Posted in Book Review Tuesday

Book Review Tuesday (7/12/22) – The Reckless Kind

Happy Tuesday, bibliophiles!

In my endless hunt for books with good disability rep, I found this one recommended in several places. I’m not usually one for historical fiction, but I was glad to see a disability book in a genre other than realistic fiction. To my surprise, it became a rare 5-star read for me—tender, heartfelt, and so unabashedly queer and disabled!

Enjoy this week’s review!

The Reckless Kind – Carly Heath

Norway, 1904. Even though marriage is what traditional society expects of her, Asta has no interest in marriage, and especially not in Nils, the rude boy her mother has set her up with. Her mother sees a life of domesticity as her only path, but Asta is determined to carve her own way. After Nils’ recklessness cements her wish to not marry, she runs away with her two friends, Gunnar and Erlend. They make a life caring for Gunnar’s family farm, but with the money running out and the rest of their village against them, it will take all of their strength to create their own destinies.

TW/CW (from Carly Heath, inside book): ableism, misogyny, homophobia, xenophobia, suicidal ideations, violence, descriptions of injury, references to alcoholism, abuse, and self-harm

what if 😳 I melted down a priceless family heirloom 😳😳 and made it into a prosthetic arm for you 😳😳😳 (and we were both boys)

I picked up The Reckless Kind for the promise of queer and disabled rep, but I didn’t expect it to become a 2022 favorite of mine so quickly! It’s rare that I enjoy historical fiction this much, but this novel was a success on every front imaginable.

The diversity of The Reckless Kind is what drew me in, and it was such a central and beautiful aspect of this novel! This book focuses on not one, but four characters who are disabled—Asta has Waardenburg syndrome (includes single-sided deafness), Gunnar has Brown-Séquard syndrome and has a prosthetic arm, Erlend has an anxiety disorder, and Fred, one of the secondary characters, has Post-Concussion syndrome! On top of that, Asta is asexual, Gunnar and Erlend are in an mlm relationship, and the three of them are in a queerplatonic triad! Does it get any better than that? I think not. Just what I needed as a queer, disabled reader.

Each and every aspect of said diversity is handled so thoughtfully and lovingly; you can tell from the first page just how much love and care Heath put into writing this story. Even though their traditional society looks down upon them for a number of reasons, the journey these characters take to make their own way is heartwarming to read. Everything from the special modifications on Gunnar’s car to the life they carve out for themselves on the farm is filled with such palpable determination and love that only a bunch of outsiders making their own way can make me feel. Found family trope for the win, as always.

All of that would work fantastically on its own, but it’s Heath’s characters that made The Reckless Kind truly shine. Asta was an absolute DELIGHT. Just an absolute sweetheart. Even though the world has beaten her down so much, she has this consistent spunk and contagious kindness to her that she brings everywhere she goes. I loved the way she cared for all of the animals on the farm, and her story is sure to resonate with so many. Gunnar and Erlend were equally wonderful, and they balanced each other out perfectly, what with Erlend’s theatrical charm and Gunnar’s droll, self-deprecating humor. Their relationship made me giddy more than not; I loved how Heath depicted all the messiness of relationships, as well as two characters who did their best to work with each other’s problems. All three of them together made for the recipe for a near-perfect book.

Through it all, Heath presents a story of persistence despite the odds and the love it breeds between outsiders. All three of the characters faced parents, peers, and others who shunned them for parts of themselves, but this book was all about self-love and living in a world that doesn’t love you. It’s fiercely queer and disabled, and it’s the perfect story for anyone who has ever felt like the world is against them.

All in all, a tender, powerful, and heartwarming story of disability, queerness, and making your own way that quickly found its way to my 2022 favorites. 5 stars!

The Reckless Kind is a standalone and Carly Heath’s debut novel.

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!

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Posted in Book Tags

Queer Book Tag 🏳️‍🌈

Happy Monday, bibliophiles!

I figured I’d do another book tag for pride month, and this one looked like so much fun! I found this one over at Laura @ The Corner of Laura, and the tag was originally created by Anja Xuan.

Let’s begin, shall we?

🏳️‍🌈QUEER BOOK TAG🏳️‍🌈

QUEER FAVES: What’s your favorite queer book that you’ve read this year?

I know I haven’t shut up about this one since I came back from California, but The Raven and the Reindeer is easily one of my favorite queer reads from this year so far.

LESBIAN: What’s your favorite f/f book?

On a Sunbeam is one of my favorite queer books, and probably one of my favorite books, period. One of the most beautiful graphic novels I’ve ever read, and it’s super diverse as well!

MLM: What’s your favorite achillean/mlm book?

The Darkness Outside Us has stuck with me ever since I read it last August—it’s mind-boggling, it’s heartstring-tugging, and it’s a must-read.

BISEXUAL: What’s your favorite book with a bisexual main character?

Darcy from Perfect on Paper is bisexual, and this book had some of the best bisexual rep I’ve read in ages!

TRANSGENDER: What’s your favorite book with a trans main character?

Dreadnought is a fantastic book about a trans superhero!

QUEER: What’s your favorite #ownvoices queer book?

Once & Future is tons of fun and boasts tons of diversity and queer rep!

ARO-ACE: What’s your favorite book with an aro-ace main character?

Nathaniel from Tarnished are the Stars is aro-ace, and he has an incredibly sweet coming-out scene in this book!

PANSEXUAL: What’s your favorite book with a pansexual main character?

Ciela from The Mirror Season is pansexual, and this book is just another example of how Anna-Marie McLemore never misses the mark with their books!

QPOC: What’s your favorite book with a QPOC main character?

Both of the main characters from The Mermaid, the Witch, and the Sea are QPOC, and their romance is tender and absolutely lovely!

What queer books are you looking forward to for the rest of this year and/or the next year?

I just realized that Godslayers comes out TOMORROW (!!!!), and I’m so looking forward to it after how much I loved Gearbreakers!

I TAG:

Today’s song:

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

Posted in Books

🏳️‍🌈🏳️‍⚧️YA Pride Months Recs (2022 Edition) – Fantasy🏳️‍⚧️🏳️‍🌈

Happy Saturday, bibliophiles!

Continuing with this year’s pride month recs (click here for this year’s queer YA sci-fi recs), this post’s focus is on fantasy! Some of the different books that I’ve grouped here fall into magical realism and paranormal fantasy, but they all have one thing in common: they’re all LGBTQ+! And as you read through, it’s always important to remember: don’t just diversify your reading for a month: read and uplift queer voices 24/7!

Let’s begin, shall we?

🏳️‍🌈THE BOOKISH MUTANT’S 2022 YA PRIDE MONTH RECS: FANTASY 🏳️‍🌈

The Raven and the Reindeer, T. Kingfisher

LGBTQ+ REP: Queer (bi/pan?) MC, sapphic love interest, wlw relationship

MY RATING: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️.5

A beautifully poignant retelling of “The Snow Queen” that doubles as a queer coming-of-age story. Highly recommended!

The Mermaid, the Witch, and the Sea, Maggie Tokuda-Hall

LGBTQ+ REP: Genderfluid MC, Bi/pan MC, queer relationship

MY RATING: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️.5

This isn’t the first time you’ve seen me sing praises of this book and it won’t be the last—you truly don’t want to miss it!

The Mirror Season, Anna-Marie McLemore

LGBTQ+ REP: Pansexual MC, lesbian side character/past wlw relationship, side mlm relationship

MY RATING: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️.25

A searingly beautiful tale of solidarity, accountability, and recovery from sexual assault.

Squad, Maggie Tokuda-Hall and Lisa Sterle

LGBTQ+ REP: Sapphic MC and love interest, wlw relationship

MY RATING: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️.25

Another win from Maggie Tokuda-Hall with sapphic werewolves on the hunt for rapists who’ve gone scot-free!

A Snake Falls to Earth, Darcie Little Badger

LGBTQ+ REP: Asexual MC

MY RATING: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

A witty piece of magical realism that was a delight to read from start to finish! I haven’t read or seen a whole lot of LGBTQ+ characters that are also Native American, so books like this are always a breath of fresh air.

Extasia, Clare Legrand

LGBTQ+ REP: Sapphic MC, wlw relationship

MY RATING: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️.5

(is it just me, or does the cover look sort of like young Winona Ryder?)

A haunting and gripping tale of post-apocalyptic witchcraft and mystery!

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

Today’s song:

listened to this album (great all the way through) and forgot how much I love this song

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

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 Tags

Pride Recommendations Book Tag 🏳️‍🌈

Happy Monday, bibliophiles, and more importantly, happy pride month!! 🏳️‍🌈

Sorry for the unexplained absence for about a week there—I was on vacation in California, and I had tons of fun! We were in Yosemite and then San Francisco, and I enjoyed myself in both places. It was lovely to be in San Francisco during pride month and seeing all the pride flags…having them everywhere made me so happy. 💗

Now, onto the book tag! I was tagged last pride month by the wonderful Hundreds & Thousands of Books, and the tag was originally created by Ally @ Ally Writes Things. I’m definitely going to do a pride recommendation post of my own, but since I would never turn down the opportunity to recommend queer books, I figured I’d participate in this lovely tag!

Rules

  • Tag Ally @ Ally Writes Things so I can see your recommendations!
  • Give at least one recommendation for each of the prompts below
  • If you don’t have a recommendation, talk about a book you want to read
  • Tag as many people as you want!

Let’s begin, shall we?

🏳️‍🌈PRIDE RECOMMENDATIONS BOOK TAG🏳️‍🌈

A BOOK ABOUT FRIENDSHIP

The Chandler Legacies centers around a group of unlikely friends, and I loved seeing their relationships develop over the course of the book!

A FAST-PACED BOOK

Victories Greater Than Death is a fiercely queer space opera, and if you’re looking for lots of action, this one moves at a breakneck pace!

A DIVERSE ROMANCE

Nope, I’m never gonna stop recommending Sick Kids in Love—I’m not usually a rom-com person, but this was one of the biggest standouts of my reading last year! Isabel has rheumatoid arthritis, Sasha is bisexual and has Gaucher’s disease, and both of them are Jewish! So refreshing to see not just disabled rep, but queer disabled rep!

AN UNDERRATED MEMOIR

Gender Queer is a beautiful graphic memoir about exploring gender and sexuality!

A NONFICTION OTHER THAN MEMOIR

What’s Your Pronoun?: Beyond He and She was a super fascinating read—I’d highly recommend it for anyone interested in the history of gender-neutral pronouns or linguistics in general.

A BOOK WITH FEWER THAN 10,000 RATINGS ON GOODREADS

I just read The Raven and the Reindeer while I was on vacation, and I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s a crime that this book doesn’t get as much attention. One of the best queer fairytale retellings that I’ve read recently!

A BOOK WITH AN LGBTQ+ PROTAGONIST

weeeeeeeeell, all of these books are queer, but I wanted to highlight Perfect on Paper in particular. As a bisexual woman, this is some of the best bi rep I’ve ever read!

A BOOK WITH MORE THAN 500 PAGES

Any Way the Wind Blows clocks in at a dizzying 640 pages, and while it was the weakest book of the trilogy for me, it was still worth it for Rainbow Rowell’s excellent writing and character-building.

A TRANSLATED BOOK

I haven’t read many translated books at all, and the only queer one that I can think of (Here The Whole Time) is one that I’m not a fan of, so I’ll have to leave this one blank. 🫥

BOOK YOU WANT EVERYONE TO READ

Ever since I discovered it last summer, I’ve been trying to push The Mermaid, the Witch, and the Sea on everybody that I can; it’s been so long since I’ve read a book with such beautiful themes, writing, and romance! Plus, if that doesn’t entice you—queer pirates and mermaids. Enough said.

A SHORT STORY COLLECTION

All Out features tons of great short stories from a group of amazing queer authors!

A BOOK BY A TRANS OR NONBINARY AUTHOR

Iron Widow is by a nonbinary author, and it’s a fiercely queer and feminist story of breaking free of the gender binary and and dismantling patriarchy and rape culture!

I TAG:

Today’s song:

over the moon obsessed with this right now, won’t be able to think of anything else for the next 3-5 business months

That’s it for this book tag! 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 Books

In Which I Re-Read the Smoke Thieves trilogy (Chaotic Thoughts)

Happy Thursday, bibliophiles, and happy St. Patrick’s Day! 🍀 We got dumped with snow over here last night, and we got a snow day today! So I’m sitting here in my pajamas, watching the snow slowly die down.

In last week’s Weekly Update, I mentioned that I’d be re-reading the Smoke Thieves trilogy, and I’ve kept my promise. It’s one of my favorite fantasy series, and I’ve been meaning to go back through it ever since I finally got a copy of The Demon World. (Perks of being involved with the library—getting books that go out of circulation!) So since I’ve already done full reviews of all three books, I thought I’d just compile some thoughts I had while reading each book.

Fair warning: this post will be crawling with spoilers. Sorry.

Let’s begin, shall we?

THE BOOKISH MUTANT’S THOUGHTS WHILE RE-READING THE SMOKE THIEVES TRILOGY

BOOK 1: THE SMOKE THIEVES

  • Right off the bat…I remember these books being dark, but WHOA. One of the first scenes is somebody being forced to watch a brutal execution, and…yeah, it only gets worse from there. Yeesh.
  • Also I forgot how angry March was??? It’s understandable, honestly, but this man is just THROBBING with rage
March, constantly
  • Tash!!! My demon-hunter child!!
  • And Catherine!! I liked her already, but going back and reading this books again makes me love her even more. She’s so wonderfully independent.
  • Headcanon: Catherine is bi. She’s gotta be. I know the whole joke about Tash was just that, but I just know she’s gotta be bi. Call it gaydar.
  • Also, I want to wear Catherine’s wedding dress. HHHHHGH
  • Ambrose was my least favorite character of the main five when I first read these books, and…I still stand by that. His only personality trait is that he’s got the hots for Catherine and knows he can’t have her, and it just gets tiring after a while. Meh. But nonetheless, he deserves better. Green does explore some of his grief after Tarquin gets killed (in the worst possible way…agh, brutal…), but I wish we got a more in-depth exploration of it.
  • @ SALLY GREEN CAN YOU PLEASE GIVE MARCH A BREAK P L E A S E

Overall, I had so much fun getting back into Sally Green’s detailed world! 100% holds up after about two and a half years. Same rating: 4.25 stars.

BOOK 2: THE DEMON WORLD

  • Can we appreciate how creative the concept of the Pitorian army is in terms of the hair dye allegiance concept? Gotta love it
  • “Hey there demons, it’s me, ya boy” – Tash
  • What if 😳😳😳 we slept together next to a demon’s corpse to keep warm 😳😳😳 (and we were both boys) 😳😳😳
  • The whole time I was reading the scene where Edyon, March, and Geratan are trying to jump into the demon world, all I could think of was this:
  • The whole demon world itself was super inventive!! I especially love the concept of how everybody had to communicate through touch-based telepathy—that was very creative.
  • Gonna need more of the Tash and Geratan friendship, please and thank you
  • HAHAAAAA THE FIST BUMP AFTER THEY BOTH GOT OUT OF THE DEMON WORLD
  • I completely blocked out the trial scene from my memory, but honestly, it…did drag a little. I liked seeing Catherine as the judge, but it still went on for too long, in my opinion.
  • Also, I didn’t remember Edyon being so forceful about his and March’s relationship? He gets better about it, but in the beginning, it was almost hard to read. Hey…Edyon…uh…why don’t you try…letting people make up their own minds about relationships and not…forcing them into anything…
  • Catherine wearing a suit of armor is everything
  • AGH I FORGOT ABOUT THAT CLIFFHANGER! I remembered there being a cliffhanger, but the March/Edyon situation and Tash getting trapped in the demon world ONE AFTER THE OTHER WHEW

The Demon World was originally a 5 star read for me, but I don’t feel quite the same way now. That doesn’t mean I didn’t enjoy it immensely—I did, but parts of it just didn’t do it for me the second time around (The beginning stages of Edyon and March’s relationship, the trial scene, etc.). Bumping my rating from 5 stars down to 4.5 stars, because it was still great stuff, but not quite a 5-star book anymore.

BOOK 3: THE BURNING KINGDOMS

  • Alright. Let’s talk about the cover. The fact that 3/5 of the figures are knocked over stressed me out when I first saw it, but at the same time…WHY DOES IT LOOK SO FUNNY IT JUST LOOKS LIKE SOMEONE DID THIS
  • OKAY THE PAIN WHENEVER EDYON AND MARCH THINK ABOUT EACH OTHER WHEN THEY’RE SEPARATED 😭 P A I N
  • Geratan ripping off his hat to reveal his new hair color is absolutely iconic. The right way to do it. Wish I’d thought of that freshman year when a) my hair was also dyed red (very different red though), b) my hair was short enough to cover with a hat, and c) I HAD a hat that I could’ve done it with
  • Sally Green understands the power of hundreds of brainwashed, adolescent boys. Everything with Harold and the Bull Brigade is appropriately disturbing.
  • Can we talk about Catherine’s almost-corruption arc? Sally Green executed it so well; she’s tasting power (and demon smoke) and realizing the extent of both, and it nearly makes her the same as her father—the one she vowed to not be like in the first place. For me, Catherine’s the most well-developed character in the series.
  • Forgot to mention him in the Demon World section, but Twist!! What a guy
  • Took Ambrose three whole books to realize that he and Catherine weren’t meant to be…yowch
  • I forgot how brutal and…just horrifying the battle with Harold and the boy army at Calidor was…I feel like I was tensed up for the whole scene. I have to hand it to Sally Green for making some of the most tense battle scenes I’ve ever read in any series. Right up there with the last 100 pages of Aurora’s End. At least Harold got his comeuppance.
  • THE FIRST PART OF THE EPILOGUE?? WHERE MARCH AND EDYON ARE FINALLY BACK TOGETHER AGAIN AND THEIR SYMBOLS ARE JOINED ON THE TITLE PAGE???? GAAAAAAAH
  • AND I COMPLETELY FORGOT ABOUT THE LAST SCENE WHERE TASH AND GERATAN GO FISHING BAHAHA!! In all seriousness, it’s so sweet how he became a father figure over the course of the last few books—as much as Gravell protected Tash, Geratan was far more of a positive role model for her. Again, love their friendship.
  • Also, can we just imagine Tash wearing this?

Now that I’ve read the whole series in one sitting, I can say with certainty that The Burning Kingdoms was a fantastic end to the trilogy—and maybe even my favorite book in the series! Although the ending felt a bit rushed, it was still a satisfying way to wrap up the series. Bonus points for showing that everything doesn’t wrap up neatly after a costly war. I’m remembering now what makes The Smoke Thieves so special to me—there’s so much love put into every ounce of it, from the worldbuilding to the characters to their relationships. Reading it all at once is like looking at a giant tapestry, thousands of interconnected threads coming together to make a beautiful and cohesive image. Needless to say, I had such a fun time re-reading this series. You’re doing yourself a disservice if you haven’t picked up these books—highly recommended! Keeping my rating at 4.5 stars for this one.

TELL ME WHAT YOU THINK! Have you read The Smoke Thieves trilogy, and what did you think of them? Let me know in the comments!

Today’s song:

I haven’t been able to stop listening to this album all week…wondrous

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

Posted in Books

Undercover LGBTQ+ Books for Closeted Readers

Happy Friday, bibliophiles!

I’ve seen lists like this floating around on some bookish Reels on Instagram, and I figured that I wanted to make a list of my own for the blogosphere.

What I mean by “undercover” is this: if you’re a closeted reader and you’re in a homophobic space/community, you can read these books without anyone else knowing that you’re LGBTQ+, but you can still get the LGBTQ+ rep that you want to see. These are books that have great queer representation, but aren’t explicitly queer from the cover or synopsis. That way, if you’re in an unsupportive/homophobic space, you can still seek out good LGBTQ+ books without outing yourself. These are mostly YA books, but we’ve got several genres in the mix. I know I’m lucky to have supportive family and friends, but it sadly isn’t the reality for all queer people, so I thought I’d provide this list for others in that situation.

And as always, never forget: you are loved, you are valid, you are beautiful, and nobody has any say in your identity except for you. 💗

Let’s begin, shall we?

🌈UNDERCOVER LGBTQ+ BOOKS FOR CLOSETED READERS🌈

Dare Mighty Things – Heather Kaczynski

Amazon.com: Dare Mighty Things: 9780062479860: Kaczynski, Heather: Books

GENRES: sci-fi, thriller

MY RATING: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️.25

Cassandra, the main character, is asexual, and there’s also a secondary character who is bisexual! This one’s a must read if you love high-stakes competitions and sci-fi mysteries and thrillers.

Fire With Fire – Destiny Soria

Fire with Fire by Destiny Soria

GENRES: fantasy, paranormal, romance

MY RATING: ⭐️⭐️⭐️.5

I got this one as an eARC last year, and it was such a fun fantasy! Dani, one of two POV protagonists, is bisexual as well as mixed-race (white/Latine), and frankly, there’s not much better than queer girls and dragons, so this one’s a must-read.

Spellhacker – M.K. England

Amazon.com: Spellhacker: 9780062657701: England, M. K.: Books

GENRES: sci-fi, urban fantasy, fantasy

MY RATING: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️.5

There’s no shortage of great LGBTQ+ rep in this novel – Diz is queer, her love interest is nonbinary (as well as the author!), and there’s several wlw and mlm couples interspersed throughout. I’ll always recommend this one for fans of both sci-fi and fantasy – it’s a great blend of the two genres!

Victories Greater Than Death – Charlie Jane Anders

Victories Greater Than Death | Charlie Jane Anders | Macmillan

GENRES: sci-fi, space opera

MY RATING: ⭐️⭐️⭐️.5

This one’s sure to please all the YA space opera fans – lots of strange aliens, sudden powers, and intergalactic battles. There’s no shortage of good queer rep in this one – Tina is bi/pan, her love interest is a Black trans woman, and there’s a wide variety of pronouns used for the many (MANY) characters!

On a Sunbeam – Tillie Walden

Amazon.com: On a Sunbeam: 9781250178138: Walden, Tillie: Books

GENRES: graphic novels, sci-fi, romance

MY RATING: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

I don’t use masterpiece lightly, but On a Sunbeam absolutely is one. With simplistic but stunning artwork and a multiracial wlw relationship told in alternating timelines, there’s no excuse to pass this one by.

Sawkill Girls – Claire Legrand

Sawkill Girls by Claire Legrand – The Hub

GENRES: horror, paranormal, fantasy

MY RATING: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

I don’t normally go for horror, but this was an unexpected 5-star read for me! All three protagonists are queer – Marion is bisexual, Zoey is asexual, Val is a lesbian, and there’s a wlw relationship!

Other Words for Smoke – Sarah Maria Griffin

Amazon.com: Other Words for Smoke: 9780062408914: Griffin, Sarah Maria:  Books

GENRES: paranormal, horror, magical realism

MY RATING: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️.5

None of Sarah Maria Griffin’s books are talked about enough – Other Words for Smoke is hauntingly beautiful and well-written in every sense of the word. There’s a lesbian relationship in this one, and it’s unrelentingly feminist as well.

Wild Beauty – Anna-Marie McLemore

Buy Wild Beauty: A Novel Book Online at Low Prices in India | Wild Beauty:  A Novel Reviews & Ratings - Amazon.in

GENRES: magical realism, fantasy, romance

MY RATING: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

I highly recommend anything of Anna-Marie McLemore’s – their novels always have the most gorgeous prose, combined with fairytale-like fantasies and Latine culture and mythology. Their books always include queer characters, but this one in particular features an entire cast of queer sisters and a genderqueer love interest!

TELL ME WHAT YOU THINK! Did you like any of these books? Do you have any undercover LGBTQ+ recommendations? Tell me in the comments!

Books to Celebrate Pride Month | Penguin Random House Canada

Today’s song:

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 (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 (7/6/21) – Spellhacker

Happy Tuesday, bibliophiles!

I got to take a trip to my favorite bookstore last week, and this was one of the books that I picked up. I’d been meaning to read it for years after loving M.K. England’s debut, The Disasters, and I finally got to buy it and reading! And despite the average ratings, England’s second novel is a genre-bending success!

Enjoy this week’s review!

Spellhacker by M.K. England

Spellhacker – M.K. England

my copy ft. a cool filter and some crystals, stones, and my bismuth

Kyrkata is a place where futuristic technology and magic – known as maz – live in harmony, but after a magical plague wracks the population, the maz supply is depleted. Corporations now hold maz with a tight fist, racking up the prices while the people who need it most turn to crime in order to get it.

Enter Diz, Remi, Jaesin, and Ania. For two years, they’ve run an illegal maz-siphoning operation. But with college on the horizon, their next heist has to be their last. When their “last job ever” results in a deadly new strain of maz, the four teens must stop a dangerous secret from coming to the surface – and get to the bottom of a corporate conspiracy that may mean the end of their world.

cute, pixels and aesthetic - image #6916550 on Favim.com

TW/CW: descriptions of illness, loss of loved ones (off-page), violence, near-death situations

Ok. Hear me out.

So if all of the strains of maz have the suffix -az at the end of them (ex. firaz, magnaz), would that mean that Gorillaz would be a valid name for a strain of maz? Guess they’d have to call it maz-19-2000 instead of maz-15…

…okay, I’ll shut up now. I’m just making myself giggle at this point

Gorillaz: Song By Song: 19/2000
the Gang™️ after the maz-15 incident

[ahem] anyways

It’s really such a shame that this book isn’t getting the recognition it deserves. This is what a genre-bending novel should be – it’s a seamless blend of sci-fi and fantasy, with enough worldbuilding to make both of them work! And Spellhacker has everything – heists, found family vibes, weird creatures, exploding magic, and casual queerness!

What stood out most for me was the tender found-family dynamic in this novel. All four of the main characters – especially Diz, our protagonist – are delightfully real and as messy as they come, but they just felt so genuine. They all had their lovely little quirks, and they all bounced so sweetly off of each other. The love between them (both platonic and romantic, I might say) brimmed off the page, and it made my heart so happy. Through thick and thin, they were all there for each other. Spellhacker reminded me of why the found family trope is easily my favorite trope!

And if there’s one thing better than found family, it’s a casually queer and diverse found family! Diz is queer, Remi (her love interest) is nonbinary, and there’s several wlw and mlm couples! (Or, to quote M.K. England themself, “elderly science husbands.”) There’s also a lot of POC-coded characters present, and the diversity truly shines in this novel.

And beyond that, Spellhacker is SO. MUCH. FUN. If any of you here are fans of Six of Crows or The Gilded Wolves, YOU’RE GONNA EAT THIS BOOK UP. It’s fast-paced, high-stakes, and full of disguises, hacking, chase-scenes, and breakneck action. From the moment the crew botched their last heist, the novel takes off, not letting go until the final page. But even with all that, England still allowed the crew moments to be tender, allowing for a lot of sweet scenes and character interactions. It’s the perfect balance of action and softness.

I have…mixed feelings about the worldbuilding, though. For the most part, I thought it was great; there was clearly a lot of care put into the types of maz and how society controlled them, and the various underground operations to siphon it. Kyrkata’s implied to be a world completely different from ours, but there were references to things that were very Earth-specific (I can’t remember them off the top of my head), and several of the characters had very Earth-sounding last names, which threw me off a little. But overall, the things I found were fairly nit-picky, so the worldbuilding was solid overall.

There was also something unexpected hidden in Spellhacker that I loved – England wove the usage of the maz into a metaphor for climate change, and the relationship that corporations have with the environment. Without spoiling anything, there’s themes of greed and destroying the environment in the name of making money, and I love how Diz and the others combatted that. We all love seeing corporations getting their comeuppance, don’t we?

All in all, a fast-paced novel that seamlessly blends sci-fi and fantasy to make an action-packed bundle of exploding fun. 4.5 stars!

satchel cannon | Explore Tumblr Posts and Blogs | Tumgir
okay I KNOW I need to stop with the Rabbi Milligan gifs, but Diz says something almost exactly like this line and it made me so giddy ksdjhfskjdfh

Spellhacker is a standalone, and M.K. England’s second novel. They are also the author of The Disasters and a forthcoming middle grade novel called Ultimate Gaming Showdown, scheduled for release 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!