Upon Broken Wings by E.L. Reedy and A. M. Wade is not a light read, but it is a read worth your time. This dark, cathartic story is a unique meld of many genres; coming of age, gay positivity, and family all interwoven with religious flavor, life after death, angels and demons. Reedy takes us on a journey through a small, overly conservative community all the way to Purgatory in a way that makes sense. If the story has any weak points it can all be forgiven by the enthralling premise of the novel.
The story follows several boys at the verge of of adulthood; Andrew, who suffers from Aspergers, and Keenan, a brave gay boy who is coming to terms with his identity. A series of unfortunate events will lead to a gruesome assault that will require all the strength of their family and friends, dead or alive, to help them resolve.
Upon Broken Wings avoids obvious descriptions of the worst that the characters have to go through but the indication is enough to leave me seething and demanding justice. Add to it is the slow burn of sadness, loneliness and isolation that the characters feel, all the misfortune and all the lost chances add up to a dark and emotionally heavy reading experience. Reedy takes us through mud so we could feel all the anguish that made his characters behave the way they do. So when he finally, mercifully, starts to get us into a somewhat better place we feel like we earned it.
His characters are the best part of the story. They feel like real people and their motivations seem genuine, even when they are no longer among the living. And that’s a tall order with all the elements or death, gay identity and angels in it.
I felt that the dialogue was disjointed and the characters, especially young Casey, sometimes feel like intentional Mary Sues. Casey, Keenan’s brother, is a boy wise beyond his years and can also see angels. We are never given a reason for this ability. It serves the story and paints an emotional picture but I felt that it lacks depth. Similarly, Andrew’s Asperger is important for the story but we never see how it affects him in his day to day life. We are told but we are not really shown the consequences of living on a spectrum. I think this would have helped flesh out the characters.
The angels give a distinct New Age vibe. Their shallow philosophy of forgiveness and understanding along with healing crystals and other cliches works well because angels should behave like that, which gives this coming-of-age and coming-out story interesting and unexpected religious undertones. Upon Broken Wings is not a perfect story. But it is an interesting and original endeavor in this day and age that is. A rare novel, certainly worth your time.
Pages: 199 | ASIN: B07BZXWNBJ
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Bound by a dark act of hate and despair, high school freshmen, Andrew and Kiernan, learn that their untimely deaths did not bring an end to their pain, but only began the suffering of those left behind. While his lost memories return, Andrew must master seemingly impossible feats, both spiritual and physical.
As a dark spirit stalks Kiernan through the borderlands of life and death, he must also face the pain his actions have caused his loved ones. To save both their souls, Andrew must convince Kiernan to return to life and open his eyes to the love and beauty which had always been there.
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The Literary Titan Book Awards are awarded to books that have astounded and amazed us with unique writing styles, vivid worlds, complex characters, and original ideas. These books deserve extraordinary praise and we are proud to acknowledge the hard work, dedication, and imagination of these talented authors.
Gold Award Winners
Silver Award Winners
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High school, a time for learning who you are, what your values are, and what matters in life. Gavin is the popular, most liked guy in his school. He is the trend setter and his hand-picked friends are at the top of the social pecking order. When they start planning their last summer bash before becoming seniors; he is quickly ripped out of his comfort zone when his dad decides he needs to spend his last vacation giving back to the community. Gavin is going to spend his summer working as a volunteer for camp Lift Me Up, it is a camp for kids with life threatening illnesses, a chance for them to feel normal. Here Gavin reconnects with an old friend Jacob, and they befriend Marissa, a girl with a lot of emotional baggage. Together the three of them bond and look to make their senior year one to remember not just for them, but for the whole school.
Gavin is your typical self-absorbed teenager, he’s on the football team, one of the popular kids, and comes from a family of money. Everyone knew that kid in high school, if you were not part of that crowd chances are you despised him, if you were in the crowd you looked up to him, or at least followed so not to lose your standing. When Jacob stopped following the cool crowd Gavin abandoned him. He never looked into why his best friend suddenly changed over the course of a summer. Gavin soon learned with his service at Lift Me Up what brought about the change in Jacob. Following the back and forth between Gavin and Jacob is exciting, you are never quite sure what their feelings for each other really are. Seeing Gavin grow is emotional, he learns that there is a lot more to the world than his little bubble, and he learns to really care for other people. This awakening is uplifting, it gives you hope that society is not doomed.
One of the most predominate themes in this novel is that love has no boundaries or appearances. High school romances are often flirty and based on who is who and what social class you fall into. While this novel starts out following those trends and is easily relatable to readers, it soon twists and becomes so much more. The story of Caleb, the boy with leukemia, that latches onto a resentful Gavin is a catalyst for the change in Gavin. His memory is a constant reminder of how fragile life is and that you can’t live your life trying to live up to everyone else’s standards. I was really touched by Caleb and how his short time impacted so many lives. It is a reminder that it doesn’t matter how long we are here on earth, but what we do with the time we are given. Caleb melted the heart of Gavin and reminded him there is more to life than his little social circle. Gavin and Jacob’s relationship is touching and so fluid you just can’t help but want to see how life goes for them both. Everyone should have a friendship like that in life, someone that loves you unconditionally and is there for you no questions ask. Life Sliding by S.L. Mauldin is a touching novel, thought provoking and full of compassion and hope.
Pages: 169 | ASIN: B01BBCY5RO
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The LGBTQ Meditation Journal offers contemplative spiritual adventures to enhance confidence and tranquility. Why was this an important book for you to write?
Your question necessitates a brief history of the Meditation Journal genesis.
Mary Sheldon originated The Meditation Journal concept, back in the mid-1990s. By the end of that decade, three highly successful books of guided meditations had been published, namely, The Meditation Journal, Meditations for the Twenty-first Century, and Meditations on Relationships.
Our first three volumes flew out of Costco and Target stores nationwide, as well as traditional bookstores. We were surprised by their immediate success. For a while, we considered a fourth volume, Meditations for Teenagers, but for various reasons, the book never happened.
Five years ago, Christopher signed on with Laura Baumbach’s MLR Press, a publisher of primarily LGBTQ fiction, and he has subsequently written three novels and four short stories for the Press.
Ever since becoming an MLR Press author, I have thought about an LGBTQ Meditation Journal. In the summer of 2016, at Mary Sheldon’s housewarming party, I asked my non-LGBTQ co-author, if she would write it with me. She said, “Yes!” and soon thereafter, I pitched the book to Laura Baumbach. The publisher greenlighted the project and then blessed us with her amazing Executive Editor, Kris Jacen, as our editor.
When trying to improve any area of our lives, Mary Sheldon and I turn to the real and eternal, namely the spiritual, rather than to the erroneous and temporal, to wit, the material. So, for the both of us, it is organic to improve all of the conditions of our lives with the metaphysical discipline of meditation.
So, it follows that it was important for us to help others help themselves by using the same spiritual approach that we use effectively in our own lives.
But even though the LGBTQ Community was our focus, we were determined to write guided meditation adventures that could benefit everyone, LGBTQ, or not.
I felt that there was a focus on self-love and acceptance in this book. What were some themes you tried to capture while writing?
Yes, self-acceptance and self-love are essentials for healthy, successful living. We both believe that everything made by the Creator originated spiritually and perfectly. And so, Christopher and I ask readers to employ a spiritual perspective when using our meditation adventures. We ask everyone to think of themselves as the perfect, spiritually-created, externalized ideas of the Creator’s making, and not as the flawed material beings reflected in the mirror. Our point of view reflects Divine Science rather than Earth’s limited material sciences.
And, regardless of the current conditions in their lives, we want everyone to know they have value and worth; quite simply, they matter.
After reading this book I felt that my open-mindedness of the world was reinforced. What do you hope readers take away from this book?
We hope readers will open their minds and hearts, and come to an understanding that self-acceptance, love, peace, pride, and dignity are essential. And we want them to know that if these qualities are now in short supply, our guided meditation adventures are one excellent method of enhancing them.
What is the next book that you are writing and when will it be available?
Christopher and I would like to write The Children’s Meditation Journal.
Of course, winning a contract for such a book is largely contingent on the current book being successful.
Right now, Christopher is in edits with the second volume in his series of Minnow Saint James Metaphysical Adventures novels. It is named The Coming of Beth, and it will be MLR Press published in the first half of next year.
For the fourth in their highly successful series of guided meditations books, Christopher Stone and Mary Sheldon focus upon the LGBTQ Community, offering a month’s worth of contemplative spiritual adventures to enhance confidence and tranquility while inspiring self-acceptance, love, peace, pride, and dignity. Edited by Kris Jacen, the book explains the process of focused attention known as meditation and it offers a simple relaxation technique to induce a meditative state of mind.
Editor’s Note for eBook readers: For those that do look at page counts between print and ebook files, there is a big discrepancy between the print and ebook editions of this journal in PDF format. Don’t worry, you are not missing any content. The difference is that the print version of the book contains space to note several months observations for each meditation.
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There are different beliefs when it comes to religion, but when discussing all things spiritual, just know these two are completely different. In that, we all can relate to the familiarity of metaphysical or spiritual events, which allows us to be more open-minded in all aspects of life. In The LGBTQ Meditation Journal, authors Christopher Stone and Mary Sheldon are allowing their readers an experience on a higher level than what can be “perceived by the five physical senses”. By doing these meditation exercises, or any kind of meditation session will indeed be the start of a foundation of the eternal peace both Christopher and Mary stated as our birthright. It starts off by explaining self-acceptance, as that is the first step to moving forward in progress to loving yourself. The most challenging thing that can be conquered is self-love and that way no one else can attempt to rob you of your value.
I, myself am not of the LGBTQ community, but reading this enabled me to continue being my open-minded self, having a better understanding of how those within the community must feel, which invoked such empathy towards them. Unfortunately, the world we’re living in many people aren’t open-minded or empathetic to others and that upsets my very being. Even though the entirety of this book said many things that are relatable, there was one thing that stood out the most to me. What stood out was “self-love never includes arrogance, conceit, narcissism, smugness, and vanity”, which will bring clarity to everyone who tends to think otherwise. We are all people who need to learn to love ourselves more, in doing so I hope the world can turn around for the better.
I learned so much from reading this book, it allowed me to use my empathy and truly understand how individuals within the LGBTQ community feel living in this world. I already view them as another individual living life and don’t want to be viewed as anyone less. It’s not meant to bash anyone, but to enlighten others in hopes that they will change their perspective and treat everyone, especially LGBTQ people with respect as they would want for others to treat them. The spiritual aspect of this book doesn’t label us, it encourages us to not see the next person as another species, but as another human with feelings. I truly enjoyed reading this book and it will be an eye-opener to closed-minded individuals or those wanting to learn more on how to accept it. I highly recommend this book for everyone, there’s a lot one can learn.
Pages: 91 | ASIN: B075K69CKR
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In Susan-Alia Terry’s novel Coming Darkness myths and legends become real. Known as the Other-kin, angels, demons, werewolves, vampires, and other fabled creatures live among one another. When Archangel Michael appears to seek Lucifer’s help, Lucifer’s comfortable life starts to unravel. The Father and the rest of Heaven are missing, there’s a mysterious black ooze that burns the skin of angels, and an unknown race reveals itself seeking to destroy. As Lucifer struggles with this conflict, his lover Kai sets out to prove himself worthy of respect. But with Lucifer gone, Kai realizes how dependent on the fallen archangel he has become.
I love the world Terry has built in Coming Darkness. She wove together characters from myths and folklore, as well as creatures from different religious sects, to create a seamless and fascinating story. Her characters have distinct personalities, which make the reader want to know more about them and who they are. Terry provides glimpses into interesting backstories – glimpses that explain why Lucifer was exiled from heaven and the relationship he holds with Michael.
There was a lot going on in this novel. Terry uses various sub plots to help us get to know the characters and to move the story along. This is a great technique to use – it adds interest and excitement. It also keeps the reader from becoming complacent since so many things are happening at once.
However, there are so many things going on that I sometimes felt lost, every time I felt I had a direction, the story would change or add a different sub plot. Ultimately, I felt there was too much happening.
The world and characters the author has created are fantastic. Angles on Earth have been written about so many times, but Terry is able to imbue her characters with original personalities that sets this apart from most books in this same genre. The ideas presented were interesting, and I couldn’t wait to read more. There are some steamy sex scenes in Coming Darkness as well. Although I felt that they could have been handled more subtly, they do add another emotional layer to this already thrilling story. Terry’s skills as a storyteller are superb which is why I wish that one or two ideas were really fleshed out so that I could immerse myself in this fascinating story.
If you enjoy reading about werewolves or vampires, or find Lucifer and his fallen angels intriguing, this book would be a good fit for you. Honestly, everything about this book pulls me in and makes me want to like it. As I do with any author with great writing talent, I beg for more focus, detail and character development. Coming Darkness showcases Susan-Alia Terry’s talent and I cant’t wait to read more of her work.
Pages: 258 | ASIN: B01D7MM5IM
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Paralian follows your tumultuous journey to find your authentic self and happiness through many adversities. What was the moment in your life that you knew you had to write this book?
It was more a process instead of a precise moment. Throughout my childhood and teens I knew one day I’ll have to write a book about my life. So much went wrong, and I kept thinking, “In order for this to make any sense and lead to something positive I’ll have to share it one day with the world.”
What was the biggest challenge you faced in finding a home inside your own body?
The biggest challenge was re-discovering who I was. As a child I knew instinctively. Then puberty hit and I got overwhelmed by societal constructs… people telling me who I am… so for a while there all I knew was something was way off… but I couldn’t quite define it.
Then, thankfully, at age 20, I stumbled over a book with short stories about trans people. Finally, there was the mirror reflecting me back to myself. The final information I needed for all puzzle pieces to fall into place. It was instant recognition. But until getting to this moment I was in a state of constant confusion and desperation.
What is one thing in your life that you regret, and what is one thing that you are happy to have done?
Regret: I miss my grandma and regret to this day that my final gender reassignment surgeries happened during a period in her life when she became increasingly senile. Grandma ended up thinking her granddaughter never visited her anymore. She didn’t recognize the young man who came to visit her so regularly and would always love her with all his heart.
Happy about: I am so glad I ventured out into the world and lived in as many places and cultures as I did. The best way to compassion, understanding, and open-mindedness is to travel the world as widely as possible. I’ll keep being a nomad all my life. It’s the most fulfilling form of existence I can think of.
You’ve traveled and lived in many different places. What has been your favorite place to visit?
There is no such thing. Every place I lived in or traveled to found its place in my heart. In each place there were countless good and bad experiences. In each place I met amazing, inspirational individuals.
Are you working on publishing another book? If so, when will it be available?
Yes, I am. I have dozens of other book ideas. I’ve just started with my next one. With all editing and time to be set aside for my day job it’ll probably be a good 2 years before my next book is being launched. I promise it’ll be worth the wait though 🙂
Definition: Paralian – Ancient Greek meaning ‘one who lives by the sea’. Paralian is a memoir narrated through the author’s relationship to water. We follow Liam Klenk’s tumultuous journey to find his authentic self and happiness against more than a lifetime’s worth of adversities. At five months old, Liam was adopted from an orphanage and ushered into a unique journey, which introduced him to the characters that would become both the currents that moved him and the rocks that supported him. Liam, who lives in Zurich with his wife, says: “At three years old I began catching odd glances because I was born in a girl’s body yet began to introduce myself to people as a boy.” Paralian tells the remarkable story of an honest, and at times, challenging life, and offers insight and wisdom from a fluid position – from experience. Liam reveals how exploring the world helped him find a home inside his own body and spirit. Through this ultimately heartwarming and inspiring story, readers learn how Liam never gave up, faced his fears, and always managed to find positivity in each trauma. Written with an engaging sense of humour, this memoir of transcendence and finding oneself will appeal to those who enjoy true stories of courage, resilience, and dedication in the face of adversity. Paralian celebrates life with infectious strength and positivity. Follow Liam’s journey from a small river in Germany to the biggest performance pool in the world, from Switzerland to the US, the Maldives to Macau.
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The term “Paralian” comes from ancient Greek origins, and it has taken on the meaning of “people who live by the sea”. There could be no more apt title for Liam Klenk’s autobiography. In Paralian: Not Just Transgender, He recounts the sweeping and nomadic movements of his life via the lens of the rivers, lakes, and oceans by which he periodically makes a home. Water is the element of change and transition. It is also the element at the heart of so many human-nature entanglements; the resource that has always defined and guided the movements of our species. Fittingly for a tale of bodies, travels, transitions, and wandering, Klenk uses bodies of water to parse the sections of his life like chapters in a narrative.
The voice and experience of Liam Klenk is tender, vulnerable, and honest. It comes to the reader unassumingly and asks only for a patient ear. As the title would suggest, Paralian: Not Just Transgender tells a tale far wider in scope than Liam’s courageous journey through gender confirmation. If anything, the story is about the contexts that occur before, during, and afterwards. It tells the story of a human being finding his place in this world. It opens near the River Enz in Germany, with a young girl named Stefanie and illustrates how a complex and tumultuous family origin, vexes and feeds her inherent confusion over identity. At the end, the reader closes on a confident, middle-aged man named Liam who views the world through hopeful, optimistic eyes from an airplane above Hong Kong. In the intervening pages a transition obviously happens but—to the author’s point—so does a full life. As Stefanie becomes Liam, the reader is taken abroad from Germany to Seattle, from Zurich to Italy to Macao, and all points in between. What makes Klenk’s tale so necessary is that we get a story about a transgendered individual that articulates that while a singular aspect of his life was important, it by no means is the sole determinant of identity.
Regarding execution and readability, there are some pieces that could give readers trouble. As with many ESL authors, minor line-level similes and metaphors go overboard at times and actually distract the reader from the emotional intensity of scene and moment. The larger issue however is that Paralian: Not Just Transgender isn’t just a fascinating book, as it is several fascinating books mashed together. Because Life has no definitive plot, the best works of biography and creative nonfiction tend to follow an A-side/B-side construction in which real world chronologies and events are echoed and digested alongside another more metaphorical through line. Klenk’s book is framed around the metaphor of nomadic travels and bodies of water, but the device is often glanced over or abandoned entirely for lengthy sections. This leaves the prose, like it’s subject, to wander widely. Luckily for Klenk, his book is entertaining enough that its propensity to lose direction is easily forgiven.
Pages: 456 | ISBN: 1785891200
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Subtitled “a dark journey into the Light”, “50 Shades of Truth” is the story of one man’s journey through and out of the world of BDSM. Josef takes the reader through the incidents in his childhood that he feels precipitated his interest in the world of bondage and discipline and uses encounters from his 60 year journey to explain his path and the mental and emotional consequences that he is still working through.
Josef describes for the reader the life of lies and deceit that he was forced to live because of his participation in bondage. He details his encounters with transvestites, mistresses and gay men, and takes you through his thought processes during these encounters and afterward. The depth of his guilt and shame over these encounters is evident but also evident is the complete control that his urges for this type of behavior exhibited over him.
The writing in this book is top-notch. The writer’s style is clear and approachable and made the book easy to read. This book would, however, not be suitable for younger readers due to the language and the explicit descriptions of sexual scenes. Josef’s urges, as described here, feel like an addiction and as with most addictions he makes many attempts to change before finally being able to succeed with the help of a therapist. The struggle the author felt as he watched his urges destroy two marriages and several other relationships is palpable.
Josef also goes into great detail about how he views the role of the Catholic Church, where he was raised, in developing his feelings of guilt and shame about the activities which gave him such pleasure. He also goes into his views on how society’s attitudes toward sex make life more difficult for people like him. Josef points out to us the humanity of those people who are involved in the sex industry and presents them to us as people just wanting to have a life they can enjoy. Josef does not push the reader to want to participate in this world but he does push for it to be accepted by non-participants as a valid choice for an individual.
The obvious readers of this book are people who also engage in the world of bondage and enjoy reading about it. But I think this book could also be a good choice for people who would like a greater understanding of something they are not already familiar with and also for those who enjoy stories about people who struggle but find their victory in the end. Josef exposes some very ugly truths in his book and he bares his soul to his readers. I believe there are some who will take courage from this story and be able to apply that to their own lives. I tip my hat to Josef for being willing to share his story with the world and allowing his readers to make up their own minds about whether they are willing to change their viewpoints after reading it.