Some Strange Book Pet Peeves (Fantasy & YA)

I didn’t think I had book pet peeves, like I don’t care if books have dog-ears for the most part, but I’ve certainly collected some related to book plots over a period of time. Here’s that collection and I’m warning you that they are mostly personal, as in I know they’re not the most popular ones out there and people will disagree.

Fictional fandoms. I don’t know why this bother me so much, I think it’s something about there, in best case, being this entire subculture readers either don’t get access to and just have to live with imagining existing or have to wade through what I find to be unecessary amounts of facts for something that isn’t real. A good example of this is “Fangirl” by Rainbow Rowell, that spun this whole Simon Snow trilogy out of the fantasy series the main character is a part of the fandom of. Had I read the Simon Snow series before Fangirl, I might’ve thought different about it (not that it was published yet), but hence all details included in the book felt like a waste of time in a strange, unlogical way. It’s truly a weird pet peeve, I think, and I totally admit so. But it makes me dislike books I don’t think I normally would. The only exception I can think of is “I was born for this” by Alice Oseman, but I suspect that’s because the fandom there is based around a boyband that is a huge part of the story (and also very recognizable from the ‘real world’) and so the fandom and their culture is also very based in something and understandable without much background info.

Here’s a kind of specific and small one; what the magic is called in a fantasy/magical realism world. Most often I just hate the magic of the world being called something similiar like Magik, but the author/character insisting it’s not the same as magic, like they haven’t just changed the language. I’ve seen so many cases of this. But sure, do that if you’re creating magic with a couple conditions/limits, that’s just smart.

Fairytale retellings that doesn’t either make the story their own OR stay true to the feeling of the original material. Same problem with stories from mythologies. With making it their own, I mean things like a genderbent version, a modernized one or maybe a queer one. Like truly reworking the material, but with clear inspirations. I think my other critera, staying true to the ~vibe~ so to say, has more to do with my next point. But if you retell a fairytale, without changing much of the plot or characters, maybe just setting them in another setting, how are you going to tell a better story than the one honed through mouth-to-mouth retelling for far far longer than you’re working on it? Like what do the author even add, far too often? I’m all for an author daydreaming in this fairytale realm that’s already built up, but then have the basis of the fairytale realm and create your own story in there instead, which would’ve kept the feeling (maybe even keep short format) that brings the magic to the story, and have higher chance of telling a good one. Truth is, I’ve read my fair share of queer fairytale retellings where there’s a good romance, but everything else is boring/predictable still (side-eye at Ash by Malinda Lo). I would’ve just cut them out completely, but as with Deathless by Catherynne M. Valente, any Riordan series or Circe by Madeline Miller it might be some of my favourite books as well.

Mythological creatures included in stories completely separated from any of the other parts of the mythology. Just to have a ‘cool’ lesser-known creature, without really taking into consideration what makes it cool or unique. Of course, at worst it could be some type of cultural appropriation, but that’s not really what I’m talking about as a ‘pet peeve’.

Including politics, but not really. As in not actually going into the politics or even spending time thinking about how a political system would work in their fictional world. Typical is (what I would call) YA book with princesses or kids of high-level politicians/diplomats, but I’ve also seen non-YA versions of this. “Red, White & Royal Blue” by Casey McQuinston did it well in that the author kept its focus on certain topics and didn’t go too heavy into how policies was changed or what their parents did politically, but the limits and system was still set (even if very similiar to present day America) and you saw that in the story. I would’ve still wanted there to be more going into the politics, like I usually do, but it was a choice made rather than an obvious dodge. Like why even write a book around politics if you’re scared to interact with any part of it or do any research??

a bit of a reading slump | Bi-Weekly Update

New book posts:

Other books I’ve been reading:

literally none.

Added to TBR:

  • Mona Lisa Smile by Deborah Chiel (dark academia)
  • The Starless Sea by Erin Morgenstern (fantasy, m/m relationship)
  • The Prince by Niccolò Machiavelli (classic from 1532, politics)
  • The Tradition by Jericho Brown (poetry, lgbt)
  • Summer of Salt by Katrina Leno (YA, magical realism, lgbt)
  • Sing, Unburied, Sing by Jesmyn Ward (magical realism)
  • Strange Planet by Nathan W. Pyle (graphic novel)
  • The Once and Future King by T. H. White (fantasy, historical fiction)

Three things on my mind:

  • I’ve been more and more unsure about using goodreads. Like I’ve never used it much as a social media platform, only from time to time, but I have over 1400 books on there and it’s been great to catalogue books, especially as I’ve moved twice, left books behind in one house and used to use the library a lot. I tried out The Story Graph which is marketed as an alternative, even if in beta-version. It’s interesting & fun especially with their recommendations, I would recommend checking it out. But the biggest criteria I have for a similiar book platform is reliability and I don’t think I’m going to find a similiar enough platform that has that, for a while. I used to use a norwegian alternative, way way back, but there’s just so many books and I think that having a big community that adds these in for you is one of the great features that distinguish the different sites. Please let me know if there’s any cool alternatives to goodreads I should check out though!
  • I’m frustrated a lot, recently. My exams back in May was a struggle for multiple reasons that I’m tired of thinking about, but now it seems I might have outright failed one exam as well. This is a bit strange as I’m above the ‘fail’ percentage in most ways they could have marked it, as is a handful of my friends in the same situation, so we’ve all sent in our complaints. The thing I suspect happened is that more than usual got high grades (bc open-textbook exam and possibility to cheat by cooperation), and they changed the criteria for failing based on that without notifying us (which is strange as well). We’ll see when our complaints are processed, I guess. Still, it both gave me a renewed motivation to do better, but at the same time totally wrecked my self-esteem in a way I truly didn’t expect. Of course, a huge part of this is that my health isn’t getting that much better, even though I’ve had plenty of time to relax this summer break. We’ll see I guess.
  • I watched & cried over several movies, for once. I’m back in my home-‘village’ (it’s actually classified as village based on population number), in the house we took over from my late grandparents. And my grandmother was Sami, which has made me particularly interested in finally watching the prize-winning “Sami Blood” (2016) movie. It was as breath-taking and real as I expected, with the main character played by this amazing sami actress Lene Cecilia Sparrok, who really brought all the nuances into the story. It’s set in Sweden and isn’t my grandma’s story, but there’s many similiarities anyway. Being norwegian, I’ve learned of the horrible supression and racist policies put in place against Sami people, but we need movies like this to bring it to the attention to even more people. Let’s never forget the past enough to let it happen again.
  • I also watched the new USA gymnastics documentary; “Athlete A”. It highlighted the many ways Larry Nassar’s abuse was allowed to continue by people in charge, showing a culture at the olympic level with a high degree of various abuse being normalized, and how it all affected his victims. The last part features the more recent, high-profile Maggie Nichols, bringing up the question of if she lost her olympic chance because of reporting him. I wish all the best for her and all the other (there’s so many) victims, and overall it was a great documentary.

My Favourite Podcasts 2020 Update

I used to do this series of favourite podcasts last year, and then I started uni and got friends (hahahha, more like didn’t have an hour commute anymore tbh) and stopped listening to as many. But now there’s covid-19 and well – I’m back to loving podcasts.

Podcasts previously mentioned that I still listen to a lot:

(Let me know if you want to discuss any of these, honestly! I’ve linked to where I wrote more about them. I can’t believe there’s this few now compared to before, and yet there’s so many.) Reply All by Gimlet Media, Anthropocene Reviewed by John Green, Ologies by Alie Ward, Nancy by WNYC studios (it just posted its last episode though … find me crying in the corner), the Legendarium, Cortex by CGP Grey and Myke Hurley, No Dumb Questions by Destin Sandlin and Matt Whittman, Hello Internet by CGP Grey and Brady Haran, Dear Hank & John by John & Hank Green, Delete This by Hank & Katherine Green and the Wikicast by Simon Clark and Dan Maw.

‘New’ Podcasts I Love

SciShow Tangents

  • The SciShow team: Hank Green, Ceri Riley, Stefan Chin and Sam Schulz
  • Weird and funny science facts centered around a topic, with the group (mostly Hank) going on a few weird & funny tangents as well. The group just has a great dynamic and different levels of background knowledge, making it very accessible. I still sometimes miss the video couch format of the ‘beta-version’ (in my mind) Holy Fucking Science though.

The Catch and Kill Podcast

  • by Ronan Farrow, Pineapple Street Studios
  • Made as a continuation of the book Farrow made by the same name where he goes through reporting on the revelation of Harvey Weinstein’s sexual assaults, but also how NBC tried to manipulate and hold him back. The book goes very much in depth on the pattern of different powerful people’s assault & manipulation, and then the cover-ups. I would recommend listening to that audiobook as well if you’re even more interested after finishing the podcast.
  • The podcast is a good ten-episode summary focusing more on just Weinstein and how the women he assaulted took brave stances to take him down, in addition to the last episode with Rose McGowan made after the verdict of Weinstein.

Two Headed Girl

  • I would probably listen to anything Alex Cox puts out tbh, but their partner Mattie Cox is so amazing in sharing his story transitioning from female to male in this podcast, taking the listener with them on every step of the way and being so vulnerable. It seems to be both a podcast to process and document this time of their life as well as explain and teach anyone who wants to listen.
  • Their own pitch is “Welcome to Two Headed Girl, a new show about gender, mental illness, and all sorts of transitions made by a couple of married queers trying to figure themselves out.” which sums it up pretty pretty good.

Lovett or Leave It

  • by Jon Lovett, Crooked Media
  • I found this podcast, while actually already knowing about Jon Lovett before, because I was trying to find more interviews with Ronan Farrow and he happened to have made a rare recent podcast with his partner Jon Lovett because of being in quarantine together. But it’s news-related, trying to bring it with some humor where possible. These corona/Black Lives Matter days it’s more interviews and segments, with jokes in between, which is a great mix if sometimes news-related things are too much.

Wind of Change

  • by Patrick Radden Keefe, Crooked Media
  • Eight episodes in total of 1990’s rock music or more specifically how and if the CIA was involved in writing the famous “Wind of Change” by the Scorpions, the soundtrack of the revolution aka Berlin Wall falling and the Soviet Union collapsing. Really, it’s a podcast about how the CIA operates, how propaganda works and how far a journalist is willing to go to figure out if a rumor from a credible enough source is true.

The Scaredy Cats Horror Show

  • by the Reply All team Alex Goldman (horror fan) trying to convert PJ Vogt (scaredy cat) for Gimlet Media. I don’t know how I found podcasts pre-university because apparently I found a lot, but since then I’ve basically just become aware as existing podcasters I listen to have started new ones.
  • It’s basically an experiment of ‘can you gradually get used to horror movies so you’re not as afraid of the really scary ones anymore’. I’ve listened to the five episodes so far without watching any of the horror movies, and the only one I truly wanted to watch out of them was Midsommar, but I have definitely brought horror podcasts and stories into my life in a bigger way, so maybe it actually worked anyway?? I’m confused about that, but it’s great. Also fun to listen to PJ Vogt actually being really scared, sorry for laughing about that, I would be too.

The Magnus Archives

  • by Jonathan Sims and Alexander J. Newall from Rusty Quill
  • There’s a 173 episode back catalogue as of right now, but after a few days I’m 35 episodes in and hooked. It’s a horror podcast with a huge fanbase (and soo much good fanart). As far as I’ve figured, it starts out really episodic with different people coming into the magnus archive to tell about their supernatural experiences and get them investigated, and then the archive itself is attacked and it gradually becomes more of meta storytelling. Would recommend it even if you’re not such a big horror fan, like me. The stories themselves (at least at the start) are not that horrifying, but the storytelling is just amazing.

Wilder Girls by Rory Power | Review

I’ve gotten so into horror after reading this book, which I did for hours during the night as I couldn’t sleep. I was visiting my boyfriend and he absolutely thought I was a bit more strange trying to explain this book and how well it balanced between fantasy and horror in a unique way. Most of this unique feeling I think came from the perspective, it all being about and told by teen girls. Anyway, I’ll get back to that.

Pages: 357

Genre: young adult (don’t agree), horror: disease & body horror, lgbt (queer girls, slight f/f relationship, but a lot of yearning), some mystery vibes, set in a boarding school on an island. quarantined (which will be a genre i guess).

Warning: it has a lot of trigger warnings, pls search them up before reading

Synopsis

It’s been eighteen months since the Raxter School for Girls was put under quarantine. Since the Tox hit and pulled Hetty’s life out from under her.

It started slow. First the teachers died one by one. Then it began to infect the students, turning their bodies strange and foreign. Now, cut off from the rest of the world and left to fend for themselves on their island home, the girls don’t dare wander outside the school’s fence, where the Tox has made the woods wild and dangerous. They wait for the cure they were promised as the Tox seeps into everything.

But when Byatt goes missing, Hetty will do anything to find her, even if it means breaking quarantine and braving the horrors that lie beyond the fence. And when she does, Hetty learns that there’s more to their story, to their life at Raxter, than she could have ever thought true.

My thoughts

Rating out of five: five stars

here’s me arguing it’s not YA

This book has amazing cover art, but I think it did the book a diservice, along the fact that it’s branded as young adult. I feel like this is a larger conversation that I keep having, but not everything with teenage characters (especially female) is YA! It doesn’t have a great rating at goodreads (3.58) and I think it’s because people isn’t expecting what they get unless they’re like me that added this to their TBR as it was released a year ago and then now saw one book blogger (don’t remember who oops) saying it was more horror like, which got my interest again.

the friend-group & characters

SO! An all-girl high school on an island where most of the teachers die off on the beginning of the the two year quarantine, where everything starts up pretty simple and then reveals so much more complex moral, practical, society & science-related questions. It’s reveal after reveal and a constant search for who is the good & bad guys, which gives the mystery vibes. There’s a strong queer friend-group & chosen family trope, but not with likable characters. Think about it – unlikable female characters, violent at that. Most reviews I’ve read lists that as a main issue they had, but I feel like a lot of this book is the experimentation of fierce, reckless, dangerous girl characters, who also have other sides to them. Some of it can be excused to this disease they’ve all got and are dying from, the Tox, mutating their bodies in graphic, unique and eerie ways. But they’re also shaped by living in a two-year life & death situation, along with maybe not being the perfect complacent & normal main characters in the first place.

I WAS SHOCKED at having seen one girl of the friendgroup having been described by the main character Hetty in one adoring (almost worshipping) way the whole time. And then we got the other girl’s narrative and she was so different, with clear sociopathic/violent tendencies. But still it was revealed during a situation where you as a reader wanted to feel bad for her, which is when I truly cheered for this duality this book accomplished.

the island setting & writing

Every description was done so well and fit the mystery and horror aspect as the island they’re on takes as much part as any character. It makes so much sense with the quarantine aspect, the fact that one of the characters has a dad she hasn’t seen in a year living in those woods. The woods are alive and overgrown, as is the mutated animals, which is a threat. I’m just surprised by how much the author got into one book tbh. It’s also a lot of fun to read, surprisingly!

conclusion

This book has the mystery, murder, dark humor and boarding-school vibes of Maureen Johnson’s ‘Truly Devious’ mixed in with any dystopian bad-government, mutated animals, body horror you can think of, all with a good dash of forest aesthetic and eerie, descriptive writing. It’s one of my new favourite books and I would totally recommend it. Just don’t expect it to be YA or to like most of the characters.

Quote with slight spoilers:

Good First Lines of Books

I want to preface this with how I think first lines don’t have as much to say when picking up a book as the first page, or first couple pages. But I’ve collected some I think are particularly good ones, setting the stage for the rest of the plot. I also just now found out that apparently I like when authors describe silence as something tangible??

“The assassins dropped into the palace grounds at midnight, four fleet shadows dark against the wall. The fall was high, the ground was hard; they made no more sound on impact than the pattering of rain.”

Ptolemy’s Gate by Jonathan Stroud

“It was night again. The Waystone Inn lay in silence, and it was a silence of three parts.”

The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss

“The night breathed through the apartment like a dark animal.”

Reckless by Cornelia Funke

“How does one describe Artemis Fowl? Various psychiatrists have tried and failed.”

Artemis Fowl by Eoin Colfer

Carolyn, blood-drenched and barefoot, walked alone down the two-lane stretch of blacktop that the Americans called Highway 78.

The Library at Mount Char by Scott Hawkins

“I am a fighter. To be a fighter, you have to be passionate. I have so much passion, it’s hard to hold it all in. That passion escapes as tears from my eyes, sweat from my pores, blood from my veins. So many people assume that I’m cold and callous, but the truth is you need a big heart to fight. I wear my heart on my sleeve, and I have had it broken too. I can compete with broken toes or stitches in my foot. I can take a hit without batting an eyelash, but I will burst into tears if a sad song comes on the radio. I am vulnerable; that’s why I fight.”

My Fight Your Fight by Ronda Rousey

“The snow in the mountains was melting and Bunny had been dead for several weeks before we understood the gravity of our situation.”

The Secret History by Donna Tartt

To many, I was myth incarnate, the embodiment of a most superb legend, a fairy tale. Some considered me a monster, a mutation. To my great misfortune, I was once mistaken for an angel. To my mother, I was everything. To my father, nothing at all. To my grandmother, I was a daily reminder of loves long lost. But I knew the truth—deep down, I always did.

The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender by Leslye Walton

Life is bullshit.

We Are the Ants by Shaun David Hutchinson  

It’s tempting to leave it at that, but the next couple lines are pretty great too;

Life is bullshit. Consider your life for a moment. Think about all those little rituals that sustain you throughout your day—from the moment you wake up until that last, lonely midnight hour when you guzzle a gallon of NyQuil to drown out the persistent voice in your head. The one that whispers you should give up, give in, that tomorrow won’t be better than today. Think about the absurdity of brushing your teeth, of arguing with your mother over the appropriateness of what you’re wearing to school, of homework, of grade-point averages and boyfriends and hot school lunches. And life. Think about the absurdity of life.

Queer Poetry Collections | Short Reviews

I thought I’d already reviewed these poetry collections and then realized that I forgot I saved them up for pride month seeing as I ‘acidentally’ read poetry collections from only queer authors there for a while.

Night Sky with Exit Wounds by Ocean Vuong

Favourite poems: ‘Notebook Fragments’, ‘Prayer for the Newly Damned,’ ‘On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous’, ‘Trojan’ – nearly all of them in other words

I’d heard a lot of good things about this queer author, but I truly didn’t imagine the vividness he brought. Everything in here contains so many aspects, like when looking at violence. Vuong brings another level of honesty and delicacy to it, while not softening that violence or its consequences either. Vuong is extremely good at looking into and describing the different layers of his story; of being mixed, coming from a refugee camp in the Philippines to America, the Vietnam war and how this all plays out in the dynamics of his family and relationships. I think I’ll reread this after I finish his newer debut novel ‘On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous’, because it so far gives more backstory to where he’s coming from and I like it even more.

Felicity by Mary Oliver

Mary Oliver is my all time favourite poet, basically, and I wrote a whole post on it this pride month. ‘Felicity’ is one of her later works (even if it’s from 2005 so … not that recent), which I seem to prefer generally. I truly enjoyed this collection as well; it’s about love, memory, being oneself, belief and loss. It’s still a bit outside of her usual work, as love is so much a general thing to try to write about, and Oliver usually finds her excellent moments that carries the poems in the small things, inspired by nature or humans alike. Meaning it’s not the collection I would recommend someone to start with, but it’s still good and gives a better perspective on Mary Oliver as a person and her relationship to her late partner Molly Cook. In trying to describe something so universal as love, she reveals more of herself than before.

Soft Science by Franny Choi

I was so into the concept (from the synopsis) of: “explores queer, Asian American femininity” and “how to be tender and feeling and still survive a violent world filled with artificial intelligence and automation”. Unfortunately, I just didn’t understand most of the poems because of the fragmented style. The reason I make short reviews of poetry often is that, as someone who’s not a poet, reviewing poetry is strange because it feels more up to personal-taste than any novel. Still, I would shy away from not recommending a collection to someone, in hopes they get something from it.

living out my cottagecore dreams | Bi-Weekly Update

New book posts:

Queer book posts so far this pride month –

Others –

Other books I’ve been reading:

  • “Zero Sum Game”, “Null Set” and “Critical Point” all three books (yet) of the Cas Russel series by S. L. Huang
  • City of Strife by Claudie Arseneault (fantasy, all queer cast of characters)
  • Almost Home by Madisen Kuhn (poetry)
  • To the Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf
  • Wilder Girls by Rory Power (queer girls, f/f relationship, horror)
  • The Sword of Summer (Magnus Chase #1) by Rick Riordan (fantasy, mythology)

Added to TBR:

  • Most of the new books I want to read is from this post from @coolcurrybooks on tumblr on anti-heroines in sci-fi and fantasy books! It’s also what made me pick up Zero Sum Game!
  • Shattered minds by Laura Lam (sci-fi, thriller, anti-heroine)
  • A ruin of shadows by L. D. Lewis /fantasy, anti-heroine, short!)
  • Ship of smoke and steel by Django Wexler (fantasy, anti-heroine, bi mc)
  • The library of the unwritten by A. J. Hackwith (fantasy, pan mc, about books, anti-heroine)
  • Of sorrow and such by Angela Slatter (fantasy, witch, anti-heroine)
  • God’s war by Kameron Hurley (sci-fi/fantasy)
  • Highfire by Eoin Colfer (fantasy, dragons): because I’ve never read any of Colfer’s adult work, just Artemis Fowl which I grew up with loving
  • Mask of shadows by Linsey Miller (fantasy, revenge-story, anti-hero/heroine bc genderfluid mc)

Three things on my mind:

  • I tried to participate in Pride Library 2020 and knew from the start it would porbably be more difficult to keep up throughout this month, but I got a couple posts out. I hope to continue to read more queer books throughout the summer and spread out more posts inspired by the good prompts that way.

  • Ten days I spent living out my cottagecore dreams, visiting my boyfriend and his parents, who have a very small farm. It was a blast; baking, making food from scratch with ingredients from their garden, seeing how they have this whole beer brewing system going on, their focus on being as ecofriendly as possible, bonfires so many days in a row, taking long walks with their husky dog, not to mention the happiness at seeing my bf after three months apart or something bc of covid-19. I never truly got to say goodbye to him because I had to instantly isolate as someone at high risk and then leave town as quickly as possible, and it truly bothered me more than I realized. Otherwise I’m also dealing with chronic illness symptoms and generally being tired to the bone, even if I was fortunate enough to get a break from it most of my time there.

  • Along that route, I’m already starting to plan out how to be most visibly bisexual as new physics students arrive for the fall semester, and I would love some input if you’ve got suggestions! There’s many reason why this is important to me; diversity and physics isn’t the most common combination yet and I want to participate the ways I can. But also I think many students, especially the nerdier ones like me, arrive at college/university with the wish of being the most themselves they can and I want to support and encourage that. I have an incredibly supportive bf (or I wouldn’t have dated him), but it makes it even more difficult to be out without making an effort. It also meant so much to me to see the older student welcoming us with rainbow socks, and I want to pay it forward. And look what I found that could be a great first step, made by ProudScience on etsy!!
Pins by ProudScience on etsy

Running with Lions by Julian Winters | Book Review #PrideLibrary20

I’m joining in on some of the #pridelibrary20 prompts, hosted by The Library Looter, Michelle Likes Things and Anniek’s Library throughout June. Here’s a link to a summary of my posts from last year.

Today’s prompt is black queer authors. Btw I missed yesterdays post with transgender or nonbinary characters, but I think I will make a post later in the summer instead, because there’s so many trans/nonbinary mc books on my TBR that I want to get to.

Synopsis

Bloomington High School Lions’ star goalie, Sebastian Hughes, should be excited about his senior year: His teammates are amazing and he’s got a coach who doesn’t ask anyone to hide their sexuality. But when his estranged childhood best friend Emir Shah shows up to summer training camp, Sebastian realizes the team’s success may end up in the hands of the one guy who hates him. Determined to reconnect with Emir for the sake of the Lions, he sets out to regain Emir’s trust. But to Sebastian’s surprise, sweaty days on the pitch, wandering the town’s streets, and bonding on the weekends sparks more than just friendship between them. 

My thoughts

Rating out of five: four stars

The bisexual guy main character, the team sport aspect (and often not very queer-friendly to put it lightly) that is soccer, but with several queer characters along with the dynamic writing and wholesome vibe – it all is brought together in this great book. Sometimes these books might get boring, but not when executed in this way. It reminds people of what could be and what should be, especially in very masculine sports.

It’s a diverse cast of characters in multiple ways, like the romantic interest Emir being a British-Pakistani muslim, but they have one thing in common besides sports and that’s being a cast of disasters. I mean, I related too much to the main character as being the disaster bisexual of the group. I think the best way to describe this book is very emotional, but with a undertone of fun? And the fun comes from the high and lows of the game, of the intensity of discovering yourself, but mostly about doing it all surrounded by friends and rivals. It’s also chasing victories and perfection and falling apart and having to pull each other back together again. And not to mention, being brave enough to tell people you love them, regardless of their gender.

Sebastian’s ready for whatever Emir’s got. He is so exhausted, trying to fix busted-up relation- ships while other friendships circle the drain. He’s tired of trying to be this amazing version of a guy that everyone else sees but Sebastian can’t find when he stares in the mirror. If Emir punches him, he’ll knock Sebastian off this damn pedestal he never asked to be on in the first place.

Julian Winter ends with these words in the acknowledgment and it backs up his intentions with this book clearly; “To every LGBTQIA+ person who has questioned their place in life: You’re strong. You’re important. You’re a lion. Let the world hear you roar.” I’m excited to read his other books “How to Be Remy Cameron” and “The Summer of Everything” (to be released this fall) as well!

LGBT Ebooks on sale!

I already made this post for my book tumblr, so I thought why not take two minutes to post it here as well and just take it down when the sale disappears. I have no idea if it’s a coincidence that so many books are on sale for kindle on amazon right now, but probably everyone in charge of this has just gone “it’s the start of pride month” at the same time.

I found a handful of different lgbt (and a few other) kindle books I’ve wanted for a long time on sale on amazon today by accident, but it’s so easy to miss so what I do is just have a kindle wishlist of ebooks that are expensive (often because just released) and then just scroll through semi-regularly, because it will tell you the percentage the price dropped with. Also fuck amazon and authors should be paid a lot and all that, but I’m also a poor uni student (also without access to library bc of corona) so forgive me.

If you didn’t know; https://queerbooksforteens.com/ is an amazing service that tells you what kind of representation each queer book has.

Also I would love to know how you find out as a reader when books on your TBR are on sale! I tried the bookbub service for a while, but it seems to have gotten worse and I’m giving up on that soon.

Books on sale (most I have yet to read, but really want to); 

Sing, Unburied, Sing by Jesmyn Ward: 

Not queer, but I just heard about it. It’s written by black author and about a poor african-american family struggling after hurricane Katrina, has magical realism elements it seems. 

Heartstopper vol. 1 by Alice Oseman: fav of mine! queer boys, m/m relationship

The darkest part of the forest by Holly Black: love this book, only a gay side character

City of Strife by Claudie Arseneault:

Lgbt fantasy with aromantic asexual characters and ownvoices for that, and I think basically the whole cast of characters are queer

Let’s Talk about Love by Claire Kann: biromantic asexual black main character, ownvoices

If I Was Your Girl by Meredith Russo: ownvoices, transgender woman as main character

Fav Queer Author: Mary Oliver | #PrideLibrary20

I’m joining in on some of the #pridelibrary20 prompts, hosted by The Library Looter, Michelle Likes Things and Anniek’s Library throughout June. Here’s a link to a summary of my posts from last year.

I wanted to write a big post claiming all the reasons Mary Oliver is my favourite poet and queer author, but my body is a wreck currently and I finished exams this week and this post is going to be thrown together quickly. I have a full review of one of Oliver’s collections of poems gathered from several periods, which could be a good introduction, but is also a bit confusing without context. Personally my favourite collection and the first I read from her was “A Thousand Mornings” back in 2017. I also truly love her essay collection “Upstream”, which along with beautiful thoughts on using nature gives a bit more insight into her thought-process and background.

In ‘Upstream’ she says: “I could not be a poet without the natural world. Someone else could. But not me. For me the door to the woods is the door to the temple.” And also: “You must not ever stop being whimsical. And you must not, ever, give anyone else the responsibility for your life.” Truly words to live by!

First off, I was a bit into poetry before stumbling upon Mary Oliver, but I’d never read the type of nature focused poetry that she writes. I truly fell instantly in love with it. It’s a type of romanticization that doesn’t shy away from the uncontrollable force that nature is or how it affects humans. It’s spiritual at times, but she’s also a talent at using nature and beautiful phrasing to criticize society. In my head her poetry toes a lot of these balances very-well, it’s constantly questioning intentions and morale. But it’s also very simple at times, and that’s what makes it easy poetry to fall in love with even if it’s your first poetry collection, without losing substance along with that simplicity. There’s something special about life advice from someone you know have been through difficult life events and come out on the other side, especially when she looks like the perfect grandma. She’s truly life goals, and I stand by that as someone who grew up thinking I had few role models, also because the queer component was missing.

Mary Oliver went through many of the queer struggles; she was born in 1935 in suburbs of Ohio, she often went in the woods to escape a dysfunctional family and has talked briefly about experiencing sexual abuse as a child. She used writing to observe her world, but also to create one. And through it she was lucky enough to find other queer friends that would also become her family.

And after falling in love with her poetry I learned that she was an old lady! An older lesbian lady! Who had been living peacefully in nature with her female partner Molly Cook for over forty years, before she passed away. And I started crying when I heard Oliver passed away as well last year, but in the sense of someone having lived their life to completeness, even if it was a tough one.

Mary Oliver may not be very confrontative or ‘loud’ in her poetry, she’s not been extremely radicalizing or political in other means than existing as a queer person. But her story, her views and politics is definitely something you see through her poetry, it’s her medium. And I personally think it’s admirable to never lose a certain softness even as a person deals with massive trauma. But don’t mistake that as there not being a sharpness to Mary Oliver’s poetry as well.

I would suggest looking up Mary Oliver reading some on her poems on youtube and sitting down with a cup of tea or coffee, preferably staring out a window, and listen to her calm reassuring voice. You need good time for it, not in length, but in attention. Even if I also sometimes play them to relax if I can’t sleep.