions of Beautiful Hearts (Interlude Press/Duet Books) is a young adult story with two nonbinary teens finding love online during the time of Covid Lockdown. The Camino Club (Interlude Press/Duet Books) is a young adult story with six teens walking the Camino de Santiago pilgrimage route across Spain as atonement for their crimes back home in Toronto. It features a gay narrator with lesbian rep. Pride Must Be A Place (Muse It Up) is a young adult story with Ezra Caine and his friends coming together to create their small-town high school’s first Gay Straight Alliance. Ezra discovers along the way that he can find happiness, love, and safety in the places he once feared.

KEVIN CRAIG AUTHOR PAGE on AMAZON USA

KEVIN CRAIG AUTHOR PAGE on AMAZON CANADA

It’s Pride Month. Whatever you choose to do with your reading time this month, just consider spending some of that time reading and supporting LGBTQ+ fiction!

HAPPY PRIDE!

Christmas Suggestions for Readers and Others…

I do this every now and again, and 2020 is a good year to boost books you enjoyed. It’s been a bad year for releases, as far as in-person events go. Authors have suffered, and bookstores have suffered. Here’s a few book suggestions for those on your list (Or for yourself! We all deserve to pamper ourselves after the year we’ve had!)…these are books I read and loved this year.

Before the books, though, I’d like to highlight another kind of gift! Small businesses just starting out right now are the kind of thing we need! I know just the one to support. LET’S TALK ABOUT SIMCOE & CO.! From their simple but elegant branding, to their FRESH products, I love everything about them!Click on the logo image below to head over to their Facebook page:

Full Disclosure: This brand new company is my niece’s brainchild. They’ve just released their first product in time for Christmas. If you’re in the GTA area (or even if you’re not) check them out at the link in the logo above. They’re located in Port Perry, Ontario and they’re currently featuring SUGAR SCRUBS in various delectable scents.

Their products are cruelty free and vegan. Give their Facebook page a like so you can watch as things unfold!

BOOKS? BOOKS! Did someone say books?

I’m going to suggest 5 from the 25 I read so far this year. Honestly, though, all the books I read this year were awesome. For the ones I don’t highlight here, you can check them out on my Goodreads.

(CLICK ON COVERS TO VISIT AMAZON LINKS)

For travelers and wanderlusters–or those thinking of becoming one–I have just the book! No surprise I read a lot of Camino books. I just finished two more, and I’m about to highlight both of them! First is the travel memoir…

There’s Something Going On! Walking the Camino de Santiago – by Simon Donlevy.

If I say this felt like an audio-book without the audio, you might look at me kind of funny…but that’s exactly what it felt like. Simon Donlevy is a storyteller. I felt like the author was telling me the story of the 6 month sabbatical they took. This retelling of the sabbatical not only covers their travels on the Camino, but also the decisions and planning that went into taking the sabbatical and the trip to Spain. And it covers the after-Camino experience as well. I found it well told and quite enjoyable. Wasn’t fully what I was expecting. That’s what I love about Camino books…they’re always about more than just the Camino. They’re about decisions, plans, serendipity, the unexpected. If you have walked the Camino, you’ll enjoy this book for taking you back to the journey. If you haven’t, it’s a good primer for getting to know both the locations on the Camino and its magic.

Camino Maggie: Teen Rebel Series – by Joy Llewellyn

Truth be told, it feels almost risky telling you about this one! The synopsis is close to the synopsis of my most recent release. It follows four young teens (all girls) who walk the Camino de Santiago in order to avoid the punishment of their crimes. I just found out about this book in November and read it out of curiosity. I loved it! Maggie is a rich girl who breaks into her aunt’s store out of some sense of daring…not to mention to impress the boy who sort of put her up to it. She gets caught. Her Aunt Camille suggests (gives her no option, really) she accompanies her, her friend Andy, and a small group of delinquents to Spain for the experience. The four girls bond as they make their way across Spain. I think young adults would really enjoy this book…as well as any Camino enthusiasts.

Chasing the Sun (The Campfire Series Book One) – by Melanie Hooyenga

This is also a YA book. I’ve spent most of my reading year reading YA…both for pleasure and because it’s what I write. Teens would love this book…but as with all YA books, they’re not just for teens. Anyone on your list who enjoys a sweet love story will enjoy Chasing the Sun. Here’s my review from Goodreads…

Chasing the Sun was such a lovely falling-in-love story between two extremely vulnerable teens who were both a little reluctant to do so. Sage comes to the story having experienced an emotionally tumultuous relationship with a manipulative emotional abusive partner. Neb arrives having just lost his father suddenly in an extremely traumatic way. Together they navigate a path toward each other first through texts and then in person when they finally meet at a summertime school camping trip to view a total solar eclipse together. Both are tentative but excited. Sage wants to believe in love again, but doesn’t fully trust her own judgement. Neb is adjusting to a new city…and isn’t quite sure how to allow himself to feel joy while simultaneously mourning the loss of his father. When Sage and Neb do meet in person, sparks fly immediately. But are sparks enough? This story is filled with wonderfully cute falling in love moments. The eclipse almost becomes a character as the story winds down and the tension mounts and the moment of the eclipse nears. I loved everything about this story!

Now for a book with a one-two punch!

Surrender Your Sons – by Adam Sass

I absolutely loved this book and the power it gave to gay teens! I felt like I could conquer the world after reading this heartbreaking heartrending heartracing story! Get it for LGBTQIA+ readers on your list, whether or not they’re teens. We all carry wounds and trauma that will be both re-lit and assuaged by this book. It would also be an eye-opening read for straight readers. It’s a powerhouse. I honestly thought I reviewed this on Goodreads, as I have talked about it so much and so often that I misremembered actually leaving a review. I will have to rectify that. Just take my word for it, it’s an incredible book. Follow gay teens to a formidable island of oppression as their whisked off from their lives to a disgusting conversion camp. Watch as they try to take their fates into their own hands.

Last, but not least, a book from a pub-sib! From DUET BOOKS, the same Interlude Press imprint that published my latest, The Camino Club.

The Summer of Everything – by Julian Winters

I love Julian Winters books. Like their author, they just radiant light and joy. My Goodreads review below isn’t really enough. Winters’ books are always exceptional! This one was no less so. All readers would love this YA set in Santa Monica. Here’s the synopsis:

Adulting is hard. Just ask Wes Hudson. An avid comic book geek, Wes excels at two things: slacking off and pining after his best friend, Nico. Advice from his friends, ‘90s alt-rock songs, and online dating articles aren’t helping much with his secret crush. And his dream job at Once Upon a Page, the local indie bookstore, is threatened when a coffee shop franchise wants to buy the property. To top it off, his family won’t stop pestering him about picking a college major. When all three problems converge, Wes must face the one thing he’s been avoiding—adulthood.

And my review: Another amazing offering from the incomparable Julian Winters. Loved, loved, loved this story! Loved Wes and Nico and Ella and Coop and the rest of the group! This so so heartfelt! Bring tissues.

That’s 5 books and 1 fantastic small business that promises to have you savoring the aromas of Bergamot, Peppermint, Maple Syrup and more!

Happy 2020 Socially Distant Masked Christmas to you all!

 

 

 

 

The Summer of Everything by Julian Winters is Coming!

Last September (2019), How to be Remy Cameron, by Julian Winters, released on the same day I headed for Spain–via Portugal–for another pilgrimage on the Camino de Santiago. It was the book I devoured on the plane and before bedtime every night as I settled down in a new town after walking all day long from the previous night’s rest. It was such a delightful read and it’s now a book finely entwined with one of the greatest of my life’s experiences. If you haven’t read Remy’s story, you really should consider picking it up…it’s heartfelt and pure and just so lovely.

The September before (2018), I saved Running With Lions, also by Winters, for my reading material while crossing India from Delhi to Varanasi and onward to Katmandu, Nepal. I remember being on an overnight train headed for Varanasi, reading Running With Lions and forgetting all about the raucous noises about me. I was on the top bunk of a sleeping car, my face mere inches from the ceiling. We jiggled and rattled and crashed our way through the night while I held my phone screen to my face and devoured the story of Sebastian and Emir. Another Julian Winters book intertwined with a memory of wanderlust in a place I hold dear. Another book you should consider picking up if you haven’t done so already.

By the time I read Remy Cameron’s story in September 2019, I already knew that Duet Books/Interlude Press would be publishing my upcoming novel, The Camino Club. But its sale had not yet been announced. I carried that secret with me all the way across Spain in the very setting in which my novel took place! I was also unable to talk about the fact that I had miraculously become a pub-sib to the incredible Julian Winters. He is, in fact, the reason I submitted to Duet Books. Since before the Running With Lions release, I have followed Julian and his work. I noticed that not only does he write fabulous stories, but he’s also one of the nicest people on the internet. He’s friendly and supportive and always so cheerful and encouraging. I saw the way he interacted, I read Lions, I fell in love with the cover of the book. I watched him becoming. I had an idea for a book and I knew I wanted it to be placed in the same home as the one Julian had found in Duet Books.

I was looking forward to having the same experience this year–vacationing with Julian Winters reading material. I pre-ordered The Summer of Everything. It’s due to land on September 8th. A return trip to Paris on September 4th meant that I would once again be devouring a Julian Winters novel while on vacation. This is an author I’ve taken everywhere with me. This year, it’s Wes Hudson’s turn. Wes’s story contains Santa Monica, comic books, a book store, a secret crush…I can’t wait!

With the pandemic, however, plans have been sidelined. The Summer of Everything WILL land on September 8th. I, however, will not be landing in Paris on September 4th. Paris is cancelled. Of course this saddens me. But looking forward to the release of THE SUMMER OF EVERYTHING softens the blow. I will still be away, but here in Ontario…at a cottage getaway. It’s not Paris, but it’s the next best thing. A place to unwind…a place I love. And it will soon be another place intertwined with the memory of devouring a Julian Winters novel.

If you haven’t pre-ordered THE SUMMER OF EVERYTHING yet, you really should! It promises to be a spectacular ride! Check out the cover blurb below:

Adulting is hard. Just ask Wes Hudson. An avid comic book geek, Wes excels at two things: slacking off and pining after his best friend, Nico. Advice from his friends, ’90s alt-rock songs, and online dating articles aren’t helping much with his secret crush. And his dream job at Once Upon a Page, the local indie bookstore, is threatened when a coffee shop franchise wants to buy the property. To top it off, his family won’t stop pestering him about picking a college major. When all three problems converge, Wes must face the one thing he’s been avoiding—adulthood.

Here are some of the places you can pick up THE SUMMER OF EVERYTHING. The last link is for GOODREADS, so you can add the book to your shelf!

Amazon USA | Amazon Canada | Barnes & Noble | Books-A-Million | Book Depository | Book Shop | Indigo-Chapters | Indie Bound | Kobo USA | Kobo Canada | Duet Books/Interlude Press | WalMart USA | Goodreads |