Posted in Book Review Tuesday

Book Review Tuesday (11/29/22) – The All-Consuming World

Happy Tuesday, bibliophiles!

I never learn, do I? Every few weeks, I always start craving sci-fi again, and when there’s nothing readily available at the library or on Kindle, I just sift through the dust bunnies in my TBR until I find something interesting. And to be fair, The All-Consuming World did sound interesting. I was willing to give it a chance despite the pitifully low ratings it’s been getting (a 3.28/5 on Goodreads, as of now), but it turned out to be exactly the disappointment that the reviews promised.

Enjoy this week’s review!

The All-Consuming World – Cassandra Khaw

Maya’s glory days are over. After being resurrected dozens of times, she’s slowly outgrown the Dirty Dozen, the galaxy’s most infamous criminal group, and decided to make her own way. But when the galaxy’s ruler, an all-powerful, sentient AI, threatens to hold their realm in a chokehold, it’s up to Maya to recruit the disbanded bunch of cyborgs, clones, and lowlives to save the galaxy from complete control.

TW/CW: body horror, sci-fi violence, amputation/emergency medical procedures, suicide

DNF at 35%.

I genuinely can’t think of a book with a more jarring writing style than this one. Jarring can sometimes be good, but in the case of The All-Consuming World, it seemed like a case of vast stylistic indecision, and this indecision dragged the entire book down with it. I really wanted to like this book—queer space opera is always up my alley, and I always want to try and support queer authors—but it ended up being a sore disappointment all the way through. (What I could stand to read before I gave up, anyway.) As I always say with my negative reviews: I completely understand. Putting yourself out there as an author is an immensely hard thing to do, and I always admire the work put in. But this book just did not click with me at all.

The writing style is what, for me, made The All-Consuming World crash and burn. Maya was clearly supposed to be a rough-around-the-edges character, battered and bruised, and all around Tough and Gritty™️, and at least half what I read seemed to try and get that voice…with at least 15 f-bombs dropped within rapid succession of each other on each page. Now, I don’t have a problem with swearing at all, and I appreciate the art of a well-placed, well-timed swear. But the excess of ill-placed cusses (along with more f-bombs than there are leaves on the trees in the Amazon Rainforest)—half of which were in combinations that made absolutely no sense at all—made for writing that read more like a middle schooler trying to be edgy than a tough and hardened criminal.

But on the other hand, the other half of what I read was some of the wordiest, floweriest prose I’ve ever read. And some of that had moments of being good—I’ll give Khaw some credit for that—but it was such a jarring contrast. Sometimes, juxtaposition like this works, but the two, distinct voices that Khaw was trying to go for had such a vast gulf in tone between them that it lacked any sense of cohesion whatsoever. I really wanted to stick it out to see what happened, but it was just giving me such a headache to try and weather the writing, so I had to quit.

I stopped at 35% of the way through, and I still don’t have a clue what was going on, plot-wise. I seriously can’t remember if there was a plot beneath all of the flashbacks and exposition, impenetrable prose, and multitudinous f-bombs. From the synopsis, I was told that Dimmuborgir was supposed to be a central plot point, but I only remember it being mentioned a single time. Yes, 35% of the way in isn’t all that far, but that close to the halfway point, I would’ve thought that the characters would have at least moved the slightest bit towards their destination. It was all very…vague. Vague sense of rebellion towards a vague concept of an omniscient, ruling AI with a vague set of characters that fell into either AI or Hardened Criminal™️ boxes. And the worldbuilding? Left the building before the book had even begun. Trying to read The All-Consuming World felt like trying to dig through a messy closet, and emerging an hour later without having found the thing you needed to find in the first place.

All in all, a book that it pains me to rate so low, but crashed and burned in almost every conceivable aspect. 1 star.

The All-Consuming World is a standalone, but Cassandra Khaw is also the author of the Persons Non Grata series (Hammers on Bone and A Song for Quiet), Nothing but Blackened Teeth, These Deathless Bones, and several other novels and novellas.

Today’s song:

BACK TO BLUR AGAIN!! so far, this is my least favorite album of theirs that I’ve listened to, but it’s still a fantastic listen—take this song, for instance

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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Book Review Tuesday (11/15/22) – She Gets the Girl

Happy Tuesday, bibliophiles! Even more snow today…

I initially put She Gets the Girl on my TBR because of so much buzz from my fellow bloggers, and I like to go for a queer romance every once in a while. I read it recently and I liked that it was from the perspective of a freshman in college (hey, it’s me!), but beyond that, it felt more like a mess of unlikeable characters and uncomfortable peer pressure instead of feel-good romance.

Enjoy this week’s review!

She Gets the Girl – Rachael Lippincott and Alyson Derrick

Alex Blackwood is entering college on the heels of a nasty breakup. Molly Parker is looking for love, and she’s in luck—her longtime crush, Cora Myers, is attending the same college as her. Problem is, Molly’s hopelessly awkward, especially around people she likes. When she and Alex have a chance encounter, they hatch a plan for Alex to polish up Molly’s flirting skills so that she can get the girl. But when Molly starts falling for Alex instead of Cora, the end goal becomes hazy…

TW/CW: alcoholism, toxic relationships, internalized racism, substance abuse

It’s all fun and games until the romance you picked up because you wanted it to be somewhat “feel-good” turns out to be…more uncomfortable than feel-good. It’s even harder when you hate one of the characters, and harder still when the two main characters seem to have hardly any chemistry. That’s the story of She Gets the Girl—a romance with an easy enough concept that was dragged down by forced and unlikable elements.

I’m sorry, I just have to get it out of the way: I hated Alex Blackwood. Hated her. It was clear that the authors were trying to make her a rough-around-the-edges character that would a) contrast Molly’s uptight and awkward personality and b) push her out of her comfort zone, which was a good enough pairing in concept. Key words here are “in concept.” What Alex ended up being was a total hypocrite—she’s so intent on being the opposite of her toxic ex, but turns around and manages to be just as toxic, just in a different way. And the whole concept of pushing Molly out of her comfort zone so that she can get with Cora? Most of it just ended up being Alex forcing Molly to do things that she was deeply uncomfortable with.

Thus, Molly and Alex had almost zero chemistry. Their entire relationship was built on the shaky foundation of knowing that they would end up together by the end of the book, and not much else. Everything was just…so forced. It’s heavily implied that Cora wasn’t a good option either since, yes, it as forced, but…I really don’t think dating Alex would’ve been a great option either, seeing as how much of a manipulative jerk she was to Molly. Proposed third option: Molly just takes off and finds better friends/lovers that…y’know, aren’t toxic?

That brings me to the weird message of this book. Throughout the book, all of the things that Alex pushes Molly to do to win Cora’s love involve changing herself in some way: changing her wardrobe into things she would normally be uncomfortable wearing, going to events that you have no experience in just to fit in with Cora, etc. It was sort of resolved by the relationship with Cora not working out, but Alex’s “advice” boiled down to Molly changing herself so that Cora would like her. I suppose they were trying to go with a “be true to yourself” message, which I really would’ve liked, but they resolved it by…pairing Molly with Alex, the one who was trying to force Molly to change in the first place. And Alex never apologizes for any of that—they just fall in love and then move on. Hence—no chemistry. No repercussions, save for the fling with Cora not working out. All that really happened was Alex’s manipulative actions being rewarded, which really rubbed me the wrong way. Even though Molly and Alex got into an argument about that, there was no sense of Alex taking responsibility for forcing Molly into all that uncomfortable stuff. I really wish Lippincott and Derrick had handled their relationship—and the message—better. She Gets the Girl had an easy way to send a good message, but it ended up bungling it all in the end.

There were a few aspects of She Gets the Girl that I did like. It’s always nice to have a mixed race character, and having Molly be mixed race really freshened things up, as well as some of the discussions about internalized racism. Even though I still despise Alex, the way they handled the situation with her mother was also respectfully handled—hard to read, but it seemed genuine to me. However, a lot of this ended up being overshadowed by how much of a mess the rest of the book was.

Overall, a romance that stumbled and fell when creating chemistry between the two characters, making for an uncomfortable book—and an uncomfortable message. 2 stars.

She Gets the Girl is a standalone, and the first and only book that Rachael Lippincott has written with her wife, Alyson Derrick. Lippincott is also the author of Five Feet Apart and All This Time (both co-written with Mikki Daughtry), as well as The Lucky List.

Today’s song:

listened to the whole album yesterday! it was one of those cases where I listened to all of the best songs beforehand so the rest of the album wasn’t *as* good (still good though), but it’s a great 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 Book Review Tuesday

Book Review Tuesday (11/8/22) – Huntress (Ash, #0.5)

Happy Tuesday, bibliophiles!

Huntress is one of those books that just sat on my TBR collecting dust for several years. I decided to read it after finishing Ash a few years back, and I finally was able to get my hands on a copy from the university library. After remembering liking Ash, my expectations were average, and I was rewarded with a solid, strong fairytale full of darkness in unexpected places.

Huntress is technically a prequel, but it doesn’t necessarily require reading Ash beforehand, as its set in the same world, but hundreds of years earlier (you should read it anyway, though!). If you’d like to read my review of Ash, click here!

Enjoy this week’s review!

Huntress (Ash, #0.5) – Malinda Lo

Kaede and Taisin have been chosen for an insurmountable task: restoring order to the human world. For years, the sun hasn’t shone, the crops have dried up, and strange creatures have begun to breach the boundaries of human and otherworldly. The only way for them to seek answers is through the mysterious Fairy Queen, but the journey there may be more dangerous than what lies at the end. But as members of their party begin to die off, Kaede and Taisin must grapple with their futures—the future of the human world, and of the feelings they’re having for each other.

TW/CW: blood, fantasy violence, death, descriptions of injuries/corpses

“I don’t want to marry the man you arranged for me to marry because I don’t know him and I want to have control over my life”: good, good

“I don’t want to marry the man you arranged for me to marry because I don’t know him, I want to have control over my life, and also I’m a lesbian”: EVEN BETTER

It’s been a few years since I’ve read Ash, but reading Huntress doesn’t necessarily require a whole lot of knowledge of Ash‘s world to understand it. What remains, however, is that you have to remember that it was some of the first of its kind. Nowadays, YA is dominated by fairytale-inspired and fairytale retellings, some of which are queer, but stories like Ash and this companion were some of the first ones to do so—and some of the first to be openly queer. If you remember that (and if you can get past the painfully dated cover), you’re in for a fun ride—a dark and atmospheric piece of high fantasy filled with all sorts of danger and strange creatures.

Lo’s world is pretty distinctly High Fantasy™️, which I’ve been jaded with as of late, but her unique spin on it was enough to create a captivating world. Although the magic system was a little hazy, Lo’s descriptions of the barren landscape and treacherous forests created a world that felt real enough to step into. Even more captivating were the creatures that inhabited this world—everything from unicorns to horrifying changelings; the mythology around them and the stakes they created propelled the story even more. Plus, it’s always refreshing to have non-European inspiration for a high fantasy novel; in the author’s note, Lo explains that most of the book was inspired by both Chinese and Japanese mythology.

What I remember about Ash was how much I loved the main couple, but with Huntress, that was a little bit less of the case. In fact, I found Kaede and Taisin to be almost interchangeable (accentuated by the sporadic POV changes), but still compelling enough to root for. Most of the other characters were rather underdeveloped and forgettable, but Lo has a grim solution for the problem—killing them off. For me, it was Con who stole the show; he was the only character with a distinct personality, and it was a very lovable one at that. He’s the kind of character who probably would’ve been lumped in as the love interest in any other YA book, but having him as a platonic friend was so much more endearing.

Even though I loved Lo’s worldbuilding, I still wish that more was explored; we only got tidbits of the creatures in the Fairy Queen’s kingdom, and especially since the main villain was introduced so late in the book, I wished that we’d spent less time on the road and more time near the destination. The journey was interesting, sure, but it would’ve been more interesting to explore the more alien, unfamiliar corners of the world Lo created.

All in all, a solid piece of fantasy that made good use of its dark, barren atmosphere, but could’ve pushed it even further. 3.5 stars!

Huntress is a prequel to Ash, and they are the only books set in that universe. Malinda Lo is also the author of Last Night at the Telegraph Club, the Adaptation duology (consisting of Adaptation and Inheritance), and several other books for teens and adults.

Today’s song:

found this and “Metal Mickey” in a video somebody made of a medley of Britpop riffs, and…maybe I should check them out now?

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 (11/1/22) – I Am the Ghost in Your House

Happy Tuesday, bibliophiles! I hope you all had a safe and spooky Halloween!! I went to class (and took a stats test) dressed up as Columbia from The Rocky Horror Picture Show (in the pajamas and the Mickey Mouse ears), so that was a lot of fun, even though I didn’t see a bunch of other people dressed up. I guess most of the Halloween festivities happened over the weekend. Oh well.

I picked this book up on a whim while scrolling through the books on my Libby wishlist to see what was available. The cover was already eye-catching (no pun intended), but I didn’t expect for I Am the Ghost in Your House to hit as hard as it did—stunning prose and a poignant, strange story to match.

Enjoy this week’s review!

I Am the Ghost in Your House – Mar Romasco Moore

Pie and her mother have been on the run for their entire lives. They are both invisible—Pie born and her mother turned as a teenager—and have been living in other people’s houses all across America. Their lives are constantly transient, and although Pie has lived in many places, she doesn’t have a place to call home.

When her mother disappears, possibly dead, Pie is left alone. Sheltering in Pittsburgh with a group of art students, she goes in search of her missing mother and a girl she once loved. But if the girl Pie loves can never see her, how can they be together?

TW/CW: kidnapping, off-page sexual assault (past), substance abuse, absent father

For a book I picked up almost purely on a whim, this was such an emotional hard-hitter. From this alone, I’m absolutely going to seek out Moore’s other books—I haven’t read such fantastic, immersive prose in ages, and through Pie, Moore has created a truly unique protagonist and a strange world paired with her.

Moore’s prose is what stood out the most to me about I Am the Ghost in Your House. Magical realism is a hard genre to get right, and writing prose that fits with it can be half the battle, and it’s a battle that Moore absolutely won; their weaving of delicate metaphors into Pie’s voice created such a distinct atmosphere around the whole book, as though we too were nestled in lonely train cars, unable to be seen by anyone but our own kin. I read this on my Kindle, and I highlighted so many passages—Moore’s prose rarely faltered, and it was the perfect vehicle to carry this story.

The worldbuilding behind invisibility in I Am the Ghost in Your House was incredibly thought out as well! With magical realism novels like these, it’s sometimes okay to have changes to a world with little to no explanation—it adds some ambiguity to the story, and if it’s done well, it can add a charm and mystery to the world. Moore, however, has done the opposite. Without infodumping or rambling excessively, they define so much about invisibility, its origins, and more importantly, its limits, in terms that make something so fantastical seem so authentic. It feels like the kind of story that stemmed from a conversation—what would you do if you were invisible? Where would you live? What would you get away with, knowing that nobody’s watching?

Pie herself, however, was what made this novel so emotional and poignant. There’s an intense loneliness to her; after her mother disappears, she has nobody, since her father left her before she was born. Moore’s prose shapes a character with seemingly ordinary struggles—unrequited love and general uncertainty, among other things—into someone so deeply isolated, someone fighting alone, since only a handful of people can even see her in the first place. But as she develops, meeting other people and coming to terms with truths about her family, she finds closure in solace in knowing that she’s never been alone, being able to communicate with visible people and knowing that there are others out there like her.

My only problem was the paranormal investigator subplot. In contrast to how smoothly and deliberately most of the book moved, this spot near the end felt rushed and unfinished, thrown in at the last minute to add conflict where there didn’t need to be. Since it was crammed in the last 20% of the book or so, it didn’t feel like it had any place, other than providing a little more worldbuilding details on invisibility. Given what happens to Pie, the suddenness almost feels genuine, but it seemed to come more from a place of rushed writing than actual feeling.

All in all, a bittersweet and atmospheric piece of magical realism that never falters in its deeply emotional core. 4.25 stars!

I Am the Ghost in Your House is a standalone, but Mar Romasco Moore is also the author of Some Kind of Animal and the anthology Ghostographs: An Album.

Today’s song:

this song just emanates sheer power—there’s truly nothing quite like it

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

Posted in Book Review Tuesday

Book Review Tuesday (7/5/22) – Among Thieves

Happy Tuesday, bibliophiles!

I forget when or how I came upon this book, but looking back, I sadly wish that I’d passed it by; I put it on hold at the library to have another queer fantasy book to read, but I ended up finishing it in about an hour feeling sorely disappointed. The reviews promised Six of Crows but gayer (of course you have my attention), but what I read ended up being a shameless Six of Crows ripoff.

Enjoy this week’s review!

Among Thieves (Thieves, #1) – M.J. Kuhn

Ryia Cautella is an infamous assassin, earning the name of The Butcher with her axe-wielding tactics. What she hides, however, is her past; after narrowly escaping the Guildmaster, the tyrant ruler of her kingdom, he and his lackeys have been searching all over the city of Callowwick for her. The only way out is to find her way into the Guildmaster’s highly fortified stronghold, and it’s a job she can’t do alone. With the help of Cal Clem, the head of a failing crime syndicate, and a band of criminals and misfits, Ryia may finally have a chance at freedom. But will her search for freedom cost Ryia her life?

TW/CW: slavery, violence, dismemberment, mentions of branding

I’ve noticed a trend over the past few years with YA; after the dystopian craze (mostly) blew over, fantasy heist books in the vein of Six of Crows started becoming far more popular. Unlike a lot of the dystopian books that came after books like The Hunger Games, however, the fantasy heist trend actually produced plenty of really fun, memorable books with a lot of originality. However, with every book trend, there come books that are obvious, blatant ripoffs of their inspiration. I hate to say it, but Among Thieves is one of them.

Now, I try to preface my negative reviews with this: I 100% understand how hard it is to put yourself out there into the book world. And there’s some slack I’m willing to give Among Thieves since it appears to be M.J. Kuhn’s debut novel.

That being said…all I can really say about Among Thieves is that it’s basically a Walmart version of Six of Crows.

Soon after the book started, I noticed all the pieces falling into place for a vague Six of Crows ripoff; apart from a little gender-swapping, most of the characters were nearly carbon copies of the iconic characters from Six of Crows; the only major difference I found was that there was a sapphic romance (sort of?) between Ryia (Inej, basically) and a gender-swapped version of Wylan (Evelyn), and that Cal (Kaz) just stood there on the sidelines. Otherwise, it was almost offensive how much these characters were almost carbon-copies of SoC characters—most notably Ivan, who was so, so similar to Matthias that it nearly gave me a headache. Same appearance, same vaguely-Northern/Western-European fantasy background, same personality…the only difference was that he was a forger. That was it. It’s always great if you take inspiration from certain books when you create your book—in fact, it’s impossible not to take some inspiration from something—but if it becomes as blatant as a ripoff as this, it’s just a steaming, unoriginal pile of garbage.

Nothing made much sense after Cal and Ryia assembled their crew. Granted, as soon as I saw how ripped-off the characters were, I started to lose faith in everything else. That being said, most of the heist made little to no sense, and the progression just felt like being tossed around to random places with seemingly no sense or purpose. They’re trying to break into this stronghold, and…now they’re in a prizefighting ring? Now they’re at sea again? It just felt like “now we’re in an airplane!” kind of nonsensical plot progression without any rhyme or reason.

As for what the reviews described as “Six of Crows but gayer,” I felt…more than a little let down. There was sapphic representation (sort of a will-they-won’t-they romance between Evelyn and Ryia), but they seemed to be the only queer characters. I would’ve liked it more if I was more invested in the characters, but it was…just alright. Nothing groundbreaking, and it wasn’t exactly “gayer” than SoC, since it had the exact same amount of queer rep that SoC did. I love sapphic fantasy any day, but it left me wanting a lot more. Most of the book did, really.

All in all, a half-baked ripoff of Six of Crows that seemed far too obvious for its own good. I slapped on a half star to my rating since Kuhn’s writing style had moments of being good, but that’s about all of the positives I can think of for this book. 1.5 stars.

Among Thieves is M.J. Kuhn’s debut novel, and the first novel in the Thieves series, followed by the forthcoming Thick as Thieves, slated to be published in 2023.

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 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 Month Recs (2022 Edition) – Contemporary/Realistic Fiction🏳️‍⚧️🏳️‍🌈

Happy Wednesday, bibliophiles!

Here we have the last of my pride month recommendations for this year! This post is focused on contemporary and realistic fiction books, but romance and mystery are included in here as well. And as always with my recommendations: diversify your reading 24/7, but always take this time to uplift LGBTQ+ voices!

(click here for this year’s queer YA sci-fi and fantasy recs!)

So let’s begin, shall we?

🏳️‍🌈THE BOOKISH MUTANT’S 2022 YA PRIDE MONTH RECS: CONTEMPORARY/REALISTIC FICTION 🏳️‍🌈

Perfect on Paper, Sophie Gonzales

LGBTQ+ REP: Bisexual MC, lesbian, bi, pan/nonbinary, and gay side characters, straight-passing relationship

MY RATING: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

I’m saying this as a proud bisexual woman: Perfect on Paper is seriously some of the best bisexual rep I’ve ever read! There’s so many important discussions in this book, from internalized biphobia to how the queer community views straight-passing relationships, all with a sweet and messy romance!

Sick Kids in Love, Hannah Moskowitz

LGBTQ+ REP: Bisexual love interest, straight-passing relationship

MY RATING: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️.5

Sick Kids in Love is such an important book for so many reasons (namely its groundbreaking disability rep), but this is what intersectionality looks like—both protagonists are disabled and Jewish, and the love interest is also bisexual! Always warms my heart to see disabled bisexual characters.

The Falling in Love Montage, Ciara Smyth

LGBTQ+ REP: Lesbian protagonist, lesbian love interest, wlw relationship

MY RATING: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

A tender and emotional piece of teen romance, complete with messy lesbian misadventures and plenty of rom-com references.

Loveless, Alice Oseman

LGBTQ+ REP: Aromantic/asexual MC, lesbian, aroace/nonbinary, pansexual side characters

MY RATING: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

I’m not ace myself, but I’m certain that Loveless’ coming-of-age asexuality story will resonate with so many ace readers!

Sasha Masha, Agnes Borinsky

LGBTQ+ REP: Trans woman MC

MY RATING: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

A beautiful coming of age story about a trans teenager discovering her identity!

Ace of Spades, Faridah Àbíké-Íyímídé

LGBTQ+ REP: Bisexual MC, Gay MC

MY RATING: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

A nail-biting thriller and a fierce and suspenseful manifesto for the takedown of institutionalized racism!

Heartstopper, Alice Oseman

LGBTQ+ REP: Gay MC, bisexual love interest, mlm relationship, trans woman, lesbian, and gay side characters, side wlw relationship

MY RATING: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

I’d be remiss if I didn’t include Heartstopper here—such a sweet and heartwarming LGBTQ+ romance comic! Plus, I can say with certainty that the bisexual rep is ON POINT. I adored the Netflix show too! (did anybody else full-on SOB during Nick’s coming out scene 😭)

TELL ME WHAT YOU THINK! What are your favorite queer YA contemporary/realistic fiction books? Have you read any of these books, and if so, what did you think of them? Tell me in the comments!

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 (6/21/22) – A Lesson in Vengeance

Happy Tuesday, bibliophiles!

I really didn’t have much attachment to this book; I think I just put it on my TBR because I’d like Victoria Lee’s previous book, The Fever King, a decent amount, and I’d heard there was queer rep in it. I ended up fishing it out of my TBR to find specifically queer books for pride month, and it was available at my local library, so why not? To my dismay, A Lesson in Vengeance was one of the most frustrating books I’d read in a long time—it’s been a while since I’ve been this angry at a book.

Enjoy this week’s review!

A Lesson in Vengeance – Victoria Lee

Felicity Morrow carries a great burden: she may have been responsible for the untimely death of her girlfriend, Alex. After that fateful day, she took a semester off from the Dalloway School, a legendary—and perhaps haunted—boarding school deep in the mountains. But when she returns, a fascinating girl named Ellis has arrived, a teen author prodigy who came to the school to research for her next novel. Felicity and Ellis become entrenched in the history of occult and witchcraft tied to the Dalloway School, but the path they go down is one that could lead to death—or worse.

TW/CW: murder, gore, animal death, loss of loved ones, mental health issues (depression), grief, toxic relationships, descriptions of murder (hanging, burying alive, etc.)

I don’t think a book has made me this angry in ages. I should’ve DNF’d it, but I almost just finished it out of spite. I recognize that there’s so much work that goes into writing a book and putting it out into the world, so take this review as you will, but god. I have an absolute laundry list of gripes with this book, I’m sad to say.

A Lesson in Vengeance pretty clearly took inspiration from The Secret History, a book that I didn’t expect to enjoy as much as I did. But there’s a key aspect of The Secret History that A Lesson in Vengeance astronomically missed the mark on that could’ve made or broke it: it’s established early on that it’s a cautionary tale, and that these characters are either already horribly toxic people or that the book is their corruption arc. A Lesson in Vengeance misses that by miles, and these deeply flawed characters are romanticized. I’m not saying that I need “UNRELIABLE TOXIC NARRATOR” in skywriting, but the way that Lee romanticized Felicity deliberately going off her meds and dismissing her well-meaning therapists disgusted me. I’m all for “messy” queer characters, but this goes FAR beyond just “messy”—these are just straight-up horrible people, and it seemed like Lee didn’t recognize this or handle it properly.

Let’s talk more about the characters. Lee’s writing style is what earned the half-star from me, but their prose had a fatal flaw when it came to the characters; most of them are meant to be dangerous and alluring, but what was written as “mysterious writer girl with unorthodox methods” was more than anything just another toxic rich person added to the mix. All of the characters were clearly backstabbing, flawed people who solved their problems with drugs and alcohol, but again—it was all romanticized as part of the “dark academia aesthetic.” I’M SORRY, WHAT? How is rich people smoking indoors an “aesthetic?” More importantly, how is DELIBERATELY GOING OFF YOUR MEDS AN “AESTHETIC?” I’ve never been the biggest fan of dark academia, but I can’t deny that when it’s done well, it’s chilling; this, however, was just a mess of a book built off of an aesthetic that failed to realize its fatal shortcomings. I’m sorry, I don’t want to read about rich people smoking indoors for 370-odd pages.

Additionally, there wasn’t much keeping the plot together. I went in thinking that there would be a murder mystery hidden somewhere, along with witches, the occult, and a budding sapphic relationship. However, the book ended up being 60% rich people smoking and drinking themselves silly (uninteresting from the start) with a weak witchcraft sideplot that was sidelined for most of the book and was never really resolved. All of the diversity that this book promised, though well-intentioned, felt more like a checklist: Black character? Check. South-Asian character? Check. And the sapphic relationship that I was hinging on just ended up being a toxic mess of manipulation without any self-awareness of its nature: again, it was framed as an “alluring, mysterious” kind of thing, when in reality, it was just…borderline abusive and devoid of any emotional intelligence whatsoever.

All in all, a premise that had the potential to be mildly interesting, but did nothing more than romanticize its toxic characters and lend itself to a story centered more around a flimsy aesthetic than a plot. 1.5 angry little stars.

A Lesson in Vengeance is a standalone, but Victoria Lee is also the author of the Feverwake series (The Fever King and The Electric Heir, as well as the novellas The Traitor’s Crown and The Stars and Everything in Between) and the forthcoming The Girl That Time Forgot.

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

🏳️‍🌈🏳️‍⚧️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!