READING THE RAINBOW #2

Reading the Rainbow #2
Reading the Rainbow #2: more queer books!

Hey there, everyone! Hope y’all are having a good day. I’m back again this week with the second segment of Reading the Rainbow! For those of you that don’t know, Reading the Rainbow is a segment I have on my blog where I match queer book covers with the colors of the rainbow. I also try my best to choose books that may not be as well known.

Without further ado, let’s get into it!

Red

Nevada by Imogen Binnie
Nevada by Imogen Binnie

Rep: sapphic trans woman MC

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Orange

Chameleon Moon by RoAnna Sylver
Chameleon Moon by RoAnna Sylver

Rep: polyam trio (all women); trans woman MC; non-binary character; asexual MC; various disability and mental illness rep

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Yellow

You Know Me Well by David Levithan, Nina LaCour
You Know Me Well by Nina LaCour & David Levithan

Rep: sapphic MC; achillean MC

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Green

Marriage of a Thousand Lies by S.J. Sindu
Marriage of a Thousand Lies SJ Sindu

Rep: Sri Lankan lesbian MC; Indian gay man SC; sapphic Sri Lankan (? unsure) LI

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Blue

Kings, Queens, and In-Betweens by Tanya Boteju
Kings, Queens, and In-Betweens by Tanya Boteju

Rep: Black sapphic questioning MC; Black trans SC; interracial f/f relationship

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Indigo/Violet

Beyond the Gender Binary by Alok Vaid-Menon, Ashley Lukashevsky
Beyond the Gender Binary by Alok Vaid-Menon

Rep: non-fiction about gender beyond the binary and being gender non-conforming and non-binary

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And there’s this installment of Reading the Rainbow! Have you read any of these? Or found new ones to put on your TBR? Let me know!

Kait | sixcrowsbooks
Kait | sixcrowsbooks

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REVIEW #75 | THE SILVERED SERPENTS by Roshani Chokshi (The Gilded Wolves #2) (eARC)

Review: "Silvered Serpents" by Roshani Chokshi
Review: “The Silvered Serpents” by Roshani Chokshi
The Silvered Serpents (The Gilded Wolves, #2)
The Silvered Serpents by Roshani Chokshi

Title: The Silvered Serpents

Author: Roshani Chokshi

Series or Standalone?: The Gilded Wolves #2

Pub. Date: 22 September 2020

Synopsis:

Returning to the dark and glamorous 19th century world of her New York Times instant bestseller, The Gilded Wolves, Roshani Chokshi dazzles us with another riveting tale as full of mystery and danger as ever in The Silvered Serpents.

They are each other’s fiercest love, greatest danger, and only hope.

Séverin and his team members might have successfully thwarted the Fallen House, but victory came at a terrible cost — one that still haunts all of them. Desperate to make amends, Séverin pursues a dangerous lead to find a long lost artifact rumored to grant its possessor the power of God.

Their hunt lures them far from Paris, and into the icy heart of Russia where crystalline ice animals stalk forgotten mansions, broken goddesses carry deadly secrets, and a string of unsolved murders makes the crew question whether an ancient myth is a myth after all.

As hidden secrets come to the light and the ghosts of the past catch up to them, the crew will discover new dimensions of themselves. But what they find out may lead them down paths they never imagined.

A tale of love and betrayal as the crew risks their lives for one last job.

Trigger/Content warnings:

  • blood and gore
  • character death
  • racism
  • xenophobia
  • anti-semitism
  • violence
  • dismemberment

Representation:

  • Jewish autistic girl MC
  • Indian girl MC
  • bi/pan Filipino Spanish MC
  • queer boy MC
  • Algerian French MC

⭐⭐⭐⭐ .5

4.5/5 stars

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

So after The Gilded Wolves, why did Roshani have to go so hard in The Silvered Serpents? Is wanting the gang to have a happy ending too much to ask for?

The Silvered Serpents begins a few months after The Gilded Wolves ends, with Séverin and the others making their way to Russia in order to look for The Divine Lyrics, a book that is told to have unimaginable power. However, they all have to deal with their own demons and insecurities on top of the possibly absolutely dangerous mission they’ve partaken on.

I loved seeing all the characters again, especially their interactions with one another! They all (mostly) still love and trust one another, except for Séverin. This book was 400-some pages of everyone side-eyeing him, and (not gonna lie) I kinda lived for it. And his character development! I absolutely cannot wait to see what comes of him in the third book. As for everyone else, I absolutely adored them all and their angst. Let me tell you, there was a lot of angst. But it was refreshing to see in a published book and not just in fanfic!

The plot itself was super interesting, too. I don’t want to say too much about it in fear of revealing too much (and also because I can’t remember much due to my goldfish memory), but it kept me entranced the whole time I was reading. Though that might be because I’m not very smart with figuring things out in books, so I could just be easily entertained with heist books, but still. I am a simple person: is it a heist book? Automatic four star minimum.

Seriously, though, if you haven’t picked up this book or The Gilded Wolves, I seriously recommend it! There is rich world-building, lovely (morally grey) characters, and a few relationships you’d die for.

Kait | sixcrowsbooks

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MONTHLY WRAP-UP #16 and MONTHLY TBR #15 | October 2020 and November 2020

October 2020 Wrap-Up & November 2020 TBR
October 2020 Wrap-Up & November 2020 TBR — oh my!

So uh…it’s been a while, huh? Apologies for that, I just had absolutely no motivation to write or post anything. And then when I thought, “Hm, maybe?” I came down with COVID. Don’t worry, it was a mild case, no fever or difficulty breathing (except from my asthma, but that’s expected). However, even with a mild case like mine, I was still out for a little over a week. I slept more during that time than I have in a while. Maybe I’ll write a post about it one day, but for now! Bookish content! I didn’t really read a bunch or watch much of anything or play many video games….to be honest, I didn’t do a ton in October at all outside of getting sick, lol. And my TBR for November is pretty small. But I figured this is something relatively easy to get together and to use to get back into the swing of things! So here y’all are, enjoy what I did in October and what I plan on reading in November~.

BOOKS COMPLETED/DNF’D

Are Prisons Obsolete?
Are Prisons Obsolete? by Angela Davis
  • don’t mind me, I’m just slowly making my way through foundational leftist texts
  • I already knew a lot of the arguments Davis makes throughout the book, but it was nice to read the source instead of only Twitter threads (that are still valuable, btw!)
  • really want to grab a copy for myself in order to annotate — I read a library copy
  • 5/5⭐
How to Be an Antiracist
How to be an Antiracist by Ibram X. Kendi
  • the writing itself gives the book 5 stars right off the bat: it’s accessible and the way it was organized made it a breeze to get through; I enjoyed it thoroughly
  • theoretically, though, there are two aspects that I don’t think hold up: Kendi’s assertion that people of color, including Black people, can be racist against white folks (and he even has a whole chapter/section on this); and the (smaller) argument that since some Black people throughout history have held political office throughout the US, Black folks as a whole hold power
  • those two point are probably the weakest out of the whole book; otherwise, it was still a good read, and I think it can still be worthwhile
  • 5/5⭐
Feminism is for Everybody: Passionate Politics
Feminism is for Everybody: Passionate Politics by bell hooks
  • I’ve read a few chapters throughout undergrad for a couple classes, so I’m glad I finally got around to reading it in full
  • it was exactly what I expected: an easy-to-understand primer on various general feminist issues
  • the trans exclusion kinda hurt, though, not gonna lie. Particularly when it came to reproductive healthcare/justice. But what can ya do?
  • overall, I’d still give it to someone as a very basic introduction to feminism, along with other reads to supplement it
  • 5/5⭐
The Sword of Summer (Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard, #1)
Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard #1: The Sword of Summer by Rick Riordan
  • unlike with PJO, I knew absolutely nothing about Norse mythology before going into this (I mean, I read Norse Mythology by Neil Gaiman and I watched Thor, but do those really count if I can’t remember anything from them?). Regardless, I still had a blast reading it!
  • the characters!! I love!! a Muslim Valkyrie, a Deaf elf, a stylish dwarf. They are all adorable, and I love them
  • I feel like this series has a darker tone than PJO or HOO and that it handles it in a more complex way — I’m excited to see how the rest of the series will go!
  • 5/5⭐

TV SHOWS/MOVIES WATCHED

Trick 'r Treat, 2007
Trick ‘r Treat, 2007
  • someone explain to me how this became a comfort movie for me
  • my mom and I watched this so many times during October, you notice so many little things with each watch!
  • I think my favorite story is the one with the kids collecting the jack o’ lanterns
Truth or Dare 2017 Poster.jpg
Truth or Dare, 2017
  • my mom and I caught the last forty minutes or so of this one, and I wish we caught all of it because it seemed super interesting
  • however, geez, it’s super gory so if that’s not your thing, you should probably stay away
  • it was still a lot of fun, though
  • like most horror, explores the darker parts of humanity and the secrets we hold
Truth or Dare, 2018
Truth or Dare, 2018
  • my mom and I wanted to watch the previous Truth or Dare movie in its entirety, and we found this one on On Demand thinking it was it; turns out there’s more than one movie with the same name and similar premises!
  • it wasn’t exactly like the other movie, but it was still really interesting
  • I feel like some of the characters could have been fleshed out more, though
Hocus Pocus, 1993
Hocus Pocus, 1993
  • a Halloween classic!
  • we watched it multiple times throughout the month
  • when I was younger, the Binx was my favorite character; upon re-watch, he’s still my favorite
  • the younger sister is a bit of a brat in the beginning though, dang lol

Outside of that, my media has been pretty limited. I haven’t listened to anything specific album-wise, and my video game-playing has been brought to a screeching halt for the time being. However, here’s what I plan on reading in the month of November!

NOVEMBER TBR

The Hate U Give (The Hate U Give, #1)
The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
  • I’m super behind in reading this, but at this point, that’s kinda my brand, right?
  • for those that don’t know what it’s about: a contemporary about a young Black girl who must come to terms with witnessing the murder of her childhood friend by the hands of a cop
  • I’ll be honest, I’m surprised by how big it is; I thought it was smaller like most contemporaries
Clap When You Land
Clap When You Land by Elizabeth Acevedo
  • I originally bought this for the In The Margins book club (a book club on Twitter focused on reading books by and about marginalized folks; check it out!) for October’s pick, but uhh, COVID kinda said no to that, lol
  • I’ve already started, and I love it so far! I’m reading along with the audiobook
  • speaking of, the narration? is gorgeous?? 10/10, definitely recommend
Women, Race & Class
Women, Race, & Class by Angela Davis
  • I’m back on my non-fiction bullshit
  • another book that I read parts from throughout undergrad that I never got around to reading the whole of until now
  • I just *clench fist* really love Angela Davis and her work, ya know?
Summer Bird Blue
Summer Bird Blue by Akemi Dawn Bowman
  • I have an assignment due in a little over two weeks that is worth 25% of my grade, and I decided I wanted to re-read this book for it; let’s hope that was the right choice ’cause by the time I’m done, I probably won’t have time to change it, lol
  • seriously, though, I’m so excited to start this book again!! I absolutely adored it the first time around
  • and if you really want me to, I’ll link my final paper, lmao
Into the Drowning Deep (Rolling in the Deep, #1)
Into the Drowning Deep by Mira Grant
  • another book that was meant for a book club but that I never got around to (…maybe I’m just bad at book clubs, lol); this one was the Spooky Bitches Book Club (check them out if you like spooky books and movies!)
  • not gonna lie, I completely forgot what this was about, only that a lot of people were spooked by it
  • I’m excited for it, though; I haven’t finished much horror in a while!
Cemetery Boys
Cemetery Boys by Aiden Thomas
  • the November pick for the In The Margins Book Club….that I can hopefully read in the month it was meant for? maybe?
  • Latinx trans MC, Latinx trans MC!!!
  • I’m having delayed Halloween reads, apparently; blame COVID

And there you go, the books I plan on reading in November! I think 6 books is pretty doable for me — let’s just hope classwork doesn’t bog me down! What’s everyone else reading (or have already read!) this month? Let me know!

Kait | sixcrowsbooks

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REVIEW #74 | SETTLING THE WORLD by M. John Harrison (eARC)

Settling the World: Selected Stories 1970-2020 by M. John Harrison, Jennifer Hodgson

Title: Settling the World: Selected Stories 1970-2020

Author: M. John Harrison

Series or Standalone?: Standalone

Pub. Date: 20 August 2020

Synopsis:

Throughout his career, M. John Harrison’s writing has defied categorisation, building worlds both unreal and all-too real, overlapping and interlocking with each other. His stories are replete with fissures and portals into parallel dimensions, unidentified countries and lost lands. But more important than the places they point to are the obsessions that drive the people who so believe in them, characters who spend their lives hunting for, and haunted by, clues and maps that speak to the possibility of somewhere else.

This selection of stories, drawn from over 50 years of writing, bears witness to that desire for difference: whether following backstreet occultists, amateur philosophers, down-and-outs or refugees, we see our relationship with ‘the other’ in microscopic detail, and share in Harrison’s rejection of the idea that the world, or our understanding of it, could ever be settled.

Trigger/Content warnings:

  • character death
  • blood and gore

Representation:

  • N/A

⭐⭐⭐ .5

3.5/5 stars

*I received an eARC via the publisher in exchange for an honest review*

This anthology has such a variety of stories that nearly everyone will find at least one that they like and/or connect with! Myself included.

Settling the World is an anthology of short stories the author, Harrison, has written between the years 1970 and 2020. At first, I thought it was primarily a science fiction anthology — especially with the first few stories — but as I read more and more, I realized that the anthology doesn’t fit one specific genre. Yes, many of them stories would be considered science fiction (and they flow between “hard” sci-fi and “soft” sci-fi), but many more are contemporary with a flash of fantasy/science fiction, or even a bit of thriller/horror. I was put off by the focus on aliens and the like in the first few stories, but there were quite a few later on that I could not read fast enough.

Harrison has a way of writing that reminds me of older books (pre-1990, let’s say), which makes sense, considering the stories have been written anywhere as early as 1970. It wasn’t bad by any means, and for a few stories, I quite enjoyed it. It just caught me off guard, is all. Also, I felt like I couldn’t really connect with many of the protagonists, and as someone who prefers character-focused stories, this was something that was hard for me to get over. That doesn’t mean the writing itself was “bad” in an objective way, it just wasn’t my personal cup of tea.

However, like I said earlier, there is so much variety in the stories that I think everyone will find at least one story that they love. I have my fair share, for sure! The tone of each story is distinct, and it’s interesting to see that, even though Harrison usually uses first person, the narrator sounds so different. In my experience, first person POV usually blends together, but each seemed to have their own voice. A pleasant surprise!

Overall, while I didn’t love every short story in the collection, I thought Settling the World‘s variety in genres was a breath of fresh air, and I’m glad the publisher reached out to me to read and review it!

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READING THE RAINBOW #1

Ahhh, I’m so happy to finally introduce y’all to the newest feature here at Kait’s Cozy Reading Corner! This is what I like to call Reading the Rainbow, where I find queer books to match the different colors of the rainbow. I want to focus on less well-known books, but there may be a few that are more popular. For right now, since I’m only posting once a week, this will probably only be a once a month feature, but I’ll adjust accordingly if my posting schedule changes again! I hope y’all enjoy. 🙂

Red

Patsy

Patsy by Nicole Y. Dennis-Benn

Rep: Jamaican sapphic MC with depression; Jamaican sapphic non-binary MC

Orange

How We Fight For Our Lives

How We Fight For Our Lives by Saeed Jones

Rep: memoir about a gay Black man

Yellow

Pulp

Pulp by Robin Talley

Rep: lesbian MCs

Green

The Love & Lies of Rukhsana Ali by Sabina Khan

The Love and Lies of Rukhsana Ali by Sabina Khan

Rep: Muslim Bangladeshi lesbian MC

Blue

Stay Gold by Tobly McSmith

Stay Gold by Tobly McSmith

Rep: trans boy MC

Indigo/Violet

Empire of Light by Alex Harrow

Empire of Light by Alex Harrow

Rep: gay demisexual MC of color; pansexual LI; polyam pansexual LI

And there you have it! Have you read any of these books? If so, what were your thoughts? How do you like this new feature? Comment and let me know!

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REVIEW #73 | NON-BINARY LIVES by Jos Twist, Ben Vincent, Meg-John Barker, & Kat Gupta

Title: Non-Binary Lives: An Anthology of Intersecting Identities

Editors: Jos Twist, Ben Vincent, Meg-John Barker, & Kat Gupta

Pub. Date: 21 April 2020

Synopsis:

What does it mean to be non-binary in the 21st Century?

Our gender identity is impacted by our personal histories; the cultures, communities and countries we are born into; and the places we go and the people we meet. But the representation of contemporary non-binary identities has been limited, until now.

Pushing the narrative around non-binary identities further than ever before, this powerful collection of essays represents the breadth of non-binary lives, across the boundaries of race, class, age, sexuality, faith and more.

Leading non-binary people share stories of their intersecting lives; how it feels to be non-binary and neurodiverse, the challenges of being a non-binary pregnant person, what it means to be non-binary within the Quaker community, the joy of reaching gender euphoria.

This thought-provoking anthology shows that there is no right or wrong way to be non-binary.

Trigger/Content warnings:

  • misgendering
  • ableism
  • transphobia

Representation:

  • an anthology that explores being non-binary and how it interacts with other parts of the authors’ identities (religion, ethnicity, race, disability, etc.)

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
5/5 stars

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

I have been staring at my screen trying to figure out how to put my feelings into words, and. I don’t think I can do them justice. But I’ll try my best.

Non-Binary Lives is a collection of essays from various non-binary folks from mostly the UK, but other parts of the world as well. In these essays, they describe their experiences with being non-binary, especially with how it interacts with other parts of their identity and culture. While there could be some overlap between themes, each essay had a distinct feel to it as each author discussed their own lived experiences.

I truly do not know where to start with this essay collection. This book made me feel seen in a way no other book has. There were so many authors whose experiences did not match up perfectly to mine (basically all of them, let’s be honest), but they still felt and thought things about their non-binary gender that I have, and I have such a softness in my heart right now. For transparency’s sake, I just finished the book an hour ago, and I’m trying to write the review now because if I don’t, I don’t think I ever will. If I can’t write anything down now, I don’t think there will ever be an opportunity for me to write about how this book settled into my heart, into my being, like very few books have before.

And that’s what Non-Binary Lives has done: taken up space in my heart and settled in for the long haul. To read an entire anthology about people who share an identity with you is incredibly freeing and validating, and reading it made me incredibly soft. Just thinking about buying a physical copy (…whilst on a spending ban, lmao) is making me tear up.

If that weren’t enough, I just learned so much about different things? There was an essay with two twins who were born and raised in Malta, and I learned a little bit about the country and its politics. I learned about being a Quaker from another essay, whose author is a Quaker. I learned from a number of the contributors about how, in different ways, their counseling practice is affected by their gender.

That last point — about counseling? — yeah, I want to expand on that. Not only do I feel validated because of my gender, but I also feel validated because of the surprisingly large number of counselors that contributed to the anthology. For those of you that don’t know, I am a graduate student studying clinical mental health counseling. I want to become a counselor, and I eventually want to work with the LGBTQ+ community specifically. However, before this, I wasn’t really sure what I would do or how I would go about doing it to begin with. I was worried it was too niche, and that I would have to “settle” on doing something else that would still be fulfilling, just not as much.

Those counselors that spoke about their practices? They helped with that. Even though they work in England, I felt validated and that there is space in the mental health profession for my passion and work. It has motivated me to reach out to a faculty member at my school that does similar work and ask about resources and tips. And at the end of the day? It made me feel seen as a genderqueer future counselor. It has given me hope about what my future will bring.

I literally have nothing else of substance to add to this review unless y’all want incoherent screaming, so to end this, I want to give you a few quotes that have struck a cord with me.

What does it mean to “pass”? To “pass” places the burden of intelligibility on the person who seeks to “pass”: if we are not interpreted correctly, it is because we have failed to make our meaning clear. I reject that. I reject that there is one meaning that we can make of our bodies. I reject that we have such a degree of control over the ways in which people interpret us. I reject the implication that failure to be read — failure to be seen — is our fault. Instead, all we can offer is ourselves.

Non-Binary Lives

It is both terrifying and exciting, like plunging into a swirling galaxy of other lives, an array of lives not your own but which you temporarily inhabit. Like trying on new clothes, like acting a part, like conducting some kind of grand social experiment in perception. Which “I” am I today? It is both freedom and recklessness and danger and love, love, love for every life you could have led.

Non-Binary Lives

We cannot think of gender as a linear concept with masculinity and femininity as opposing poles. Instead, I think we can conceive of gender as a galaxy, with each person determining their own location at any given time. This galaxy is home to planets and comets and shuttles and stations. Some of us will never leave our home planets, some of us will never be home, and some of us will take off and go into orbit for a while and then land again.

Non-Binary Lives

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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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