Posted in Book Review Tuesday

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

Happy Tuesday, bibliophiles!

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

Enjoy this week’s review!

The Kindred by Alechia Dow

The Kindred – Alechia Dow

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Today’s song:

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

Posted in Goodreads Monday

Goodreads Monday (9/6/21) – Compass Rose

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 put this one on my TBR in early 2020, and I’ve desperately been searching for it ever since. Why? Because if there’s one thing better than pirate books…it’s space pirate books. Enough said.

Let’s begin, shall we?

GOODREADS MONDAY (9/6/21) – COMPASS ROSE by Anna Burke

Amazon.com: Compass Rose (A Compass Rose Novel, 1): 9781612941196: Burke,  Anna: Books

Blurb from Goodreads:

Rose was born facing due north, with an inherent perception of cardinal points flowing through her veins. Her uncanny sense of direction earns her a coveted place among the Archipelago Fleet elite, but it also attracts the attention of Admiral Comita, who sends her on a secret mission deep into pirate territory. Accompanied by a ragtag crew of mercenaries and under the command of Miranda, a captain as bloodthirsty as she is alluring, Rose discovers the hard way that even the best sense of direction won’t be enough to keep her alive if she can’t learn to navigate something far more dangerous than the turbulent seas. Aboard the mercenary ship, Man o’ War, Rose learns quickly that trusting the wrong person can get you killed—and Miranda’s crew have no intention of making things easy for her—especially the Captain’s trusted first mate, Orca, who is as stubborn as she is brutal.

So why do I want to read this?

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unrelated, but love is stored in the moon jellyfish

Pirate books are hit-or-miss for me, but when they’re good, they’re FANTASTIC. (See: The Mermaid, the Witch, and the Sea, Daughter of the Pirate King). But there’s one aspect that gives me lots of hope: SCI-FI pirates.

Rose does seem a little chosen-one-ish, but her being born facing due north is an interesting concept for a character – especially with pirates and political intrigue involved. Plus, it can’t protect her forever – there’s bound to be all sorts of pirate gangs and governments after her, right? This could be interesting.

And beyond that, it seems unapologetically queer! There’s a wlw romance in Compass Rose, and I’m overjoyed to see three of my favorite things to find in books converge: pirates, sci-fi, and queer rep.

In short: it’s sci-fi, queer, and there’s pirates. This better not disappoint.

GIF felicity jones - animated GIF on GIFER

Today’s song:

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

Posted in Books

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 (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!

Posted in Book Review Tuesday

Book Review Tuesday (6/29/21) – The Mermaid, the Witch, and the Sea

Happy Tuesday, bibliophiles!

So first off, I owe a huge thank you to Phoenix @ Books With Wings for introducing me to this book (and sharing that great interview with Maggie Tokuda Hall!), because otherwise, I’m not sure if I would’ve heard of it! And man, I am SO glad that I picked this book up last week – such a beautiful queer story full of characters with heart and tender romance.

Enjoy this week’s review!

Amazon.com: The Mermaid, the Witch, and the Sea (9781536204315):  Tokuda-Hall, Maggie: Books
G A H THIS COVER

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

After being plucked off the streets by a ruthless pirate captain, Flora disguises herself as a boy, Florian, to pass amongst the crew of the pirate ship Dove. Life aboard the Dove has hardened her, but when the captain strikes a deal to transport a group of Imperials to the floating islands, she meets Evelyn, who is set to be married to a man she doesn’t even know. The two bond in secret, and they soon fall in love, but when the crew captures a mermaid, the Dove invokes the wrath of the Pirate Supreme and the Sea itself. Flora and Evelyn must escape the ship – or face the curse of the unforgiving Sea.

GIF starz 03x02 tele - animated GIF on GIFER - by Bluestone

TW/CW: torture, graphic violence, racism, imperialism, alcoholism, blood, rape/sexual assault (off-page), death

Pirate fantasy is one of my favorite types of fantasy, but in the YA department, most of the ones I’ve found have been bitter disappointments. But The Mermaid, the Witch, and the Sea was exactly the opposite – a fantasy tale that was all at once brutal and beautiful that filled my heart up with tender joy.

For me, the characters were the part that shone the most in this novel. Flora and Evelyn were both incredible protagonists – multi-layered, and with distinct personalities that riffed adorably well off each other. I loved their romance, and their bonding over books and the captured mermaid was so sweet. Besides them, Rake had to be my favorite character – I adored his POVs! It’s clear that he’d been through so much before and during the novel, but all he wanted was to make sure that Flora and Evelyn broke free of the cruel life aboard the Dove. He got his moment in the spotlight too, and I loved seeing him come into his own near the end of the novel. (He reminded me a bit of Rabbi Milligan from Fargo, too… [aggressively goes through a box of tissues])

fargo season two | Explore Tumblr Posts and Blogs | Tumgir
MY B O Y

Beyond the protagonists, I loved how complex the relationships between all of the characters; Maggie Tokuda-Hall didn’t shy away from making them more than black and white, and I felt like it was a very realistic situation for Flora, in particular, having to eke out a living on the Dove. Much of the crew (minus Rake and Alfie) were deplorable people, but for Alfie in particular, he’s their brother; even though Alfie’s a deeply flawed person, Flora still had a sense of responsibility for him.

The queer rep in The Mermaid, the Witch, and the Sea also made me so happy! Over the course of the book, Flora realizes that they’re genderfluid, and while I can’t speak to how accurate or inaccurate the rep is (as a cis person), it was certainly a beautiful journey of identity and a supremely well written piece of character development. It’s also implied that Evelyn is bi/pan/queer (though her label is never specified), and she loves Flora no matter how they presented. The infamous and all-powerful Pirate Supreme, though we didn’t get to see as much of them, also used they/them pronouns, which was pretty cool! I love a good casually queer fantasy story, and this novel 100% delivered.

And speaking of queerness in fantasy, I loved all of the different fairytales woven into the Witch’s part of the story; they were all fascinating in their own right, but it was amazing to see casual queer rep in all of the tales that the Witch told to Flora. The Witch as a character (Xenobia) was more of a vehicle for Flora’s development than anything, but that part of the story was still critical for Flora.

The Mermaid, the Witch, and the Sea also served as a good commentary on imperialism; although this all occurs in a fantasy world, it’s focused primarily on Japanese imperialism, which is a perspective I don’t often see in literature, period. The plotline of the Pirate Supreme and the Sea was the most well-developed of the commentaries; there’s a clear and important message of not encroaching on places that were never yours in the first place, both in the respects of neighboring countries and on nature itself. However, I do wish the world were a little more developed; the worldbuilding was good on the surface, but I wish we’d gotten a little more of the history behind the imperialism and some of the other countries.

However, I’ve seen this in a few reviews and thought it was worth noting – it didn’t quite sit right with me that Flora, who was a Black-coded character, works on a slave ship; given…well, much of world history, really, that doesn’t seem terribly thoughtful. The reviews I’ve seen mention this were from non-Black readers, and I haven’t been able to find any Black reviewer’s thoughts (on Goodreads, at least). They don’t really elaborate the concept that the Dove is a slaver ship beyond the prologue (which I just chalked up to iffy worldbuilding), to a degree where I pretty much forgot that it was a slaver ship in the first place, but it’s still something to keep in mind.

I swallowed this novel almost all at once – it was a little bit slow to start, but once it got going, man, it really got going! After about the 25% mark (I read this on my Kindle), the plot kept me hooked until the very last page. I especially loved the final showdown of the Dove, the Pirate Supreme, and the Sea – the action scenes were incredible, and though parts were hard to read (RAKE 😭😭😭), it was lovely to see the characters get their justice.

But GAAAH, for the most part, THIS BOOK MADE ME SO HAPPY. Finally, I’ve gotten my hands on a pirate fantasy that actually delivers – in anti-imperialism commentary, in queer rep and romance, and in lovable characters and action. 4.5 stars!

wholesome cat memes hearts - Google Search | Cute cat memes, Cute love  memes, Heart meme

The Mermaid, the Witch, and the Sea is the first in a series; however, no information has been released other than the fact that there will eventually be a sequel. (GIMMEEEEE) Maggie Tokuda-Hall is also the author of the forthcoming YA novel Squad (2021), as well as several picture books.

Today’s song:

AHAHAHAAAAAAAA THIS IS SO GOOD

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

Posted in Goodreads Monday

Goodreads Monday (6/21/21) – Love in the Time of Global Warming

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 added this one to my TBR a little over a year ago. The promise of bisexual rep was what initially drew me in, but the blend of fantasy, dystopia, and cli-fi ultimately hooked me! I can’t wait to see what this one has to offer.

Let’s begin, shall we?

GOODREADS MONDAY (6/21/21) – LOVE IN THE TIME OF GLOBAL WARMING by Francesca Lia Block

Amazon.com: Love in the Time of Global Warming (9781250044426): Block,  Francesca Lia: Books

Blurb from Goodreads:

Her life by the sea in ruins, Pen has lost everything in the Earth Shaker that all but destroyed the city of Los Angeles. She sets out into the wasteland to search for her family, her journey guided by a tattered copy of Homer’s Odyssey. Soon she begins to realize her own abilities and strength as she faces false promises of safety, the cloned giants who feast on humans, and a madman who wishes her dead. On her voyage, Pen learns to tell stories that reflect her strange visions, while she and her fellow survivors navigate the dangers that lie in wait. In her signature style, Francesca Lia Block has created a world that is beautiful in its destruction and as frightening as it is lovely. At the helm is Pen, a strong heroine who holds hope and love in her hands and refuses to be defeated.

SO WHY DO I WANT TO READ THIS?

Aesthetic Ocean Gif Tumblr - Largest Wallpaper Portal

(two books on my TBR with bi rep and blue covers in a row? oops…)

Love in the Time of Global Warming has a relatively low rating on Goodreads (3.38 as of now), but I’m still willing to dive in headfirst.

What stands out most to me is the incorporation of the Odyssey – the world really needs more retellings of it, and I love the idea of Pen’s Odyssey-like journey through a ruined Los Angeles ravaged by climate change. I’m also excited to see the blend of sci-fi and fantasy; a lot of reviewers have shelved it as magical realism, so that’s an interesting aspect to weave into dystopia. And the queer cast! From what I’ve heard, the vast majority of the cast is LGBTQ+, which is always a major plus in my book.

Overall, a queer, genre-bending, and creative take on The Odyssey that I can’t wait to read!

GIF dystopian - animated GIF on GIFER

Today’s song:

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

Posted in Books, Mini Reviews

Mini Reviews of Books I Read on Vacation

Good morning (or whatever time it is where you are), bibliophiles!

I’m back from vacation! I took a trip with my family to Glacier National Park last week, and it was STUNNING. We did some hiking, went on a few boat tours, and went canoeing, and it was such a beautiful experience. Walking through the forest fed my soul…I’m recovering from online learning crushing my soul last year, and the trees certainly helped

Anyway, I bought a few books on my Kindle for the trip, and I thought I’d share my reviews for them. It was definitely a hit-or-miss batch, but at least 2/3 of them were good.

Let’s begin, shall we?

🏔VACATION MINI-REVIEWS 🏔

Off Planet (Aunare Chronicles, #1) – Aileen Erin

Off Planet (Aunare Chronicles, #1) by Aileen Erin

Blurb from Goodreads:

In an all-too-plausible future where corporate conglomerates have left the world’s governments in shambles, anyone with means has left the polluted Earth for the promise of a better life on a SpaceTech owned colony among the stars.

Maité Martinez is the daughter of an Earther Latina and a powerful Aunare man, an alien race that SpaceTech sees as a threat to their dominion. When tensions turn violent, Maité finds herself trapped on Earth and forced into hiding.

For over ten years, Maité has stayed hidden, but every minute Maité stays on Earth is one closer to getting caught.

She’s lived on the streets. Gone hungry. And found a way to fight through it all. But one night, while waitressing in a greasy diner, a customer gets handsy with her. She reacts without thinking.

Covered in blood, Maité runs, but it’s not long before SpaceTech finds her…

Arrested and forced into dangerous work detail on a volcano planet, Maité waits for SpaceTech to make their move against the Aunare. She knows that if she can’t somehow find a way to stop them, there will be an interstellar war big enough to end all life in the universe.

There’s only one question: Can Maité prevent the total annihilation of humanity without getting herself killed in the process?

Gardengirl — The Baths- Obi-Wan Kenobi Smut

TW/CW: sexual assault, graphic violence, burning, near-death situations, trauma-related dreams, claustrophobia

Off Planet wasn’t perfect, but it was a solid sci-fi! It blended elements of hard sci-fi and space opera, and for the most part, they came together somewhat seamlessly.

The plot and tension shone in this novel – Aileen Erin did a great job at making a fast-paced, high-stakes story that kept me on the edge of my seat. The worldbuilding was well fleshed-out as well. I loved all of the different planets that we saw, as well as the near-future, dystopian vision of Earth.

I didn’t get attached to any of the characters, but I’d say they were decently developed. Most of them were likable, but I did like Tyler a lot. I wish we’d seen more of him. However, even though I liked Lorne, his name threw me off a little, because a) hey, it’s more of a human name, and he’s an alien, and b) my inevitable association of that name with Lorne Malvo from Fargo, which…[shudders]

My only major problem was the dialogue – it felt a little stilted and not quite authentic, which took away some of the believability of the characters. Other than mannerisms, there wasn’t a whole lot that distinguished each character’s voice.

But overall, a solid start to an intense and well-thought-out sci-fi trilogy. 3.5 stars!

⭐️⭐️⭐️.5

The Orphanage of Gods – Helena Coggan

The Orphanage of Gods by Helena Coggan

Blurb from Goodreads:

Twenty years ago, the humans came for their gods.

In the bloody revolution, gods were all but wiped out. Ever since, the children they left behind have been imprisoned in an orphanage, watched day and night by the ruthless Guard. Any who show signs of divine power vanish from their beds in the night, all knowledge of their existence denied.

No one has ever escaped the orphanage.

Until now.

Seventeen-year-old Hero is finally free – but at a terrible price. Her sister has been captured by the Guard and is being held in a prison in the northern sea. Hero desperately wants to get her back, and to escape the murderous Guardsmen hunting her down. But not all the gods are dead, and the ones waiting for Hero in the north have their own plans for her – ones that will change the world forever . . .

As she advances further and further into the unknown, Hero will need to decide: how far is she willing to go to do what needs to be done?

Television - I used to dismiss THE CLONE WARS as a "kid's show" ... | Page  2 | Sherdog Forums | UFC, MMA & Boxing Discussion
am I gonna put a Star Wars gif with every review? Possibly…

TW/CW: graphic violence, discrimination, death, blood, gore

I really wanted to give this one a chance – the low average rating on Goodreads put me off a little (2.88 at present), but there didn’t seem to anything blatantly offensive in the reviews I read, so I gave it a shot.

…which was a mistake on my part. Oops.

The Orphanage of Gods had an interesting premise on the surface, but it was weighed down by a whole bunch of aspects. The worldbuilding was flimsy at best, the plot seemed to ramble without meaning, the characters didn’t have many defining traits (and there were too many of them to keep track of, making them interchangeable), and the POV switches at each of the three parts didn’t seem to have any point. If Coggan had kept the POV at Hero for the whole book, it might have made more sense, as she was unfamiliar with the world introduced. But alas…

I tried. I really tried. I wanted to give this one three stars, but it just got worse and worse as the book went on…I think the only redeeming factor was that there was a sapphic romance at the forefront, but even that was just thrown in there at the last minute. The writing had moments of being good, and I think that’s the only reason I didn’t DNF this one entirely.

All in all, a novel weighed down by poor handling of almost every aspect save for the writing. 2 stars.

⭐️⭐️

Chameleon Moon (Chameleon Moon, #1) – RoAnna Sylver

Chameleon Moon - Kindle edition by Sylver, RoAnna. Literature & Fiction  Kindle eBooks @ Amazon.com.

Blurb from Goodreads:

The city of Parole is burning. Like Venice slips into the sea, Parole crumbles into fire.

The entire population inside has been quarantined and left to die – directly over the open flame. Eye in the Sky, a deadly and merciless police force ensures no one escapes. Ever. All that’s keeping Parole alive is faith in the midst of horrors and death, trust in the face of desperation… and their fantastic, terrifying, and beautiful superhuman abilities.

Regan, silent, scaly stealth expert, is haunted by ten years of anxiety, trauma and terror, and he’s finally reached his limit. Evelyn is a fearless force on stage and sonic-superheroic revolutionary on the streets. Now they have a choice – and a chance to not only escape from Parole, but unravel the mystery deep in its burning heart. And most of all, discover the truth about their own entwining pasts.

Parole’s a rough place to live. But they’re not dead yet. If they can survive the imminent cataclysmic disaster, they might just stay that way…

Xmen Mutant GIF - Xmen Mutant Proud - Discover & Share GIFs
…so I guess I’m not putting a Star Wars gif with every review

TW/CW: violence, PTSD, loss of loved ones, fire, anxiety, torture, trauma

This is just the kind of sweet, diverse and hopeful dystopia that the world needs more of. Chameleon Moon wasn’t without its flaws, sure, but it was such a lovely novel.

First off, this is easily one of the most diverse novels I’ve read in a long time – we’ve got a polyamorous family at front and center, an asexual MC, a trans woman MC, several nonbinary characters, several Black characters, and several characters with anxiety and PTSD. So a big thank you to RoAnna Sylver for making an effort to make a novel with all that representation!

The characters were the best aspect of the novel for me – they all had such distinct personalities and quirks, and I loved all of the different superpowers they sported. Danae was easily my favorite – I loved all of her little metal creations, and she had such a spirited personality. (Kind of imagined her like Jessie Buckley, for no particular reason.) Hans was also great – he reminded me a lot of Klaus from The Umbrella Academy, if he were a bit more unhinged.

What was really special about Chameleon Moon for me, though, was that even though it was clearly a dystopia, there was a consistent message of hope. Even in the midst of unimaginable horrors, there was still love, still families caring for each other, still listening to everybody’s traumas, and still persisting no matter the odds. It’s an uncommon sight in dystopia, and in times like these, it’s just the kind of novel we need.

All in all, a queer and hopeful dystopia that sets itself apart with no shortage of representation and a powerful message. 4 stars!

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Today’s song:

That’s it for these mini-reviews! 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 Book Review Tuesday, Books

Book Review Tuesday (5/18/21) – Victories Greater Than Death

Happy Tuesday, bibliophiles!

Whoops…I’ve been meaning to review this for…oh, about a month? But studying for AP tests and finals just said “no you won’t :)” so here we are now

And this is also the first review I’ve written in a month, so…

Awkward Look Monkey Puppet | Know Your Meme

[ahem] now back to our scheduled program

I found out about this book via Edelweiss, and the more I heard about it, the more excited I got; Star Wars-inspired sci-fi with tons of queer characters, found family, and a gorgeous cover? SIGN ME UP. So I preordered it at the beginning of this year, and it came in the mail last month. And although it wasn’t exactly everything that I wanted it to be, it was still a lot of fun!

Enjoy this week’s review!

Victories Greater Than Death by Charlie Jane Anders

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

My copy feat. some pretty flowers

On the surface, Tina Mains is an ordinary teenage girl, but she hides an earth-shattering secret: she’s the secret clone of a great alien general. When she comes of age, her destiny is to reunite with her old crewmates in order to defeat intergalactic evil.

No pressure.

So when her beacon finally activates, Tina and her best friend are launched into space, joined by a myriad of aliens and an enlisted squad of self-proclaimed nerds from Earth. As Tina struggles to grapple with her transformation, she realizes that it’ll take more than just inherited wisdom to save the galaxy from annihilation.

I'm new to this sub. Would this Kahoot quote be a possible usable template?  : MemeEconomy
me @ the first half of this book

TW/CW: violence, transphobia, racism, mentions of abuse (past), eugenics

The more I found out about this one, the more excited I got, because…yeah, I’ll pick up anything that’s billed as a “queer space opera.” (Hey. I’m a woman of simple tastes.) But although it wasn’t without its flaws, Victories Greater Than Death was SO much fun!

My major criticism was the pacing. Most space opera is generally pretty fast-paced, but this was…far too much so. I like for things to move along quickly, but for the first half of Victories, everything seemed to happen in mere seconds. We’re on Earth? Nope. WHAM. Weird stuff’s immediately happening. Next page? Different weird thing. WITHOUT MERCY. The pacing made my head spin a bit, but luckily, this was my only major criticism.

Otherwise? GAAAH THIS WAS SO MUCH FUN! The world needs more sci-fi like this; diverse, and with a balanced tone juggling light-hearted fun and grave action. Tina’s struggle as she was thrust into a completely unfamiliar world of aliens and intergalactic politics (and not to mention her newfound legacy) was wonderfully relatable, and I had so much fun tagging along with her adventures across the galaxy. The representation was also incredible: Tina herself is bi/pan, her love interest is a Black trans woman who is also bi/pan, there’s Black, Chinese, and Indian side characters, and many of the alien crewmates have a variety of pronouns. And I’m always up for normalizing asking for people’s pronouns in introductions, and there’s lots of that.

One of the unique aspects of Victories Greater Than Death is that Anders took some pitfalls that most books handle poorly and used them to her advantage. There’s quite a lot of infodumping, but there’s a good reason for it – as Tina is making the transition from her human self to her original alien form, her brain is filling in the gaps as the information from her old life is returning to her. Normally, I absolutely despite infodumps (don’t we all, though?), but this was a genius way to make it work! There was also a huge cast – Tina, Rachel, the rest of the humans, plus all of her alien crewmates; it was tough to remember all of them for most of the book, but weirdly enough, the high body count…helped? Most of the alien characters were fairly underdeveloped, but the ones that we knew almost nothing about were killed off by the end of the book, which…morbidly enough, made things a bit less confusing. Morbid, I know, but I think there had to be at least 20 characters in all. (Same deal with season 4 of Fargo, if you think about it – super wide cast of characters, but at least 80% of them die by the end, so…)

Through it all, though, Victories Greater Than Death made me feel a little warm and fuzzy inside; even though these characters face unbeatable odds, they’re consistently there for each other. No matter their backgrounds or beliefs, they stuck together no matter what. It’s such a sweet found family story.

All in all, a YA sci-fi that was messy and a bit *toooooooo* fast at worst, but diverse, light-hearted, and colorful at best. 3.5 stars!

the next world | Guardians of the galaxy, Marvel cinematic universe, Marvel  cinematic

Victories Greater Than Death is the first in the Unstoppable trilogy, followed by two untitled (as of now) books set to come out in 2022 and 2023, respectively. Charlie Jane Anders is also the author of All the Birds in the Sky, The City in the Middle of the Night, and several other novels.

Today’s song:

no I’m not gonna shut up about this album

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

Posted in Books

Pride Month Book Recommendations, Week 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!