Hello, I’m Rogan and welcome to my November wrap up! I know, I don’t have any videos between this and the October wrap up, buuuut! In December, there will be plenty more videos! Really quick before we start, I want to mention Adri’s video – 7 Things I’ve Learned From BookTube. I think it’s a great watch for anybody who’s a part of the BookTube community. Okay! Let’s get started, we have several books to get through.
First up is The Roommate by Rosie Danan. I saw Kathy read this, and the premise sounded like a hilarious and fun read. It was! Buttoned up socialite Clara moves to LA with hopes of kindling a relationship with her longtime crush. She arrives to learn that he’s leaving on tour and she’ll be stuck with a roommate she’s never met. After living together for a bit, she eventually finds out that Josh makes his living as a porn star. Clara is awkward at first, but she gets inspired by Josh’s passion for focusing on female desire and pleasure, and they work together to tackle the stigma. This was a great fun read, I enjoyed the dynamic between these two, I loved the development of both the personal and business relationships. This gets very steamy! I mean, how can it not when it involves a porn plot line? But it never get gross and fetishizing. It actually speaks against that, and celebrates sex positivity, being comfortable with your own body and desires. Josh and Clara had a really healthy relationship, they didn’t always act on their desires because they recognized that the moment wasn’t right for it. They also had great banter, and felt like real people. I did feel like there were some unresolved things with the family, but that in no way took away from my enjoyment of this fast and fun read!
Plain Bad Heroines by emily m. danforth. I was sent an ARC by Willam Morrow for a review, so thank you for that! This is a very sapphic book that tells us two stories that happen around the same location, one in the past and another today. In 1902, we learn of Brookhants in its day as a boarding school for girls and we follow the founders, staff, and some of the students. There’s a lot of drama around a certain book that’s sparked some romantic feelings among the girls. In the present day, we follow a group of three girls who are in one way or other connected to the production of a movie about the happenings at Brookhants and its history of sapphic love and death. At this point, Brookhants has been abandoned and is falling apart. The movie production is plagued with problem after problem, echoing the past. It’s odd, because this is called a horror-comedy, but I didn’t really get that much comedy. It certainly had more horror than comedy, but it was more creepy and atmospheric than actually scary. The 1902 storyline was actually interesting and the most gothic. Present-day was…well, okay. This is a story in a story in a story, so it can get a little confusing at times, trying to separate all of the threads. The concept of multiple stories within one was interesting, but it almost felt like the author was trying too hard to make it metafiction. Also, it is LONG. My copy of the book is 619 pages, and Goodreads says that the hardcover is also 619 pages. Don’t get me wrong, I did enjoy reading this, it just took me a while, because I was exhausted just thinking about how much I had to go. While I did appreciate the level of detail in this, I felt like it could have been cut down a little bit for better flow and pacing. The beginning of the story, probably about half of the book, was a little slow and could have been paced a little more quickly, but the second half of the book was great… Except for the very end. There was a lot of build up that kept going only to just kind of end, no major climax or anything. The epilogue left a lot to be desired. A lot of questions weren’t answered, and after finishing, I was disappointed that there wasn’t really any big connection with the past and today. The only overlaps were Brookhants and the book. It felt like two completely separate stories put together, which isn’t a problem but there’s no strong connection, so they could’ve probably stood on their own. Overall, I did enjoy reading this, but I wouldn’t enthusiastically recommend this.
Moonstruck Vol 1 & 2 by Grace Ellis and several illustrators. This is a world just like ours, where magical creatures exist alongside humans, and it focuses on a werewolf barista and her new girlfriend. In the first volume, they go on a date to a magic show that goes wrong. They have to work together to put a stop to this magician before worse things happen. In Vol 2, the group of friends go to a party at a fairy frat house, and one of them gets trapped. The winter solstice is coming up, a night of magical mischief, and they have to save the day. I thought this was a cute little queer graphic novel, and I enjoyed seeing the world that the author and artists built. They included different accommodations for different sized creatures, a wheelchair filled with water for water-dwelling creatures like mermaids, and so on. It was fine, and certainly enjoyable. However, I had a little too many questions unanswered. Like, they make a whole thing out of werewolves not being supposed to transform, but then it kind of goes away without a reason to why it was mentioned. Several plot holes and too convenient moments. Cute but left me wanting more. I’d love to see this world be built on and expanded more!
Persephone Station by Stina Leicht. We’re taken to a planet that seems to be backwater, largely ignored by the United Republic of Worlds, and Serrao-Orlov Corporation wants to exploit a few secrets of the planet. Rosie is an owner of a bar that caters to wannabe criminals and rich tourists, but in the back, high-tier criminals and people who want to employ them mingle. Rosie also happens to know the secrets of Persephone, and has been doing what they can to protect the secrets. They hire Angel and her crew to do the work. Angel is an ex-marine, her crew has a mercenary, assassin, and criminals, who all have a penchant for doing the right thing even if it means breaking laws. Rosie’s job will pit Angel’s small crew against a well-funded army, but despite the odds, they’re all in to protect Persephone once they learn the secrets that Serrao-Orlov is exploiting for their own gain. I very intentionally avoided saying what the secrets are, because I didn’t know them going into this book and I think it’s best that way. This is about a nearly all-women cast, multiple queer characters, multiple characters of color, and the kicking ass that goes down in this. The queer identities that appear are lesbian, bisexual, trans, and nonbinary. A case could also be made for having disability rep in this, since Angel is ex-military, and her role caused her to leave the military with several cybernetic modifications. This has been described as a space opera, and a read for fans of The Mandalorian, which is indeed accurate! Be warned, the pacing of the first portion is somewhat slow, but once the main mission starts, it really picks up. The beginning has a lot of info about the characters, and I enjoyed the world-building even though it was a teeny bit lacking. I didn’t really have a problem with it, because I’m a huge nerd for anything sci-fi, so I had no problem filling in the gaps myself. I would definitely recommend this if you love sci-fi and queer badasses kicking ass. (Also, that cover is gorgeous!)
Darius the Great Deserves Better by Adib Khorram. This is the sequel to Darius the Great Is Not Okay, set not long after the family’s trip to Iran. Darius has had a lot of changes in his life – he’s actually getting along with his dad, he has a boyfriend, he’s on the varsity soccer team, and has an internship at his favorite tea shop. Life seems to be going well. So well in fact, that he’s surprisingly becoming friends with Chip, who is a teammate but also best friend of his biggest bully, Trent Bolger. But of course, it won’t stay that way. His dad is out of town for a long business trip, so his grandmothers come into town to help out, and he’s not even sure if they like him. The internship is not what he thought it would be, and he’s starting to have doubts about his boyfriend. Darius still has struggles with his depression and self-confidence. The first book was great, but I was left unclear on if Darius was queer or not. It’s crystal clear now! It’s always hard for a sequel to live up to the first book, but this one certainly does. It’s very much a coming-of-age story, figuring out his feelings about his boyfriend and sex, keeping the family together when the parents are overworked and his sister is struggling at school, and uncertainty about Chip. I loved how supportive his teammates are when they meet his boyfriend, and barely blink when he shows up with nail polish on. His entire family is great, especially Laleh. I love Laleh so much. His queer grandmas were very closed off at first, but they eventually opened up a bit and talked with Darius about their past. One of them is trans, and they talk a little about the transition and how that affected the family. I appreciated that. I also really appreciate the mental health representation in this, how they talked about it and handled it. I’ve said this before, and I’ll say it again. I really love that more and more authors are going the route of having a person be described with gender neutral pronouns until they’re introduced. That’s how people should be thinking, to avoid assumptions, and avoid misgendering someone who might not even use he/she. Overall, I really enjoyed this sequel and would be thrilled if there was a third book!
Build Yourself a Boat by Camonghne Felix. This is a poetry collection that explores trauma, healing, survival, and what might come after. Obviously, because it’s poetry, I can’t really tell you more about it. I’m not big on poetry, but I am trying to read more. For this one, I decided instead of reading multiple poems at once, I’d read one or two a night to absorb it a bit more. That doesn’t work for everyone obviously, but I think that might be a better way for me to read poetry collections. There are some poems that really stood out to me, and some not so much but I think that’s pretty typical of collections. Felix plays around with style and form which is interesting to see. I don’t know if enjoyed is the right word, but I do think this is a good collection of powerful poetry.
And finally, I read The Sound of Stars by Alechia Dow. I had hoped to read this during the Queer Lit Readathon, but my hold came in earlier than expected. Earth has been invaded by the Ilori, and a misunderstanding wiped out one-third of the world’s population. We have two views, a human named Ellie and an Ilori named M0Rr1s, or Morris. All humans have been herded into centers so the Ilori can control them because they were deemed dangerous and volatile from the initial reaction to the invasion. Ellie is in a New York City center, where she runs a secret library. Ilori have banned all forms of human expression, including art, music, books. Morris is an Ilori that was born in a lab and raised to eventually invade Earth and prepare it for the true Ilori. He was raised to be emotionless, like true Ilori, but he has a secret liking for human music and wants more. He happens to find Ellie’s hidden library, and instead of delivering her for execution, he recruits her to get him more music. They form a tentative alliance, and work together in their rebellion. They bring stories and music together to fight back and save humanity. I absolutely loved this, I tore through this book. Ellie has a huge love for books, and I relate to that so much. She’s a plus-size Black queer teen that has anxiety, and Morris learns about his own demi-aceness after talking with Ellie. There are also multiple queer side characters, one of them being nonbinary. The Ilori have standard greetings where they say their name, gender, and pronouns, which was cool to see. I loved how even though this story is literally about an alien invasion and trying to overthrow that, it’s still a very grounded story and empowering. This story doesn’t pull any punches though, and Ellie speaks about how the world has always been dangerous and unsafe for her, it’s just coming from a different source. She ends up being the one that has the decision and power to save humanity, and whether they deserve it, if it’s possible for humanity to change. Ellie and Morris could have easily fallen into violence, fear, or hate, but they kept choosing love above all else. I enjoyed the world-building, why/how the Ilori came to Earth and changed it. The only thing that threw me was the ending. I won’t spoil anything, but as far as I know, this is currently a standalone novel. The ending seems to be setting up for a sequel, and it doesn’t end in a satisfying way. It’s extremely open-ended, so be aware of that if you dislike that kind of ending. I really, really enjoyed this despite that ending.
Technically, I finished two other books this month, but they were for the Queer Lit Readathon, so I’ll be putting those into the wrap-up for the readathon. That’s it for this month! Let me know if you’ve read any of these books!
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