#ReadProud Wrap-Up and Winners

A month ago, I started the #ReadProud challenge as an initiative to encourage bloggers and readers to pick up more LGBTQIA books this month.

Lots of readers pledged their time and made the commitment to read one or two LGBTQIA books a week. We had 36 starters in the challenge and 24 people finished, maintaining their momentum for four consecutive weeks! Many more people participated individually, choosing to read queer books through other challenges or on their own momentum. Over the weeks of the challenges, #ReadProud readers read and reviewed 137 queer books from different genres and age categories. These books came from Big 5 publishers, independent Publishers, small presses and self-published authors.

 

Top 5 Most Read Books

1) George by Alex Gino … 9 Readers — Middle Grade, Trans Contemp.

2) If I Was Your Girl by Meredith Russo  … 6 Readers … Young Adult, Trans Contemp.

     This book was also the highest rated of the challenge, averaging 4.67 stars.

3) Tell Me Again How a Crush Should Feel by Sarah Farizan … 6 Readers … Young Adult, Lesbian Contemp.

4) Out on Good Behavior by Dahlia Adler … 4 Readers … New Adult, Lesbian Contemp.

5) Unicorn Tracks by Julia Ember … 4 Readers … Young Adult, Lesbian Speculative.

 

Readers had the choice to enter either the Silver Challenge or the Gold Challenge. Silver Challenge Readers read 1 book per week, while Gold Challengers read 2. Each category will have a prize draw. Gold Challengers were automatically entered in both draws, as they read two books per week.

All challenge completers were entered into a randomizer for the draw. Here are the winners:

SILVER PRIZE ($50 for AMAZON, B&N, WATERSTONES or FOYLES): Lauren from Let's Get Beyond Tolerance / Shooting Star Magazine

GOLD PRIZE ($100 for AMAZON, B&N, WATERSTONES or FOYLES): Amber from Bookstacksamber

I hope that both of you will continue your queer reading momentum and get lots of LGBTQIA new books!

Sadly, I cannot give a monetary prize to everyone, but I would also like to mention Jamie from Books and Ladders and Bhavya from Books and Calm for being FUCKING BADASSES in terms of number of books read for this challenge. These guys are like little queer reading power houses. I would like to gift both of you a free queer ebook of your choice — please follow the same instructions to claim it as other prizes.

To claim your prizes, please send me an email at juliaemberya AT gmail DOT com — let me know where to send your prizes! All these prizes are giftcards effectively, and will be sent digitially on or before July 15 as long as claimed promptly.

It goes without saying, maybe, but I want to say it anyway: Queer Books and Queer Spaces are important all year round. If you are looking for new books to read, I absolutely hope that you will check out the lists compiled by GayYa.org or LGBTQReads.com as well as follow them on twitter for regular updates, new books and challenges.

 

#ReadProud — Why it Matters Now by Johanna Pankhurst

A part of me didn’t even want to write this blog post. I haven’t wanted to write much of anything since I woke one morning and learned that 50 people had been killed in cold blood at a gay bar the night before.

When I first learned about this tragedy, so many potential root causes ran through my brain: trans bathroom law that make LGBTQ+ people seem lesser, terrorism that continues to consume parts of our world, lack of gun regulation that gives us a country filled with AR-15s…and author censorship.

I know, the last one seems initially out of place. It’s not, I promise. Here’s why.

In recent weeks, a number of authors have come forward to talk about they’ve been disinvited from speaking at schools that had previously invited them for author visits. Kate Messner was disinvited from a school in Vermont (my homeland!) because her most recent book deals with heroin addiction. And then Phil Bildner was disinvited from a school district in Texas. The reasons for that disinvitation are muddled, but it’s been suggested the whole thing occurred because he recommended George, a book about a transgender kid, to students the last time he visited.

We all know that the path to building a community of people who love, care for, and support one another—despite differences—is building empathy within children and young people. We know this. We know building empathy is how we create a generation that sees differences positively and can look at others’ perspectives when they disagree. And you know what’s key to building empathy? Exposure to new things. Different things. Different people. People who may or may not be like them. Other. Same. Every type of person in every type of place.

Only most schools and parents don’t have money to ensure that kids visit hundreds of different places and meet hundreds of different people. Luckily, they don’t need it. They have something better: books.

As many before me have noted, books are the mirrors and windows of the world. They are how we build empathy for a person a thousand miles away and how we understand someone who believes in things we’ve never believed in.

Most kids access books in three places: libraries, schools, and their parents. So at least one of those places has to deliver books that show multiple perspectives on the world…only this can we something something teachers and librarians struggle with. We struggle against school boards and parents and communities who say our kids aren’t ready to read about certain subjects, or that we’re trying to turn them into something, or that we’re imposing our beliefs on them.

It can be a rough road at times. And that’s just one of many reasons why #ReadProud month is so important. It’s a chance for those of us who have been called to act as the “gatekeepers” of books for children and teens to discuss that responsibility. A chance for us to share things like how we have difficult conversations with administrators, parents, and school boards. A chance for us to discuss and learn about wonderful books and bring them back to the people who want and need to read them.

Tough conversations like these are never easy or fun. But #ReadProud gives us the opportunity to support one another in how to have those conversations—and we must have them. Having these conversations is one of our best chances at preventing tragedies like the Orlando shooting.

We have a responsibility to build a better next generation, and we will not build that generation by censoring the lives of one another. So #ReadProud, and share that pride with all the children and teens in your life. 

 

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Johanna Parkhurst grew up on a small dairy farm in northern Vermont before relocating to the rocky mountains of Colorado. She spends her days helping teenagers learn to read and write and her evenings writing things she hopes they’ll like to read. She strives to share stories of young adults who are as determined, passionate, and complex as the ones she shares classrooms with.

Johanna holds degrees from Albertus Magnus College and Teachers College, Columbia University. She loves traveling, hiking, skiing, watching football, and spending time with her incredibly supportive husband.

To learn more about Johanna or her books click here!

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#ReadProud: Week 4!

Thanks to the outpouring of support for #ReadProud, I'm starting a different blog post for each week to keep things a little bit more organised. You can read about the overall structure of the event here. You can also find out about the prizes there! 

Remember, each week there are two categories. Participating in one category and reading one book per week makes you eligible for the Silver Prize Draw. Participating in both categories and reading two books (or more!) per week makes you eligible for Gold Prize Draw!

For your book to count towards the draw, you have to leave a review on GoodReads and at least one retailer website. If you're not comfortable posting reviews, you can still participate, but unfortunately you won't be eligible for a prize draw. Leave links to your reviews in the comments for the Week!

THIS IS THE FINAL WEEK OF THE CHALLENGE!

 

readproud

Category A:  GAY YA

What I'll Be Reading: We Are the Ants by Shawn David Hutchinson

Bender by Gene Gant

Suggested Titles: 

JERKBAIT by Mia Seigert 

SIMON VS THE HOMO SAPIENS AGENDA by Becky Albertalli 

DAGGER by Steven dos Santos

BOY MEETS BOY by David Levithan

FJORD BLUE by Nina Rossing

 

Category B: WILDCARD 

Surprise me. Surprise us all. As long as it's LGBTQIA. I'd LOVE people to bring forward some terrific Asexual, Bisexual and Non-binary books. 

 

1) Jerkbait … Jamie

2) Bender … Julia 

3) False Hearts … Julia

4) We Are the Ants … Bhavya 

5) Bender … Laura

6) Waiting for the Flood … Laura

7) None of the Above … Nicole

8) Boy Meets Boy … Serena

9) Aristotle and Dante Discover the Universe … Rebecca

10) Symptoms of Being Human … Nina

11) Fun Home … Becky

12) We Awaken … Jamie 

13) Daybreak Rising … Jamie 

14) Wonders of the Invisible World … Serena

15) Five Stages of Andrew Brawley … Chasia

16) Noble Falling … Chasia

17) Out on Good Behavior  … Rebecca

18)  Simon Vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda … Bhavya

19) Jerkbait … Bhavya

20) Alex as Well … Bhavya

21) One Man Guy … Amber

22) This Song is Not For You … Amber

23) Strong Signal … Lauren

24) Simon Vs … Bogi

25) Half Bad … Meredith

26) A Distant Soil … Meredith

27) Freakboy … Bogi

28) None of the Above … Michelle

 

 

#ReadProud Week 3!

Thanks to the outpouring of support for #ReadProud, I'm starting a different blog post for each week to keep things a little bit more organised. You can read about the overall structure of the event here. You can also find out about the prizes there! 

Remember, each week there are two categories. Participating in one category and reading one book per week makes you eligible for the Silver Prize Draw. Participating in both categories and reading two books (or more!) per week makes you eligible for Gold Prize Draw!

For your book to count towards the draw, you have to leave a review on GoodReads and at least one retailer website. If you're not comfortable posting reviews, you can still participate, but unfo

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readproud

Category A:  AUTHORS OF COLOUR

What I'll Be Reading: ASH BY MALINDA LO 

Suggested Titles: 

IF YOU COULD BE MINE by Sara Farizan 

SEVEN TEARS AT HIGH TIDE by CB LEE

THE SUMMER PRINCE by Alaya Dawn Johnson

THE BATTLE FOR JERICHO by Gene Gant

TREASURE by Rebekah Weatherspoon 

 

Category B:  LESBIAN CONTEMPORARY 

What I'll Be Reading: OUT ON GOOD BEHAVIOR by Dahlia Adler 

Suggested Titles: 

ANNIE ON MY MIND by Nancy Garden

AT HER FEET by Rebekah Weatherspoon (over 18s!) 

CAREFULLY EVERYWHERE DESCENDING by LD Bedford

EVERYTHING LEADS TO YOU by Nina LaCour

IRON AND VELVET by Alexis Hall

STYLE by Chelsea Cameron

 

1) If You Could Be Mine … Serena

2) Tell Me Again How a Crush Should Feel … Mia

3) Everything Leads to You … Nicole

4) Style … Laura

5) Treasure … Nina

6) Treasure … Laura

7) Tell Me Again How a Crush Should Feel … Mia

8) Out on Good Behavor … Jamie

9) Everything Leads to You … Crystal

10) Anthology of Fiction Trans Women of Colour … Shira

11) You Set Me on Fire … Jamie 

12) Saving Mongomery Sole … Jamie

13) You Know Me Well … Jamie

14) Afterworlds … Jamie

15) Tell Me Again How a Crush Should Feel … Serena

16) Ash … Becky

17) Friends that Still … Chasia

18) Harmony … Karis Walsh

19) The Summer Prince … Bhavya

20) Ash … Bhavya

21) Everything Leads to You … Bhavya

22) Out on Good Behavior … Bhavya

23) Everything Leads to You … Rebecca

24) Tell Me Again how a Crush Should Feel … Rebecca

25) Tell me Again How a Crush Should Feel … Michelle

26) Everything Leads to You … Becky

27) Ash … Meredith

28) Style … Meredith

29) Tell Me Again How a Crush Should Feel … Lauren

30) Aristotle and Dante Discover the Universe … Bogi

31) If You Could Be Mine … Bogi

32) Out on Good Behavior … Amber

33) At Her Feet … Amber

#ReadProud — Ace in the Hole by Calista Lynne

 

Ace in the Hole

a Guest Post by Calista Lynne

 

Asexuals.  The myths. The legends. Should we fear this lack of sexual attraction which has pervaded our society?

Well considering there’s more asexuals than Canadians in the world, I’d say not. You probably know one yourself.

On July 14, my novel, We Awaken, is coming out and it is currently available for pre-order. People seem excited when they hear the description until they come to learn that the two female protagonists are asexual. Then half my audience stands there in a state of either disappointment or confusion and the other half is beyond elated.

The confusion is understandable. Most people- or, at least, older people- have only ever heard the term asexual used in reference to plants and think this is some new liberal idea that will pass with time. Between Snapchat filters and Kardashians, people like this tend to see the downfall of humanity in many harmless things, so I wouldn’t be overly worried. Asexuality is very much real, though, and not a new phenomenon.

Allow me to explain it to you: asexuality is the lack of sexual attraction. Most people growing up begin looking at men or women or both and think ooh what a fine piece of person that is I want me some of that action.

Asexuals don’t.

It’s important to me that asexuals learn that this is not only a sexuality but a valid one because so many young people think they’re broken because neither gender does it for them. Sometimes asexuality is even confused with bisexuality just because the person doesn’t feel attracted to both genders equally.

In my novel- which has all the cheesiness one would hope for from a young adult fantasy- the main character begins the story thinking she is a lesbian, which comes with it’s own set of issues. One sexuality crisis is bad enough but coming to learn she’s asexual causes a total re-evaluation.

But there are happy endings. Asexual people love. They can (and do) have sex. They aren’t broken and this isn’t a disease.

And if you’re asexual and people are giving you shit about it, come to me and I’ll fight them for you.

 

———————————-

Calista Lynne's book, We Awaken, will release from Harmony Press on July 14 2016. 

 

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Victoria Dinham doesn’t have much left to look forward to. Since her father died in a car accident, she lives only to fulfill her dream of being accepted into the Manhattan Dance Conservatory. But soon she finds another reason to look forward to dreams when she encounters an otherworldly girl named Ashlinn, who bears a message from Victoria’s comatose brother. Ashlinn is tasked with conjuring pleasant dreams for humans, and through the course of their nightly meetings in Victoria’s mind, the two become close. Ashlinn also helps Victoria understand asexuality and realize that she, too, is asexual.

But then Victoria needs Ashlinn’s aid outside the realm of dreams, and Ashlinn assumes human form to help Victoria make it to her dance audition. They take the opportunity to explore New York City, their feelings for each other, and the nature of their shared asexuality. But like any dream, it’s too good to last. Ashlinn must shrug off her human guise and resume her duties creating pleasant nighttime visions—or all of humanity will pay the price.

——————————

About the Author … 

Calista Lynne is a perpetual runaway who grew up on the American East Coast and is currently studying theater in London. She is oftentimes seen screeching at Big Ben and pointing out the same landmarks on a daily basis, and is having difficulty adjusting to the lack of Oxford commas across the pond. She writes because it always seemed to make more sense than mathematics, and has superb parents who support more than just her latte addiction. If Calista Lynne could change one thing about her life, it’d probably be her lack of ability to play both of the ukuleles adorning her rainbow bookshelves.

Twitter: @calistawrites

#ReadProud Week 2!

Thanks to the outpouring of support for #ReadProud, I'm starting a different blog post for each week to keep things a little bit more organised. You can read about the overall structure of the event here. You can also find out about the prizes there! 

Remember, each week there are two categories. Participating in one category and reading one book per week makes you eligible for the Silver Prize Draw. Participating in both categories and reading two books (or more!) per week makes you eligible for Gold Prize Draw!

For your book to count towards the draw, you have to leave a review on GoodReads and at least one retailer website. If you're not comfortable posting reviews, you can still participate, but unfortunately you won't be eligible for a prize draw. Leave links to your reviews in the comments for the Week!

 

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#ReadProud Week 2!

 

Category A:  LESBIAN SPECULATIVE

What I'll be Reading: 

TREMONTAINE by Ellen Kushner *et all – Serial

THE BETTER TO KISS YOU WITH by Michelle Osgood

Suggested Titles: 

UNICORN TRACKS by Julia Ember (meeee!)

THE ABYSS SURROUNDS US by Emily Skrutskie

THE RENEGADE by Amy Dunne 

THE SECOND MANGO by Shira Glassman

OF FIRE AND STARS by Audrey Coulthurst

ASH by Malinda Lo

NOBLE FALLING by Sarah Gaines

MY LADY KING by Kayla Bashe

THE SLEEPER AND THE SPINDLE by Neill Gaiman

(you may read any other book of your choice that falls into this category)

 

Category B:  LGBTQ Middle Grade or Younger

What I'll be Reading: 

GEORGE by Alex Gino

Suggested Titles: 

RED: A CRAYON'S STORY by Michael Hall

AND TANGO MAKES THREE by Justin Richardson 

HEATHER HAS TWO MOMMIES by Leslea Newman

10,000 DRESSES by Marcus Ewert 

I AM JAZZ by Jessica Herthel 

(you may read any other book of your choice that falls into this category)

 

Update us on your progress in the comments! 

 

COMPLETED BOOKS

1) The Abyss Surrounds Us … Jamie 

2) Lumberjanes Vol 3 … Jamie 

3) Red: A Crayon's Story … Bhavya

4) And Tango Makes Three … Bhavya

5) George … Nicole

6) Unicorn Tracks … Laura

7) Tango Makes Three … Laura

8) George … Becky

9) The Second Mango … Serena

10) George … Lauren

11) George … Serena

12) Donovan's Big Day … Crystal

14) Tremontaine … Rebecca

15) Fairest … Chasia

16) George … Chasia

17) George … Nina

18) I Am Jazz … Bhavya

19) The Abyss Surrounds Us … Bhavya

20) Unicorn Tracks … Bhavya

21) George … Mia Siegert 

22) George … Bhavya

23) Introducing Teddy … Rebecca

24) Unicorn Tracks … Kara

25) George … Kara

26) Tremontaine … Julia

27) Women Were Warriors … Becky

28) Unicorn Tracks … Michelle

29) The Second Mango … Meredith

30) George … Amber

31) The Abyss Surrounds Us .. Bogi

32) The Abyss Surrounds Us … Amber

33) George … Amber

34) The Manny Files … Meredith

35) How it Feels to Have a Lesbian or Gay Parent … Bogi

36) Graveyard Sparrow … Shira