“Can’t Fight This Feeling” the Perfect Romance Read During a Pandemic Book Review

Author: Claire Hastings

Publication Date: May 4, 2020

Genre: Romance

Rating: ✈️ ✈️ ✈️ ✈️ ✈️ out of ✈️ ✈️ ✈️ ✈️ ✈️

Official Synopsis/Blurb:

From debut author, Claire Hastings, comes a fresh, fun, and unputdownable romance where having a crush on your best friend isn’t the biggest secret at the Indigo Royal!

For as long as Kyle Egan can remember, he has wanted only one thing: to run his own boat charter company. Not that he has much to complain about, as the lead charter boat captain at the Indigo Royal Resort in St. Thomas USVI. He gets to spend his days out on the water, never has to wear a tie, and works alongside his best friend, Drea Miller, who happens to be the only other thing he wants.

Drea Miller has been crushing on her best friend Kyle since the moment she saw him five years ago. Unfortunately, she is fully aware that he doesn’t see her as more than a friend – oh, and the niece of his bosses. Working for the family-owned resort with her three annoyingly overprotective uncles has always been what she wanted, but lately she’s started to wonder what else life might hold. If she can’t have the guy she wants, maybe it’s time that she makes another dream a reality.

When an encounter with a guest brings out the truth, Kyle and Drea are left trying to navigate their feelings, but can their new love survive a revelation they never saw coming?

Thoughts:

First I must thank both Claire and her PR team for providing me with an ARC of Can’t Fight This Feeling along with all of the promotional material. Second, I will be perfectly honest and admit that I am both an old friend and sorority sister of Claire’s; but, despite my affiliation with the author, my thoughts and feelings about this book are completely my own and I received no compensation whatsoever for my rating or review of Claire’s debut. With all that being said, the third thing I must say is that I am not, nor have I ever considered myself to be a romance reader; but, like any good friend I agreed to give my friend’s book a read.

Claire first shared with myself, and another of our dear sorority sisters and friends, about her upcoming book a couple weeks before the end of March. In all honesty, I was in no way surprised when she said that she had written a book, nor was I surprised that I guessed that it was a romance correctly. Immediately upon offering me an advance copy of it, Claire did admit that she knows that “Romance” is not my go to when it comes to reading, but I promised her I would read it with an open mind because she’s one of my best friends, and in all honesty I was intrigued.

The thing that did surprise me however, was just how much I would enjoy this book and find it hard to step away from. The blurb says that this is an unputdownable book, and that statement is perfectly correct. The only reason why I myself put it down was due to the requirement of charging my e-reader when I got down to less than 10%, thus it took me a couple days to read this.

As I’ve previously stated, prior to reading Can’t Fight This Feeling, I would’ve never classified myself as a “reader” or the Romance genre. I’d read a “romance” or “chick-lit” book, a la Bridget Jones’s Diary, every once in awhile, but never with such fervor as I did this book to say I both enjoyed the genre and wanted to read more books within that realm. Needless to say, Claire’s book, along with the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic that’s wrecking havoc throughout the world, has changed my views and feelings towards romance. Since finishing Claire’s book, I’m all for romance and finding true and lasting love.

Some of the things I loved about Claire’s book are how relatable the characters are. Reading of Drea’s relationship with Kyle made me reflect on the crush I had on my best guy friend when we were in college, and no we did not end up together for those who are wondering, but aside from connecting with Drea on that level I found that I was just as able to recognize aspects of myself in the other characters in Drea’s life like her family and their fierce love and loyalty to one another. I also loved all of the 80’s music references throughout the book, most of the songs are ones I can recall dancing and singing along to over the years, they’re the songs that beg for you to let go and just have fun even it’s just for that brief moment. There were many times throughout this book when I found myself laughing out loud so hard that I almost fell off the couch and caused both my dog and my Mom to look at me out of concern that I had lost my mind.

Claire has managed to craft together a wonderfully human story of friends becoming lovers without going over the top or making anything too extravagant or over the top. One of my absolute favorite parts of the book is when Drea and Kyle go to Puerto Rico and Drea shares with Kyle all the details about how exactly it was that her parents died when she was an infant. That particular moment was so real and pulled at my heart strings to the point that I completely forgot I was reading about fictional characters and a fictional incident. Finally learning this key piece of information and truly understanding just how much it had affected Drea’s life, I felt much like Kyle in that moment in that I never wanted Drea to ever experience pain or sadness ever again and I hoped with all of my heart that Kyle would be able to ensure that for Drea.

The one piece of negative feedback that I provided Claire with upon finishing the book (of which I’m more than likely in the minority about), was that despite Drea’s story being so sad, she still didn’t fully bring me to tears. I teared up reading it yes, but I wanted for the writing to take that extra step and push me over the edge into full blown tears sliding down my face; she knows this and has promised me she’ll work on that for me. Aside from this very minuscule fact, I absolutely loved this book and I can’t read to read the next one in the series. As someone who has managed to become jaded when it comes to all things related to relationships and long-lasting love, Claire has managed to give me hope that love and happily ever after do exist and that I myself may even find it one day.

I can’t recommend this start to a wonderfully promising debut enough, so be sure to check it out for yourself:

Buy Now – FREE in Kindle Unlimited

Amazon US: https://amzn.to/39CghnB

Amazon UK: https://amzn.to/331WGus 

Amazon CA: https://amzn.to/2VZpUJ2 

Amazon AU: https://amzn.to/336cdJu 

Add to Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/51982979-can-t-fight-this-feeling

Upcoming Titles in series:

CAUGHT UP IN YOU (Indigo Royal Book 2)

Add to Goodreads Shelf: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/53309026-caught-up-in-you 

WHAT I LIKE ABOUT YOU (Indigo Royal Book 3)

“Wicked As You Wish” A Book That Spoke to My Love of All Things Myth, Fairy Tale, and Folklore Book Review

Author: Rin Chupeco

Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire

Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy

Rating: ✈️ ✈️ ✈️ ✈️.5 out of ✈️ ✈️ ✈️ ✈️ ✈️

Synopsis:

Wicked As You Wish is a wonderfully diverse book that introduces readers to an alternate history and America in which the fairy tales and folklore that many of us have grown up with are real. In this reality, such legendary literary characters and items as Alice in Wonderland, Koschei the Deathless, the Firebird and Excalibur are all real. Not only does Chupeco manage to bring together all of these pieces of fairy tale and folklore in an imaginative way that works rather well.

The story centers around Prince Alexei, the last member of the royal family of Avalon who has been in hiding since he was a small child when the Snow Queen attacked his country and killed his parents. Since the infamous attack, Alexei has been in hiding, moving around from protector family to protector family. Currently, Alexei finds himself residing in a small town in Arizona that is devoid of magic and where his best friend, Tala, and her family work to keep him safe as they await for the arrival of the Firebird and the eventual return to Avalon to take on the Snow Queen and reclaim the throne.

Thoughts:

Wicked As You Wish was one of my most highly anticipated reads of the year and I’m beyond thrilled that after reading it not only lived up to, but exceeded my expectations. As a life long fan and lover of all things mythology, folklore and fairy tale I was drawn to the book upon first reading the book’s description. This book spoke to my unyielding love of the various stories I grew up reading and studying.

One of the things I have always loved about Rin Chupeco’s writing and world building is how in depth and imaginative her world building is. In this particular book, she not only worked to combine the more popular western stories that many are familiar with, but she also worked to incorporate lesser known stories in her world. Her world was further brought to life through her diverse cast of characters. Not only did her characters represent a range of ethnic diversity, but she also included characters who were diverse in their sexual orientation as well as characters with cultural diversity.

I also loved the commentary, about such hot topics as the immigration debate in the United States, that she introduced in the book. The United States, known as the Royal States of America, is ruled by a tyrant king who wants to harness spelltech from other countries and makes use of ICE agents to not only help in capturing immigrants suspected of having magic, but also persecuting them as terrorists if they refuse to cooperate. Her referencing children being held in cages and separated from their parents at detention centers made for an imaginative way of incorporating real world events that we’ve seen in the last few years into an imaginary alternate world.

While I know that many readers have expressed difficulty in following along with story as she introduces a lot of information and characters in a relatively short amount of time, I found that none of this hindered my reading experience or detracted from my love of the story. I will admit that it is a much more complex and densely packed story that her The Bone Witch series, and the world building is many more layers than her previous series, but once you get into the rhythm of it, the payoff of an amazing story that’s not only original but well told is worth it.

For those looking to dive into this one, I would probably caution that it would be a good idea to read her The Bone Witch series to get an idea of how complex of a world she can create and to get a feel for her writing style. I would also highly recommend brushing up on your basic folklore and fairy tales, at least from Western civilization if only to help follow characters and the storyline easier.

As for me, I can’t wait to brush up on my own knowledge of the various stories that are out there that may be brought into the picture in the next book. I also plan on buying a copy of this book (I read a library copy) so that I can read it again and make notes as I make my way through. There’s so much to take in, that I know I missed things and look forward to picking up on them with subsequent reads. Besides, doing this will help me pass the time as I anxiously await the next book in the series since I did not see the ending coming at all.

A note on the rating:

Deducted half a point off a perfect rating due to what I felt was a bit of a slow start to the story. Once the story really got going, it not only grabbed a hold of me but it refused to let go until I had finished.

Trigger warning: Mention of sexual abuse against a child, children separated from parents and held in cages

If you’d like to get a copy of this book for yourself and help Independent Bookstores while you’re at it, then be sure to check out my Bookshop Page* http://bookshop.com/shop/ReadingStewardess

*I will make a 10% commission on any books purchased through Bookshop using my link.

“Pride” a Reimagining of “Pride and Prejudice” Book Review

Author: Ibi Zoboi

Publisher: Balzer + Bray

Genre: Young Adult, Romance, Contemporary

Rating: ✈️ 1/2 out of ✈️ ✈️ ✈️ ✈️ ✈️

Synopsis:

Ibi Zoboi takes Jane Austen’s classic Pride and Prejudice out of its Regency Era English setting and moves it to modern day Brooklyn, New York. Zuri Benitez has deep running pride in her Afro-Latino roots as well as where she comes from, both her neighborhood and family alike. Zuri’s pride runs so deep that she finds herself having difficulty coming to terms with the gentrification her neighborhood is going through to the point this upheaval of her life as she knows it is the focus of her essay topic for her college application.

With the arrival of the wealthy Darcy family moving in across the street, Zuri finds herself butting heads with Darius whom she finds to be arrogant and judgmental. As the two find themselves being forced to interact and learn that they have more in common than they’d like to admit, Zuri finds her world being broadened and her previous conceived notions of others thrown upside down.

Thoughts:

I will be the first to admit that I am not a fan of Pride and Prejudice. I think it’s an all right story, but I fail to understand why so many people love the story as much as they do. Personally, I find Austen’s novel Persuasion to be a much better story, but that is beside the point. Despite my general disregard for Austen’s classic, I decided to give this retelling a try. In the end I’m rather upset with myself for bothering.

I found that reading Zoboi’s story made me dislike Zuri far more than I ever disliked Elizabeth Bennett. For me, Zuri was far too self-righteous in her thinking of and treatment of Blacks who were more privileged than her, to the point she reminded me of actual interactions I’ve had with other Blacks when I was in high school and college. I spent a large amount of time yelling at Zuri that there is no right way to be Black. It annoyed me to no end that just because Darius and his family were well educated, well spoken and wealthy that it meant that they had no respect for the African-American experience or their history within the dialogue. The fact that Zuri refused to broaden her horizons and is proud of the fact that she doesn’t feel the need to learn more or interact with other groups of people, and yet her dream is to go to Howard. Zuri was not only overly judgmental, but she was a complete hyprocrite, rude, was prejudiced and did nothing but bitch and moan throughout the entire book.

The one good thing this book did for me was the fact that it actually made me like Pride and Prejudice a whole lot more than I did prior to reading this. I feel like if Jane Austen were alive she’d be sorely pissed at this take on her classic. Needless to say, I did not keep this book, but rather gave it to a friend who wanted to read it.

Trigger Warning: Mention of sexual assault

“The German Heiress” Book Review

Author: Anika Scott

Publisher: William Morrow

Publication Date: April 7, 2020

Genre: Historical Fiction

Rating: ✈️ ✈️ ✈️ ✈️ out of ✈️ ✈️ ✈️ ✈️ ✈️

Synopsis:

It’s been two years since World War II came to an end and German heiress, Clara Falkenberg, finds herself living and hiding under a false identity in Hamelin, Germany. With lingering questions about her family and their true work during the war, Clara returns to her home in Essen where she hopes to seek shelter with her friend, Elisa.

Following a disastrous encounter with Fenshaw, a British officer who is set on arresting her for war crimes, Clara returns home to discover the Essen a city in ruin and both Elisa and Elisa’s son, Willy, missing. Working to discover what happened to Elisa and Willy, while continuing to evade Fenshaw, Clara teams up with an injured former German soldier, Jakob.

As Fenshaw draws closer to capturing her, Clara finds herself being faced with harsh realities about her family and their secrets that even she isn’t truly prepared for.

Thoughts:

First I must thank both Goodreads and publisher, William Morrow for the advance reader’s edition of Anika Scott’s debut novel.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book and it’s look at post-WWII Germany. I found it to be an engaging read that looked at what German’s went through following the end of the war, from those who were avowed Nazis and managed to escape capture by creating new identities, to those who’s Nazi affiliation is questionable but were still subject to being tried for war crimes, to those who served as soldiers solely because it was required of male German citizens. I found that Scott did a wonderful job of weaving in the historical facts of life in Germany following the war’s end with Clara’s search for Elisa and Willy.

As Clara dug deeper into her friendship with Elisa and her family’s status and work with the Third Reich, I found that I was never confident about how things would end for the characters. Although I was able to foresee some of the eventual outcomes of the story, I was pleasantly surprised and satisfied with the exact ending of the book.

In a market of market of of historical fiction that at times can seem to be over saturated with books about World War II, it was refreshing to read a different take on the history that I as an American know it. I enjoyed reading about and being forced to think about life following the war from the perspective of German citizens. This was a well researched book that I think would make for an engaging book club read and discussion.

Trigger Warning: Brief description of animal cruelty

Oh How I Love My Independent Bookstore

Denver’s LoDo Location of Tattered Cover Bookstore


With more and more businesses, both large and small, having to close their doors for an unknown amount of time due to COVID-19/Coronavirus, I wanted to do what I could to show my support of my much loved local Independent Bookstore, Tattered Cover. Tattered Cover has been a Denver establishment since 1971 and has seen many changes in its 49 year history. They’ve seen various locations open and close around the Denver area, including plans to open up a fifth location in Westminster, Colorado. Original owner and founder Joyce Meskis announced her plans to retire and turn the store over to current owners Author Len Vlahos and his wife, Kristen Gilligan. A complete look at the amazing history of Tattered Cover can be found on their website.

Having long been a reader and lover of books and bookstores, I finally began frequenting Tattered Cover about 11 years ago after moving to Denver and attending my first, of what has become many, author event. Since that first event, I’ve had the pleasure to meet and get to know many of my favorite authors over the years.

Me and my Mom with author, Jessica Brody at 2017 Tattered Cover YA Happy Hour.

I got to spend an evening listening to frequent Tattered Cover visitor, author Kiersten White, discuss her final book in the Slayer duology.

In 2016, Tattered Cover hosted their first ever YA Happy Hour and Teen Book Con. It was at the 2016 YA Happy Hour where I got to meet two new to me authors who’s books I had enjoyed, Sharon Cameron and Cat Winters.

Me and author, Sharon Cameron at the 2016 Tattered Cover YA Happy Hour.

Me with award winning author Cat Winters.

It’s because of Tattered Cover and the book community they’ve fostered that I’ve met my dear friend Janice with whom I attend author events with, try to get together for monthly brunch and/or dinner outings and even go on hiking adventures with our dogs. Tattered Cover further introduced me to New York Times Bestselling Author, Chris Bohjalian and subsequently made it possible for me to be a part of his book tour for his 2018 novel, The Flight Attendant.

Chris and I celebrate the release of his book, The Flight Attendant.

There was once a time, not too long ago, where Independent Bookstores were disappearing and being forced to close their doors to bigger chain bookstores and online retailers. Many readers found themselves without a local bookstore through which they could support their community and be offered an opportunity to meet their favorite authors. It’s really only been in the last decade or so that independent bookstores began to make a comeback and we started to see once struggling ones rebound and even new ones being established. Once again we find ourselves at the crossroads of many of our local bookstores facing going out of business due to the pandemic. I for one, do not want to see this happen and will do what I can to support both my local indie and to put money back into the community.

Unfortunately, I’m only one person who finds myself having to tighten my purse strings and so I can’t support them on my own. Thus, it is because of my love for not only Tattered Cover, but all independent bookstores and the people who work there that I’m calling on my fellow readers to do what you can to help them weather the storm.

Many of our favorite Indies are offering unprecedented savings on shipping right now. For those who prefer an audiobook, Libro.fm is a wonderful option. Libro.fm not only provides you with immediate access to your next great listen, but for only $14.99 a month you’ll be able to select from over 150,000 books and the entire payment amount goes to your local bookstore. If, like many of us are, you find that you’re having to tighten your purse strings, you can still help your local Indie by talking about them and how to support them through your various social media channels, much as I’m doing with my blog post. Commenting on their posts and liking their posts further helps them out by raising their visibility numbers.

We all recognize that this is a difficult and unprecedented time, but by joining together we not only can, but we will and we must come through this as a collective whole. I think author, Ibram X. Kendi said it best when he reminded us: “As we practice social distancing, let’s not distance ourselves from books. They will keep us company and connect us back to people, back to society.”

“The Red Lotus” Book Review, or Reading a Book About a Plague During the Coronavirus

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Author: Chris Bohjalian

Publisher: Doubleday Books

Publication Date: March 17, 2020

Genre: Fiction, Mystery, Thriller

Rating: ✈️ ✈️ ✈️ ✈️.5 out of ✈️ ✈️ ✈️ ✈️ ✈️

Synopsis:

New York Times best selling author, Chris Bohjalian, is back at it again;  this time he’s taking readers on a roller coaster of a ride about the possibility of a man-made plague being inadvertently let loose and the havoc it will subsequently wreck amongst the world population. Amid a possible contagion, the reader is introduced to ER doctor Alexis and her boyfriend Austin, a cycling enthusiast who happens to work at the same hospital as her in the research department. What begins as a beautiful and sentimental trip to Vietnam to enjoy cycling through the countryside and subsequently allow Austin an opportunity to visit the parts of Vietnam where his father and uncle served during the war, Alexis soon finds herself searching for her boyfriend who has disappeared on a solo ride.

With Austin’s body finally being found following what on the surface appears to be a simple case of hit and run, Alexis can’t help but tap into her instincts as an emergency room doctor of asking numerous questions when not all the wounds found on Austin’s body match up with those one would expect to find following a collision between a vehicle and a person on a bike. Returning to the States, Alexis continues to question not only what really happened to Austin, but why he told her the lies he did and whether he truly cared for her and her for him.

Thoughts:

First, I must thank both my friend Chris and his publisher, Doubleday, for providing me with an advance readers copy of The Red Lotus. Second, I must further thank Chris for writing an all too timely novel that I know he had no thoughts of it being so when he was writing it.

The Red Lotus got off to a bit of a slow start for me, thus the 4.5 rating versus a 5 rating, I think this was due in no small part to two factors: Bohjalian’s previous novel, The Flight Attendant, shot straight out of the gate and the roller coaster was on a continuous uphill climactic climb until it finally reached its zenith and hurtled to its satisfying conclusion; and knowing that this was a book that dealt with a plague, I expected the plague to be a bigger entity than it ultimately proved to be. I found that once Austin’s body was found, and Alexis returned to the States with more questions than she had answers for that things really took off for me.

One of the things that I loved the most about this book, and about Bohjalian’s writing overall, is how well written his stories are and the way in which he presents the information to the reader. With alternating viewpoints between Alexis and an anonymous narrator, the reader is left guessing about everything until the very end. Bohjalian continues to prove time and time again that he is a master when it comes to writing stories about vulnerable, flawed women who the reader can’t help but root and even at times sympathize with; and Alexis is no different in this regard. I must that reading this book as daily reports about COVID-19 or Coronavirus continue to pour in made reading it that much more harrowing and timelier. I found myself unable to set it down in hopes that much more harrowing and timelier. I found myself unable to set it down in hopes that Mr. Bohjalian would’ve inadvertently provided scientists with the cure to COVID-19, *spoiler alert: he doesn’t.

Despite my hope that Chris Bohjalian would have inadvertently come up with a cure for the current pandemic running rampant throughout the world, I found myself strangely fascinated by all the knowledge and research Bohjalian was kind enough to share with me, the reader, about rats. I, along with many people, have long known that rats are used in medical experiments to assist in finding cures and treatments for a variety of diseases and illnesses. I did not however know much of the information about rats and the inherent differences they have from mice. I mean, do you know what a “Rat-King” is? I for one did not, but you better believe I learned this fact, as will you when you read the book.

Recommendation:

This is a book I would recommend to current readers of Chris Bohjalian’s, both new and old. I would also highly recommend anyone who enjoys or currently finds themselves on an end of the world due to a pandemic reading kick. This is also a wonderful pick for mystery and thriller lovers alike, plus for those who are participating in the 2020 Read Harder Challenge by Bookriot, this book works perfectly for the third prompt: Read a mystery where the victim(s) is not a woman.

TW: Death, Self-harm

 

“Kingdom of Souls” Book Review

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Author: Rena Barron

Publisher: HarperTeen

Genre: Fantasy, Young Adult

Rating: ✈️ ✈️ ✈️ ✈️ 1/2 out of ✈️ ✈️ ✈️ ✈️ ✈️

Synopsis:

Rena Barron’s debut novel tells the story of Arrah. The daughter and granddaughter of powerful witchdoctors, Arrah finds herself disappointed year after year as she continues to fail to be able to call upon the powers with which her family has been blessed with. Having accepted the fact that she will never have powers of her own and she will forever be a disappointment to her mother, Arrah resigns herself to her fate. It’s not until the children of the kingdom begin to disappear that Arrah decides she must do that which she has sworn never to do, trade years of her life for magic in order to find and hopefully safe the missing children.

Having become a charlatan, Arrah is presented with something far more horrific than she could’ve ever imagined. Finding herself in the midst of a battle that has long been brewing, Arrah must fight both for and against those she loves if she has any hope of saving the kingdom and neighboring tribes from total destruction.

Thoughts:

When talk about Kingdom of Souls first began circulating on Twitter and Bookstagram, I have to admit, it didn’t appeal to me. Although the cover is stunning and the book features a Black female protagonist, with a supporting cast of Black characters, it just wasn’t speaking to me and I didn’t feel the need to read it. It wasn’t until I learned that Michael B. Jordan had optioned the film rights for it that I decided I should maybe read the book and see what all the hype was about.

I picked this book up with an open mind but low expectations, as with many readers, I’ve read highly rated books only to be disappointed upon reading it for myself. Well, I’m happy to say that for once, all the hype was worth it. Not only is Kingdom of Souls an amazing book, but it drew me in from the beginning. Like any good roller coaster ride, the story shoots out of the gate and begins a slow climb to the top of the first drop, from that drop the story just continued to hurtle up and down hills and through loops all at breakneck speed. I love that I was kept guessing as to what was really going on and why. As for the twist towards the end of the book, although I did not see it coming when I first started the book, and was kept in the dark for most of the book, I did figure it out about two pages before it was actually revealed. But man, even with figuring out the twist, I still couldn’t believe it when I actually read it.

Rena Barron has created a highly engaging and imaginative young adult novel that incorporates West African belief while showcasing a female protagonist who is powerful in her own unique way, even without magic, and who battles constantly with the love she feels for her mother while not wanting to disappoint her all at the same time. Having read this book, I understand why Michael B. Jordan was drawn to this story and has optioned the film rights, the story is beautifully written and empowering all at once. I cannot wait to read next book and to see this series brought to the screen.

Literary Tour of New Orleans in a Day

Being a flight attendant comes with some great perks that many people do not have with your normal Monday to Friday, 9-5 job. From great travel perks including discounts when taking cruises, to flexible schedules, being able to have weeks to months at a time vacation throughout the year, and more. For me though, one of the perks that I have truly come to enjoy in recent years, is getting to nourish my bibliophile brain by getting to visit some amazing cities and locales of many writers whose books I’ve read and many times actually like.

Most recently I had the good fortune to have a trip to New Orleans, Louisiana where I got to spend a wonderful 24 hours in The Crescent City. New Orleans is one of those cities where there’s always something to see and do. So while this was not my first trip to this historically rich city, it was the first time I spent it focusing on the literary history of the city.

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I began my day by venturing to Pirate’s Alley, right off of Jackson Square, to visit indie bookstore Faulkner House Books located at 624 Pirate’s Alley. Pirate’s Alley can be found just to the side of St. Louis Cathedral, when facing the front of the cathedral, it is the street to the left of the church. The front of the store is located across from the cathedral’s garden. This quaint little bookstore was established in the former home of William Faulkner approximately 15 years ago. In 1925, William Faulkner rented rooms on the ground floor of the building.

 

 

 

 

 

img_0958-1I arrived at the store shortly after its doors opened for the day knowing that I wanted to walk away with a copy of Faulkner’s As I Lay Dying to replace my original copy which I have misplaced at some point in time. I’m happy to say that not only did I find a very nice hardback replacement copy of As I Lay Dying, but I also walked away with Orpheus Descending and Suddenly Last Summer by Tennessee Williams, another New Orleans writer of note.

Although the bookstore is on the smaller size, inside bibliophiles will find a wide range of books: from new, used and rare books; to books about the vast history of New Orleans; and ones by the author for whom the store is named after. Along the walls are pictures of not only William Faulkner, but other famous writers who called the Crescent City home at one time or another, including Ernest Hemingway.  img_0959

Following a successful bookstore shopping trip, I proceeded to enjoy Jackson Square and the Pontalba Buildings which can be found on two sides of the square. These red brick buildings feature stores and restaurants on the ground floors, I myself enjoyed a breakfast of shrimp and grits at Cafe Pontalba, while the upper floors house apartments. These apartment buildings were described by Truman Capote as being “…the oldest, in some ways most somberly elegant, apartment houses in America…” in his short story Hidden Gardens.

 

When viewing these beautiful buildings its easy to understand why every year during the Tennessee Williams Festival a shouting contest of “STELLA!” is held from one of the balcony’s. I myself felt like reenacting that famous scene from Tennessee Williams’s A Streetcar Named Desire when walking along the square; I am happy to however that I refrained from indulging in my urge, despite the fact that people more than likely would not have given me a second glance.

Leaving Jackson Square, I headed towards my next literary stop: 722 Toulouse Street.

 

img_0968-1 Although Tennessee Williams had many homes throughout his time in New Orleans, it is this beautiful peach building  where Williams was living when he wrote his short story, The Angel in the Alcove. img_0980-1

 

 

 

 

 

 

From Tennessee Williams former home on Toulouse Street, its just a short three and a half block walk down Royal Street to the historic Hotel Monteleone.img_0979

Purchased Antonio Monteleone in 1886, this historic has seen five major expansions in its lifetime and has played host to many writers over the years. It is one of only three hotels in the United States to have been granted the designation of Literary Landmark by the Friends of the Libraries, USA. 

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Both the hotel, and its famed Carousel Bar, is a favorite resting spot amongst Southern authors and even features in many pieces of literature, including The Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood and Little Altars Everywhere by Rebecca Wells. A visit to the hotel wouldn’t be complete without also finding a spot at the famous rotating Carousel Bar and enjoying a drink or two. I myself was lucky enough to grab a seat at the 65 year old rotating bar upon first entering and proceeded to sip on a few drinks while slowly rotating around the room.

Deciding I had occupied a seat at the bar long enough, I payed my tab and decided to make an inquiry of the front desk before heading back to my own hotel. Making my way to the Hotel Monteleone’s front desk, I informed the front desk staff that although I was not a guest of the hotel itself, I was currently enjoying a little self-guided literary tour of New Orleans and after having already seen their front window display of books and enjoyed drinks at the Carousel Bar, I asked if there were any other literary things to see within the hotel. To my pleasant surprise and pleasure, the woman at the front desk, after checking with her manager, was kind enough to grab a room key and escort me to the William Faulkner Suite.

I was informed that although there are other suites with famous writers names attached to them, this was the only one that was currently unoccupied. This unexpected visit was the icing on an already fun-filled literary day. Even now, almost a month after my trip, I am still extremely grateful to the hotel staff for allowing me a glimpse inside this room which is named for the famous Southern Gothic author. It is my secret hope that on future visits to New Orleans that I will be fortunate enough to see the other author suites at the hotel.

Although this may have been my first literary tour of New Orleans, I know that it will not be my last. There are still many more literary landmarks and bookstores to visit, including a plethora of literary history to learn, but this was a wonderful introduction to the vast history of literature in the city of New Orleans.

“The Stonewall Reader” Review

Edited by: The New York Public Library

Publisher: Penguin Classics

Genre: Nonfiction, Historical Nonfiction, LGBT

Rating: ✈️ ✈️ ✈️ ✈️ ✈️ out of ✈️ ✈️ ✈️ ✈️ ✈️

Synopsis:

In honor of the fiftieth anniversary of the Stonewall Riots, the New York Public Library put together this anthology of stories about the riots and their importance in what is considered the start of the gay liberation movement and predecessor in the fight for LGBTQ rights in the United States. Combing through the archives of the New York Public Library, The Stonewall Reader brings together a compilation of firsthand accounts of the riots through: diary entries, newspaper and magazine articles in prominent LGBTQ publications of the time, along with other periodic literature. The book comprises of the five years before the riots, the events of 1969, and the five years following the riots. The book was published alongside the NYPL exhibit about the Stonewall uprising and how it led to the start of the gay liberation movement of 1969.

Thoughts:

Today, June 28, 2019, marks the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Riots. It is in large part due to the significance of this anniversary, and because I always try to read at least one book for Pride Month, that I decided to read The Stonewall Reader as my Pride Month read. I decided to listen to this book on audio, and would highly recommend the audiobook of it as it gives full voice to the stories and allowed for me to experience them more fully since I wasn’t born until almost twenty years after the uprising.

I loved this book as it dealt with a prominent part of United States history that is not taught in schools and it increased my knowledge and understanding of just how important the Stonewall Riots were not only for the time but for the LGBTQ Movement that grew out of it and fought for years, and continues to fight to this day, for the same recognition and liberties as straight, white males in the United States. This book and movement, remind the reader that even with all the successes and accomplishments that have been brought about, such as the legalization of Gay Marriage; the movement is far from over and things are still not equal across the board.

This is the kind of book that I want for all of my LGBTQIA+ friends and fellow allies to read because it helps to remind the reader that Love Is Love and everyone regardless to gender, race, sexual orientation, etc. has the right to love and be loved openly and without fear, and that its worth fighting for. It’s a book I would love to see taught in schools and on library shelves.

The only thing I wish to come about as part of this book, is for the current NYPL exhibit to be allowed to travel to other libraries and museums to allow more people to truly understand and appreciate the importance of Stonewall.

 

 

Spotlight Book: “Freefll (The Amalie Noether Chronicles #1) b Jana Williams

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Book Description:

freefall cover

The deep-space transport ship, the Vera Rubin, is light years from Earth when botanist Elle Silver begins to question the use of their space-travel drug, HCH.  Elle notices a growing number of her friends and  fellow colonists awaken from their 90-day sleep cycles exhibiting a variety of negative side-effects and she begins to believe the drug is the culprit.  Some of the effects are minor, dry eyes and lack of appetite. Other symptoms are a bigger concern on a tiny ship packed with colonists.  With each sleep cycle completed, more and more colonists awaken both confused and barely concealing a simmering rage – rage that could be a catastrophe on a ship as crowded as the Vera Rubin.  Elle needs proof, but she also needs a plan. If the drug that allows them to travel deep-space is at fault, what then?  Elle and her friends Ashok, Achebe and Jin-Hai are pressed to their limits to find a solution to their problem before the ship erupts into chaos… with light years left to travel.

Find FREEFALL on Amazon

https://www.amazon.com/Freefall-Amalie-Noether-Chronicles-1/dp/1999408616/

https://www.amazon.in/Freefall-Amalie-Noether-Chonicles-Book-ebook/dp/B07GT6NJGD/

Read an Excerpt

ONE

“Aaakkkkaaah,” Elle gasped as light like a thousand million suns seemed to explode behind her eyes, catapulting her into consciousness. Sleep apnea forced her to consciously attend to what was supposed to be an unconscious act. Elle was certain she knew intimately how it felt to die—she did it over and over again in her sleep. She lay still for a long moment, shaking off the dregs of her harsh awakening. Suddenly she opened her eyes. I had a dream. Which is weird; I hardly ever dream.

 With her eyes now open, Elle was grateful for the deep shadows in the Skein. Scattered before her were only dim pools of light created by the pale glow of a monitoring station or data readout screens. The checkerboard of dim light and utter darkness was designed for sleep. Not just any kind of sleep, though—the Skein was made for folded, deep-space travel sleep, for human hibernation.

Peering around, Elle could vaguely identify the sleeping shapes of colonists floating weightless above and below her in the zero gravity of the ship’s inner core. They were tethered to the Skein via long filaments linking one sleeper to another like a daisy chain via a supple towing line. Each human hibernated for a three month cycle, gently tugged along by the Skein rather like balloons.

Over the course of their ninety-day sleep cycles, colonists passed through medical stations that performed muscle-tone tests and various neurological scans, body mass index tests, and more, until the Skein released them at the end of the ninety day cycle. They were netted and pulled into a brighter area where the onset of light coaxed them into wakefulness again. Elle was the sole exception. She hibernated like the other colonists, but her sleep was more erratic—uniformly unpredictable, in fact.

Now fully awake, Elle released the magnet that anchored her to the Skein and began pulling herself down towards a glowing iris of light at the bottom of a deep well of darkness. As she passed other colonists still deep in slumber, she took time to look into their faces. They were people she had trained with for the past fifteen years, as a cadet. Some faces were familiar, and so peaceful in sleep that she felt tempted to smooth the hair back off their faces as a mother would. Except that none of them had any hair. Each colonist was lasered head to toe before entering the Skein so the electronic scanners could accurately read the barcodes on the backs of their heads or the soles of their feet and attribute each medical test to the appropriate colonist’s file.

Elle encountered a colonist she didn’t immediately recognize and stopped to examine his face. Frowning, she gently grasped him by the shoulder and turned him so that one of his feet faced a nearby barcode scanner. A name immediately popped up on the screen, and Elle recited the name to herself while looking into the cadet’s face to memorize it. Grinning, she released him back to his journey in the Skein and floated on.

She was slowly approaching a distant junction that would pull her through the first airlock and into the waking chamber. Instead of waiting to be towed, Elle pushed off abruptly from her handhold on the Skein and cartwheeled towards the junction. Elle was fairly confident that she could stop herself in time to avoid smacking up against the other wall of the rotating core. She hadn’t missed once in over a year, but it was still chancy enough that the potential to pinwheel towards oblivion gave her a thrill.

At the final moment she did reach out and grab a strand of the Skein, which instantly stopped her forward motion. Reattaching her magnetic clip, Elle let it tow her into the light.

A low voice whispered across the room as Elle entered, “Good morning, El-lee. I see you’re awake early again.”

“Is it morning, Bea?” Elle said, her tone grudging, but she smiled at Bea’s long drawl of her name. Bea had absorbed the bastardization of Elle’s name and mimicked the other colonists’ teasing tone exactly. Bea was very observant.

“Well, theoretically it’s always morning somewhere in space, Elle.” Bea had brightened her voice just a little, testing the waters to see if Elle was really ready for her day.

Elle made shooing motions with her hand. “Still remembering how to breathe.”

“Ah, sleep apnea again?” Bea paused. “Want some water, then?”

“Yes, please.”

“All right. Five minutes while I find water for you. Then into the shower.”

As Bea trundled off to the kitchen, Elle muttered, “Space Mom.”

“I heard that.”

Elle grinned, which turned into a yawn and a stretch to help her body back into wakefulness. The webbing that held her carefully suspended between ceiling and floor in the half-gravity of the room stretched with her. She began ripping apart the Velcro strip that tethered the top of her lightweight disposable pajamas to the Skein.

With her other hand she groped for eye drops to lubricate her eyes. She had noted recently that her eyes often felt crackly if she was awakened too suddenly. It wasn’t a particularly pleas- ant sensation after nearly three months of sleep. Elle’s dry eyes were one of the very few side effects she experienced from hibernation. Or “stasis,” she corrected herself in a mildly snide mental voice.

Control really didn’t like the colonists’ use of the word “hibernation.” Their preferred term was completely detached from any association with the synthetic Hibernation Control Hormone that had been concocted from research done on hibernating bears on Earth—the very same hormone research that had nearly ended the dream of extended deep-space travel.

HCH had been tested extensively on bears in captivity, and then upon the last few found in the wild, before it ever went to human trials. An animal rights group known as Earth-First kept the bear hormone research in the news feeds daily with their guerrilla-like sorties against the actual scientists, the research facilities, and ultimately the human test agents, too. Finally Control had moved all training facilities for its deep-space cadets away from Earth completely. All cadets were now trained only on Moonbase and Marsbase to avoid any confrontations with Earth-First.

To Elle the most galling thing about the word “stasis” to describe the colonists’ hormone-assisted travel mode was that the phrase was completely detached from the colonists’ experiential reality. In theory, “stasis” sounded so serene: sleep for three months, wake up, eat, shower, visit for a few days with whatever teammates happen to be in rotation with you, then back to sleep again for another three or four light-years of travel.

Of the team of 150 travelers on board the Vera Rubin, most had reported varying degrees of lethargy and confusion upon awakening from hibernation. Many also reported dry mouth, dry eyes, inability to resume urination, little desire to eat anything, and a complete lack of interest in sex. This last problem was Control’s biggest worry. Yes, we are colonists, Elle acknowledged to herself. But she disagreed adamantly with Control’s assertion that as long as the colonists could have babies, their quality of life aboard ship could be damned.

It seemed Control felt so sure that everything else would balance out with time that they gave the green light to launch the Vera Rubin a full day ahead of schedule. Control theorized that all the negative HCH symptoms would disappear once the Vera Rubin entered the Three Sisters solar system and went into high orbit for a year around Amalie Noether, their targeted planet. Control was willing to bet the crew’s lives that normal functions would return once the colonists were off HCH completely.

Author Bio:

 

freefall author

Jana Williams is certain that fiction can change people’s lives – especially women and girls.  Her own life is testimony to that fact.  One of five daughters, she was raised by a single-mom who placed a high value on reading and storytelling.

The ability to read, coupled with a child’s innate curiosity about the world, and access to books to satisfy that curiosity can offer significant opportunity to a child. Like most writers Jana has bounced from job to job, absorbing stories, cultures and customs as she worked.  She has been a high-speed motion picture photographer, a VFX coordinator, worked in the film industry, and the publishing trade as a book seller – a publisher’s rep and now an author.

But her first love is reading…. and with each book of the Freefall trilogy sold Jana will donate funds to Literacy agencies around the world whose work is to bring the joy of reading to others.

Enjoy a good adventure story and help others learn to read at the same time !

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Find Jana’s Writing advice – Twitter –  https://twitter.com/9YAVli0iT6ZZLTC