LIST #20 | 10 Owned Books I Want to Read Before 2021

Hi, everyone! With the last half of the year starting, I wanted to do a small series about books I want to read before 2020 (thankfully) ends. This particular post will be about books that I own specifically. In a perfect world, I would be able to finish all the unread books on my shelves, but well. I have no self-control when it comes to splurging on books sometimes. So these are just a few that I want to really work on getting to before the year is out!

Unscrewed: Women, Sex, Power, and How to Stop Letting the System Screw Us All by Jaclyn Friedman

  • I read parts of it for a class in undergrad, and I want to read the rest of it
  • always a fan of non-fiction books about sex and culture, tbh
  • my GWS degree is showing, isn’t it

The Poppy War by R.F. Kuang

  • so many people on Twitter will be happy I’m starting this (hi, Kate, May, and Rain)
  • I’m ready to be obliterated by this book, let’s be real
  • mmm, but lemme just sneak a peak at the TWs beforehand, though

I Wish You All the Best by Mason Deaver

  • non-binary MC!! non-binary MC!!!
  • I’ve been wanting to read this ever since it came out
  • I’m also pretty curious about the anxiety rep, too

Lies My Teacher Told Me: Everything Your American History Textbook Got Wrong by James W. Loewen

  • People’s History of the United States 2.0
  • tbh, I’m just ready to be angry the entire time I read this
  • thanks, Mr. James (…my teacher from high school, not the author, lmao)

The ‘S’ Word: A Short History of an American Tradition…Socialism by John Nichols

  • we love non-fiction in this house
  • especially non-fiction about socialism
  • hopefully it’s not, like, super white-washed or something

The Bone Witch by Rin Chupeco

  • anti-hero MC! anti-hero MC!!!
  • I’ve heard nothing but good things about this book/series
  • another one I’m ready to be killed by

Tarnished are the Stars by Rosiee Thor

  • f/f romance! in sci-fi!
  • one of the books that I bought that is outside my comfort zone (I don’t usually read sci-fi)
  • ready for the sapphic-ness
The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet (Wayfarers, #1)

The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet by Becky Chambers

  • stepping outside my comfort zone again (look at me go!)
  • I heard it was character-driven, and that’s why I bought it
  • oh, and also very queer
Colonize This!: Young Women of Color on Today's Feminism

Colonize This! Young Women of Color on Today’s Feminism by Daisy Hernández and Bushra Rehman

  • a collection of essays from women of color on current feminist issues? yes, please
  • I’m very excited to get to this
  • again, my GWS degree is showing, lol
The Dream Thieves (The Raven Cycle, #2)
Blue Lily, Lily Blue (The Raven Cycle, #3)
The Raven King (The Raven Cycle, #4)

The Dream Thieves; Blue Lily, Lily Blue; The Raven King by Maggie Stiefvater

  • let me have this, it’s my white lady author guilty pleasure
  • I’m just interested in the ghosts, tbh
  • also Blue and her family

And here they are: 10 books I want to read before 2020 ends! Yes, I know, technically it’s 12 books, but 3 are all part of the same series, so. I hope y’all enjoyed!

Are any of these books on your TBR? What are you looking forward to reading before the end of the year? Let me know!

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REVIEW #72 | CIEL by Sophie Labelle (eARC)

Title: Ciel

Author: Sophie Labelle

Series or Standalone?: Standalone

Pub. Date: 15 September 2020

Synopsis:

Ciel is excited to start high school. A gender non-conforming trans kid, Ciel has a YouTube channel and dreams of getting a better camera to really make a mark. Ciel can always rely on their best friend, Stephie, a trans girl who also happens to be a huge nerd, but their friendship begins to feel distant when Stephie makes it clear she wants the fact that she’s trans to be more invisible in high school. While navigating this new friendship dynamic, Ciel is also trying to make a long-distance relationship work with their boyfriend Eirikur, who just moved back to Iceland. When Ciel befriends Liam, a new trans boy at school, things become more complicated by the minute.

Trigger/Content warnings:

  • transphobia
  • misgendering
  • xenophobia
  • homophobia (slurs)
  • parent death (mentioned)

Representation:

  • Brazilian-Canadian non-binary trans MC
  • multiple side characters of color (I don’t have the exact races because I somehow lost all my notes, I’m sorry 😭)
  • trans boy side character
  • bi trans girl side character
  • multiple queer/LGBTQ+ side characters (identities not specified)

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
5/5 stars

*I received an eARC via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review*

So I normally don’t read Middle Grade books — not because I’m disinterested, but because I usually completely forget about them — but I’m so, so glad I was able to snag this up on NetGalley! It was unbelievably cute, and we need all the happy, uplifting trans/non-binary books for younger readers.

Ciel is about this young non-binary trans kid, Ciel, who is just starting high school. They’re also a small YouTuber, making videos about their day, family, friends, etc. The book follows them and their friends as they come to terms with high school life and the up’s and down’s that come with it.

Lemme be upfront with all y’all and say that not a lot happens in terms of plot: the whole book spans only the first two weeks of high school for Ciel, and it isn’t even 300 pages long. If you’re much more action-oriented, this book may not be for you.

However, this is part of the reason why I fell in love with it: it was basically just a slice-of-life story that focused on Ciel and their issues with their new friend group, their boyfriend, and how to express themself and their gender at a new school. I finished it within about three or four hours, and it was everything I wish I had when I was younger, even though I didn’t know I was genderqueer until much later in life.

Ciel spoke to me as a main character, in more ways than one. I completely empathized with their issue regarding what to wear as a non-binary person, especially because they didn’t want to stand out too much at first. While I usually don’t wear too many overtly feminine things (I’m AFAB), I still have a look where if you saw me on the street, you would probably code me as a woman. However, I wish wish wish I could dress more overtly masculine, maybe even bind. But where I live right now, I don’t want to stand out like that, mostly because I’m not out to barely anyone IRL. So Ciel’s issue? I totally understood them.

And their anxiety regarding friends! Going into high school was so scary for me because I didn’t know a lot of people, even though I was in stuff like band and cross country. I kinda just lumped together with folks from band, and called it a day, even though I felt they were just putting up with me and not because they wanted to be my friend. Seeing that paralleled with Ciel’s experience validated my experiences from so long ago, in my first year of high school.

Oh! And the fact that Ciel wasn’t the only trans person in the book! Their best friend Stephie is a trans girl who, upon entering high school, doesn’t want to make it known that she’s a trans girl, which causes a bit of friction between her and Ciel. There’s also a trans boy character as well, Liam. I just really enjoyed seeing the three of them interact with each other because of how different they come at their trans/non-binary identity. It’s different for each of them, and seeing that variety should make it clear that there’s no specific “right” or “wrong” way to be trans, which I think will be awesome for both trans and non-trans kids alike.

The only thing I wish we got more of was more of the side characters. Understandably, you can only fit so much into a middle grade novel, but damn, I would have loved to see this book spread out over the course of the year, seeing the side characters and how they developed throughout the course of it. That would’ve honestly made it a 10/5 star read for me, really.

I think Ciel is a perfect book for non-trans kids who want to learn more about trans/non-binary experiences, and (first and foremost) for the trans/non-binary kids who are either questioning if they’re “trans enough” or who want a happy, hopeful representation of kids like them. Because that’s what Ciel is: even though it has instances of transphobia and homophobia, it is ultimately a hopeful, positive book about trans kids and their lives. I hope when a trans kid reads it, they see themselves in it, like I did.

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REVIEW #71 | LAIR OF DREAMS by Libba Bray (The Diviners #2) (Mini Review)

Lair of Dreams (The Diviners, #2)

Title: Lair of Dreams

Author: Libba Bray

Series or Standalone?: The Diviners #2

Pub. Date: 5 September 2017

Synopsis:

After a supernatural showdown with a serial killer, Evie O’Neill has outed herself as a Diviner. Now that the world knows of her ability to “read” objects, and therefore, read the past, she has become a media darling, earning the title, “America’s Sweetheart Seer.” But not everyone is so accepting of the Diviners’ abilities…

Meanwhile, mysterious deaths have been turning up in the city, victims of an unknown sleeping sickness. Can the Diviners descend into the dreamworld and catch a killer?

Trigger/Content warnings:

  • homophobia
  • xenophobia
  • racism
  • ableism
  • character death
  • sex trafficking

Representation:

  • gay MC
  • Black MCs
  • mixed (Chinese and Irish) disabled (childhood paralysis; uses crutches) ace lesbian MC
  • (Note: it isn’t declared on-page that the MC is an ace lesbian until the next book, Before the Devil Breaks You)
  • Jewish MCs

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
5/5 stars

  • after the events of The Diviners, New York has something else to fend against: a mysterious “sleeping sickness” that’s killing citizens; Evie and the other Diviners have to figure it out before it’s too late
  • I don’t really know what to say outside of….it was great!
  • Ling! Ling! Ling! Ling! I love her so much, and I’m so glad she’s a Diviner
  • her relationship with Henry is amazing, and I enjoyed seeing it develop throughout the novel. I love seeing platonic m/f relationships!
  • Evie was getting on my nerves at times, but her behavior is understandable when you think about what she’s been through
  • I thought the ending was a bit anti-climatic, but overall, I thoroughly enjoyed the book; it really starts to set things up for the later books while also being interesting in its own right

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DISCUSSION #13 | WE WILL HAVE ONE GOOD THING IN 2020 AND IT WILL BE A PERCY JACKSON TV SHOW

Yes, you read that right, folks! We are finally getting a TV show adaptation of the Percy Jackson series!! Rick Riordan recently tweeted out the announcement (like….two hours ago). He said that each book will be its own season, and that he and Becky Riordan, his wife, will be involved. It’ll be available on Disney+, but we don’t have a release date as of yet.

Y’all, I didn’t think I was going to be so excited, but as soon as I read the screenshot, I started dancing in my seat. Think of the possibilities! Camp Half-Blood, Percy’s mom straight up murdering Gabe, Blackjack. The Hunters!! This is going to sound kinda dorky, but I’m especially pumped for how the graphics/CGI is going to look. And those action scenes? Uww, I can’t wait!

I am not at all worried about the adaptation, especially since the Riordans are going to be involved. I’m honestly just super excited for it. I’m thinking about re-reading the series next month because of this announcement!

What about y’all? What are you looking for in the adaptation? Are you itching to re-read the series (or maybe read it for the first time)? Let me know in the comments!

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LIST #19 | 32 Queer/LGBTQ+ May 2020 Releases

The Fate of Stars (Sea and Stars, #1)

The Fate of Stars by S.D. Simper

Pub. Date: 1 May

Synopsis:

A devout mermaid. A disgraced princess. A feud as ancient as the gods themselves.

Worlds collide when Tallora is kidnapped from her ocean home and forced to be a pet to a tyrannical foreign empire. Her only hope for rescue lies with a sworn enemy—Princess Dauriel, infamous for her stone heart and conflicted past. But when Dauriel’s kingdom comes to the cusp of war, could their uneasy alliance be the key to defeating a common foe? Or will their tenuous feelings for each other become their ruin?

From the world of FALLEN GODS comes a tale of ancient magic and cutthroat politics—and finding redemption through love.

Rep: f/f relationship; sapphic characters

Felix Ever After

Felix Ever After by Kacen Callender

Pub. Date: 5 May

Synopsis:

From Stonewall and Lambda Award-winning author Kacen Callender comes a revelatory YA novel about a transgender teen grappling with identity and self-discovery while falling in love for the first time.

Felix Love has never been in love—and, yes, he’s painfully aware of the irony. He desperately wants to know what it’s like and why it seems so easy for everyone but him to find someone. What’s worse is that, even though he is proud of his identity, Felix also secretly fears that he’s one marginalization too many—Black, queer, and transgender—to ever get his own happily-ever-after.

When an anonymous student begins sending him transphobic messages—after publicly posting Felix’s deadname alongside images of him before he transitioned—Felix comes up with a plan for revenge. What he didn’t count on: his catfish scenario landing him in a quasi–love triangle….

But as he navigates his complicated feelings, Felix begins a journey of questioning and self-discovery that helps redefine his most important relationship: how he feels about himself.

Felix Ever After is an honest and layered story about identity, falling in love, and recognizing the love you deserve.

Rep: trans boy MC; lesbian side characters

Credit: Theresa (@fettestheresa); Caro (@santanareads); Jeni (@shelf_blame)

Clap When You Land

Clap When You Land by Elizabeth Acevedo

Pub. Date: 5 May

Synopsis:

In this novel in verse, Camino Rios lives for the summers when her father visits her in the Dominican Republic. But this time, on the day when his plane is supposed to land, Camino arrives at the airport to see crowds of crying people… In New York City, Yahaira Rios is called to the principal’s office, where her mother is waiting to tell her that her father, her hero, has died in a plane crash.

Separated by distance—and Papi’s secrets—the two girls are forced to face a new reality in which their father is dead and their lives are forever altered. And then, when it seems like they’ve lost everything of their father, they learn of each other.

Rep: lesbian MC; f/f relationship

Credit: Theresa (@fettestheresa); Sasha (@midnightb00ks)

Dangerous Remedy (Dangerous Remedy, #1)

Dangerous Remedy by Kat Dunn

Pub. Date: 5 May

Synopsis:

Camille, a revolutionary’s daughter, leads a band of outcasts – a runaway girl, a deserter, an aristocrat in hiding. As the Battalion des Mortes they cheat death, saving those about to meet a bloody end at the blade of Madame La Guillotine. But their latest rescue is not what she seems. The girl’s no aristocrat, but her dark and disturbing powers means both the Royalists and the Revolutionaries want her. But who and what is she?

In these dangerous days, no one can be trusted, everyone is to be feared. As Camille learns the truth, she’s forced to choose between loyalty to those she loves and the future.

Rep: lesbian MC; bi MC; gay MC; f/f relationship

Credit: Theresa (@fettestheresa); El (@inkandplasma)

The Mermaid, the Witch, and the Sea

The Mermaid, the Witch, and the Sea by Maggie Tokuda-Hall

Pub. Date: 5 May

Synopsis:

A desperate orphan turned pirate and a rebellious imperial daughter find a connection on the high seas in a world divided by colonialism and threaded with magic.

Aboard the pirate ship Dove, Flora the girl takes on the identity of Florian the man to earn the respect and protection of the crew. For Flora, former starving urchin, the brutal life of a pirate is about survival: don’t trust, don’t stick out, and don’t feel. But on this voyage, as the pirates prepare to sell their unsuspecting passengers into slavery, Flora is drawn to the Lady Evelyn Hasegawa, who is en route to a dreaded arranged marriage with her own casket in tow. Flora doesn’t expect to be taken under Evelyn’s wing, and Evelyn doesn’t expect to find such a deep bond with the pirate Florian.

Soon the unlikely pair set in motion a wild escape that will free a captured mermaid (coveted for her blood, which causes men to have visions and lose memories) and involve the mysterious Pirate Supreme, an opportunistic witch, and the all-encompassing Sea itself.

Rep: queer woman MC; genderfluid MC; f/non-binary relationship

Credit: Theresa (@fettestheresa); El (inkandplasma)

Meet Cute Club (Sweet Rose #1)

Meet Cute Club by Jack Harbon

Pub. Date: 5 May

Synopsis:

Jordan Collins doesn’t need a man.

What he needs is for his favorite author to release another one of her sexy supernatural novels and more people to sign up for the romance book club that he fears is slowly and steadily losing its steam. He also needs for the new employee at his local bookstore to stop making fun of him for reading things meant for “grandmas.”

The very last thing he needs is for that same employee, Rex Bailey, to waltz into his living room and ask to join Meet Cute Club. Despite his immediate thoughts—like laughing in his face and telling him to kick rocks—Jordan decides that if he wants this club to continue thriving, he can’t turn away any new members. Not even ones like Rex, who somehow manage to be both frustratingly obnoxious and breathtakingly handsome.

As Jordan and Rex team up to bring the club back from the ashes, Jordan soon discovers that Rex might not be the arrogant troll he made himself out to be, and that, like with all things in life, maybe he was wrong to judge a book by its cover.

Rep: gay MC; mlm LI; m/m relationship

The Life and (Medieval) Times of Kit Sweetly

The Life and (Medieval) Times of Kit Sweetly by Jamie Pacton

Pub. Date: 5 May

Synopsis:

Working as a wench ― i.e. waitress ― at a cheesy medieval-themed restaurant in the Chicago suburbs, Kit Sweetly dreams of being a knight like her brother. She has the moves, is capable on a horse, and desperately needs the raise that comes with knighthood, so she can help her mom pay the mortgage and hold a spot at her dream college.

Company policy allows only guys to be knights. So when Kit takes her brother’s place and reveals her identity at the end of the show, she rockets into internet fame and a whole lot of trouble with the management. But the Girl Knight won’t go down without a fight. As other wenches join her quest, a protest forms. In a joust before Castle executives, they’ll prove that gender restrictions should stay medieval―if they don’t get fired first.

Moxie meets A Knight’s Tale as Kit Sweetly slays sexism, bad bosses, and bad luck to become a knight at a medieval-themed restaurant.

Rep: non-binary side characters; trans side characters; queer side characters

Note: Take note that (as far as I know) the MC isn’t queer; the queer characters are side characters only

Scandalous Passions

Scandalous Passions by Nicola Davidson

Pub. Date: 11 May

Synopsis:

Scotland, 1504.

Lady Janet Fraser didn’t earn her reputation as Scotland’s most notorious sinner by following the rules. A former mistress of King James IV, she’s content to live her life from pleasure to pleasure. Even if those pleasures—and people—are forbidden.

People like Sir Lachlan Ross, given the moniker The Highland Beast, a man as intimidating in battle as he is in size. A beast she discovers secretly wishes to be tamed and submit to her dominance.

Or like her new ward, Lady Marjorie Hepburn, a convent-raised virgin with a desire to be taught all the sensual secrets of the marriage bed. Things that Janet is fully willing to teach her, again and again. There’s much for her to learn.

And forbidden pleasures like the three of them together in one bed.

But Lachlan and Marjorie both have ties to the king. As wicked lusts are indulged and affection unexpectedly grows into love, breaking the rules this time could mean all of their undoing…

Rep: f/f/m polyam relationship; queer characters

We Had No Rules

We Had No Rules by Corinne Manning

Pub. Date: 12 May

Synopsis:

A defiant, beautifully realized story collection about the messy complications of contemporary queer life.

A young teenager runs from her family’s conservative home to her sister’s NY apartment to learn a very different set of rules. A woman grieves the loss of a sister, a “gay divorce,” and the pain of unacknowledged abuse with the help of a lone wallaby on a farm in Washington State. A professor of women’s and gender studies revels in academic and sexual power but risks losing custody of the family dog.

Corinne Manning’s defiant, beautifully realized story collection about the messy complications of contemporary queer life follow a cast of queer characters as they explore the choice of assimilation over rebellion, feeling the promise of a radically reimagined world but facing complicity instead.

Rep: queer short-story collection

The Pink Line: Journeys Across the World's Queer Frontiers

The Pink Line: Journeys Across the World’s Queer Frontiers by Mark Gevisser

Pub. Date: 12 May

Synopsis:

A groundbreaking look at how the issues of sexuality and gender identity divide and unite the world today

More than five years in the making, Mark Gevisser’s The Pink Line: Journeys Across the World’s Queer Frontiers is a globetrotting exploration of how the human rights frontier around sexual orientation and gender identity has come to divide—and describe—the world in an entirely new way over the first two decades of the twenty-first century. No social movement has brought change so quickly and with such dramatically mixed results. While same-sex marriage and gender transition is celebrated in some parts of the world, laws are being strengthened to criminalize homosexuality and gender nonconformity in others. A new Pink Line, Gevisser argues, has been drawn across the world, and he takes readers to its frontiers.

In between sharp analytical chapters about culture wars, folklore, gender ideology, and geopolitics, Gevisser provides sensitive and sometimes startling profiles of the queer folk he’s encountered on the Pink Line’s front lines across nine countries. They include a trans Malawian refugee granted asylum in South Africa and a gay Ugandan refugee stuck in Nairobi; a lesbian couple who started a gay café in Cairo after the Arab Spring, a trans woman fighting for custody of her child in Moscow, and a community of kothis—“women’s hearts in men’s bodies”who run a temple in an Indian fishing village.

Eye-opening, moving, and crafted with expert research, compelling narrative, and unprecedented scope, The Pink Line is a monumental—and vital—journey through the border posts of the world’s new LGBTQ+ frontiers.

Rep: queer non-fiction

The Fascinators

The Fascinators by Andrew Eliopulos

Pub. Date: 12 May

Synopsis:

A magic-infused YA novel about friendship, first love, and feeling out of place that will bewitch fans of Rainbow Rowell and Maggie Stiefvater.

Living in a small town where magic is frowned upon, Sam needs his friends James and Delia—and their time together in their school’s magic club—to see him through to graduation.

But as soon as senior year starts, little cracks in their group begin to show. Sam may or may not be in love with James. Delia is growing more frustrated with their amateur magic club. And James reveals that he got mixed up with some sketchy magickers over the summer, putting a target on all their backs.

With so many fault lines threatening to derail his hopes for the year, Sam is forced to face the fact that the very love of magic that brought his group together is now tearing them apart—and there are some problems that no amount of magic can fix.

Rep: mlm MC; mlm LI; m/m relationship

The Boy in the Red Dress

The Boy in the Red Dress by Kristin Lambert

Pub. Date: 12 May

Synopsis:

A Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue meets Miss Fisher’s Murder Mystery in this rollicking romp of truth, lies, and troubled pasts.

New Year’s Eve, 1929.

Millie is running the show at the Cloak & Dagger, a swinging speakeasy in the French Quarter, while her aunt is out of town. The new year is just around the corner, and all of New Orleans is out to celebrate, but even wealthy partiers’ diamond earrings can’t outshine the real star of the night: the boy in the red dress. Marion is the club’s star performer and his fans are legion–if mostly underground.

When a young socialite wielding a photograph of Marion starts asking questions, Millie wonders if she’s just another fan. But then her body is found crumpled in the courtyard, dead from an apparent fall off the club’s balcony, and all signs point to Marion as the murderer. Millie knows he’s innocent, but local detectives aren’t so easily convinced.

As she chases clues that lead to cemeteries and dead ends, Millie’s attention is divided between the wry and beautiful Olive, a waitress at the Cloak & Dagger, and Bennie, the charming bootlegger who’s offered to help her solve the case. The clock is ticking for the fugitive Marion, but the truth of who the killer is might be closer than Millie thinks..

Rep: bi girl MC; gay boy SC; sapphic and lesbian SCs; f/f side relationship

The Summer of Impossibilities

The Summer of Impossibilities by Rachael Allen

Pub. Date: 12 May

Synopsis:

Skyler, Ellie, Scarlett and Amelia Grace are forced to spend the summer at the lake house where their moms became best friends.

One can’t wait. One would rather gnaw off her own arm than hang out with a bunch of strangers just so their moms can drink too much wine and sing Journey two o’clock in the morning. Two are sisters. Three are currently feuding with their mothers.

One almost sets her crush on fire with a flaming marshmallow. Two steal the boat for a midnight joyride that goes horribly, awkwardly wrong. All of them are hiding something.

One falls in love with a boy she thought she despised. Two fall in love with each other. None of them are the same at the end of the summer.

Rep: lesbian MC; bi MC; f/f relationship; wlw SCs

House of Dragons (House of Dragons, #1)

House of Dragons by Jessica Cluess

Pub. Date: 12 May

Synopsis:

Five royal houses will hear the call to compete in the Trial for the dragon throne. A liar, a soldier, a servant, a thief, and a murderer will answer it. Who will win?

When the Emperor dies, the five royal houses of Etrusia attend the Call, where one of their own will be selected to compete for the throne. It is always the oldest child, the one who has been preparing for years to compete in the Trial. But this year is different. This year, these five outcasts will answer the call….

THE LIAR: Emilia must hide her dark magic or be put to death.

THE SOLDIER: Lucian is a warrior who has sworn to never lift a sword again.

THE SERVANT: Vespir is a dragon trainer whose skills alone will keep her in the game.

THE THIEF: Ajax knows that nothing is free–he must take what he wants.

THE MURDERER: Hyperia was born to rule and will stop at nothing to take her throne.

Rep: lesbian MC

The Little Book of Pride: The History, the People, the Parades

The Little Book of Pride by Lewis Laney

Pub. Date: 12 May

Synopsis:

Celebrate the LGTBQ community with this small but perfectly formed guide to Pride.

What began as a protest for gay rights following the Stonewall riots of 1969 in New York has grown to become a global celebration of LGBTQ culture. In the 50-odd years since the original protest, and what is now widely accepted to be the first Pride march—Christopher Street Liberation Day, 1970—Pride events are now attended by millions each year, celebrating how far we’ve come, recognizing where we have to go, and highlighting important causes in the queer community.

The Little Book of Pride proves that size definitely doesn’t matter by squeezing everything you need to know about Pride into 144 pages. Inside, you will find the history, the key people involved, the best Pride events around the world, inspirational quotes from famous queers, Pride facts, and a fun Pride survival guide.

Rep: queer non-fiction

The Henna Wars

The Henna Wars by Adiba Jaigirdar

Pub. Date: 12 May

Synopsis:

When Dimple Met Rishi meets Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda in this rom com about two teen girls with rival henna businesses.

When Nishat comes out to her parents, they say she can be anyone she wants—as long as she isn’t herself. Because Muslim girls aren’t lesbians. Nishat doesn’t want to hide who she is, but she also doesn’t want to lose her relationship with her family. And her life only gets harder once a childhood friend walks back into her life.

Flávia is beautiful and charismatic and Nishat falls for her instantly. But when a school competition invites students to create their own businesses, both Flávia and Nishat choose to do henna, even though Flávia is appropriating Nishat’s culture. Amidst sabotage and school stress, their lives get more tangled—but Nishat can’t quite get rid of her crush on Flávia, and realizes there might be more to her than she realized.

Rep: lesbian MC; bi LI; f/f relationship

Credit: Theresa (@fettestheresa); Toya (@reading_chemist); Sasha (@midnightb00ks)

The Thirty Names of Night

The Thirty Names of Night by Zeyn Joukhadar

Pub. Date: 19 May

Synopsis:

The author of the “vivid and urgent…important and timely” (The New York Times Book Review) debut The Map of Salt and Stars returns with this remarkably moving and lyrical novel following three generations of Syrian Americans who are linked by a mysterious species of bird and the truths they carry close to their hearts.

Five years after a suspicious fire killed his ornithologist mother, a closeted Syrian American trans boy sheds his birth name and searches for a new one. He has been unable to paint since his mother’s ghost has begun to visit him each evening. As his grandmother’s sole caretaker, he spends his days cooped up in their apartment, avoiding his neighborhood masjid, his estranged sister, and even his best friend (who also happens to be his longtime crush). The only time he feels truly free is when he slips out at night to paint murals on buildings in the once-thriving Manhattan neighborhood known as Little Syria.

One night, he enters the abandoned community house and finds the tattered journal of a Syrian American artist named Laila Z, who dedicated her career to painting the birds of North America. She famously and mysteriously disappeared more than sixty years before, but her journal contains proof that both his mother and Laila Z encountered the same rare bird before their deaths. In fact, Laila Z’s past is intimately tied to his mother’s—and his grandmother’s—in ways he never could have expected. Even more surprising, Laila Z’s story reveals the histories of queer and transgender people within his own community that he never knew. Realizing that he isn’t and has never been alone, he has the courage to officially claim a new name: Nadir, an Arabic name meaning rare.

As unprecedented numbers of birds are mysteriously drawn to the New York City skies, Nadir enlists the help of his family and friends to unravel what happened to Laila Z and the rare bird his mother died trying to save. Following his mother’s ghost, he uncovers the silences kept in the name of survival by his own community, his own family, and within himself, and discovers the family that was there all along.

Featuring Zeyn Joukhadar’s signature “magical and heart-wrenching” (The Christian Science Monitor) storytelling, The Thirty Names of Night is a timely exploration of how we all search for and ultimately embrace who we are.

Rep: trans man MC

The Names We Take

The Names We Take by Trace Kerr

Pub. Date: 19 May

Synopsis:

Never leave someone behind: it’s a promise easier made than kept, especially when seventeen-year-old Pip takes the headstrong twelve-year-old Iris under her protection in the wake of an earth-shattering plague.

After an unspeakable tragedy, the duo must navigate the nearly unrecognizable remains of Spokane, facing roving slave traders, merciless gangs―and worse. Pip and Iris soon meet Fly, a stubborn and courageous older girl, and as the three grow closer and their circumstances grow more perilous, they must also grapple with their own identities in this cruel new world. Pip’s vow to never leave someone behind may have made survival more difficult for her, but this promise could also be the key to finding meaning in the ashes of what came before.

Rep: bi trans girl MC

This Coven Won't Break (These Witches Don't Burn, #2)

The Coven Won’t Break by Isabel Sterling

Pub. Date: 19 May

Synopsis:

In this gripping, romantic sequel to These Witches Don’t Burn, Hannah must work alongside her new girlfriend to take down the Hunters desperate to steal her magic.

Hannah Walsh just wants a normal life. It’s her senior year, so she should be focusing on classes, hanging out with her best friend, and flirting with her new girlfriend, Morgan. But it turns out surviving a murderous Witch Hunter doesn’t exactly qualify as a summer vacation, and now the rest of the Hunters seem more intent on destroying her magic than ever.

When Hannah learns the Hunters have gone nationwide, armed with a serum capable of taking out entire covens at once, she’s desperate to help. Now, with witches across the country losing the most important thing they have—their power—Hannah could be their best shot at finally defeating the Hunters. After all, she’s one of the only witches to escape a Hunter with her magic intact.

Or so everyone believes. Because as good as she is at faking it, doing even the smallest bit of magic leaves her in agony. The only person who can bring her comfort, who can make her power flourish, is Morgan. But Morgan’s magic is on the line, too, and if Hannah can’t figure out how to save her—and the rest of the Witches—she’ll lose everything she’s ever known. And as the Hunters get dangerously close to their final target, will all the Witches in Salem be enough to stop an enemy determined to destroy magic for good?

Rep: lesbian MC; bi LI; f/f relationships; trans SC

A History of My Brief Body

A History of My Brief Body by Billy-Ray Belcourt

Pub. Date: 19 May

Synopsis:

The youngest ever winner of the Griffin Prize mines his own personal history to reconcile the world he was born into with the world that could be.

Billy-Ray Belcourt’s debut memoir opens with a tender letter to his kokum and memories of his early life in the hamlet of Joussard, Alberta, and on the Driftpile First Nation. From there, it expands to encompass the big and broken world around him, in all its complexity and contradictions: a legacy of colonial violence and the joy that flourishes in spite of it, first loves and first loves lost, sexual exploration and intimacy, and the act of writing as a survival instinct and a way to grieve. What emerges is not only a profound meditation on memory, gender, anger, shame, and ecstasy, but also the outline of a way forward. With startling honesty, and in a voice distinctly and assuredly his own, Belcourt situates his life experiences within a constellation of seminal queer texts, among which this book is sure to earn its place. Eye-opening, intensely emotional, and excessively quotable, A History of My Brief Body demonstrates over and over again the power of words to both devastate and console us.

Rep: queer non-fiction (memoir)

Date Me, Bryson Keller

Date Me, Bryson Keller by Kevin van Whye

Pub. Date: 19 May

Synopsis:

What If It’s Us meets To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before in this upbeat and heartfelt boy-meets-boy romance that feels like a modern twist on a ’90s rom-com!

Everyone knows about the dare: Each week, Bryson Keller must date someone new–the first person to ask him out on Monday morning. Few think Bryson can do it. He may be the king of Fairvale Academy, but he’s never really dated before.

Until a boy asks him out, and everything changes.

Kai Sheridan didn’t expect Bryson to say yes. So when Bryson agrees to secretly go out with him, Kai is thrown for a loop. But as the days go by, he discovers there’s more to Bryson beneath the surface, and dating him begins to feel less like an act and more like the real thing. Kai knows how the story of a gay boy liking someone straight ends. With his heart on the line, he’s awkwardly trying to navigate senior year at school, at home, and in the closet, all while grappling with the fact that this “relationship” will last only five days. After all, Bryson Keller is popular, good-looking, and straight . . . right?

Kevin van Whye delivers an uplifting and poignant coming-out love story that will have readers rooting for these two teens to share their hearts with the world–and with each other.

Rep: gay MC; mlm LI; m/m relationship; gay SC

Credit: Theresa (@fettestheresa)

Trans and Autistic : Stories from Life at the Intersection

Trans and Autistic: Stories From Life at the Intersection by Noah Adams and Bridget Liang

Pub. Date: 21 May

Synopsis:

The first book to foreground the voices and experiences of autistic trans people, this collection of interviews explores questions of identity and gender from a neurodiverse perspective and examines how this impacts family, work, healthcare and religion.

Rep: queer non-fiction

Stay Gold

Stay Gold by Tobly McSmith

Pub. Date: 26 May

Synopsis:

Debut author Tobly McSmith delivers a coming-of-age teen love story about a transgender boy who’s going stealth at his new Texas high school and a cisgender girl who is drawn to him, even as she’s counting down the days until graduation. Perfect for fans of David Levithan, Becky Albertalli, and Jenny Han.

Pony just wants to fly under the radar during senior year. Tired from all the attention he got at his old school after coming out as transgender, he’s looking for a fresh start at Hillcrest High. But it’s hard to live your best life when the threat of exposure lurks down every hallway and in every bathroom.

Georgia is beginning to think there’s more to life than cheerleading. She plans on keeping a low profile until graduation…which is why she promised herself that dating was officially a no-go this year.

Then, on the very first day of school, the new guy and the cheerleader lock eyes. How is Pony supposed to stay stealth when he wants to get close to a girl like Georgia? How is Georgia supposed to keep her promise when sparks start flying with a boy like Pony?

Funny and poignant, clear-eyed and hopeful, Stay Gold is a story about finding love—and finding yourself.

Rep: trans boy MC; lesbian SCs

Credit: Jeni (@shelf_blame); Theresa (@fettestheresa)

Something to Talk about

Something to Talk About by Meryl Wilsner

Pub. Date: 26 May

Synopsis:

A showrunner and her assistant give the world something to talk about when they accidentally fuel a ridiculous rumor in this debut romance.

Hollywood powerhouse Jo is photographed making her assistant Emma laugh on the red carpet, and just like that, the tabloids declare them a couple. The so-called scandal couldn’t come at a worse time–threatening Emma’s promotion and Jo’s new movie.

As the gossip spreads, it starts to affect all areas of their lives. Paparazzi are following them outside the office, coworkers are treating them differently, and a “source” is feeding information to the media. But their only comment is “no comment”.

With the launch of Jo’s film project fast approaching, the two women begin to spend even more time together, getting along famously. Emma seems to have a sixth sense for knowing what Jo needs. And Jo, known for being aloof and outwardly cold, opens up to Emma in a way neither of them expects. They begin to realize the rumor might not be so off base after all…but is acting on the spark between them worth fanning the gossip flames?

Rep: lesbian MC; bi MC

Credit: Theresa (@fettestheresa)

Camp

Camp by L.C. Rosen

Pub. Date: 26 May

Synopsis:

From the author of the acclaimed Jack of Hearts (and other parts) comes a sweet and sharp screwball comedy that critiques the culture of toxic masculinity within the queer community.

Sixteen-year-old Randy Kapplehoff loves spending the summer at Camp Outland, a camp for queer teens. It’s where he met his best friends. It’s where he takes to the stage in the big musical. And it’s where he fell for Hudson Aaronson-Lim – who’s only into straight-acting guys and barely knows not-at-all-straight-acting Randy even exists.

This year, though, it’s going to be different. Randy has reinvented himself as ‘Del’ – buff, masculine, and on the market. Even if it means giving up show tunes, nail polish, and his unicorn bedsheets, he’s determined to get Hudson to fall for him.

But as he and Hudson grow closer, Randy has to ask himself how much is he willing to change for love. And is it really love anyway, if Hudson doesn’t know who he truly is?

Rep: gay boy MCs; trans girl SC; trans boy SC; non-binary SC; demisexual SC; lesbian SCs; gay SCs

Credit: Theresa (@fettestheresa); Sasha (@midnightb00ks)

Queer Palestine and the Empire of Critique

Queer Palestine and the Empire of Critique by Sa’ed Atshan

Pub. Date: 26 May

Synopsis:

From Ramallah to New York, Tel Aviv to Porto Alegre, people around the world celebrate a formidable, transnational Palestinian LGBTQ social movement. Solidarity with Palestinians has become a salient domain of global queer politics. Yet LGBTQ Palestinians, even as they fight patriarchy and imperialism, are themselves subjected to an “empire of critique” from Israeli and Palestinian institutions, Western academics, journalists and filmmakers, and even fellow activists. Such global criticism has limited growth and led to an emphasis within the movement on anti-imperialism over the struggle against homophobia.

With this book, Sa’ed Atshan asks how transnational progressive social movements can balance struggles for liberation along more than one axis. He explores critical junctures in the history of Palestinian LGBTQ activism, revealing the queer Palestinian spirit of agency, defiance, and creativity, in the face of daunting pressures and forces working to constrict it. Queer Palestine and the Empire of Critique explores the necessity of connecting the struggles for Palestinian freedom with the struggle against homophobia.

Rep: queer non-fiction

Out Now: Queer We Go Again!

Out Now: Queer We Go Again! by Saundra Mitchell

Pub. Date: 26 May

Synopsis:

QUEER WE GO AGAIN!

A follow-up to the critically acclaimed All Out anthology, Out Now features seventeen new short stories from amazing queer YA authors. Vampires crash prom, aliens run from the government, a president’s daughter comes into her own, a true romantic tries to soften the heart of a cynical social media influencer, a selkie and the sea call out to a lost soul. Teapots and barbershops, skateboards and VW vans, Street Fighter and Ares’s sword: Out Now has a story for every reader and surprises with each turn of the page!

Rep: queer anthology

Credit: Sasha (@midnightb00ks)

The Ship We Built

The Ship We Built by Lexie Bean

Pub. Date: 26 May

Synopsis:

“Sometimes I have trouble filling out tests when the name part feels like a test too. . . . When I write letters, I love that you have to read all of my thoughts and stories before I say any name at all. You have to make it to the very end to know.”

Rowan has too many secrets to write down in the pages of a diary. And if he did, he wouldn’t want anyone he knows to discover them. He understands who he is and what he likes, but it’s not safe for others to know. Now, the kids at school say he’s too different to spend time with. He’s not the “right kind” of girl, and he’s not the “right kind” of boy. His mom ignores him. And at night, his dad hurts him in ways he’s not ready to talk about yet.

But Rowan discovers another way to share his secrets: letters. Letters he attaches to balloons and releases into the universe, hoping someone new will read them and understand. But when he befriends a classmate who knows what it’s like to be lonely and scared, even at home, Rowan realizes that there might already be a person he can trust right by his side.

Tender and wise, The Ship We Built is about the bravery it takes to stand up for yourself–even to those you love–and the power of finding someone who treasures you for everything you are.

Rep: trans boy MC

Wonderland

Wonderland by Juno Dawson

Pub. Date: 28 May

Synopsis:

What happens when you fall down the rabbit hole? The compulsive must-have follow-up to CLEAN and MEAT MARKET from bestselling author Juno Dawson

Alice lives in a world of stifling privilege and luxury – but none of it means anything when your own head plays tricks on your reality. When her troubled friend Bunny goes missing, Alice becomes obsessed with finding her. On the trail of her last movements, Alice discovers a mysterious invitation to ‘Wonderland’: the party to end all parties – three days of hedonistic excess to which only the elite are welcome.

Will she find Bunny there? Or is this really a case of finding herself? Because Alice has secrets of her own, and ruthless socialite queen Paisley Hart is determined to uncover them, whatever it takes.

Alice is all alone, miles from home and without her essential medication. She can trust no-one, least of all herself, and now she has a new enemy who wants her head…

A searing exploration of mental health, gender and privilege, from the most addictive YA novelist in the UK today.

Rep: queer trans girl MC

Read with Pride (The Paper & Hearts Society, #2)

Read with Pride by Lucy Powrie

Pub. Date: 28 May

Synopsis:

The much anticipated second book in The Paper & Hearts Society series by Booktuber Lucy Powrie. Will you be the next recruit for The Paper & Hearts Society book club? For fans of Holly Smale and Super Awkward.

Olivia Santos is excited for her last year at secondary school. But when a parent complains about LGBTQ+ content in one of the books, the library implements a new policy for withdrawing books. Olivia is distraught – she’s demisexual and knows how important it is for all readers to see themselves represented.

Luckily, she’s the mastermind behind The Paper & Hearts Society book club, and she knows exactly what to do: start a new club, find ways of evading the system, and change the policy for good!

With two book clubs to run, exams to prepare for, and a girlfriend, just how long will it be before Olivia burns out? After all, creating a book club and trying to get the #ReadWithPride hashtag to get noticed is going to take a lot of energy.

Sometimes, when you’re in too deep, it’s up to your friends to look out for you.

Rep: demisexual girl MC; f/f relationship; queer SCs

Hideous Beauty

Hideous Beauty by William Hussey

Pub. Date: 28 May

Synopsis:

When Dylan and Ellis’s secret relationship is exposed on social media, Dylan is forced to come out. To Dylan’s surprise they are met with support and congratulations, and an amazing reception at their highschool dance. Perhaps people aren’t as narrow-minded as he thought?

But Dylan’s happiness is short-lived. Ellis suddenly becomes angry, withdrawn, and as they drive home from the dance, he loses control of the car, sending it plunging into Hunter’s Lake. Barely conscious, Dylan is pulled free of the wreck, while Ellis is left to drown.

Grief-stricken, Dylan vows to discover what happened to Ellis that night and piece together the last months of his boyfriend’s life – and realises just how little he knew about the boy he loved.

Rep: gay/mlm MC; gay SC

The Book of Queer Prophets: 21 Writers on Sexuality and Religion

The Book of Queer Prophets by Ruth Hunt

Pub. Date: 28 May

Synopsis:

Is it possible to believe in God and be gay? How does it feel to be excluded from a religious community because of your sexuality? Why do some people still believe being LGBT is a sin?

The book of Queer Prophets contains modern-day epistles from some of our most important thinkers, writers and activists: Jeanette Winterson tackles religious dogma, Amrou Al-Kadhi writes about trying to make it as a Muslim drag queen in London, John Bell writes about his decision to come out later in life, Tamsin Omond remembers getting married in the middle of a protest and Kate Bottley explains her journey to becoming an LGBT ally.

Essays from: Jeanette Winterson, Phyll Opoku-Gyimah, Amrou Al-Kadhi, Pádraig Ó Tuama, Rev. Winnie Varghese, Keith Jarrett, Jay Hulme, Lucy Knight, Tamsin Omond, Erin Clark, Michael Segalov, Jarel Robinson-Brown, John L. Bell, Mpho Tutu van Furth, Karl Rutlidge, Garry Rutter, Rev Rachel Mann, Judith Kotze, Jack Guiness, Dustin Lance Black, Ric Stott. Afterword: Kate Bottley

Rep: queer non-fiction

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REVIEW #70 | THE SUN DOWN MOTEL by Simone St. James (Mini Review)

The Sun Down Motel

Title: The Sun Down Motel

Author: Simone St. James

Series or Standalone?: Standalone

Pub. Date: 18 February 2020

Synopsis:

The secrets lurking in a rundown roadside motel ensnare a young woman, just as they did her aunt thirty-five years before, in this new atmospheric suspense novel from the national bestselling and award-winning author of The Broken Girls.

Upstate NY, 1982. Every small town like Fell, New York, has a place like the Sun Down Motel. Some customers are from out of town, passing through on their way to someplace better. Some are locals, trying to hide their secrets. Viv Delaney works as the night clerk to pay for her move to New York City. But something isn’t right at the Sun Down, and before long she’s determined to uncover all of the secrets hidden…

Trigger/Content warnings:

  • death
  • murder
  • blood and gore
  • rape/sexual assault (not graphic)

Representation:

  • Black woman side character

⭐⭐⭐⭐ .5
4.5/5 stars

  • when Carly’s mother passes away, she decides to move to New York to figure out her aunt’s murder/disappearance. She ends up working at the same motel her aunt did right before she went missing; cue the haunted motel vibes
  • it was more mystery than horror, but I didn’t mind all that much (and I usually don’t read mysteries)
  • but dear lord, the romance was….not needed. I didn’t care for it one bit and thought that there wasn’t a huge connection between the MC and the LI
  • I really liked the ending, though! I thought it was a great twist, and I didn’t see it coming (but I like to think I’m pretty easy to please when it comes to plot twists, lol)
  • I don’t remember a ton about the characters (the horror of writing a review a month after reading the book), but I remember being invested in Viv (Carly’s aunt) and Carly’s stories and how they ended; I wasn’t let down in that regard
  • do keep in mind that there’s some anti-ace sentiment near the end of the book, where a character mentions that girls “have to have” sex at some point, which…nah. They don’t. Not everyone needs or wants to have sex
  • anyway, overall, I was pretty happy with this book, and I may look into the author’s other works

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LIST #18 | Books on My Physical TBR, pt. 1 YA SFF

Hey there, everyone! Hope you’re all doing well and staying safe right now when things are as hectic as could be. I’ve been wanting to do different kinds of posts outside of just reviews because I found myself in a bit of a rut. So I figured why not do one about the books on my physical TBR? And here we are, a new mini-series! I differentiate between my physical TBR and general TBR because the former is the TBR for books that I already own, and the latter is just books that I want to get around to reading. I own a number of backlist books, so I figured this would be a fun series so y’all can see books that maybe you haven’t seen in a while (or at all!). Part one is on my YA sci-fi and fantasy collection!

Shadow and Bone (Shadow and Bone, #1)
Siege and Storm (Shadow and Bone, #2)

Shadow and Bone & Siege and Storm by Leigh Bardugo

  • bought these a few years ago, still haven’t read them
  • ready to hate both Mal and the Darkling, and I can’t wait
  • not ready for the mid-2000s YA fantasy style of writing though, lmao

The Bone Witch by Rin Chupeco

The Bone Witch (The Bone Witch, #1)
  • I’ve heard so many great things!
  • I need an anti-hero/morally grey MC again, it’s been a while
  • Kate from YaTitaKate on YouTube also did a drunk review of The Bone Witch which, uh, definitely made me want to read it more now, lol. Maybe next month!
Girls of Paper and Fire (Girls of Paper and Fire #1)

Girls of Paper and Fire by Natasha Ngan

  • the themes…the t h e m e s
  • another that I have to read soon!
  • well, that, and the sequel
Eragon (The Inheritance Cycle, #1)
Eldest (The Inheritance Cycle, #2)
Brisingr (The Inheritance Cycle, #3)

Eragon & Eldest & Brisingr by Christopher Paolini

  • am I ready to roast this hodgepodge of well-known SFF media? Yes. But will I enjoy roasting it? Also yes
  • I actually tried the audiobook sometime last year or the year before, and wow, that was the worst audiobook experience I’ve had in my life. So. Physical book it is
A Living Nightmare (Cirque Du Freak, #1)
The Vampire's Assistant (Cirque Du Freak, #2)
Tunnels of Blood (Cirque Du Freak, #3)

A Living Nightmare & The Vampire’s Assistant & Tunnels of Blood by Darren Shan

  • cue the nostalgia: ya know how a bunch of people had Harry Potter and Twilight growing up, which really solidified their love of reading? Well, Cirque du Freak is, essentially, my Harry Potter or Twilight
  • I’m a bit nervous it won’t be as good as I remember it, but to be fair, there has been ten years or more since I first read it
The Emerald Atlas (The Books of Beginning, #1)

The Emerald Atlas by John Stephens

  • got this for my 12th or 13th birthday, but uhhh never actually read it
  • excited to get into it, but I don’t have a clue on what it’s about, lol
The Dream Thieves (The Raven Cycle, #2)
Blue Lily, Lily Blue (The Raven Cycle, #3)
The Raven King (The Raven Cycle, #4)

The Dream Thieves & Blue Lily, Lily Blue & The Raven King by Maggie Stiefvater

  • I am ready to be absolutely bodied by the rest of this series and then never touch it again
  • I got them all from my library’s book sale for super cheap, so that’s pretty rad, too!
Tarnished Are the Stars

Tarnished are the Stars by Rosiee Thor

  • my most recent YA SFF buy from a couple months ago
  • bit of an impulse buy because I usually don’t buy new releases, but I couldn’t resist a queer YA sci-fi with that kind of cover

And those are all of the YA SFF books on my physical TBR. Let me know if you liked any of these, or what YA SFF books you own that you haven’t gotten around to yet!

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REVIEW #69 | THE STRAIN by Guillermo del Toro and Chuck Hogan (The Strain Trilogy #1) (Mini Review) (Audiobook)

The Strain (The Strain Trilogy, #1)

Title: The Strain

Authors: Guillermo del Toro and Chuck Hogan

Series or Standalone?: The Strain Trilogy #1

Pub. Date: 2 June 2009

Synopsis:

A Boeing 777 arrives at JFK and is on its way across the tarmac, when it suddenly stops dead. All window shades are pulled down. All lights are out. All communication channels have gone quiet. Crews on the ground are lost for answers, but an alert goes out to the CDC. Dr. Ephraim “Eph” Goodweather, head of their Canary project, a rapid-response team that investigates biological threats, gets the call and boards the plane. What he finds makes his blood run cold.

In a pawnshop in Spanish Harlem, a former professor and survivor of the Holocaust named Abraham Setrakian knows something is happening. And he knows the time has come, that a war is brewing.

So begins a battle of mammoth proportions as the vampiric virus that has infected New York begins to spill out into the streets. Eph, who is joined by Setrakian and a motley crew of fighters, must now find a way to stop the contagion and save his city – a city that includes his wife and son – before it is too late.

Trigger/Content warnings:

  • blood and gore
  • brief POV from an abusive parent
  • fat antagonism
  • animal death (pet dog)
  • racism and xenophobia
  • abuse
  • animal abuse
  • character death
  • infant and child death
  • suicide

Representation:

  • Mexican-American Latinx man
  • Jewish Romanian man
  • Haitian woman (small role, not a major character)

⭐⭐⭐ .5
3.5/5 stars

  • when a deadly virus breaks out in the United States, CDC scientist Eph has to figure out how to stop it. Problem is, it’s not just a simple virus — it’s something older, something darker
  • it was entertaining for the most part: it didn’t blow me away, but it wasn’t atrocious. It kept me mostly engaged, and I do want to see where the rest of the trilogy goes
  • the characters were kinda boring, though, and I didn’t particularly connect with anyone. They were all pretty dry, to me, though there were a few that popped out
  • speaking of characters, though, can we talk about how Nora’s (Eph’s co-worker/maybe partner in the future, who knows) only role throughout the entire book was to be the damsel in distress love interest for Eph? Because thanks, I hate it. Literally, before the big ol’ boss fight or whatever, she said she just had to stay with Eph’s kid to take care of him. Excuse me, but why couldn’t his actual father stay with him instead? Oh I get it, it’s because we can’t have any characters in this book get shit done if they’re women. For the record, Nora is the only major character in this book who’s a woman. So. That’s cool. I guess
  • anyway, I thought the vampires themselves were pretty cool, and they’re basically the only reason I plan on continuing the series. Everything else is kinda meh

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MONTHLY WRAP-UP #15 | April 2020

Yeesh, this month was…something. I didn’t really read any physical books. Out of the six books I read, only one was a physical book from the library. The rest were audiobooks. I actually listened to more music: I’ve listened to nine albums vs. reading six books. But honestly? With everything going on, reading was a lot harder this month than listening to music. But anyway, here’s everything that I’ve done throughout the month!

BOOKS COMPLETED/DNF’D

The Sun Down Motel by Simone St. James

  • spoopy mystery about a young woman learning about what happened to her aunt
  • it was more mystery than horror, but I still enjoyed it
  • the romance was super lackluster for me though, lol
  • 4.5/5⭐

Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee by Dee Brown

  • a non-fiction book about the history of Western indigenous people and how the United States fucked them over continuously
  • it makes it clear that much of what people learn about the relations between indigenous people and the US government is often glossed over
  • I think if I read the physical book, it’d be a bit better, but I found myself lost as to who and where the author was talking about
  • 3.5/5⭐

The Strain by Guillermo Del Toro and Chuck Hogan

  • a book about vampires, where it spreads similar to a disease
  • should I have read this during an actual pandemic? Probs not, but here we are
  • it was okay — it wasn’t horrible, but it was nothing groundbreaking either
  • however, there’s literally no thought out, well-written characters that are women. Like. The only one we get is a woman who only serves as the MC’s possible love interest, and she isn’t even in the final battle scene because she ~has to take care of the MC’s son~
  • 3.5/5⭐

All-American Muslim Girl by Nadine Jolie Courtney

  • a pretty light contemporary about a Muslim girl trying to get back in touch with her faith
  • it was alright, but the LI was…super bland? I don’t think he had that much depth at all, which made me not care for the romance, lol
  • I’m not going to say anything about how Islam and different inter-community discussions were portrayed because I’m an atheist and have no personal connection to Islam, but I will say that I enjoyed the MC’s journey throughout the novel
  • But also, I will point out that the book makes it sound like there are no exceptions to fasting when it comes to Ramadan, and I know for sure that’s not true. Just wanted to point that out
  • 3.5/5⭐

Mirage by Somaiya Daud

  • I got through about three chapters and the prologue of the audiobook, and I ended up DNFing
  • it wasn’t bad, necessarily, but it wasn’t what I thought it was; it’s, like, this weird fusion of fantasy and sci-fi, and I wasn’t expecting that
  • it just wasn’t a book for me
  • no rating

Middle School’s a Drag by Greg Howard

  • this was a cute contemporary MG book about a boy running his own “talent agency” while also trying to figure out how to be more confident with his gay identity
  • I really enjoyed the discussion the MC had with himself about if he’s “gay enough” because he doesn’t act like a “stereotypical” gay boy
  • however, I’m not a huge fan of the bully being let off the hook for…basically no reason?
  • it was nice to see the amount of diversity in the book, though

BOOKS STARTED BUT NOT YET COMPLETED OR DNF’D

Lair of Dreams by Libba Bray

  • 68/561 pages (at the end of April — now, at the time of writing, I’m a lot further along)
  • who was going to tell me that there’s FAKE DATING?
  • I’m so excited for the rest of this series

TV SHOWS/MOVIES WATCHED

Bob’s Burgers, season 2 and part of season 3

  • I’ve been casually watching it as I work on my book journal and/or blog at night
  • I still love the humor
  • maybe I can get through another couple seasons this month
  • 10/10, probably going to watch again once I’m caught up

Detective Pikachu

  • I FINALLY GOT AROUND TO WATCHING THIS
  • I can die happy now
  • seriously, the Pokemon looked so good, I loved it
  • will definitely re-watch when I need a pick-me-up

MUSIC LISTENED TO

We Are Not Your Kind by Slipknot

  • *pretends to be shocked*
  • anyway, still a banger

Feathers & Flesh by Avatar

  • I believe I listened to this back in February, but I wanted to listen to it again, so I know if I want to put it into my general playlist
  • it’s still a good album, and I’m glad to be getting back into the band

Hail the Apocalypse by Avatar

  • every single song on this album sounds like it was made for pirates, and you can’t tell me otherwise
  • it’s just a snazzy group of songs

Blood Mountain ; Crack the Skye ; The Hunter ; Once More ‘Round the Sun; Emperor of Sand by Mastodon

  • these are five different albums, but they’re all by the same band, so I figured I would group them all together
  • another one of those “used to listen to them a lot, stopped for a few years, and I’m now back to listening them” things
  • highly recommend

The Nothing by Korn

  • me? liking every song of a Korn album? I know, I’m surprised, too
  • seriously, though, good stuff

VIDEO GAMES PLAYED

Pokemon Sword

  • my boyfriend got it for me for my birthday!!!
  • I haven’t played a ton of it, but I’m having a lot of fun
  • my team has two normal types, and no, I am not getting rid of the them. Wooloo and Skwovet are staying forever

Untitled Goose Game

  • a relaxing game to play when you’re trying not to think about the state of the world rn
  • honk honk, motherfucker

And that’s it for the month of April! Let me know what you did during April, whether it was reading or another hobby/activity, in the comments! 🙂

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LIST #17 | 12 Queer/LGBTQ+ April 2020 Releases

…Better late than never, right?

Crown of Smoke (Shadowscent, #2)

Crown of Smoke by P.M. Freestone

Pub. Date: 2 April

Synopsis:

In the empire of Aramtesh, scent has power. In the first volume, the prince was found poisoned in the temple, sparking a high-stakes quest for an antidote. In the explosive conclusion, Rakel and Ash are separated as the empire hurtles towards civil war, and everyone must choose a side.

Rep: bi MC

Bonds of Brass (The Bloodright Trilogy #1)

Bonds of Brass by Emily Skrutskie

Pub. Date: 7 April

Synopsis:

A young pilot risks everything to save his best friend–the man he trusts most and might even love–only to learn that he’s secretly the heir to a brutal galactic empire.

Ettian Nassun’s life was shattered when the merciless Umber Empire invaded. He’s spent seven years putting himself back together under its rule, joining an Umber military academy and becoming the best pilot in his class. Even better, he’s met Gal Veres–his exasperating and infuriatingly enticing roommate who’s made the Academy feel like a new home.

But when dozens of classmates spring an assassination plot on Gal, a devastating secret comes to light: Gal is the heir to the Umber Empire. Ettian barely manages to save his best friend and flee the compromised Academy unscathed, rattled both that Gal stands to inherit the empire that broke him and that there are still people willing to fight back against Umber rule. As they piece together a way to deliver Gal safely to his throne, Ettian finds himself torn in half by an impossible choice. Does he save the man who’s won his heart and trust that Gal’s goodness could transform the empire? Or does he throw his lot in with the brewing rebellion and fight to take back what’s rightfully theirs?

Rep: men loving men MCs

Credit: Theresa @fettestheresa

Sword in the Stars (Once & Future #2)

The Sword in the Stars by Amy Rose Capetta and Cory McCarthy

Pub. Date: 7 April

Synopsis:

In this epic sequel to Once & Future, to save the future, Ari and her Rainbow knights pull off a heist…thousands of years in the past.

Ari Helix may have won her battle against the tyrannical Mercer corporation, but the larger war has just begun. Ari and her cursed wizard Merlin must travel back in time to the unenlightened Middle Ages and steal the King Arthur’s Grail—the very definition of impossible.
It’s imperative that the time travelers not skew the timeline and alter the course of history. Coming face-to-face with the original Arthurian legend could produce a ripple effect that changes everything. Somehow Merlin forgot that the past can be even more dangerous than the future…

Rep: bi/pan character; non-binary character; demiboy character; ace character; f/f relationship

The Stone of Sorrow (Runecaster, #1)

The Stone of Sorrow by Brooke Carter

Pub. Date: 7 April

Synopsis:

In a land of myth and ice, seventeen-year-old Runa Unnursdóttir is not the runecaster her clan has been hoping for. She spends her days daydreaming of sailing away and exploring the world instead of studying the runes and learning her spells. The villagers consider her odd, in looks and in manner. She’s nothing like her talented sister, Sýr, keeper of the sacred moonstone that ensures the village’s continued survival. But when a rival clan led by an evil witch raids the village and kidnaps her sister, Runa is forced to act. With a fallen Valkyrie by her side, and the help of a gorgeous half-elf Runa is not quite sure she can trust, the apprentice must travel to the site of an ancient runecasting competition to try to win back the magical gem. But the journey will not be easy; the three unlikely companions encounter malevolent and supernatural creatures at every turn. Somehow, Runa must summon the courage and strength to face her destiny, a destiny she never wanted. Or die trying.

Rep: f/f relationship; sapphic characters; non-binary side character

Somebody Told Me

Somebody Told Me by Mia Siegert

Pub. Date: 7 April

Synopsis:

A novel of trauma, identity, and survival.

After an assault, bigender seventeen-year-old Aleks/Alexis is looking for a fresh start―so they voluntarily move in with their uncle, a Catholic priest. In their new bedroom, Aleks/Alexis discovers they can overhear parishioners in the church confessional. Moved by the struggles of these “sinners,” Aleks/Alexis decides to anonymously help them, finding solace in their secret identity: a guardian angel instead of a victim.

But then Aleks/Alexis overhears a confession of another priest admitting to sexually abusing a parishioner. As they try to uncover the priest’s identity before he hurts anyone again, Aleks/Alexis is also forced to confront their own abuser and come to terms with their past trauma.

Rep: bigender MC

Note: Please take note of the trigger/content warnings

Elysium Girls

Elysium Girls by Kate Pentecost

Pub. Date: 14 April

Synopsis:

In this sweeping Dust Bowl-inspired fantasy, a ten-year game between Life and Death pits the walled Oklahoma city of Elysium-including a girl gang of witches and a demon who longs for humanity-against the supernatural in order to judge mankind.

When Sal is named Successor to Mother Morevna, a powerful witch and leader of Elysium, she jumps at the chance to prove herself to the town. Ever since she was a kid, Sal has been plagued by false visions of rain, and though people think she’s a liar, she knows she’s a leader. Even the arrival of enigmatic outsider Asa-a human-obsessed demon in disguise-doesn’t shake her confidence in her ability. Until a terrible mistake results in both Sal and Asa’s exile into the Desert of Dust and Steel.

Face-to-face with a brutal, unforgiving landscape, Sal and Asa join a gang of girls headed by another Elysium exile-and young witch herself-Olivia Rosales. In order to atone for their mistake, they create a cavalry of magic powered, scrap metal horses to save Elysium from the coming apocalypse. But Sal, Asa, and Olivia must do more than simply tip the scales in Elysium’s favor-only by reinventing the rules can they beat the Life and Death at their own game.

Rep: sapphic MC

Fin & Rye & Fireflies

Finn and Rye and Fireflies by Harry Cook

Pub. Date: 20 April

Synopsis:

“It started with a kiss…as love stories often do. Jesse Andrews had the arms of a Greek god and he was on the track team. The night of our kiss fell on a Friday.”

Then, only a few days later, Fin’s world is turned upside down – and not in a good head-over-heels-in-love way – when Jesse cruelly outs him. An event which ultimately leads to his family leaving town.

But a fresh start isn’t going to change the truth of who Fin is. And it’s not going to stop his sexuality causing everyone all sorts of problems. Everyone, that is, apart from his new best friend Poppy, her girlfriend-in-waiting June, and his new crush Rye… So, while Fin and Rye are enjoying some seriously intimate moonlit moments together, Fin’s parents decide to pack him off to the local ReSouled ‘therapy camp’.

It’s a nightmare – and there’s no easy way out. Can Fin’s squad hatch a plan outrageous enough to spring him before the ‘conversion’ acolytes force him into the straight and narrow?

Rep: gay mc; men loving men character; f/f side relationship; sapphic side characters

The Deck of Omens (The Devouring Gray, #2)

The Deck of Omens by Christine Lynn Herman

Pub. Date: 21 April

Synopsis:

The teenagers of Four Paths must save their home.

Though the Beast is seemingly subdued for now, a new threat looms in Four Paths: a corruption seeping from the Gray into the forest. And with the other Founders preoccupied by their tangled alliances and fraying relationships, only May Hawthorne seems to realize the danger. But saving the town she loves means seeking aid from the person her family despises most–her and Justin’s father.

May’s father isn’t the only newcomer in town–Isaac Sullivan’s older brother has also returned, seeking forgiveness for the role he played in Isaac’s troubled past. But Isaac isn’t ready to let go of his family’s history, especially when that history might hold the key that he and Violet Saunders need to destroy the Gray and the monster within it.

Harper Carlisle isn’t ready to forgive, either. Two devastating betrayals have left her isolated from her family and uncertain who to trust. As the corruption becomes impossible to ignore, Harper must learn to control her newfound powers in order to protect Four Paths. But the only people who can help her do that are the ones who have hurt her the most.

With the veil between the Gray and the town growing ever thinner, all of the Founder descendants must put their grievances with one another aside to stop the corruption and kill the Beast once and for all.

But maybe the monster they truly need to slay has never been the Beast…

Rep: bi MCs; men loving men SC

Credit: Theresa @fettestheresa

Late to the Party

Late to the Party by Kelly Quindlen

Pub. Date: 21 April

Synopsis:

Seventeen is nothing like Codi Teller imagined.

She’s never crashed a party, never stayed out too late. She’s never even been kissed. And it’s not just because she’s gay. It’s because she and her two best friends, Maritza and JaKory, spend more time in her basement watching Netflix than engaging with the outside world.

So when Maritza and JaKory suggest crashing a party, Codi is highly skeptical. Those parties aren’t for kids like them. They’re for cool kids. Straight kids.

But then Codi stumbles upon one of those cool kids, Ricky, kissing another boy in the dark, and an unexpected friendship is formed. In return for never talking about that kiss, Ricky takes Codi under his wing and draws her into a wild summer filled with late nights, new experiences, and one really cute girl named Lydia.

The only problem? Codi never tells Maritza or JaKory about any of it.

From author Kelly Quindlen comes a poignant and deeply relatable story about friendship, self-acceptance, what it means to be a Real Teenager. Late to the Party is an ode to late bloomers and wallflowers everywhere.

Rep: lesbian MC; f/f relationship; men loving men SCs; women loving women SCs

Verona Comics

Verona Comics by Jennifer Dugan

Pub. Date: 21 April

Synopsis:

From the author of Hot Dog Girl comes a fresh and funny queer YA contemporary novel about two teens who fall in love in an indie comic book shop.

Jubilee has it all together. She’s an elite cellist, and when she’s not working in her stepmom’s indie comic shop, she’s prepping for the biggest audition of her life.

Ridley is barely holding it together. His parents own the biggest comic-store chain in the country, and Ridley can’t stop disappointing them—that is, when they’re even paying attention.

They meet one fateful night at a comic convention prom, and the two can’t help falling for each other. Too bad their parents are at each other’s throats every chance they get, making a relationship between them nearly impossible…unless they manage to keep it a secret.

Then again, the feud between their families may be the least of their problems. As Ridley’s anxiety spirals, Jubilee tries to help but finds her focus torn between her fast-approaching audition and their intensifying relationship. What if love can’t conquer all? What if each of them needs more than the other can give?

Rep: bi MCs

All Boys Aren't Blue

All Boys Aren’t Blue by George M. Johnson

Pub. Date: 28 April

Synopsis:

In a series of personal essays, prominent journalist and LGBTQIA+ activist George M. Johnson explores his childhood, adolescence, and college years in New Jersey and Virginia. From the memories of getting his teeth kicked out by bullies at age five, to flea marketing with his loving grandmother, to his first sexual relationships, this young-adult memoir weaves together the trials and triumphs faced by Black queer boys.

Both a primer for teens eager to be allies as well as a reassuring testimony for young queer men of color, All Boys Aren’t Blue covers topics such as gender identity, toxic masculinity, brotherhood, family, structural marginalization, consent, and Black joy. Johnson’s emotionally frank style of writing will appeal directly to young adults.

Rep: non-fiction memoir about being a queer Black boy

The Knockout Queen

The Knockout Queen by Rufi Thorpe

Pub. Date: 28 April

Synopsis:

A dazzling and darkly comic novel of love, violence, and friendship in the California suburbs

Bunny Lampert is the princess of North Shore⁠–beautiful, tall, blond, with a rich real-estate-developer father and a swimming pool in her backyard. Michael⁠⁠–with a ponytail down his back and a septum piercing⁠–lives with his aunt in the cramped stucco cottage next door. When Bunny catches Michael smoking in her yard, he discovers that her life is not as perfect as it seems. At six foot three, Bunny towers over their classmates. Even as she dreams of standing out and competing in the Olympics, she is desperate to fit in, to seem normal, and to get a boyfriend, all while hiding her father’s escalating alcoholism. Michael has secrets of his own. At home and at school Michael pretends to be straight, but at night he tries to understand himself by meeting men online for anonymous encounters that both thrill and scare him. When Michael falls in love for the first time, a vicious strain of gossip circulates and a terrible, brutal act becomes the defining feature of both his and Bunny’s futures⁠⁠–and of their friendship. With storytelling as intoxicating as it is intelligent, Rufi Thorpe has created a tragic and unflinching portrait of identity, a fascinating examination of our struggles to exist in our bodies, and an excruciatingly beautiful story of two humans aching for connection.

Rep: gay MC

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