Posted in Book Review Tuesday

Book Review Tuesday (5/3/22) – Beyond the Ruby Veil

Happy Tuesday!

Beyond the Ruby Veil wasn’t a high priority for me, but I figured I would check it out and give it a chance despite the bad-to-mediocre reviews. However, when I read it, I found the result to be lukewarm and underdeveloped—all the potential in the world without the execution to pull it through.

Enjoy this week’s review!

Beyond the Ruby Veil – Mara Fitzgerald

In Occhia, all of the water comes from a creature called the watercrea; in order for the city to be hydrated, it demands sacrifices in the form of the townspeople who show an omen mark on their skin. For centuries, all of the citizens of Occhia have obeyed. But Emmanuela Ragno has hid her omen for years, evading death until now. When her omen is exposed at her arranged wedding ceremony, she kills the watercrea, effectively cutting off Occhia’s entire water supply.

To return water to Occhia, Emmanuela must venture into a secretive neighboring kingdom that seems to have everything that Occhia doesn’t have. But behind the veneer of luxury is something far more sinister, and Emmanuela will do whatever it takes to take back her city’s water.

TW/CW: blood, violence, murder, torture, body horror

Describing a book with the words “queer,” “dark,” and “fantasy” are always enticing. Do I love queer books? I’m bisexual, of course I do! Do I love dark books? Yes indeed. Do I like fantasy books? Also yes. And yet, a good half of the books described as “queer, dark fantasy” end up being disappointing for me (also see: Ruinsong, Beyond the Black Door…maybe the problem is books with “Beyond” in the title?). I’m sad to say that the case was the same for Beyond the Ruby Veil.

If I had to describe Beyond the Ruby Veil in one word, it would be underdeveloped. I’ll give Fitzgerald one thing—the premise is still intriguing. Suffice to say, there isn’t a whole lot else to it. The bones of a story were there: a good start on worldbuilding, history, and a general direction for the plot. However, the muscle of the book was completely missing. It felt like a first draft, one where Fitzgerald hadn’t fully fleshed out the book and instead published the start of a story.

At least the one part of the book that I wasn’t supposed to like worked—Emmanuela. One of the major selling points of Beyond the Ruby Veil that I’ve seen was of her as an unlikeable anthero; unlike most of the book, I did like this part. Emmanuela was appropriately headstrong, rash, and impulsive, and those traits made for a character that wasn’t likable as a person but fun to follow as a character.

However, she wasn’t enough to carry the rest of the plot, and the few characters that showed up didn’t pick up her slack in the slightest. Ale wasn’t much more than a stereotypically clumsy sidekick, and he served almost no purpose whatsoever. Verene was one of the only other characters that mattered in the story, and she was only introduced at about the halfway mark; even then, her only personality trait was that she was alluringly secretive. As fun as Emmanuela was, Fitzgerald doesn’t give much to work with as a reader, making for a story that felt filled with holes.

The plot itself didn’t hold much water (no pun intended) either. After the botched wedding ceremony and the killing of the watercrea, it was mostly just Emmanuela and Ale bumbling around a foreign kingdom and trying to find clues. Not only did Emmanuela seem to get away with a lot more than was realistic (there wasn’t any context on how she enters this completely foreign kingdom and is immediately able to attempt and pull off the accent AND subsequently speak to the palace?? And get an audience with The Heart?? In a relatively short amount of time?? HUH??), but after the halfway mark, there wasn’t a whole lot of plot to speak of. There’s the beginning of…well, I won’t quite call it romance since there wasn’t much other than heavily implied context to hint at it instead of, y’know, actual chemistry, but in the midst of a book that already felt like a first draft, it felt even more like an afterthought than everything else did. And that’s saying something. Like I said: with a lot of polishing, this could’ve been a fascinating book, but it didn’t have much to sustain it—even in a book that’s less than 300 pages long.

All in all, a book with an ambitious premise that ultimately suffered from a lack of fleshing-out in all departments. 2 stars.

Beyond the Ruby Veil is Mara Fitzgerald’s first novel, and it is the first book in the Beyond the Ruby Veil series. This book is succeeded by Into the Midnight Void.

Today’s song:

first heard this in 6th grade, forgot about it for years, and just remembered it last week…good stuff

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

Book Review Tuesday (4/19/22) – Any Way the Wind Blows (Simon Snow, #3)

Happy Tuesday, bibliophiles!

Carry On has been a favorite book of mine for years. Ever since book 3 came out back in July, I’ve been trying to find it in the bookstore and buy it. I went to Barnes & Noble recently and finally got my hands on it (the exclusive edition!! with the beautiful endpapers!! 😭), and although it wasn’t as strong as book 1 was, Rainbow Rowell’s endearing writing and characters continue to please.

Now, TREAD LIGHTLY! This review may contain spoilers for the first two books, Carry On and Wayward Son. If you haven’t read either and intend on doing so, read at your own risk!

Enjoy this week’s review!

Any Way the Wind Blows (Simon Snow, #3) – Rainbow Rowell

After their trip to America, Simon, Baz, and Penny are called back to Watford. A new threat has arisen that threatens to upend the World of Mages, and despite his hesitance to be magickal, Simon is once again pulled into the fray. All the while, Simon still has personal questions left unanswered—if he leaves the World of Mages, what will happen to his relationship with Baz?

Simon’s friends are no better off; Penny has smuggled Shephard into England, and now must grapple with a demonic curse to save his life, and Baz’s family has drawn him back into the vampiric fray. Was America the last time that they were together, or will they remain the tight-knit group that they once were?

TW/CW: blood, animal death, cults/emotional manipulation, surgery, sexual content

I’m now reminded of why I had a crush on Baz when I was 14—how can you resist a sexy vampire who plays Kishi Bashi on his violin and sings Beatles songs to his two-year-old brother to help him go to sleep? Specifically THE WHITE ALBUM Beatles songs?? I’m getting all sappy at the thought of him singing “While My Guitar Gently Weeps”… 😭

I’ve been a fan of Rainbow Rowell for years, and Carry On is easily my favorite of her books. Wayward Son was fun, but it felt sloppy, and I hoped Any Way the Wind Blows would pick up the mess it made. However, this book had the weakest plot of the three; that being said, that doesn’t mean I didn’t enjoy it—it’s Rainbow Rowell, so no matter the plot, it’s guaranteed that I’ll still adore the writing and characters.

Let me get my major complaint out of the way first—the plot. As much as I love Carry On, I stand by the argument that it should’ve been a standalone from the start. Wayward Son, even though I enjoyed it, was still unnecessary at worst, and it feels like Any Way the Wind Blows exists almost solely to tie up all the loose ends from the former. The concept of the whole Chosen One cult with Smith was an interesting premise, but it wasn’t nearly enough to carry over 600 pages. There are several plots going on in the book, but all of them felt like sideplots; maybe it’s the fact that all of the POV characters were separated to some degree, but all of them—even the main plot—came off like borderline afterthoughts.

As weak as the plot was, though, I will always love Rainbow Rowell’s writing! She has such a way with words that not many other authors have; every emotion feels genuine, her worlds are fleshed out, and her prose never fails to be endearing and poignant. It wasn’t enough to completely stitch up the plot problem, but I always enjoy reading her books.

Going off of that, part of what makes her writing so special is her characters. I already adored all of the gang™️ from this series, and they were just as delightful as they were in the previous books. Simon, Baz, and Penny are all so dear to me (Baz most of all), and everything that I loved about them from the previous books shone through just as much in Any Way the Wind Blows. These books have always explored how complicated relationships can be through the eyes of Simon and Baz, but I loved how Rowell didn’t hesitate to explore some of the messier sides of love; their relationship is far from perfect, but through it all, it felt messy in a refreshingly genuine way. The conflict felt realistic and wasn’t neatly wrapped in a bow, but through it all, Simon and Baz came through it. As abrupt as the ending was, I’m glad that their relationship got mended in the end. Gotta love my Snowbaz 🥹

All in all, the weakest addition to the Simon Snow trilogy, but still a sweet ending for the characters I love. 3.75 stars, rounded up to 4!

Any Way the Wind Blows is the third and final book in the Simon Snow trilogy, preceded by Carry On (book 1) and Wayward Son (book 2). Rainbow Rowell is also the author of Eleanor & Park, Fangirl, Pumpkinheads, and several other books for young adults and teens. She also wrote the 2017 run on Marvel’s Runaways.

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

Book Review Tuesday (3/15/22) – Love in the Time of Global Warming

Happy Tuesday, bibliophiles!

As a bi person, I’ve been on the hunt for more bisexual representation in literature for years. Love in the Time of Global Warming popped up on a whole bunch of lists of YA books with bisexual characters, and the premise intrigued me, so I gave it a go. This one has a lot of bad reviews, but to me, it was a beautifully-written and inventive retelling of The Odyssey!

Enjoy this week’s review!

Love in the Time of Global Warming – Francesca Lia Block

Human civilization has been reduced to its barest remnants after a cataclysmic event known only as the Earth Shaker set the apocalypse in motion. After her house is raided by mysterious men, Pen sets out into the wasteland of what was once Los Angeles in search of her missing mother and brother. Along the way, she meets a cast of strange, lost characters who join her on her quest. But their path is plagued by giants and mad scientists, and they must search the ends of the Earth for what they seek.

TW/CW: sexual content, descriptions of death/murder, past descriptions of abuse/homophobia, use of a trans character’s deadname

Bonus points have been preemptively awarded for the TV on the Radio reference. To Francesca Lia Block—if you see this review, I’m just here to tell you that you have great taste.

I initially picked up this book because I’d seen it show up on loads of lists of YA books with bisexual protagonists, and now that I’ve read it, I’m so glad I did! Most of the reviews I’ve read aren’t too positive, but for the most part, I enjoyed this one quite a bit.

A lot of the complaints about Love in the Time of Global Warming were centered around Block’s writing style. I can usually get on board with more flowery, dreamlike prose, and that’s certainly how Block seems to write. I loved her lush descriptions; the hazy, mystic atmosphere of it made it feel all the more like a retelling, especially one of The Odyssey. Even though Love in the Time of Global Warming was strictly dystopia/sci-fi at its core, Block’s writing gave it a magical feel, which, for the story she was trying to tell, meshed perfectly.

As far as retellings go, Love in the Time of Global Warming was loose, but there were still enough callbacks to The Odyssey to make it feel like a retelling. Pen’s quest did have an odyssey-like feel to it, and some of the parallels (Circe, the cyclops, etc.) were clear, although the addition of Hex reading The Odyssey as they went along felt borderline ham-handed, as though to say “guys! GUYS! Guess what!!! This!!! Is a retelling!!!!1!!” However, Love in the Time of Global Warming was inventive in its brand of apocalypse, which made the setting—and the feel of the retelling itself—a lot more enjoyable. Having giants created by a mad scientist gave the book a fantastical feel without being a fantasy book, which I found to be a very creative move. With Block’s descriptive prose added to that, it made for a very creative retelling.

Another highlight for me was the fact that all of the main characters were casually LGBTQ+! It’s always great to see lots of queer representation in a story, and there is no shortage of queer and trans characters in Love in the Time of Global Warming. Plus, I loved having a brave, unique heroine like Pen be bisexual—always warms your heart to see yourself represented, isn’t it? Certainly warmed mine. Plus, I loved the little jab that they have about being told all their life that they’d be going to hell for being queer, and yet it’s them—not the homophobes—who survive the apocalypse. Call it comeuppance.

However, though most of the LGBTQ+ representation was positive and well-written, I do have a few issues with how parts of Hex, a trans man, was written. Take this as you will, since I’m cis, but there were definitely some parts that rubbed me the wrong way. After Hex comes out as trans, his deadname and old pronouns are used…frequently? Most of it’s in flashbacks, but even still, it’s generally accepted that using a trans person’s deadname and old pronouns after they’ve come out as trans is not the most considerate thing to do. I doubt there was any harm meant by it, but it was a little uncomfortable that Block wrote him this way.

All in all, though, a strange, dreamlike, and unapologetically queer retelling of The Odyssey. 4 stars!

Love in the Time of Global Warming is the first book in Francesca Lia Block’s Love in the Time of Global Warming duology, followed by The Island of Excess Love. Block is also the author of Weetzie Bat, The Rose and the Beast: Fairy Tales Retold, Echo, Witch Baby, and several other books for teens and young adults.

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

Book Review Tuesday (8/10/21) – The Darkness Outside Us

Happy Tuesday, bibliophiles!

Last week, before my trip, I trawled the Kindle library for books to read to tide me over until I could get to the books I bought. I’d had it on hold at the library for a bit, but I realized that it was available on the ebook library, so I checked it out immediately. I was initially excited for it, but I had no idea what I was truly in for; The Darkness Outside Us is more than just a thriller or a sci-fi romance – it’s a heartrending and harrowing exploration of love and grief on a cosmic scale.

Enjoy this week’s review!

The Darkness Outside Us by Eliot Schrefer

The Darkness Outside Us – Eliot Schrefer

After waking up from a strange, deep sleep, Ambrose finds himself on a spaceship with a critical mission – rescuing his older sister, Minerva, who is trapped on a base on Titan. His ship, the Coordinated Endeavor, holds infinite mysteries – it has the voice of his mother, robots with minds of their own, and secrets hidden in every corner. But the most enigmatic of all is Kodiak, his isolated shipmate from a rival country on Earth. Kodiak is bent on keeping distance between them, but when the mission’s true nature becomes clearer, their only choice is to work together.

Quiz: Ripley, Our Lady of Survival | Bookmans Entertainment Exchange

TW/CW: grief, loss of loved ones, violence, descriptions of illness, death

What can I say other than the fact that I’m truly in awe of this book?

The Darkness Outside Us started out like any other sci-fi thriller. We find Ambrose waking up and slowly realizing his surroundings, and figuring out that things about the Coordinated Endeavor are not what they seem. We witness his developing romance with Kodiak, and all the puzzle pieces seem to come together.

But trust me. Once you hit the halfway mark of the book, you may think you’ve predicted all the plots twists (I thought I did…), BUT YOU WON’T. Just as quickly as everything seems to go disastrously wrong, the real plot starts to come together. I don’t want to spoil anything for this novel, but it’s hard to say anything about what happens next without revealing the last half of the plot, but I’ll try my best. It’s better if you go in blind about this one.

For the first half of the book, I thought that I’d give it a 3-3.5 star rating; the characters were decent, the queer enemies-to-lovers romance was well-done, and the mounting tension was well-written. But the further I got on, the surer I became of my 5-star rating. The Darkness Outside Us is far more than what it was marketed as; yes, there’s romance, and yes, there’s a mystery to be solved in ✨space✨, but there is truly so much more than meets the eye. It’s not every day that I truly feel like a novel is a work of art, but this one was. It’s a testament to life itself, appreciating every minute of it while you still can, and the power of love that binds us and shapes us.

We don’t get enough sci-fi/fantasy novels that delve into these core human emotions quite like The Darkness Outside Us did. And if I’m being honest, I think sci-fi can sometimes be an even better vehicle to explore these kinds of themes. With the dizzyingly cosmic scale that this novel takes place over, there’s a unique opportunity to show the transcendental power that love can span over many years. There’s a bleakness to everything, and most of the last half was heartbreaking to read, what with all the grains of hope that were spread throughout being overturned and crushed in seconds, but Schrefer leaves us with a hopeful ending that nearly brought me to tears.

I’ve said several times that part of what makes a good sci-fi is that it makes you think. The Darkness Outside Us fits the bill in every sense of the word. I had…well [ahem] several existential crises over the course of the last half, but in all seriousness, this novel is deeply introspective and philosophical. It’s all about reckoning with our past choices and the choices of others, of breaking free of cycles that have controlled you for millennia (literally), and the enduring power of love and the complicated nature of relationships. I ended up staying up a *little bit later* than I intended to because I just HAD to see what happened, but all that time, I had the space to ruminate about life. Needless to say, this one had me staring at the ceiling and pondering the meaning of life until I fell asleep, despite my attempts to distract myself.

In short, I don’t use the word “masterpiece” lightly, but The Darkness Outside Us truly is one. It’s an ode to love to light the way in the darkness and a musing on the nature of love, relationships, grief, and choices. It’s haunting, heartbreaking, and nothing short of immense in its scale, and will surely leave you thinking about all manner of things after reading it. It’s the book equivalent of Spiritualized’s “Ladies And Gentlemen We Are Floating in Space” – “I will love you ’till I die/And I will love you all the time/So please put your sweet hand in mine/We’ll float in space and drift in time.” Books like this don’t come around often, so pick this one up. You won’t regret it. 5 stars!

cyber-black | Cyberpunk, Cyberpunk anime, Cyberpunk art

The Darkness Outside Us is a standalone, but Eliot Schrefer is also the author of the Ape Quarter (Endangered, Threatened, Rescued, and Orphaned), The School for Dangerous Girls, The Deadly Sister, Glamorous Disasters, and many more novels for young adults and children.

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

Book Review Tuesday (8/3/21) – The Fell of Dark

Happy Tuesday, bibliophiles!

I’m in between library hauls and books I bought for a short trip, so I found this one on my Kindle library. It had been on my TBR for a while, and I immediately checked it out when I saw that it was available! And overall? The Fell of Dark wasn’t perfect, but man, it was so much fun.

Enjoy this week’s review!

Amazon.com: The Fell of Dark (9781250155849): Roehrig, Caleb: Books

The Fell of Dark – Caleb Roehrig

August is fed up with his small town of Fulton Heights for more reasons than one. There’s the usual trapped feeling of it all, the urge to head somewhere else as soon as he graduates high school…but it’s also a hotspot for vampires.

All August wants to do is pass algebra and get into art school in a few years. But when a charming vampire arrives at his school with a cryptic omen, he’s thrown into a centuries-long conflict between vampires, vampire-hunters, and other supernatural forces that may cost him his life. August may now mean the difference between a peaceful world and one ruled by vampires – but will he learn how to stop this cataclysm in time?

spidergirls: what we do in the shadows (2014) dir.... : now i just want  llamas
it’s an endless cycle: I find a vampire book, and I pepper the review with What We Do in the Shadows GIFs, and so on

TW/CW: graphic violence, gore, blood, near-death situations, murder

I kind of wish I’d read this closer to Halloween, but I feel like I always say that with any kind of paranormal book that I read in any month other than October. But here we are in August, and I still had so much fun with The Fell of Dark! Not without its flaws, but such a wild ride filled with vampires and the undead.

The Fell of Dark falls on more of the humorous/campy side of paranormal books, and that’s not a complaint from me in the slightest. There’s all sorts of things for fans of the genre to love – you’ve got vampires, witches, angels, dark magic, and so much more. Add in some classic teenage angst and awkward first love, and you’ve got this book. (And plus – anything where a resurrected/vampire Rasputin shows up already has my attention. There’s never a dull moment as soon as he shows up. I blame Hellboy for this principle.) And to make things even better, it’s unapologetically queer! August, our protagonist, is gay, and we have a pansexual love interest and several lesbian side characters! There’s some casual POC rep as well (the two aforementioned lesbian side characters are Latina and Asian, respectively), which I loved as well.

As far as the characters go, they tended to be on the over-exaggerated side, but I still loved a fair amount of them. August himself wasn’t terribly likable – he tended to be a little self-centered and constantly yelling “bUT wHAt aBouT mE?” at everybody else, but part of it’s…understandable, strangely. I should probably cut him some slack, given everything that happens to him throughout the book, but he still wasn’t the most understanding or reflective person. And Jude…Jude was the classic “brooding and seductive bad boy vampire who wears all black and smokes cigarettes constantly” character, BUT IT TOTALLY WORKED. He was probably my favorite – he was just such a fun character, and plus, for once said classic brooding vampire ISN’T STRAIGHT! DOES IT GET ANY BETTER THAN THAT? A lot of the characters in The Fell of Dark seemed to poke some light fun at some vampire book cliches and characters, which I wholeheartedly enjoyed.

Most of the time, I despise love triangles with every cell of my being, and…I have mixed feelings about the one in this book. I’m glad that August didn’t end up with Jude or Gunnar, but…it’s still weird both ways? It’s awesome that we have a mlm love triangle, but…both love interests are WAY older than him (what with them both being vampires), and August just…goes with it? I get it, they both seem like they would be reasonably cute, but that’s still veeeeeeeeery weird. Weirder still, Jude and Gunnar are each other’s ex-boyfriends, which makes it…all the more complicated, so there’s that. But August doesn’t end up with either of them, which…I can live with that. So that was one of the weirder love triangles I’ve read in a book.

As for the worldbuilding/paranormal aspects, I also have mixed feelings, but I also liked most of it. Everything about Fulton Heights’ culture and procedures surrounding vampires was very well developed, as well as the politics of all the different secret societies (both of vampires and vampire hunters). However, when it came to the final battle, it felt like Roehrig bit off a little more than he could chew. All of the paranormal elements that I mentioned before came to an explosive finale, but at that point, there were a few too many elements to keep up with, and all of them seemed to resolve themselves a little too quickly. I found myself skimming that final battle a bit, but it felt like there were way too many elements all shoved into the last few chapters. It’s like when you get a Build-a-Bear and the person working there fills it with a little too much stuffing, and it looks like it’s going to break a few seams when you get it back, but it’s still nice and soft. (Okay, that was a really drawn-out metaphor, but it made a little bit of sense, right? )

All in all, a vampire novel that delivered loads of supernatural fun, but may have gone a little too far about just how much to riff off and add in. 3.75 stars, rounded up to 4!

Pin by Erin Fischer on Vampires | Bat, Gif, Transformations

The Fell of Dark is a standalone, but Caleb Roehrig is also the author of several other novels, including Death Prefers Blondes, White Rabbit, and Last Seen Leaving.

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 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 Goodreads Monday

Goodreads Monday (4/12/21) – A Dark and Hollow Star

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.

I found this one via Edelweiss and have seen several of my fellow bloggers give it amazing reviews, so I’m so excited to read this one! Plus, what’s not to love about a queer urban fantasy?

Let’s begin, shall we?

GOODREADS MONDAY (4/12/21) – A DARK AND HOLLOW STAR by Ashley Shuttleworth

Advanced Review: A Dark and Hollow Star by Ashley Shuttleworth | Fangirlish

Blurb from Goodreads:

Choose your player.

The “ironborn” half-fae outcast of her royal fae family.
A tempestuous Fury, exiled to earth from the Immortal Realm and hellbent on revenge.
A dutiful fae prince, determined to earn his place on the throne.
The prince’s brooding guardian, burdened with a terrible secret.


For centuries, the Eight Courts of Folk have lived among us, concealed by magic and bound by law to do no harm to humans. This arrangement has long kept peace in the Courts—until a series of gruesome and ritualistic murders rocks the city of Toronto and threatens to expose faeries to the human world.

Four queer teens, each who hold a key piece of the truth behind these murders, must form a tenuous alliance in their effort to track down the mysterious killer behind these crimes. If they fail, they risk the destruction of the faerie and human worlds alike. If that’s not bad enough, there’s a war brewing between the Mortal and Immortal Realms, and one of these teens is destined to tip the scales. The only question is: which way?

Wish them luck. They’re going to need it. 

So why do I want to read this?

Secretos.. Familia... Venganza.. Poder.. Por siempre y Para siempre #detodo  # De Todo # amreading # books #… | Magic aesthetic, Elemental powers, Fire  manipulation
Challenge for myself: go through every single post and do a pushup every time I find a Hellboy gif

I think we’re all sick of the “x and y z”/”x of y and z” titles, but I’ll make a happy exception for this one, because MAN, it sounds AMAZING.

It doesn’t seem like there’s a huge market for urban fantasy in the world of YA, but this sounds like a welcome addition to the pantheon! There’s also a wide variety of LGBTQ+ main characters – according to the author, there are lesbian, questioning/later pansexual, bisexual, gay, and genderfluid characters! [EXCITEMENT INTENSIFIES]

It’s also great to see an urban fantasy that isn’t set in the U.S. or the U.K.; I haven’t run into a lot of Canadian literature/books set in Canada, so it’ll be fascinating to see what Toronto looks like under a grittier, fantasy lens.

And the synopsis is giving me all the found family vibes, and I’m HOOKED.

painting peaceful forest animation animated gif photoshop stream Digital  Painting animated painting elaine chen eec10 •

Today’s song:

so uhhhh guess who just listened to In Rainbows in its entirety

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

Posted in Book Review Tuesday

Book Review Tuesday (12/29/20)–Cemetery Boys

Happy Tuesday, bibliophiles, and welcome to the last Book Review Tuesday of the year!

I figured this book would be a good note to end a year of reviews on, judging from how much hype it’s gotten this year. I put it on hold a few months back (sometime in the summer, I think?) and it just came into the library a few weeks ago. It’s got a super high average rating on Goodreads (4.41 at present) and no shortage of glowing reviews, but although it didn’t live up to all the hype for me, it was still a cute story of ghosts and #OwnVoices queer joy.

Enjoy this week’s review!

Cemetery Boys by Aiden Thomas

Cemetery Boys–Aiden Thomas

Yadriel’s conservative family doesn’t accept him as a trans boy, but he remains determined to prove himself to them–by any means possible. His means? Summoning the spirit of Miguel, his murdered cousin. Problem is, Miguel isn’t the spirit he summons–by accident, he summons Julian Diaz, his high school’s troublemaker. Julian joins forces with Yadriel and his best friend Maritza to find out how he died–but they might uncover something more sinister in the process.

Beetlejuice Beetlejuice Beetlejuice GIFs - Get the best GIF on GIPHY

This one was easily one of the most hyped YA books of this year, and I was definitely excited for it, even if I tried not to get my expectations too high. I wouldn’t say it was a disappointment for me, but it didn’t live up to the mountain of hype for me. However, that doesn’t mean I didn’t like it, not by any stretch of the imagination.

Let’s start off with the good stuff. First off, the representation! I loved seeing the variety of Latinx representation and culture (and I was especially excited to see that Julian was Colombian-American!), as well as the diversity of gender and sexuality, especially with Yadriel. For some reason, I see hardly any trans boys in YA literature, but I love that we have this fantastic #OwnVoices rep in Cemetery Boys!

And beyond that, this novel managed to be appropriately spooky and lighthearted at the same time. There was definitely a kind of 80’s paranormal vibe to it, which I really enjoyed. I loved the intricacies of the brujx culture, as well as all of the individual laws of what a ghost can/cannot do. It’s always interesting to see each author’s different takes on the limits of ghosts and spirits. Never a dull moment.

However, Cemetery Boys wasn’t without its flaws. My main problem was the writing itself–it seemed to lean too much on telling as opposed to showing, and it felt a bit too bare-bones for my taste. Maybe it’s just me. And even though I love the representation, Yadriel wasn’t the most likable of protagonists, either–he came across as rather entitled and whiny, for me. A bit self-centered.

Also, I feel like there was an opportunity to discuss some of the sexism in Yadriel’s conservative family; I get that the point of the whole “stay behind with the women” scene was to highlight how much of a transphobic jerk Yadriel’s dad was, but especially seeing that Maritza has a significant role in the book, I feel like that could have been addressed instead of ignored completely. Thomas did a great job of highlighting aspects of trans life and tackling transphobia, but there was definitely a missed opportunity to challenge some of the present sexism.

Most of my other issues were more nit-picky though; Yadriel’s dad changed his mind about Yadriel a *bit* too quickly for realism, but honestly? It’s what we need. And you know why? Because queer people need happy endings too. (@ Netflix please tell me you hear me) And Cemetery Boys was the perfect kind of feel-good story of trans joy.

All in all, a feel-good, #OwnVoices tale that struggled in the writing and protagonist department, but made up for some of it with LGBTQ+/Latinx representation and a lighthearted paranormal vibe. 3.5 stars!

Magic Forest Night GIF by Alexandra Dvornikova - Find & Share on GIPHY

Cemetery Boys is a standalone (and Thomas’ debut), but they are also the author of the forthcoming retelling Lost the Never Woods, slated to arrive in March 2021.

Today’s song:

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

Posted in Books

Pride Month Book Recommendations, Week 4: Historical Fiction

Happy Thursday, bibliophiles!

This week is the final week that I’ll be doing these recommendations, but no matter the month, I’ll always be recommending LGBTQ+ books, don’t you worry. 🏳️‍🌈

Historical fiction isn’t a genre that I usually delve into, but in the genre, I’ve found quite a few gems. If done well, historical fiction can be a wonderful insight and perspective into another time period, and books that can immerse us in the past more than any textbook ever can. With LGBTQ+ historical fiction in particular, it can give us insight on events that most textbooks don’t usually cover (looking at you, APUSH textbook…I found a whopping ONE mention of the LGBTQ+ community. ONE. IN THE ENTIRE TEXTBOOK. Granted, we had to stop at the 1950’s because of the COVID-19 situation, but still…).

So let’s begin, shall we?

PRIDE MONTH RECS, WEEK 4: HISTORICAL FICTION

  1. Like A Love Story, Abdi Nazemian
Amazon.com: Like a Love Story (9780062839367): Nazemian, Abdi: Books

LGBTQ+ REPRESENTATION: Two out of the three protagonists are gay, mlm relationship, several gay side characters

TIME PERIOD: 1989-1990 (AIDS Crisis)

MY RATING: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

I know I blab about this one quite a lot, but quite frankly, this is easily the best historical fiction novel I’ve ever read. Period. A major tear-jerker, to be sure, but worth every bout of sobbing, 100%.

2. Everything Grows, Aimee Herman

Amazon.com: Everything Grows: A Novel eBook: Herman, Aimee: Kindle ...

LGBTQ+ REPRESENTATION: Lesbian protagonist, bisexual love interest, trans woman side character, gay side character

TIME PERIOD: 1993

MY RATING: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️.5

A grossly underrated, poignant, and relatable novel about realizing your true self and discovering your identity.

3. Loki: Where Mischief Lies, Mackenzi Lee

Amazon.com: Loki: Where Mischief Lies (9781368022262): Lee ...

LGBTQ+ REPRESENTATION: Pansexual/Genderfluid protagonist, gay side character, queer relationship

SET IN: 19th Century (London, specifically)

MY RATING: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

I know what you’re probably thinking. “Why’d you put this in the historical fiction category?” And aside from the fact that I don’t read the genre as much, a good portion of the novel, though it leans more towards the fantasy/mythology side, is set in London in the 1800’s. Plus, Loki. Can’t go wrong with Loki, now can we?

Loki Tom Hiddleston GIF - Loki TomHiddleston ShakeHead - Discover ...

4. Pulp, Robin Talley

Amazon.com: Pulp eBook: Talley, Robin: Kindle Store

LGBTQ+ REPRESENTATION: Both protagonists are lesbians, wlw relationship

SET IN: Alternates between 1955 and the present day (2017)

MY RATING: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

A touching tale that alternates between a closeted lesbian (and budding author) in the age of the Lavender Scare and a curious, out-and-proud lesbian in the 2010’s.

5. Ziggy, Stardust and Me, James Brandon

Ziggy, Stardust and Me by James Brandon: 9780525517641 ...

LGBTQ+ REPRESENTATION: Both protagonists are gay, mlm relationship

SET IN: 1973 (TW: Conversion therapy)

MY RATING: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

I talk a lot about this one as well, but honestly, what more could you want from an LGBTQ+ coming of age story centering around a boy who idolizes David Bowie? IT’S DAVID BOWIE!

trustmeimthetrickster: “ David Bowie interviewed by Russell Harty ...

As always, Queer Books for Teens is a wonderful resource if you’d like to find more LGBTQ+ recommendations and books to read.

TELL ME WHAT YOU THINK! HAVE YOU READ ANY OF THESE NOVELS? WHAT ARE YOUR FAVORITE LGBTQ+ HISTORICAL FICTION NOVELS?

Latest Gay Pride GIFs | Gfycat

Today’s song:

This one’s been coming on my shuffle in the car lately. Never fails to make me smile…

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

Posted in Books

Pride Month Book Recommendations, Week 2: Fantasy

Happy Thursday, bibliophiles! 🏳️‍🌈

Continuing with my Pride recommendations, I’ve decided to devote this week to fantasy novels featuring LGBTQ+ characters and themes. In times like these (and all the time), it’s incredibly important to support LGBTQ+ authors and inform yourself about the community, and literature is a vital vessel for learning about such topics, whether it’s fiction or nonfiction.

So let’s begin, shall we?

PRIDE MONTH RECS, WEEK 2: FANTASY

  1. Reign of the Fallen duology, Sarah Glenn Marsh

LGBTQ+ REPRESENTATION: Bisexual protagonist, lesbian love interest wlw relationship, several gay side characters

MY RATING: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Not only is Reign of the Fallen a fascinating and action-packed fantasy novel, it boasts one of the most accurate (personally) depictions of bisexuality in YA literature. Odessa will always have a special place in my heart.

2. Simon Snow series, Rainbow Rowell

LGBTQ+ REPRESENTATION: Both protagonists are gay, mlm relationship

MY RATING:

Based off of a Harry Potter-like fan fiction written in Fangirl, the Simon Snow series is if you took Harry Potter and made Drarry canon. Even though book 2 was a little disappointing, Simon and Baz are always wonderful.

3. The Brilliant Death, Amy Rose Capetta

Amazon.com: The Brilliant Death (9780451478443): Capetta, Amy Rose ...

LGBTQ+ REPRESENTATION: Both the protagonist and the love interest are genderfluid, queer relationship

MY RATING: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

I read this a little over a year ago, and there’s no doubt that Amy Rose Capetta is a veritable champion in the world of LGBTQ+ YA literature. The sequel to this one (and the conclusion to the duology), The Storm of Life, just came out this January, and I’m so excited to read it!

4. Girls of Paper and Fire, Natasha Ngan

Amazon.com: Girls of Paper and Fire (9780316561365): Ngan, Natasha ...

LGBTQ+ REPRESENTATION: wlw relationship

MY RATING: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Although I found book 2 to be quite disappointing, this is an immensely powerful novel, not only discussing LGBTQ+ themes, but it mainly tackles the trauma of sexual assault. Gotta love Lei and Wren. 💗

5. Mask of Shadows, Linsey Miller

Mask of Shadows (Mask of Shadows Series #1) by Linsey Miller ...

LGBTQ+ REPRESENTATION: Protagonist is genderfluid

MY RATING: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

[smacks self in forehead] I still can’t BELIEVE that I haven’t gotten around to reading Ruin of Stars (book 2), because this novel was SUCH FUN TO READ! And though I can’t speak to how good/bad the genderfluid representation is (as I’m a cisgender person), Sal’s depiction seemed both accurate and well-written.

Tell me what you think! Did you like these novels? Do you have any LGBTQ+ fantasy novels that you loved? Tell me in the comments!

Infinite Loop Rainbow GIF by CmdrKitten - Find & Share on GIPHY

As always, a great resource for finding LGBTQ+ novels is here at Queer Books for Teens, so check out their website for more great recommendations!

Today’s song:

Soccer Mommy–night swimming (demo)

Another song from her Soccer Mommy & Friends singles, this one is just as dreamlike as the original song! 🙂

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