Hello, and welcome to my wrap up for both January and February! I read seven books in January, eight in February, for a total of 15 books. For January, I told myself to not get any books from the library, because I have plenty of my own that I really need to get around to reading. Some of the books on my shelves, I’ve had for a couple of years. And it sure doesn’t help that at the time, I got a whole bunch from a Half Price Books warehouse sale. So that’s one of my goals this year, read more of my books. Of course, I’ll still get books from the library if it’s something that I really, really want to read sooner than later. Otherwise, from my shelves! Let’s get into it.
The first book in January is the only library book I read this month, and I started it in December, so it doesn’t really count? Real Queer America: LGBT Stories from Red States. Samantha Allen travels across red states to meet queer people who live there to find out their experience of being queer in a part of the country that everyone assumes is horrible to be in when you’re queer. Allen grew up as a suit and tie wearing Mormon, so she has experienced living in “flyover” country. She wanted to travel these parts to see why people chose to stay, see what they’ve built in their home communities. I enjoyed this book, and it’s certainly sad to read sometimes, but there are so many bright points of hope and love. Recommended, especially for anyone living in red states.
Over the Top: A Raw Journey to Self-Love is the memoir of Jonathan Van Ness, who most of us know from the Queer Eye reboot. They talk openly about their upbringing in a small Midwestern town, where most people didn’t understand why he was so over the top. Obviously gay, they were an easy target for bullying and judgment. Jonathan shares a lot of secrets and things that he’s never told people before. This was borrowed from a friend, and I *really* enjoyed reading this, and you can very clearly see that Jonathan is the one who wrote this. There’s a lot of advice from his experiences with a lot of different topics, they talk about how he learned to do self-care, how she developed their career as a hairstylist, how he got to where she is today. This was a fantastic read.
Paper Girls Vol 1 is written by Brian Vaughan, who also wrote Saga. This is set in 1988, right after Halloween, and four twelve-year-old paper delivery girls discover the most important story of all time. I don’t want to say too much, because I went into this completely clueless of the story, and it was a ride! It does get weird, but I really enjoyed it, and plan on eventually picking up the next volumes. This was also borrowed from a friend!
The Wicked + The Divine: The Faust Act is about 12 gods who are incarnated as humans every 90 years. They’re loved and hated. In two years, they’re all dead. This synopsis alone made me want to read it, and I really enjoy it so far! I was able to snap up copies of Vol 1 and 2 at the Half Price Books sale, and I know a friend of mine has volume 3 and 4, so I’ll definitely be reading more of this!
Sex Criminals Vol 1 is a very interesting graphic novel! The main character, Suzie, is just a regular gal with an unusual gift: when she has sex, she stops time. One day, she meets Jon, who has the same ability. After a while of playing around, they start thinking up plans to rob banks. This is a hilarious sex comedy, and I enjoyed every minute of reading this. I certainly would love to pick up further volumes when I can find them!
In Our Own Worlds gathers together these four novellas published by Tor: The Lamb Will Slaughter the Lion, Passing Strange, A Taste of Honey, and The Black Tides of Heaven. I really enjoyed each one of these stories, and I’ll give you a quick sum up of each one.
The Black Tides of Heaven – Tensors have the ability to manipulate nature, and in their culture children are raised without gender until they’re ready to confirm their gender. This follows a set of twins as they learn about themselves and rebel against their mother’s iron fist on the country.
A Taste of Honey – gay star-crossed lovers in a fantasy world where gods walk the earth, magic of a kind exists, and to the reader, it feels familiar but not familiar at the same time.
Passing Strange – lesbians in 1940s San Francisco. Science, magic, art, mystery, they all intersect in this city with love and danger at every turn.
The Lamb Will Slaughter the Lion – Danielle arrives in a squatter town that has a protector spirit that brutally murders people who try to grab power.
Ancient, Ancient is a debut short story collection by Kiini Ibura Salaam. All of these are science fiction stories, and they take us to worlds that are somewhat familiar but also unsettling. I actually liked most of the stories in this, them being sci-fi might be part of it. I really love sci-fi so this was an enjoyable read for me. Since it’s a short story collection, I can’t really tell you about the stories themselves, but they’re varied and very interesting.
That is all of the books of January! Now onto February. I read 8 books, and five of them were graphic novels. Out of those 8, three were borrowed from friends, and the rest were mine.
Starting with Heathen Vol 1., a graphic novel set far, far in the past where Norse gods are real, and the mythology has actually happened. Aydis is a young Viking woman who decides to right the wrongs of a god, and her first action is to free the cursed Valkyrie, Brynhild. The art in this is just beautiful and lesbiansssss. Yes there is queer rep in this! I really enjoyed this, and hope to eventually pick up the other volumes.
The Sleeper and the Spindle, written by Neil Gaiman, is a dark reimagining of a couple fairy tales blended together. It has aspects of Snow White and Sleeping Beauty with dark magic stitching them together into an unexpected tale. This is not one for children, unless they’re ones who read the original Grimm fairy tales. It has illustrations throughout the book to really give you a good picture of what things look like and what’s happening.
Right after that, I read—in one sitting at a bookstore—a lighthearted graphic novel called The Avant-Guards Vol 1., and I don’t know why I kept putting off reading this! Adriana constantly talks about this series, and I can understand why! This series follows a ragtag team of basketball players at an art school. It’s a very diverse and queer sports graphic novel series, do you really need to know more? I’m definitely picking up the further volumes when I can!
Borrowed from a friend, City of Girls was next up, and it’s just amazing. This novel is narrated by Vivian Morris, an older woman looking back on her past with pleasure and regret, but mostly pleasure. She goes back to when she was 19, and kicked out of Vassar College because of her poor performance during her first year. She moves to New York City to live with her Aunt Peg, who owns a grandiose and rundown theater called the Lily Playhouse. There, Vivian meets a wide range of people – flashy showgirls, professional actors, writers, and so much more. She works as a seamstress, and accidentally gets involved in a scandal which completely changes her life. It’s hard to condense this story because there’s so much happening, and it’s 470 pages long. It’s nearly an epic, because Vivian tells her story from a young woman to today. I really enjoyed this, even though there were some points where I felt like it was going on a little too long. Young Vivian is very self-centered and obsessed with sex, having fun, partying away the night. It starts to wear a little, but I honestly enjoyed it as a whole.
Next, Zen Pencils: Cartoon Quotes from Inspirational Folks. This is basically what the title says, and it’s a bind-up of all comics already available on his website. I still enjoyed re-reading these quotes. It’s fascinating to me how he manages to take quotes and add a story to them that makes sense, and doesn’t feel forced at all.
Then I read the second volume of The Wicked + The Divine, Fandemonium, so I obviously can’t really say much. It’s still as gorgeous as ever, and a little confusing which was the same with the first volume. There’s a lot of questions, some of them get answered and some don’t. I’m going to keep reading this to see if it finally makes sense later on. I might even go back and reread all of them to see if I pick up on anything I missed the first time around.
Getting into my e-books, I have a lot of free monthly books from Tor Publishing, so I decided I need to be better with reading them. This month, I read two! One was Autonomous, a sci-fi world far in the future, and one of the perspectives is a badass pirate named Jack, and she’s known as a scientist who’s very anti-patent. Jack considers herself the Robin Hood of pharma, reverse engineering drugs and selling them cheap for those who need it, and selling the hard stuff to make money. She unwittingly creates and sells a drug that causes people to get dangerously addicted to their work, and Jack works to stop it. From another perspective, military agent Eliasz and his robot partner, Paladin, are trying to find who caused all of these drug overdoses and stop them. I enjoyed this read, but I did feel like there were some problematic aspects with the relationship between Eliasz and Paladin regarding gender and sexuality. It didn’t get a full five star rating because of that part and for the…unique way the sex scenes were written.
Then the second e-book from Tor that I got near the end of the month and read within a day is the novella Killing Gravity. As a child, Mars escaped the lab where she was being groomed to be a psychic supersoldier. She has powerful abilities, a strong sense of independence, and an experimental pet that she took with her during her escape. Mars has always been on the run, but now the lab is catching up to her. She’s trying to find out who sold her out, and survive her pursuers. I enjoyed reading this, and finished it very quickly because it is fairly short. There were a lot of questions, which doesn’t surprise me. It’s hard to do in-depth world-building in a book this short. It’s a little reminiscent of Firefly, except a lot more gory, and Mars is a free agent. If you like sci-fi, you’ll probably enjoy this quick little read.
Aaaaand that is all of the books for January and February. Whew, we made it! Let me know if you’ve read any of these, and leave any suggestions in the comments. (Not that I need them!)
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