Tag Archives: Christian

5 stars for Speak Its Name by Kathleen Jowitt #FF #Christian @kathleenjowitt

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Title: Speak Its Name
Author Name & Publisher: Kathleen Jowitt
Publication Date & Length: February 2, 2016 — 278 Pages

Synopsis

A new year at the University of Stancester, and Lydia Hawkins is trying to balance the demands of her studies with her responsibilities as an officer for the Christian Fellowship. Her mission: to make sure all the Christians in her hall stay on the straight and narrow, and to convert the remaining residents if possible. To pass her second year. And to ensure a certain secret stays very secret indeed.

When she encounters the eccentric, ecumenical student household at 27 Alma Road, Lydia is forced to expand her assumptions about who’s a Christian to include radical Quaker activist Becky, bells-and-smells bus-spotter Peter, and out (bisexual) and proud (Methodist) Colette. As the year unfolds, Lydia discovers that there are more ways to be Christian – and more ways to be herself – than she had ever imagined.

Then a disgruntled member of the Catholic Society starts asking whether the Christian Fellowship is really as Christian as it claims to be, and Lydia finds herself at the centre of a row that will reach far beyond the campus. Speak Its Name explores what happens when faith, love and politics mix and explode.

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Review

FiveStars

This is probably a book best enjoyed by people who have connections to Christian communities or have an understanding of them. However, if anyone wants a glimpse into the world of conservative evangelical Christianity, this is an excellent example of what it looks like. It’s also a good read for straight Christians who want to understand what it’s like to be LGBTQ within those conservative spaces.

It’s hard to categorize my own feelings after reading this. At times, it was so familiar as to be painful. Because this is set in the UK and I’m in the US, I spotted some distinct cultural differences, particularly with the university system. However, every last detail about the Christian Fellowship group was achingly familiar, right down to the lingo, the statement of belief, and the narrowly specific teachings. It was enough that I cringed with apology for Americans having exported this brand of faith.

This is not a fast-paced story. It’s a slow-bloom both regarding Lydia’s expanding definition of what it means to be a Christian and her romance with Colette. I was both surprised and yet not at the way the faith-based politics played out in the story as well as Lydia’s role in it all. Once again, it felt horribly familiar. Yet there was comfort in the realization that we who have been through similar things are not alone.

One thing I particularly liked was seeing the characters struggling to make sense of Lydia’s orientation but seen from her perspective. A lot of Christian novels on LGBTQ issues are about Christians trying to figure out what to do with their gay friends and family, but they aren’t told in the words and thoughts of the gay person themselves. It was a good change of pace watching it happen from inside, from Lydia’s point of view, and seeing the different reactions in contrast with each other.

This is an ideal read for anyone trying to make sense of Christian faith and being LGBTQ or being friends and family of LGBTQ people. The characters and setting feel real, and it’s so well-written with rich detail. It could be difficult for some readers to revisit a painful past, but others will find a kinship with Lydia and her group of friends.

~Amy

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5 Stars for Gemstone (Out for You) by Anastasia Vitsky #FF #Spanking @AnastasiaVitsky

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Title: Gemstone (Out For You)
Author Name: Anastasia Vitsky
Publication Date & Length: June 1, 2015 – 181 pgs

Synopsis

Can lies build a foundation for love?

Gemma Parquin has a secret. By day, she’s the center of her church’s social life. By night, she’s Mistress Lorelei on Kinklife, online disciplinarian of babygirls and all who need spanking, whipping, and—her personal favorite—figging.

No one suspects, until neighbor Celine Daniels comes across Gemma’s Kinklife profile. Stunned and nursing a secret crush, she creates an account under the name starrygirl793 and “catfishes” the Mistress…and gets more than she bargained for. Before she knows it, Celine is also leading a double life.

Meanwhile, Gemma’s best friend sets her up with an online dating service. Enter Stella, who is everything Celine is not—sophisticated, successful, and straightforward. But she doesn’t understand the kink Gemma holds dear.

How can Gemma trust Celine, who has lied to her? Or give up Mistress Lorelei in order to be with Stella? Should Gemma give up on love altogether, or can she still find happiness?

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Review

FiveStars

Another wonderful book by Ms. Vitsky. There are so many reasons I love her work, and this was no exception. Once again, I was hooked on the first page.

As usual, this was another story that made me think deeply about forgiveness and redemption. It was much more overtly Christian, which may not be for everyone but was a definite selling point for me. I adored the group personality of the church ladies and found myself relating in the sense of recognizing the dynamics and enjoying their relationships. I’d have loved to know more about them.

The relationships between Gemma and the other women in the story were fascinating. I found it interesting that she was so reserved with those in her offline life but much more willing to let her natural personality out online. I think that’s something many people can relate to in an era when a lot of our interactions are online rather than face-to-face.

Despite her deceptions, Celine was my favorite character. I thought she experienced the most growth during the course of the story–from someone wanting to learn more about the woman she loved to discovering herself as a person with a complex identity, she was a treasure.

There were moments when I wasn’t sure how I felt about some of the things both Gemma and Celine did. Gemma seemed quick to blame Celine despite her own shortcomings. However, I think that’s realistic, and the way in which they moved past it made sense to who they were. I’m not sure how I would have reacted in their situation; probably not any differently.

For me, this story went beyond simply entertaining me (though it did plenty of that too). It made me think deeply about the themes and the interactions between the characters. All in all, a multi-faceted and enjoyable read.

Amy

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3 stars for Inclination by Mia Kerick #MM #YA #Christian twitter.com/MiaKerick

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 Title: Inclincation
Author : Mia Kerick
Publication Date and Length: Feburary 25th 2015 , 206 pages
Synopsis

Sixteen-year-old Anthony Duck-Young Del Vecchio is a nice Catholic boy with a very big problem. It’s not the challenge of fitting in as the lone adopted South Korean in a close-knit family of Italian-Americans.  Nor is it being the one introverted son in a family jam-packed with gregarious daughters. Anthony’s problem is far more serious—he is the only gay kid in Our Way, his church’s youth group. As a high school junior, Anthony has finally come to accept his sexual orientation, but he struggles to determine if a gay man can live as a faithful Christian. And as he faces his dilemma, there are complications. After confiding his gayness to his intolerant adult youth group leader, he’s asked to find a new organization with which to worship. He’s beaten up in the church parking lot by a fanatical teen. His former best pal bullies him in the locker room. His Catholic friends even stage an intervention to lead him back to the “right path.” Meanwhile, Anthony develops romantic feelings for David Gandy, an emo, out and proud junior at his high school, who seems to have all the answers about how someone can be gay and Christian, too.

Will Anthony be able to balance his family, friends and new feelings for David with his changing beliefs about his faith so he can live a satisfying life and not risk his soul in the process?

 

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Review
ThreeStar
Inclination

by Mia Kerick

 

I picked this up because I loved the premise–a teenager learning to embrace both his sexuality and his faith. I really like reading about lgbtq people of faith. I was also excited to see that it had two other things I love: Boston and Italian families, both things that are familiar to me.

At first, I really enjoyed the story. I liked the main character right away. There were so many great facets, and the story dives right into his intense feelings of insecurity and anxiety. These are relatable for teens in a lot of ways.

Unfortunately, I ended up being disappointed. The story is very black-and-white: there are clear “bad guys” and “good guys,” and clear lines about what “sin” is. I was frustrated so often with Anthony’s friend/love interest, David, because despite being one of the supposed “good guys,” he was even more self-righteous than the obviously bigoted Catholic kids. He was incredibly preachy, and a lot of his scenes were hard to read because they came off as moralizing rather than empathetic.

I was also frustrated by the constant theme of “sex is bad outside marriage” and a lot of heteronormativity, including the expectation (rather than the option) of marriage and family. I was so disappointed in the way the intimacy between the two boys was explored. Again, it only talked about one single view on sexual expression, and it sometimes read like an ad for abstinence.

I think there were some great themes in there–like bullying and forgiveness–but the message about sex outside marriage was actually far louder and spoiled a lot of the enjoyment for me. I really would have liked instead for more on the gay-bashing incident and the fallout from that. I think that was probably the place where I saw the best examples of what being a person of faith and being gay meant.
3 stars

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Inclination
authorbio
Mia Kerick is the mother of four exceptional children—all named after saints—and five nonpedigreed cats—all named after the next best thing to saints, Boston Red Sox players. Her husband of twenty years has been told by many that he has the patience of Job, but don’t ask Mia about that, as it is a sensitive subject.
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