Posted in Book Review Tuesday

Book Review Tuesday (4/20/21) – Sword in the Stars (Once & Future, #2)

Happy Tuesday, bibliophiles!

After falling in love with Once & Future two years ago, I knew I had to get my hands on book 2 as soon as possible. Unfortunately, after having to wait a year for its release, I couldn’t find it at the library or my favorite bookstore. But lucky for me, I managed to find it at Barnes & Noble over break, and I didn’t hesitate to buy a copy! While this sequel wasn’t as good as its predecessor, it was still a fantastic ending to a one-of-a-kind duology.

🗡BE WARNED! This review may contain spoilers for book 1, Once & Future, so tread lightly! 🗡

Enjoy this week’s review!

Amazon.com: Sword in the Stars: A Once & Future Novel (Once & Future, 2)  (9780316449298): McCarthy, Cori, Capetta, A. R.: Books

Sword in the Stars (Once & Future, #2) – A.R. Capetta and Cory McCarthy

My copy ft. Once & Future, a section of my bookshelf, and the same filter I use every time

A near miss has landed Ari, Merlin and their ragtag band of intergalactic knights back in time. All the way back to the Middle Ages, to be exact, the time of the very first King Arthur. There, they are faced with an impossible task: to steal the grail of King Arthur and end the Arthurian cycle once and for all. Faced with the obstacles of blending in, dodging the…shortcomings, shall we say, of the time and its people, and not messing with the canon, Ari and the others must look to the past in order to save their future.

great, thanks. — imperio

TW/CW: racism, mentions of misgendering, fantasy/sci-fi violence, colonialism, pregnancy/labor, blood, near-death experiences

Everything’s more fun when you throw your characters in space, but throwing them in the Middle Ages is…tricky. Sword in the Stars was lacking in some of the elements that I loved most about book 1, but that doesn’t mean I didn’t enjoy it. I did enjoy it, as a matter of fact. IMMENSELY!

It’s clear how much fun Capetta and McCarthy had with throwing a slew of characters suited to life in a progressive (mostly), technologically advanced future into the Middle Ages. There’s no shortage of weird, strange, and downright hilarious hijinks that ensue on their quest for the Holy Grail, and through it all, there’s nods to Arthurian legend and its many retellings aplenty. Once again, Ari and the other characters had wonderful chemistry, bouncing off of each other well while still maintaining their distinct personalities.

That being said, the Middle Ages part was also a bit of what dragged this book down for me. Coming right on the heels of a novel that was almost purely sci-fi, it didn’t quite fit with the mood that the duology tried to maintain. They do return to the future eventually, but as someone who was particularly hooked on the “King Arthur retelling in SPAAACE” part of the premise, that part was a little bit of a letdown. That’s just the raging sci-fi fan in me, I guess.

That’s where my criticism ends, really, because Sword in the Stars was just as action-packed, fast-paced, and downright fun as book 1. Daring escapes, supernatural forces, knights, space dragons, dismantling corporate greed…you want it, this duology probably has it. I laughed, I very nearly cried, and I felt myself overflowing with joy, just like I did with book 1, and man, I’m so glad this story exists.

But beyond that, what truly shone about Sword in the Stars was its message. Throughout the whole book, there’s a resonant theme of breaking free of a cycle of conformity and injustice to become your true self. The whole story is focused on individuality and changing narratives, and especially seeing as it’s a cast of almost entirely queer characters and written by two queer authors, it really hit the right note in me. The Once & Future duology is lots of action and fun, for the most part, but at its heart, it’s a story of resistance. It’s a story of finding yourself. It’s a story of defining yourself in the face of a world that wants you to do the opposite. And for that, this novel was truly special. I’m firm in the belief that this book will save somebody’s life someday. And I don’t say that for every book.

All in all, a phenomenal ending to an action-packed, inclusive, sci-fi fantasy duology.

And bonus points for the Prince references, the Monty Python quote at the beginning, and successfully breaking the fourth wall.

4.75 stars, rounded up to 5!

Sword in the Stars is the final book in the Once & Future duology, preceded by Once & Future. A.R. Capetta is also the author of Echo After Echo and The Lost Coast, and Cory McCarthy is also the author of Now a Major Motion Picture and You Were Here.

Today’s song:

This has a combination of Sparklehorse and Fruit Bats vibes and I am HERE for it

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

Posted in Books

Pride Month Book Recommendations, Week 3: Contemporary

Happy Thursday, bibliophiles!

As far as LGBTQ+ YA literature goes, contemporary is the genre where such representation is most common, I think. Contemporary novels were where many people were first introduced to LGBTQ+ themes and issues, and as a genre that sticks to the more realistic side of things, it’s a straightforward vehicle for representation.

But with such a plethora of books, there’s a wider variety. So, I tried to compile some of my favorites from this genre, and the ones that stood out the most in the genre.

Let’s begin, shall we?

PRIDE MONTH RECS, WEEK 3: CONTEMPORARY

  1. I Wish You All the Best, Mason Deaver
Amazon.com: I Wish You All the Best eBook: Deaver, Mason: Kindle Store

LGBTQ+ REPRESENTATION: protagonist is nonbinary (they/them), nonbinary side character

MY RATING: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

A heartrwenching and poignant novel. Ben’s journey to realizing their identity as a nonbinary person is beautiful and simultaneously heartbreaking to watch unfold. (Trigger warnings: LGBTQ+phobia, being thrown out of the house)

2. Under Shifting Stars, Alexandra Latos

LGBTQ+ representation: One of the protagonists is genderfluid, nonbinary love interest

MY RATING: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

I can’t wait for this one to be released so that you all can experience this wondrousness! A beautiful and relatable novel about sisterhood, grief, and exploring one’s gender identity and sexuality.

3. Queens of Geek, Jen Wilde

Amazon.com: Queens of Geek eBook: Wilde, Jen: Kindle Store

LGBTQ+ REPRESENTATION: Bisexual protagonist, wlw relationship

MY RATING: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

A wonderful and diverse story about love, fame, and the uniting–and dividing–power of fandom.

4. The Art of Being Normal, Lisa Williamson

The Art of Being Normal: A Novel by Lisa Williamson, Paperback ...

LGBTQ+ REPRESENTATION: Trans woman protagonist, trans man side character

MY RATING: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Though it wasn’t without its flaws, The Art of Being Normal is a poignant exploration of grappling with gender identity and sexuality as an adolescent.

5. Summer of Salt, Katrina Leno

Amazon.com: Summer of Salt (9780062493682): Leno, Katrina: Books

LGBTQ+ REPRESENTATION: Lesbian protagonist, aro/ace side character, wlw relationship

MY RATING: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Even though this one’s a bit more on the magical realism side (hey, it’s shelved as contemporary on Goodreads though…right? Right?), this is, without a doubt, a gorgeously written novel and one of my favorite YA love stories.

6. Echo After Echo, Amy Rose Capetta

Amazon.com: Echo After Echo eBook: Capetta, Amy Rose: Kindle Store

LGBTQ+ REPRESENTATION: Protagonist is a lesbian, bisexual love interest, wlw relationship

MY RATING: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Another winner from Amy Rose Capetta! Not only is it a wonderful love story, it’s also a fascinating mystery set in the world of the theater.

TELL ME WHAT YOU THINK IN THE COMMENTS! WHAT ARE YOUR FAVORITE CONTEMPORARY LGTBQ+ NOVELS?

Happy Pride Day GIF by pikaole - Find & Share on GIPHY

As always, Queer Books for Teens is a wonderful resource if you want to find more LGBTQ+ YA literature.

Today’s song:

MORE SOCCER MOMMY MORE SOCCER MOMMY MORE SOCCER MO–

(Also, Phoebe Bridgers released her new album a day early! Expect an album review next week…😄)

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