June Wrap-Up #PrideLibrary19 🌈

So let’s see what kind of pride posts & books we’ve had this month –

Yay! Considering how hella busy June has been for me, I’m really happy with the amount of posts I made. I mean – I finished my last exams and packed everything for moving at the same time. That I started out the month writing a lot of posts saved me.

I also made a bi-weekly update talking briefly about how I came out as bisexual to mom as the first in my family this month, which I’m really proud that I went throught with. I didn’t feel relieved as much as I felt that the life I live now and the one I want to have is one step closer together, which is comforting. As for right now I’m visiting extended family and that’s always — sigh. Let’s not go there.

The TBR

The Cybernetic Tea Shop by Meredith Katz: read & review coming, five out of five stars!

The Love & Lies of Rukhsana Ali by Sabina Khan: still to be read, but I’ve finally gotten it in the mail at least.

Running With Lions by Julian Winters: read & review coming, I loved how different it is from what I normally would pick up with its sports. four out of five stars!

When the Moon Was Ours by Anna-Marie McLemore: currently reading, I’m 15% in and it’s promising.

Karamo Brown’s Memoir: still not read, I started it and then realized I wasn’t in the headspace of anything too heavy emotionally, so I’m going to save it for a time I am

The Lady’s Guide to Petticoats and Piracy by Mackenzi Lee: still to be read, it’s probably going to be a while before I get around to it tbh

These Witches Don’t Burn by Isabel Sterling: read & reviewed, 3.5 out of five stars

Other queer books I’ve read

Heartstopper vol. 1 (and then the rest online): five out of five stars. review.

Fence vol. 1-3 by C. S. Pacat: three, three and two stars out of five.

Wild Beauty by Anna Marie McLemore: DNF’ed at 70%

Some great videos

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!

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.

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.

Heartstopper by Alice Oseman Review | M/M Romances #PrideLibrary19 🌈

The webcomics are free and regularly updated here!

Genre: graphic novel with lgbt main characters (m/m romance) & mental illness

Pages: 278 (vol. 1)

Synopsis

Charlie, a highly-strung, openly gay over-thinker, and Nick, a cheerful, soft-hearted rugby player, meet at a British all-boys grammar school. Friendship blooms quickly, but could there be something more…? 

Charlie Spring is in Year 10 at Truham Grammar School for Boys. The past year hasn’t been too great, but at least he’s not being bullied anymore, and he’s sort of got a boyfriend, even if he’s kind of mean and only wants to meet up in secret.

Nick Nelson is in Year 11 and on the school rugby team. He’s heard a little about Charlie – the kid who was outed last year and bullied for a few months – but he’s never had the opportunity to talk to him. That is, until the start of January, in which Nick and Charlie are placed in the same form group and made to sit together.

They quickly become friends, and soon Charlie is falling hard for Nick, even though he doesn’t think he has a chance. But love works in surprising ways, and sometimes good things are waiting just around the corner…

My thoughts

Rating out of five: five

Alice Oseman is great at telling stories in general (see “I was born for this” and “Radio silence” for more proof). Solitaire is the only book I didn’t like from her, which made me more wary going into this one since it’s a spin-off. I don’t think you need to read the novel before to fall in love with this one, but it does give more context and might make it even better. Through this novel I even got a better sense of what Oseman was trying to do with the characters of Solitaire, it was apparent that she cares for them deeply and seeing the big sister (protagonist in Solitaire) from the brother’s perspective and in graphic novel format was so endearing and made me like the book more, well no more like the characters, in hindsight.

The illustration style is both extremely cute and just informal enough. The m/m romance starts so innocent, with two teenage boys figuring themselves out and where being friends stop and flirting starts. They’re both so adorably awkward and comfortable throughout it all. Meeting through sports team has become a trope I’m really into all of a sudden this pride month (having read the amazing “Running with lions” by Julian Winters as well).

This volume and the rest of this on-going series is actually a webcomic which you can get for free at tapas here and is regularly updated by Oseman! The story only gets better (if that’s even possible) as I’ve of course read through it all straight after I was done with vol. 1 and I can’t wait to hold vol. 2 in my hands as well. I really need to get more into queer webcomics and graphic novels. Fence by C. S. Pacat is next on my list.

Feelings while reading this book: smiling from ear to ear, making sounds of cuteness overload and me physically freezing in place when someone tries bullying Charlie (like the big sister I am).

Trans & Non-Binary Characters #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’ve read only “every day” and “I was born for this” from this list, I just haven’t read enough novels with trans or non-binary characters, which I realized very recently. Hopefully I’ll find good recommendations through these posts and get to some of there ones as well –

Orlando by Virginia Woolf

  • Character changes gender mid-way through the novel

Every Day by David Levithan

  • Main character wakes up in a different body every day and experience life as different genders

I Wish You All The Best by Mason Deaver

  • #ownvoices new release written by a non-binary author

When the Moon Was Ours by Anna-Marie McLemore

  • Has a romance between two persons who was best friends wher one is a queer girl and one a trans boy. The author is queer and married to a trans man.

Not Your Sidekick by C. B. Lee

  • Has a trans boy best friend

I Was Born for This by Alice Oseman

  • Important characters in this book is this super popular band, in which on member is a trans boy
  • Here’s my full review of it, it was such an awesome book!

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.

Authors of Colour #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.

Here’s a couple of the authors I’ve read & loved.

Bejamin Alire Sáenz

  • Born in New Mexico
  • Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe: ultimate gay teenage summer-vibe romance (both Mexan-American)
  • The Inexplicable Logic of My Life: YA with the most kind-hearted gay, hispanic dad character that possibly ever existed
  • Also has a lot of contemporary more adult LGBT fiction, which I didn’t realize before now

Malinda Lo

  • Asian-American, cofounded http://www.diversityinya.com/ with Cindy Pon (Silver Phoenix)
  • Ash: lesbian YA romance, retelling of Cinderella
  • Also written “Huntress”, “Adaption” and “Inheritance”

Anna-Marie McLemore

  • Mexican-American
  • “When the moon was ours” is on my TBR this month, with a romance between a queer Latina girl and a trans Pakistani-American boy. I only found out now that her husband is also transgender!
  • “Wild beauty” is also a book I’ve been wanting to read. It has a Latina bisexual girl as main character and genderqueer side characters.

Adam Silvera

  • Puerto Rican
  • “What if it’s us”: cute romance with gay guys
  • “They both die at the end”: two latino characters where one guy is bisexual and the other gay
  • “History is all you left me”: three gay/queer guys and lots of crying I predict, which is why I haven’t read it yet

Julian Winters

  • I just read and fell in love with “Running with lions” this month. 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 bi

There’s so many more authors I want to read books from like Claire Kann, Natasha Ngan & Sabina Khan. The TBR is just tooo long sometimes!!! It’s exciting, but also so many books to get to.

Also I fell down the rabbit hole of googling whether inuits and sami people were defined as ‘people of colour’, just to find Frozen-debates dominating the google-searches, so if anyone have the answer that would be great. Here in Europe the racism is often based on ethnic groups, which is just as bad, but less confusing on where the lines of distinction are drawn.

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.

Purple Queer 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 haven’t read a single purple queer book. WHAT!?

TBR

The Lady’s Guide to Petticoats and Piracy by Mackenzi Lee

I read and loved the first book “The gentleman’s guide to vice and virtue” so of course I have to read this one following Felicity, the nerdy aromantic-asexual sister trying to become a doctor in 1700s Europe. I don’t know where the piracy plays in, but excited to find out.

Girls of Paper and Fire by Natasha Ngan

goodreads.

YA fantasy where the lesbian main character is sent to be a part of a nine girl consort to the king, but fights against it as well as falls in love. Major trigger warning for rape and sexual violence.

Far From You by Tess Sharpe

goodreads.

YA mystery where the bestfriend is murdered and the bisexual female main character, previously struggling with addiction, has to figure out who did it.

Annie on my Mind by Nancy Garden

goodreads.

This was one of the books I first heard about while trying to find lesbian romances, so it’s been on my TBR for a while. Seems like the typical forbidden teenage lesbian romance.

These Witches Don’t Burn by Isabel Sterling

goodreads.

Just released in May and got great reviews so far! Queer girl main character who’s a witch! Supernatural disasters in the city happens, dark magic is appearing, and also a cute new ballerina arrives, all throwing her off the normal state of things. I’M SO EXCITED TO READ THIS!

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.

Blue Queer 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 wrote out this whole post and then it got deleted … it hurt more than it should have. Blue is the color of every book where characters are contemplating life apparently. Also magical realism & fairytale vibes from a lot of these.

Radio Silence by Alice Oseman

Full review: 5/5 stars

A bisexual girl as main character (also biracial) and a demisexual boy. Another two gay minor characters. It’s the perfect coming-of-age and finding your own identity book where none of the characters are doing the correct things always and finding community through making a podcast and opening up enough to share your interests and be comfortable doing so. Amazing writing making it all so relatable.

A Mage’s Power by Casey Wolfe

Full review: 4/5 stars

Fantasy where a trio of one mage, one werewolf and a newcomer witch, all gay, walks into a bar ... and they become bestfriends and have a good time for the most part. It’s an entertaining book.

Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Sáenz

goodreads. The ultimate teen gay M/M summer-vibes romance. It’s just heartfelt and special and so so popular for a reason. I thought it would be overhyped before I first read it – it isn’t.

We Are the Ants by Shaun David Hutchinson

Full review: 5/5 stars

A nerdy gay main character who is dealing with existential questions and grief over his boyfriend committing suicide, and also is abducted by aliens giving him the chance to save the world. It’s a sad and beautiful book, my favourite from the author that I’ve read so far, as the main character has to find hope and will inside himself to move forward.

The Inexplicable Logic of My Life by Benjamin Alire Sáenz

Full review: 4/5 stars

The book I hear less about than Ari and Dante, but it gave me such a warm feeling, as well as being thought-provoking. This YA is about growing up, what family is and every single character dealing with serious shit. The main character’s dad is the ultimate kind-hearted parent, also gay and mexican. Would completely recommend it to anyone.

TBR

When the Moon Was Ours by Anna-Marie McLemore

goodreads.

Magical realism with two bff’s turned romantic, where one is a queer girl and one a trans boy. I absolutely love magical realism if it’s done well.

Starting from Here by Lisa Jenn Bigelow

goodreads.

Cute YA contemporary with a queer girl as main character.

The Flywheel by Erin Gough

goodreads.

YA contemporary novel with queer girl main character.

Of Fire and Stars by Audrey Coulthurst

goodreads.

F/F romance fantasy with a kingdom of princesses, alliances and assassins.

The Abyss Surrounds Us by Emily Skrutskie

goodreads.

Fantasy book with sea monsters, pirates and a F/F relationship with the pirate queen.

Karamo Brown’s Memoir

goodreads. It’s Queer Eye’s Karamo Brown, so it’s gay af. But also dealing with mental health and a lot of healing.

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.