Hello and welcome to my March wrap up of the sixteen books I read! Several of them are graphic novels, but I also read this many because you know, this whole situation. It’s going to be a long one, so let’s get right into it!
Space Between: Explorations of Love, Sex, and Fluidity – Nico Tortorella, an actor and LGBTQ+ advocate, tells their story of identity exploration, interest in spirituality, downward spiral into addiction and the recovery process. Nico goes in-depth about embracing a queer lifestyle, discovering who they are, exploring their masculine and feminine expression and connecting with their sexually fluid nonbinary self. I immensely enjoyed this read, learning about how Nico experimented with their gender expression, since I am somewhat in that place currently. I would happily recommend this book!
Trigger warning for abuse. The Bone Dragon – a girl experienced abuse at the hands of her grandparents, and suffered through having a broken rib in her body. There was a surgery to remove it, and she carves a dragon from that bone. It starts coming alive at night, taking her on a journey. I really liked this, but it was certainly difficult to read at times, because of the abuse. That’s told through flashbacks. However, the abuse is never clear, directly told word for word describing what it is. It’s always indefinite, but it’s still tough to read.
Black Girl Mania – In a world where there’s only one habitable landmass left, Géminis Castores is trying to survive out on the water and she makes a discovery in her garden that could get her a spot on land for generations – but she experiences a psychological split that could be the bane of her success. This is a graphic novel, and it has aspects of afro-indigenous futurism. Géminis has bipolar disorder, and this book highlights what’s most commonly misunderstood about mania. I thought this was quite an interesting read, but it was sometimes difficult to follow. I feel like it might have been trying to do too much in such a short space, this book is only 146 pages. I think this might have benefited from being a little longer, having more room for the story to breathe. But again, maybe that was the intention since this is focused on the manic part of bipolar disorder. I don’t know, I’m not the right person to be reviewing this.
Nature’s Remedies: An Illustrated Guide to Healing Herbs – It’s what it says on the cover. The basic layout is an illustration on one page, and the common name, scientific name, and quick summary of its properties on the other page. It’s broken down into categories of digestive health, energy boosting, and so on. I know, doesn’t seem like my usual kind of reading. I got this book as part of a Secret Santa thing my friends did at New Year’s Eve. My friend picked this one mainly because plants, and because the illustrations inside reminded them of the ones I did for Inktober 2019 (If you want to see them, you can find them on my art Instagram or see it in the Highlights on my personal Instagram here). I do love the illustrations in this, and I thought the summaries were nice. It’s good as a quick reference book.
Where to Begin: A Small Book About Your Power to Create Big Change in Our Crazy World – That’s a long title! This is a small anthology of poetry and prose, and I think this might be a very appropriate read in these times. There’s a lot of uplifting mantras, affirmations, reminders to stay hopeful, harnessing your power to change the world. I suspect that if you are able, listening to this would be the best way to enjoy this book. The author does emphasize that this is a book that can be read in sections, jumping around from page to page as you feel, so in that way, the physical copy is better.
The Fifth Season – I will never be able to do this book justice. If you’ve heard all the hype about this book, it is justified. N.K. Jemisin is an AMAZING author. This is a world where the earth is never still, people are used to the possibility of having to pack up and move, and every once in a while there’s what they call a Fifth Season. This is a Season where the world is devastated by some huge disaster that can last for months, years, or centuries. There are people called orogenes who have the ability to move the earth, and they are loved, hated, and feared. This book spans several decades, so you get a look at very different times in this world’s history. This is impossible to condense so I won’t even try. If you love sci-fi and fantasy, apocalyptic stories, and stories about family and love, you’ll love this book.
Persepolis: The Story of a Childhood and Persepolis: The Story of a Return. Marjane Satrapi tells the story of her childhood in Iran during the Islamic Revolution in the first book. She grew up as the daughter of committed Marxists, and the great-granddaughter of one of Iran’s last emperors. She tells us the history of her country through a child’s eye, one that’s intensely personal and very political. In the second book, she tell us the story of when she was sent away as a teen to Vienna. She struggles to find her place in Austria, and decides to return to Iran after graduation. When she gets home, she’s confronted with a changed country, one that’s more repressive than the one she left. She’s also struggling with the shame of what she sees as her failure in Austria, and questions whether she was right to return to Iran. These were good reads, certainly not easy because it’s about a dark time in Iran’s history. They’re graphic novels, and they’re all in stark black and white colors which I think really fits for this type of story.
The Kiss Quotient – Stella Lane is a brilliant woman who creates algorithms to predict customer purchases, and this makes her have way more money than she knows what to do with. She’s also clueless in the dating department at thirty years old. Stella has a hard time with this, because she’s autistic and struggles with any physical touch. She decides to fix this by hiring an escort to practice and teach her the ins and outs of everything. *eyebrow waggle* This is supposed to be purely a professional relationship, but of course, with romance novels, that’s never the case! This book is a darling of BookTube, and with good reason! This was really well written, and it got this bisexual hot and bothered at certain points. It puts a heavy emphasis on consent, taking your time, building up. It has good representation with Stella being autistic obviously, but there’s also Michael the escort who is half Vietnamese and half Swedish. Michael’s Vietnamese family and friends make an appearance as well. I will admit that this book has some tropes that people might not like, and there are a few parts where it’s a little ehhh until it gets resolved. Overall, I *really* enjoyed this read!
Next, I’m going to talk about Jackaby… And the next three books in the series – Beastly Bones, Ghostly Echoes, and The Dire King. I got Jackaby from a Half-Price Books warehouse sale, and once I finished it, I just *had* to read the next, and the next, and the next. My library happened to have all of them in ebook form, so I was able to immediately borrow them. I finished all four in roughly three and half days, I was that into it. The Jackaby series is kind of like a cross between Sherlock Holmes and Doctor Who set in 1892. Jackaby is a detective of the paranormal, and this whole series is written from Abigail’s point of view, who is his assistant. He can see the supernatural and the extraordinary, while she has a gift for seeing the utterly ordinary but essential details. The first book is them trying to catch a serial killer that the police are convinced is just an ordinary baddie, but Jackaby is certain it’s supernatural in origin and there’s only one person on the force who doesn’t deny the existence of the paranormal. The second involves vicious shapeshifters, missing dinosaur bones, and a beast attacking people and animals. The third is about a ghost trying to solve her own murder, a trip to the underworld, and mad scientists. The fourth and final book has an evil king using magic and technology to pit Earth and the Otherworld against each other. This series is just— I really enjoyed this series. Yes, I recommend this.
This was the first time that I actually checked out a book from the library this year! The other books that weren’t mine were all borrowed from friends. After breaking my streak of no library books, I went ahead and got a couple more specifically for Queer Weekend that Kathy and I did at the end of March.
The first of that was The Avant-Guards Vol 2. A ragtag basketball team from an arts college, their winning streak is broken. Will the team survive this? This second volume focused more on the perspectives of other team members compared to the first volume, which I really enjoyed. There’s also *fantastic* representation! There’s the lesbian love interests of course, multiple characters of color, but there’s also enby babe, Jay! It’s very subtle and really well-done, but is very clear from the beginning. This is why it really annoys me when I see reviews say “an all-women team” or “group of girls.” Jay is literally introduced in Vol 1 by using they, and is repeatedly used throughout this. Anyway! Queer sports comics, I’m always here for them!
Then I got Taproot, which is just adorable! Blue is in love with his best friend, Hamal. Blue’s also dead. Lucky for him, Hamal can see ghosts, so Blue can haunt him to his content. Something eerie is happening to the ghosts around the town they live in, making them uncomfortable. Blue realizes that it might have something to do with Hamal’s ability, and they have to figure out what to do to stop it before they’re all in danger. I loved this quick little graphic novel, I really liked how the ghosts were drawn, and the story is just great.
The last book I started during the Queer Weekend, and the last book I finished this month, was Less. Arthur Less, a failed author, is about to turn fifty, and he gets an invitation to the wedding of his ex of nine years. Instead of sending a RSVP saying no, he decides to say yes to a whole bunch of half-baked literary events around the world. What could go wrong? This covers all of the drama that he experiences while traveling abroad, seeing his first and last love during the journey, and he’ll turn fifty during all of this. Okay. I… felt meh about this. It’s not terrible, but it’s not great either. I did like the descriptions of the different locations he went to, the general plot, and even the love story throughout it. But the way the “gay experience” was described – partying hard, sleeping around with married men, having bad relationships with men – made it seem like it was a universal one. Let me tell you, it is absolutely not like that at all. I felt like there was quite a lot of whining about becoming old and being forever unlovable. Ugh, that’s not a view we need more of. There’s a quote in this book from someone about Less’s newest novel-in-progress which is almost a quote in itself: “A white middle aged American man walking around with his white middle aged American sorrows? …sorry to tell you this, it’s a little hard to feel sorry for a guy like that.” It was probably intentional on the author’s part, but I think that sums up this book pretty well. I didn’t really see any growth from Less, just a lot of self-gazing and no actual introspection. So yeah. Meh.
That is the sixteen books I read in March! Have you read any of these? Let me know in the comments.
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