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

Four out of five stars

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.

F/F Magical Book Recs | #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 f/f relationships and I’ve tried to gather up some fav f/f romance books of the more magical realism or fantasy genre. Because I’ve been even more into the blend of cottagecore aesthetic, queer girls and magic lately. Ahh, the gay side of tiktok has got me with it’s #wlwcottagecore and my need to be more outside safely after this quarantine.

There’s also Queer Girls YA Book Recommendations #1 if you want more.

Sawkill Girls by Claire Legrand

  • Horror magical realism with queer girls trying to uncover the mystery of the island the main character moves to as more and more girls are killed off. Definitely has enemies-to-lovers trope and folklore coming to life, with living in lighthouse, trying to save your loved ones before it’s too late and an actual cult.
  • Queer girls, including mc, and asexual character.

The Midnight Lie by Marie Rutkoski

  • More straight-up fantasy, but definitely not straight.
  • The main charcter is an orphan that has magical abilities, something that belongs to the upper classes in the society she lives in. She’s low-key criminal with a fierce spirit that lands her in prison, where she meets a stranger ( ~ a traveller from distant lands who is not bound by conservative customs ~ ) that transforms her life, and also starts a slow-burn of a f/f romance.
  • This one scene of the mc trying to find the place she was supposed to meet up with a stranger, without knowing anything about this outside world, wandering around the woods is burned into my memory. As is her confusion as she’s brought along, breaking into abandoned buildings with no explanation. The inncocent, brave, awkward gay vibes is immaculate.

These Witches Don’t Burn by Isabel Sterling

  • Witchy found-family type of young adult book
  • Contains fun, dramatic moments, a city of witches, covens arguing and lots of lesbians. Has more strong friendships than relationships. Meaning some f/f relationship, also some lesbian exes trying to get along and not always suceeding.

Similiar books on my TBR

Wilder Girls by Rory Power

  • All girls high school put under quarantine (ahh made last year, pre-corona), where they get infected and die one by one and described as more of a horror vibe and survival story following this queer friendgroup.

Magic for liars by Sarah Gailey

  • Urban fantasy/murder mystery standalone with bisexual love interest, a magical witchy school and lots of blood and violence and other questionable things. Also several f/f relationships.

Anticipated Queer Book Releases 2020 | #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 feel that more often than not I learn about the existence of queer books after they’ve come out rather than before, because it’s been so much more up to the different readers to share the good books around, rather than good marketing promoting them before they are released. Mostly my strategy for new queer releases is finding authors I like and then lie and wait, scouting for new ones.

There were a lot of queer books released in May that I looked forward to reading, but not that many for the rest of the year, so hopefully I will find some new books reading through similiar posts.

June Releases

The State of Us by Shaun David Hutchinson: 2nd of June

  • Not quite sure what happens here, but the son of a democrat and son of a republican apparently fall in love, and it’s being compared to the other gay president/royal book ‘Red, White and Royal Blue’ that I truly loved.

Loveless by Alice Oseman: 9th of June

  • Asexual and aromantic main character coming out. Set at university, featuring lots of platonic love! I truly love Oseman’s writing in general, based on her other books (excluding Solitaire tbh).

Further Into the Future

Fence: Striking Distance by Sarah Rees Brennan and C. S. Pacat – 29th of september

  • There’s a comic series by C. S. Pacat called Fence that I thought had so much potential, but really truly sucked in quality and plotline and anything but the aesthetics. I really like Sarah Rees Brennan as an author and hope she’ll fix it.
  • Some of the guys on the team are gay, I don’t remember how many.

Queer TBR of June | #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.

This is way too many books, especially for someone who have a pretty full-packed June at the moment, but things might change and I might make a dent in this list. First off, I have to let the graphic novels be because I’m travelling and can’t order them to me, while preferring to read physical graphic novels so much more than digital. Heartstopper vol. 3 and Mooncakes – I’ll read them this fall instead.

  • When we were magic by Sarah Gailey: queer female witches
  • Sawkill girls by Claire Legrand: horror-ish fantasy with enemies to lovers and queer girls
  • Out of salem by Hal Schrieve: nonbinary mc, lesbian mc, queer side characters and also lots of zombies. I don’t know how that works out either, going to find out I guess.
  • Every heart a doorway by Seanan McGuire: asexual mc and children diseappearing into magical lands
  • Wilder girls by Rory Power: a horror book set at an all girl’s school and a queer mc that i can’t quite figure out more about without potentially spoiling myself. This book review says; “feminist horror” and “hella gay”, so we’ll go with that.
  • Felix ever after by Kacen Callender: transgender mc, dealing with self-discovery and falling in love for the first time.
  • Brave face by Shaun David Hutchinson: memoir by a gay author.

Wolfsong by T. J. Klune: m/m romance, contains werewolves.

The last true poets of the sea by Julia Drake: my thought-process seeing this book was “hey look at that interesting title, wonder if it’s mermaids” then I investigated further and realized it’s a more serious story dealing with mental illness and the aftermath of a suicide attempt in the family, along with the mystery of uncovering a shipwreck and a f/f relationship.

Magic for liars by Sarah Gailey: urban fantasy/murder mystery standalone with bisexual love interest, a magical witchy school and lots of blood and violence and other questionable things.

Ship of smoke and steel by Django Wexler: a YA fantasy book with a bisexual mc that’s more of an anti-heroine, and also on a mission to steal a legendary ghost ships. I mean – bi pirates, basically.

The library of the unwritten by A. J. Hackwith: pansexual mc, also a former anti-heroine/badass who’s now settled down into being the Head Librarian of a “neutral space in Hell where all the stories unfinished by their authors reside” (from the synopsis). I have to love this, I mean – “power struggle between Heaven and Hell” sounds delightful.

Mask of shadows by Linsey Miller: genderfluid mc, also a badass thief. Fantasy with assassins and royalty and vicious circus acrobats apparently.

Poetry collections by queer girls

  • Aphrodite made me do it by Trista Mateer
  • Please don’t go before I get better by Madison Kuhn
  • Almost home by Madison Kuhn
  • Shame is an ocean I swim across by Mary Lambert
  • Soft on soft by Mina Waheed

Chronically Ill in University: Crohn’s Disease Awareness

I’ve tried to write this post many times, but the words just don’t look right together. I’ve already missed crohn’s disease awereness day two years in a row, so that says something about my qualms about writing this. But I think I’ve figured out what I want to say, or at least some of it.

Right now, today, my disease should be under control. You can live a normal life with crohn’s disease, they say. I was relieved when I got the diagnosis, because it only put words to something my body had been going through for so many years, so much time spent searching. And yet now, today, I am about to fail two out of five exams this semester. I am in the likely best university in my country studying physics, in my first year. And since before corona started I have been so ill, in various shapes, but of course I couldn’t figure out what was going on because everything shut down because of corona. (I also wasn’t allowed to get an actual corona test.)

Yet, going through so many years with people telling me that my pain, my disease, wasn’t real – that’s what I fall back on. That’s what’s in my head, trying to shame me into pushing through even though I know that’s not true. I know that now, I knew that then. Yet crohn’s is an often invisible illness, I’ve often looked my “best” right before collapsing or having to be admitted to the hospital or spending months bedridden in pain. I was complimented on how I’d lost weight, even as it was harder and harder to keep up in taekwondo class because spinning made me feel like I would faint and as I laid down on my stomach on the floor after push-ups, huge symmetrical blue and purple bruises would blossom on my hips and I had no idea why. I’ve made so many coping tactics, some good, some maybe not so, but I hate it when people critic them as if they know where I’m coming from.

I’ve made so much progress. And it more often than not feels like I regress again, every time I get sick with something new, or my crohn’s gets worse, but that’s not the right words to use. I don’t regress, because I’m not in control of it. And yet, it’s me that have to pick myself up again every time I lose muscle, everytime I have spent a month nearly dying, everytime I watch my brother go through the same fucking illness as me. And up ’til this point, there’s been little help to get compared to the criticism I’ve had to fight through.

Maybe I didn’t manage to figure out what was wrong and fix it in time for these last two exams. I did manage to pull myself together and focus enough that I completed the first three. It’s been a hell of a couple months. The only reason I’m hurting about ‘failing’ right now is that I’ve been in more pain before and still pulled through, but I now realize that I shouldn’t have had to. And with that ounce of compassion for myself I’m going to let that shame go, and not see this as a sign that I will never be able to do this. I will pull myself up again alone, this time as well. Eventually.

Say fuck you to everyone who expects you to have a completely normal life with this disease. ‘You can live a normal life with crohn’s disease’ does not mean you have to live up to that, it’s to not exclude possibilities when you feel most hopeless. And I will fight in any way I can again anyone else feeling as hopeless as I’ve been made to feel about my chronic illnesses.

I made this embroidery staying up too many nights trying to keep sane before my painkillers set in and the stomach pain withdrew enough to let me sleep. Here’s to hoping for a better and more energic summer than spring.