Scattered Thoughts Book Review Summary for June 2013

Standard

june

June 2013 has come and gone but some of the books I read that month continue to linger in my heart and mind, just some outstanding stories. As always, there is something for everyone here, from contemporary to paranormal books, terrific additions to wonderful series.  If you missed them the first time, here is your chance to check them out again:

5 Star Rating:

Hobbled by John Inman

Infected: Undertow by Andrea Speed

Mighty Casey by Willa Okati

One Breath, One Bullet by S.A.McAuley

Prelude by Shira Anthony and Venona Keyes

4 to 4.75 Star Rating:

A Casual Weekend Thing by A.J. Thomas (4.75 stars) (contemporary)

A Silence Kept by Theo Fenraven (4.25 stars)(contemporary)

Aria of the Eclipse by Vivien Dean (4.75 stars)(science fiction)

Flawless by Cat Grant (4.25 stars)(contemporary)

Stonewall by Martin Duberman (4.25 stars) (non fiction)

The Hanged Man’s Ghost by Missouri Dalton (4.75 stars)(paranormal)

The Night Shift by Missouri Dalton (4.25 stars)(paranormal)(series)

3 to 3.75 Star Rating:

Fennel and Forgiveness by Ari McKay (3.5 stars) (contemporary)

Heart of the Race by Mary Calmes (3.75 stars) (contemporary)

In Search of a Story by Andrew Grey (3.25 stars) (contemporary)

When Dachshunds Ruled the Serengeti by Michael Murphy (3.75 stars) (contemporary)

2 to 2.75 Star Rating:

The Caveman and the Devil by Chris T. Kat (2.75 stars)(contemporary)

The Jouster’s Lance by A.J. Marcus (2.75 stars) (contemporary)

Review: Stonewall by Martin Duberman

Standard

Rating: 4.25 stars out of 5

Stonewall2 new coverIt’s June 28, 1969. At a gay bar called Stonewall Inn in New York’s Greenwich Village, NY City’s finest, the NYPD carried out a raid on the bar that should have been routine.  After all the police had been raiding and harassing gay bars and establishments for years, so one more raid should have been nothing out of the ordinary.  But in the early morning hours at Stonewall Inn, all of the intimidation, the constant harassment, was finally too much and in response to this raid the gay customers rioted.  As the size and power of the demonstration grew, word that gays were fighting back spread throughout the city.  Soon more men and women came and joined in the demonstration.  Rocks were thrown at the police and shouts of “gay power” could be heard.   Eventually, the NY Police Department sent enough reinforcements to quell the riot for the evening.  But the next night brought a new uprising with the crowds swelling to well over 1,000 people.  NYCPD Riot Squads were called in to stop the demonstrations but over the next four days, more protests continued throughout the city sparking intense discussions on gay civil rights and, the formation of gay activist groups determined to change the laws and societal outlook that looked at homosexuality as something to be outlawed and perverted in nature.

On the first anniversary of Stonewall, the first gay pride parade was held in throughout the U.S. in New York City near Stonewall Inn, Los Angeles, Chicago,  and San Francisco.  Stonewall cemented itself as the spark that set off a gay revolution, the effects of which are still being felt today when the Supreme Court’s decisions on the issue of DOMA and Prop 8 made history.

Martin Duberman uses 6 people whose lives began prior to Stonewall to chart the affect of the Stonewall riots on their lives and the community around them. The six key LGBT activists (Craig Rodwell, Yvonne Flowers, Karla Jay, Sylvia Ray Rivera, Jim Fouratt, and Foster Gunnison, Jr) are followed from their childhoods through their adult participation in the riots and the resulting  civil rights actions.

On June 28, 2013, we mark the 44th anniversary of Stonewall Inn riots and the beginning of the LGBTQ civil rights movement, and yestrerday the Supreme Court of the United States struck down DOMA (Defense of Marriage Act) and Proposition 8 in California declaring it unconstitutional.  So it is fitting that today’s review is Martin Duberman’s Stonewall, a history of the riot that set off the gay civil rights movement.

Martin Duberman is the professor emeritus of history at the Graduate Center of the City University (CUNY), where he founded the Center for  Lesbian and Gay Studies, the first university in the United States to have a LGBT university based research center.  An author of over 20 books and an politically active gay man, I would expect a detailed and revelatory account  from Duberman of the events leading up to Stonewall. And that is what we were given in Stonewall.  Martin Duberman states that he wanted to place Stonewall along a timeline of events instead of the Stonewall Inn demonstrations being the launching point of gay civil rights history.  According to the blurb from the publisher:

Duberman does all this within a narrative framework of novelistic immediacy. Stonewall unfolds through the stories of six lives, and those individual lives broaden out into the larger historical canvas.

However, in trying to place the events at Stonewall within the context of GLBTQ history, Martin Duberman strays too far from the actual historic event and its ramifications, especially in a book titled Stonewall.  Instead the author starts off with a cast of 6 individuals: Craig Rodwell who figured largely in the Mattachine Society and opened the Oscar Wilde Memorial Bookstore, Yvonne Flowers who started the Salsa Soul Sisters, Karla Jay who was a member of the feminist collective the Redstockings and the Gay Liberation Front, Sylvia (Ray)  Rivera the founder of STAR, the Street Transvestite Action Revolutionaries, Jim Fouratt a hipster and major spokesperson for the Yippie Movement, and Foster Gunnison, Jr, who helped plan the first Christopher Street Liberation March along with Craig Rodwell.

Given this cast of remarkable men and women, I was expecting a narrative equal in intensity and emotion to the lives of the people it was following.  Unfortunately, Duberman’s years as a history professor prove to be the guiding touch of the narrative rather than a moving account of the events revealed.  Divided into seven parts, each section relates a chapter in the lives of the people chosen.  Part One Growing Up is exactly that, the early years of each person.  And while I appreciated their struggles, the dry tone and “as told to” narrative dampens any emotion the reader might feel when coming across such events as Craig Rodwell’s abandonment by his mother or Ray’s abusive upbringing after his mother tried to poison him and then committed suicide.  Each one of these individuals lives are made up of startling and often dramatic occurrences that breaking them up into sections succeeds in only removing  some of the intensity. Also the interrupted flow of their backstory makes it hard to follow their lives in a fluid manner, something I would have preferred.

What makes this  book fascinating and worth the price is the last three chapters.  The first sections make interesting reading but the last sections bring vividly home the tumultuous times. That would be Part Six 1969 Part Seven Post-Stonewall 1969-1970 and Epilogue 1992.  As the book heads into the 60’s, the emotions and political upheaval of the times arrives in the narrative and the reader starts to really feel the events that came together that sparks off the riots of Stonewall rather than just understand them intellectually.  I was especially enthralled by the early accounts of the people (the Mob) behind the operations at Stonewall Inn, the crime boss characters, the Drag Queens, just a remarkable group of people to gather under one roof.  I wish I could quote the opening sections here but the DRM prevents me from doing so.  But this is where Martin Duberman shines as a author as he walks you through the front door of Stonewall Inn. Here you learn about Fat Tony and Maggie Jiggs, the famous queen who worked the bar along with her lover Tommy Long, Maggie was the main supplier of the drugs her customers were so fond of. blonde, outspoken, and gregarious. Here is a short passage:

If you got the okay at the door–and for underage kids that was always problematic–you moved a few steps to a table, usually covered by members of what one wag called the Junior Achievement Mafia team.  That could mean, on different nights, Zucchi,; Mario; Ernie Sgroi who always wore a suit and tie and whose father started the famed Bon Soir on Eighth Street; “Vito” , who was on salary directly from Fat Tony, was hughly proud of his personal collection of S.S. uniforms and Nazi flags, and made bombs on the side; or “Tony the sniff” Verra who had a legendary nose for no-goods and kept a baseball bat behind the door to deal with them. At the table you had to plunk down three dollars (one dollar on weekdays), for which you got two tickets that could be exchanged for two watered-down drinks. (According to Chuck Shaheen. all drinks were watered, even those carrying the fanciest labels.)  You then signed your name in a book kept to prove, should the question arise in court, that Stonewall was indeed a private “bottle club”.  People rarely signed their real names. “Judy Garland”, “Donald Duck”, and “Elizabeth Taylor” were popular favorites.

And that is just the beginning of the real heart of the book, Stonewall Inn and its many and varied denizens.  I found myself going back and rereading portions of these chapters where the people became real and the emotions behind the political activity felt as alive and new as those I saw on the steps of the Supreme Court yesterday as the decisions were announced that saw the end of DOMA and Prop 8.

For those born after Stonewall, this is an important window into the beginnings of the gay civil rights movement and the people who helped ignite it.  For those children of the 60’s and 70’s, this will bring back memories of a time in our lives where everything was possible, and the times were “a changing”.   I found this to be a timely and compelling read and highly  recommend it.  Pick up your copy now.

Book Details:

Paperback, 352 pages
Published May 1st 1994 by Plume (first published 1993)
ISBN 0452272068 (ISBN13: 9780452272064)
edition languageEnglish
original titleStonewall

It’s Raining and the Week Ahead in Reviews

Standard

Once again it’s raining here in Maryland, formerly known as The Temperate State.  Before today our rain total was 6.11 inches this month.  I think its safe to say we will be adding several more inches to that total just on today’s rainfall alone.  Hard to believe we are looking at July just over the horizon.  My lavender is looking a little soggy and I have lost several herbs to the dampness.  The only ones happy are the hosta and the frogs.

I have some wonderful books on the review schedule this week including a history of the riots at Stonewall Inn by Martin Duberman.  I will be posting that on Friday to mark the 44th anniversary of the Stonewall demonstrations that sparked the gay civil rights movement.  Yesterday I posted several Youtube videos on the topic.  If you have a chance, check them out, especially the one on the Stonewall survivors.  The vid and the people it focused on are just remarkable.  As we wind down gay pride month and look towards the Supreme Court’s decision on gay marriage, take a moment to remember all those LGBTQ youth in need of shelter and a hand.  Organizations in need of donations can be found here and at the GLBT National Help Center.

Now about this week’s books, there are some terrific stories to be had this week.  All fall within the m/m contemporary fiction range with the exception of Stonewall (non-fiction), but within that category you will find a variety of stories from the whimsically titled When Dachshunds Ruled the Serengeti by Michael Murphy to A Casual Weekend Thing by A.J. Thomas, a police mystery.

Monday, June 24:         Heart of the Race by Mary Calmes

Tuesday, June 25:        A Casual Weekend Thing by A.J. Thomas

Wed., June 26:              Hobbled by John Inman

Thursday, June 27:      When Dachshunds Rule the Serengeti by Michael Murphy

Friday, June 28:           Stonewall by Martin Duberman

Saturday, June 29:       The Curtis Reincarnation by Zathyn Priest

Yesterday, I had the best Cosmo I have ever tasted at Ricciuti’s in Olney.  If you are local, and never had a meal or drink there, remedy that fact right away.  Housed in historic Olney House, Ricciuti’s outsources all its food, fine and beer locally. It believes in using only seasonal and local produce and it shows. It has stone ovens, great staff and now the best Cosmo ever.  It’s raining, a fine day to head over and taste some of the best food our local farms, wineries, and breweries have to offer.  I might even see you there.

Stonewall Inn Recollections

Standard

In five days, it will be the 44th anniversary of the Stonewall Inn uprisings.  It was the spark that set off the gay revolution to equality, civil stonewall-innrights, and acceptance.  I am going to delay my review of Martin Duberman’s Stonewall until Friday, June 28th, the anniversary date.  Until that time, here are some youtube videos on the importance of Stonewall Inn and recollections from those who were there.

With the Supreme Court about to  vote on marriage equality and more states voting to give equal rights to gay couples who want to marry, remembering the past has never been more important.  And while the public opinion is swelling towards acceptance and equality, there are still those who wish to push the clock back, mired in homophobia and intolerance.  To them, Stonewall is both the wall between today and yesterday as well as a reminder that freedom to be who you are and equality, once experienced, is not something that can or will be repressed.

Before Stonewall (1984 Documentary) by Charley Hullah

Stonewall Profiles of Pride – Stonewall Veterans

After Stonewall (1999 Documentary) by Charley Hullah

Proud (40th Anniversary of the Stonewall Riots) by theKeith1980

From Mourning To Joy Once More, Animal Adoptions and the Week Ahead in Reviews

Standard

You always hear that things have a way of changing overnight, but few experience it.  It didn’t quite happen like that here but it was close.  In my instance, things changed exactly one week to the day that I felt my heart shatter.  On June 4, 2013, my companion of 18 years, Winston died.  Exactly one week to the day, on June 11, another Winston came into my life, through circumstances so unusual, so connected, that I knew it was meant to be.   I have written that story, The Tale of Two Winstons – A Terrier Comes Home, to chart the beginning of our journey together.  Before that I had written of my first, indomitable Winston, my love of 18 years in My Winston.  But there was one fact I had left out.  You see, exactly one week before I found Winston, I had another dog, Snowflake, a rescue American Eskimo.

Snowflake was with me for two years, gorgeous and unfortunately so emotionally scarred by her previous family that only I could handle her.  I never got the entire  story but from her hatred of children and families in general, apparently she had been used as a target and punching bag by the people who owned her before me (and was rescued from).   One day we were out in the pasture, running and checking around for a loose horseshoe, when bikers sped by and Snowflake gave chase down the fence line.  Normally, that would have been fine as she couldn’t get through the wire and post fence, but sometime during the night a car had sideswiped the fence and taken down just enough to leave a Snowflake sized hole.  I am sure you all can imagine what happened next as Snowflake darted out onto that winding country  road.  Even as we raced to the vet, I knew my Snowflake was gone.

One week to the day, on that same spot, a shivering, heavily matted, rail thin Winston was found and went home with me carrying him in my arms, the same way Snowflake left that same spot.  Now 18 years later, exactly one week apart, my beloved Winston was gone and another Winston had arrived.  And each time, I knew it was meant to be.  How could it not?  I am not sure I believe in Fate but all these connections?  All these events strung together in order for one magical moment to happen?  How do I not believe in that?  Many people have said that Winston sent the other Winston to me, and I think I can agree there.  During that week of almost overwhelming grief and loss, I swear I could hear the thunk Winston made as he jumped down off the bed to investigate something in the house during the night.  Several times that occurred during that week, but since Winston arrived, not a sound.  This Winston likes to bury his food bowl (on tile no less) just like my old Winston did.  Perhaps one has taught the other his tricks without me knowing.  Wouldn’t that be wonderful?

My family now includes two rescued dogs, Winston and Kirby whose face adorns the banner of this blog.  They aren’t my first rescues and most certainly won’t be my last.  There are so many dogs (and cats) that need homes in shelters around the country.  And there are so many shelters in need of support, both monetary and in donations of supplies.  I know it is Father’s Day today but perhaps if your Dad is someone who has everything possible and you don’t know what to give him, maybe make a donation to your local animal rescue organization or humane society in his name as a gift.  I know it would be welcome.  I found my Winston by donating food to the shelter.  Who knows if a four pawed love awaits you there as well?  The larger groups, ASPCA, and the Humane Society of the United States, rescue animals from devastating events such as hurricanes and earthquakes and more.  They need your help too.

So here are some links to get you thinking about rescues and the organizations who need your help to continue their mission to save animals in need:

ASPCA

Humane Society of the United States

Montgomery County Humane Society

Days End Farm Horse Rescue – located locally in MD but travel all over the US to rescue large animals. Truly an amazing organization.

I am sure there are so many local rescue organizations around you that need your assistance.  They are only a tapped computer key away. Check them out as well.  Here are a few pictures of Winston and Kirby playing, they have turned into the best of friends.  Look below the pictures for the week ahead in reviews.  Happy Father’s Day!

DSCN3823DSCN3827

The week ahead in Reviews:

Monday, June 17:               Flawless by Cat Grant

Tuesday, June 18:              Fennel and Forgiveness by Ari McKay

Wed., June 19:                    In Search of a Story by Andrew Grey

Thursday, June 20:           Infected: Undertow by Andrea Speed

Friday, June 21:                 The Heir Apparent by Tere Michaels

Saturday, June 22:             Stonewall by Martin Duberman

Mourning and the Week Ahead In Reviews

Standard

Winston has been gone for less than a week and most of the time I can’t wrap my mind around that fact.  I still turn expecting him to be there and fixed his special breakfast yesterday morning and put it on the floor before I once more realized he wasn’t there to eat it. It was not a good  morning.

And I am not alone in my grief.  Willow and to a lesser degree, Kirby are with me as well.  When Willow arrived, Winston was already king of the house and it took him a while to get used to her but when he did, they were frick and frac, four pawed companions in everything.  He slept on top of the pillow on the bed and she slept under it, they shared meals and water bowls and even their opinions of the mouthy parrot in the family room.

So when I put Winston’s food down my mistake, Willow just sat and looked at me with sad eyes.  When Kirby thought that it was a shame to let it go to waste and went to get his share, there was Willow in his face, refusing to let Kirby near Winston’s bowl.  She is pensive and unusually quiet, staying Velcroed to my side.  Nights are the worst, listening for his snorts and snores that never come.  Both of us toss and turn all night long.

Went to the South River yesterday to meet up with some of our DC Metro M/M group for some much needed distraction.  Those that knew were wonderful but I just can’t talk about him yet.  Write yes, talk no.  Sitting there by the water, listening to the laughter and friendly banter, seeing friends and meeting new ones made me feel lighter in spirit and let me smile when I thought of Winston watching the ducks go by.

I know it was his time to go, and that Willow and I will find a  measure of peace soon.  We will always miss him , he is such a huge part of us, he will always be close by ,in our hearts and memories.  Nothing can take that away, and nothing will.

I have to admit I wasn’t very functional last week and my reading somewhat abandoned.  So I hope you all will forgive me if this week’s list is more of hopes projected instead of reviews already written.  I have good days and bad so only time will tell.  This is what I hope will happen this week.  And thank you all for your support and comments.  They were needed and loved.

Monday, June 10:                  Prelude (a Blue Notes book) by Shira Anthony and Venona Keyes

Tuesday, June 11:                   The Jouster’s Lance by A.J. Marcus

Wed., June 12:                         Flawless by Cat Grant

Thursday, June 13:                Hangman’s Ghost (Night Wars #1) by Missouri Dalton

Friday, June 14:                      One Breathe, One Bullet by S.A. McAuley

Sat., June 15:                           Stonewall by Martin Duberman

So have a good week and wish for me, Willow and Kirby a better one.  I will leave you with the Goodread Quote of the Day, a favorite of mine.

“Oh, I have slipped the surly bonds of earth,
And danced the skies on laughter-silvered wings”
― John Gillespie Magee Jr.

About this quote:

June 9, 1922: An aviator and a poet, John Gillespie Magee Jr. was born to missionaries in Shanghai, 91 years ago today. His poem, High Flight, is still memorized by cadets at the U.S. Air Force Academy today.
John Gillespie Magee Jr.

It’s Gay Pride Month and the Week Ahead in Reviews

Standard

Its Gay Pride Month, a great time to celebrate and give back to the community. Washington, DC’s Capital Pride is coming up this week and culminates in the Capital Pride Parade on Saturday, June 8 and the Capital Pride Street Festival on Sunday, June 9.  If you live in or around the metro area,  there is something for everyone to enjoy.  I mean how could you not want to dress up as a super hero and attend SPANDEX: The Official 2013 Pride Week Superhero Party on Friday, June 7?   Plus the parade on Saturday travels through Dupont Circle, a historically gay neighborhood.  I worked there in the 80’s, and believe me, that place had gay pride before Gay Pride.  Here are the links to the events and places to purchase tickets:capital-pride-superhero-banner

Capital Pride 365

Gay.com – Capital Pride

If you are in the area and taking pictures at the events, send them to me and I will post them here.  And for those of you in other places, send me the dates and info and I will post that as well.

There are also many organizations that help LGBTQ youth  from Promise Place on the DC/Prince Georges County line to The Wanda Alston House in Washington, DC.  Or perhaps the Ali Forney Center in NYC or The Albert Kennedy Trust in the UK.  A favorite organization of mine is The Matthew Shepard Foundation founded by Matthew Shepard’s mother, Judy Shepard. If you haven’t visited that site before, please do so.  It’s both heartbreaking and immensely uplifting to see what has emerged from such a horrific tragedy.

There are not enough shelters and organizations to go around for all of those children and teens in need and those that exist really need our support in every way possible.  One easy way is to buy ebooks.  Several authors and one terrific editor, Kris Jacen, have contributed their royalties from several novels.  S.J. Frost  and Kris Jacen with Finding A Dream, Sue Brown’s The Sky Is Dead, and Lost and Found Anthology (Kris Jacen), whose  entire royalties will be sent to Lost-n-Found Youth, Inc.  And these are only the most recent.  Enjoy a good book and give at the same time.  It’s easy, its enjoyable, and it is needed.

So have a great week.  Celebrate, dance, and make time to read a book or two!  Oh, and check out the cocktail recipe at the end. Here is the week ahead in reviews:

Monday, June 3:                  Outlast The Night by Ariel Tachna

Tuesday, June 4:                  Flawless by Cat Grant

Wed, June 5:                         The Caveman and the Devil by Chris T. Kat

Thursday, June 6:                The Jouster’s Lance by A.J. Marcus

Friday, June 7:                     Stonewall by Martin Duberman

Saturday, June 8:                 Prelude by Shira Anthony and Venona Keyes

Here is a specialty cocktail recipe just for Gay Pride (shakes head, you really went there, didn’t you).  It came from Alex’s Cocktail Recipes

Gay Pride Cocktail:

1 shot Apple sourz
1 shot blueberry sourz
1 shot cranberry juice
2 shots 5 alive
pop rocks
Instructions

Put the cranberry juice and 5 alive into a tumbler. Pour the sourz into shaker over ice and shake well. Pour into tumbler and add a pink umbrella, then sprinkle with pop rocks

“A womanly drink, it won’t get you drunk but drink it wearing hotpants for the ultimate sense of gay satisfaction.”  Alex also has links for other drinks, none of which I can print here.  Visit his site for more information.