You Choose, I Read: Rubyfruit Jungle by Rita Mae Brown

rubyfruit_jungle

Rubyfruit Jungle
By Rita Mae Brown
Publisher: Bantam Books
ISBN: 9780553146967
Pages: 246
Genre: Fiction/LGTBQ+

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Bawdy and moving, the ultimate word-of-mouth bestseller, Rubyfruit Jungle is about growing up a lesbian in America–and living happily ever after.


My Thoughts

Rubyfruit Jungle was selected by Ceri from Bookmarks and Postcards as part of my running feature, You Choose, I Read. As soon as I read the short, sweet synopsis and skimmed a few reviews, I knew this was kismet. I cannot honestly say how this book has flown under my radar for so long. I am almost ashamed of this fact. But thanks to Ceri, we have been rightfully united. I love this book!

The skinny..

This is a fictional biography of sorts following the life of Molly Bolt from young adolescence into adulthood. Molly realizes at a young age that she is attracted to women and is brilliantly unapologetic for this. Determined to pave her way and set her own rules in a world “run” by men with very narrow views on sexuality, she sets out on a driven but often hard path of self-discovery to obtain her own goals and desires.

“All this overt heterosexuality amused me. If only they knew.”

What I appreciated..

  • Molly is beautifully, shamelessly unapologetic about who she is, all that she feels and her own desires. She embodies the traits I love and seek out not only in protagonists but in humans. She simply is and embraces herself.
  • Rubyfruit Jungle presents multiple, often still (sadly) relevant themes addressing misconceptions, challenges, and the labeling that the LGBTQ+ community faces as well as being a woman and/or queer in a misogynistic & racist society and even explores adoption. This book covers so much!
  • Rita Mae Brown’s writing is colorful, bold and raw. She creates a story that while entertaining is significantly something much more. She intelligently explores the uncomfortable with a sense of wit and humor that will make her story more accessible to audiences.
  • The linear narrative provides a steady, solid character development that facilitates an effortless reading experience.
  • Rubyfruit Jungle offers a sense of relatability and hope that I admired and benefited from on a personal level. I felt stronger and better for having completed its pages.

“I wished I could get up in the morning and look at the day the way I used to when I was a child. I wished I could walk down the streets and not hear those constant, abrasive sounds from the mouths of the opposite sex. Damn, I wished the world would let me be myself.”

Challenges some may enounter..

  • There is one particular relationship I found to be problematic and I feel other readers will as well.
  • There are moments Rita Mae’s writing can easily be described as vulgar and graphic. Please expect to encounter sexual content, derogatory language and other possibly uncomfortable topics pertinent to the themes contained within. (As always, if you have any questions before approaching it feel free to message or email me.)

“The most revolutionary thing you can do is to be yourself, to speak your truth, to open your arms to life including the pain. Passion. Find your passions.

Rubyfruit Jungle is brazen and bold. Written during the 70s, it surely should have taken the world by storm! It is a charming and daring coming of age story with a rewarding and spirited protagonist that I am not likely to forget. It has effortlessly earned a spot among my favorites.

tea cup

Pair Molly’s energetic, feisty attitude with your favorite chai or spiced blend.

Grab a Copy: Amazon.com

Book Depository

*Disclosure: I use affiliate links and may earn a small commission for purchases made through them. Click here for details.


Meet The Blogger Who Selected This Book

ceri_bookmarksandpostcards

Ceri & Bookmarks and Postcards

I’m Ceri. I’m a bookworm, an English teacher, and a tea addict. I’ve recently moved back to Wales after spending 6 years living abroad in Mexico, South Korea, and Singapore. I used to blog about my adventures overseas and expat life. Now I blog about what I’m reading, which is usually a lot of literary fiction, classics, and non-fiction.

I picked Rubyfruit Jungle because it was the first LGBT-themed book written from a woman’s point of view that I truly connected with. I wish I’d read this book while I was growing up. It explores ideas of gender, sexuality, social expectations, and adoption, and I love Molly’s hilarious & unapologetic narrative voice. This really is a favourite of mine and a perfectly-timed read for Pride month!

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Happy Reading,

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A People’s History of the Vampire Uprising by Raymond A. Villareal

Vampire_Uprising

A People’s History of the Vampire Uprising
By Raymond A. Villareal
Publisher: Mulholland Books
ISBN: 9780316561686
Pages: 432
Genre: Science Fiction/Paranormal

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A virus that turns people into something somehow more than human quickly sweeps the world, upending society as we know it.

This panoramic thriller begins with one small mystery. The body of a young woman found in an Arizona border town, presumed to be an illegal immigrant, walks out of the town morgue. To the young CDC investigator called in to consult the local police, it’s a bizarre medical mystery.

More bodies, dead of a mysterious disease that solidifies their blood, are brought to the morgue, and disappear. In a futile game of catch-up, the CDC, the FBI, and the US government must come to terms with what they’re too late to stop: an epidemic of vampirism that will sweep first the United States, and then the world.

Impossibly strong, smart, poised, beautiful, and commanding, these vampires reject the term as derogatory, preferring the euphemistic “gloamings.” They quickly rise to prominence in all aspects of modern society: sports, entertainment, and business. Soon people are begging to be ‘re-created,’ willing to accept the risk of death if their bodies can’t handle the transformation. The stakes change yet again when a charismatic and wealthy businessman, recently turned, decides to do what none of his kind has done before: run for political office.

This sweeping yet deeply intimate fictional oral history–told from the perspectives of several players on all sides of the titular vampire uprising–is a genre-bending, shocking, immersive and subversive debut that is as addictive as the power it describes.


My Thoughts

A People’s History of the Vampire Uprising appealed to me with the promise of science fiction encapsulating a tale of the paranormal. I have and probably will always hold an affection for vampires and their mythical abilities and immortality. So when a book promises exactly that merged with one of my favorites genres, it is sure to be my cup of tea. And I have to admit, it went down pretty smooth!

The skinny..

Hard to fully summarize, this is an interesting timeline that follows the evolution of a disease and the impact it has on society. When a young woman’s body is discovered and then disappears from a local town morgue, a CDC investigator soon realizes there is something mysterious happening. As more bodies begin to surface and then also disappear, the CDC, FBI, and Government find they have a new virus and epidemic on their hands that can only be described as vampirism. As infected individuals that are now known as Gloamings emerge, they soon begin a campaign to stake their claim within a society that is equally terrified and mesmerized by them. A battle for power and control is brewing.

What I appreciate..

  • As a debut novel, this is one of the most ambitious I have encountered. Villareal has left no stone unturned, brilliantly covering all potential facets of an uprising.
  • The writing is knowledgeable and thorough, providing evidence of the author’s dedication and labor to the craft that sets a significantly high standard.
  • World building is solid and very reminiscent of the present, crafting something frighteningly familiar and viable.
  • Alternating perspectives, cleverly inserted footnotes and mixed media carve a concise and clear timeline of events that offer the reader a complete and fully engaging experience.
  • The author successfully combines elements of the paranormal and science providing something innovative and new, daring to examine humanity from every imaginable angle. This is an all-encompassing story ranging from religious and political viewpoints to the effects of a virus on the lives of everyday people and society.

Challenges some may encounter..

  • Multiple points of view can detract from establishing a solid connection with specific characters.
  • The pacing fluctuated greatly between specific perspectives.
  • The Gloamings were a fascinating new race that warranted more spotlight than they are given within the story. I craved more development than what we are shown.
  • During the last 25% or so the timeline takes an odd shift and the waters finally become muddled.
  • An abrupt ending felt incomplete.

Ultimately, A People’s History of the Vampire Uprising is a highly motivated read that offers something incredibly thorough and complex. The author leaves no avenue unexplored, covering every thinkable aspect (I know I have said this, but I cannot stress it enough). Fans of science fiction and the paranormal will easily devour its pages, but perhaps find themselves needing just a little more. If you do not mind alternating PoVs and the shifting pace, I highly recommend this one!

*I would like to thank Mulholland Books for this advanced copy. The above review is my own, unbiased and honest opinion.

tea cup

Serves well with a nice Pu’erh or favorite caffeinated blend to settle in for a long, gripping read.

Grab a Copy: Amazon.com

Book Depository

*Disclosure: I use affiliate links and may earn a small commission for purchases made through them. Click here for details.

Happy Reading,
Danielle ❤

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Book Extract: That Summer in Puglia by Valeria Vescina

Today I am pleased to share something different with an extract of Valeria Vescina’s ‘That Summer in Puglia’ as the final stop on the blog tour hosted by Bookollective.


The Book

that_summer_in_pugliaThat Summer in Puglia
By Valeria Vescina
Publisher: Eyewear Publishing
ISBN: 9781912477999
Pages: 303

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Tommaso has escaped discovery for thirty years but a young private investigator, Will, has tracked him down. Tommaso asks him to pretend never to have found him. To persuade Will, Tommaso recounts the story of his life and his great love. In the process, he comes to recognise his true role in the events which unfolded, and the legacy of unresolved grief. Now he’s being presented with a second chance – but is he ready to pay the price it exacts? THAT SUMMER IN PUGLIA is a tale of love, loss, the perils of self-deception and the power of compassion. Puglia offers an ideal setting: its layers of history are integral to the story, itself an excavation of a man’s past; Tommaso’s increasingly vivid memories of its sensuous colours, aromas and tastes, and of how it felt to love and be loved, eventually transform the discomforting tone with which he at first tries to keep Will and painful truths at a distance. This remarkable debut combines a gripping plot and perceptive insights into human nature with delicate lyricism.

Purchase A Copy: Amazon  Amazon.UK  Book Depository


Extract From Chapter 4 of That Summer in Puglia

‘I wish I hadn’t fallen in love with you.  You’re going to break my heart, I know it already.’  

‘I’ll never do that.’  We kissed again. Her perfume, flowery and faint, almost made me light-headed.  ‘My God, you’re so beautiful,’ I said.

‘I hope I’m not your God.’  

We both laughed.  

Anna might have said it in jest, but that sentence – ‘I hope I’m not your God’ – has rung in my ears again and again.  Anna’s love felt like an unparalleled blessing. For her and with her I would have perfected any aspect of myself, though she made me feel loved in my entirety; for a time, she could have said the same.  If there’s a God, love between human beings can bring us as close to Him as we’ll ever get.  Cynics scoff at the mention of loves like ours, but their arguments sow misery: too many people settle for second-best in the belief they’re being ‘realistic’, and before long become cynics in turn.  Countless human beings will never experience the kind of love I’m describing, and there it was, being served to Anna and me on a plate. So young. Too young.

How, you might ask, can I have the arrogance of asserting that it wasn’t the elation of ‘first love’, or of the early phase of love, that made ours feel so extraordinary?  

The stubborn rationalist I once was – before falling in love with Anna – would almost certainly have answered by listing some facts: the generous dose of interests we shared; presumably a sprinkling of unconscious mutual needs; a fortunate correspondence and complementarity of qualities…  It wouldn’t be untrue. But it would deny the magic – the most important, yet most elusive, of all facts. How tragically reductive that would be. All I can do is to leave you with my certainty of how it felt to be loved by, and to love, Anna – and with a thought: the man who concluded that ‘The Heart knows reasons whereof Reason knows nothing’ wasn’t a hopeless romantic but a stern mathematician.  

In the days which followed the evening in Villanova, we spent every spare moment together, at and outside school.  We dived into our pasts and resurfaced with fragments of memory which the other greeted like priceless finds – stories about our childhoods, our families, friends, old schools, trips…  We shared hidden moments – the hilarious, the painful and the most embarrassing ones – without inhibitions. It’s difficult to remember examples of them now, to fish them out of what feels like a torrent.  But I do recall telling Anna of my maternal grandfather.

He and my grandmother died when I was thirteen.  During my childhood, at our customary Sunday lunch with them, he sometimes offered me two one-hundred-lire coins, provided I managed to keep them under my armpits for the whole meal – an old-fashioned method for teaching table manners.  At age five I was unable to keep my elbows stuck to my ribcage and the coins dropped within seconds onto the floor; at age seven they slid inexorably down my arms until their high-pitched ding on the ceramic tiles chimed my fiasco. Dad’s regular protestations against this practice – a surreptitious cruelty to which I was a willing party, lured by those elusive coins – provoked periods of grudging silences between him and my grandparents.  I must have been eight when at another of Grandpa’s attempts my father’s exasperation spilt over.

‘Isn’t it bad enough that you… already did this to Emma?’  

My grandfather stiffened in his chair.  ‘Did what?’

‘Drummed that pernicious sense of your family’s bygone ‘rightful place in the world’ into her head, and – now I understand – even into her movements.  You want to do the same to my son? Never.’ He poured himself a glass of wine, and took a swig.  

Grandma clutched Grandpa’s arm.  He pulled his glasses closer, the better to glare at Dad.  

Mum looked from him to her parents, and back again.  ‘How can you be so disrespectful?’ Her voice was shaky.  ‘To my father, to me…’

‘Darling, I have huge respect for you.  More than that. You’re the love of my life.  But the whole attitude behind such things – ’ he pointed to the coins on the tablecloth – ‘hasn’t done you any good, has it?’  

‘Ha!’  My mother crossed her arms.  

I watched, uneasy.  I had never witnessed a flare-up between my parents.  Dad’s humour, or Mum’s fondness for him, normally defused their little disagreements.  

‘It’s painful to watch how hard you have to work to overcome your snootiness – whether towards other guests at a party, or towards the grocer, the…’ Dad said.  ‘Being able to enjoy conversations with perfectly nice people shouldn’t require such effort. And that’s progress, compared to when we first met.’

‘You – ’ Mum stammered.  ‘Blowing things out of proportion like this.  Father was only encouraging good manners in Tommaso.  You should be grateful.’

Grandpa nodded, his eyebrows a scowl, his cheeks hollow.  

Dad sighed, and said nothing.  

But my grandfather never subjected me to the exercise of the coins again.   

So you see?  Episodes and feelings of which I had never spoken – presumably considering them unworthy of anyone’s interest or maybe fearful of others’ judgment – tumbled out of my lips and were met with understanding, warmth and humour.  To the example I have given you, I believe Anna quipped she had never thought of coins as torture instruments. I can still see her, shaking her head in sympathy as you have done, while I recounted this and other incidents, or laughing with me when I told her of happier ones.  I, in turn, couldn’t get enough of the glimpses of the life she had led until then, of the slivers of time that had gone into who she was.

‘I wish I had known you years ago,’ I kept saying.  

‘I wish I had known you, too.’  

I suppose that, through the sharing of details from our past and present, we were seeking to overcome that impossibility.  


About The Author

valeria

Valeria Vescina is from Puglia, was educated in Switzerland and the UK, and has lived for years in London with her family. After a successful career in management, she gained an MA in Creative & Life Writing at Goldsmiths (University of London). THAT SUMMER IN PUGLIA (Eyewear Publishing, 2018) is her debut novel. Her activity as a critic includes reviews for Seen And Heard International, Talking Humanities and the European Literature Network . She has taught creative writing workshops on the narrative potential of various art forms. Valeria also holds a degree in International Studies (University of Birmingham) and a Sloan Msc. in Management (London Business School).

Follow Valeria Vescina: Website  Twitter


I want to extend a special thank you to Aimee with Bookollective and the author for allowing me to particpate and providing the extract today!

Happy Reading,
Danielle ❤

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