Nonfiction — Stonewall

Stonewall by Martin Duberman

Published May 1994 by Plume Books

3.5 out of 5 stars

For June I wanted to find a nonfiction book that would complement Pride Month.  After looking at various memoirs, essay collections, and other topics, I decided to take a closer look at the history behind  the month, starting at what is considered the turning point in bringing change and acceptance.

The Stonewall Riots of 1969 are often considered the beginning of the Gay Rights Movement.  What started out as a police raid at a gay bar (typical back in the day) turned into a violent clash between police, patrons, and onlookers and wound up lasting five days.  According to the blurb, the author “now tells for the first time the full story of what happened at Stonewall.”  Sounds pretty self-explanatory, right?  Well…

Duberman does do an excellent job with his research, giving strong descriptions of the Stonewall bar and its patrons, as well as the ensuing clashes between the police and the public.  But this is only about 20 pages of the 282.  The bulk of the book looks at the lives of six individuals from various backgrounds and their personal struggles, accomplishments, and contributions to the LGBTQ community during the ’60’s and in the first year after the riots, up to the first Gay Rights March in 1970.

The personal stories of the six individuals take us from their childhoods through the early part of 1970 and are as varied as the people themselves.  From Foster, a privileged young man unsure of himself but later becoming the archivist of the movement, to Ray (later known as Sylvia), a hustler and “street transvestite**” who would later start an organization to try to help those who had endured the same struggles trying to get off the streets.  (**Please note:  as this book was published in 1994, many of the references and descriptive terms used are much different from today;  this was the terminology used by the author).  I found myself caught up in the lives of all six people, but why only three stars?  The writing.  I thought it felt a bit too textbook and dry, pretty much devoid of any sort of emotion.  And one of my biggest pet peeves, the info dump, started to become the norm around the 1/3 mark.  I truly appreciate the author’s extensive research but the barrage of random names and organizations without adequate background or explanations quickly turned this into a bit of a confusing read.

Despite my personal peeves about Stonewall, I would still recommend giving it a try, especially if you are interested in the early politics of the Gay Rights Movement.  I may not have like the writing but there are some truly interesting and inspirational stories that make it worth the read.

Stay safe and Happy Reading!


Weekly Mash-Up #125

Summer is here, and in my little corner of the world, this weekend looks to be bringing in summer with a vengeance!  Temperatures in most of western Washington are supposed to go over 100 (in my area it’s expected to get to 110 or even higher!).  Around here, we’re used to rain and gloom, not frigging triple-digit temps!!  So how will I be attempting to beat the heat?  Why, participating in a readathon of course!!  One of my Goodreads groups is having a week-long read-fest, from June 24 through June 30.  I’m hoping to finish a couple of NetGalley ebooks I’ve been neglecting, and make some progress on The Crimson Petal and the White (I started this a few months ago and am only on page 153 of 835…yikes!).  With some good books and a lot of iced tea, I will make it through this upcoming mini-heatwave!

The Week in Books

The Nightly Disease by Max Booth III — 4 out of 5 stars

Isaac is the night auditor at a Texas hotel, where strange guests and even stranger occurrences are the norm.  I had a lot of fun reading this mix of bizarro and horror, and anyone who has ever worked in the hospitality business and has dealt with those more challenging guests will likely enjoy it as well.

Later by Stephen King — 4 out of 5 stars

Mixing a crime thriller with some paranormal activity pretty much sums up King’s latest release.  Young Jamie can see dead people, and he finds out that’s not really a good thing.  As always, King does a great job with the coming of age storyline and creating memorable characters.  There was one aspect I didn’t care for that kept this from being a 5 star read (I won’t give any spoilers, let’s just say I thought it could have been handled differently and still had a satisfying outcome).  Great read for King fans and for those wanting to check out some of his “tamer” work.

Stonewall by Martin Duberman — 3.5/4 out of 5 stars

Look for my review here and at MrPinkInk on June 26!

Winterbourne’s Daughter by Stephanie Rabig — 3 out of 5 stars

One of my selections for Pride month.  This retelling of Snow White was a bit up and down for me.  I liked the overall storyline and some of the characters were well fleshed-out, but at times things felt confusing and random.  While this one wasn’t a home run for me, I’m still looking forward to reading more of Rabig’s works in the future.

Stay safe and Happy Reading!

NightWorms June Theme — Darkest Fears

Darkest Fears indeed…

I was lucky to have received an early ecopy of Josh Malerman’s Goblin a few months ago, and I am happy to now have this hardback edition to add to my library!  Six very different novellas set in the same strange little town with a host of strange characters and happenings.  Perfect for some summertime reading.

Beneath a Pale Sky is a collection of shorts by Philip Fracassi, an author I’ve heard a lot of great things about.  Described as “combining old school horror with the modern weird,” it sounds like something right up my reading alley.

Also included was a tea sampler (Sacred Grove, which combines gunpowder green tea with peaches and apricots) from Evil Tea Company…and I immediately checked out their website and ordered several more of their teas to try out!!  I am happy to say they have awesome teas and great customer service and my tea-loving heart is looking forward to ordering more from them in the near future!!

Another great month, and still trying to guess what July will bring from the ‘Worms.  I will say this:  if one of the July books is Kristopher Triana’s Full Brutal, I’m going to be a very happy horror camper!  Stay tuned!

And Happy Reading!

Weekly Mash-Up #124

Have you ever had those moments where you get behind on some task or chore, then another, and another…and pretty soon a couple of weeks have gone by and you realize you haven’t accomplished anything?  That’s the way it’s been for me so far this month!  I mean, eleven days without finishing a book??!?!  What’s wrong with me??!!

On the plus side, once I got my ass in gear I was able to finish some great books!  This week is short and sweet, but already planning for next week so stay tuned!

The Week in Books

Tell the Wolves I’m Home by Carol Rifka Brunt — 5 out of 5 stars!

One of my June Pride selections.  Make sure you have some tissues on hand when you read this one!  Set in 1987, this is the story of young June who loses her beloved uncle to AIDS.  This book not only explores family dynamics, love, and forgiveness, but also profiles the prejudices against the gay community as the AIDS epidemic soared.  Highly recommend!

My Heart is a Chainsaw by Stephen Graham Jones — 4.5/5 out of 5 stars

Seventeen-year-old Jade’s obsession with ’80’s slasher movies helps her deal with her real life horror story.  But when strange things start to happen in her small town, will her encyclopedic movie knowledge save her?  This is far from your standard slasher horror tale.  This is not really a story about serial slashers  (fair warning though, there are some pretty gruesome scenes!), but rather one of an outcast girl who finds the idea of killers running amok better than her own reality, who finds bravery behind her own fiction.   I fell in love with Jade and I hope you do, too.  Be sure to mark your calendar for the August 31 release date!

The Hours by Michael Cunningham — 4 out of 5 stars

One of my choices for June Pride month.  I hadn’t watched the movie and had heard very little about this book before starting it, and I wound up being pleasantly surprised.  While I thought the storyline itself was in the three-star range, the beautiful writing more than made up for it.  This is one of those “quiet” reads perfect for a rainy afternoon.

Stay safe and Happy Reading!

Weekly Mash-Up #123

This past weekend I participated in another readathon, this one through the  24B4Monday Goodreads group.  Over the span of Friday through Monday, I was able to read a total of 796 pages,  and finished 4 books!  I’ve become a bit of a readathon junkie over the past year or so, and I’m already looking for the next one!  If you have any suggestions for future readathons, be sure to drop me a line!

Oh, and did I  mention this past week’s book mail?!?

I’m pretty sure when I log into Thriftbooks they just automatically pull up my debit card and get the packaging ready to go!!  I ordered another eclectic mix, from These Women (the lives of five women connected by one event/person) to Road Seven ( a strange-sounding tale involving a man running from his past and a random unicorn sighting!).  Indigenous author Carol Rose GoldenEagle’s Bone Black takes a fictional look at the underreported and unsolved crimes against Native women.  The Mercies, based on true events which took place off the coast of Norway in 1617, sounds like a tale of not only survival but also of unexpected love.  And as for The Nightly Disease?  I just couldn’t pass up this bizarro fiction/horror novel written by someone who, like me, has worked in the hospitality business for many years and knows what it’s like to deal with those sometimes strange late night customers.

The Week in Books

New Veronia by M.S. Coe — 4.5 out of 5 stars

4.5 stars, rounding up for Goodreads

I don’t know how to sum up this book in an awesome review that will make everyone want to pick it up, because I am honestly at a loss for the right words. Giving new meaning to the standard “coming of age” story, this is a mash up of dark, disturbing, and uncomfortably erotic, and I could not put it down. M.S. Coe is a voice to watch and I am already looking forward to all future works!

Matters of Doubt by Warren Easley — 3.5 out of 5 stars

The first in the Cal Claxton series, originally published in 2013 and getting a reboot May 2021 (I’m guessing there is a new one in the wings?).  There was quite a bit I liked about this mystery, which starts with a young homeless artist trying to find out the truth behind his mother’s death, then goes on to include  more murders, an escort service, and a wide array of intriguing supporting characters.  My main problem falls with the protagonist, Cal.  I can’t quite place what it is, but I could not get behind him as any sort of “hero” or as a wanna-be sleuth.  His often random political observations made me believe this was setting up the series to become more political in nature and less mystery and entertaining.  I am willing to read the next book in the series, if nothing else to see if my view of Cal changes in any way.

In the Still of the Night:  The Strange Death of Ronda Reynolds and Her Mother’s Unceasing Quest for the Truth by Ann Rule — 2.5/3 out of 5 stars

I’ve read many of Rule’s true crime books over the years, and this is definitely not one of her best.  This particular book interested me as the events happened not far from my home in Lewis County, Washington.  I was hoping Rule could maybe cut through some of the bullshit that went on with the investigation like she’s been known to do with past cases.  Sadly, for me, this was just a rehash of all the rumors I’d already heard that had been circulating in this area for years.   While I applaud Ronda’s mother, Barb Thompson, for her tenacity and her fight against the “good ol’ boy” system that makes up our local sheriff’s department, this is one book that really shouldn’t have been written without more concrete proof and with less conjecture and rumors (Quick note:  As of June 2021, there is still nothing new in the case, at least nothing that has been shared with the local media.  I’m not sure it’s even still considered active).

The Dinner by Herman Koch — 1 out of 5 stars

One of my May selections.  This started out as a pretty solid 3 star read, but by the halfway point I was beginning to lower my opinion.  By the end, I just wanted to chuck this book against the wall.  I find it entertaining that so many reviewers are labeling this the “Dutch version/answer to Gone Girl.”  Let me tell you….It.  Is.  Not.

Novellas, Short Stories, and Anthologies

Dimentia by Russell Coy — 3.5/4 out of 5 stars

This was one of the weirdest things I’ve read in a while…and you know that says a lot!!  I can’t even begin to describe it, but if you like alternate realities filled with strange creatures and some fast-paced storytelling, then be sure to check this one out!

Stay safe and Happy Reading!

June — Pride Month

June is Pride Month, and to celebrate the diversity of the LGBTQ+ community, I wanted to pick some books either featuring characters or written by an author representing the community.  My first thought was to go back to where the movement began.

The Stonewall Riots of 1969 was considered the beginning of the Gay Rights Movement.  Stonewall is not only about the riots and the aftermath, but about the people who took part ( Quick note:  I started this on June 1;  Duberman is featuring the stories of six individuals from various backgrounds, telling their early stories and later their involvement at Stonewall).  Be sure to look for my full review here and at MrPinkInk on June 26!

When it comes to fiction, there are so many talented authors and wonderful books now available that it’s difficult to choose.  From my unread shelves, there were a few titles that popped out, including The Hours by Michael Cunningham, The Mercies by Kiran Millwood Hargrave, and Stephanie Rabig’s ebook, Winterbourne’s Daughter.  I’m sure I’ll find other great titles when I go to the library next week so I’m going to keep my fiction options open for now.

Goodreads Group Reads

All of my Goodreads groups have selected some amazing reading material for June.  Here are three that I’ve read and highly recommend.

The Joy Luck Club is a true classic, and if you haven’t had a chance to read it you need to fix that!  The Ocean at the End of the Lane is a quiet little novel with Neil Gaiman’s trademark strange twists.  There have been skeptics over the years who have argued that When Rabbit Howls is more fiction than not.  However, I believe this memoir (of sorts) from a woman who developed 90+ distinct personalities to help deal with the extreme torture and abuse she suffered as a child is true, which makes it all the more heartbreaking.


What are your June reading goals?  Drop me a line, let’s talk books!

Stay safe and Happy Reading!