Time to give Thanks and the Week Ahead in Reviews

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thanksgiving-clip-art cornecopia

This is Thanksgiving week for those of us in the United States and for Americans abroad.  It is a holiday associated with family and friends, get togethers and dinners surrounded by those we love.  Traditionally it is also a time we give thanks for the things we have, from health and happiness to work and a place to live and call our own.   These are things that we may take for granted and others are bereft of.  Some by choice, others by force, and many more by fate and a fluctuating economy that seems to favor the wealthy while leaving the rest behind.

Here are some agencies and shelters that could use our help in these times of need.  Notice the scarcity of LGBTQ shelters, including the lack of one in the DC Metro area:

LGBT Shelters:

  • Ali Forney Center:

The mission of the Ali Forney Center “is to protect lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, questioning (LGBTQ) youth from the harm of homelessness, and to support them in becoming safe and independent as they move from adolescence to adulthood.” To learn more about this charity or to donate directly, please visit their website: http://www.aliforneycenter.org.

  • Lost-n-Found Youth, Inc.:

Lost-n-Found is the outgrowth of Saint Lost and Found, an LGBT homeless youth fund project of the Atlanta Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence.
Founded by Rick Westbrook, Art Izzard, and Paul Swicord after each of them experienced being turned away when attempting to place queer youth into local shelters and youth aid programs, the three resolved that something needed to be done to address the immediate need.  Their website: http://lostnfoundyouth.org/

Food Banks:

Most areas have several  food banks in need of canned goods and nonperishables this year.   Here are some in the Metro DC Area:

There are so many worthy organizations out there competing for your attention and assistance.  If you aren’t sure of the organization’s viability as a charity, check with the Charity WatchDog Group with the American Institute of Philanthropy which lists the tops organizations with regard to the amount of money that goes directly to the charity involved.  Here is the link http://www.charitywatch.org/toprated.html.

If you know of other LGBT  youth shelters or organizations I have left out, please forward the information to me for future use.

I hope you all have a wonderful Thanksgiving and Hanukkah.  I have a wonderful week ahead in reviews.  This includes Astrid Amara’s wonderful story Sweet and Sour, Eden Winter’s Corruption, a great anthology, an enchanting fantasy by Alex Beecroft and a timely new release and author blog by Ally Blue that focuses around the relationship of two men who are homeless, Long The Mile:

Monday, Nov. 25:        Corruption by Eden Winter
Tuesday, Nov. 26:        Sweet and Sour by Astrid Amara
Wed., Nov. 27:              Bar None Anthology
Thurs., Nov. 28:            Too Many Fairy Princes by Alex Beecroft,  HappyThanksgiving!
Friday, Nov. 29:            Ally Blue Author Spotlight and Guest Blog for Long The Mile
Sat. Nov. 30:                  Long The Mile by Ally Blue

It’s a Sad Sunday and the week Ahead in Reviews

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Unless you live in a cave in Outer Mongolia and maybe even there, you are aware of the madness that took place in Newtown, Connecticut at the Sandy Hook Elementary School.  Twenty eight children and adults, 20 of them children killed by a disturbed young man with the guns bought legally by his mother, the childrens first grader teacher who was also among the dead.

There were 20 children, most of them first graders. And there were 6 adults including teachers and principal. The numbers are staggering and bring on such pain that it is overwhelming to all, parents and non parents alike.  When young children are involved, numbers are never just the numb inducing figures that happens when adults are involved.  With adults, although we are sad, even devastated, we might think that perhaps at least  they had some time to evolve, to grow into the person they could or wanted to be. They had a chance to experience some of the joys the world offers to adults and to show to the world the uniqueness that was theirs alone to offer.

But with children, their future stretches out before them, shiny and golden and oh so new.  There is no tarnish on the promises of their lives yet to live and so many paths their lives could have taken. We can hope their days were full of laughter, and joy, of games played on the blacktop and pets to hug and family members who hugged and kissed them and told them stories at bedtime.  Now that promise of gold, that child is gone, and all that is left is memory and an emptiness so profound that all is silent in grief and despair.

In a time of year that is associated with joy, love and peace, my mind turns towards a small town in Connecticut whose families should be celebrating with all of us, no matter the religion and are instead mourning the loss of their children.  No more words, except that my heart goes out to all of you.  As a parent, I grieve with you over the unthinkable and offer no platitudes.  I am so sorry.

Reviews will go on, a list might be posted tomorrow.  Yesterday at the end of the review for The Christmas Throwaway, I posted a list of GLBTQ shelters for homeless youth,  There is little we can do for the families in Newtown, but there are still so many children in need.  Give them a thought too if you will, they need our help too.

Here they are once more….

New York City, NY:   The Ali Forney Center for LGBTQ Homeless Youth.

Chicago, IL  The GLBT Chicago Shelter

National Coalition for the Homeless, write them at info@nationalhomeless.org

Covenant House, Washington, DC

Melanie Marshall, Scattered thoughts and rogue words……

Review of The Christmas Throwaway by RJ Scott

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Rating: 4.75 stars

The Christmas ThrowawayBen Hamilton is a rookie cop and that means he takes all the shifts the more experienced cops don’t want.  And that is how he finds himself outside St. Margeret’s in a blizzard on Christmas Eve looking at the frozen figure curled up on the bench.  The young man is shivering in his sleep and the snow is quickly blanketing him, soon it will be impossible to tell there is someone there.  It takes Ben several tries before he is able to rouse the young man and ask him his name.

Zachary Weston is only seventeen when his father throws him out of the house for being gay.  Left without any money, clothes or a place to go, Zachary finds himself at the end of his rope, on a bench in front of an old church in town, falling asleep in the cold and snow.  Then a cop named Ben wakes him up, and ends up taking him home to the house he shares with his mother.  Together they show Zachary the true meaning of love and family. This will be the Christmas that changes everything, and not just for Zachary.

“Hey! You can’t sleep here.” That sentence opens RJ Scott’s The Christmas Throwaway, a book I first read last year at Christmas.  It quickly became one of my favorite holiday stories.  The story of Zachary Weston, a teenager abandoned by his family, at the worst time of year in the worst weather imaginable pulled at my heartstrings from the very beginning.  Zachary has given up and is quietly letting the cold and snow pull him under.  But Ben Hamilton is an earnest, kind young man, who is horrified to find Zachary close to death in front of St. Margeret’s.  Well aware that he should be turning Zachary over to child services, instead Ben takes him home to his mom at his family’s house and changes all their lives from that moment on.

Although the story starts out with Zachary as a seventeen year old boy, Zachary is of legal age when he and Ben start their relationship, a element that looms large in Ben’s mind when he realizes he not only likes Zachary as a friend but is attracted to him as well.  RJ Scott gives us wonderful characters to believe in and love throughout this story, not only Ben and Zachary but Ben’s mother who grows to love the “Christmas throwaway” like her own son, Elles Belles Ben’s sister, Mark his best friend and so many others.  But your focus will remain on Zachary and Ben, especially Zachary and his plight as a child thrown away because of his sexuality, a grim statistic across America.  Zachary is saved, but the story makes clear he is one of the fortunate few and that there are so many others out there needing help and support.

I just loved Zachary and Ben and their slow climb into a lovely relationship.  It’s funny, and heartbreaking and always feels so real as they deal with problems that arise, miscommunications and misperceptions by both of them.  And there is Rebecca, the sister Zachary left behind who will supply her own share of trauma and angst to this story.  But this is a Christmas tale and it ends as it started, on the bench in front of St. Margeret’s on Christmas Eve.  From the first Eve to the last, RJ Scott’s shares with us a story of love at Christmas time that will stay with you throughout the year.  It has become a favorite of mine.  I think you will find it becomes yours as well.

At this time of year, the  GLBTQ shelters are over flowing.  If you can donate even a little at this time of year, it would be greatly appreciated.  Here are some shelters in need:

New York City, NY:   The Ali Forney Center for LGBTQ Homeless Youth.

Chicago, IL  The GLBT Chicago Shelter

National Coalition for the Homeless, write them at info@nationalhomeless.org

Covenant House, Washington, DC

 

Cover: That cover by Reese Dante gives me the chills, so perfect in its depiction of characters and time of year.

Hurricane Sandy Relief Organizations, Donations, Plus the Week Ahead in Reviews!

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Brrrrrr, it’s gotten cold here in Maryland.  While most of Maryland got very lucky with respect to Hurricane Sandy, she brought the artic air from Canada down with her swirling air masses so we have 3 ft of snow in Western Maryland and our ski resorts are very  happy indeed to get a jump on the season. Our fall ended with the roar of winds and rain as the remaining autumn color fell with the torrential rains.  We might actually have a real winter once more. And looking at all the fallen leaves and branches, I am reminded that people not that far away desperately need our help.

My thoughts and hopes go out to all those in need in New York and New Jersey.  The devastation is unbelievable and Hurricane Sandy’s impact on human lives continues to widen along with the death tole.  There are several reputable organizations that are accepting donations to the Hurricane Sandy relief effort.  The Red Cross is one of them.  The American Humane Society is another.  I have a list below that will link you directly to the organizations accepting donations.

One close to my heart is the Ali Forney Center for housing homeless GLBTQ youth in NYC.  It was badly damaged. Here is the link.  Every dollar counts.  If you can spare $1 or $5, everything is needed, everything helps. However you can help, even if it is just re-tweeting the call for donations, all assistance is appreciated and direly needed.

Red Cross

Ali Forney Center  Housing for Homeless for GLBTW Youth

ASPCA

Humane Society of the United States

So, turning away from the subject above, here are the books I am reviewing for the upcoming week.  Don’t be surprised if I throw in some extras. Without further ado:

Monday   11/5/2012:                         How To Raise An Honest Rabbit by Amy Lane

Tuesday   11/6/2012:                         One True Thing by Piper Vaughn and MJ O’Shea

Wed.         11/7/2012:                         But For You by Mary Calmes

Thursday 11/8/2012:                         Ralston’s Way by Talia Carmichael

Friday      11/9/2012:                          Long Hard Ride by Talia Carmichael

Sat.           11/10/2012:                        Back To Hell by Amber Kell, Whispered Secrets and Hidden Eyes by Amylea Lyn