#TopTenTuesday XVI | Top Ten DiverseLit stories Jorie felt deeply connected to whilst reading! All of which are #mustreads!

Posted Tuesday, 8 September, 2020 by jorielov , , , , , , , , , 6 Comments

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I decided to give this week’s topic a bit of a SPIN – instead of focusing on the STORIES I gravitated towards as a child | teen, I wanted to participate in a *special!* tour stop on the *Tour the World in 30x Books Blog Tour!* which is directly supporting & helping a library stateside to increase their selections of diverse reads! The stories I am recommending might be choices for teens who read eclectically as much as adults – truly, there are no boundaries or barriers in literature! And, coincidentally some of the these *are!* releases in YA! 😄

Top Ten Tuesday blog banner created by Jorie in Canva.

#TopTenTuesday is a meme hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl
Topic of the Week: Top Ten Books to my Younger Self

Jorie’s #TopTenTuesday DiverseLit
stories Jorie felt deeply connected to whilst reading! 📖✨

[ UPDATE: 15th September:
LOOK for the genie! Those stories were selected to be placed on the Library’s Wishlist! I am humbled 5x of these were selected to be shelved! Now, I await the good news someone granted these #bookwishes! ]

[ NOTE: Find the 🎁 to see which books were purchased! ]

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The Language of Hoofbeats by Catherine Ryan HydeThe Language of Hoofbeats 🧞
by Catherine Ryan Hyde

*LGBTQIA, at-risk youth, foster care & social services, unconventional families & found families as well as a beautiful f/f marriage at the centre of the story

An introduction to the characters | one family of blended hearts:

Quinn is the adopted son of Paula and Jackie, whose happy-go-lucky attitude gives his family an anchor of normalcy as much as a bit of insight in how to work through the flow of life as it arrives. Except his anxiety for having Jackie and Paula absent on any given day gives his anxiety a workout; after hearing of his past, the anxiety is natural yet heart-wrenching as it is not easily overcome.

Star is a typical teenager whose vent of angst and anguish inflicts on anyone within her personal sphere of being can become touched by it’s flames. Her emotional leverage of insight into Comet barters on the foreknowledge of knowing how well children (and adults) can benefit from being around an animal who is high strung and/or hyperactive. Sometimes emotionally hyper persons and animals who are equally hyper (even if in a different way) can cancel each other out; thereby giving each of them a more peaceful mood.

Armando is deeply attached to his birth family but wants to attempt to have a measure of independence in his life. He doesn’t quite feel as though he fits inside the family itself but at the same time he doesn’t want to leave. He’s caught in-between and is simply doing the best he can to handle the everyday. When he befriended the barn owl, I had to smile inwardly because he, too, had found an animal he could listen too and draw a breath of empathy for just like Star!

Jackie has an incredible gift for putting people at ease, especially her children of whom are still developing the trust she hopes they will have to know they are safe and loved. Her main flaw is regretting what she doesn’t do and not trusting her own  instincts to handle situations which arise out of the blue. She has a lot to give but a part of her questions if how she is being a mother is enough to cause an effect of change for the children.

Paula has the personality of a Mom who listens more than she talks; she processes a lot of things internally, trying to root out a way to not only find the peace in the rougher moments but to sort out the best way through what happens. Her spirit is not easily agitated but being a Vet it goes without saying she has learnt the ability to be calm under pressure and how to fuse her thoughts into her feelings.

Comet, the horse has a temperament you would not necessarily feel drawn too, but I have observed animals for most of my life, and I have the insight to realise the animal never fails to recognise who is need of a friend. Even if the horse such as Comet has a personality quirk not as agreeable to being safe around him, sometimes I think it is this intuition on behalf of the horse which can cause the most healing to occur.

(quoted from my review of The Language of Hoofbeats)

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The Gift of the Seer by K.B. LaugheedThe Spirit Keeper duology: The Spirit Keeper & The Gift of the Seer by K.B. Laugheed 🧞

(*) 🎁 The Spirit Keeper

*Native American spirituality & mysticism, Native American culture, PTSD, Cross-Cultural marriage & relationships

NOTE: I had intended to host a RAL for this duology at the start of 2020; however, considering how the year played out I decided to wait until next year to host.

I felt the best gift since her path crossed with Syawa and Hector is her time spent with Running Fox, as the holywoman allowed her the grace of recognising how to honour Syawa’s trust in her abilities and how to bridge the gaps between the gift he wants her to bestow his people and her own awareness of her evolving enlightenment as a woman on the cusp of finding transformation within her own soul.

It never surprised me how their cultural differences affected their marriage – even in small ways, Katie and Hector were from two separate worlds. Laugheed continues to shine a light on those differences, including how Katie attempts to discuss these with Hector as they each attempt to bridge the distances between their beliefs, customs and understandings of social expectations. In this installment – it was a heady argument over the practice of polygamy vs remaining faithful to one wife and one union of marriage. In their deference, Katie was approaching this from a girl who grew up in the cultural she had and Hector was reflecting on the choices his kin would make but there was a difference between what works for a goose and what works for the gander. I had a good chuckle over how Katie’s infamous red hair might have tainted her understanding of what Hector was trying to explain to her – as her temper sometimes took the best of her, which of course led them to having to have a bit of a intense fireside chat to work out the wrinkles of their misunderstandings!

This story has been anchoured to Katie’s journey – how she views herself, how she observes the Natives and how she tries to sort out her internal world as she lives a life between the past, the present and the uncertainties of the future sparked through Syawa’s vision. As we endeared ourselves to listen to Katie’s internal war between what she expected out of her life and the resolute manner in which she had to augment that expectation with the reality of her life with Hector is one that is historically relatable. She had a theory of thought about what her life would become once she was back in Hector’s homeland. The reality of that imaginative place was not reckoning well with the reality of his people’s lives – in this, the greatest drama was her own self-loathing for her own prejudicial views about how living in a Native village is countered against the life she chose to leave. Another element of thoughtful purpose and insight from Laugheed – whose nudging the reader to see the trials of Katie’s life as an everywoman caught up by love and misguided by her choices. Laugheed wants us to peel back the layers of Katie and Hector’s pride and prejudicial views in order to see who they are without the false confidence of whom they could have been if they had been on firmer ground at the beginning of their lives together. Meaning – they entered into a marriage with so little information about each others’ past, including their respective ideas of ‘normalcy’ that they truly were blinded by their unique differences when it came down to life amongst his relations.

I became so entwined into reading The Gift of the Seer, I began to savour my time with Katie and Hector; knowing full well, their story, this continuation of their journey was one I was appreciating to take again. I’ve grown quite a bit as a reader from my first year to my nearly sixth year as a book blogger – even as I re-read the initial passages of The Spirit Keeper, I did not shy away from some of the scenes my younger self glossed over instead. Not that they were easy to digest, those kinds of scenes are chilling and brutal for a reason but I was able to handle them in a different way than I had previously. Similarly, as I was caught inside the flow of the narrative within The Gift of the Seer, I re-experienced the alignment I had originally – where Katie’s voice and word usage felt as natural to me as it had in 2013. Almost as if re-shifting back into her thoughts was as easily as recalling a former half of my readerly life; re-drawing the portrait back together and resuming where I had paused in my walk with Katie. As all of us who read are living through the character we’re reading – thus, for me, I saw the growth in us both whilst I continued her story.

A good portion of this story is interconnected to the mental state and health of Katie. Laugheed takes a strong route inside Katie’s internal war – where her mental health is at odds with her sanity. In one moment, I thought she might be hovering close to post-partum depression – there were signs that this could be the case but I also felt, as she is so disconnected from her upbringing, from the part of the world where her own people lived, in such an isolated state of living with only the Natives, that perhaps a part of her mind was fracturing. She had put everything on the line to create this new life with Hector but she hadn’t thought through what she would be sacrificing as a result of that selfish choice to escape. At other times, I felt it was closer to the truth her struggle was with clinical depression brought on by PTSD.

(quoted from my review of The Gift of the Seer)

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TImekeeper by Tara SimTimekeeper | Tara Sim
*LGBTQIA, m/m romance, Clockpunk, Science Fiction

A clock mechanic and a clock spirit:

Danny struggles to overcome flashback nightmares of the accident he survived which had roll-over effects of not only disturbing his night routines but his daylight hours as well. Danny found himself fumbling with his confidence whilst he was around Brandon. He couldn’t help himself being distracted by the clothes Brandon chose to wear on the job but also, there was something about his personality which intrigued Danny, even if he wasn’t ready to admit it.

The more time Danny and Brandon spent with each other working on repairing the clock tower, the more opportunities they had to get to know each other better. Brandon would encourage Danny to share more of his personal story, including what befall his father (as this was one of the most shared stories of the area) whilst endeavouring to understand Danny better than he did. Danny in turn found the whole situation curious as he wasn’t used to people asking him questions about ‘known events’ and humoured his friend with stories and information. He felt he could confide in Brandon without his words being re-shared with others; a comfort was found in this exchange as Danny was too often jaded by losing trust in others.

Danny did not initially realise nor recognise Brandon’s true identity as a ‘clock spirit’ if he had he might have protected his heart a bit more, as he had grown up with the lore around clock spirits. Of how humans who fell in love with the spirit of clocks would bring untoward danger to both the continuum of time but also the order of the days in which they lived. The two were not meant to be intermingled nor drawn together to such a degree of connection as it was dangerous to merge two entities which exist concurrent to each other. A clock spirit is so intimately tied to ‘time’ to fall in love with this spirit would be unwise.

Despite the warnings of distancing himself from a clock spirit, Danny found on thing united the two together: their love of stories. Danny would share fiction and mythological stories with the clock spirit, leading the two boys into though-provoking conversations and dissections of what the literary stories were attempting to teach them. And, then there was the small matter of Brandon’s real name…

(quoted from my review of Timekeeper)

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Trans-Continental: Girl in the Gears by E. Chris GarrisonTrans-Continental: Girl in the Gears | E. Chris Garrison

*LGBTQIA, Transgender Lead character, #ownvoices, Steampunk Fantasy, found families

NOTE: This is an author I know personally can consider a friend, however that doesn’t influence my reading life nor in my ability to recommend titles to others as each story I read is a new experience of its own.

A transgender protagonist & a story about how the best adventures are with your best friend! I was hugged so dearly inside this novella – via audiobook, as the narrator for the series does such a smashingly brilliant job at bringing to life the characters within this gem of a novella you truly feel as if you have transported yourself into their world and lives!

What I loved most is that this is a story celebrating found families, unconditional acceptance of gender identity and the joys of platonic relationships and close friendships wherein you celebrate the beautify of the story as it evolves. This world is quite fantastical and it is quite the trip to listen to because nothing is ever what it seems! The author is known for cheeky and humouous Urban Fantasy stories with a bent of dramatic overlays intersecting the plots – however, in this release she’s written an Alternative Fantasy world wherein you might recognise a bit of the world round us stateside but all of it is changed, altered and writ anew!

I can’t wait to write my fuller thoughts on this because at the time I listened to this audiobook during @SciFiMonth in 2019 it truly arrived at a point where a story like this became a beautiful lift of joy to be listening too! The whole world feels very organically developed and the characters themselves make you rally behind them and cheer them on!

We also discussed this series & the author’s collective works during @SatBookChat. You can read the transcript of the chat via the chat’s archives (Twitter Moments): Part One, Part Two.

(this is a forthcoming review on Jorie Loves A Story during #SelfPubFantasyMonth – as I listened to this lovely last year but never had the chance to share a proper review!)

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Blue Spirit by E. Chris GarrisonRestless Spirit by E. Chris GarrisonMean Spirit by E. Chris Garrison

Blue Spirit, Restless Spirit & Mean Spirit | E. Chris Garrison 🧞
*LGBTQIA, f/f romance, Urban Fantasy, found families

I previously have hosted this author for a vlog interview on behalf of her other series (Road Ghosts) which has characters of whom Skye knows personally and the series’ overlap.

NOTE: This is an author I know personally can consider a friend, however that doesn’t influence my reading life nor in my ability to recommend titles to others as each story I read is a new experience of its own.

The author is transgender which gives her an inside edge towards how to write stories that are highlighting characters like Skye who are trying to lead lives without their sexuality, gender or orientation leading to prejudicial exclusions inside their everyday lives. This is quite apparent when the laws currently in place in the author’s home state are mentioned in one chapter in regards to marriage equality as well as the perceptions of how some of Skye’s friends or friends of her friends view the relationship she has with Annabelle.

I consider this series pro-positive for both LGBTQIA+ and Allies alike, as everything pertinent to this side of Skye’s life is told organically and shifts between being humourous and serious, depending on the nature of the exchange or the situation at hand. This is positive I think as it has a very realistic vibe attached to it. Skye is not afraid to speak her mind or to live her authentic truth, even if others are not as prepared to accept her on her terms, she still lives her life owning the truth she has within her and that’s something to applaud. She has her faults (who doesn’t?) but her strengths are her willingness to take-on challenges head-on and remain faithful to those she cares about whilst sorting out mysteries of the unexplained.

The tipsy side of Skye’s life soon became a double-edged sword we all knew could turn on her as soon as she let her guard down to notice the implications of leading a life that was quite out of control by most people’s standards. There were consequences she was not prepared for even if she presumed they were possible, yet through it all, she kept moving forward, kept fighting and willing herself to see the endgame was worth the heartaches along the way. This story is paramount to her evolving story-line where she has to make better choices for her future whilst realising that sometimes the hasty choices made on the fly might not be the best advantage in the long-term especially if you burn more bridges than you can handle all at once. Relationships are built on trust and this is one cardinal flaw on Skye’s behalf – she never realised how much trust she had with those she needed most until the day arrived where her restless urgency to ‘do something’ good with her paratalents took away the one thing that anchoured her most in life. To see where she goes from here is going to be interesting as in many regards, she has to rebuild the way in which she manages her impulses whilst becoming the better half of whom she is meant to be.

This is definitely an author to bookmark if your seeking #diverselit and stories of Equality where all characters are realistically written and openly honest about expressing their thoughts, views and feelings.

(quoted from my review of Restless Spirit)

*Mean Spirit is a forthcoming review on Jorie Loves A Story during #SelfPubFantasyMonth as this is the final story in the trilogy and has recently published!

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Merchants of Milan by Edale LaneSecrets of Milan by Edale Lane

Merchants of Milan & Secrets of Milan | Edale Lane 🧞
*LGBTQIA, f/f romance, Historical Fantasy, #ownvoices
The author also gave me a lovely vlog interview & a phone interview!

I am truly captured by how Lane has chosen to tempt us with a rapid curiosity about the secret society who consistently meets in the shadows of the novel(s). They do not disclose their names nor their full intentions of why they have chosen to meet in clandestine ways but in this Prologue for Secrets of Milan – you gather a bit more of a sense about what is motivating them even if you’re still trying to guess what their endgame might entail.

Keeping with the secrecy, Lane only gives us a smidge of an idea about how expansive their reach truly is by disclosing how when it comes to interacting with each other, they only know the location of their individual cities vs disclosing identifying information! This is a bit interesting on several levels because it shows how the society itself is dearly entrenched into the events of the series itself – as they have this peripherical viewing of the events as their unfolding but they also are a step removed from them as well.

What keeps my curiosity piqued though is finding out (at long last) how influential they were on the course of the events which led to certain tragedies in the series and of course, if they had any leverage of power which might have affected how other circumstances would play out as well. They definitely seem to have an interesting attachment to monitoring the Night Flyer and in that regard, readers will denote one interesting observation about how they are gaining their information. (in effect they mention something about the Night Flyer which eludes that even they do not know as much as they believe they do about everything)

One of the reasons I’ve enjoyed reading this trilogy by Ms Lane is how she’s chosen to merge Historical details from our own living histories of the Renaissance into a new timeline of where Historical Fantasy can cross-sect with known History. In this way, we’re re-peering into the Renaissance through the eyes of a keen researcher who knows how to insert historical details which align with her fantastical elements (such as the Night Flyer). The series itself is definitely a succession of sociological observation and intrigue – in how she chooses to lay a firm hand on the behaviours and choices of her characters (lead, supporting and even the villain’s!) to where she orchestrates this lovely symphony of drama percolating through the series.

There are even moments wherein I learnt more about History and the ways in which History afforded certain allowances for women (both in the freedom of pursuing business to how the structure of society had been laid out) through reading this series and of which I will highlight within our conversation when I share my follow-up interview with Ms Lane on the 6th of July. This is another reason why I love reading Historical Fiction (overall) as it let’s you tuck close to the historic past and re-see those historical eras with finite detail you might have either overlooked elsewhere or been unable to find.

The human condition is definitely explored throughout the Night Flyer trilogy – however, in this instance, for the sequel I felt Lane did a wonderful job of giving us a more introspective response to the continuing events which are shaping her characters’ lives. She choose to take us deeper into the heart of what is fuelling Maddie’s quandary over embracing newfound happiness and romance whilst at the same time she presented us with a morally gray character who was seeking his own redemption for a life he felt was forfeited. It is through these new insights on behalf of her characters we start to see the greater picture of the series itself – not just the intrigue about the unknown but how her characters are shaping the trilogy and how the trilogy is being built behind them.

(quoted from my review of Secrets of Milan)

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Death Comes (Willa Cather & Edith Lewis Mysteries) by Sue HallgarthOn the Rocks (Willa Cather & Edith Lewis Mysteries) by Sue Hallgarth

On the Rocks & Death Comes | Sue Hallgarth
*LGBTQIA, f/f romance, Canadian Maritimes, Cosy Historical Fiction, #ownvoices
a novelisation of the life of Willa Cather & Edith Lewis

Edith and Willa were curious intellectuals as well – they liked to lay pensive on topics others might shy away from if only to seek an resolve in the end which would benefit the curiosity which led to the discussion. Oft-times you can hear them musing about things which might not have a ready response but of which, implored them to seek understanding. They were also open-minded about everything – from lifestyles to distinct passages of history where bigger events were happening in the background of their lives. They never shied away from talking about something important or of finding a way to lend their voice and attention to a cause they supported – all of this is deftly ascribed through their personalities and character composites by Hallgarth whose embedded such a wholly true impression of them within these stories as to give you a tangible reading about who the women were in life.

Being able to read these two novels back to back has been a special treat for me – they provided me with hours of enjoyment – tucking into the lives of Willa & Edith as if they were long lost best friends rather than strangers I’ve only just had the pleasure of greeting into my life. Ms Hallgarth channels their spirits to such a degree of capture, you truly feel their spirits reach you through her narratives. It is also a credit to her, whose research has bridged such a great gap between what we know of them and what ‘could have been’ – these mysteries feel plausible – as if their not just literary theory but they could have been (real) living adventures both of these women would have enjoyed encountering. There is an introspective intuitiveness threading throughout the series – each installment builds upon the last, giving you a lovely tome of insight and joy to fill your hours.

I especially love how the stories are stylised too – of keeping the photographs sprinkled throughout the story-line, of rooting us to what they are observing (as seen through said photographs) but also, in how the stories are paced. There is an ease of approach I first felt in ‘On the Rocks’ being carried through ‘Death Comes’; you can ascertain this is a subject close to the heart of Ms Hallgarth’s own joy – the stories not only leave her curious to find a way to tell, but for us, who are reading them – we were left with a fierce appetite for ‘more’.

There is a long history of injustices in the Southwest – especially in regards to Native American lands, rights and culture. Not one to turn away from highlighting history’s truths, Ms Hallgarth addresses a lot of what I learnt of myself when I was a child listening to my mother’s stories. I learnt a bit more in school but mostly, I held onto my own beliefs (and those of my family) for keeping my heart open to how our differences are never meant to divide us; despite the work of some who believe they should. I have appreciated Native American culture, heritage, religion and traditions since I grew up in a family who celebrated learning about different cultural backgrounds. Therefore, I knew immediately why Edith and Willa were being dearly affected by the inaction on behalf of the deceased woman who was dismissed solely due to her cultural identity. This part of their story is reflective of how even in the light of intense prejudice, we must continue to shine a light of hope on tolerance and acceptance. Of finding the middle ground and the way towards true progress in the acceptance of all persons whose lives are different from our own but of whom deserve our respect all the same.

(quoted from my review of Death Comes)

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Escapement by Kristen Wolf

Escapement by Kristen Wolf
*LGBTQIA, Gender Identity & Expresion,  Historical Fiction, Genre-bender, Women’s Fiction

Escapement seeks to unravel the moments where each of Wolf’s characters has chosen a route of escape from their lives. The reasons vary, the convictions of their choices heightened by the  prose of Wolf’s and therein lies the heart of where Escapement seeks to carry its readers. As escapement can be birthed out of an essential yearning of owning one’s heart and soul – to live in a celebrated freedom of being outside the confines of how they feel subjected of being ‘less than themselves’ within the cast of perception their currently living. Each of the characters has a hidden secret – some are readily observed, others must be drawn out gradually whereas others are merely hinted at being suggested rather than outed directly.

At the heart of the story is a tragedy – a sorrowful song about the mechanism of one’s heart and the truer nature of the soul, in earnest pursuit of owning its freedom. You get a bit lost inside the story as it plays out – almost as if you were in the audience of a play, where as the curtain draws closer to the consuming last phrases of spoken dialogue and shared agony of anguished loss – the closer you feel you’ve reached the point where the musical score etching itself out of the spaces between the dialogue is what painted the ending a finer point of clarity towards seeing how Escapement arched itself into an opera of love, destiny and passionate artistry.

Wolf very early-on discloses how Henri prefers to dress and present herself as a man – self-stating being androgynous. In step with how Henri presents to the world, she also has as sensual side – a self-knowledge of what affects her heart and what entices her towards certain partners vs others. She feels deeply and falls hard for those she takes as lovers, but the women in return do not always entirely understand Henri nor of her own passion for music nor why she stays within the throes of Cristofer’s work to curate a sound and an evocation of thought out of the keys and chords they labour over selflessly if only to find the one piece which would make all the effort exalted worthwhile.

I previously disclosed a fuller insight into Henri: Wolf approached introducing Henri in such a lovely way of innocence – of how she was tucked inside her own heart and mindfulness of what she was seeing, sensing and experiencing but with an innocence still attached. She was at first as you say ‘bewildered’ by her thoughts and her reactions but she came to understand herself and it is through taking the journey within the novel we not only see Henri as she sees herself and of how she wants others to see her from the outside looking in but we see the fuller scope of why the story was told. You have lovely layers inside this novel and I love layered stories for this particular reason – the more you glimpse inside those portions of a story, the more you see the soul of the writer and a reflection of humanity.

This was partially an attempt to disclose how Henri evolves through the story-line – of how she reacts and recoils from what she feels/senses/explores through her understanding of lust and love; of relationships and of the need to find someone to fulfill her in aways music cannot. It also was an early clue towards how Wolf took us through Henri’s transformation – of how we first met her to how she looked back herself on her experiences under the tutelage of Cristofer and saw her own advancements in understanding ‘who’ Henri is and why certain aspects of her life (esp her sexuality) were some of the more challenging chapters of her life to understand.

(quoted from my review of Escapement)

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Lost on the Water by D.G. Driver

Lost on the Water | D.G. Driver 🧞
*Non-Binary & Gender Expression, Paranormal Suspense, Coming-of Age

Driver explored what it would be like for Dannie to hide her gender from the boys but also how by hiding her true identity she had an anonymous experience of being a different person than she is regularly known as being as well. She could peer into this tight-knit group of friends and be amongst them long enough to draw empathy for their friendships and to see how she might pass as a boy whilst trying to balance the difficulties doing that would involve for a girl who never wanted to ‘pass as a boy’ to begin with as she simply wanted to be herself but without the confines of traditional feminism. I picked up on how Driver also re-directed the reader to connect how a memory with her mother about a dress also had newer meaning in this scene as the dress was Dannie’s symbolism for outwardly projecting a feminine gender marker whilst owning to the feelings she was feeling as being more traditionally acceptable than for having those feelings dressed as she was where everyone mistook her for being a boy. In other words, Driver was letting both Dannie and the reader decide for themselves how to handle gender misidentification and when is the right time to be truthful about your own identity when your still sorting yourself out.

One thing that sets Dannie apart is how she cuts her hair and how she is more non-binary than she is traditional girl (by the sense of what people would generally perceive) as this novel explores her gender expression. In many regards, I felt Driver was creating a character who was owning her own sense of self rather than putting any kind of labels on her – the beauty of which, you see Dannie as Dannie sees herself without the conceptions of society to say what is right, wrong or in the middle of where today’s tolerated acceptance lies. It was a bit of freedom too because instead of having a teenager being threaded through stereotypes and/or commonalities of other teenage stories you just perceive Dannie as she wants to be seen rather than placing your own concepts of whom she ought to be on her person.

At the moment, I can’t recall if I’ve read about other non-binary girls in fiction – whether I was reading an adult release or a YA – as I am thinking Dannie might be the first character I’ve come across who felt organically herself. Meaning – this wasn’t being marketed as the kind of book where you would meet a girl whose non-binary and yet, she is definitely uniquely drawn to highlight the fact there are a lot of girls out there who are their own personable definition of being ‘girl’. I could definitely relate to how she’s more athletic than not and how she likes to be involved in sports which generally are sidelined strictly for boys. In that vein, I felt it was a fitting novel because it proves that despite the majority perception, there are girls’ out there who are writing their own story for how they want to embrace their gender identity but also what fuells their interests in life even if it is not a traditional outlet some might perceive as being against their gender.

Subtle is a good word for how Driver starts to envelope us in her vision for this story’s arc where it goes into the realms of the paranormal whilst a rather ordinary teen is our fusion into that otherworld. You are full of expectations for this novel – of where the paranormal elements are going to insert themselves into the timeline of the story and yet, in the end, it wasn’t that kind of story as Driver had other visions for it. You have to see this story first as a coming-of age tale with a family whose shrouded in secrets and of whom has never addressed half of their own living history with each other. If you understand that much of the plot, you’ll soak into the background of the tale with a joyful heart because its Dannie who brings everything out of the shadows and back into the Light.

Driver has written a compelling adventure where the teens have a hearty amount of independence and a knack for self-sufficiency which is not entirely commonplace today but isn’t completely obsolete either. In fact, I would suspect this story would inspire a lot of teens to realise that they can achieve far more than they expect out of themselves whilst those who find making friends harder once high school begins – this story gives them an anchour of hope about how sometimes its not the friend circle that needs fixing but rather sometimes where your living can dictate the circle of friends your able to have in your life. As with Dannie – Driver does a beautiful cross-representation of the life Dannie has in California against the kind of life she curates in Tennessee. There is a difference in attitudes but also in approaches to how best to live life and how to interact with people – a strong lesson for a country right now which finds itself divided on larger topics than just how to be kind to strangers and community members.

(quoted from my review of Lost on the Water)

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Blonde Eskimo banner for #ReadingIsBeautiful 2015 by BookSparks.

Blonde Eskimo | Kristen Hunt
*Eskimo &/or Inuit heritage, tradition & folklore, Magical Realism

Quite remarkably Hunt has a close sense about how the natural world and our lives can become interlaced and connected through moments where we might not fully realise what is happening until we’re able to piece the moments together lateron. In this instance, I was right there with Neiva whilst the mysterious ink-black with a slice of purple feathered soul ripped the pages of her journalled thoughts straight out of her hands before her ferry every made landfall on Spirit. This is a harbinger of events still to come, I am sure, as Spirit reads like a place in time between the veils; existing on it’s own accord with a timepiece of intuition guiding it’s protection.

I loved the name her grandmother had picked out for Neiva as it was such an interesting way of attaching an attribute of self through a native name of their culture. This is in-part why I love learning about cultures outside of my own traditional heritage; to see the world through different eyes and to reconnect to the earth in a way I might not have noticed. Even the heart warmth of having your totem carved on your seventeenth birthday was quite the smashing discovery (of which I was curious if were true) as I have started to notice which birds and wildlife have taking up residence in my own life in regards of being ‘familiar’. Spirit animals and guides can attach themselves to anyone whose mind is open to the intercurrence of time between humans and the natural world.

Neiva is dearly connected to her grandmother, as their bond is as strong as their love and faith in each other. I can relate to having a strong connection to my own grandmother, as I come from a close-knit family. Peering inside Neiva’s turbulent shift inside of a high school she never asked to attend and a towne whose breath lingers the secrets of the past; it is as if there is something most remarkably different about everyone in towne.

Hunt clearly allows her Spirit Guardians (in sentient form) to translate their emotions and their personalities through what gives them individual attributes. For instance, if they have wings or tails, these are cues given to their emotional states inasmuch as their eyes can convey words where nothing is uttered that would translate otherwise. She deepens their 3-Dimensional states by adding layers of how they are seen as the Guardians (although they take-on the image and inhabit the life of a Spirit Guardian whose a sentient being; their true calling in life is to guard the Dark and Light realms) and how they can shapeshift into humans. This shapeshifting ability grants them invisibility and a certain level of protection, yet it’s not a fail safe. There are ways to circumvent this cloaking and their lives are placed in peril because of it. Each Spirit Guardian thereby has their own spirit animal of whom is their protector, as there is a lovely inclusive circle of protection, trust and guidance. I won’t spoilt how their spirit animal comes into being as it’s such a credible method! (I will only relate that it’s a concept I have found previously and have loved!) Conceptually I felt Hunt excelled at translating legend and lore into a viable presentation of how to re-conceive what is plausible.

Don’t miss catching Hunt’s cheeky humour about the origins of where mythology and the realities of the Guardians start to cross-sect and divide! There is one exchange between Sasha (Darius’s confidante) and Neiva wherein you can see how fable can alter real-world perceptions on the fantastical! I liked this exchange because it speaks volumes to root you inside this reality by showing the differences to ours!

(quoted from my review of Blonde Eskimo)

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This marks my 3rd #TopTenTuesday

this Summer & I keep hoping to come back regularly!

PS: Here’s two bonus selections!

Hannah Both Ways by Rosie Greenway

Hannah Both Ways | Rosie Greenway
*Upper YA (*due to language), at-risk teens, Cyber-bullying, Dyslexia, Asperger Syndrome
[NOTE: will need to seek to buy a used copy as the publisher went out of business]

Anyone who spent the majority of their school years (especially high school in particular) sorting out how they did not fit into the mainstream of that closed shoppe will appreciate the opening to Hannah Both Ways because Greenway has given such a brilliant opener to hug us close to Hannah in such a way as to understand her without pausing to ask about her back-story! She’s relatable and she’s honest; real to any budding novelist whose spent hours locked in a classroom where words were far more interesting than the tedium of required classwork. Even her quick-thinking response to her English Lit teacher’s displeasure on her choice of choosing a shorter poem vs a longer one brought back memories of my own teenage angst!

Hannah is trying so earnestly hard to push people away, she barely has time or the inclination rather to notice when someone is pushing back – or at least making a viable attempt to show her kindness when she’d rather give him lip for irking her ire. She’s caught in a self-condemned trap of repetitive behaviour where her entire life revolves around what she can control vs what could unexpectedly alter her path. She’s dedicated to keeping everything in order rather than risk losing one fragment of her time to lay thought or mind on what is really bothering her. The new boy at her school is pushing her buttons because he can see through her facade and on some level I think that both intrigues her and terrifies her at the same time. Her personality is so strong and so fiercely conceived through Greenway’s vision of her, that I was dearly reminded of another spunky heroine from Etched On Me!

Greenway holds nothing back with Hannah – she allows her to be honestly raw on the page, spilt open to her emotional state for readers to walk through her shoes in order to respond to her out of understanding without judgement. On some levels, as you read Hannah Both Ways you can see the girl in conflict with herself and in conflict with her peers – she’s striving towards something not yet disclosed when you first meet her, giving you enough interest to continue reading her story. She’s spunky and feisty, never afraid to speak her mind nor voice her opinion even if the person she’s laying it on thick too doesn’t need the fire but could take it even if she dishes it out.

As soon as as I started reading this novel, I knew it was golden. Especially as it felt very much a novel for Upper YA readers who are seeking a story so realistically in-tune with today’s teenage climate that it would give them a story that bespeaks of real life. Although ironically or not, the tone of the story and the angst of the school bits held water for someone who graduated in the 90s too. Not much has changed, nor does it ever – only each generation thinks it does, but really, certain things improve and others get worse. I think bullying has worsened since I left school for instance and I think tolerance (and acceptance of differences) is barely understood anymore as a whole.

Being dyslexic myself, I appreciated seeing a pro-positive story-line involving a dyslexic (Lucas) who was trying to warm up to a hard to read girl in transition (Hannah). The fact that Lucas has a cousin with Asperger’s was an unexpected turn, but it’s how Greenway wrote her characters to be true to themselves and not feel forced to be threaded into the narrative I appreciated the most. Everyone felt very organic and were written with an intrinsic insightfulness that was refreshing.

(quoted from my review of Hannah Both Ways)

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The Summer of Chasing Mermaids by Sarah Ockler

The Summer of Chasing Mermaids | Sarah Ockler
*Upper YA (*due to language/content), trauma led to muteness, Realistic Fiction

I appreciated seeing Ockler approach Elyse from the point-of-view of a muted person who was not bourne mute but rather suffered a trauma where their vocality was taken from them and medical science could not restore the chords. This is a unique approach as much highlighting Deaf Culture and deafness such as Laura Brown has done in Lila’s Choice.

I have been keenly interested in knowing more about Trinidad & Tobago since I was a small child; mostly because I grew up on the East Coast of the states, and islanders are frequent visitors from all the lovely nations and countries in the Atlantic. Finding a lead character from there and a secondary character sharing the same ethnic heritage was quite a blessing! I loved how Ockler allowed their ethnicity to take a backseat to who they are as a person; not overly identifying their differences but not under empathising them either. She created a balance you can nod in acknowledgement for someone who understands how to write diversity into a novel as if you were meeting these characters up close and in person.

Ms Ockler ignites realistic situations into her characters’ lives by giving them something hearty to chew on and overcome in the midst of an teenage coming-of age story. Her characters speak with stark honesty and reveal their insecurities at the same time, it is like peeling back the veil and stepping back into your own adolescence – either your own experiences or those of your peers. There are plenty of instances of where you can alight a composite of living reality to the lives within the novel, and to me that is a credit to Ockler’s vision for giving teens something to read they can personally relate too.

It’s how she bridged the gap between partially journalling Elyse’s thoughts by the notes she had to create to ‘talk’ and the flow of narrative against the spoken dialogue of everyone around her. It is quite an impressive feat, because you become accustomed to her style quite early-on, thereby your able to soak inside her story’s heart and become enraptured by where it will take you. I like finding writers who mix things up a bit for the reader; giving them a new experience by how a novel is written and approached inasmuch as finding a novel outside a comfort zone an enjoyable read for what was left behind to be found. This is clearly a YA title I might not have picked up if I hadn’t felt encouraged by it’s plot, a consideration I wouldn’t have had without the tour alerting to me of it’s presence, and the writer I might not have found if the book hadn’t alighted in my hands.

She wrote openly about situations and circumstances that youth growing into adulthood face all the time; the choices they will make that may or may not affect their bodies and health, as much as the decisions that might define their paths. She keeps the dialogue honest, upfront, and approachable – a living narrative of our current times, and in that, it’s a contemporary classic.

Reading is a journey in of itself – if we remain open to it’s passageways of delightful discoveries, we give ourselves a joy that can remain tenfold blessed by the experiences we breathe into our imaginations. How thankful I am then, I took a chance and found a blissitude of poetic lyricism in The Summer of Chasing Mermaids!

(quoted from my review of The Summer of Chasing Mermaids)

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Today’s Top Ten Tuesday on Jorie Loves A Story is a special additional stop on the Tour the World in 30x Books blog tour – meaning, this post is specifically aiming to highlight a diverse collection of stories which focus on topics such as LGBTQ+ narratives (ie. Non-Binary, Gender Expression, Gay & Lesbian Romance & Transgender Identity), Native American culture & spirituality as well as Inuit culture and folklore. Each of these stories were hand-picked by me to represent the diversity of the stories I am reading whilst also giving a library stateside a chance to introduce their patrons to the wider world through the stories they are reading.

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Tour the World in 30 Books Info graphic provided by Sammie @ The Bookwrym's Den and is used with permission.

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I picked this topic to explore for Top Ten Tuesday to help generate a conversation about the diversely eclectic reads we’re all gravitating towards reading whilst I wanted to broach the topic to include not just stories by Major Trade authors but to reflect the fact my own readerly life includes a lot of stories by either Indie published authors (publishers/press) as well as Self Published authors as well. It should be noted E. Chris Garrison recently had all her rights to her stories reverted back to her and she is now a Self Published author under her own publishing company Silly Hat Books.

Each of the stories on this post reflect a different portal of story to enter into a wholly new experience outside your own path in life – at least, I am hoping I gave a list that reflects enough avenues of lives being lived to where everyone who finds this list can find a new character to read about whose living a different life than their own. As we read more diversely we are growing our understanding of the world and we are increasing our empathy for other persons outside our own identity whilst realising that tolerance and acceptance of others differences from our own identities and cultural heritages are not as complicated as they need to become.

Part of what inspired me to be a part of this unique blog tour is to champion public libraries (first and foremost!) and to celebrate a book drive which seeks to ask book bloggers to help recommend the stories they’ve found themselves whilst blogging about their readerly lives. I could be happier – as two very important aspects of my world collided into one blog tour! I use my local  & regional libraries frequently and I am always blogging and/or tweeting about my admiration on their behalf – for the books in print and audiobook, I can either borrow locally, through inter-library loans and/or digitally for audiobooks via their OverDrive and CloudLibrary apps.

I also regularly talk about the dvds (especially tv seasonals) I borrow and the cookbooks I love to read to learn more about healthy eats and seeking new recipes to experiment with new ingredients. In essence, I am a library girl through and through – for personal explorations of literature and topics/subjects which interest me as well as my go-to place for films (fiction and non-fiction alike), tv series – whilst eventually I’ll be researching my own novels through their collections & services. I borrow their wi-fi if my connectivity is offline and I love to knit in the stacks for a bit of Zen. There are so many ways to use your local library and I am thankful to have them – as they are a cornerstone of our lives and give us the freedom to both continue to self-learn as we grow older and to read as deeply and as widely as our imagination is willing to take us.

I am hoping all of these stories I am referencing on my post can become added to this particular library’s collection – however, if only one or two make it, I know I have potentially already made a difference in the readers who will be reading their stories. This blog tour is a celebration of how book bloggers are helpful in expanding people’s knowledge about stories but also how libraries should be following book bloggers in order to see which stories are stirring hearts and leading into thought-provoking discussions of those readers who are blogging their bookish lives.

If you would like to follow along with this special blog tour kindly visit the kick-off post by Sammie @ The Bookwyrm’s Den which includes the official tour route! Each stop is meant to encourage everyone to read more diversely through genres & the exploration of setting, character lifestyle & background as much as the way in which writers are writing their stories. This includes having an eclectically diverse cast of characters and/or having stories featuring LGBTQ+ narratives writ by #ownvoices authors.

Share the kick-off tweet s/o by Sammie

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 I look forward to reading your thoughts & commentary!
I can’t wait to hear if you’ve read any of these selected stories and/or what your own takeaways were on their behalf. Talk about them on this special TTT showcase and/or click over to their reviews and drop notes/comments on those posts instead. If you have some #divereselit stories you’d like to recommend to me in return, I eagerly look forward to your comments!

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This marks my participation post for the following:

Tour the World in 30 Books blog tour banner provided by Sammie @ The Bookwyrm's Den and is used with permission.Fun Stuff for Your Blog via pureimaginationblog.com

{SOURCES: Blog tour banner & library donations graphic were provided by Samme @ The Bookwyrm’s Den and are used with permission. All cover art were originally provided to be used to showcase and promote the stories on my blog via their blog tour companies, publicists, authors and/or publishers and were encouraged to be talked about after my reviews were shared. Cover Art for “The Language of Hoofbeats” was provided by TLC Book Tours and is used with permission. Cover Art for “The Gift of the Seer” was provided by the author K.B. Laugheed and is used with permission. Cover Art for “Timekeeper” was provided by Audiobookworm Promotions and is used with permission. Cover Art for “Blue Spirit”, “Restless Spirit”, “Mean Spirit” and “Trans-Continental: Girl in the Gears” were provided by the author E. Chris Garrison and are used with permission. Cover Art for “Merchants of Milan” and “Secrets of Milan” were provided by the author Edale Lane and are used with permission. Cover Art for  “On the Rocks” & “Death Comes” were provided by Poetic Book Tours and are used with permission. Cover Art for “Escapement” was provided by Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours and is used with permission. Cover Art for “Lost on the Water” was provided by the author D.G. Driver and is used with permission. Cover Art Promo badge for “Blonde Eskimo” was provided by BookSparks and is used with permission. Cover Art for “Hannah Both Ways” was provided by Chapter by Chapter blog tours and is used with permission. Cover Art for “The Summer of Chasing Mermaids” was provided by Diverse Book Tours and is used with permission. Post dividers by Fun Stuff for Your Blog via Pure Imagination. Tweets were embedded due to codes provided by Twitter. Blog graphics created by Jorie via Canva: Top Ten Tuesday banner and the Comment Box Banner.}

Copyright © Jorie Loves A Story, 2020.

I’m a social reader, I tweet my reading life

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About jorielov

I am self-educated through local libraries and alternative education opportunities. I am a writer by trade and I cured a ten-year writer’s block by the discovery of Nanowrimo in November 2008. The event changed my life by re-establishing my muse and solidifying my path. Five years later whilst exploring the bookish blogosphere I decided to become a book blogger. I am a champion of wordsmiths who evoke a visceral experience in narrative. I write comprehensive book showcases electing to get into the heart of my reading observations. I dance through genres seeking literary enlightenment and enchantment. Starting in Autumn 2013 I became a blog book tour hostess featuring books and authors. I joined The Classics Club in January 2014 to seek out appreciators of the timeless works of literature whose breadth of scope and voice resonate with us all.

"I write my heart out and own my writing after it has spilt out of the pen." - self quote (Jorie of Jorie Loves A Story)

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Posted Tuesday, 8 September, 2020 by jorielov in Bookish Memes, Top Ten Tuesday




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6 responses to “#TopTenTuesday XVI | Top Ten DiverseLit stories Jorie felt deeply connected to whilst reading! All of which are #mustreads!

    • Hallo, Hallo Susan,

      OOh aren’t they grand? I love boosting public libraries on Twitter and on my blog – so many people have told me over the years they hadn’t realised to the extent libraries can help you with your reading life inasmuch as giving you access to other materials and technologies. I even was amazed due to some tweets of mine in the past, others now ask their libraries for purchase requests! Imagine?! Never knowing you had that option? For me, I’ve had mine put on sabbatical – which along with our off/on interlibrary loans this year, life has been a bit harder for me to fetch certain stories I wanted to read as you have to wait six months out of pub for ILL’ing and I miss the monthly purchase requests I had the option to give last year. Hoping those resume at some point. However, gosh – anytime I get to champion public libraries is a wicked sweet day for me!!

      Thank you for your compliment on behalf of my reading life – I have always sought out to read stories about other people’s experiences and lifestyles. This also includes different religious and cultural heritages too. I grew up in a melting pot of a metropolis which might have helped influenced me in that regard, as I was constantly meeting people from far away lands and who had different native languages than my own. I love seeking stories that also talk openly about a different lifestyle, culture or religious heritage too. I even love stories that explore the different foods and holidays of characters; there is such a wide world out there I’d love to travel to see but when that isn’t possible, I do become a rather avid armchair traveller as they say!! I am so thankful this post is inspiring you to take some firm steps outside your zones of comfort in literature – you never know, you might start to find your own route through an eclectic sea of diverse stories which will become your new favourite reads!!

      I have another post from years ago when I was attempting the A to Z Challenge of Essays (never finished it, sadly, maybe one day?) wherein I posted my #mustread Diverse Stories List. It is where I first talked about my use of the term #EqualityInLit and how diversity isn’t limited to race or cultural heritage. Which is also reflected through how I approached this post of bookish recs for the library’s book drive.

      Let me know which stories you start to pick up and read; I’d love to know if you found any off this list to your liking or if you used it as a baseline to go off and explore other titles/authors who left you curious to read their stories instead. I was so happy to see you on my blog yesterday and I promise I’ll be returning to yours. I’ve not had a lot of time to visit with bloggers this year as off/on I’ve had a lot of personal IRL crises / adversities to work through and with my migraines from May-Aug, it felt like I’d never get back onto blogs!!

      Happy exploring, Susan.

    • Hallo, Hallo Lauren!

      Ooh, I did as well! I hadn’t remembered until last night as I moved through my Comments Archives I had previously mentioned “Timekeeper” on another Top Ten Tuesday post! Clearly I have been under too much stress this year but I don’t regret the double-mention because it was a story I felt so connected inside whilst listening to it. I need to gather the sequel audiobooks and continue the journey into this trilogy. It reminds me of how I want to listen to the rest of the “Rimrider” series as well. I sometimes like alternative stories in Science Fiction that are not always as well known as others.

      Ooh! This is wonderful wicked news! You were the first person to tell me they wanted to read “Merchants of Milan”!! Another blogger let me know via Twitter – truly fantastic as this was a new series I only just discovered this year. “Escapement” was such an extraordinary novel in of itself – the style of voice in which it was written was a different experience than other Historical novels I’ve read. I hope you’ll be able to connect into those plots and enjoy the journey of their characters as much as I have myself. If you remember to revisit, kindly let me know your reactions on those reviews. I’d love to carry on the discussion(s) after you’ve read them. Even if you have different reactions than I did – all convos are welcome here.

      Thank you for leaving me such a lovely note! I appreciate it – especially on a week where I could use the extra boost of spirit.

    • Hallo, Hallo Lydia!

      Thank you so much for this feedback! I was delayed getting this one written until this morning as we had some personal crises (last week) and a medical emergency (over the weekend) whilst I took ill myself the past few days. I fell behind on everything with my blog – whilst I pulled a few posts out of my hat which were already in-progress (such as my review of a Janeite audiobook!). Today’s post was super special for me because of the connection between book bloggers and libraries and in particular, if all of us blogging about the stories which we believe are a celebration of diversity in all its forms of expression and exploration could end up in Sammie’s library because we posted about them – wells, I could not think of a more important post to write this week. Thanks again for your kind note and for supporting me as a blogger.

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