THE BARREN GROUNDS – Book One of THE MISEWA SAGA by Award-winning Canadian Indigenous author DAVID A. ROBERTSON

Title: THE BARREN GROUNDS  

Series: THE MISEWA SAGA – BOOK 1

Author: DAVID A. ROBERTSON

Genre:  MIDDLE GRADE FICTION, INDIGENOUS PEOPLES, MULTICULTURAL INTEREST, SCIENCE FICTION AND FANTASY

Length: 256 PAGES

Publisher: PUFFIN CANADA – A DIVISION OF PENGUIN RANDOM HOUSE CANADA

Received From: NETGALLEY

Release Date: SEPTEMBER 8, 2020

ISBN: 9780735266100

Price: $17.99 USD

Rating: 4 OUT OF 5 STARS ⭐⭐⭐⭐

DESCRIPTION:

Narnia meets traditional Indigenous stories of the sky and constellations in an epic middle grade fantasy series from award-winning author David Robertson.

Morgan and Eli, two Indigenous children forced away from their families and communities, are brought together in a foster home in Winnipeg, Manitoba. They each feel disconnected, from their culture and each other, and struggle to fit in at school and at their new home — until they find a secret place, walled off in an unfinished attic bedroom. A portal opens to another reality, Askí, bringing them onto frozen, barren grounds, where they meet Ochek (Fisher). The only hunter supporting his starving community, Misewa, Ochek welcomes the human children, teaching them traditional ways to survive. But as the need for food becomes desperate, they embark on a dangerous mission. Accompanied by Arik, a sassy Squirrel they catch stealing from the trapline, they try to save Misewa before the icy grip of winter freezes everything — including them.

MY REVIEW:

THE BARREN GROUNDS is the first in a series of Middle-Grade Indigenous/Fantasy novels. The series is titled THE MISEWA SAGA and has a Narnia-esque theme.

The story begins with Morgan, an angry preteen Indigenous girl who was placed into the foster care system as a toddler. That system is all she knows, and, as is often the case in real life, her experiences in foster care have not been pleasant.

Placed with a young couple who are new to foster parenting, Morgan resists all attempts at bonding because she is extremely cognizant of the fact that she can be sent back to an orphanage or on to another foster home at any time. “You’ll see. The world will harden you.” This seems to be Morgan’s issue. She has been thrown away all her life – even her biological mother didn’t want her. 

Her foster parents bring a boy into their home who is a year younger than Morgan, named Eli. Eli is Indigenous, as is Morgan, but because she was placed into the system as a toddler, she knows nothing about her rich cultural background. But, Eli does.

When Eli draws a detailed scene, it somehow opens a portal to another reality. When Eli goes into the portal, Morgan goes after him to bring him back.

What they discover is a land out of Indigenous lore. With talking animals who walk on two legs, and a land stuck in perpetual winter, Morgan and Eli learn about their heritage.

Eli and Morgan set out on an epic quest to save the “two-leggeds” and their world from perpetual winter.

The adventures they have teach them that it isn’t always blood that creates a family.

They also learn that whether they are aware of their Indigenaity or not, it does not matter. That does not make them any less Indigenous than those who are aware of their heritage.

This story brings attention to the fact that too many Indigenous children are being removed from their parents and placed into foster care, often with non-Indigenous foster parents who are more interested in the money provided to them by government than in having the child become a true member of their family. There are definitely some amazing foster parents, but, unfortunately, the majority of foster kids tend to have multiple negative experiences before finding an acceptable placement. Many foster kids learn almost nothing about their heritage and culture and there is a vast difference between growing up in a white culture and growing up in an Indigenous culture.

All in all, this book has everything a Middle-Grade reader can possibly want and I think the MISEWA SAGA will be a hit.

I rate this book as 4 OUT OF 5 STARS ⭐⭐⭐⭐

** Thank you to NetGalley and the Publisher for providing me with a free copy of this book. **


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

DAVID A. ROBERTSON is the author of numerous books for young readers including When We Were Alone, which won the 2017 Governor General’s Literary Award and was nominated for the TD Canadian Children’s Literature Award.

Strangers, the first book in his Reckoner trilogy, a young adult supernatural mystery, won the 2018 Michael Van Rooy Award for Genre Fiction (Manitoba Book Awards).

David educates as well as entertains through his writings about Indigenous Peoples, reflecting their cultures, histories, communities, as well as illuminating many contemporary issues.

A sought-after speaker and educator, Dave is a member of the Norway House Cree Nation and currently lives in Winnipeg.

To learn more about this author, visit the following links:

OFFICIAL WEBSITE
http://www.darobertson.ca

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DAVID A. ROBERTSON is also the author of several important Indigenous Peoples books and now has a podcast about his life.

THE ALGONQUIN READER – Spring/Summer 2020 Edition is AVAILABLE NOW. Want to know what books you simply need to read this season? This magazine tells you all about them and even offers Sneak Peeks, Book Club Discussion Guides, and much more.

Title: THE ALGONQUIN READER 

Issue: SPRING 2020

Cover Illustrator: CURTIS PARKER

Genre: FICTION, LITERARY FICTION

Received: NETGALLEY 

ISBN: 9781643751290

RATING: 5 OUT OF 5 STARS ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

ABOUT THE SPRING 2020 ISSUE:

The Spring/Summer 2020 Algonquin Reader.

Discover the inspiration behind each book listed in this season’s issue through an original essay by the author.

Then enjoy an excerpt from each novel or short story collection.

The books featured in this issue are:

Afterlife by Julia Alvarez
On Sale April 2020

The Mountains Sing by Nguyễn Phan Quế Mai
On Sale March 2020

Hieroglyphics by Jill McCorkle Dr
On Sale June 2020

The Falling Woman by Richard Farrell
On Sale June 2020

The Lives of Edie Pritchard by Larry Watson
On Sale July 2020

A House Is a Body by Shruti Swamy
On Sale August 2020

With or Without You by Caroline Leavitt
On Sale August 2020

MY REVIEW:

THE ALGONQUIN READER is a literary fiction magazine. I received an ARC (Advance Review Copy) of the SPRING/SUMMER 2020 issue.

In this issue, a selection of authors who have books being published between March and August of 2020, each wrote an essay and include an excerpt from their upcoming book.

The first author to be included was Julia Alvarez whose book AFTERLIFE was published in April of 2020. Her essay speaks of the evolution of her writing style as well as her writing routine. The excerpt from AFTERLIFE had the intended effect on me, as I have now added it to the list of books I want to read this year.
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Next up was the incredibly talented author of THE MOUNTAINS SING –  Nguyễn Phan Quế Mai. In her essay titled “Climbing Many Mountains,” she writes about her life in Vietnam and how winning a writing competition at the age of ten, which she had secretly entered, led her to spend her teen years talking to relatives and elders about their lives. This inquisitiveness (unknownst to her at the time) was the beginning of her research for THE MOUNTAINS SING. Also included is an excerpt from her amazing book which I have already read and will be reviewing soon. She ends her essay with the following quote:

“I hope the story of Huóng and Diêu Lan helps international readers discover our common humanity, as in the words of Huóng: ‘Somehow I was sure that if people were willing to read each other, and see the light of other cultures, there would be no war on earth.'”

The third included author is JILL McCORKLE whose book: HIEROGLYPHICS is due for release in June. Her book is based around two historic tragedies, a train derailment in 1941 and a nightclub fire in 1942. At the conclusion of her essay, author Jill McCorkle states:

“My hope is that the readers of Hieroglyphics will be entertained by these characters and their lives, but I also hope it will lead them to think of various fragments and images from their own lives and to experience the oldest and purest form of time travel – memory.”

I can’t wait to get my hands on a copy of this book. The essay, as well as the excerpt included in the Spring issue of THE ALGONQUIN READER has succeeded in piqueing my interest.

THE FALLING WOMAN by Richard Farrell is a tale of suspense. A plane crashes and the sole survivor is a woman, and the story is about her, as well as the young agent whose job it is to find her. THE FALLING WOMAN is being released in June. In his essay, author Richard Farrell says:

We all are haunted by something – something we did or didn’t do – and the passing years either add to the weight or diminish it.”

I agree and identify wholeheartedly with this quote.

The final three books highlighted in the Spring 2020 Issue of THE ALGONQUIN READER are:

1. The Lives of Edie Pritchard by Larry Watson which hits bookstore shelves in July of 2020.

2. A House Is a Body by Shruti Swamy
is set for release in August of 2020

and

3. With or Without You by Caroline Leavitt which goes on sale August 2020.

Out of all the books highlighted, I most want to get my hands on a copy of AFTERLIFE by Julia Alvarez.

Courtesy of ALGONQUIN BOOKS, you can read an excerpt from AFTERLIFE by clicking HERE

You can also read an essay by the author HERE

And, last but not least, you can download a FREE BOOK CLUB KIT for Afterlife HERE

I rate the Spring 2020 Issue of THE ALGONQUIN READER as a hearty 5 OUT OF 5 STARS ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
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*Thank you to NetGalley and the Publisher for providing me with a free copy of this book.*

ABOUT THE PUBLISHER:

Founded in 1983, Algonquin Books started as a small Southern house but quickly garnered national attention for publishing authors such as Julia Alvarez, Kaye Gibbons, Robert Morgan, and Lee Smith. In 1989, Algonquin was acquired by Workman Publishing. Algonquin is recognized internationally as a literary publishing house with numerous fiction and nonfiction bestsellers and award winners. Algonquin Young Readers is a new imprint that features books for readers seven to seventeen.

To learn more about this Publisher visit the following links:

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ESME’S GIFT by the Mega-Talented Author of Young Adult Fiction – ELIZABETH FOSTER is a solid 6 out of 5 Stars. Yes, It is that good.

Title: ESME’S GIFT

Series: THE ESME TRILOGY: BOOK 2

Author: ELIZABETH FOSTER

Genre: FICTION, YOUNG ADULT FICTION, FANTASY

Length: 254 PAGES

Publisher: ODYSSEY BOOKS

Received From: THE AUTHOR

Release Date: NOVEMBER 30, 2019

ISBN: 9781925652833

Price: $16.95 CDN

Rating: 6 OUT OF 5 STARS ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

DESCRIPTION:

“Now, nothing else mattered. She had found the place her mother had whispered of, the place sewn into the fabric of her dreams.”

In  the enchanted world of Aeolia, fifteen-year-old Esme Silver is faced with her hardest task yet. She must master her unruly Gift – the power to observe the past – and uncover the secrets she needs to save her mother, Ariane.

In between attending school in the beguiling canal city of Esperance, Esme and her friends – old and new – travel far and wide across Aeolia, gathering the ingredients for a potent magical elixir.

Their journey takes them to volcanic isles, sunken ruins and snowy eyries, spectacular places fraught with danger, where they must confront their deepest fears and find hope in the darkest of places. Esme’s Gift, the second instalment in the Esme trilogy, is an enthralling fantasy adventure for readers 12 years and over.

MY REVIEW:

ESME’S GIFT is the perfect book to sit, and read right now. You can immerse yourself in the unforgettable world of. Esperance.

Currently, our entire world is on ‘pause.’ The Coronavirus dubbed Covid19 has caused a worldwide phenomenon called “Social Distancing.’ Health authorities all over the planet are asking (or demanding) people stay home to avoid catching and/or spreading the virus. The one good thing that has happened because of Covid19, is that we now have the time to read those books that we have all been wishing we had time for.

Physical bookstores may be closed right now, but just about every bookseller is allowing customers to order online and have your books delivered straight to your door. My suggestion is that you place an order for ESME’S WISH and ESME’S GIFT written by the Mega-Talented Author, Elizabeth Foster. I guarantee you will love these books and will find that time flies by because you will become immersef in this tale of magic, mystery, family ties, dragons and the fascinating and scintillating world of Aeolia.

Elizabeth Foster truly has a talent and a gift for creating fantastic worlds that readers will wish they were able to experience firsthand. Elizabeth does for water what J.K. Rowling did for Platform 9 3/4 at the train station.

In “Esme’s Gift,” the fifteen year old title character returns from the magical world of Aeolia with the intention of convincing her father that his wife, Esme’s mother, Ariane, is alive (although currently in a magical coma) in the enchanted city of Esperance. She wants to convince him to travel to Aeolia with her so that he can see for himself.

He reacts the way most of us would react if told that our daughter who had been missing for weeks, shows up one day and says that she had been in a magical city that exists only through an underwater portal. He does not believe her (can you really blame him?) Esme overhears the plan to have her checked out by doctors at a mental hospital and flees back to Aeolia.

Upon her early return, she discovers that there has been no change in her mother’s condition. But, there is hope. If she can procure the ingredients necessary for a special potion, then maybe, just maybe, her mother will awaken from her coma.

The rest of the story follows the quest for the potion’s ingredients. Esme and her friends have several crazy adventures along the way … even including a mistakenly cast spell with harrowing consequences.

Anyone who loved the Harry Potter series will enjoy this book series. It is planned as a trilogy and I am going to be eagerly awaiting the next and final installment.

The descriptions of the magical city of Esperance are so vividly rendered that it is easy to picture it in your mind. The characters are not just superficial, they are realistic and have flaws and foibles just like everyone does. These characters will draw you in and you will find them 100% unforgettable.

If you choose to read only one young adult fantasy fiction series this year, you need to ensure it is THE ESME SERIES.

Without hesitation, I rate ESME’S GIFT AS 5 OUT OF 5 STARS ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

*** Thank you to the Author for providing me with a free copy of this book. ***

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

ELIZABETH FOSTER was born in Brisbane, Australia. She read avidly as a child, but only discovered the joys of writing some years ago, when reading to her own kids reminded her of how much she missed getting lost in other worlds.

Once she started writing, she never looked back. She is at her happiest when immersed in her stories and plotting new conflicts and adventures for her characters.

Elizabeth now lives in Sydney, Australia where she can be found scribbling in cafés, indulging her love of both words and coffee.

Her first novel, Esme’s Wish, a fantasy-mystery for younger teens, was released by Odyssey Books on October 30, 2017. Esme’s Gift, the second in the trilogy is AVAILABLE NOW!!!

To learn more about this author visit the following links:

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KOBO: You can read the first chapter of Book One of The Esme Series HERE.

ABOUT THE PUBLISHER:

ODYSSEY BOOKS is an Australian Independent publishing house. It was founded only eight years ago, in 2009 by Michelle Lovi.

They only publish 12 to 18 books per year. Odyssey Books produces quality literary and genre fiction, as well as memoirs and creative non-fiction.

They live for the adventures that books provide and are not afraid to take risks with new writers and new ideas.

To learn more about this Publisher, visit the following links:

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CARPÉ GLITTER by CAT RAMBO is pure and decadent pleasure reading.

Title: CARPÉ GLITTER

Author: CAT RAMBO

Genre: FICTION, MYSTERIES & THRILLERS, SCIENCE FICTION & FANTASY

Length:  62 PAGES

Publisher: MEERKAT PRESS LLC

Received From: NETGALLEY

Release Date: OCTOBER 2019

ISBN: 9781946154538

Rating: 5 OUT OF 5 STARS ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

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DESCRIPTION:

A novelette from Cat Rambo, author of The Tabat Quartet.

What do you do when someone else’s past forces itself on your own life?

Sorting through the piles left behind by a grandmother who was both a stage magician and a hoarder, Persephone Aim finds a magical artifact from World War II that has shaped her family history.

Faced with her mother’s desperate attempt to take the artifact for herself, Persephone must decide whether to hold onto the past–or use it to reshape her future.

MY REVIEW:

I was unsure what to expect from this novella. I had seen the author’s name before, but I had not yet read any of her work. Reading CARPE GLITTER I was impressed with Cat Rambo’s writing.

The story starts off in one direction and there is some foreshadowing of a surprise to come, but I could in no way have predicted the twists and turns this story.

For a novella of only 62 pages, Cat Rambo has skillfully created fully developed and complex characters. The fact that she has been able to do this for multiple characters is extremely impressive.

I loved the way author brought Persephone to life and I identified with her and her desire to live life on her own terms.

I do not want to ruin this book by giving away any of the plot. But I do want to impress upon people who are thinking about buying this book to go ahead and grab a copy for themselves. Potential readers will not be disappointed.

Family dynamics and dysfunction, a WWII mystery, a grandmother who was a famous magician (and a secret hoarder,) a granddaughter who has spent her life loving both her grandmother and her mother who each hated the other, a strange inheritance, government agents, and much more. This book has everything you could ask for as a reader.

I rate CARPE GLITTER as 5 out of 5 Stars. ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

*** Thank you to NetGalley for providing me with a free copy of this book. ***

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

I’m based in the Seattle area, but I do travel around.

Here is a list of scheduled appearances in 2020:

Emerald City ComicCon, Seattle, 2020


Norwescon, Seattle, 2020


Locus Awards Weekend, Seattle, 2020


Westercon, Seattle, 2020


Cascade Writers, Bremerton, WA, 2020


WorldCon, New Zealand, 2020


KGB reading, NYC November, 2020


Baltimore Book Festival, Baltimore, 2020

I’m primarily a writer of fantasy and science fiction, although I do some editing work (the most recent example is guest-editing the Women Destroy Fantasy issue of Fantasy Magazine.) I came through the Clarion West Writers Workshop in 2005, where I studied with Octavia Butler, Andy Duncan, L. Timmel DuChamp, Connie Willis, Gordon Van Gelder, and Michael Swanwick. I’ve also got an MA in Writing from the Writing Seminars at Johns Hopkins University, where I studied with John Barth and Stephen Dixon.

I’ve been nominated for a Nebula for my short story, “Five Ways to Fall in Love on Planet Porcelain” and a World Fantasy Award for my work with Fantasy Magazine. My work has appeared as a finalist for the Million Writers Award and the Compton Crook Award for First Novel as well as on the Locus Recommended Reading List.

I’m a two-term President of SFWA (The Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America) and have previously served as its Vice President, giving me five years on the board. I still volunteer with the organization. I’ve written two nonfiction books, Creating an Online Presence, which is aimed primarily at fellow writers looking to build their web presence, and Moving From Idea to Finished Draft as well as co-edited Ad Astra: The SFWA 50th Anniversary Cookbook with Fran Wilde.

I’ve got over 200 original fiction publications under my belt so far, with stories appearing in places such as Asimov’s, Clarkesworld, and Tor.com, and another hundred or so reprints in a variety of languages. If you’d like to read some of my work, you can find links to a lot of it on my fiction page or by looking on Amazon and Smashwords. I’ve published five solo collections, including Altered America, Near + Far and Eyes Like Sky and Coal and Moonlight, as well as a joint collection with Jeff VanderMeer, The Surgeon’s Tale and Other Stories. My most recent novel is Carpe Glitter, published by Meerkat Press, and the most recent story collection is double-sided fantasy collection, Neither Here Nor There from Hydra House.

If you’re interested in my science fiction writing, I’d recommend: Grandmother, the story of an aging space pirate queen; The Mermaids Singing Each to Each, a near-future sf retelling of Hemingway’s The Old Man and the Sea; my take on Heinlein’s juvenalia, Long Enough and Just So Long; and Amid the Words of War, in which an alien POW turns prostitute out of desperation and loneliness.

Among the fantasy stories I’d recommend of my own, I’d include: my take on steampunk, Clockwork FairiesThe Dead Girl’s Wedding March, in which an unexpectedly eloquent rat courts a zombie; tearjerker Magnificent Pigs, where you learn how pigs do come to fly; and I’ll Gnaw Your Bones, the Manticore Said, set in the fantasy world of Tabat, where many of my stories take place. Enjoyed Tabat? I’ve got two novels, Beasts of Tabat and Hearts of Tabat set there as well, with the third book appearing in 2019.

If you support my Patreon campaign, you become part of a community with writing tips, market news, writing snippets, 1-2 original stories each month, and more.

I also teach a popular series of online classes aimed at writers. Join my mailing list on this page if you’re interested in getting news of the latest one.

RANDOM FACTS:

I am politically left and ardently feminist. I believe in kindness, honest communication, and taking joy in life. My name is not a pen-name; “Cat” is short for Catherine and “Rambo” is my husband’s surname. I have been playing videogames and RPGs since Pong and D&D’s precursor, Chainmail and was one of the people who helped create  Armageddon MUD. I am a certified master gardener and enjoy cooking. In a former life, I was a network security specialist. I dye my hair in a multitude of colors, and I am aging as ungracefully as I can.

To learn more about CAT RAMBO visit the following links:

To learn more about this author, visit the following links:

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………..

ABOUT THE PUBLISHER:

SFWA is a professional organization for authors of science fiction, fantasy and related genres.

Esteemed past and present members include Robert Silverberg, Anne McCaffrey, Isaac Asimov, Connie Willis, Ray Bradbury, Gene Wolfe and Andre Norton.

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MS-13 The Making of America’s Most Notorious Gang By STEVEN DUDLEY is a fascinating read and was a complete eye-opener to me Check it out here

Information obtained from INSIGHT CRIME

Title: MS-13

Subtitle: The Making of America’s Most Notorious Gang

Author: STEVEN DUDLEY

Genre: NON-FICTION, TRUE CRIME

Length:  352 PAGES

Publisher: HARLEQUIN – Trade Publishing (U.S. & Canada) – HANOVER SQUARE PRESS

Received From: NETGALLEY

Release Date: MAY 12, 2020

ISBN: 9781788703147

Rating: 4 OUT OF 5 STARS ⭐⭐⭐⭐

DESCRIPTION:

The definitive account of the most notorious street gang in America—the MS-13—as seen through the lives of gang members and their families caught in its malicious web.

The MS-13 was born from war. In the 1980s, El Salvador was enmeshed in a bloody civil conflict. To escape the guerrilla assaults and death squads, many fled to the US and settled in Los Angeles. Among them were Alex and his brother.

There, as a survival instinct, Alex and a small number of Salvadoran immigrants formed a group called the Mara Salvatrucha Stoners, a relatively harmless social network bound by heavy metal music and their Salvadoran identity. But later, as they brushed against established local gangs, the group took on a harder edge, selling drugs, stealing cars and killing rivals who threatened their territories. As authorities cracked down, gang members like Alex were incarcerated and deported. But in the prison system, the group only grew stronger, and in Central America, the gang multiplied, eventually spreading to a half-dozen nations in two continents.

Today, MS-13 is one of the most infamous street gangs on earth, with an estimated ten thousand members operating in dozens of states and linked to thousands of grisly murders each year in the US and abroad. But it is also misunderstood—less a drug cartel and more a hand-to-mouth organization whose criminal economy is based mostly on small-time extortion schemes and petty drug dealing. Journalist and longtime organized crime investigator Steven Dudley brings readers inside the nefarious group to tell a larger story of how a flawed US and Central American policy, and the exploitative and unequal economic systems helped foster the gang and sustain it. Ultimately, MS-13 is the story of the modern immigrant and the perennial battle to escape a vortex of poverty and crime, as well as the repressive, unequal systems that feed these problems.

……

AWARDS SO FAR:

Winner of  the 2019 J. Anthony Lukas Prize Project Award from The Columbia School of Journalism Winners MARA: The Making of the MS13

Judges’ citation: This timely and incisive work, speaking directly to the mission and purpose of the Lukas Work-in-Progress Awards, centers on one immigrant Salvadoran family that represents the complexities of the story of Mara Salvatrucha (MS13), the notorious gang that is the U.S. government’s number one target in its efforts to rid the country of “criminal aliens.”

Without ever minimizing the brutality of this gang, the book dispels many of the myths surrounding its history and power. More important, MARA is the story of flawed U.S. and Central American policies over many years and the exploitative and unequal systems they create.


MY REVIEW:

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TRIGGER WARNING:
This book contains violent scenes, both physical and sexual, and should not be read by individuals who might find themselves triggered by vivid descriptions of violence and murder.


This book is NOT for the Faint of Heart. Please exercise caution when reading and if at any time you feel you need to stop reading, I encourage you to put this book down and walk away.
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MS-13 IS A CRIMINAL GANG. They are well known for their violence and brutality. 

Journalist and author Steven Dudley has spent years reporting on gangs, government and violence in Central America. In writing MS-13: The Making of America’s Most Notorious Gang, he has written a comprehensive account as to how MS-13 was formed and how that gang spread from Central America to the United States.

What this book achieved for me was that it dispelled the notion that MS-13 is a strictly structured unit and that there is one singular person at the top and that all other members were co-ordinated  and part of a whole. This is simply not true. Each clique of MS-13 essentially acts on its own and sometimes cliques will war with other MS-13 cliques.

What does seem true of almost every MS-13 gang member, who spoke to the Author, is that that person grew up surrounded by violence and chaos, and had joined the gang (at least initially) as a way to protect themselves from outside forces.

President Donald Trump seems woefully misinformed about this gang and in fact gives them more credit than they deserve. By labelling MS-13 as Public Enemy Number One, all the President has done is that he has given potential gang recruits an additional reason for joining the gang. Many (even most) of the current MS-13 gang members living in the United States have fled their war-torn homelands to seek a better way of life. The problem is that when they arrive in the States, they realize that their lives are not much better than the lives they had fled.

MS:13 has been added to the list of Most Dangerous Gang Organizations in the United States.

I believe that anyone who wants to work with gang members on finding a new way of life should view this book as required reading. It is impossible to effect change if the history and dynamics of life as part of an MS-13 mara are not understood. 

I rate this book as 4 OUT OF 5 STARS ⭐⭐⭐⭐

It is a fascinating read, but I also need to warn potential readers that the violence and brutality detailed in this book may be triggering for some people.

*** Thank you to NetGalley for providing me with a free copy of this book. ***

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Steven Dudley is the co-director of InSight, a joint initiative of American University and the Fundación Ideas para la Paz in Colombia, South America, aimed at monitoring, analyzing and investigating organized crime in the Americas. Based in Washington D.C., Dudley works with a team of five investigators and various contributors throughout the region to give the public a more complete view of how organized crime works in the Americas, as well as its impact on public policy and communities from the Rio Grande to Patagonia.

Before launching InSight, he worked as the Bureau Chief for The Miami Herald in the Andean Region and wrote a book: Walking Ghosts: Murder and Guerrilla Politics in Colombia (Routledge 2004). Dudley has also reported from Haiti, Brazil, Nicaragua, Cuba, Venezuela and Miami for National Public Radio, The Washington Post, and the BBC’s The World; and written feature articles for The Washington Post Magazine, The Economist, Columbia Journalism Review, The Progressive, and The Nation. His current projects include a documentary film, which aired on Colombia’s RCN Television in September 2010.

Dudley has a BA in Latin American History from Cornell University and an MA in Latin American Studies from the University of Texas at Austin. He speaks Spanish and Portuguese fluently. He has taught high school as well as worked in Human Rights.

His range of experience, languages and reporting skills give him the tools to perform in any environment.

Honors and Awards:

Knight Fellowship: Stanford University : In 2007, Dudley was awarded the prestigious Knight Fellowship for professional journalists.

Society of Professional Journalists Sunshine State Award : Dudley was part of a team that won second place for international reporting in 2006 from the Society of Professional Journalists at its Sunshine State Awards for a series on land mines in Latin America.

Overseas Press Club Malcolm Forbes Award for Best Business Reporting from Abroad

To learn more about this author, visit the following links:

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SOME INFORMATION ABOUT MS-13 FROM INSIGHT CRIME:

An MS13 linked gang in El Salvador known as the Black Widows has been convicted of forcing women to marry men and then killing their new husbands as part of a complex life insurance scheme — a case which helps shed light on women in organized crime in Central America. – Photograph and Information Obtained from INSIGHT CRIME.
The Mara Salvatrucha, or MS13, is perhaps the most notorious street gang in the Western Hemisphere. While it has its origins in the poor, refugee-laden neighborhoods of 1980s Los Angeles, the gang’s reach now spans from Central America to Europe.
While they are largely a predatory criminal organization, living mostly from extortion, the gang’s resilience owes to its strong social bonds, which are created and strengthened via acts of violence against mostly their rivals and one another.
Their activities have helped make the Northern Triangle — Guatemala, El Salvador, and Honduras — the most violent place in the world that is not at war. In October 2012, the US Department of the Treasury labeled the group a “transnational criminal organization,” the first such designation for a US street gang, but their criminal proceeds do not even approach those of their counterparts on that list. Photograph and Information Obtained from INSIGHT CRIME.
Marvin RECINOS/AFP/Getty Images – National Post June 2018
Marvin RECINOS/AFP/Getty Images – National Post June 2018 Toronto man’s boast of being in notorious MS-13 gang leads to deportation order

SAVAGE APPETITES: Four True Stories of Women, Crime, and Obsession by Author and Journalist Rachel Monroe will enthrall readers!

Title: SAVAGE APPETITES

Subtitle: Four True Stories of Women, Crime, and Obsession

Author: RACHEL MONROE

Genre: TRUE CRIME, NON-FICTION

Length: 272 PAGES

Publisher: SIMON AND SCHUSTER CANADA – SCRIBNER

Received From: NETGALLEY

Release Date: AUGUST 20, 2019

ISBN: 9781501188909

Price: $11.99 USD

Rating: 4 OUT OF 5 STARS ⭐⭐⭐⭐

DESCRIPTION:

A provocative and original investigation of our cultural fascination with crime, linking four archetypes—Detective, Victim, Defender, Killer—to four true stories about women driven by obsession.

In this illuminating exploration of women, violence, and obsession, Rachel Monroe interrogates the appeal of true crime through four narratives of fixation. In the 1940s, a frustrated heiress began creating dollhouse crime scenes depicting murders, suicides, and accidental deaths. Known as the “Mother of Forensic Science,” she revolutionized the field of what was then called legal medicine. In the aftermath of the Manson Family murders, a young woman moved into Sharon Tate’s guesthouse and, over the next two decades, entwined herself with the Tate family. In the mid-nineties, a landscape architect in Brooklyn fell in love with a convicted murderer, the supposed ringleader of the West Memphis Three, through an intense series of letters. After they married, she devoted her life to getting him freed from death row. And in 2015, a teenager deeply involved in the online fandom for the Columbine killers planned a mass shooting of her own.

Each woman, Monroe argues, represents and identifies with a particular archetype that provides an entryway into true crime. Through these four cases, she traces the history of American crime through the growth of forensic science, the evolving role of victims, the Satanic Panic, the rise of online detectives, and the long shadow of the Columbine shooting. In a combination of personal narrative, reportage, and a sociological examination of violence and media in the twentieth and twenty-first century, Savage Appetites scrupulously explores empathy, justice, and the persistent appeal of violence.

MY REVIEW:

Rachel Monroe is a woman after my own heart. As she described her visit to the premiere True Crime Conference called CrimeCon in 2018, I was green with envy. Living outside the city of Toronto, Ontario in Canada, there was just no feasible way for me to attend such an event, especially since it takes place quite a distance from my home.

Rachel Monroe has taken it upon herself to dig into the “why” of the appeal of True Crime to women and to explore the possible reasons.

Any female of my generation (I am 47) who are interested in this subject probably grew up reading Nancy Drew and maybe even The Hardy Boys. Rachel states that: “This detective impulse first burbled up in [her] early, say around age eight.” Reading these words, I wanted to shout out loud, “Me too!”

The book focuses on four very different women, from different times, but, who all had an interest in crime and murder. Their reasons are as varied as possible, yet they are all tied together by the singular theme of True Crime.

I couldn’t believe I had never heard of France’s Glessner Lee. Sure, she was a child of the 1890s, and grew up “… Living in a mansion on Chicago’s ‘Millionaire’s Row.” But still, she was a role model for other women in adulthood and smashed through gender barriers that would have seemed impenetrable to other women of her time. I am impressed and glad that I now know about her. Thank you Rachel Monroe!

The author talks about the Manson murders which have been excessively covered, and yet the way she presents this crime is less about Manson, and more about how the crime changed so many things and so many people.

She speaks about the murder of Taylor Behl in 2005 which happened in her town. Rachel says “Part of what I was looking for, I realized, was overlap, all the ways she and I were similar. There was a troubling pleasure in thinking about how I could have been her, or she could have been me… It felt good, in a bad way, to think about my own proximity to violence. To imagine my life as a near miss.”

Rachel also addresses a phenomenon that has always perplexed me – that of women who “date” and/or marry men serving life sentences in prison. This section is a must read.

I even learned a new word:

HYBRISTOPHOLIA – the attraction to someone who has committed murder.

I never knew there was a word for it, but, in this day and age, I should not have been surprised.

All in all, Author Rachel Monroe has gone deep down many rabbit holes in her research for this book. She extensively studied so many factors that it is amazing she was able to whittle them down into a cohesive and compelling whole.

I rate SAVAGE APPETITES as 4 OUT OF 5 STARS ⭐⭐⭐⭐ and because of it’s subject matter, I forsee it becoming a book that is widely read. Perhaps she will have her own following at CrimeCon 2020.
.
*** Thank you to NetGalley for providing me with a free copy of this book. ***

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Photograph by Emma Rogers

Rachel Monroe is a writer and volunteer firefighter living in Marfa, Texas.

Her work has appeared in The Best American Travel Writing 2018, The New Yorker, The Atlantic, The New York Times, The New York Times Magazine, and elsewhere.

To learn more about this author, visit the following links:

OFFICIAL WEBSITE

GOODREADS

AUDIBLE

FACEBOOK – PUBLISHER

INSTAGRAM – AUTHOR

INSTAGRAM – PUBLISHER

TWITTER – AUTHOR

TWITTER – PUBLISHER

YOUTUBE – PUBLISHER

AMAZON

CHAPTERS

PUBLISHER’S WEBSITE

WARNINGSPOILERS AHEADSTOP READING THIS POST NOW IF YOU DO NOT WANT ANY EXTRA INFORMATION ABOUT THIS BOOK!!!

SUBJECT # 1 OF SAVAGE APPETITES is FRANCIS GLESSNER LEE.

The following is copied from a 2017 Washington Post article written by Sadie Dingfelder

Frances Glessner Lee trained homicide detectives with her miniature murder scenes. Scroll down to try your hand at one.

At first glance, the grisly dioramas made by Frances Glessner Lee look like the creations of a disturbed child.

A doll hangs from a noose, one shoe dangling off of her
stockinged foot.
Precise down to the smallest detail.

Another doll rests in a bathtub, apparently drowned.

A third lies in bed peacefully … except for her blood-splattered head.

There’s no need to call a psychiatrist, though — Lee created these works in the 1940s and ’50s as training tools for homicide investigators. 19 of the dollhouse-size crime scenes are on display in the Renwick Gallery exhibit “Murder Is Her Hobby: Frances Glessner Lee and The Nutshell Studies of Unexplained Death.”

Lee, who died in 1962, called her miniatures “nutshell studies” because the job of homicide investigators, according to a phrase she had picked up from detectives, is to “convict the guilty, clear the innocent and find the truth in a nutshell.”

“She became the first female police captain in the country, and she was regarded as an expert in the field of homicide investigation,” exhibit curator Nora Atkinson says.

When Lee was building her macabre miniatures, she was a wealthy heiress and grandmother in New Hampshire who had spent decades reading medical textbooks and attending autopsies. Police departments brought her in to consult on difficult cases, and she also taught forensic science seminars at Harvard Medical School, Atkinson says. Lee painstakingly constructed the dioramas for her seminars, basing them on real-life cases but altering details to protect the victims’ privacy.

“She was very particular about exactly how dolls ought to appear to express social status and the way [the victims] died,” Atkinson says.

“If a doll has a specific discoloration, it’s scientifically accurate — she’s reproducing the effects of carbon monoxide poisoning and positioning them based on when rigor mortis took effect.”

Tiny details in the scenes matter too. For example, fibers on one doll’s wounds match those on a nearby door frame.

At the Renwick exhibit, visitors will be given magnifying glasses and flashlights to conduct their own homicide investigations, but don’t ask museum staff for help — the scenes are still used in annual training seminars, so their secrets are closely guarded.

TRY TO DEDUCE WHAT HAPPENED IN THE 11 ITEMS POINTED OUT BELOW …

Frances Glessner Lee built the miniature rooms pictured here, which together make up her piece “Three-Room Dwelling,” around 1944-46. This is a puzzling case – – – – A beautiful woman lays shot to death in her bed, her clean-cut, pajama-clad husband lies next to the bed, also fatally shot.
– Their baby was shot as she slept in her crib.
– Blood is spattered everywhere. -All the doors are locked from the inside, meaning the case is likely a double homicide/suicide.
– But something isn’t right. The murder weapon is nowhere near the doll corpses – instead the gun is in another room???

1. Lee used red nail polish to make pools and splatters of blood.

What details can you discover?

2. Lee crocheted this tiny teddy bear herself, so that future investigators might wonder how it landed in the middle of the floor.

3. The pattern on the floor of this room has faded over time, making the spent shotgun shell easier to find.

4. Lee knit this runner and sewed the toy chairs on it in this exact state of disarray.

5. The bedroom window is open. Could it be a sign of forced entry?

6. Lee would paint charms from bracelets to create some prop items. Others she bought from dollhouse manufacturers.

7. The table settings are sewn into place to indicate an orderly, prosperous family.

8. There’s one big clue in clear view in this room

9. Lee sewed the clothes worn by her figurines, selecting fabrics that signified their social status and state of mind. In some cases, she even tailor-made underwear for them.

10. The doll heads and arms were antique German porcelain doll parts that were commercially available. Lee would create the bodies herself, often with lead shot in them.

11. How did blood end up all the way over here?

Renwick Gallery, 1661 Pennsylvania Ave. NW

WHAT DO YOU THINK THE SOLUTION IS?

Leave your guess in the comments and I will come back and discuss it with you. In your comments post any clues or abnormalities in the scenes that you find.

A FEW MORE PICTURES OF THE “NUTSHELL” MINIATURE CRIME SCENES:

Every element of the dioramas—from the angle of miniscule bullet holes, the placement of latches on widows, the patterns of blood splatters, and the discoloration of painstakingly painted miniature corpses—challenges trainees’ powers of observation and deduction. The Nutshells are so effective that they are still used in training seminars today at the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner in Baltimore.

Showcasing the Nutshells at the Renwick allows visitors to appreciate them as works of art and material culture in addition to understanding their importance as forensic tools, and to see Lee’s genius for telling complex stories through the expressive potential of simple materials. While the Nutshells represent composites of real and extremely challenging cases featuring homicides, suicides, and accidental deaths, Lee imagined and designed each setting herself. She was both exacting and highly creative in her pursuit of detail—knitting tiny stocking by hand with straight pins, hand-rolling tiny tobacco-filled cigarettes and burning the ends, writing tiny letters with a single-hair paintbrush, and creating working locks for windows and doors.

The exhibition also highlights the subtly subversive quality of Lee’s work, especially the way her dioramas challenge the association of femininity with domestic bliss and upend the expected uses for miniature making, sewing, an other crafts considered to be “women’s work.” Also evident is her purposeful focus on society’s “invisible victims,” whose cases she championed. Lee was devoted to the search for truth and justice for everyone, and she often featured victims such as women, the poor, and and people living on the fringes of society, whose cases might be overlooked or tainted with prejudice on the part of the investigator. She wanted trainees to recognize and overcome any unconscious biases and to treat each case with rigor, regardless of the victim.

As the Nutshells are still active training tools, the solutions to each remain secret. However, the crime scene “reports” (written by Lee to accompany each case) given to forensic trainees are presented alongside each diorama to encourage visitors to approach the Nutshells the way an investigator would.

Nutshell “Kitchen” Picture # 1
Nutshell “Kitchen” Picture # 2 Even the curtains perfectly match the original crime scene
Nutshell “Kitchen” Picture # 3 The tiny rolling pin, the clock on the window sill and even miniature tea towels hang in this precise representation of the original scene

Dioramas or “Nutshells” as the creator of them referred to them, photographs were obtained from the website of the Smithsonian American Art Museum

Want to learn more about Frances Glessner Lee?

Here is a preview of the original documentary

Watch this documentary “OF DOLLS AND MURDER” when you have a spare hour

This documentary was followed by another with newly discovered material called MURDER IN A NUTSHELL

THE MURDER OF TAYLOR BEHL

Taylor Behl was a 17-year-old freshman at Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, left her dormitory room Sept. 5, 2005 to give her roommate some privacy with her boyfriend. She took with her a cell phone, some cash, a student ID and her car keys. She was never seen alive again.


To learn more about the murder of Taylor Behl, click HERE.

Photograph Obtained from Taylor Behl’s Memorial Page

BITCHMEDIA Has Released Their List of 17 Memoirs Feminists Should Read in 2020

BOOKS,CULTURE,BITCH READS and MEMOIRS

BitchReads: 17 Memoirs Feminists Should Read in 2020

Article by Evette Dionne

Published on January 3, 2020

The Dragons, the Giant, the Women by Wayétu Moore, left, All Boys Aren’t Blue by George M. Johnson and Fairest by Meredith Talusan
(Photo credit: Graywolf Press, Farrar, Straus and Giroux, and Viking)

I love a good memoir. Though the ever-expanding genre has been criticized over the decades by people who view them as egotistical and insular, memoirs can be transformative.

Tapping into a person’s unique experience and seeing the world through their eyes for a few hundred pages can expand our individual worldview, help us better understand our own experiences with broader issues—including grief—and introduce us to powerful voices who articulate and excavate their lives in ways that so few of us can.

Among the many memoirs slated for release in 2020, these 17 represent the very best of the genre.

Want more seasonal reads? Make sure to sign up for our email list and we’ll send you a new BitchReads list, every quarter, in partnership with Powell’s Books!

In the Land of Men

By: Adrienne Miller{ Ecco }RELEASED: FEB. 11, 2020 $28.99 PreOrder It Now

If you love fascinating memoirs about women navigating male-dominated industries, then Adrienne Miller’s book should already be in your cart. Miller began her career in media as an editorial assistant at GQ magazine in the 1990s before becoming the first woman to serve as Esquire’s literary editor. Given that media is still an industry run by men—many of them white, many of them powerful, and way too many of them drunk on their own power—Miller’s 30 years’ worth of reflections show, alas, just how much hasn’t changed for women finding their footing in an industry that allows only a few of us to break through.

Strung Out: One Last Hit and Other Lies That Nearly Killed Me By: Erin Khar{ Park Row Books }

RELEASED: FEB. 25, 2020 $27.99 PreOrder It Now

Stephanie Land, author of the bestselling 2019 memoir Maid, says that Strung Out “will change how we look at the opioid crisis and how the media talks about it.” I agree.

Often, media stigmatizes the very people it aims to cover because there’s still so much we don’t understand about the development and impact of addiction. Erin Khar’s gift of a memoir examines her 15-year journey as a heroin user—and, perhaps more important, what brought her to drugs. Addiction stories are often linear (got hooked, hit bottom, got clean), but Khar instead offers a humanizing portrait not just of her own experience but of an issue that impacts more than two million people in the United States.

Recollections of My Nonexistence: A Memoir By: Rebecca Solnit

{Penguin Random House }RELEASED: MARCH 10, 2019 $26.00 Buy It Now

Prolific essayist Rebecca Solnit has long written about pop culture, politics, and mansplaining by weaving together her personal experience with a broader analysis, but it seems that Recollections of My Nonexistence is her first full-on memoir. Solnit brings readers to 1980s San Francisco for a comprehensive look at how she found her voice and her feminism amid discovering punk rock, witnessing rampant gender-based violence, and negotiating a culture of disbelief about everything from street harassment to rape. Recollections of My Nonexistence is also a memoir about writing, which is a gift from a writer as talented and transformative as Solnit. What shaped her perspective? How did she find the confidence to write with such stark honesty? These questions and more are answered.

Rust Belt Femme By: Raechel Anne Jolie

{Belt Publishing }RELEASED: MARCH 10, 2020 $26.00 Buy It Now

Raechel Anne Jolie (who has contributed to Bitch) grew up in Cleveland, Ohio, in the 1990s, finding herself amid an alternative subculture of “race cars, Budweiser drinking men covered in car grease, and the women who loved them.” After her father is killed by a drunk driver, Jolie and her mother struggled to stay afloat: facing eviction, going days with electricity and water, and hurting each other to escape the pain of financial uncertainty. Rust Belt Femme follows Jolie as she leaves the neighborhood she called home for Cleveland Heights where a subculture with a lot of personality welcomes her, helping to define who she is and where she’s headed next.

Assume Nothing: A Memoir of Intimate Violence

By: Tanya Selvaratnam {Henry Holt and Co. }RELEASED: APRIL 7, 2020 $27.99 Buy It Now

According to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, nearly 20 people per minute in the United States are physically abused by their romantic partner, which breaks down to more than 10 million people suffering abuse in the course of a single year. It never becomes easier to read about intimate-partner violence, but it’s always necessary. Tanya Selvaratnam’s heart-wrenching memoir explores her volatile relationship with former New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, which included controlling behavior, death threats, and violent sex that she felt powerless to stop given that her partner was the state’s top-ranking law officer. 

Assume Nothing isn’t an easy read, but it’s an important window on how power insulates even the worst among us.

FROM OUR SPONSORS

Diary of a Drag Queen By: Crystal Rasmussen with Tom Rasmussen {FSG Originals}RELEASED: APRIL 14, 2020 $17.00 Buy It Now

Crystal Rasmussen, born as Tom, never knew a life before drag queendom. Even as they grew up in northern England, Rasmussen knew they weren’t meant to blend in—standing out was a given. By the time Rasmussen leaves London for a fashion job in New York, they’d come into their own, and this hilarious memoir follows them through a year of adventures, from being onstage to being in bed to realizing the fashion world is even more cutthroat than pop culture portrays it. Diary of a Drag Queen is equal parts inspiring and funny as hell.

This Is Big: How the Founder of Weight Watchers Changed the World—and Me

By: Marisa Meltzer {Little, Brown and Company}RELEASED: APRIL 14, 2020 $28.00 Buy It Now

According to the Boston Medical Center, an estimated 45 million adults in the United States embark on a diet every year, and for an increasing number of adults, an obsession with losing weight begins in childhood. Marisa Meltzer, a contributor to the New York Times and the New Yorker (who has contributed to Bitch), began her first diet at the age of 5, and since then has been on the familiar rollercoaster of losing and gaining weight. When Meltzer read the obituary of Jean Nidetch, the Queens housewife–turned–flamboyant founder of Weight Watchers, she realized how much her own journey ran parallel to that of the woman whose business became an emblem of our culture’s quest for thinness at any cost. This Is Big is an inventive memoir that examines Meltzer’s own experience with weight loss alongside Nidetch’s lucrative belief that community, not secretive shame, could transform people’s bodies and lives.

Missed Translations: Meeting the Immigrant Parents Who Raised Me

By: Sopan Deb

{Dey Street Books}RELEASED: APRIL 21, 2020 $27.99 Buy It Now

There comes a moment in many people’s lives when they realize that their parents or other guardian figures have lives, dreams, hopes, and goals outside of raising them and/or being a spouse. Comedian Sopan Deb’s revelation came as he approached his 30th birthday: He knew the basics about his parents, who’d immigrated, separately, from India to the United States in the 1960s and ’70s. He knew their marriage was arranged, and that his father returned to India several years into their marriage, leaving his children and his wife in suburban New Jersey, but he didn’t know much else. After the 2016 election, which found Deb juggling stand-up comedy and covering the Trump campaign for the New York Times, he decided to journey to India to reconnect with his father and in the process reconnect with himself.

All Boys Aren’t Blue By: George M. Johnson

Farrar, Straus and Giroux }RELEASED: APRIL 28, 2020 $17.99 Buy It Now

Award-winning journalist and activist George M. Johnson is one of my favorite people to follow on social media. His insights about everything from representation in pop culture to sexuality and health keep myself and many others engaged, and he brings that same level of introspection to his powerful memoir-manifesto. Johnson’s book is geared toward young adults—a market that needs this level of realness about everything from finding and harboring joy to bullying to navigating queerness. All Boys Aren’t Blue is a game changer.

Good Morning, Destroyer of Men’s Souls: A Memoir of Women, Addiction, and Love By: Nina Renata Aron {Crown}

RELEASED: MAY 5, 2020 $27.00 Buy It Now

When Nina Renata Aron began dating her boyfriend, K, it didn’t take long for him to relapse. Addiction is a disease; it can come upon those who are afflicted without warning and the effects are felt by the person addicted as well as those who love them. Good Morning, Destroyer of Men’s Souls explores how addiction transforms K, transforms their relationship, and transforms Aron’s relationship to herself and to her childhood. It’s difficult to tell someone else’s story of addiction with empathy and understanding, but Aron balances it all beautifully.

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Fairest By: Meredith Talusan {Viking}

RELEASED: MAY 26, 2020 $27.00 Buy It Now

I first learned about journalist and author Meredith Talusan in 2016 when she spearheaded Unerased, Mic’s award-winning multimedia project that chronicled the crisis of transgender women in the United States being murdered. Talusan has since been an integral part of them’s inaugural editorial team, where she still works as a contributing editor, and has been one of the strongest voices holding newsrooms accountable when they offer lip service to inclusivity but do not actually prioritize it. In Fairest, Talusan brings that same determination and brilliance to her own story, with recollections of immigrating to the United States, unlearning the gender binary, and, most important, coming into her own.

In Open Country By: Rahawa Haile {Harper}RELEASED: JUNE 2, 2020

Buy It Now

On October 3, 2016, Rahawa Haile announced on Twitter that she’d successfully hiked the Appalachian Trail from Georgia to Maine with a photo that captured the triumph. Since then, she’s published a canonical piece in Outside that detailed her experience and an incredible essay in BuzzFeed about leaving books by Black authors for other hikers to discover. Her upcoming memoir considers “what it means to move through America and the world as a Black woman.” Though there aren’t too many details on In Open Country, we know what Haile is capable of as a writer—and that alone has us thirsting to dig into this book.

The Dragons, the Giant, the Women By: Wayétu Moore {Graywolf Press}RELEASED: JUNE 2, 2020 $26.00 Buy It Now

Is it possible to find home again after being unexpectedly uprooted during a political upheaval? That’s one of the questions at the center of Wayétu Moore’s second book, which chronicles one of the most difficult experiences of her young life. At the age of 5, the civil war in Liberia forces Moore and her family—minus her mother, who’s studying at a university in New York—to flee the country. After a three-week journey on foot, Moore and her family are smuggled to the border of Sierra Leone and, from there, travel to the United States to reunite with her mother and begin a brand new life. The Dragons, the Giant, the Women is a beautifully written book about the experience of migrating—a story, particularly in this moment, that can never be told enough.

The Groom Will Keep His Name By: Matt Ortile

{Bold Type Books}RELEASED: JUNE 16, 2020 $16.99 Buy It Now

Recent years have brought us an array of memoirs and essay collections that specifically center the experiences of gay men negotiating the tenacious homophobia of the United States: Michael Arceneaux’s I Can’t Date Jesus: Love, Sex, Family, Race, and Other Reasons I’ve Put My Faith in Beyoncé, Darnell L. Moore’s No Ashes in the Fire: Coming of Age Black and Free in America, and Saeed Jones’s How We Fight for Our Lives come immediately to mind. The success of these books feels like an assurance that we’ll continue to see stories like theirs move out of the margins of the literary canon. In The Groom Will Keep His Name, Matt Ortile, managing editor of Catapult, offers up his unique experiences as a Filipino immigrant figuring out how to date in a world where we’re all encouraged to be curated versions of ourselves. The book’s clever title reflects its witty and captivating takes on everything from one-night stands to dating apps and beyond.

Notes on a Silencing

By: Lacy Crawford

{Little, Brown & Company}RELEASED: JULY 14, 2020 $28.00 Buy It Now

Many of us have fragmented memories that cause us to question what’s real and what we’ve imagined. But when St. Paul’s School, an elite boarding school in Concord, New Hampshire, was deemed a “haven for sexual predators” in a May 2018 lawsuit filed by two of the school’s alumnae, Lacy Crawford realized that her hazy recollection of being assaulted at age 15 by two fellow students many years earlier—and the efforts of the school’s administration, including faculty and clergy, to shield her attackers from consequences—wasn’t something she’d invented or imagined. Once St. Paul’s extensive history of burying crimes and harming victims became national news, Crawford got access to files about her case that she’d never seen before; her experience of revisiting the trauma, realizing just how far the school had gone to protect her assaulters, and coming to terms with the cost of that injustice is the foundation for this incredible memoir.

Memorial Drive: A Daughter’s Memoir

By: Natasha Trethewey {Ecco}

RELEASED: JULY 28, 2020 $27.99 Buy It Now

Pulitzer Prize–winning poet Natasha Trethewey has long said that her mother’s 1985 murder at the hands of her ex-husband propelled her into the art form and has continued to haunt her even as she’s found extraordinary success that includes being named U.S. Poet Laureate in 2012 and 2013. Trethewey told the Chicago Tribune in November 2018 that she thinks of herself as “someone who has lived in a state of bereavement my whole adult life,” and in Memorial Drive, she explores the loss and lingering grief that has shaped so much of her work. Trethewey’s heartbreakingly beautiful memoir honors her mother, Gwendolyn, while also indicting a culture that fails to protect abuse victims as they try to retrieve their lives from the clutches of their abusers.

Being Lolita

By: Alisson Wood

{Flatiron Books}RELEASED: AUGUST 4, 2020 $26.99 Buy It Now

Since the #MeToo movement spotlighted predators in Hollywood, journalism, and beyond, a number of memoirs have taken stock of how power dynamics can shape—and exploit— an array of relationships, including platonic ones between teachers and students (Donna Freitas’s Consent: A Memoir of Unwanted Attention) and those where the boundaries of friendship are betrayed by rape (Jeannie Vanasco’s Things We Didn’t Talk About When I Was a Girl). Allison Wood, winner of the inaugural Breakout 8 Writers Prize and a creative writing teacher at New York University, adds to this growing canon with a chronicle of her two-year relationship with her high-school English teacher.

There’s more…

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Read this Next: No More White Girl Tales

by Kristin SandersNovember 13, 2017Myriam Gurba’s criticism of white America’s racial myopia couldn’t be better timed.

BY EVETTE DIONNEView profile »

Evette Dionne is Bitch Media’s editor-in-chief. She’s all about Beyoncé, Black women, and dope TV shows and books. You can follow her on Twitter.

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THE GOOD HAWK by Author JOSEPH ELLIOTT is now Available. I challenge everyone to read this Dystopian novel. You just might find a hidden message inside

Title: THE GOOD HAWK

Series: SHADOW SKYE – BOOK ONE

Author: JOSEPH ELLIOTT

Genre: FICTION, SCIENCE FICTION AND FANTASY, YOUNG ADULT FICTION, DIVERSE FICTION, DISABILITIES, LGBTQ, MIDDLE GRADE FICTION

Length: 358 PAGES

Publisher: CANDLEWICK PRESS

Received From: NETGALLEY

Release Date: JANUARY 21, 2020

ISBN: 9781536207187

Price: $17.99 USD

Rating: 5 OUT OF 5 STARS ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

DESCRIPTION:

Agatha is a Hawk, brave and fierce, who protects her people by patrolling the high walls of their island home. She is proud of her job, though some in her clan whisper that it is meant to keep her out of the way because of the condition she was born with.Jaime, thoughtful and anxious, is an Angler, but he hates the sea. Worse, he’s been chosen for a duty that the clan hasn’t required for generations: to marry. The elders won’t say why they have promised him to a girl in a neighboring clan, but there are rumors of approaching danger.When disaster strikes and the clan is kidnapped, it is up to Agatha and Jaime to travel across the haunted mainland of Scotia to Norveg, with help along the way from a clan of nomadic Highland bull riders and the many animals who are drawn to Agatha’s extraordinary gift of communication. Thrilling and dark yet rich with humor and compassion, this is the first book in the Shadow Skye trilogy, written by a wonderful new voice in fantasy and introducing a welcome new kind of hero.
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MY REVIEW:

What a rare gem is THE GOOD HAWK. The two protagonists are unlikely heroes. They know they have face their fears and use any and all gifts they may have to survive in this unique work of Dystopian Fiction.

Agatha has Down Syndrome (in the book there is no official diagnosis, but it is obvious to informed readers.) When was the last time you read a book, or even a short story, where the protagonist is a person with a “DisABILITY?”

Kudos to Author Joseph Elliott for challenging stereotypes and showcasing the fact that people are just people, and that everyone is different and every individual has a variety of things to offer the world.

This book is set in a world that is vaguely medieval and definitely dystopian. Agatha lives with her tribe in an enclave on an island reminiscent of those off the coast of Scotland.  Even though Agatha has been assigned to be a “Hawk”, which is an important position in the tribal hierarchy, there are still many people who treat her with contempt and loathing because she is not like everyone else. The author does a terrific job depicting the discrimination Agatha faces on a daily basis.

Jamie is a young man who has recently been told that his permanent profession is to be an Angler. To say he is disappointed is an understatement. He does not like boats and has no interest in catching fish, but he has no choice. He will do what the Elders tell him, just like every other tribe member.

To add insult to injury, Jamie has also been told that he is to be married to a member of another tribe. He is horrified. No one in the tribe is married. They believe marriage is an archaic and unnecessary institution.

When their tribe is threatened, it is up to Agatha and Jamie to save them, but they are only two people, and young people at that. The task in front of them is momentous, it is daunting, and it would be much easier to just give up.

So, what do they do? How do they even begin? You will need to read the book to find out.

The action is unrelenting, and the surprises are continuous.

Agatha turns out to be special in many ways, and Jamie will confront not only physical dangers, he will also meet other people and other tribes and ultimately come to realize that many of the ideas and attitudes he has been taught since childhood are discriminatory. He will have to decide what he believes deep in his heart.

I read this book over a two day period and enjoyed every minute of it. This story will touch readers and will hopefully open their eyes to the fact that just because someone is “different” does not mean they are ‘lesser than.’

Yes, there are quite a few lessons to be learned from reading this book, but it is also a fantastic story that grabs the reader’s attention from the very first chapter. The characters are brilliantly depicted and the world is one which our world could easily become.

I am excited that the second book in the series is already being written and I will be eagerly awaiting it’s publication.
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TO LEARN MORE ABOUT DOWN SYNDROME VISIT THE FOLLOWING LINK:
http://www.dsrf.org

Click HERE to download the Winter 2020 Down Syndrome Magazine FREE.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Photo Credit: PHIL SHARP

Joseph Elliott is a writer, teacher, and actor known for his work in children’s television. The Good Hawk is his first book. He lives in London.

To learn more about this author, visit the following links:

GOODREADS  

GOOGLE BOOKS

INSTAGRAM

TWITTER

AMAZON  

CHAPTERS

KIRKUS REVIEWS  

PUBLISHER’S WEBSITE – CANDLEWICK PRESS

SPOTLIGHT

@WalkerBooksUK
#TheGoodHawk #NetGalley
#downsyndrome #debutnovel
#debutauthor #authorsofig #writersofig #roaring20sdebut #bookstagram #fantasy #map #mglit #yalit #yafantasy #books #booksofig #instabooks #readersofinstagram #childrensbooks #illustration #art #africkinmap #SkyeTrilogy #LeaveNoOneBehind @downs_syndrome_association
@walkerbooksuk @walkerbooksya

A QUICK & EASY GUIDE TO SEX & DISABILITY in a Graphic Novel Format by A. Andrews – 5 Stars – Releasing this May. Pre-Order NOW!!!

Title: A QUICK & EASY GUIDE TO SEX & DISABILITY

Author: A. ANDREWS

Genre: NON-FICTION, GRAPHIC NOVELS AND COMICS, DISABILITIES, SEX, YOUNG ADULT, LGBTQ , QUEER AUTHOR, DISABLED AUTHOR, DIVERSITY, MULTICULTURAL

Length: 72 PAGES

Publisher: ONI PRESS

Received From: NETGALLEY

Release Date: MAY 5, 2020

ISBN: 9781620106945

Price: $9.99 USD Paperback

Rating: 5+ OUT OF 5 STARS ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

DESCRIPTION:

A quick, easy, and educational comic book guide that will help change the way we talk about sex and sexuality for all bodies.

“This guide can help disabled people (and their partners) on their journey toward self-love, better communication, and confidence.” –– Alice Wong, Founder and Director, Disability Visibility Project

All different kinds of bods want to connect with other bods, but lots of them get left out of the conversation when it comes to

S-E-X.

As explained by disabled cartoonist A. Andrews, this easy-to-read guide covers the basics of disability sexuality, common myths about disabled bodies, communication tips, and practical suggestions for having the best sexual experience possible. Whether you yourself are disabled, you love someone who is, or you just want to know more, consider this your handy starter kit to understanding disability sexuality, and your path to achieving accessible (and fulfilling) sex.

Part of the bestselling and critically acclaimed A Quick & Easy Guide series from Limerence Press, an imprint of Oni Press.

MY REVIEW:

So, why read a book about sex, and specifically disabled sex, by someone who is not an “Expert?”

The answer to that is: To avoid the typically clinical and frustratingly BORING books on this topic written by supposed “experts.” I have read many books and magazine articles written by non-disabled “experts” and those were all so ‘dry’ they even managed to make sex seem boring and much of the information is, at best irrelevant, at worst dangerously flawed. To take the advice of someone who has never had to live with a disability, is unwise in my opinion. Realistically, how could they know anything about it?

As a queer person living with a disability, A. Andrews is much more qualified to discuss issues surrounding sex & disability than any able-bodied ‘expert.’ 

I love that the author acknowledges that many people do not think of disabled people as sexual beings, and that they acknowledge the squeamishness with which some  people react to this topic. It is a ridiculous notion and I am happy that the author confronts it head-on.

According to the author, “All disability presents differently. They are all valid, real, and have unique needs and considerations.”

That said, this book focuses on sex for people with physical disabilities. After all, that is what the author deals with personally, which is why they are qualified to discuss it. It would have been a ridiculously long book if sex for every type of disability were to be discussed.

The emphasis placed on communication is great advice which applies to everyone, disabled or not. Included are some suggestions as to how not to offend a disabled partner. The illustrations depict a person asking or saying something offensive and offers a way to ask/say it in a nonoffensive way. I have never seen such awesome advice so succinctly shown before. I have to say that I am extremely impressed. Kudos to Author/Illustrator A. Andrews for including such valuable advice.

Let’s face it. There are many different types of people and therefore there are many types of sexual partners. This book is designed as a resource for all genders, races, and for any and all sexual persuasions. The illustrations reflect that reality. They depict many different body types, genders, races, as well as different types of physical disabilities.

The illustrations are not sexually explicit, but sex positions are depicted. When positions are shown, there are no views of genetalia. In most illustrations, the people depicted are wearing underwear or are fully clothed. There is a single page containing illustrations of sexual aids, some of which are shaped like male genetalia (but in a tasteful way.)

In my humble opinion, I believe every physically disabled person who is thinking about and/or planning to become (or continue to be) sexually active needs to purchase one or more copies of this graphic novel. It could be casually placed on the coffee table where the potential partner(s) is sure to see it, thus creating the perfect opportunity to begin the dialogue necessary. It would also be an amazing resource to share with anyone who participates in your care. This graphic novel should be available in every local library and every physical rehabilitation center in North America and beyond. In fact, I am planning to speak to my local library as well as at the few physiotherapy clinics near my home.

I rate A QUICK & EASY GUIDE TO SEX & DISABILITY as

5+ Out Of 5 STARS (The highest rating I Can Give.) ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

A. Andrews is a queer and disabled cartoonist living and working in Minneapolis, Minnesota after a near decade stay in New York City.

They grew up in the Pacific Northwest sketching in hospitals, and are the creator of the Autostraddle webcomic Oh, Hey! It’s Alyssa!

When they’re not drawing their guts out, they are hanging out with their dog, George, and drinking too many coffees.

To learn more about this author, visit the following links:

OFFICIAL WEBSITE

GOODREADS

INSTAGRAM

TWITTER

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ABOUT THE PUBLISHER:

Oni Press is a premier comic book and graphic novel publisher located in Portland, Oregon.

Established in 1997, Oni Press’s curated line includes a variety of award-winning original and licensed comic books and graphic novels, including: Adult Swim’s Rick and Morty™, Nickelodeon’s Invader ZIM, Scott Pilgrim, Queen & Country, Courtney Crumrin, Wasteland, The Sixth Gun, Stumptown, Wet Moon, Letter 44, The Bunker, The Life After, The Coldest City, and Kaijumax.

To learn more about Oni Press, visit the following links:

OFFICIAL WEBSITE

FACEBOOK

TUMBLR

INSTAGRAM

TWITTER

TWITTER – LIMERENCE PRESS

YOUTUBE

PINTEREST

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RUST BELT FEMME by Raechel Anne Jolie is a 5 STAR MEMOIR candidly opening up the most intimate of details about her life. This is destined to reach the top of The New York Times Bestseller List

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Title: RUST BELT FEMME

Author: RAECHEL ANNE JOLIE

Genre: NON-FICTION, BIOGRAPHIES AND MEMOIRS, LGBTQ

Length: 150 PAGES

Publisher: BELT PUBLISHING

Received From: NETGALLEY

Release Date: MARCH 10, 2020

ISBN: 9781948742634

Rating: 5 OUT OF 5 STARS ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

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DESCRIPTION:

Raechel Anne Jolie’s early life in a working-class Cleveland exurb was full of race cars, Budweiser-drinking men covered in car grease, and the women who loved them.

After her father came home from his third-shift job, took the garbage out to the curb and was hit by a drunk driver, her life changed.

Raechel and her mother struggled for money: they were evicted, went days without utilities, and took their trauma out on one another. Raechel escaped to the progressive suburbs of Cleveland Heights, leaving the tractors and ranch-style homes home in favor of a city with vintage marquees, music clubs, and people who talked about big ideas.

It was the early 90s, full of Nirvana songs and chokers, flannel shirts and cut-off jean shorts, lesbian witches and local coffee shops.

Rust Belt Femme is the story of how these twin foundations—rural Ohio poverty and alternative 90s culture—made Raechel into who she is today: a queer femme with PTSD and a deep love of the Midwest.
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MY REVIEW:

“This story, then, is about growing up in poverty in rural Ohio, finding hope in the alternative culture I’d discovered in Cleveland, and how my complicated love for these people and these places is a tenacious part of everything I’ve done since leaving it. Every bit of it turned me into the queer femme feminist writer I am today…”

“In between [her childhood] and now are Northeast Ohio landmarks that left scars, sometimes like kisses and sometimes like razor blades.”

RUST BELT FEMME is a love letter to the good, the bad, and the Very Bad incidents, people and places which have coalesced, forming Raechel into the person and the destiny that had been hers all along.

Raechel’s candor is refreshing, and as such, her personality shines through with every word she writes. I have read reviews referring to the sometimes crude language she uses as inappropriate, but I have to disagree with that assessment. Raechel was raised in a blue collar home and the language she often uses in her book reflects that fact. A memoir can be written with lyrical prose of the very best kind and yet still be a flop with its intended readers. Why does this happen? I believe one word can sum up why a memoir either succeeds or fails; that word is AUTHENTICITY. Authenticity is (or should be) the goal of all memoir/auto-biographical authors. RUST BELT FEMME has authenticity in spades.

Having never heard of Raechel Anne Jolie before seeing the listing for this book on the NetGalley website, I began reading Rust Belt Femme with no preconceived notions of it’s content. Because of this, every new morsel of information was eagerly awaited and Raechel did not disappoint.

RUST BELT FEMME proves just how important childhood events are in the formation of the adult we will become. Raechel’s loss of her father figure at such a  tender age was the single event upon which her  childhood took a distinctly darker turn. Despite her family’s economic issues, she “… never doubted that [her] mom loved [her] more than anything, and that she would love [her] profoundly and without condition. There was never one instance when she made [her] feel like [she] had to change, not one second when she didn’t make it clear that [Raechel] was the most important thing to her in the world.”

In her Introduction, Raechel states: “… whether our neurology is burdened by trauma or not, I think most of us who are drawn to memoir are burdened with an incurable case of nostalgia.” I agree wholeheartedly and admit that I am afflicted with the exact nostalgia she is talking about, and in reading RUST BELT FEMME, that desire was 100% fulfilled.

I rate RUST BELT FEMME as 5 OUT OF 5 STARS ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ and highly recommend this book to all my fellow memoir lovers.

*Thank you to NetGalley for providing me with a free copy of this book.*

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FEMINIST KILLJOYS PODCAST

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Raechel Anne Jolie believes in astrology, the power of collective resistance, and meeting a deadline. She is, first and foremost, an educator and an activist dedicated to making this world a little bit better than she found it. But she is also: a cat-mom, a yogi, a witch, a Media and Gender Studies PhD, a vegan, a podcaster, and a writer.

Her writing has been featured in Bitch Magazine, Teen Vogue, Autostraddle (and more), and she’s been interviewed as an expert in her field for Rolling Stone, NPR, and the CBC. (If you’re interested in her academic work, you can check out her CV).

She also co-hosted/produced the Feminist Killjoys, PhD podcast with Dr. Melody Hoffmann. For three years, they brought smart and funny reflection to discussions on politics and pop culture.

Raechel is also queer AF, and a lot of her writing is about being femme and growing up poor. She also writes about: pop culture, politics, social movements, feminism, and health. If you’re into that sort of thing, she just might be your grrrrl.

To learn more about this author, visit the following links:

OFFICIAL WEBSITE

GOODREADS  

INSTAGRAM

INSTAGRAM – BELT PUBLISHING

TWITTER

SOUNDCLOUD  

FEMINIST KILLJOYS PODCAST

CHAPTERS

QUOTES I LOVED:

“A PhD and multiple major-city addresses can never change that being poor is written in my blood and my bones as much as it is sung from my tight skirts and cheap lipstick.”

“Being poor, really, became the building blocks of my gender; this embodied expression we in the queer community call femme. It’s a type of femininity that I have come to realize is inextricable from the shape of early poverty, the shades of the rural edges of Cleveland, and for me, the sound of punk.”

“I was seduced out of my poor ‘white trash’ town first into the arms of the artist culture on Coventry Road, then later by the punks in Lakewood.”

“… my heroes became the women who survived despite men’s absences. Whether the men were taken from homes by car accidents or jail or a restraining order, by the time I was five, I was surrounded almost entirely by resilient women.”

“We built, like layering bricks and cement, a home out of our love, the only thing sturdy on any given day. Our fights were hurricanes, our love though, indelible.”

“… we were using anger as a shield to protect us from facing deep hurt and immense fear in the face of scarcity. We’d chase it with tenderness because how else could we face the day? It was a Pyrrhic skill that I continue to carry with me… It was a terrible way to learn love, but it was better than not knowing love at all.”

“I remember … the flicker of the marquee mixed with a street lamp. It was a soft yellow-white. Muted but also vivid. It’s how I felt most days after that. My brain buzzing with potential – with what my life could, would, should be – but also deeply grounded in the present, in exactly who and where I was.”

Interviewed In

How to be an Ally to Trans People” 

“Orange is the new Black’s Instagram Chooses Fandom Over Social Justice” 

“Why May Day Continues to Capture the Hearts and Imaginations of Workers” 

​“Warning Labels on College Courses?”
On Point with Tom Ashbrook 

Selected Publications

Rag Queen Periodical 

“Over the Shoulders”  

INTOmore.com

“Boston League of Wicked Wrestlers” (profile)  

Inside Higher Ed ​

“How to Cope without a Full-Time Job Offer” 

The Huffington Post

“Buzz About Kristen Stewart’s Sexuality Tells Us a Lot About Society’s Discomfort with Bisexuality” 

Autostraddle

“The Riot Isn’t Over: 6 Movements that Map Militancy in LGBT History”  

The Body is Not an Apology

“5 ways to navigate your partner’s wealth during the holidays”

The Daily Dot

“It’s time to stop believing America’s biggest myth about welfare”


 

In Media Res

“Post-Feminism & the Dehumanization of Sex Workers in SNL’s Moet & Chandon Sketch” 

Mask Magazine

“High Risk: The Automation of Pretrial Detention” 

Scarleteen

“A sex-positive and transformative justice approach to #MeToo” 

The Huffington Post

“University Shamefully Orders the Arrest of Students Fight for a More Just University System”

“Five Things to Know About the Employment Non-Discrimination Act”