Happy Wednesday, bibliophiles, and more importantly, happy Bisexual Visibility Day!
Last week (September 15) was the start of Bisexual Visibility week, which blends with today (September 23), Bisexual Visibility Day. Even though we’ve made great steps as far as LGBTQ+ progress goes, there’s still a plethora of harmful stigmas surrounding bisexual people, and not to mention bisexual erasure in the media and elsewhere. But today is a day to celebrate bisexual love, and to remind ourselves and all our bi friends of this: you are loved, you are valid, and you are beautiful.
So today, I’ve compiled a list of books with bisexual protagonists! Sadly, I wasn’t able to find as many who had #OwnVoices bi authors, but I’m always striving to read and find more.
Let’s begin, shall we?
THE BOOKISH MUTANT’S YA READS FOR BISEXUAL VISIBILITY WEEK/DAY
There’s only one thing better than a bisexual protagonist…and that’s a bisexual protagonist who’s a necromancer! Reign of the Fallen will always have a special place in my heart, and I’ll always have a soft spot for Odessa.
Speaking of sci-fi with both bisexual and disability rep…
There’s seven (later six) different POVs throughout this series, two of which are LGBTQ+; and Kaufman and Kristoff confirmed that Finian, one of these POVs, is bisexual! (And honestly? It’s perfect, he is absolutely the OG Disaster Bisexual…)
Not only is one of our protagonists biracial and bisexual, it also tackles a variety of issues, such as biphobia, sexism, fat-shaming, and mental health issues. A wonderful read for anyone familiar with the Comic Con scene!
It’s been a bit of a chaotic day for me–I couldn’t get into one of my zoom meetings for one of my classes, and it’s snowing. The latter is deeeeefinitely kind of worrying–here in Colorado, it usually doesn’t start to snow until mid to late October, and persists until late May.
IT’S THE SECOND WEEK OF SEPTEMBER. Yep, friendly reminder that climate change isn’t just global warming, but unpredictable weather patterns like this. Climate change is still very real, folks.
Anyway, I’ll step off that soapbox for a minute…only to get right back onto another one.
Ever since I found out about it in May, Cinderella is Dead was one of my most anticipated releases of this summer. A Black, sapphic protagonist, a multiracial wlw relationship, and a dystopian society based on the tale of Cinderella? I was FASCINATED. And while this novel did deliver in the aforementioned aspects, it was dragged down by the poor execution of nearly everything else.
Everybody knows the tale of Cinderella, the dismissed orphan who was visited by a fairy godmother and lived happily ever after with the dashing Prince Charming. But do you know what happened 200 years later?
In Sophia Grimmins’ world, the tale of Cinderella is now the backbone of every tradition in town. Every year, all of the eligible girls must attend the Annual Ball, to be picked and chosen by the men. But for as long as she can remember, Sophia has never wanted a man–she’s wanted a woman. She flees the ball with her life, only to find herself in the tomb of Cinderella herself. There, she finds Constance, the last surviving descendant of Cinderella, who seeks to help bring down the patriarchal kingdom. Sophia and Constance join forces, and sparks soon fly between them–but the truths they thought about Cinderella are far from true…
Let me be perfectly honest: it truly pains me to give this book such a low rating. It’s such a joy to see #OwnVoices books outside contemporary and historical fiction with POC/LGBTQ+ leads, and we certainly need more of those out in the world. But even though Cinderella is Dead boasted great representation all around, it failed to meet my expectations in almost every other aspect.
I’ll start off with the good before the bad: representation! This dystopian fantasy is absolutely an #OwnVoices book, with a Black, lesbian protagonist, a lesbian love interest, and a gay side character who has a semi-prominent role. Throughout the book, there’s themes of contradicting patriarchal tradition, abuse, and misogyny, and it’s always wonderful to see a sapphic couple kicking sexist butt, so that’s always a win. But even then…Sophia wasn’t a very distinct character. I struggle to find any traits that would make her much of an individual, other than the desire to smash the patriarchy. (Don’t we all, though? Can’t go wrong with that.) I liked Constance a little bit better, but their relationship felt very rushed and glossed over. And the themes I just talked about it? They felt very forced, relying more on telling than showing. There wasn’t very much subtlety or creativity in the ways that they were tackled, making the commentary…almost not worth it. I appreciate Bayron’s attempt to discuss these issues, but there are so many ways that they could have been handled better.
All of the Cinderella mythos had SO MUCH potential, from the punchy title to the concept itself. It was still reasonably spine-chilling in execution, but other than the fact that the tale has been weaved into the world’s operating system, the worldbuilding was…wait a minute…[picks up a telescope] wait a minute, where’d it go? A little help here?
…okay, that was probably harsh, but it was RIDDLED with holes.
[spreads out a sheet of paper] Okay, let’s see. We’ve got a country ruled by a monarchy, with some forests around it, presumably. It’s hinted that it’s a bit more antiquated technology-wise, but we don’t get any sense of where society has gone as far as technology, transportation, all of that. There’s a little bit of evidence to suggest that magic exists, but the only wielder we know of is the Fairy Godmother. (So is there some sort of ban on magic? Has nobody else been able to find it? Who knows…) The character’s names range from ones that were popular in the 19th century to those in the 21st century, but most of them fall into the latter. (ex. Liv, Isla, Sophia) So…wait, what? It’s been a good two and a half weeks since I’ve read Cinderella is Dead, and I STILL have no idea what’s going on there. I NEED ANSWERS. PLEASE. THIS IS A MESS.
The worldbuilding is my main criticism, but other than that, my issues are a little more nit-picky. Things like Sophia having very few defining traits (if any) and the telling method of tackling the issues, the villains had very lackluster, overdone motives and no redeemable qualities to speak of. The dialogue also had a tendency to be overly stiff, and nobody had a distinct voice.
Again, I feel so bad for giving this book such a low rating. #OwnVoices books are so pertinent and important in this day and age, but…there are so many better ones that you could be reading than this one. I could chalk this rating up to my high expectations, but other than the representation and concept, Cinderella is Dead was such a mess. Amazing concept, terrible execution. 2.5 stars, but the half star is likely just for seeing a multiracial wlw couple smashing the patriarchy. [sad harmonica noises]
Cinderella is Dead is Kalynn Bayron’s YA debut, but she has several other adult and nonfiction works. Cinderella is Dead is likely a standalone, but I’ve heard a rumor about spin-offs set in the same universe, but I haven’t been able to confirm their validity.
That’s it for this week’s Book Review Tuesday! I promise that the next reviews I write will be more positive. Have a wonderful rest of your day, and take care of yourselves!
Happy Monday, bibliophiles! I can’t believe that it’s almost September…
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.
This one is a more recent addition to my TBR that I’d forgotten about (I added it in early February), and it sounds like an incredible middle grade graphic novel! And I’m always eager for a good mermaid story, and I think this one might just deliver…
Let’s begin, shall we?
GOODREADS MONDAY (8/31/20)–SEA SIRENS by Amy Chuand Janet K. Lee
Dive into this middle-grade graphic novel about a Vietnamese American surfer girl and her talking cat who plunge into a fantasy world of oceanic marvels . . . and mayhem!
Trot, a Vietnamese American surfer girl, and Cap’n Bill, her cranky one-eyed cat, catch too big a wave and wipe out, sucked down into a magical underwater kingdom where an ancient deep-sea battle rages. The beautiful Sea Siren mermaids are under attack from the Serpent King and his slithery minions–and Trot and her feline become dangerously entangled in this war of tails and fins.
This graphic novel was inspired by The Sea Fairies, L. Frank Baum’s “underwater Wizard of Oz.” It weaves Vietnamese mythology, fantastical ocean creatures, and a deep-sea setting.
So why do I want to read this?
Sea Sirens looks like it has all the elements for a graphic novel I’d love! It’s #OwnVoices, it’s set in an underwater realm…and how could I ever say no to a talking cat sidekick? The literary world needs more talking cats.
I’m not familiar with The Sea Fairies (though The Wizard of Oz was read to my class in elementary school), but it sounds like a fascinating retelling of it. I love the incorporation of Vietnamese mythology as well. The art style looks lovely too!
This one’s available at my library, so I might have to check it out soon…
Inexplicably stuck in my head this morning…
That’s it for this week’s Goodreads Monday! Have a wonderful rest of your day, and take care of yourselves!
Happy Thursday, bibliophiles! I hope you’ve all had a lovely week so far.
I changed my icon up a bit–I’m switching from glasses to contacts very soon, and I just had my eye exam yesterday. Even though I’ve only tried them on once so far, I like them a lot! (Even though the experience of getting them on was…[ahem] interesting…)
Anyway, I recently received this eARC, and for the most part, I enjoyed it immensely! Not only is it a wonderful collection of YA short stories from all sorts of new, #OwnVoices authors, it also serves as a helpful writing guide.
Thirteen Short Stories from Bold New YA Voices & Writing Advice from YA Icons
Created by New York Times bestselling authors Emily X. R. Pan and Nova Ren Suma, Foreshadow is so much more than a short story collection. A trove of unforgettable fiction makes up the beating heart of this book, and the accompanying essays offer an ode to young adult literature, as well as practical advice to writers.
Featured in print for the first time, the thirteen stories anthologized here were originally released via the buzzed-about online platform Foreshadow. Ranging from contemporary romance to mind-bending fantasy, the Foreshadow stories showcase underrepresented voices and highlight the beauty and power of YA fiction. Each piece is selected and introduced by a YA luminary, among them Gayle Forman, Laurie Halse Anderson, Jason Reynolds, and Sabaa Tahir.
What makes these memorable stories tick? What sparked them? How do authors build a world or refine a voice or weave in that deliciously creepy atmosphere to bring their writing to the next level? Addressing these questions and many more are essays and discussions on craft and process by Nova Ren Suma and Emily X. R. Pan.
This unique compilation reveals and celebrates the magic of reading and writing for young adults.
Thank you to Edelweiss+ and Workman for giving me this eARC in exchange for an honest review!
Overall, FORESHADOW is a lovely collection of short stories! It’s an incredible vessel to spread the word about several up-and-coming YA voices, and I look forward to see what else these authors put out. Not only that, but each story comes with an example of a technique in the writing craft that the short story exemplifies, be it imagery, mood, or plot twists. For those who seek to write YA, this is a must-read.
Since this is a short story collection, I’ll break down each of the stories and give a mini-review for each.
FLIGHT–Tanya Aydelott (⭐️⭐️⭐️.75, rounded up to ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️)
A poignant and heartbreaking tale of growing up, and the truly special bond that exists between mothers and daughters. This story brimmed with emotion, and though the 3rd-person/present tense POV took me out of it slightly, it was still a beautiful short story.
RISK–Rachel Hylton (⭐️⭐️⭐️.75, rounded up to ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️)
Wonderfully absurd. A tale of both the powerful friendship bonds between a group of girls, and of transformation, be it emotionally, or, y’know, mysteriously turning into a lobster. As one does.
SWEETMEATS–Linda Cheng (⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️.25)
Without a doubt, one of my favorites of the short stories in this collection. A truly chilling twist on the tale of Hansel and Gretel, with a heady dose of the paranormal. The comparison to Guillermo del Toro was well earned, I must say!
GLOW–Joanna Truman (⭐️⭐️⭐️.5)
Though the writing and the POV left something to be desired, this was a solid, genre bending tale–both a sapphic romance in a small town and a trek in the middle of nowhere to end the world as we knew it.
ESCAPE–Tanvi Berwah (⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️)
Another chilling addition to this anthology! Simultaneously a story of family ties (and how easily they might be broken) and a spooky venture into the paranormal. Nothing like a family heirloom that scratches and bites anyone who tries to pry it open to snag your attention.
PAN DULCE–Flor Salcedo (⭐️⭐️⭐️)
Though it was difficult for me to connect with most of the characters, this was a powerful piece of #OwnVoices historical fiction, tying in themes of growing older and the veneer of childhood slipping away.
SOLACE–Nora Elghazzawi (⭐️⭐️⭐️.75, rounded up to ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️)
A beautiful, poignant, and at times poetic coming-of-age tale about finding new love and finding your place in the world. Just as lush as the plants that grow in Laila’s garden, without a doubt.
PRINCESS–Maya Prasad (⭐️⭐️⭐️)
Though it was entertaining and posed some interesting questions about the role of AI in our lives, I think this may have been my least favorite story in the collection. The pacing jumped around far too much for my liking, but the world-building made for a pretty setting.
FOOLS–Gina Chen (⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️.25)
A lush fairytale of a short story. There were touches of everything from ancient mythology, modern fantasy, and even an X-Men sort of vibe that made it a truly unique tale, filled with themes of family and beautiful imagery.
MONSTERS–Adriana Marachlian (⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️)
With this short story, Marachlian weaves a beautiful metaphor for the feeling of being an outsider. All at once an #OwnVoices story of the struggles of immigration and the desire to fit in and a poignant, paranormal tale.
BREAK–Sophie Meridien (⭐️⭐️⭐️.5)
Absolutely adorable! A mix of a diverse, classic rom-com and a bit of magical realism–and a dash of baking on the side.
RESILIENT–Mayra Cuevas (⭐️⭐️⭐️.5)
Bleak and desolate, but, as the title implies, a heartbreaking tale of resilience and sisterhood. Cuevas’ writing did a wonderful job of making the situation seem exactly as gloomy and hopeless as it was meant to be. A downer, to be sure, but well-written all the same.
BELLY–Desiree S. Evans (⭐️⭐️⭐️.5)
A striking, #OwnVoices tale that tackles a myriad of tough subject, from sexual harassment to the loss of family, and the resulting traumas that come along with it. I loved the slight magical realism aspect, especially with Jaima’s connection to the river.
All in all, there wasn’t a bad story in this collection! With that and the writing/editing advice added in, I’d give it a solid 4 stars.
Release date: October 20, 2020
I listened to At the Party with my Brown Friends the other day, and for the most part, it was a great album!
That’s it for this eARC review! Have a wonderful rest of your day, and take care of yourselves!
General Edelweiss+ update…so apparently, Macmillan is only accepting eARCs from Netgalley now, so that eliminated most of my requests, so…whee…
Most of my eARCs have been from more indie publishers anyway; personally, it’s probably a good thing–if it’s a good eARC, I feel great about being able to spread the word about them. Especially when they’re as good as Elatsoe.
Again, I CAN’T WAIT for this one to be released! Though there was a brief lull in the middle, Elatsoe not only boasts stellar representation, but a thrilling paranormal tale!
Elatsoe–Ellie for short–lives in an alternate America, where the beasts of myth and legend roam the world, and ghosts are not so far away. Like Kirby, the ghost of her old dog, who she has now trained to follow her wherever she goes. Ellie herself can also raise the dead, and communicate with spirits.
But her skills, as she soon finds out, will be put to the test sooner than she ever thought. When her cousin is murdered, she and her family arrive at the scene, only to find that his killer hides in a picturesque Texas town, and that he may be hiding secrets that may spell disaster for the town’s residents. Will Ellie be able to uncover the truth before town falls into supernatural ruin?
Thank you to Edelweiss+ and Levine Querido/Chronicle Books for giving me this eARC in exchange for an honest review!
The premise already excited me, but in all respects, Elatsoe is a fantastic, paranormal murder mystery!
First off, REPRESENTATION! Elatsoe is an incredible #OwnVoices story–both the author and the protagonist are Lipan Apache, and the protagonist is also confirmed to be asexual. I hardly ever see asexual representation in literature, and so I’m so excited to see that such stories are coming into the spotlight.
This novel strikes the perfect balance between the spooky paranormal and a murder mystery. The worldbuilding of this alternate America is absolutely stellar as well; most aspects of it are deftly explained without an excess of info-dumping. Darcie Little Badger introduces all sorts of fascinating creatures, and weaves them seamlessly into alternate America.
Going off of this, my favorite aspects–and my favorite scene–was that of the ghosts. Not only is Kirby adorable, but there’s a beautiful scene in which Ellie stumbles into a ghost sea, filled with trilobites, whales, and all manner of prehistoric creatures. The writing is lush and gorgeous, beautiful and immersive. And I’m a sucker for prehistoric critters and marine life, so of course you have my attention with the scene, even if it was fairly brief.
At times, some of the dialogue felt flat, causing a bit of a lull at the halfway mark, but I’m glad to say that it quickly picked up from there. I found myself completely immersed in the supernatural murder mystery, and after said dull spot, I enjoyed it from start to finish. Darcie Little Badger made so many creative choices that made Elatsoe all the more original, making for a supernatural story unlike any other.
All in all, a brilliant and creative #OwnVoices paranormal murder mystery. 4 stars!
Release date: August 25, 2020
That’s it for this eARC review! Have a wonderful rest of your day, and take care of yourselves!