*sigh* This is going to be a long one.
Hello and welcome to my April and May book wrap up. The reason why I’m combining the two is because I was busy at the end of April, beginning of May, so I decided to hold it and combine them. I had a feeling I wouldn’t read that much in May. Well. Now I have a total of 20 books to go through. In April, I read 13 books. In May, I read seven books.
In April, the first book I read was Dragon Pearl. This happens in the stars, and it follows Min, who is from a family of fox spirits. They have special magic, they can change their appearance, they can convince other people to do things, illusion magic. They have other magical creatures, like dragons, goblins, and more. Min’s brother is in the military. One day, a person comes to her home, telling her that her brother’s a traitor. She knew that wasn’t right, so she decides to go explore, try to find him herself. This is a really good story about family, friends, what that really means. How magic can be abused, or how it can be used for good. It’s really good, I really enjoyed this. Also, I want to add that this has various queer characters in this. A few non-binary, two that are clearly labeled non-binary. The first one is not a good person, but the second one is one of the secondary main characters, and is a good person. It’s not a big deal at all. The military actually has name-tags with pronouns included on it, I thought that was really cool.
Back in March, I read the first ten issues of Fence. So in April, I read number 11 and 12. I’m not going to say much other than this is a really good queer sports comic. Yes.
Next, I’ll talk about two books together, because they’re part of a series. First, Not Your Sidekick. Second, Not Your Villain. This is a little bit of a play on the superhero tropes, stories. The first book, Not Your Sidekick follows this person who has no powers. Her family has powers, all of them, meaning she should have them too, but nope. That means she has to do something else, she can’t be a superhero. Disappointed at that, life goes on. I don’t want to say too much about this story, because it’s just so good. I went into this not really knowing much more than that, and I’m glad I did. I will mention though, Not Your Sidekick has a secondary main character, whatever, that is the main character of Not Your Villain. And that person is non-binary. So that was really cool, seeing a main non-binary character. It’s a really positive character too. So thumbs up! (Editor’s note: I may be wrong on the non-binary part, I recall reading somewhere that said Bells was. However, Bells only uses he/him pronouns, and never clearly says that, so I could be mistaken. Regardless, it’s great trans representation.)
After reading superhero stories, really enjoying it, I did a complete 360 and read I Hate Fairyland. And… Okay! It is interesting. It’s basically, a six-year-old girl, around six years old, that gets into Fairyland. They give her a quest to find a key to go home. Fine. She goes looking. And looking, and looking. And… She really sucks at questing. She’s stuck in Fairyland until she’s like… Forty? Something. But her body is still a six-year-old girl. So… Imagine this. A six-year-old girl, with curls and all that, with guns and knives, just bloody murdering. She hates everyone. Wow. Just warning you. It’s bright colors, and at first glance, it seems a positive and happy book. Oh no, it’s not. It’s not. It’s really not. Flipping through, you will see it’s gory, sometimes it’s really gory. So. Be warned.
Blood, violence, horrors aside, I read The Book of Speculation. It’s basically about a young librarian who’s back home. His father died recently, his mother died a long time ago when he was young, by drowning. His home is falling apart, he’s desperate for a job. One day, he gets a book from someone who sent it. He looks through it, and it seems that it has a connection to his own family, its history. He does research, trying to figure out what the connection is, why people in his family have a history of dying for a specific reason. I thought it was interesting. *shrugs*
Next, I read another historical fiction, The Atomic City Girls. It’s about the people who worked at the “city” that created the Manhattan Project, creating bombs. This follows two people. A man who’s one of the scientists, and a woman who’s one of the many workers who operated the machines. They didn’t know what they were doing, but they operated the machines. It’s good. It has some discussions about ethics, like should we really do this? It’s like Hidden Figures, it’s kind of a similar idea. But Hidden Figures was heavy on the science part of it, while Atomic City Girls focuses more on the daily life, going to work, coming back home, doings, meeting people, what they’re doing there, more of that. I thought it was good.
Next, for her birthday, my friend Kathy Trithardt did a read-along of this book, In Other Lands. This was a re-read for me, I love this book. I won’t go in-depth too much, because I’ve already read this before. Basically, a boy can see a magical wall no one else can. He decides to go ahead and live on the other side. That land has elves, harpies, mermaids, and so on. War is happening all the time. He becomes one of the council, people who write up the peace treaties and so on. He’s friends with an elf and another human. It’s fantastic. I want to also add that the main character is bi, proud of it. He’s so sarcastic, I love his snark. Yes!
For the next book, I got sent an ARC copy, but the book’s now out. Chase. It’s basically an adult dystopian. I really enjoyed this. It reminds me a lot of We by Yevgeny Zamyatin. It has people who live in a walled city, always under surveillance. They have some privacy, but they pair you. Your partner is decided for you, you don’t get to choose your partner. And they’re all man-woman pairs. No same-sex couples, none. That’s illegal and not allowed. You’re not even allowed to talk about it, no. Very strict and overbearing. The main character gave birth to a daughter. Okay fine. Except. It’s impossible that she is hers, her husband’s, because they haven’t had sex in a long time. So… How is this possible she got pregnant? I will warn you, this is the first in a series, I believe a trilogy. And the first book ends on a huge cliffhanger. Be warned.
Finishing with Chase, I decided I wanted to re-read the Backstagers, both Vol. 1 and Vol. 2. I just… Love these. It has some queer characters in this, one trans character, bi/gay, I’m not sure, but it’s diverse. It happens at an all-boys private school, and it focuses on the people who work backstage. But the backstage is huge and magical, it’s not–it’s impossible to be that big. They have strange rooms, stories of monsters and adventure! Yes. If you haven’t already read this, what are you doing? Read it.
To wrap up April, I finally finished The Stuff of Thought. The full title is The Stuff of Thought: Language as a Window into Human Nature. This is a VERY dense book. A lot of linguistic terms, a lot of deep analysis. Just be warned, it’s part of the reason why it took me so long to finish this. This is really fascinating, it analyzes how certain ways we say things, we say that because it depends on physics, or it depends on how the physical world works. It’s really in-depth and complex, but very fascinating. It does mention deaf people, signing, it’s mentioned a little bit throughout briefly. Not very in-depth, it focuses mostly on English. How language works in English, not other languages. It will sometimes compare with examples from other languages, but it’s mostly heavily focused on English, why English is structured the way it is, how we think influences it, and how language influences how we think. It’s really fascinating. So if you love linguistics, semantics, grammar, all of that, this is a good read.
In May, the first book was The Collapsing Empire. It’s a free ebook I got from Tor Publishing. People who live in a world where it’s really spread out, in the future. Because they have something called the Flow, it’s basically a current that’s subspace or something. That you have to have specific tech to be able to enter and not die. With that, you can travel back and forth. So the human empire spread out because of that. It happens that they discover it’s starting to have problems. That Flow is starting to collapse. What to do, how to deal with that? Panic! I don’t want to say more than that, because… Yes. It’s really good. I really enjoyed this book, I definitely want to keep reading more.
Next, I read The Fever King. This is in a dystopian world where many countries collapsed and are in chaos. New countries are established. This mostly happens in what used to be the US. Now, there are three areas. Carolinia, the east/south area. Texas became a country. The chaos is partly because they had a virus that spread fast, killed a lot of people. Now, if you get that fever, and survive… You will come out of it with magic. What that magic is depends on the person, there’s different abilities. This follows one person who survived through it. He joins the military to learn how to use his magic abilities. In an elite unit, where all of them have abilities. Understand this, his family are refugees to Carolinia. They’ve been protesting, they don’t like how they (the government) look down on people from his home. They want to improve, have better lives, so he decided to join the military with the goal of getting better lives, and maybe destroy the military. I thought… I really enjoyed this, I definitely want to read the next book. The main character is bisexual, so thumbs up. That’s always a pro in my book.
It just so happens that the next book also has King in the title. I picked up my hold on The Fever King, happened to look down and saw a cover that looked interesting, picked it up. Ah. The Bird King. This is a completely different story, completely different. It follows people who live in the Iberian Peninsula somewhere, I don’t remember exactly where. But this is around when the Spanish Empire was spreading out, around that time. Fatima is a concubine of a sultan. She has a good friend, Hassan, who is a mapmaker. His mapmaking is a special ability, he can draw places he’s never been to before, he just knows. He can draw secret routes that not many people know about. One day, the Spanish tell them that they’ve taken over that land, so they’re part of the Spanish Empire now. The sultan decides he’ll give up Hassan to them, because he’s a “sorcerer” and in that time, with the Inquisition, if you’re a sorcerer, you must die. Fatima doesn’t want that, so she and Hassan escape, go on an adventure. I enjoyed this. A really interesting way of writing, beautiful writing. I would recommend this.
Next, I read Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children: The Graphic Novel. I’ve read the original book, I have it. I borrowed the graphic novel from the library. It’s basically the same, just in visual form. I really liked having the visuals to get the picture. I enjoyed that. I’m not going to say much other than that, because… I don’t really need to.
Next is a book I started reading in December, and finally finished. IBM and the Holocaust. Part of why it took me so long to read this is because it’s really… It’s the Holocaust, it’s hard to read. Also, there’s a lot of information, so sometimes it was just overwhelming and I need to put a hold on it. Take a break, read other things, then come back and read more. The title says it all. IBM was a pivotal role in Nazi Germany. How they were able to move along so fast, record all of the Jews, who they were, their family, finding people who didn’t even know that they were Jewish. It is fascinating, but it’s tough to read. It talks a lot about the awful things that Nazi Germany did, like the gas chambers, shootings, death marches. It is a thick book, but wow. Wow. I recommend reading this, but of course, all of the trigger warnings related with the Holocaust.
After reading that heavy book, I read something light and funny, Nimona. It’s a graphic novel, I really enjoyed this. Nimona is a shapeshifter who can shapeshift to whatever she can think. She decides she wants to become a sidekick for a villain that a lot of people know as a villain. She wants to do bad things, but he’s like uhh no. Yes, I do bad things, but no. Killing, no. A reasonable level. This is a really quick, fun read. I really enjoyed it. It still has its touching moments. It’s really good.
To wrap up May and this whole thing, I read Gone Rogue, it’s the second volume in Wires and Nerve, a graphic novel. I won’t say much, but Wires and Nerve Vol. 1 and 2, you don’t really need to have read the Lunar Chronicles. It will help, but you don’t have to. This is really entertaining and fun. It’s from the perspective of Iko, an android, and her figuring out that she’s an android, but she also has feelings. Is that real, do I actually have feelings or is that just programming? If you enjoyed the Lunar Chronicles, you will enjoy this too.
We did it! If you made it this far, thank you. I’m currently looking at how long this video is, and it’s 44 minutes of raw footage. I don’t know how much it will cut down to, we’ll find out. That’s it for April and May. I hope you enjoyed this, and found some books you want to read. Very soon, my Queer Lit Readathon will be starting, I’m very excited for that. My books are ready for it, right here. Those are the books. I still have a couple that I’m waiting for, because they’re on hold, so they’re not ready yet. I’m hoping they come in during this week. We’ll find out.
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