Queer Authors I’ve Discovered This Month #PrideLibrary19 🌈

The Pride Library 2019 Challenge is hosted by Library Looter, Anniek’s Library and Michelle Likes Things. Join in on it anytime or link your post in the comments so I see it! Also all reviews I’ve written will be linked.

I’m currently on an eight to ten hour car ride, so the wrap-up for the month is probably going to be postponed a couple days into July because I really want to do it right!

Isabel Sterling

These Witches Don’t Burn (full review linked) was her debut novel, which I didn’t know before now! It’s a new release which I really liked as it delivered on its promise of a YA paranormal filled with queer witches. It had a lesbian witch protagonist and at least three other lesbian/bi girls and a trans minor character.

Julian Winters

Running With Lions is another debut novel! A review is coming soon, but it was just great and entertaining. Would absolutely recommend! It’s centered around a inclusive football team where so many of the guys are bi/gay, one of them Pakistani muslim, and the main character Sebastian Hughes is bisexual.

Julian Winter’s second book “How To Be Remy Cameron” is coming out this september, and I’m already excited.

Meredith Katz

The Cybernetic Tea Shop was a cute short love story set in a tea shop, between a highly-skiled techinician working on AI and a fully autonomous asexual robot. Yes, I also was hesitant to how not all robots are inherently asexual. But it’s set in a sci-fi world where it’s very apparent that there’s what we think of as “robots” and then there’s these high-tech beings that should be considered as intelligent, aware and given the same rights as humans – to the point where they stopped creating them because they were too full of free will. Meredith Katz seemed to have written 12 other short stories that I definitely want to also look into!

Anne-Marie McLemore

I DNF’ed Wild Beauty 70% in because, even thought I so wanted it, something in the magical realism book didn’t work for me. Will probably write a longer explanation on that. But I’ve started When the Moon Was Ours and I’m still hopeful that this will be a better match! When the Moon Was Ours has a romance between two persons who started as best friends, where one is a queer girl and one a trans boy. The author is also queer and married to a trans man!

Striped Cover | Friday Face Off

This is a weekly thing created by Books by Proxy, but currently run by Lynn’s Book Blog.

This week’s theme: “And who decided which people wore the striped pyjamas” – A cover that is striped

My pick: I’ll Give You The Sun by Jandy Nelson

Ok, I read this book once and it wasn’t for me, but the book cover is cool.

Hardcover (2014) by Dial Books, Paperback (2015) by Walker Books, Portuguese (2015) by Editorial Presença

Paperback (2015) by Speak, Swedish (2014) by Gilla Böcker, Icelandic (2018) by Bókabeitan

Vietnamese (2017) by Nhã Nam, NXB Lao Động, Georgian (2017) by პალიტრა, Chinese (2015) by 木馬文化

My favourite

This is a difficult choice this time?? I like the colourful droplets of the Portuguese edition and how it’s similar, but not the same to the original english one. But the font is so horrible. Actually I think the minimalism, but also obvious sun, of the last Chinese edition is the one I prefer.

Asexual Protagonists #PrideLibrary19 🌈

Heyyy. It’s 2 am and this post is a day late. But I’ve also nearly packed up all my belongings before moving and forgotten which day it was two days in a row. Which means I’m very productive, but also a bit of a scatter head. Let’s just file that as the official excuse.

The Pride Library 2019 Challenge is hosted by Library Looter, Anniek’s Library and Michelle Likes Things. Join in on it anytime or link your post in the comments so I see it! Also all reviews I’ve written will be linked.

The (past) day’s theme is asexual or aromantic main characters, which I have to admit I feel like I’ve read too few book with yet.

Radio Silence by Alice Oseman (full review linked): the protagonist is bisexual, as the other main character Aled is demisexual. Would absolutely recommend it!! Alice Oseman writes perfectly about the introverted teenage experience, while also creating characters and problems that are so much their own and alive.

Trigger warnings for this book: suicidal ideation, depression, emotional abuse, animal cruelty. I cried my eyes out at points – it’s one of those books that just succeeds in being too real.

The Foxhole Court (All For the Game #1) by Nora Sakavic: the protagonist is demisexual, which is somewhere on the asexual spectrum. Demisexual is someone who only feels sexual attraction after having already formed a close emotional connection with someone. Also has several gay characters. Queer books for teens (what a great site!!!) also says it’s ownvoices for the ace spectrum.

Trigger warnings for this book: substance use/alcoholism, sexual assault, violence, abuse, suicide/suicidal ideation, murder

The Cybernetic Tea Shop by Meredith Katz: I have yet to write a review of this, but it’s such a cute love story set in a tea shop, between a highly-skiled techinician working on AI and a fully autonomous asexual robot. Yes, I also was hesitant to how not all robots are inherently asexual. But it’s set in a sci-fi world where it’s very apparent that there’s what we think of as “robots” and then there’s these high-tech beings that should be considered as intelligent, aware and given the same rights as humans – to the point where they stopped creating them because they were too full of free will.

On My TBR

Let‘s talk about love by Claire Kann: The synopsis really says it all, sounds like a great dramatic summer read –

Alice had her whole summer planned. Non-stop all-you-can-eat buffets while marathoning her favorite TV shows (best friends totally included) with the smallest dash of adulting–working at the library to pay her share of the rent. The only thing missing from her perfect plan? Her girlfriend (who ended things when Alice confessed she’s asexual). Alice is done with dating–no thank you, do not pass go, stick a fork in her, done.

But then Alice meets Takumi and she can’t stop thinking about him or the rom com-grade romance feels she did not ask for (uncertainty, butterflies, and swoons, oh my!).

When her blissful summer takes an unexpected turn, and Takumi becomes her knight with a shiny library employee badge (close enough), Alice has to decide if she’s willing to risk their friendship for a love that might not be reciprocated—or understood. 

City of strife by Claude Arseneault: high fantasy with several asexual characters, including the main character (who is also aromantic). #ownvoices as it’s written by an asexual&aromantic author. Here’s a cry for help – in general can high fantasy become more diverse?? Like I so want to really dive into high fantasy, but it’s just so … many white straight men among the popular ones. I’m so excited to read this!

Researching this I found Claude has made a database of aromantic and asexual characters! Here’s the link to her website with info about it. I found that so smart and fascinating.

The Lady’s Guide to Petticoats and Piracy by Mackenzi Lee: Following Felicity, the lovely nerdy sister from the first Montague Siblings book The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue as she tried to become a doctor in 1700s Europe. She’s aromantic & asexual. Excited to see where the piracy plays into all of this.

Fierce Female Book Characters

Growing up I started reading more adult fantasy mixed in with fairytale and folklore inspired children’s fantasy before the Young Adult category became popular. With YA fantasy came these fierce heroines that I absolutely fell in love with and taught me so much about strength, what I want to aspire to and also crushes. Yes, you heard right.

What made me think of this post is Katsa in the Graceling trilogy by Kristin Cashore. Growing up she was absolutely a character I both crushed so hard on and wanted to be more like. I love the morally gray characters, that has to take difficult decisions, because the world isn’t black and white, good and bad and I was angry when fantasy wanted to depict it that way. In Graceling Katsa has a magical ability that (without spoiling anything) makes her one of the kingdom’s best fighters. But she’s also got a big heart and despises her king uncle forming her into his personal assassin. Protective, badass girls with big hearts that can also kick anyone’s ass is absolutely my type. I mean – when this is on the cover … no chance I’m not going to love it.

A list of other similar kickass-characters:

Inej Ghafa from Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo. Six of Crows is a book I could never overhype, as I’ve barely seen bad reviews of it. In the friendgroup she’s the spy and definitely dangerous. Artwork by the amazing Kevin Wada.

Vin, the protagonist of Mistborn by Brandon Sanderson. Found on the Mistborn wiki, I can’t seem to find the artist.

Renee from The foxhole court, All for the game series, by Nora Sakavic. She loves the pastel look, seems innocent most of the time, but could also kill you. It’s a sport series. Or is it? More about friendgroup bonding and finding your family. It’s a book you love or hate, and I absolutely love it. Art by hermosoharry.tumblr.com.

Mercy Thompson, the protagonist from the urban fantasy series with the same name by Patricia Briggs. She’s a mechanic, but can also turn into a coyote and grew up around werewolves! And look at her! Cover art by Daniel Dos Santos.

I think Celaena Sardothien deserves a spot on this list because of the first book Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas and the prequel The Assasin’s Blade, before the whole name change and series falling apart (in my eyes). I stopped reading after book five. My fav character for a while was Nehemia. I have so many issues with the way that series went. But the assassin phase of Celaena and seeing her survive was amazing. Cover art by Alessandro Taini/Talexi Art.

Yelena, protagonist of Poison Study by Maria V. Snyder. I feel like Poison Study is more underrated than it should be, but absolutely worth a read for these characters. Art by Leabharlann.

happy, stressed & coming out | Book Bi-Weekly Update

I watched a pink sunset like this one on one of the first days we moved into this village, and now there was one again as I’m packing up and about to leave.

New book posts:

Other books I’ve been reading:

  • Wild Beauty by Anne-Marie McLemore (DNF’ed)
  • Fence by C. S. Pacat (graphic novels)
  • Big mushy happy lump & Herding cats by Sarah Andersen (graphic novels)
  • Unleashed by Sophie Jordan
  • (Don’t you) forget about me by Kate Karyus Quinn
  • An enchantment of ravens by Margaret Rogerson
  • Sweet evil by Wendy Higgins (SOOO BAD.)
  • Once a witch by Carolyn MacCullough

Reviews coming as soon as possible!

Added to TBR:

  • A million Junes by Emily Henry (YA magical realism)
  • The seafarer’s kiss by Julia Ember (queer girls retelling of the little mermaid, bi main character)
  • Labyrinth lost by Zoraida Gordova (witch, bi girl protagonist, latinx)
  • How to be Remy Cameron by Julian Winters (gay protagonist, I already loved reading “running with lions”)
  • The Last Namsara by Kristen Ciccarelli (ya fantasy with DRAGONS!)

Posts I’ve loved by other bloggers:

Three things on my mind:

  • No one should feel ashamed for not being out as queer/gay because it’s not safe or not right for them at the moment. I’ve seen this highlighted more often this year by out gay celebrity and others, which I think is so extremely important. But also – I came out as bi to my mom yesterday (as I’m writing this at least). I’ve been out to friends from a few months to over a year, but a lot of things held me back. I’m extremely close with my mom, we’ve been through some tough times as a family in terms of illness. I never felt like I was hiding my sexuality before, even if I hadn’t made it explicit. But then its place in my life grew which – along with various other reasons like moving away for university – brought a sense of urgency. It went down well, even if it brought a bit of shock. The timing felt absolutely right, which is all I wished for.
  • Along those lines, I feel like the term “bi village girl” is one I’ve favored much this pride month and this (last) week I finally finished my last (postponed) exam, two weeks after everything else was done. I got top grades and soon I’m only a village girl by heart, as I move on to university. I need to write a love/hate post about living in a tiny community of 1000 people, because aaaaaa it’s been a peculiar road. Waking up at 5am for three years, commuting an hour each way by bus on tiny roads, in every climate and snow-chaos – it’s all over. Which hasn’t really set in yet. Most of the novel I’m working on was created in my head on those very nauseating mountain roads.
  • One of the other reasons I’m genuinely happy: I read books instead of cramming for exams. There was too much shit going on, first I was supposed to have my math exams and started studying for that. Four hours later it’s cancelled because of this big scandal of miscommunication. A week passed and I was so tired of everyone’s shit and also in bad shape physically as I just threw in the towel and escaped into books, and it still went great. I’ve turned around my grades since starting the month of march at the hospital and I’m genuinely proud and shocked over what I’ve been able to accomplish.

This has been a long post, but I need to add another note to it. Things are shitty sometimes. Things will be shitty, actually soul-crushingly shitty, in the future. I really find peace & worry in believing that “everything is temporary”. Still, right now, I’m also proud and relieved, maybe even with sizable time-chunks of happy. And with every bad thing that happens I find comfort in knowing that I’ve gained experience in how to handle it if something similiar hould happen in the future. Dealing with crises makes you better equipped for dealing with future crises. And in the meantime, which is now, it’s best to worry as little as possible, and to do as much of what feels right, honest and great.

This type of bi-weekly update has gone from my least liked post by others to one of the most liked, which I really appreciate ❤

Summer 2019 TBR | Top Ten Tuesday

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl to bring bookish friends together. A new topic is posted each week.

My Summer TBR doesn’t have a lot of summer books this year? So I’m going to write another post with summer recommendations to give you all the fun & warm vibes of it, and not the university-preparing, trying-to-get-better-at-writing, learn-to-cook reality that this TBR turned out to be, haha! Some of the science books, like “physics of the impossible” and “alex’s adventures in numberland” was recommended by physics youtuber Simon Clark (here’s the link to the other books he recommended as well!)

Science books

A brief history of time by Stephen Hawking

  • Yes, I’ve read other books by Hawking like “The grand design“, no I’ve never gotten to read this one. Why? Don’t know, it’s a disgrace that I have to change quickly.

The body in pain by Elaine Scarry

Alex’s adventures in numberland by Alex Bellos

Physics of the impossible by Michio Kaku

Six not so easy pieces by Richard Feynman

  • I read and absolutely loved how “Six easy pieces” (review here), the easier first book of this type, explained concepts and hoping to watch a lot of Feynman’s lectures this summer as well.

Food

Frida’s fiesta by Marie-Pierre Colle and Guadalupe Rivera

  • Guadalupe Rivera was Diego Rivera’s daughter and because of that has a close connection to Frida Kahlo, so I’m so excited to see what kind of cookbook this is.

Salt fat acid heat by Samin Nosrat

  • Ilustrated cookbook! I need it! Also heard a lot of great things about it and Nosrat seems like a person that knows her stuff when I heard from her at the Reply All podcast, hosting another very limited podcast. Ah I love how much effort went into that joke and episode.
  • It’s also a Netflix show by the same/similar name, which I have yet to watch.
  • I love how Nosrat love salt. That speaks to my heart. I’ve read a couple pages of this book, all of the different types of salt there are, beautifully illustrated. SALT! Ok, let’s move on now –

Fiction

The vanishing stair by Maureen Johnson

  • The sequel to Truly Devious (review here), which I loved.
  • A part of my 5 star predictions post, so I’ll have to read it to find out, don’t I?

The serpent king by Jeff Zentner

  • Another of the 5 star predictions post

Writing

A poetry handbook by Mary Oliver

  • I don’t write poetry. I’m going to read it anyway, she’s my fav poet and I’ve got a feeling it could help me write and compose stories in general.

On writing by Stephen King

  • Here’s a secret – I’ve never read a Stephen King book. I don’t know why! I have no explanation. I started reading this one more than a year ago and found the perspective very helpful, but I didn’t have time for doing the writing practices he proposes so I’ll go back now this summer when I have time to really delve into it and commit.

Disability in Books #PrideLibrary19 🌈

The Pride Library 2019 Challenge is hosted by Library Looter, Anniek’s Library and Michelle Likes Things. Join in on it anytime or link your post in the comments so I see it! Also all reviews I’ve written will be linked.

I know that “Far From You” by Tess Sharpe and “History Is All You Left Me” by Adam Silvera, which I have yet to read, has main characters that fit under this banner of being disabled/neurodiverse. But I want to take this chance to write a quick post about my thoughts on reading about disabilities and the very clear reason why I haven’t been doing it so far. Full disclosure, I’ve rephrased this post a couple times and am still nervous, but also very curious about people’s thoughts on this!

My background

I grew up chronically ill. I still am, just last summer I could barely walk and was in a wheelchair for a short time, but with the right medicines I’m back on my feet, if not healthy. I tried to let it not define me growing up, it was extremely important for a sense of identity and belonging. I didn’t have a name, a diagnosis, to what I was struggling with, I knew it as something that was only causing me problems and leaving me without hope. Nowadays, I have a generally much more healthy relationship with being sick, with shorter periods of it being really dark and awful. There’s times where it’s very visible that I’m ill, like for a long period my joints were fucked up, but for the most part it’s been invisible which comes with its own challenges (that’s another post).

Books

Literature and reading has both been a source of escape, but also to learn about other people’s perspectives, and that’s one reason why diversity and representation is so important. I like learning about other people’s mindset, cultures, problems, whatever it might be, through novels. But I was burned too many times as a disabled kid trying to pick up books about or with chronically ill or disabled people. Being sick was an experience I knew too well, that I was surrounded with 24/7, so when the author eventually got so many things wrong or forced a strange mindset on the character, it cut so deep. That’s the importance of #ownvoices authors. There are authors that doesn’t need to go through the exact experiences and can still write really good diverse novels through skill & lots and lots of research, but there’s also those books that without this just turn out really really bad. And that hurts if you’re too close to it. I didn’t need characters being magically cured or having no illness/physical problem after all at the end of the book. I needed realistic portrayals of characters with daily changes in rutine depending on if it’s a good or bad day, and having their ups and downs – the really high highs and really low lows that can come with having a diagnosis or a disability.

I’m so glad that there’s more #ownvoices and accurate portrayals of disabilities out there. I already know I want to read more books with neurodiverse characters and there’s so many great disabled&neurodiverse bloggers out there recommending the accurate books. But diving into the world that is disabilities in literature has just felt too daunting and like I’m still not emotionally in a place where that seems healthy?? Like I still will get x10 times more hurt when someone wrecks writing that character than any other novel. Not to mention triggers, I can’t watch hospital scenes on the TV right now, whether it’s a broken arm or someone dying.

I’ve found listening to podcasts with real people telling about their real stories of dealing with disabilities, mental illnesses and pysical illnesses to be just the middle-ground I needed – SICKBOY Podcast is one I really really recommend whether you’re disabled/ill or not at all. The hosts are a trio of guys, one who has Cystic Fibrosis, where they interview a new sick person each episode in a really deep, but fun way with humor as well. Jordan Whelan talked about how it was to have ulcerative colitis, a similar gastrointestinal illness as myself, while being gay (ep. 108).

I want to end on the note that remember that queer disabled people face twice (in my community more than that) the harassment and discrimination as others, and I really think accessibility on queer events need to be given more awareness and thought. The first pride parade I attended this May I was proud to barely make it through as my lungs & feet were pretty fucked up, but after they had an accessible indoor event. Everyone deserves to celebrate their pride!

That said, read any book with disabled/neurodiverse characters that you loved?

Bi Protagonists #PrideLibrary19 🌈

The Pride Library 2019 Challenge is hosted by Library Looter, Anniek’s Library and Michelle Likes Things. Join in on it anytime or link your post in the comments so I see it! Also all reviews I’ve written will be linked.

Bisexuality seems to still be difficult to portray correctly in novels, it has such a stigma attached to it. In fiction as in real life, a bi person in a hetero relationship might seem straight and a bi person in a gay relationship might seem gay/lesbian. And then there’s the struggle of an author with a bi protagonist correctly portraying how the character is attracted to different genders, but that doesn’t mean they’re attracted to *everyone*. Jeez, let people have types.

As a bi person, I feel that we have privileges that gay and lesbians don’t in that we’re able to pass as straight for longer and possibility of finding love without coming out. At the same time I think it’s more confusing to discover your sexuality because it’s of that stigma attached to it. Hopefully books can help portray bisexuality more honestly and true!

Evelyn Hugo in The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid (full review)

Theodore Decker in The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt

Monty in The gentleman’s guide to vice and virtue by Mackenzi Lee (full review)

Magnus Bane in The bane chronicles by Cassandra Clare, Sarah Rees Brennan and Maureen Johnson

Fire in Fire (Graceling #2) by Kristin Cashore

April in An absolutely remarkable thing by Hank Green (full review)

TBR

(I really hope I’ve gotten this right, please tell me straight away if I haven’t)

Queens of geek by Jen Wilde

The trials of Apollo by Rick Riordan

Far from you by Tess Sharpe

Of fire and stars by Audrey Coulthurst

Labyrinth lost by Zoraida Cordova

Let’s talk about love by Claire Kann

Let me know if you’ve read any of these books and if you liked them! Please link your post if you’re participating so I see it and recommend any LGBTQ books you’ve loved.

Loved & Disliked | Short Reviews: Solitaire & The Life-changing Magic of Tidying

It’s a strange mix of books, I know, but they represent what’s going on right now; I’m reading a lot of queer books and also trying to tame the chaos before moving. Here’s my other mini/short reviews, where I try to keep it under three sentences (which is hard for me). Let’s go.

Solitaire by Alice Oseman

I’ve loved every other book by Oseman, but it’s obvious that this is a debut that she started writing at 15 with now already cringy references and not yet developed writing. The protagonist & other characters come off as angsty. After reading the awesome spin-off graphic novel Heartstopper I could see what she was trying to do with them, but didn’t have the skills to yet. The thing I liked was the cover & the plot. 2/5 stars.

The life-changing magic of tidying up by Marie Kondo

I’ve read parts of this book before (pre tv-show), but as I declutter before packing and moving, I felt the need to go through the whole thing in the middle of a sleepless night. IT’S GREAT. Every problem you’ve got with the show is explained and while I’m a very practical over spiritual person the organization techniques and methods have already worked so well in my life, I love this ❤ ❤ Would recommend even to the already organization-research-freaks out there, like me. 5/5 stars.

These Witches Don’t Burn by Isabel Sterling | Review #PrideLibrary19 🌈

I’ve already made a post of queer girls YA book recommendations, if you’re looking for a list of f/f romances. So today, let’s give a review of a new release with more than one f/f romance, that I read and enjoyed very much this month.

The Pride Library 2019 Challenge is hosted by Library Looter, Anniek’s Library and Michelle Likes Things. Join in on it anytime or link your post in the comments so I see it! Also all reviews I’ve written will be linked.

Genre: YA urban fantasy, with lesbian witch protagonist and at least three other lesbian/bi girls, trans minor character.

Pages: 336

Synopsis

Hannah’s a witch, but not the kind you’re thinking of. She’s the real deal, an Elemental with the power to control fire, earth, water, and air. But even though she lives in Salem, Massachusetts, her magic is a secret she has to keep to herself. If she’s ever caught using it in front of a Reg (read: non-witch), she could lose it. For good. So, Hannah spends most of her time avoiding her ex-girlfriend (and fellow Elemental Witch) Veronica, hanging out with her best friend, and working at the Fly by Night Cauldron selling candles and crystals to tourists, goths, and local Wiccans. 

But dealing with her ex is the least of Hannah’s concerns when a terrifying blood ritual interrupts the end-of-school-year bonfire. Evidence of dark magic begins to appear all over Salem, and Hannah’s sure it’s the work of a deadly Blood Witch. The issue is, her coven is less than convinced, forcing Hannah to team up with the last person she wants to see: Veronica.

While the pair attempt to smoke out the Blood Witch at a house party, Hannah meets Morgan, a cute new ballerina in town. But trying to date amid a supernatural crisis is easier said than done, and Hannah will have to test the limits of her power if she’s going to save her coven and get the girl, especially when the attacks on Salem’s witches become deadlier by the day.

My thoughts

Rating: I’ve never had a book be more of a 3.5 out of five stars. I’m giving it a four star because it made me smile so much and was filled with small relatable moments for its queer girls.

I went into this book expecting fun, dramatic moments, a city of witches, covens arguing and lots of lesbians. I got it all. I really liked the protagonist and the voice and writing of this book. The title is so awesome and I was so excited to find out how literal it was, the magic in this book started interesting enough, but then the limits of it was never explored much or explained.

The way the main character’s witch family was incorporated isn’t something you see a lot in YA fantasy and I really liked it. It also annoyed me how the author made them very much go out of their way at the beginning to not see the signs of trouble their daughter did, so that it led to the typical scenario of the main character having to – on her own – investigate if new witches that meant harm had arrived.

My fav thing: Hannah and Veronica’s relationship/friendship, having grown up together and then become a couple and now exes. How they know each other very well and constantly edged the line between it being suspensful & teasing and manipulating. Also how Hannah resolves this in the end, while there also being a love for each other that comes up throughout the whole book. Don’t expect a cute f/f romance book, but it has those moments as well. Friendships in general are a really strong influence in this book and I love that.

It was towards the last half this book dropped to a three stars with the predictable plot and suddenly having to tie everything together to set up for a sequel. But I have my hopes up that it’s going to be great as well, if a bit nervous that the ball is going to be dropped again on the character development and special moments in favour of following a strict plot.

Fav quotes *spoilers below at own risk*

“You and I are going to scry for the Blood Witch.” I pour the water into the bowl and set it on my desk. “That’s why I had you bring your grimoire.” “This is ridiculous.” Veronica reaches into her bag and pulls out her personal Book of Shadows. “Why can’t you be a normal ex and post angry poetry online?”