Hello and welcome to my very big wrap up of things I read in December. I read a total of seventeen individual things this month, but I won’t be talking about all of them today. The reason for that is the first five things I read were for the Queer Lit Readathon, and I talked about them in a video. I’ll be linking that above and in the description. I’ll just get straight into it!
I read the third volume of The Backstagers. This is kind of a continuation of the first two, except this is kind of themed. It has a couple of short stories focused around Valentine’s and Halloween. Not much I can say, but I just love this series. This is a world where the backstage of theaters is a magical place and wild things happen to the crew all the time.
Next, I picked up Ben’s Bakery and the Hanukkah Miracle by Penelope Peters. This was an adorable read with two Jewish and queer main characters. Adam is the coach of a pee-wee hockey team from Montreal, and Ben is the owner of a little bakery in the middle of Boston. Adam was in the NHL draft, but a situation happened with his father that led to him leaving it and becoming a coach so he could care for his father. His team gets invited to Boston for a prestigious competition, and he doesn’t realize that it’s during Hanukkah until it’s too late. Ben almost could have made it to the Olympics, but he ended up opening a bakery that’s now struggling, but he’s decided during Hanukkah, he wants to make only Hanukkah treats. Adam’s team of hungry preteens is exactly what Ben needs to save his business during this week, but of course, he gets more out of it than expected with Adam. It was a very quick read for me, and I did enjoy it. The biggest thorn in my side for this was Adam’s behavior about Ben being “not Jewish enough,” especially with how Adam’s father lives his life. Adam’s father is a rabbi, and he regularly hangs out with leaders from other faiths with no problem. I honestly don’t see Adam having grown up around that and being a jerk about how other Jews practice their faith being something that would happen. Apart from that, it was very cute and fluffy, along with a couple of heavy topics, like serious injury in sports and trauma stemming from that. The friends of Ben and Adam are so supportive and they’re great. Adam’s assistant coach is a Muslim woman that wears a hijab. This definitely has a holiday feel, and it’s fantastic.
How to be Remy Cameron by Julian Winters. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again. Winters is a fantastic author, and I love all of his work that I’ve read. This is no different. Remy is assigned an essay that requires him to describe who he is. This sets Remy on a journey of figuring out what he is to other people and who he considers himself to be. We see him navigating a new crush, being a gay, Black kid who was adopted by a white family, writing—or attempting to write—this essay. There is so much goodness in this book, the family dynamics with embarrassing parents and an adorable little sister, his friend group, and all the secondary characters that make an appearance. I’m honestly amazed at how much this book managed to cover, and it was definitely an enjoyable read.
Princess Princess Ever After by Kay O’Neill is an extremely short and cute graphic novel where a heroic princess saves a kind-hearted princess, and they go on an adventure together to defeat evil wherever it may be. I can’t really say much more than that without just telling you the whole story, but it is adorable and queer. Of course, I’d love to have more in-depth story, seeing this is so short but I think this is a great story for children to read.
Hex Vet #1 and 2 by Sam Davies. Again, these were quick graphic novel reads but I enjoyed them, and look forward to seeing more! The focus is on these two veterinary witch interns in a world where magic is everywhere and part of everyday life. The first one is an introduction to this world and a mystery that the students figure out while the bosses are gone. The second takes to the sky, where they provide care specifically for flying magical creatures, which was interesting!
Show Me a Sign by Ann Clare LeZotte. We’re taken to Martha’s Vineyard, an island off the coast of Massachusetts, in the 19th century. In this era, the island had a thriving community of deaf people and many of the islanders signed because a large percentage were deaf. We follow Mary Lambert, a deaf girl living on the island. The way of life here is such that everyone is equal, deaf people are part of everything, from the town council to going fishing with a mixed crew. Mary has always been proud of who she is and her lineage. Her family is currently struggling with the loss of her brother, there are tensions on the island between the indigenous people and the white settlers. One day, an off-islander comes with the aim of discovering the cause of deafness on the island, eventually curing it or eradicating it. Mary is curious but keeps her distance, but something happens and she’s forcibly turned into part of the experiment. Obviously, I read this because of the deaf storyline, and this is own voices, being written by a deaf person. It was interesting, and I did enjoy it. Martha’s Vineyard actually had their own sign language that was different from ASL, and it’s been mostly lost to history. So because of that, the author was limited in what she could do in showing/describing signs. She did what she could! The visual nature of ASL, or sign languages in general, makes it extremely difficult to show well in written language (not considering sign writing). I have yet to read a book where I’m satisfied with how it’s portrayed. The most common, and unfortunately, probably the best way to do it, is straight up writing in standard English, and instead of writing “said, saying,” using “signed, signing,” or explaining that their hands are moving as they speak. It’s definitely not ideal, but it is what it is. Overall, I thought this was pretty well written for what it is.
All Boys Aren’t Blue by George M. Johnson. This is a memoir which is an exploration of George’s personal life through their childhood to college in New Jersey and Virginia. They talk about growing up being bullied at a very young age, having a close relationship with their grandmother, their various sexual relationships and discovering their identities. George speaks very frankly about their experiences figuring out their sexuality, gender, understanding family, toxic masculinity, and Black joy. I absolutely blasted through it and really enjoyed reading George’s words. They’re very insightful, and talk about these topics in a way that’s very accessible and understandable by people who might not have a very extensive background in these. This is truly an incredible book, and I absolutely recommend this.
Reset written by multiple authors. This is a local printing, and I didn’t realize that it was published by a church. Nothing against that, but there’s nothing in the description that says it was. It just says that these are stories of people who have been through some pretty serious things and are looking for a fresh start, hence the name Reset. There are seven different stories, covering a drug addict, being cheated on, finding out about a child, and others. All of these people eventually find their way to the same church that published this book. It’s interesting, the writing is alright, but not at all what I was expecting.
Lore Olympus by Rachel Smythe, which is a webcomic. This is a re-telling of Greek myths, focusing on the Olympians. It does it in a way where the mortal world is still in the Ancient Greece era, and Mount Olympus, anywhere the gods and mythical beings live, are modern like our world today. The main retelling in this is the Persephone and Hades story, Persephone is a brand new goddess in this, only nineteen years old, where most of the other gods are already hundreds or thousands of years old. The art in this is just gorgeous, the style is really interesting, and I’m enjoying it so far. It does take a bit to pick up and start to make sense of the story, but if you like Greek myths in any form, this is a great read.
There There by Tommy Orange. This was a read for Signed Out Loud, a signing book club, and this is a multi-perspective story all centered on the Big Oakland Powwow and various characters from Native communities. It tells stories of Native people and all the various traumas they experience from being Native. There’s a newly sober woman who’s trying to find her way back to her family, someone figuring out his life after his uncle’s death and honoring it with working at the powwow, a group of kids who are disconnected from their Native heritage but plan on going to the powwow for the first time. It gets intense at points, and there’s talk of death, descriptions of violence, and the such. This is incredible, but it also tries to do quite a bit. Not a bad thing, just something to be aware of going into this.
Deaf Republic by Ilya Kaminsky. Set in an occupied country during political unrest, soldiers kill a deaf boy during a protest. The citizens become united and start communicating in only sign language, as a way of dissent. We’re shown snippets of private lives of some of the townspeople. This is all written in poetry, so it’s a fairly quick read but it’s very good. The author is deaf, so this is own voices. Again, as I have said before, poetry is not my strong suit so I’m certainly not the right person to be reviewing this. My best friend who is a writer absolutely loves this and wants everybody to read this.
Finally, that’s all of the books I read in December. January will definitely be less books! Leave whatever you want in the comments.
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