Posted in Books

🏳️‍🌈🏳️‍⚧️YA Pride Month Recs (2022 Edition) – Sci-fi🏳️‍⚧️🏳️‍🌈

Happy Friday, bibliophiles!

Once again, happy pride month! I hope all my fellow queer folks are taking care of themselves this month (and all the time) and finding tons of wonderful queer stuff to read. If nobody’s told you this lately, you are loved, you are valid, you are beautiful, and nobody has any say in your identity except for YOU.

For the past few years, I’ve been compiling YA recommendations of LGBTQ+ books for pride month; back in 2020, I was able to go by genre (click the links for sci-fi, contemporary, fantasy, and historical fiction), but last year, I just compiled my favorites I’d read since then in one post (click here for 2021’s recs). I was planning on doing the same thing as 2021, but my list got so long that I’ve decided to stagger it by genre again. So first off, here are my recs for queer YA sci-fi!

Let’s begin, shall we?

🏳️‍🌈THE BOOKISH MUTANT’S 2022 YA PRIDE MONTH RECS: SCI-FI 🏳️‍🌈

Spellhacker, M.K. England

LGBTQ+ REP: queer MC, nonbinary LI, several wlw and mlm side relationships

MY RATING: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️.5

This one technically could’ve gone in fantasy or sci-fi, but it leaned more to the latter for me, which is to say this is a fascinating mix of genres! Perfect for readers looking for a book like Six of Crows or The Gilded Wolves with a more futuristic twist.

Gearbreakers, Zoe Hana Mikuta

LGBTQ+ REP: Both MCs are sapphic, wlw relationship

MY RATING: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️.5

Queer cyborg girls taking down a tyrannical empire and falling in love—what’s not to love? I can’t wait to read the sequel!!

The Darkness Outside Us, Eliot Schrefer

LGBTQ+ REP: Queer MC (doesn’t use labels), gay love interest, mlm relationship

MY RATING: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

One of my absolute favorite reads from last year—mind-bending, suspenseful, and above all, an infinitely potent testament to the power of love.

Iron Widow, Xiran Jay Zhao

LGBTQ+ REP: Queer MC and love interests, polyamorous relationship

MY RATING: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

I know I’ve gone on and on about this book ever since I read it, but if patriarchy-smashing via robots doesn’t entice you, then I’m not sure what will. Go read it!

The Grief Keeper, Alexandra Villasante

LGBTQ+ REP: Lesbian MC, sapphic love interest, wlw relationship

MY RATING: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

The Grief Keeper is so many things, and all of them are wonderfully well-written—a commentary on how the U.S. treats its immigrants, an exploration of grief, and a beautiful queer coming-of-age story.

The Kindred, Alechia Dow

LGBTQ+ REP: Demisexual/asexual MC, queer MC

MY RATING: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Alechia Dow always delivers for diverse sci-fi stories with tons of heart, and this book is no exception!

TELL ME WHAT YOU THINK! What are your favorite queer YA sci-fi books? Any recommendations for me? Let me know in the comments!

Today’s song:

not a single bad song on this album

That’s it for this post! Have a wonderful rest of your day, and take care of yourselves!

Posted in Book Review Tuesday

Book Review Tuesday (1/11/22) – The Kindred

Happy Tuesday, bibliophiles!

Ever since I read The Sound of Stars back in 2020, I’ve been eagerly anticipating Alechia Dow’s next book. I preordered The Kindred last year knowing that I’d love it, and although I didn’t enjoy it as much as The Sound of Stars, it was a wonderfully sweet and rollicking novel.

Enjoy this week’s review!

The Kindred by Alechia Dow

The Kindred – Alechia Dow

my copy ft. some more purplish sci-fi books & a cool filter

After a violent, class-based revolution ravaged the Monchuri system, the Kindred program is introduced to quell the chaos; in order to ensure equal representation within the kingdom, mind pairings between citizens from all over the system.

Felix and Joy are paired by the Kindred, but their backgrounds couldn’t be more different; Felix is the Duke of the Monchuri system, while Joy is a commoner in the poorest planet in the system. But when the rest of the royal family is assassinated and Felix is put under suspicion, they escape together—only to crash-land on Earth. With the galaxy hunting for them and targets on their backs on Earth, the two must find a way to return home and prove Felix’s innocence.

Download this awesome wallpaper - Wallpaper Cave

TW/CW: violence, racism, fatphobia/bodyshaming, murder, kidnapping

The Kindred wasn’t quite as potent as The Sound of Stars was for me, but in no way does that mean that I didn’t enjoy it. In fact, it’s solid proof that if I see Alechia Dow’s name on a book, I’ll probably read it.

Despite the trigger warnings I listed, The Kindred is fairly light-hearted; even with all of these topics discussed (all with aplomb), it still manages to be a feel-good, tender read throughout. The themes of racism and fatphobia (mostly with regards to Joy) are handled in a sensitive way that doesn’t dull their importance, but the book is consistently light-hearted and warm. It hits the perfect balance of not diminishing these themes and keeping levity within the book, and it’s the perfect book if you want sci-fi that will cheer you up!

Everything I loved about The Sound of Stars was in The Kindred in spades! Felix and Joy were such endearing characters, and their chemistry together was perfect. They had conflicting personalities on the surface level (with Felix being the more reckless one and Joy being more sensible and reserved), but as they bonded, their relationship became the textbook example of “opposites attract” done well! Plus, it’s always wonderful to have queer couples like them front and center. Joy is demisexual/asexual, and I believe Felix is pansexual or queer? (Felix’s sexuality wasn’t specified, but it’s mentioned that he’s been in romantic relationships regardless of gender so I’ll say queer for now.) Alechia Dow never fails to give us the diverse stories we need.

As far as the plot goes, I wasn’t invested in it as much as I was the characters. Most of it was a bit predictable—not much subtext, surface-level political intrigue, a neat and tidy end to the conflict, and all that. But I didn’t mind this time; the focus was supposed to be on Felix and Joy’s romance, after all. The Earth part of the story was funny most of the time; I didn’t get as many of the music references this time, unlike with The Sound of Stars (definitely not a Swiftie here haha), but the fact that there’s a black cat named Chadwick sold me. BEYOND CUTE.

My other main problem with The Kindred was the aliens themselves. It’s one of my main pet peeves in sci-fi in general: aliens that look like humans, but with a few very minor differences. Although there were some side aliens that were described as non-human, Joy and Felix and their species were just…humans with better technology? Eh…I will say though, at least they’re not white this time. In particular, Joy is plus-size and Black-coded, which was a vast improvement from the white-coded aliens that usually end up in the aforementioned trope. I’m willing to let it slide this time (sort of) because a) Alechia Dow is a great writer and b) diversity.

All in all, a romantic, diverse, and all-around feel-good sci-fi from an author that I’ll be sure to watch in the future. 4 stars!

Thor 3 Ragnarok : Le film de tous les changements pour Thor ? | melty
The Kindred summed up in a single gif

The Kindred is a standalone, but it is set in the same universe as The Sound of Stars, Alechia Dow’s debut novel. You don’t have to read one to understand the other, but there are nods to The Sound of Stars throughout The Kindred. Alechia Dow is also the author of the forthcoming Sweet Stakes (expected to be released in 2023), and contributed to the anthology Out There: Into the Queer New Yonder.

Today’s song:

That’s it for this week’s Book Review Tuesday! Have a wonderful rest of your day, and take care of yourselves!

Posted in Mini Reviews

Mini Reviews of Books I Read in Florida

Happy Thursday, bibliophiles!

I was in Florida about a week ago for a quick trip, but as I always do, I brought some books along on my Kindle to get me through the plane rides and the heat. I like doing little mini-reviews of these books when I go somewhere else, so I figured I’d do it again here, since I certainly read a couple of very interesting books while I was in Florida. So here we have three mini-reviews of books I read in Florida.

Let’s begin, shall we?

🦎BOOKS I READ IN FLORIDA🦎

Forgotten Star – Colin Weldon

Amazon.com: Forgotten Star eBook : Weldon, Colin: Kindle Store

Blurb from Goodreads:

Following a devastating encounter with an unknown alien ship resulting in the disappearance of her parents as a child, Tamara Cartwright now spends her life scouring the galaxy in the hope of finding the dark force that attacked her father’s ship.
Now the Captain of a rescue vessel, The Massey Shaw, she makes a choice, resulting in the destruction of a star in order to save a stricken vessel, a prohibited act while using alien technology. Now, an outlaw, she is entrusted with the fate of a very unusual young girl endowed with special abilities. She must also find the survivors of an ill-fated ship at the hands of a malevolent race know only to the humans as the Ghosts. Driven by the hope of finding the truth of her parent’s disappearance and one last chance to make a difference to those in need of rescue, she must go on one final mission into deep space and deal with the monsters from her past.

Hansolo Badfeeling GIF - Hansolo Badfeeling Starwars GIFs | Star wars gif, Star  wars, Gif

TW/CW: human experimentation, loss of loved ones, death, graphic violence

Forgotten Star wasn’t without its flaws by a long shot, but it was such a fun and fascinating piece of space opera! With lots of political intrigue, strange aliens, and mysterious powers, there’s something for every sci-fi fan in here.

I need to start off with my main problem, though: the grammar. It was…inconsistent, at best. This novel definitely needed an extra round of editing (or two) in that respect; there were lots of errors in punctuation (mostly placement of commas), and there were a few misspellings and omissions that could have been fixed. (As well as a misspelling of “berth,” as in “a wide berth,” as “birth” …YIKES) On occasion, the faulty grammar was enough to take me out of the story entirely, but for the most part, I could let it slide. Sometimes.

But other than that, Forgotten Star was a great piece of sci-fi! One thing this novel did incredibly well was the handling of multiple POVs – for a lot of multiple POV books, it takes a while for all of the characters/elements to coalesce, but it didn’t take long for all of the elements here to come together, making for a cohesive and intricate story. I also loved all of the alien races, and the intricacies of their relationships with humans. It’s always a breath of fresh air to see aliens that clearly have some creative design put into them.

Some of the dialogue and characters were a little stiff and inauthentic at times, but for the most part, a lot of the characters were interesting to delve into. I liked Ona and Urhan, in particular – they had very interesting arcs and backstories, and I loved seeing them develop.

My only other major problem was that the ending wrapped up a *little* too nicely? From everything that built up over the course of the story, it seemed like there was a setup for a sequel, but the ending tried to wrap everything up too quickly. I’d like to see more from this universe.

All in all, though, a well-thought-out and intricate piece of space opera. 3.75 stars, rounded up to 4!

⭐️⭐️⭐️.75

Queen of Coin and Whispers – Helen Corcoran

Amazon.com: Queen of Coin and Whispers: A kingdom of secrets and a game of  lies: 9781788491181: Corcoran, Helen: Books

Blurb from Goodreads:

‘She loved me as I loved her, fierce as a bloodied blade’

When Lia, an idealistic queen, falls for Xania, her new spymaster–who took the job to avenge her murdered father–they realise all isn’t fair in love and treason.

Lia won’t mourn her uncle: he’s left her a bankrupt kingdom considered easy pickings by its neighbours. She’s sworn to be a better ruler, but if she wants to push through her reforms, she needs to beat the Court at its own games. For years, Xania’s been determined to uncover her father’s murderer. She finally gets a chance when Lia gives her a choice: become her new spymaster, or take a one way trip to the executioner’s axe. It’s an easy decision.

When they fall for each other, their love complicates Lia’s responsibilities and Xania’s plans for vengeance. As they’re drawn together amid royal suitors and new diplomats, they uncover treason that could not only end Lia’s reign, but ruin their weakened country. They must decide not only what to sacrifice for duty, but also for each other.

Animated gif about pretty in Fantasy and medieval by Marveline.

TW/CW (from Helen Corcoran): off-page suicide, murder, emotional torture

I’m not sure if I would necessarily call Queen of Coin and Whispers a fantasy novel – there wasn’t a whole lot that would distinguish it from a historical setting (no different magic properties/creatures/worldbuilding/etc.). But that’s not to say that it was a bad book – in fact, it was stunning!

There’s plenty of YA fantasy books on the market with protagonists who suddenly ascend to royalty. But Queen of Coin and Whispers addresses what most of those novels don’t – the mental tax of ruling a country at such a young age. Lia goes through endless trials and tribulations and even faces becoming the ruler that her uncle was, all while grappling with love and other relationships. Corcoran wrote her development so well, and it’s so refreshing to see a genuine-feeling story like Lia’s.

Additionally, the romance! Lia and Xania’s relationship was so sweet – sharing books, secret conversations, and all things warm and fuzzy. They go through all the ups and downs of first love, and I love seeing wlw rep like theirs in non-contemporary stories. I love those two. 💗

Other than that, the political intrigue and the depiction of the transition of power was so well-done! Everything was so multi-layered and detailed, making it feel like Lia and Xania’s world was a real and fleshed-out one. Just when you think you know the answers, something new pokes out its head, and you’re left guessing until the very last page.

All in all, a fascinating royal mystery with genuine characters and a sweet sapphic romance. 4 stars!

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

The Lifeline Signal (Chameleon Moon, #2) – RoAnna Sylver

The Lifeline Signal (Chameleon Moon, #2) by RoAnna Sylver

Blurb from Goodreads:

Parole is still burning. And now the day everyone has been waiting for is finally here: it’s collapsed. A lucky few managed to escape with their lives. But while their city burned, the world outside suffered its own devastating disaster. The Tartarus Zone is a deadly wasteland a thousand miles wide, filled with toxic storms, ghostly horrors, and just as many Eyes in the Sky as ever. Somehow, this new nightmare is connected to Parole. And it’s spreading. 

Now Parole’s only hope lies in the hands of three teenagers reunited by their long-lost friend Gabriel – in their dreams. Now they’re on a desperate cross-country race, carrying vital plans that may be Parole’s salvation. First they’ll board the FireRunner, a ship full of familiar faces that now sails through Tartarus’ poison storms. Then, together, they’ll survive Tartarus’ hazards, send a lifeline to lost Parole – and uncover the mystery connecting everyone, inside Parole and out.

The world outside Parole isn’t the one they remember, and it didn’t want them back. But they’ll save it just the same. It’s what heroes do.

TV Shows | Queer Culture Chats

(for my mini-review of book 1, Chameleon Moon, click here!)

TW/CW: loss of loved ones, violence, near-death situations

I didn’t like this one *quite* as much as I did Chameleon Moon, but it was still such a fun read!

One of the things I love most about this series is how diverse it is – easily the most diverse series I know! We have an almost entirely different cast of characters in The Lifeline Signal, but among the three main characters, we have a nonbinary (xie/xir pronouns) Native American (Tsalagi) character with Arnold-Chiari malformation, a bisexual Indian-American character, and an aro-ace autistic Vietnamese-American character! Among the side characters, there’s no shortage of queer, POC, and disabled characters, including a Black hijabi woman, a nonbinary character, polyamorous relationships, and more! Books as diverse as this series don’t come along very often, so three cheers for RoAnna Sylver for all this representation!

The worldbuilding outside of Parole was also fascinating – there’s all sorts of weird sci-fi and fantasy aspects, including, but not limited to: superpowers, ghosts, dragons, giant ships, and robotic animals of immense size. As you can imagine, it’s a lot of fun! Between the relationships between all of the characters and the expansion of the worldbuilding, there’s no shortage of interesting elements to chew on. Plus, it was so sweet to see all of the characters from Chameleon Moon come back.

My only major problem was that the plot got a little bit convoluted at times – I found myself thinking “wait, why is all this happening?” several times throughout the novel, but it didn’t take me out of the story itself. Don’t get me wrong – The Lifeline Signal has a great story, but it seemed to get lost in itself at times.

All in all, a sequel that does justice to book one as well as expanding its world, while still providing an original storyline. 3.75 stars, rounded up to 4!

⭐️⭐️⭐️.75

Today’s song:

I saw Sleater-Kinney and Wilco (we came for Wilco, they were AMAZING) on Tuesday night, and even though most of Sleater-Kinney’s stuff didn’t make me feel anything, there were a couple songs that I thought were interesting! This is one of them

That’s it for these three mini-reviews! Have a wonderful rest of your day, and take care of yourselves!

Posted in Goodreads Monday

Goodreads Monday (6/28/21) – Queen of Coin and Whispers

Happy Monday, bibliophiles!

Goodreads Monday is a weekly meme created by Lauren’s Page Turners. All you have to do to participate is pick a book from your Goodreads TBR, and explain why you want to read it.

As Pride 2021 comes to a close, I’ve found an exciting LGBTQ+ pick for this week’s Goodreads Monday! I’d forgotten that it was on my TBR, but now I can’t wait to read it – sapphic romance between a queen and her spy? COUNT ME IN.

Let’s begin, shall we?

GOODREADS MONDAY (6/28/21) – QUEEN OF COIN AND WHISPERS by Helen Corcoran

Queen of Coin and Whispers' Isn't Just a Book; It's an Immersive Experience  - the Roarbots

Blurb from Goodreads:

‘She loved me as I loved her, fierce as a bloodied blade.’

When teenage queen Lia inherits her corrupt uncle’s bankrupt kingdom, she brings a new spymaster into the fold … Xania, who takes the job to avenge her murdered father.

Faced with dangerous plots and hidden enemies, can Lia and Xania learn to rely on each another, as they discover that all is not fair in love and treason?

In a world where the throne means both power and duty, they must decide what to sacrifice for their country – and for each other …

So why do I want to read this?

euphoniumpets — The red princess | The weeping monk x reader

I was digging around for some queer fantasy on my TBR the other day, and I found this one sitting in the middle reaches – I shelved it a while ago, and now I can’t wait to get my hands on it! I couldn’t find it on the Kindle library, but maybe the physical library will have it…

Even though YA fantasy has been a bit hit-or-miss for me as of late, Queen of Coin and Whispers sounds incredible! I’ll have to let go of my “x of y and z” title pet peeve, because this one shows loads of promise.

What I’m most excited for is the relationships – I can’t wait to see how Corcoran executes the dynamic between Lia and Xania as a queen and a spy! I haven’t seen a whole lot of dynamics like that, and it sounds like the perfect setup for a fantasy romance. And it’s sapphic, too! Helena Corcoran confirmed that both Lia and Xania are lesbians, and that Xania is also demisexual! I don’t see a whole lot of aspec literature floating around, so I’m glad that this one exists. Maybe I’m getting my hopes up too high, but this looks amazing.

Alexandra Makes Gifs — Faceless Weaponry GIF Hunt

Today’s song:

That’s it for this week’s Goodreads Monday! Have a wonderful rest of your day, and take care of yourselves!

Posted in Books

Pride Month Recs: My Favorite LGBTQ+ YA Books That I’ve Read Recently 🏳️‍🌈🏳️‍⚧️

Happy Wednesday, bibliophiles, and happy pride! 🌈

Now that we’re in the month of June, I’m so excited to share more queer YA books. I did a whole series last year of LGBTQ+ books in various genres, so I was struggling to think of something new for this year. So I’ve decided to compile my favorite queer books that I read between last pride month and now. (There’s a whole lot of good ones!)

But as with all kinds of posts like these, it’s important to remember that we must uplift marginalized voices in literature 365 days a year.

If you want to check them out, here are my pride month recs from last year:

Let’s begin, shall we?

Happy pride month! by Ciled on DeviantArt

🌈THE BOOKISH MUTANT’S PRIDE MONTH RECS: 2021 EDITION🌈

SCI-FI

The Sound of Stars – Alechia Dow

Amazon.com: The Sound of Stars eBook: Dow, Alechia: Kindle Store

LGBTQ+ REPRESENTATION: MC is bisexual/demisexual, nonbinary side characters, straight-passing relationship between MC and LI

MY RATING: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

One of my favorite books that I read last year! Secret libraries, aliens, road trips, and bonding over music? What’s not to love?

Tarnished Are the Stars – Rosiee Thor

Tarnished Are the Stars by Rosiee Thor

LGBTQ+ REPRESENTATION: Two of the MCs are sapphic, wlw relationship, third MC is aromantic/asexual

MY RATING: ⭐️⭐️⭐️.5

This one wasn’t without its flaws, but I loved this blend of sci-fi and fantasy! There’s also an especially beautiful scene where Nathaniel (aroace character) discovers his sexuality, and although I’m not aspec myself, I’m sure this will touch the hearts of so many ace readers.

Crownchasers – Rebecca Coffindaffer

Crownchasers (Crownchasers, #1) by Rebecca Coffindaffer

LGBTQ+ REPRESENTATION: MC is pansexual, gay, lesbian, & nonbinary side characters

MY RATING: ⭐️⭐️⭐️.5

If you’re looking for a fast-paced, queer space opera with a high-stakes competition, look no further! (AND THAT COVER…AAH)

Victories Greater Than Death (Unstoppable, #1) – Charlie Jane Anders

Victories Greater Than Death by Charlie Jane Anders

LGBTQ+ REPRESENTATION: bi/pan MC, LI is a bi/pan trans woman, wlw relationship, nonbinary side characters

MY RATING: ⭐️⭐️⭐️.5

I preordered this one a while back, and even though it wasn’t *quite* as good as I thought it would be, it was loads of fun! (Normalize asking for people’s pronouns!)

FANTASY

Showers, Flowers, and Fangs – Aidan Wayne

Amazon.com: Showers Flowers and Fangs eBook: Wayne, Aidan: Kindle Store

LGBTQ+ REPRESENTATION: MC is a bisexual trans man, LI is gay, mlm romance

MY RATING: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

This is exactly the kind of queer fantasy we need – soft, light-hearted, and feel good! And it’s a rom-com with a budding romance between a half-human, half-fae and a vampire – what’s not to love?

Mooncakes – Suzanne Walker and Wendy Xu

Alex ✰ Comets and Comments ✰ (Cabeswater, Canada)'s review of Mooncakes

LGBTQ+ REPRESENTATION: Queer MC, nonbinary LI, nblw relationship, sapphic side characters

MY RATING: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Here’s another feel-good queer fantasy – this one’s a graphic novel! Besides the fact that there’s nothing better than witches and werewolves having soft relationships, it’s so cool to see a disabled queer character like Nova! (She’s hard of hearing, and there’s several discussions about her hearing aids.)

Elysium Girls – Kate Pentecost

Amazon.com: Elysium Girls (9781368041867): Pentecost, Kate: Books

LGBTQ+ REPRESENTATION: Sapphic MC, wlw relationship

MY RATING: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

A fascinating blend of fantasy and alternate history! Perfect for anyone who enjoys fast-paced plots, tricksters, and high stakes.

CONTEMPORARY

The Stars and the Blackness Between Them – Junauda Petrus

Amazon.com: The Stars and the Blackness Between Them (9780525555483): Petrus,  Junauda: Books

LGBTQ+ REPRESENTATION: Sapphic MCs, wlw relationship

MY RATING: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

I’m surprised that more people aren’t talking about this one! Such a beautiful and tender romance, and so well-written.

The Henna Wars – Adiba Jaigirdar

The Henna Wars by Adiba Jaigirdar | 9781624149689 | Booktopia

LGBTQ+ REPRESENTATION: Lesbian MC, bisexual LI, wlw relationship

MY RATING: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

I don’t usually jump for contemporary, but this was SUCH A DELIGHT. Not only is it an enemies-to-lovers, multiracial sapphic romance, there’s some really important discussions about homophobia and cultural appropriation.

The Black Flamingo – Dean Atta

The Black Flamingo by Dean Atta, Paperback | Barnes & Noble®

LGBTQ+ REPRESENTATION: Gay MC, lesbian and trans side characters

MY RATING: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

A beautiful, coming-of-age novel in verse about a mixed-race teen realizing his sexuality and discovering himself through drag. I don’t read a whole lot of novels in verse, but this is one you absolutely have to read!

Summer Bird Blue – Akemi Dawn Bowman

Summer Bird Blue by Akemi Dawn Bowman

LGBTQ+ REPRESENTATION: Aromantic/asexual MC

MY RATING: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

This one’s hard to read at times, but it’s 100% worth it. It’s more of a story of grief than anything, but it’s so great to see aspec rep like this start to become more prominent in YA.

TELL ME WHAT YOU THINK! Have you read any of these novels, and what did you think of them? What are your favorite queer YA books? Tell me in the comments!

Best Pride Month GIFs | Gfycat

Today’s song:

That’s it for these pride month recs! Have a wonderful rest of your day, and take care of yourselves!

Posted in Books

YA Reads for Asexual Awareness Week

Hi again, bibliophiles!

I’m so glad that we have a snow day…I was trying to find a good day to fit this post in, and now we have the perfect opportunity!

As some of you know, this week, October 25-31, is Asexual Awareness Week, or Ace Week for short! The whole week is meant to celebrate everyone on the asexual spectrum (asexual, aromantic, demisexual, and more) and spread awareness about the community. All too often, this community is unjustly discriminated against, even in LGBTQ+ spaces, which never fails to break my heart. Well, if I haven’t made myself clear enough, I’ll just go out here and say that everybody on the asexual spectrum is so loved, so valid, and so beautiful!

For more information about all this, check out the official website for Ace Week!

Positive Love GIF - Positive Love Asexual - Discover & Share GIFs

So for the occasion, I decided to compile a list of YA books with characters all over the asexual spectrum–among them on this list are characters who are asexual, demisexual, aromantic, and more. Thing is, SHAME ON ME FOR NOT READING ENOUGH ASPEC LITERATURE. I try my best to, and I found some examples, but not enough ones that I’ve actually read to make a substantial list. So, the first half of this post is ace books that I’ve read, and the other half is ace books that are on my TBR.

Let’s begin, shall we?

THE BOOKISH MUTANT’S YA READS FOR ASEXUAL AWARENESS WEEK

BOOKS THAT I’VE READ:

The Sound of Stars, Alechia Dow

Amazon.com: The Sound of Stars (9781335911551): Dow, Alechia: Books

GENRE: Science fiction, dystopia, romance

REPRESENTATION: Ellie (protagonist) is demisexual and biromantic, in a straight-passing relationship

MY RATING: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

The Sound of Stars is one of my favorite reads of this year–POC/LGBTQ+ representation, lots of references to YA literature and music, and fighting against the patriarchy!

Elatsoe, Darcie Little Badger

Amazon.com: Elatsoe eBook: Little Badger, Darcie, Cai, Rovina: Kindle Store

GENRES: Fantasy, mystery, paranormal

REPRESENTATION: Elatsoe (protagonist) is asexual

MY RATING: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

I’m so lucky to have gotten an eARC of this one over the summer. Besides having great asexual representation, the author is Lipan Apache, and so is Elatsoe! A wonderful paranormal murder mystery with lots of lovely ghost critters.

Sawkill Girls, Claire Legrand

Sawkill Girls by Claire Legrand

GENRES: Horror, paranormal, fantasy

REPRESENTATION: Zoey (one of three protagonists with alternating POVs) is asexual

MY RATING: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Another five-star read of mine this year. There’s no shortage of great LGBTQ+ representation from this one; beyond Zoey’s asexuality, and the other two protagonists (Val and Marion) end up being in a wlw relationship.

Tarnished Are the Stars, Rosiee Thor

Tarnished Are the Stars by Rosiee Thor

GENRES: Science fiction, fantasy, romance

REPRESENTATION: Nathaniel (one of two protagonists with alternating POVs) is aromantic/asexual

MY RATING: ⭐️⭐️⭐️.5

Another lovely sci-fi with a bluish purple color scheme on the cover! There’s a beautiful scene where Nathaniel discovers his identity, and it’s so tenderly beautiful. Plus, there’s a wlw relationship between the other protagonist (Anna) and another secondary character as well!

Radio Silence, Alice Oseman

Radio Silence by Alice Oseman, Paperback | Barnes & Noble®

GENRES: Contemporary, fiction

REPRESENTATION: Aled (not the main character, but plays a central part in the story) is asexual

MY RATING: ⭐️⭐️⭐️.5

I just finished this one up on Sunday night. It’s a rough ride, to be sure, but it’s a powerful novel.

And look at this adorable character art by the author, Alice Oseman!

Alice Oseman on Twitter: "with minutes to spare, here's a final Pride Month  drawing - the Radio Silence five at Pride together! Daniel wasn't sure  whether he wanted to go because he

Dare Mighty Things, Heather Kaczynski

Dare Mighty Things by Heather Kaczynski – quirkyandpeculiar

GENRES: Science fiction

REPRESENTATION: Cassandra, the protagonist, is asexual

MY RATING: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️.25

A tense, thrilling and diverse sci-fi that will have you on the edge of your seat!

BOOKS ON MY TBR:

Loveless, Alice Oseman

Loveless by Alice Oseman

GENRES: Contemporary, fiction

REPRESENTATION: Georgia, the protagonist, is aromantic/asexual

(Sidenote: why does “aromantic” keep autocorrecting to either “romantic” or “aromatic?” The audacity…)

I’ve had most of Oseman’s novels on my TBR for quite a while (Radio Silence was my first exposure), and this sounds like a lovely aro-ace coming of age story!

Beyond the Black Door, A.M. Strickland

Amazon.com: Beyond the Black Door (9781250198747): Strickland, A.M.: Books

GENRES: High fantasy, romance

REPRESENTATION: Kamai, the protagonist, is biromantic/asexual

I have this one on hold at the library, and it should be coming soon…🤞

Royal Rescue, A. Alex Logan

Royal Rescue by A. Alex Logan

GENRES: High fantasy, romance

REPRESENTATION: Gerald (protagonist) is aromantic/asexual

I’ve been meaning to read this for a while, and it sounds like a great LGBTQ+ fantasy! And while I’m on the subject of this book, I’ll direct you to Alex Logan’s amazing blog, Almost, Almost, where they review LGBTQ+ books of all kinds!

Summer Bird Blue, Akemi Dawn Bowman

Summer Bird Blue by Akemi Dawn Bowman, Paperback | Barnes & Noble®

GENRES: Contemporary, fiction

REPRESENTATION: Rumi (protagonist) is aromantic/asexual

I read one of Bowman’s other novels, Starfish, a few years back and I remember it being powerful, so I hope that this one might be even better!

Daughter of the Burning City, Amanda Foody

Amazon.com: Daughter of the Burning City (9780373212439): Foody, Amanda:  Books

GENRES: High fantasy, mystery

REPRESENTATION: Luca (secondary character who is supposed to play a major role) is demiromantic/asexual

I put this on my TBR over the summer and completely forgot about it, so hopefully I can read it soon…

TELL ME WHAT YOU THINK! Have you read any of these novels? What are your thoughts? Any other books with ace rep that you recommend?

Overwatch Pride Flag Icon Requests 🏳️‍🌈 | Wiki | Overwatch Amino

Oh, and one more thing: I just found out a few hours ago that today is also Intersex Awareness Day! I hardly see any intersex rep in literature, so if any of you have good intersex book recs, don’t hesitate to tell me about them in the comments!

Intersex Pride Heart Gif - Album on Imgur

Since I’ve already posted once today, check out today’s Goodreads Monday for today’s song.

That’s it for these ace week recommendations! Have a wonderful rest of your day, and take care of yourselves!

Posted in Book Review Tuesday, Books

Book Review Tuesday (7/7/20)–The Sound of Stars

Happy Tuesday, bibliophiles!

I put this one on my TBR almost exactly a year ago (what are the odds?), forgot about it for a little bit, and once I remembered its existence, I got INCREDIBLY excited. I did a Goodreads Monday on it about a month ago, and it seemed like my dream book. (Aliens, secret libraries, music, and LGBTQ+/POC representation? Of COURSE you have my attention!) I recently bought it on my first trip to the bookstore since the pandemic started. And while it wasn’t without its flaws, The Sound of Stars was a beautiful and poignant tale of resistance.

Enjoy this week’s review!

Amazon.com: The Sound of Stars eBook: Dow, Alechia: Kindle Store

The Sound of Stars–Alechia Dow

⭐︎ A mini photoshoot I did with my copy (feat. some similar YA sci-fi books I own, as well as my trusty iPod and David Bowie) ⭐︎

Janelle–Ellie for short–Baker lives in a world not so far from our own, but one ravaged by the aftermath of an alien invasion. The Ilori now have control over most of the population, and have deemed all forms of creative expression, be it art, literature, or music, as dangerous. Ellie ekes out a living in New York City, running a secret library of her personal collection. She knows that if she’s ever discovered, it could mean execution for her and her parents, but her love of books keeps her business going.

M0Rr1s (Morris), an Ilori boy raised in a lab, knows that his differences could also mean the death of him. Unlike most others of his kind, he has the capacity for emotion–and a penchant for music. He finds solace in the old human music, illegally downloading it into his mind to hear. When he stumbles upon Ellie and her secret library, he knows that he should turn her into the authorities. But their shared love of literature and music leads them on a road trip, smuggling their artwork to a safer place, where they may be welcome and accepted. The journey won’t be without its obstacles–namely, the Ilori authorities–but Ellie and Morris will do anything when it comes to the fate of their art–and humanity itself.

Library images GIF - Find on GIFER

YOU GUYS. WHAT. A. BOOK. This is, without a doubt, one of the best books of 2020. And I don’t say that lightly.

The Sound of Stars is a powerful and poignant novel about the power of friendship and resistance–and the uniting power of music and literature.

Let’s start off with the characters. I ADORED both Ellie and Morris. Ellie’s strong will and love of books truly resonated with me, and it’s great to see characters with her representation (Mixed race/POC, demisexual, has anxiety) in literature. Her chapters always have lovely YA references and quotes from classic novels slipped in there, so I enjoyed every minute of her perspective. And MORRIS. MORRIS IS AN ABSOLUTE SWEETHEART. I also resonated with his love of music, and he was just such a tender-hearted character in general. His chapters were laden with GREAT music references–David Bowie, Prince, Stevie Wonder, Aretha Franklin, all the good stuff. And having Ellie and Morris in a romantic relationship was everything I’ve ever wanted–not only are they super cute together (adorable enemies to friends to lovers dynamic), it’s great to see LGBTQ+ characters in straight-passing relationships. There’s an awful stigma these days with bi/pan/etc. people that if they’re in such a relationship, they “aren’t valid,” and it’s great to see the stigma being broken down in the best possible way.

Beyond that, The Sound of Stars is just the kind of story we need for these times, in an age of bigotry and division. There’s a clear commentary against racism and colonialism, and to have Ellie and Morris fighting back against the system is something I love to see. Some of the more obvious political commentary was a bit ham-fisted at worst, but at this point, it’s probably what readers need to wake up and realize the situation around us. It’s the perfect story for those looking to make a difference in their communities–especially with the power of art.

For the most part, I found this book to be almost flawless–the writing, the characters, the representation, you name it. But I did have one problem, which, judging from the reviews I’ve read, seems to be common–the ending.

It’s…weird. Not in the best way, to be honest. It’s a bizarre, deus ex machina kind of deal, where the characters are on the brink of death, and BAM…well, I won’t spoil it, but it kind of had me scratching my head. The very end was hopeful, at least, but it still left a strange (metaphorical) taste on my tongue.

But all in all, The Sound of Stars was a phenomenal gem of a resistance novel. 4.75 stars, rounded up to 5!

Listening Music GIFs | Tenor

At the moment, it seems like The Sound of Stars is a standalone novel, though it had an open ending that could *potentially* lend itself to a sequel. (I’d be happy either way, honestly.) This novel is Alechia Dow’s debut novel, but as of now, she has another book, The Kindred, scheduled to be published in 2022.

Today’s song:

That’s it for this week’s Book Review Tuesday! Have a wonderful rest of your day, and take care of yourselves!

Posted in Book Review Tuesday, Books

Book Review Tuesday (6/23/20)–Fourth World

Happy Tuesday, bibliophiles!

I hope you’re all having a good day. I had a lovely hike yesterday, and just a spectacular day in general…and I FINISHED THE FIRST DRAFT OF MY WIP.

I FINISHED MY FIRST DRAFT! THIS IS THE FIRST OF MY IDEAS THAT I’VE ACTUALLY BOTHERED TO WRITE OUT IN FULL!

vince mcmahon excited gif on Make a GIF

So that was certainly a bright spot.

Now, back to our scheduled program…

I found this book on Queer Books for Teens, and the fact that it was a) sci-fi and b) had great LGBTQ+ representation ultimately hooked me. I quickly found it on the Kindle library and read it. But while it boasted great representation, Fourth World failed to meet its ambitious premise.

Enjoy this week’s review!

Fourth World (Iamos Trilogy, #1) by Lyssa Chiavari

Fourth World (Iamos trilogy, #1)–Lyssa Chiavari

2073. Isaak Contreras struggles to go through the motions of his life on a Martian colony. Two years ago, his father disappeared, leaving him to long for him back in his life. But when he finds an artifact hidden among his father’s old possessions, he stumbles upon a conspiracy hidden by the Martian government–one that may answer the question of the humanoid skeleton that the archaeology team dug up on Martian soldier. What they’ve hidden? A portal to another world, and one that may not be as alien as they believe it to be.

Now stranded in this foreign, dystopian world, Isaak is taken in by Nadin, a girl struggling with an oppressive society of her own. But what they both don’t realize is that the ground beneath their feet is not so different as they thought. Will they be able to save both of their worlds?

David Rose Schitts Creek GIF - DavidRose SchittsCreek Eh ...

Let’s start off with the good aspects. Our cast of characters is incredibly diverse–virtually all of the characters are POC (Isaak is Latinx, Nadin is POC, and several other POC side characters). Additionally, Isaak is demisexual, and Nadin seems to be on the asexual spectrum. So props to Chiavari for creating a wonderfully diverse cast!

Now…other than that…

[awkward silence]

Eh…

The main problem of Fourth World is that it seemed to get lost within itself. The plot became very convoluted far too quickly, and I found myself losing interest rapidly. There’s an interesting, almost cosmic-horror aspect of it (Remember what I said about the humanoid skeleton they dig up?) that was well-executed at the start, but failed to capture my attention as the book went on.

The concept of a past civilization on Mars is fascinating, but I found it poorly executed. There’s so much possibility for these kinds of societies, but alas, it fell into the trap that all too many sci-fi YA novels fall into…

Ah, yes, Aliens™️, but…they’re basically just humans with different hair/eye colors. NOT AGAIN…

Black Ink Crew Stop GIF by VH1 - Find & Share on GIPHY

[Luke Skywalker screaming] “NOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!”

And beyond that, this past civilization is the exact same, overdone, dystopian society. You’ve got your oppressive class systems, your tyrannical government, and your secret, underground resistance, and the realization to our naïve heroine that the world she’s grown up in is far worse than she imagined. At this point, the trope has become so overdone that it doesn’t get any emotion out of me anymore. Sometimes, it can creatively done, but in the case of Fourth World, it…just wasn’t. Nope.

Overall, Fourth World was an ambitious sci-fi novel, but while it scored points in the diversity department, it crumbled to pieces in most other places. 2 stars.

Sorry GIF by Michael Bolton - Find & Share on GIPHY

Fourth World is the first in the Iamos trilogy, followed by New World (book 2, 2018), and One World (book 3, 2020).

Today’s song:

Okay, Danny Elfman, I love you, but the fact that you decided not to release this is a crime. A CRIME.

That’s it for this week’s Book Review Tuesday! Have a wonderful rest of your day, and take care of yourselves!