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Crystal’s House of Queers

Crystal's House of Queers by [Brooke Skipstone]

Crystal’s House Of Queers by Brooke Skipstone is a charismatic LGBTQ romance novel that I thoroughly enjoyed. Crystal is a young woman who has survived a tragic childhood. She soon discovers that she likes women when she starts having dreams about her close friend Haley. Although the story goes into details about Crystal’s sexual attraction to Haley, the author focuses more on the underlying love that she possesses for her. I love that Crystal values Haley for more than her looks unlike Haley’s former jerk of a boyfriend Dyaln.

Brooke Skipstone shines a light on the many personal struggles that come with finding sexual identity and coming to terms with liking someone of the same sex. Crystal is an authentic, but fictional, representation of real world issues. She struggled with maintaining a friendship with her crush, which I feel is by far the toughest scenario in this story. Telling someone you love them with so much fear in the back of your brain takes a lot of strength. This also includes telling family and friends that you have feelings for others of the same sex. All of this is told in such a compelling and impassioned way that makes your heart ache and soar with all the highs and lows.

What I enjoyed the most about reading this observant novel is witnessing Crystal slowly begin to become more confident in herself. She is a great representation of lesbian love in fiction. I also enjoyed the setting of the plot and the merging of other LGBTQ characters. The intensity of the character’s emotions kept me engaged and wanting to read more. I would recommend Crystal’s House Of Queers to anyone looking for an emotional yet invigorating lesbian romance novel.

Pages: 313 | ASIN: B091MDH28L

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Robinson, IL and Other Flash Fiction Stories

Robinson, IL and Other Flash Fiction Stories by [Dennis Milam Bensie]

Robinson, IL is a collection of very short stories by Dennis Milam Bensie that explore life on the path less traveled. Classified as flash fiction, the stories are only a few pages long, but still manage to imbue enough emotion to be powerful and thought provoking, a fact which speaks of the talent the author possesses. Most of the stories focus on the LGBTQ community and the difficulties that come with it, both externally and internally. The tone of each one varies as much as the subject matter and ranges from somber, to flippant, to absolutely wild, and everything in between. There are even a few that have an almost science fiction feel to them. Overall, the author’s ability to convey so much in so few words is remarkable, as the more serious of his stories really make you feel the self doubt and angst that is a part of growing up and accepting who you are. The less serious ones are no less interesting and will leave you definitely wanting more of the world he’s created. And what would a book be without a touch of humor? There are unexpected laughs sprinkled throughout and when they do happen, they come naturally, again showcasing how easy the author conveys everyday slices of life.

The LGBTQ themes are explored from multiple perspectives in the collection. In one, it’s a son looking for assisted living placement for his gay father. In another, parents are trying to help pay for their child’s gender reassignment surgery. Often, the tales are told in the first person by someone within the community, sometimes happily, sometimes at odds with themselves. The variety of voices and perspectives add depth to the very human emotion and dilemmas that are presented. 

While it’d be easy to say I wish the stories were longer, I really believe that their length is a huge part of their strength. The bite sized portions of humanity move quickly, but stay with you long after their few pages are done and leave you imagining so much about the characters. Robinson, IL is a stirring and well crafted collection of fictional short stories that find strength in their brevity while still delivering thought provoking commentary on life.

Pages: 123 | ASIN: B08ZCZVKSF

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The Significant

The Significant by [Kyra Anderson]

The Significant is a dystopian tale of a society in which the few have it all but there are a large number of poor without nationality. Kailynn is born into this society and vehemently detests the rich and controlling Syndicate. However, in order to save her brother, she takes on a job as a Significant who interacts with Elites for a price. Her whole world changes when she is assigned to the mysterious Golden Elite and suddenly things become more complicated, but there is hope for a brighter future. If Kailynn survives. The story is fast-paced and will keep readers hooked from the first page as the characters are plunged into different twists and turns.

Author Kyra Anderson’s novel has an original plot and world-building despite taking on a lot of familiar themes such as dystopia ruled by the rich or increasing automation. Unlike most dystopian stories, The Significant does not have a near-apocalyptic theme and creates a more original universe than what many dystopian novels offer. Similarly, the idea that a controlling society is bad for everyone is explored in this book which makes it easy to empathize with many characters and get new perspectives.

The Significant has a unique take on a dysfunctional society in that it reflects a lot of modern immigration issues and sympathizes with displaced peoples. That issue features prominently in the book and makes connections to modern day issues. Similarly, in connection to the modern day, the book features many lead LGBTQIA+ relationships which are normalized in the novel. It is extraordinarily refreshing to read a book in which a lesbian couple features prominently and is not merely used for entertainment or to appeal to a male audience.

The plot and story itself is highly enjoyable. It provides a lot of detail and background that gives a clear idea as to how Tiao works and why their society is locked in the situation the book is set in. The characters are well-done and distinct, each having their own voice and personality that comes off the page, especially Kailynn and Isa although the reader does have to take some time to get to know Isa, just as Kailynn does. The action is vivid and heart-pounding and the quieter, more intimate moments will still have the reader hooked and enraptured by the tension. Fans of science-fiction must read The Significant!

Pages: 599 | ASIN: B01HSMVA1A

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A Master of Social Comedy

Author Interview
Tom Beattie Author Interview

American Fries: A Queer Farce is a whimsical play about love, equality, and marriage in both a historical and contemporary setting. What was the inspiration for the setup to your plays?

Moliere is an old buddy of mine. We met in high school French class years ago and have kept in touch ever since. When the COVID 19 pandemic hit, we decided to shelter in place together and collaborate on a play. We wanted to include some of his tried-and-true tricks of the trade, e.g., mistaken identities, overheard conversations, mischievous servants, etc., but with a modern twist. To be honest, Moliere deserves all the credit. Most of my ideas got edited out.

Your characters were interesting and I loved following them. What were some driving ideals behind your character’s development?

As a master of social comedy/satire/farce, Moliere’s characters tended to be more “types” than individuals, but they often had big hearts that steered them right in the end. I’m hoping that’s true of American Fries.

What were some themes that were important for you to explore in this book?

As you note, my main theme is marriage equality. Those who say it’s “established law” in the U.S. so there’s no need to worry are wrong on both counts.

What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?

I’m currently working on a comedy of manners about the “fake news” phenomenon. Oscar Wilde is helping me out. (We ZOOM all the time.) Look for The Importance of Being Ernest Enough later this year.

Author Links: Amazon | GoodReads

Moliere meets marriage equality. A whimsical what-if play with poufy periwigs. New from Pinnacle Award winner Tom Beattie.

American Fries: A Queer Farce

American Fries: A Queer Farce by [Tom Beattie]

American Fries: A Queer Farce is Tom Beattie’s fun play where he explores how Molière’s playwright style could have been if it had included some queerness in it. Marriage equality and same-sex love are the main aspects dealt with in his play, all done in a fun and hilarious way that will leave its readers constantly smiling and giggling at every turn of the page.

The book includes two different plays. The first one, American Fries, based in seventeenth-century Paris, follows the friends Bayonet and Heavyset as they conspire to find a way to pair and marry each other’s kids. However, the girls Crepsuzette and Anisette, and the boys Pirouette and Leatherette, may have some different plans of their own. Although it is a period play, it is told in a modern way with modern humor, making it very enjoyable to read. The second play included in the book, Once Married, goes back to modern day to follow the lives of Tom and David, a gay couple from the United States in their early sixties, with the deep wish of having the freedom to marry each other without fear.

The plays included in the book were fun and easy to read. Even though the book deals with serious themes such as same-sex marriage, the author expresses his story and his feelings in an entertaining and natural way. I was constantly smiling throughout the different plays, highly appreciating Tom Beattie’s humor. Even the names of the characters made me laugh every time that they appeared on the page, they had such an unique and creative touch to them. The stories told were not only funny but also endearing, being able to portray by the end the significance of companionship and love regardless of gender, a very powerful message in this day and age.

I found the first play, American Fries, to be unique and would love to see a longer one in the future with the same style of writing and humoristic attitude. The deep feelings of love are portrayed in a simple, yet powerful manner, allowing the reader to feel connected to the characters and understanding the depth of their emotions. I only wish that the plays had been longer, there is still some potential that can be explored further with the characters that were introduced throughout the story.

American Fries: A Queer Farce is a fast paced and easy read with entertaining humor and an overall imaginative and creative style. Author Tom Beattie gives readers such an endearing and enjoyable reading experience.

Pages: 143 | ASIN:

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Two Powerful Addictions

Lewis Kempfer
Lewis Kempfer Author Interview

Don’t Mind Me, I’m Just Having a Bad Life is an emotional and engrossing memoir of your life. Why was this an important book for you to write?

My entire life I’ve been depressed and often referred to as a “sad sack.” I wanted to tell my story of two powerful addictions and recovering from them, but I wanted to follow the trail back to when the problems began. I didn’t expect to go back to age 4 as the first time I felt depressed and worthless. From there, the problems just snowballed through psychological abuse, self-esteem issues, broken relationships, and finally to sex and Crystal meth addiction.  

I appreciated the candid nature with which you told your story. What was the hardest thing for you to share in this memoir?

I was nervous about sharing the drug addiction as very few people knew I was going through that. As I state in the book, my employer, Disney, had no suspicions whatsoever. It was quite a feat to be a hardcore user and keep my job. I’m ashamed of myself for becoming an addict, but like the childhood abuse, I feel it was thrust upon me. And in the case with meth, it’s perhaps the most addictive drug and it truly only takes one hit to be hooked. 

What do you hope is one thing that readers take away from your book?

I hope that readers will find hope in my story that recovery is possible. Yes, faith played a major role in my recovery, but as I tried to make clear, I was on a hit-or-miss basis with God my entire life. Some readers felt that my quitting meth cold turkey with God’s help made the book too “Jesus-y.” And that has been a turnoff for some LGBTQ readers. Conversely, Christian readers have been offended by the gay content. Apart from these two opposing camps, I just wanted to share hope. 

What is a piece of advice you wish someone had given you when you were younger?

I was given plenty of advice throughout my life like, “stop being depressed,” “just believe in yourself,” “have confidence,” “stop being so negative,” and so forth. What I wish I had been told was that none of the bad stuff in my childhood was my fault. Perhaps my story would not have included self-hatred, suicidal thoughts, and addiction. 

Author Links: Facebook | Twitter | GoodReads | Website

A horrifying childhood. A devastating disease. In his darkest despair, he finally found hope…

Lewis Kempfer nearly destroyed himself searching for something that would make him happy. His battle with self-hatred began with physical and psychological abuse from the trusted male adults in his life and continued into adulthood when the church rejected him for being gay. Traumatized and suicidal, his only salvation came from getting himself on stage.

Moving from city to city in search of fame and love, he lands in the dog-eat-dog-world of Hollywood showbiz. But a terrifying diagnosis casts a dark shadow on a promising Tinseltown career, and he falls into a downward spiral of dangerous liaisons and hardcore drug addiction. It will take a near-death overdose in his blackest hour to find strength from the last place he ever expected…

“Don’t Mind Me, I’m Just Having a Bad Life” is a raw, rapid-fire account of one man’s frightening journey to self-acceptance. From dicey sex clubs to crystal meth motels, Lewis holds nothing back in this bittersweet tell-all. His emotional tale of love, loss, and redemption will move anyone who’s ever felt alienated or outcast. It is a shockingly candid true-life story. If you like authentic narratives, stories of triumph, and surmounting the challenges of being LGBTQ, then you’ll be enthralled by Lewis Kempfer’s riveting memoir.

Don’t Mind Me, I’m Just Having a Bad Life

Don't Mind Me, I'm Just Having a Bad Life: A Memoir by [Lewis Kempfer]

Trauma comes in many forms and affects more of us on a daily basis than most will ever realize. Without ever knowing it, we encounter people every day who have had more than their fair share of abuse, drug addiction, and depression. Some of those people have been dealing with that trauma from an early age–Lewis is one of them. As a very young boy, Lewis quickly learned who he could and could not trust, and he saw those around them for who they truly were. His young adult life showed exactly how much damage that abuse caused.

Don’t Mind Me, I’m Just Having a Bad Life is a poignantly written memoir by Lewis Kempfer. Nowhere else will readers find a more raw telling of one man’s life. Kempfer has revealed every wound he has ever suffered and each one of the horror-filled moments he has survived from his early days in Colorado to his nightmarish life in Nashville. He minces no words and gives readers every opportunity to learn from the mistakes he has made along the way.

I can appreciate Kempfer’s story in many ways. He lays down the ugly truth of drug addiction so there is no mistaking the impact it has on the lives of those around the addict. Never does he try to sugarcoat his experience, and he is painfully honest about the ease with which he fell further under the spell. Readers need this–all of us. There is no reader who has not been touched in some way by addiction.

Kempfer’s very real battle with finding his faith is moving to say the least. He allows readers to walk along with him as he sees all sides of religion and hold his hand as he finds his own way. To say his story is stunning is an understatement. To say that it is moving is simply not sufficient. Kempfer’s life is absolutely a miracle and one of which the author is well aware.

I highly recommend Kempfer’s memoir to anyone struggling with addiction or any parent of a child who feels like they are losing the battle to find themselves. Kempfer’s road has been long, filled with the worst kind of potholes, and has nearly killed him, but his story will save someone.

Pages: 475 | ASIN: B07V2PS82D

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The Seventh Circle

The Seventh Circle by [Thomas Bauer]

The Seventh Circle by Thomas Bauer is an impassioned historical fiction novel demonstrating the human race’s inhumanity towards others. The novel is a literary gem set in the little Bavarian town of Fussen during the Third Reich (Nazi Germany), showcasing horrors endured by people due to inhumane laws. Karl, the son of an affluent business owner, is accused of homosexuality, which is illegal during this period. He is kept in a Nazi concentration camp and endures physical, emotional, and psychological trauma at his captors’ hands. Will Karl survive this horrific trial, or is he doomed forever?

In an intense and soul-wrenching manner, Thomas Bauer writes traumatic incidents that will stay with you long after you have finished reading the novel. The writing is unfeigned brutal and keeps you engrossed till the end. Some of the scenes are sexually explicit and horrific. The details unfold in a manner that makes it difficult to experience for a sensitive reader. One of the book’s beauties is the relationship between Karl and his mother, who is aware of her son’s sexuality and supports him, but this relationship isn’t explored much. Other than the phenomenal storyline, the structure of the book is also well organized. The chapters are synoptic and meaty, with no space for fluff writing or floundering. The story begins as a simple love story, but slowly turns into a sinister tale of terror, betrayal, abuse, and survival instinct.

The only issue I faced with the book was the use of uncommon and unfamiliar terms for which I had to use a dictionary. Still, it increases the writing’s authenticity, and improves my vocabulary. Bauer is unmercifully realistic and honest in his depiction of this story. His attention to detail and detailed descriptions give the reader some visceral experiences.

The book is an extraordinary tale that brings awareness to the crimes against sexual preferences and society’s discrimination, which is prevalent today. The book will interest anyone who loves reading emotionally charged historical fiction that accurately portrays the time frame. While the subject matter is depressing, it is a must-read for the present generation, unaware of the degree of historical oppression faced by the LGBTQ community.

Pages: 230 | ASIN: B08FMTTP69

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