This is a very delayed and big wrap up! I won’t blame you if you don’t read the whole post!
So obviously it’s well past the end of June, but as you know, I was traveling and very busy with things. Today, I’ll be combining everything into one wrap-up because I didn’t read much outside of the two readathons I did last month. Literally, I finished only two books that were not for any readathon. Let’s start with those, since I read them at the beginning of the month!
First up is The One Hundred Nights of Hero. This is a graphic novel about two women who are trying to avoid sleeping with a man so one of them tells a story that goes on for a hundred nights. It’s kind of multiple stories that connect and weave together into one larger narrative. That’s all I will say, because this was surprisingly good. It does include queer stories, and diverse perspectives which was nice.
The second book I read was Leah on the Offbeat. This is in the same world as Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda and centers on Leah instead of Simon. She’s a drummer in a band, is snarky as hell, and very self-conscious about her drawing skills. She’s also bisexual, but no one knows—even her openly gay BFF, Simon. Tensions are rising as the end of senior year approaches, and her friend group starts to crack. It’s hard for Leah to keep going, especially when she has a realization she loves one of them more than she thought. I know some people didn’t like it, but I personally really enjoyed it. Sure, Leah was a bit negative, but it fits in who she is, and I often read it as snark, not negativity. I’d recommend it if you liked Simon.
Now to the rest of the books I read this month, which were all from the readathons. The first readathon I did was the Libraryathon, then I co-hosted the Queer Lit Readathon with Kathy Trithardt. Of course, I’ll start with the Libraryathon books. I will just go through the books, not bother with telling you what the challenges were and such (see my previous post for that). There were six challenges and I read seven books.
The first book I read was Saints and Misfits. It’s about Janna, a hijabi teen girl who’s struggling with her identity as a Muslim, and with the fact that there’s a monster in her mosque that acts holy to everyone, but attempted to rape her. Despite that heavy storyline, this book was amazing. It touches on a lot of different things that Muslims have to deal with, love, friendship, and it was all wonderfully done. This has a great mix of characters, some Muslim, some not. As a non-Muslim, I really enjoyed this book, and I’ve seen a lot of reviews from Muslims that loved this book.
The second book I read was Love, Hate, & Other Filters. Seventeen-year-old Maya Aziz is stuck between two worlds. The one her parents want for her, going to college close to home and being paired off with a good Muslim boy. And the one she wants, her dreams of going to New York for film school, and maybe falling in love with a boy she’s known for a long time. At the same time, there’s the real world, which is not kind. A terrorist attack happened, and her family immediately feels the effects. I enjoyed this read, but be aware that I’ve seen some Muslim people say this isn’t exactly great Muslim rep. Maya doest not fit in the “standard” Muslim role, there were several Islam rules that were blatantly broken in this, but not commented on. Also, I didn’t particularly like the chapter dividers that had the perspective of the terrorist (which—spoiler alert—was white), it felt like it was excusing him for his actions. But overall, I enjoyed this read.
The third book I chose to read was Your Heart is a Muscle the Size of a Fist, and it is very interesting! It’s set in 1999, during the anti-WTO protests that shook Seattle. It follows seven characters over the course of a day, and what they’re going through during the protest. Two of them are experienced protesters, one is a mixed race 19-year-old who stumbled upon the protest, one is the police chief and the father of the 19-year-old, one is a Sri Lankan minister there for the WTO meetings, and two are police officers charged with keeping the peace. It was fascinating seeing all the different perspectives in different places during the day, going through completely different things.
Next book I read was The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry. This book is life, and I want to live in a bookstore. Fikry is a cranky man who owns a bookstore and lives above it, his wife passed away relatively recently. His bookstore’s sales aren’t doing well at all, his prized possession which is a rare collection of Poe’s poems has been stolen, and he’s slowly isolating himself from all the residents on Alice Island. He’s feeling completely lost, like the world’s changing too quickly. But then a mysterious package arrives at the bookstore, one that changes AJ’s life for the better. This book is honestly amazing, you need to read it.
Next was Queens of Geek, and I am SO happy I finally got to read this book! This is written from two perspectives—Taylor, who is a socially anxious person that is a huge geek and fears change, and Charlie, who’s a vlogger and actress trying to get through her recent breakup with her co-star. They travel together with their other best friend, Jamie, to SupaCon. This is about the chaos of conventions, drama that happens when you’re a celebrity, but it’s also about friendship and love, how important that can be. I LOVED this book, especially because it has bi rep in Charlie.
The book I read after Queens was The Upside of Unrequited. I didn’t love it as much as Simon or Leah, but I still enjoyed this! It’s set in the same universe as those books, and it’s about Molly Peskin-Suso, a fat girl who is very familiar with unrequited love, and has had 26 crushes. Her twin sister, Cassie, tries to get her to confess her love, but Molly is deathly afraid of rejection. Then her sister, who’s very cynical, falls in love. Molly’s dying of loneliness, but Cassie’s new girlfriend comes with a very cute hipster friend. He just might be the one… Except she works with Reid, an awkward Tolkien superfan. THere’s no way she could fall for him… Right? I don’t know if this is because I’m a white, average-bodied man, but Molly did seem really negative to me about a lot of things. Her size, her twin sister and her new relationship, the boys she has crushes on. But I did enjoy this book in general. I really liked that Molly’s family was casually queer, and when it was first brought up, it wasn’t made a big deal. Her moms behave like any other family, one gave birth to Molly and Cassie, the other gave birth to their baby brother, Xavier. They do touch on family conflict of a member not being okay with their queerness, but it’s handled really well. And I will stop there, let’s move on.
The last book I read for this readathon was Bitters: A Spirited History of a Classic Cure-All, with Cocktails, Recipes, and Formulas. That was a mouthful! This book was a relatively quick read, since I skimmed over the recipes and read the history bits. It’s pretty much what the title says, it explains the history of bitters. It goes back to when they were invented as a cure-all, and grew into a way to get your booze hit when Prohibition started, and how they nearly disappeared because of Prohibition. I enjoyed learning some more history about alcohol and things!
Now that’s the Libraryathon books done, onto the Queer Lit Readathon books! My TBR had five books, and I managed to finish seven books. The two extra aren’t ones that I mentioned in my TBR, I’ll explain when I get there.
I started off with Mean Little deaf Queer. (The lowercase d is very purposeful, it’s not a typo.) This book is a memoir written by Terry Galloway about her life growing up, becoming deaf at a later age, discovering her queer identity at the same time as learning how to fit in the hearing world and get by. This was not my favorite read, but it certainly was very interesting! She’s very honest about how she could be very mean as a child, all her anger at what was happening to her and how people treated her both as a queer person and a deaf person.
The next book I read was the group read, The Brightsiders. This was AMAZING and is so queer! Brightsiders is a band of three teens, one who is openly nonbinary, the other two members are also queer. Emmy, the main character, has landed in a juicy tabloid mess after getting wasted at a party and landing in the hospital. Luckily, she has a great support system in her bandmates and friends. But she keeps doing something that could cause disaster, will it end in trouble or will she be able to stand on her own?
After the group read, I jumped right into The Prince and the Dressmaker, which is a damn adorable book. The prince of a kingdom hires a dressmaker to make dresses for him in secret, and he goes out on the night as Lady Crystallia. No one knows of this except the dressmaker and his servant. Of course, drama happens but it’s soooo good!
After that, I decided to read a bonus book since it was due at the library soon, and I was very much in the mood for a superhero story. That book was Dreadnought. The main character is a closeted trans girl, who sees the strongest and best superhero die in front of her. When he dies, his powers are passed onto her, and her body gets transformed into her ideal, which is a girl’s. She’s suddenly forced to confront her family with who she is, and deal with these new powers on top of that. Danny is thrown in to the world of superheroes and what it actually takes to be one. Dreadnought is amazing! I can’t wait to read the next book, Sovereign.
Next, I read Drifting Toward Love: Black, Brown, Gay and Coming of Age on the Streets of New York. It’s a quite long title, but it tells you everything you need to know about this book. It’s nonfiction, written by journalist Kai Wright, who followed several men of color who lived on the streets of New York City and were also queer. This spans many years, as Kai follows their journey, things they confronted on the streets and what they had to do to survive. It’s a powerful story, and worth a read.
Next book I read is the other bonus book, which is Her Body and Other Parties. It’s a collection of short stories, and some of them are very bizarre. Not all of the stories are queer, but some of them have explicitly queer stories, which is why I’m including it in this. I also read this because it was due back at the library.
And to close this readathon, I read History is All You Left Me. Griffin is dealing with the very recent death of Theo, his first love and ex-boyfriend who he still loved. His universe collapses, because even though Theo had started seeing someone else, he had always imagined Theo would come back to him. To make things even harder, the only other person who understands him is Jackson, Theo’s boyfriend. Despite their difficult opening up to each other, Griffin keeps going down in a destructive spiral, losing himself in bad choices and his compulsive behaviors. The only way he can heal is by confronting his history, every painful bit. This book was amazing, a little difficult to read at times. The way it’s written is interesting, the chapters will alternate between Today and History, weaving the story together bit by bit. You learn some things that happened in the past that affect things happening today, and how Griffin saw things back then and today.
Aaaaand that is it for the Libraryathon and Queer Lit Readathon wrap ups! That is also it for my June books. I did start two books, Only Human and The Handmaid’s Tale, but have not finished them yet and probably will not for a while. We shall see. I’m also still reading Lord of Snow and Shadows, but I should be done with that soon. I’ve gone ahead and done a TBR mug drawing to get options this month. The three books are: Thyme of Death; IBM and the Holocaust; and The Story of General Dann… (the title is very long). At last, I am finished for today. Let me know what books you’ve read, what you liked/didn’t like. That’s it for me today, bye!
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