Elevate Difference

Reviews by Lesley Kartali

Lesley Kartali

Lesley Kartali lives in Chicago, where he is starting an MFA in Writing program at the School of the Art Institute this fall. He graduated from Antioch College, in Ohio, 5 years ago and since then has taught literacy to adults with disabilities, baked bagels, worked at the library and a cat shelter. He looks at writing as a form of activism, being able to reach out and make meaningful connections to others and hopes to continue on doing much more of that in the future. He is smitten with animals, quotations, books that you can't put down, staying up late, exploring the free events of the city, and spending time with his loved ones.


Those who are avid readers often fondly remember the books that seemed to have changed our lives. Many of the books that have stuck with me, I read during my teenage years. Adolescence is a time in life when people struggle with identity and seek to be understood. The books we connect with at this time can be an extremely powerful influence—sometimes as powerful as a friend, a counselor, or a family member. Not much time has passed since I was a teen, but young adult books seem a lot different to me now.

Ecosystem Advisor

I have been through many a planner in my life, from the small plastic-covered one with creepy kitten pictures, to one made of fake leather with a magnetic clasp. I prefer to keep it pretty simple when it comes to planners. But I’m also very picky about the amount of space I need to write down notes, not to mention the question of having a daily, weekly, or monthly view. Plus, it needs to be relatively light and easy to carry with me. The sweet thing about Ecosystem books is that you can customize your purchase.

Crow Mercies

When picking up a new poetry collection, I give it an initial read and then sit with it a while, thinking about whether any particular poems or lines stuck in my mind, or whether I had any specific feelings while reading. Sometimes I draw a big blank, which usually means that particular collection doesn't merit another read. Collections like Crow Mercies are different. Even during my first reading of this collection, I found myself stopping to reread poems again out of excitement. This is certainly the kind of book that ends up a permanent fixture on my bookshelf that I come back to again and again.

Word Comix

Word Comix by Charlie Smith is a collection of poetry that often explodes with strange and unfamiliar words. Reading it, I kept getting the desire to grab a dictionary and improve my vocabulary.

Couture Collection Tsunami

A vibe is a vibe is a vibe right? The way I see it, how many varieties of vibrators can there possibly be? Well, a lot! There are a ton of vibrators out there and depending on what you are looking for, you can get exactly the one that features everything you desire. The Couture Collection Tsunami Silicone Vibrator is a G-spot stimulator, seven-function, Japanese silicone vibrator available for purchase at a variety of sex toy shops.

500 Years of Indigenous Resistance

We are all familiar with the smiling happy portrayals of pilgrims sitting down to dinner with Native Americans, or perhaps the slightly more critical viewpoint from many of our high school history books of the Indigenous people being simply helpless victims to European colonization.

Seven Minutes in Heaven: Coming Out!

Courtney Trouble, the creator of Seven Minutes in Heaven: Coming Out!, is one of the hottest new directors of queer porn. After creating No Fauxxx in March 2002—a website with 150 models, twenty videos, and a free social networking community—Trouble started making full-length queer porn videos. She has also been in a few porn films herself, which she says adds to her respect for those in front of the camera.

Living Life as a Thank You: The Transformative Power of Daily Gratitude

The most wonderful part about the idea of practicing daily gratitude is that any person can do it. Unlike many concepts, like faith or prayer, which tend to be examined via certain religions or spiritualities, thankfulness is pretty universal.

Bottoms Up: Spanking Good Stories

Although I would not say I have a particular propensity for spanking, I am fascinated by various kinks or sexual fetishes, and like to support writing that allows people the space to explore their desires, even if it just in a fantasy realm. I am also usually not the biggest fan of erotica, as I have found many of the collections I've read to be either quite stale or laughably cheesy—neither of which are very steamy.

A Woman Alone at Night

A Woman Alone at Night is a story loosely based on St. Mary of Egypt, a prostitute who "reveled in her sexuality before repenting".

Swinger's Pad

Available only through Womyn's Ware, a Vancouver-based company that promotes consumer advocacy and a focus on sexual products "for the celebration and empowerment of women's sexuality," the Swinger's Pad is a figure eight shaped pad with different sized tips arranged in two flower-like patterns for clit stimulation and a hole through which to place various sex toys. Depending on what position the owner of this pad is attempting, the pad can be used alone or in a harness for clit stimulation when thrusting with a dildo or butt plug, or around the shaft of the penis to create a clitoral pad o

The Sky Observer's Guide

Written over the course of a month, Amy Cook's second album, The Sky Observer's Guide, is a strong albeit average album. Whereas Amy’s first album was just her and her guitar, this album showcases her band: Nina Singh on drums, Brad Rice on guitar and Bobby Daniel on bass. Cook's songs have been featured on many television dramas, including Dawson’s Creek, Veronica Mars, Laguna Beach and The L Word.

Gasp! The Swift and Terrible Beauty of Air

When I first received Gasp! The Swift and Terrible Beauty of Air, I couldn't believe that someone could write a 400 some paged book on the subject of air. But after reading this book, I realized that kind of attitude is exactly the basic root of the problem. Joe Sherman explores everything there is to explore about air, from why a child takes their first breath to the evolution of Earth's atmosphere and all the radical scientists who discovered truths about our air.

In Advance of the Broken Arm

Who wouldn't be interested in listening to a female musician who is described as playing guitar better than “you, or me or probably ninety-nine percent of the people who have ever looked at a guitar?" From the Upper East Side of Manhattan, Marnie Stern was signed to Kill Rock Stars after sending in a demo tape.