Category Archives: Trans

4 Stars for Babette: The Many Lives, Two Deaths and Double Kidnapping of Dr. Ellsworth by Ross Eliot – #Trans #Memoir

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Title: Babette: The Many Lives, Two Deaths and Double Kidnapping of Dr. Ellsworth
Author Name: Ross Eliot
Publication Date & Length: January 6, 2014 – 345pgs

Synopsis

This narrative spans a period from 1998 until 2002, during which in his early twenties, Ross Eliot relocates to Portland, Oregon and eventually moves into the pantry owned by Dr. Babette Ellsworth, an arcane history professor.

Her strange life unfolds in stories, about the 1928 kidnapping in Eastern Washington carried out by a mysterious French woman named Germaine Bonnefont, about life in occupied Europe during World War II, about the Czarist assassin of Rasputin, East Indian soldiers who fought for Nazi Germany and Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh, whose cult perpetrated a 1984 bio-terror attack in Oregon.

In between travels with Dr. Ellsworth, Eliot befriends many unusual people within Portland’s diverse subcultures. These relationships lead to dance parties at historical monuments, Scrabble games with a nocturnal jazzpunk and perilous encounters with a beautiful sex scam artist. Eliot cares for his professor until her tragic final death in 2002. However, Eliot has only begun to uncover the layers of Babette’s story and he delves into Dr. Ellsworth’s complicated lives exposing murkier secrets than ever suspected. From gender and sexuality to religious theory and existential philosophy, it’s an unorthodox love saga between pupil and mentor, yet also an ode for the city of Portland where they live.

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Review

FourStars

While I’ve read a few memoirs in my time, they aren’t my favorite thing to read. However, I picked up this one because it sounded interesting.
At first I’ll admit that I had a very hard time getting into the story. It seemed like fragments of someone’s life just sort of thrown together and it wasn’t all that great since there wasn’t really a whole lot of explanation as to where the story was, why it started there or who the people were that we were reading about. There were many tense changes that I didn’t particularly care for either.
Then we meet Babette. I absolutely adored every word of her story. I loved that she was crazy, but incredibly knowledgeable at the same time. Her story is hard to believe, yet not so hard to believe. I laughed many times at her antics while wondering why she was the way she was. The deeper Ross got to know her and the more she told him, the more I wanted to know.
Until we started getting into too much of Ross’ life, while not completely dull, it wasn’t about Babette, the woman who had sucked me in. The one who had me turning pages as fast as I could. While at times I understood why we were meeting these other people outside of Babette and Ross’ relationship, I also felt that they slowed the story. I hate to say it, but I wanted to know about this woman with so much confusion and twisted tales surrounding her. I did find some happiness that we found that Ross wasn’t all that met the eye at first either (aka he has experiences with both genders), but the relationships sort of were just thrown in there at random times it seemed. Even at the end we have no idea what became of any of the relationships Ross had with anyone in the story even though it has been years since Babette.
There is many questions left unanswered, but I think that’s how life is. You take what answers you can get and have to let the rest stay as speculation. Boy do I wish I’d known what Babette’s deal was with the convent or the erratic changes in her behavior were from… Oh the list goes on. I absolutely loved Babette and her story and was sad to see it end.
Renee

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AuthorBio

Ross Eliot is a writer and commercial fisherman based in Portland, Oregon and Sitka, Alaska. He is best known as publisher and editor of the critically acclaimed counterculture gun politics magazine American Gun Culture Report from 2006-2011.

He has been featured on National Public Radio and Restore the Republic Radio as well as in periodicals including the Oregonian, Portland Mercury, The Sovereign, Street Roots and Skanner newspapers.

Ross Eliot served as keynote speaker at the 2010 Liberal Gun Club Annual Convention in Chicago and has also testified before the Portland City Council on Second Amendment issues.

A longtime Northwest political activist, he has worked with diverse organizations from the Portland May Day Committee to Portland Pink Pistols and Portland War Resistance League. In Spring of 2010 he organized “Might: Not Just for the Right,” a convention uniting all major 2nd Amendment advocacy groups in Oregon, from right wing usual suspects to those more leftist, anarchist and GLBTQ oriented.

For two years Ross Eliot as DJ Stiefel hosted a radio show featuring subculture music and local bands called “Sentimentale Jugend” on the Portland Radio Authority.

In 2013, wishing to continue writing about gun politics, he started “Occupy the 2nd Amendment,” a weblog more directly focusing on leftist perspectives than AGCR’s general counterculture overview.

January of 2014 saw the unveiling of Babette: The Many Lives, Two Deaths and Double Kidnapping of Dr. Ellsworth, Ross Eliot’s first book.

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Spotlight: Groom of Convenience by Viktor Alexander – #Trans #Historical #Romance #Giveaway @VVeeB

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Title: Groom of Convenience (Scandalous Whispers of the Remmington Realm #1)
Author Name: Vicktor Alexander
Publication Date & Length: October 17, 2014 – 300 pgs

Synopsis

In an alternate universe, in the country of Angland, 1814, the gentry live lives of culture and class. It is a time of courtships, marriages of convenience, and titles, where scandal can ruin an entire family. Gender lines are blurred, and making a good match is of utmost importance. Children are born to men and women, which has led to the acceptance of same-sex marriages.

Lady Lucien Timothy Hawthorne is shocked and angry when he is betrothed against his will to Lord Heathcliff Eddington, III, the Duke of Pompinshire. While drowning his frustration at a popular gentleman’s club, he meets “Robert,” a gorgeous older man whom he sleeps with as “Timmy,” regardless of the potential damage to his reputation.

After their liaison, Lucien corresponds with Robert via letters left at Remmington, and they decide to elope. Before they can get away, Lucien meets his betrothed, Heathcliff, who he is surprised to discover is also his beloved, Robert. Both men desire a marriage of the heart, but they find out that sometimes a marriage of convenience can turn into love under the right circumstances. But Lucien has a secret, and Tlondon isn’t as safe as they once thought.

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Excerpt

Lucien inhaled deeply and then began to softly sing “Ae Fond Kiss,” a popular Tscottish ballad written twenty years prior, sliding his eyelids closed, afraid of any negative reaction from his betrothed. His mother used to sing it to him every night before leaving for a ball or party she was obligated to attend. Rosemary would sing the song and then kiss the top of his head. Annabelle would be waiting at the door, and when Rosemary finished, thinking that Lucien was asleep, she would meet Annabelle at the door, and the two of them would share a sweet kiss and then leave.

Lucien loved those late-night lullabies by his mother, cherished them, and when he went to bed, even at his advanced age, he would sing the song to himself until he would fall asleep.

Finishing the last note of the song, Lucien opened his eyes and looked at Heathcliff, expecting to find him asleep, only to find him looking at him in wonder. “What?” he asked. “You have a beautiful voice, Lucien,” Heathcliff told him. Lucien blushed and ducked his head. “Thank you,” he whispered. Heathcliff’s fingers under his chin brought his face back up, and he found himself looking into Heathcliff’s eyes. “Don’t do that. Don’t hide from me. Never hide from me,” Heathcliff told him. “You have a beautiful voice. One that has obviously been handcrafted by the very touch of God. The beauty of your voice is rivaled only by the beauty of your face, which does not compare to the beauty of your spirit.”

AuthorBio

Vicktor “Vic” Alexander wrote his first story at the age of ten and hasn’t stopped writing since. He loves reading about anything and everything and is a proud member of the little known U.N. group (Undercover Nerds) because while he lives, eats, breathes, and sleeps sports, he also breathes history and science fiction and grew up a Trekkie. But don’t ask him about Dungeons & Dragons, because he has no idea how to play that game. When it comes to writing he loves everything from paranormal to contemporary to fantasy to historical and is known not only for being the Epilogue King but also for writing stories that cross lines and boundaries that he doesn’t know are there. Vic is a proud father of two daughters one of whom watches over him from Heaven with his deceased partner Christopher. Vic is a proud trans* and gay man, and when he is not writing, he is hanging out with his friends, or being distracted by videos of John Barrowman, Scott Hoying, and Shemar Moore. Vicktor has published numerous bestselling novels and has a WIP list that makes him exhausted just thinking about. He knows that he will be still be writing about hot men falling in love with each other, long after he is living in an assisted living facility, flirting with the hot, male nurses.

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4.5 Stars for The Other Me by Suzanne van Rooyen #trans #lgbt #ya

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Title: The Other Me
Author Name: Suzanne van Rooyen
Publication Date & Length: Dec 18, 2013 — 218 pgs

Synopsis

Fifteen-year-old Treasa Prescott thinks she’s an alien. She doesn’t fit in with the preppy South African private school crowd and feels claustrophobic in her own skin. Treasa is worried she might spend life as a social pariah when she meets Gabriel du Preez. Gabriel plays the piano better than Beethoven, has a black belt in karate, and would look good wearing a garbage bag. Treasa thinks he’s perfect. It might even be love, as long as Gabriel doesn’t find out she’s a freak.

As Treasa spends time with Gabriel, she realizes she might not love him as much as she wants to be him, and that the reason she feels uncomfortable in her skin might have less to do with extra-terrestrial origins and more to do with being born in the wrong body.

But Gabriel is not the perfect boy Treasa imagines. He harbors dark secrets and self-destructive tendencies. Still, Treasa might be able to accept Gabriel’s baggage if he can accept who she longs to be.

Review

FourandHalfStars

This is a fairly quick read, as it’s young adult and not long. It’s relatively fast-paced, as I expected. The YA genre and length should not be deterrents for anyone interested in the subject, however. This was hands-down one of the best works of YA queer fiction I’ve ever read.

It is the story of a South African trans teenager, though it is also in part a love story. Not merely in the romantic sense (though there’s a bit of that too) but in a general sense, including self-acceptance and love between friends or family members. Most people, not only teenagers, would be able to relate to the themes of feeling like an outsider and of being trapped in a life or body that feel wrong.

The first thing that impressed me was that it’s about a trans boy. More often than not, trans fiction focuses on people living their authentic lives as girls/women. Of the several YA tans-themed books I’ve read previously, all were about trans girls. The second thing of note is that it’s told mainly from Treasa’s perspective and with Treasa’s feelings about actually being a boy. Other books have told trans stories mainly from the perspective of lovers or family members. Finally, the last thing that stood out was that Treasa is also not straight. Again, the vast majority of my previous readings have involved trans people who are presumed gay until they transition, but Treasa maintains a preference for boys throughout.

Another aspect to Treasa’s identity as a gay boy is that often, trans stories are incredibly binary. In other words, someone “proves” to be a “real” boy because of a love for sports and typically masculine pursuits and interests. Treasa is, even as a boy, still somewhat gender-non-conforming. I appreciate that the author didn’t go overboard to assure us just how much of a boy Treasa truly is.

Those things alone make the book an absorbing read. In addition, the two main point-of-view characters, Treasa and Gabriel, are both very different from the teenagers who populate many YA novels. They both have secrets and things about which they feel hurt and shame, however, both are highly sympathetic characters. They are the sort of people who feel like friends after reading their stories. Characters are always my favorite part of any story, and I found myself drawn to both of them.

The only things about which I had any concerns are a few minor implications. First, Treasa muses that it must not be normal for a girl to want to write fan fiction about two boys. It’s hard to tell whether this is the author’s view as well or whether Treasa just feels like an “alien” already that everything is suspect.

My other concern was that Gabriel insists throughout the book that his few very minor gender-non-conforming behaviors (mainly music and nail polish) don’t make him gay. But he does it to the point that I couldn’t help wondering who he was trying to convince–himself or the reader. Again, it was hard to tell if this was the author’s insertion of her views or genuinely part of his character, an unwillingness to question his own sexuality. This becomes particularly important towards the end of the story.

These concerns are not reasons to dislike the book. On the contrary, they provide excellent talking points. Rather than making assumptions about the author’s intent or rejecting the book for perceived flaws, we should have open dialog about what those things mean.

Overall, I rank this as one of my all-time favorite YA books. Despite the fact that I’m well past the target age and rarely read the genre, I thoroughly enjoyed it. I recommend it to anyone who has adolescents, in part because the beginning of empathy is understanding. Provided the book is still in print, I fully plan to make sure my kids read it when they are older.

I give this book 4.5 stars.

~Amy

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AuthorBio

Suzanne is a tattooed storyteller from South Africa. She currently lives in Finland and finds the cold, dark forests nothing if not inspiring. Although she has a Master’s degree in music, Suzanne prefers conjuring strange worlds and creating quirky characters. When not writing, she teaches dance and music to middle schoolers and entertains her shiba inu, Lego.

Suzanne is also the publicity manager for Entranced Publishing and is rep’d by Jordy Albert of the Booker Albert Agency.

Works include:
Dragon’s Teeth (Divertir)
Obscura Burning (Etopia)
The Other Me (Harmony Ink)
I Heart Robot (Month9Books)

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