books

Book Blitz: Call Me a Woman: On Our Way to Equality and Peace – Laurie Levin

CallmeaWoman

I’m thrilled to share Call Me a Woman: On Our Way to Equality and Peace by Laurie Levin. Read on for book details and enter the giveaway for a chance to win a $25 Amazon e-gift card!

41nPrBkiXqSCall Me a Woman: On Our Way To Equality and Peace

Publication Date: April 30th, 2021

Genre: Non-Fiction/ Gender Studies

It’s time to raise the bar.

When we give women the same respect and opportunities as men, we give the world its best chance for peace, prosperity, and survival.

Angry about sexism and misogyny and what you personally have endured? Afraid the world won’t get its act together in time to save itself?

Call Me A Woman combines Levin’s personal story, years of research, global studies, and activism.

Inside youll discover

  • The most important thing parents can do to change the world
  • Our unconscious habits that perpetuate inequality
  • Inspiring stories to shift resentment to empathy, hope, and action
  • The 7 Habits of Equality to speed our way to gender equality and peace
  • Inner peace and freedom as you become the solution

Personal interviews with: Lynn Povich, first woman senior editor Newsweek magazine; Maxine Clark, founder Build-A-Bear Workshop; Gloria Feldt, former CEO and President Planned Parenthood Federation of America, NY Times Best-Selling Author; Mark Levin, biotech industry leader, founder, and CEO; Zaron Burnett III, investigative journalist and writer.

If you are ready to become part of the solution, it is time to read

Call Me A Woman: On Our Way to Equality and Peace.

Purchase on Amazon

About the Author

Laurie Levin Headshot

Laurie Levin has been a human rights advocate her entire adult life. Early in her 20’s, she headed the reproductive rights efforts for NOW-St. Louis. She was the Missouri Coordinator for a Department of Peace working alongside Marianne Williamson. She was the Missouri co-chair of Room To Read—a global non-profit that focuses on girls’ education and children’s literacy in Asia and Africa. She was co-chair of the Missouri Executive Women for Hillary Rodham Clinton’s 2016 Presidential campaign.

Laurie refers to herself as a Transformation Coach as she helps others transform and master their own wellbeing. She specializes in optimal nutrition, healthy weight loss, and the leading HeartMath® stress reduction techniques. She has been a featured speaker on each of these topics at corporations, wellness events and retreats, schools and universities, hospitals, ex-convict re-entry programs, and cancer support organizations.

She has an MBA, is a Certified Coach, and HeartMath® Certified Coach, supporting clients globally to achieve their health and well-being goals.

Laurie spent 25 years in corporate America, leaving as a Vice President of one of the largest U.S. national research companies. She went on to start her own business in the health field in 200l.

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books, reviews

Book Review: The Jasmine Throne – Tasha Suri

One is a vengeful princess seeking to depose her brother from his throne.
The other is a priestess searching for her family.
Together, they will change the fate of an empire.

Imprisoned by her dictator brother, Malini spends her days in isolation in the Hirana: an ancient temple that was once the source of powerful magic – but is now little more than a decaying ruin.

Priya is a maidservant, one of several who make the treacherous journey to the top of the Hirana every night to attend Malini’s chambers. She is happy to be an anonymous drudge, as long as it keeps anyone from guessing the dangerous secret she hides. But when Malini accidentally bears witness to Priya’s true nature, their destinies become irrevocably tangled . . .

My thoughts:

This was so, so good. All of the women in this book are heroes in different ways; Priya, Malini and Bhumika all want to stop the emperor and save their people, but even the servants like Sima or the rebels like Kritika have their roles to play. All of them want to be strong, to survive in a world where they’ve been held back by tradition and rules.

Priya has to remember her past, and use it to find the sacred living waters hidden inside the Hirana, the temple where she was raised, to access her gifts. Malini has to become something more than the emperor’s hated sister, drugged into delirium and abandoned to her fate. They learn to trust one another and together begin to unite all those who oppose Chandra’s cruelty and liberate themselves.

The plot crackles as it carries you along, slowly developing the characters so you find yourself cheering them on, willing them to succeed, to stay alive, to fight. And the bond between them grows, like the plants of the forest. I really enjoyed the author’s previous books and I can’t wait for the next one in this series – as they come into their power and grow stronger, begin the fight back.

**I was sent an arc of this book by the publisher and a finished copy was in my May Illumicrate box, but all opinions are my own.**

blog tour, books, LGBTQ+, reviews

Blog Tour: Gender Euphoria – edited by Laura Kate Dale*

So often, the stories shared by trans people about their transition centre on gender dysphoria: a feeling of deep discomfort with their birth-assigned gender, and a powerful catalyst for coming out or transitioning. But for many non-cisgender people, it’s gender euphoria which pushes forward their transition: the joy the first time a parent calls them by their new chosen name, the first time they have the confidence to cut their hair short, the first time they truly embrace themself. Gender Euphoria seeks to show the world the sheer variety of ways that being non cisgender can be a beautiful, joyful experience. What each of the book’s essayists have in common are their feelings of elation, pride, confidence, freedom and ecstasy as a direct result of coming out as non-cisgender, and how coming to terms with their gender brought unimaginable joy into their lives.

Laura Kate Dale is a full-time video game critic, video creator, podcaster and author. Her first book was Uncomfortable Labels, a memoir about growing up at the intersection of being a member of the LGBT community and living with autism, and she writes regularly on the theme of transgender rights and experience. She can be found tweeting at @LaurakBuzz, where she has over 53k followers.

My thoughts: this collection of essays was moving and powerful, it made me cry a few times – happy tears, the joy of finally being able to express your true self leaps off the page.

I identify as non-binary, I’ve never really felt “female” and it was a long time before I understood that you don’t have to be one or the other, you can just be yourself.

This is something I have in common with the writers of this collection – a need to identify as the person you are, not other people’s perceptions of you. This is a wonderful sample of some of the complex and infinite variety of human that there is in the world, enjoyable and thoughtful, I am pleased I got to read it.

*I was kindly gifted a copy of this book in exchange for taking part in the blog tour but all opinions remain my own.

books, reviews

Dylan Thomas Prize 2021 Shortlisted – The Death of Vivek Oji – Akwaeke Emezi – book review

The winner of the Dylan Thomas Prize – which is for international young writers – will be announced today. So keep an eye on Twitter for the winner.

Launched in 2006, the annual Swansea University Dylan Thomas Prize is one of the most prestigious awards for young writers, aimed at encouraging raw creative talent worldwide. It celebrates and nurtures international literary excellence. Worth £20,000, it is one of the UK’s most prestigious literary prizes as well as one of the world’s largest literary prizes for young writers. Awarded for the best published literary work in the English language, written by an author aged 39 or under, the Prize celebrates the international world of fiction in all its forms including poetry, novels, short stories and drama. The prize is named after the Swansea-born writer, Dylan Thomas, and celebrates his 39 years of creativity and productivity. One of the most influential, internationally-renowned writers of the mid-twentieth century, the prize invokes his memory to support the writers of today and nurture the talents of tomorrow.

I was kindly sent a copy of one of the shortlisted titles – The Death of Vivek Oji by Akwaeke Emezi to read and review and my thoughts are below. It arrived a bit later than planned due to a delivery mix up but better late than never!

What does it mean for a family to lose a child they never really knew?

One afternoon, in a town in southeastern Nigeria, a mother opens her front door to discover her son’s body, wrapped in colorful fabric, at her feet. What follows is the tumultuous, heart-wrenching story of one family’s struggle to understand a child whose spirit is both gentle and mysterious. Raised by a distant father and an understanding but overprotective mother, Vivek suffers disorienting blackouts, moments of disconnection between self and surroundings. As adolescence gives way to adulthood, Vivek finds solace in friendships with the warm, boisterous daughters of the Nigerwives, foreign-born women married to Nigerian men. But Vivek’s closest bond is with Osita, the worldly, high-spirited cousin whose teasing confidence masks a guarded private life. As their relationship deepens—and Osita struggles to understand Vivek’s escalating crisis—the mystery gives way to a heart-stopping act of violence in a moment of exhilarating freedom. 

Propulsively readable, teeming with unforgettable characters, The Death of Vivek Oji is a novel of family and friendship that challenges expectations—a dramatic story of loss and transcendence that will move every reader.

My thoughts: this is beautiful and terribly, terribly sad, for several reasons.

From the title you know that someone dies, but the book is about how that someone, Vivek Oji, lived. It’s about his childhood, told through his cousin’s words and about his secrets, told through his friends. Vivek is only young when he dies, and his grief-stricken mother searches for answers – how did he die, who brought his body to the door of their house and left it there?

Slowly, as Vivek’s story unfolds, we learn about him, about who he really was, about the secrets he kept from all but his closest friends.

Beautifully written, moving and tragic, this is the story of one life, but it could be the story of so many, keeping parts of themselves hidden and secret, keeping love and truth buried, even as it causes them pain.

**some of the above text is taken from a press release about the shortlist but the review is entirely my own opinions and words**

blog tour, books, reviews

Blog Tour: Things to do Before the End of the World – Emily Barr*

A timely and powerful coming-of-age thriller from the bestselling author of The One Memory of Flora Banks.

What would you do when you hear the news that humans have done such damage to the earth that there might only be a limited amount of safe air left – a year’s worth at most?
You’d work through your bucket list, heal rifts, do everything you’ve never been brave enough to do before?

Olivia is struggling to do any of this. What it is she truly wants to do? Who do she wants to be?

Then out of the blue comes contact from a long-lost cousin Olivia didn’t even know existed. Natasha is everything Olivia wants to be and more. And as the girls meet up for a long, hot last summer, Olivia finds Natasha’s ease and self-confidence having an effect on her.

But Natasha definitely isn’t everything she first appears to be . . .

My thoughts: this was an interesting take on all the apocalypse fiction around at the moment – instead of a plague, the permafrost has melted releasing tons of carbon dioxide into the air, basically suffocating the world. But before that happens, people are going all out.

Libby heads to Spain with her mum and stepdad for a once in a lifetime (literally, the world ends in a month) holiday. Where they’re joined by her estranged cousin Natasha. Who isn’t entirely who she claims to be.

Hijinks ensue and Libby winds up in Paris, where things start to unravel. Can she make it home before the air runs out?

I liked Libby, I liked her determination to do things “one day”, I recognised that feeling. She was a lot stronger and more able than she felt, and as her confidence grew and she started to come out of her shell, she became more interesting and 3D.

Natasha was an interesting foil to Libby’s innocence and book smarts, with her street hustler skills and devil may care attitude, but she’s definitely not likeable. Her “take what you can” ways are cruel and manipulative, I like to think she gets her comeuppance at some point for the way she tricks people.

As someone who would die quite early in this world ending scenario (hello asthma!) I was intrigued by the idea of everyone being smothered. What about the carbon sinks? I was reading about the peat moors the other day and how they can hold an insane amount of carbon. Wouldn’t a lot of it escape into the outer atmosphere? I wish the science had been a little clearer but I suppose that like Libby and her family I wouldn’t necessarily want all the gory details about how we’re all going to die.

*I was kindly gifted a copy of this book in exchange for taking part in the blog tour but all opinions remain my own.

blog tour, books, reviews

Blog Tour: Kate in Waiting – Becky Albertelli*

From bestselling YA rom-com queen Becky Albertalli (author of Love, Simon) comes a new novel about daring to step out of the shadows and into the spotlight in love, life and theatre.
[PRINCIPAL CAST LIST]
Kate Garfield
Anderson Walker
Best friends, and contrary to popular belief, not co-dependent.

Examples:Carpooling to and from theatre rehearsals? Environmentally sound and efficient.
Consulting each other on every single life decision? Basic good judgment.
Pining for the same guys from afar? Shared crushes are more fun anyway.
But when Kate and Andy’s latest long-distance crush shows up at their school, everything goes off-script.
Enter Stage Left: Matt OlssonHe is talented and sweet, and Kate likes him. She really likes him. The only problem? So does Anderson.
Turns out, communal crushes aren’t so fun when real feelings are involved. This one might even bring the curtains down on Kate and Anderson’s friendship…

Becky Albertalli is the author of the acclaimed novels Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda (film: Love, Simon), The Upside of Unrequited, and Leah on the Offbeat. She is also the co-author of What If It’s Us with Adam Silvera. A former clinical psychologist who specialized in working with children and teens, Becky lives with her family in Atlanta. You can visit her online at

She is also the co-author of What If It’s Us with Adam Silvera. A former clinical psychologist who specialized in working with children and teens, Becky lives with her family in Atlanta. You can visit her online at www.beckyalbertalli.com.

My thoughts:

I knew I would enjoy this for two reasons – one, it’s about theatre kids and two, it’s by Becky Albertalli.

A really fun and totally enjoyable read about crushes, friendship, first love and putting on a show. Kate and Andy’s bond is strong and genuine and those are the ones you hold onto. It’s also very funny.


*I was kindly gifted a copy of this book in exchange for taking part in the blog tour but all opinions remain my own.

blog tour, books, reviews

Blog Tour: Zara Hossain is Here – Sabina Khan*

Zara’s family has waited years for their visa process to be finalized so that they can officially become US citizens. But it only takes one moment for that dream to come crashing down around them.

Seventeen-year-old Pakistani immigrant, Zara Hossain, has been leading a fairly typical life in Corpus Christi, Texas, since her family moved there for her father to work as a pediatrician. While dealing with the Islamophobia that she faces at school, Zara has to lay low, trying not to stir up any trouble and jeopardize their family’s dependent visa status while they await their green card approval, which has been in process for almost nine years.

But one day her tormentor, star football player Tyler Benson, takes things too far, leaving a threatening note in her locker, and gets suspended. As an act of revenge against her for speaking out, Tyler and his friends vandalize Zara’s house with racist graffiti, leading to a violent crime that puts Zara’s entire future at risk. Now she must pay the ultimate price and choose between fighting to stay in the only place she’s ever called home or losing the life she loves and everyone in it.

From the author of the “heart-wrenching yet hopeful” (Samira Ahmed) novel, The Love and Lies of Rukhsana Ali, comes a timely, intimate look at what it means to be an immigrant in America today, and the endurance of hope and faith in the face of hate.

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Bookshop.org | Book Depository |

Sabina Khan is the author of ZARA HOSSAIN IS HERE (Scholastic/ April 6, 2021) and THE LOVE & LIES OF RUKHSANA ALI (Scholastic, 2019). She is an educational consultant and a karaoke enthusiast. After living in Germany, Bangladesh, Macao, Illinois and Texas, she has finally settled down in beautiful British Columbia, Canada, with her husband, two daughters and the best puppy in the world.

Twitter | Instagram | Website |

My thoughts:

This was really good, a powerful novel about our differences and our similarities, about race, religion and sexuality. A book about family in all its different guises and friendship.

The fun stuff; bits are really funny, like Zorro the dog and his pizza hedge or Zara’s dad getting carried away on the karaoke machine. There’s so much food I was practically drooling all the way through – South Asian food is delicious and I was extremely hungry (I made curry after I finished it, also you should definitely try bhel puri, it’s amazing). The romance between Zara and Chloe was sweet and tender.

The not so fun stuff; racism, Islamophobia, homophobia, bigotry. What happens to Zara’s dad is really awful, what she and her family endure from the small minority of idiots that think the colour of someone’s skin or the way they practice their faith is an acceptable thing to attack. It’s very sad and it made me very angry. Some of my best friends are Indian and Pakistani, some of them are Muslim too and I hate how they have to deal with ignorance and bigotry.

There is hope in the book, though, Zara has so much hope and that is so so important when dealing with things like this. She’s determined to stand up and fight back against the racists and the bigots. I stand with all the Zaras out there dealing with this nonsense (trying really hard not to swear) as an ally.

An important, timely book and one I hope lots of people choose to read.

To follow the tour, click on the banner.

*I was kindly gifted a copy of this book in exchange for taking part in the blog tour but all opinions remain my own.

blog tour, books, reviews

Blog Tour: Vera Kelly is Not a Mystery – Rosalie Knecht*

Read my review of Who Is Vera Kelly?

Recently out-of-the-spy-game heroine Vera Kelly finds herself travelling from Brooklyn to a sprawling countryside estate in the Caribbean in her first case as a private investigator.

When ex-CIA agent Vera Kelly loses her job and her girlfriend in a single day, she reluctantly goes into business as a private detective.

Heartbroken and cash-strapped, she takes a case that dredges up dark memories and attracts dangerous characters from across the Cold War landscape. Before it’s over, she’ll chase a lost child through foster care and follow a trail of Dominican exiles to the Caribbean.

Forever looking over her shoulder, she nearly misses what’s right in front of her: her own desire for home, connection, and a new romance at the local bar.

In this exciting second instalment of the ‘splendid genre-pushing’ (People) Vera Kelly series, Rosalie Knecht challenges and deepens the Vera we love: a woman of sparkling wit, deep moral fibre, and martini-dry humour who knows how to follow a case even as she struggles to follow her heart.

Rosalie Knecht is the author of Who Is Vera Kelly?, Vera Kelly Is Not A Mystery and Relief Map. She is also the translator of César Aira’s The Seamstress and the Wind (New Directions). She lives in New Jersey.

Twitter Twitter (Verve Books)Website

My thoughts:

This second outing for reluctant former CIA agent, Vera Kelly, is another fun misadventure. This time Vera is down on her luck, dumped and fired, she sets up shop as a PI.

Struggling to get clients who trust a woman, she takes on the case of a missing boy. Only she senses something off about her clients. So it’s off to the Dominican Republic to find out more, and then back to New York in a hurry as she tangles with the bad guys.

She’s also trying to find love, will something happen between her and Max, the bartender from the gay bar she frequents? In a dangerous time to be queer, Vera treads carefully but might just need to trust a bit more.

I really enjoyed this book and Vera’s adventures, despite the lack of training the CIA gave her, she’s good at disappearing into a role and has a strong sense of right and wrong. She tangles with dangerous people and risks her neck a few times, but somehow always gets through. I hope there’s more to come.

*I was kindly gifted a copy of this book in exchange for taking part in the blog tour but all opinions remain my own.

blog tour, books, reviews

Blog Tour: The Unbroken – C.L. Clark*

In an epic fantasy unlike any other, two women clash in a world full of rebellion, espionage, and military might on the far outreaches of a crumbling desert empire.
Touraine is a soldier. Stolen as a child and raised to kill and die for the empire, her only loyalty is to her fellow conscripts. But now, her company has been sent back to her homeland to stop a rebellion, and the ties of blood may be stronger than she thought.

Luca needs a turncoat. Someone desperate enough to tiptoe the bayonet’s edge between treason and orders. Someone who can sway the rebels toward peace, while Luca focuses on what really matters: getting her uncle off her throne.

Through assassinations and massacres, in bedrooms and war rooms, Touraine and Luca will haggle over the price of a nation. But some things aren’t for sale.

My thoughts:

This was a brilliant read, so well written with the world building inspired by North African history and its peoples. The way it’s set up is clever, parts are very moving and gripping, there’s magic and pitched street battles, negotiations and secret rendezvous.

Both Touraine and Luca are intriguing, devisive characters, it’s easy to like and dislike them at the same time. They share an optimism, Touraine’s a little more jaded, but both want change, a better life for the people of Qazal and the people but have very complicated paths ahead of them to achieve it.

A fantastic first book from a new voice in modern fantasy.

*I was kindly gifted a copy of this book in exchange for taking part in the blog tour but all opinions remain my own.

blog tour, books, reviews

Blog Tour: Atonement Camp for Unrepentant Homophobes – Evan J. Corbin*


The oldest translation of a Gospel is returned to the world by a secret society long dedicated to its preservation. In it, Jesus explicitly condemns bigotry and homophobia.

In a new world in which LGBTQ passengers receive preferential boarding for flights and the United States has elected its first lesbian President, Pastor Rick Harris is stalwart, closeted preacher who doggedly holds onto his increasingly unpopular convictions.When an incendiary sermon goes too far and offends an influential family, Rick makes a painful choice to keep his job: He attends an atonement camp run by drag queens for society’s most unrepentant and terminally incurable homophobes.

Atonement Camp is immersion therapy for Pastor Harris, and it might be working. An open bar with pedicures, a devastatingly attractive roommate and an endless supply of glitter help him manage to make new friends. Soon, Rick and his cohorts learn the camp may hold its own secrets. Amid the smiling faces and scantily clad pool boys who staff the camp, a clandestine group plots to discredit the New Revelation and everything it stands for.

If Rick has the conviction to confront his own hypocrisy, he might be able to uncover the conspirators with help from his adopted flock-and find new truths within himself.

My thoughts:

This was a blackly comic fantasy about a future where being gay isn’t a sin anymore – in fact the Church has done a complete 360 and now it’s homophobes they abhor.

Rick, whose father was an old school preacher, has kept up with his family’s beliefs, which sees him packed off to a camp to atone. Where he uncovers an entire scam and goes on the run with some drag queens – one of whom is very familiar.

I really enjoyed this, it was campy, and clever and reminded me of some of my favourite books and films – How I Paid for College, But I’m a Cheerleader, Camp, in its tone and ideas. A reminder to be yourself, and be honest whatever society says.

*I was kindly gifted a copy of this book in exchange for taking part in the blog tour but all opinions remain my own.