Stonewall: Breaking Out In The Fight For Gay Rights

Stonewall: Breaking Out in the Fight for Gay Rights by Ann Bausum, 120 pages, read by LisaC, on 04/29/2016


In the 1960’s it was illegal to serve homosexuals alcohol, it was illegal for anyone to dress as the opposite gender except for Halloween. “Local law required that individuals had to wear at least three gender appropriate articles of inner and outer clothing at all times.” Those who identified as gay had to live closeted, secret lives. The Stonewall Inn was a Mafia run dive bar that got around the laws and harassment of law enforcement by paying them off. They ran it as a “bottle bar” a sort of “private” club where the gay community of the West Village in New York City felt safe to hang out, socialize, dance and drink. That was until Inspector Seymour Pine received word to shut it down. The real reason was a complicated belief that it was a epicenter of a blackmail scheme orchestrated by the Mafia to blackmail the bar’s clients many of whom lived very closeted lives for fear of repercussions in their jobs. That being difficult to prove, the police went with an easier reason…improper liquor license. Pine devised a simple plan for his raid and the subsequent shut down. In and out , quick and easy. Things didn’t go as planned and what transpired as a result of that raid turned riot ended up being the catalyst for the LGBT movement for equal rights that is still being fought today.
This is a very slim book of just over 100 pages but I learned so much. I was nine years old at the time of the Stonewall uprising. Too young to be aware of the struggles and inequality surrounding the gay community. It was shocking to learn about the extent of the oppression of gay people and the laws against them. I learned so much about the gay rights movement and the timeline of how it came about from this book.The last chapter is about how far we’ve come in the last 40 plus years. However, in light of all the news in recent weeks transgender rights and the Missouri’s religious freedom bill I think that what I learned most is how far we still have to go.

River of Dark Dreams: Slavery and Empire in the Cotton Kingdom

River of Dark Dreams: Slavery and Empire in the Cotton Kingdom by Walter Johnson, 560 pages, read by Mariah, on 04/12/2016

river of dark dreams
When Jefferson acquired the Louisiana Territory, he envisioned an empire for liberty populated by self-sufficient white farmers. Cleared of Native Americans and the remnants of European empires by Andrew Jackson, the Mississippi Valley was transformed instead into a booming capitalist economy commanded by wealthy planters, powered by steam engines, and dependent on the coerced labor of slaves. “River of Dark Dreams” places the Cotton Kingdom at the center of worldwide webs of exchange and exploitation that extended across oceans and drove an insatiable hunger for new lands. This bold reaccounting dramatically alters our understanding of American slavery and its role in U.S. expansionism, global capitalism, and the upcoming Civil War.

Walter Johnson deftly traces the connections between the planters pro-slavery ideology, Atlantic commodity markets, and Southern schemes for global ascendency. Using slave narratives, popular literature, legal records, and personal correspondence, he recreates the harrowing details of daily life under cotton’s dark dominion. We meet the confidence men and gamblers who made the Valley shimmer with promise, the slave dealers, steamboat captains, and merchants who supplied the markets, the planters who wrung their civilization out of the minds and bodies of their human property, and the true believers who threatened the Union by trying to expand the Cotton Kingdom on a global scale.

But at the center of the story Johnson tells are the enslaved people who pulled down the forests, planted the fields, picked the cotton who labored, suffered, and resisted on the dark underside of the American dream.


Brest-Litovsk: The Forgotten Peace March 1918

Brest-Litovsk: The Forgotten Peace March 1918 by John Wheeler-Bennett, 478 pages, read by Mariah, on 04/25/2016


The Treaty of Brest-Litovsk, the first peace treaty of World War I, signified the apparently complete victory of the German army on the eastern front. It was also the greatest diplomatic and military humiliation Russia had sustained…John W. Wheeler-Bennett tells the dramatic story of the treaty’s negotiation, analyzing the motives behind the diplomatic moves made by both sides and the struggle for final ratification by Russia.

–from the book jacket

Don’t You Know There’s A War On?

Don't You Know There's A War On? by Avi, 208 pages, read by Mariah, on 04/14/2016

Don't you Know there's a war on

World War II is on everyone’s mind and in every headline, and Howie Crispers has a hunch that his school principal is a spy. With a little snooping around, Howie finds out something even more alarming. Principal Lomister may not be a spy, but he is plotting to get rid of Howie’s favorite teacher. Howie’s dad is fighting Nazis overseas, and his mom is working hard to support the war effort, so Miss Gossim is the only person Howie can depend on. With the help of his friends, and a plan worthy of radio show superhero Captain Midnight, Howie intends to save Miss Gossim!


A Fatal Likeness

Fatal Likeness by Lynn Shepherd , 363 pages, read by Tammy, on 04/24/2016

fatal likeness

This is the first book I’ve read by this author but now I want to read all of her books especially if they have detective Charles Maddox as a character. This historical mystery explores the unexplained secrets of poet Percy Shelley, his wife Mary the author of Frankenstein, her sister Claire and some secrets of Lord Byron. A wonderful mix of detective fiction, literary fiction and historical fiction.


Kindred by Octavia E. Butler, 264 pages, read by Mariah, on 04/08/2016


The first science fiction written by a black woman, Kindred has become a cornerstone of black American literature. This combination of slave memoir, fantasy, and historical fiction is a novel of rich literary complexity. Having just celebrated her 26th birthday in 1976 California, Dana, an African-American woman, is suddenly and inexplicably wrenched through time into antebellum Maryland. After saving a drowning white boy there, she finds herself staring into the barrel of a shotgun and is transported back to the present just in time to save her life. During numerous such time-defying episodes with the same young man, she realizes the challenge she’s been given: to protect this young slaveholder until he can father her own great-grandmother.


Cradle of the Middle Class: The Family in Oneida County, New York, 1790-1865

Cradle of the Middle Class: The Family in Oneida County, New York, 1790-1865 by Mary P. Ryan, 335 pages, read by Mariah, on 04/22/2016

cradle of the middle class

Prior to the 1800s in Utica, New York area families lived and worked together under one roof. Every member of the family was a valuable addition to the welfare and upkeep of the family. Husbands and wives were partners. Children learned the family trade and helped at a very young age. Mary P. Ryan traces the changes that began when business moved outside of the home. A cash economy, rather than a goods based economy, became the herald of a new middle class. Wives became homemakers instead of trusted business partners. Children were sent to schools to learn because they were underfoot at home. Wills passed along money, rather than lands, tools, and businesses. All of these factors would change the roles that men, women, and children would play leading up to the Civil War. In a study utilizing church records, newspapers, journals, office records, and much more, Ryan explains how the boundaries that defined society member’s spheres of influence changed during the early decades of the 1800s.

Saga, Volume 2 (Collected editions)

Saga, Volume 2 by Brian K. Vaughan, 168 pages, read by Tammy, on 04/25/2016

Saga, Volume 2

The continuing story of new parents Marko and Alana and their newborn, Hazel who are trying to find a new home away from generations of war that have swept over the galaxy. They have already survived lethal assassins, rampaging armies, and horrific monsters but can Alana survive this new challenge when Marko’s parents show up? I read the first three volumes of this series in one weekend. Beautifully written and amazing artwork by Fiona Staples. Does contain full nudity of all sorts of creatures of both genders.

Saga, Volume 1 (Collected Editions #1)

Saga by Brian K. Vaughan, 160 pages, read by Tammy, on 04/25/2016

Saga, Volume 1

Two soldiers from opposite sides of a war that has lasted generations meet and fall in love. Now they are trying to flee with their newborn child and start over on another planet where she will be safe. But of course both sides want to kill them and want the child alive for unknown reasons. The character development is great and the storytelling is wonderful. However some images are very adult. One female character is topless the majority of the time, which may be how her race dresses all the time or may just be to distract her victim since she is an assassin. If full nudity and sex scenes leaving little to the imagination will bother you, skip this series.

Public Vows: A History of Marriage and the Nation

Public Vows: A History of Marriage and the Nation by Nancy F. Cott, 297 pages, read by Mariah, on 04/29/2016

Public Vows

We commonly think of marriage as a private matter between two people, a personal expression of love and commitment. In this pioneering history, Nancy F. Cott demonstrates that marriage is and always has been a public institution.

From the founding of the United States to the present day, imperatives about the necessity of marriage and its proper form have been deeply embedded in national policy, law, and political rhetoric. Legislators and judges have envisioned and enforced their preferred model of consensual, lifelong monogamy–a model derived from Christian tenets and the English common law that posits the husband as provider and the wife as dependent. In early confrontations with Native Americans, emancipated slaves, Mormon polygamists, and immigrant spouses, through the invention of the New Deal, federal income tax, and welfare programs, the federal government consistently influenced the shape of marriages. And even the immense social and legal changes of the last third of the twentieth century have not unraveled official reliance on marriage as a “pillar of the state.”

By excluding some kinds of marriages and encouraging others, marital policies have helped to sculpt the nation’s citizenry, as well as its moral and social standards, and have directly affected national understandings of gender roles and racial difference.Public Vows is a panoramic view of marriage’s political history, revealing the national government’s profound role in our most private of choices. No one who reads this book will think of marriage in the same way again.


The Guild: Knights of Good (The Guild, #2)

The Guild: Knights of Good (The Guild, #2) by Felicia Day, 113 pages, read by Tammy, on 04/27/2016


Set before the first season of the Internet show, The Guild, this collection provides back stories for the other members of the Guild, since book one focused on Felicia Day’s character. Written by Felicia Day with the series actors, director and producer this is a perfect introduction to the characters before seeing the show or fun for fans to read too. Some of the back stories revealed here ended up influencing later seasons of the Internet series.

The Martian

Martian by Andy Weir , 369 pages, read by Tammy, on 04/14/2016


Mark Watney is part of the third mission to Mars which is going smoothly until a sudden dust storm separates him from the rest of the crew who are forced to evacuate thinking he is dead.

When Mark wakes up he finds himself stranded alone on Mars, with no way to communicate with Earth and no way to signal his crew aboard their ship that his alive. His provisions will never last the years it will take before a rescue team could arrive. But he probably won’t starve to death. The Mars bitter cold, lack of oxygen or just making a mistake will kill him long before he starves.

He only has his own botany experience and engineering skills as well as his broad sense of humor to help him survive. The story moves quickly along as he surmounts one problem after another. Grounded in real science this is a great survival tale.

Princeless story by Jeremy Whitley

Princeless by Story by Jeremy Whitley; Art and colors by M. Goodwin; Letters by Jung Ha Kim; Edits by Shawn Gabborin., 140 pages, read by Kira, on 04/26/2016


Princess Adrienne never wanted to be a princess (hating the bedtime stories her mother read).  Yet on her 16th birthday her parents drug her food and place her in a tower with a young dragon.  Adrienne makes friends with the dragon and escapes.

Great Satire on stereotypes!

The Sword of Summer by Rick Riordan.

The Sword of Summer - Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard by Rick Riordan, 512 pages, read by Kira, on 04/22/2016

Magnus Chase has lived on the streets as a homeless teen for the past 2 years, after his mother was killed by 2 giant wolves.  Turns out the giant wolves stepped out of Norse mythology and Magnus is the son of Frey, the only person capable of wielding the Summer Sword, he might be able to delay Ragnarok (the Norse Armageddon).

As a kid I loved Greek mythology.  I was excited when I found Norse mythology, an entirely different realm of mythos to read, except the stories just didn’t grab me, there was a bleakness to them and I’d probably been reading condensed “nicefied” stories for children with the Greeks.  I’m delighted to see the wonderful use of Norse mythology as a basis for a lot of fantasy novels these days.  Other Norse based books I’ve read include Joanne Harris’ Runemarks,  Kim Wilkins’ Giants of the Frost, Kevin Hearne’s Iron Druid Chronicles, Kelley Armstrong’s The Blackwell Pages.  I am glad to see Norse myth being used as a basis for new stories.

I listened to this title on audio while resting from a head injury, meaning I had to go back and find my place before I fell asleep fairly frequently.  Finally I finished it.

The House Next Door

The House Next Door by Anne Rivers Siddons, 346 pages, read by Kim B, on 04/25/2016

Anne Rivers Siddons departs from her usual genre to write this paranormal tale of a house that is created to feed on the lives who live there. It is a tale of three families who come to live in the house within the space of a year and the tragedies they suffer while living there. But it is the neighbors who begin to notice that all is not quite right with “the house next door” and who must deal with the tragedies as they occur. I found this book to be a unique read with a unique spin on the haunted house genre. The plot was well thought out and the characters diverse and intriguing, each in their own way.

Call Me Anna

Call Me Anna by Patty Duke, 298 pages, read by Kim B, on 04/23/2016

Patty Duke’s autobiography Call Me Anna is a whirlwind read. One feels like trying to catch one’s breath when they reach the conclusion. Patty Duke graphically illustrates all of the problems she had growing up as a child star and even before, having been born the youngest of three siblings to an alcoholic father and a mentally ill mother. She very poignantly describes her descent into manic-depression (before there was even a name for it) and the causes that led to this debilitating mental illness. A very moving story and a reminder to all of us that not all that glitters is Hollywood and that mental illness can strike anyone at anytime no matter their background, their age, or intellect.

John Quincy Adams: Militant Spirit

John Quincy Adams: Militant Spirit by James Traub, 620 pages, read by Kim B, on 04/18/2016


Traub’s biography of John Quincy Adams is a great read not only of the man, but of early American history and his place in it. The author draws an accurate portrait of the man who became the sixth president of the United States. While his career centered on government and preserving the values of the Declaration of Independence, his personal life was very traumatic. Adams suffered from depression as well as a rigid sense of duty to country, family, and his own personal beliefs. His often stern and rigid personality was a detriment to relationships, particularly his marriage and to his children. He and his spouse suffered the loss of many children, but their family tragedies did not draw them any closer together. Adams was one of the great American diplomats who traveled the world to promote the United States to royal courts and foreign governments. He accomplished much during his tenure as President and accomplished even more as a Congressman, but for all of his achievements he did not die a happy man.

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