Hello, I’m Rogan and welcome to my wrap up for Round 8 of the Queer Lit Readathon! I did not read all of my TBR, but I realized that I could actually cover all of the challenges with what I did read, so I just barely managed a blackout of the bingo board! Let’s get into it.
First up, I read Cattywampus by Ash Van Otterloo. In a little town called Howler’s Hollow, magic has only been whispered about in relation to an age-old feud between the McGills and the Hearns. It’s strictly off-limits in the McGill family, but Delpha hates rules and wants to be able to conjure to help her mama around the house. She happens to find the family spell book, and has to keep it secret, which is not easy for Delpha. It doesn’t take long before Katybird Hearn finds out that Delpha has this book, and she wants it for her own reasons. The Hearn family allows magic, but only discreetly, and Katy’s magic…is broken. She wants to fix it, and she hopes that the McGill book will help her. They bicker and in the middle of their fighting, a hex is unleashed that quickly gets out of control. It resurrects a whole cemetery of angry witch ancestors bent on destroying everything. Delpha and Katy are forced to work together to reverse the spell and save the Hollow from the zombies. — The challenges that I covered with this one: middle grade, fantasy, host recommendation, beyond LGBT, and queer joy. I thoroughly enjoyed this! The beyond aspect is because Katy is intersex, but she identifies as a girl. Her family was doubtful magic would work for her because in these families, magic is matrilineal, passed from mother to daughter. This is part of why Katy’s magic seems broken, and it’s discussed in the book. I liked the fact that each family had a different way of doing magic, and requires different things from them. I feel like that’s kind of more realistic when there isn’t a magic school or something. Of course individual families would practice magic differently! The hex and fighting is very dramatic, but I enjoyed that! I would absolutely recommend this book.
Where We Go From Here by Lucas Rocha was next. In Brazil, we follow the lives of Ian, Henrique, and Victor. Ian has just been diagnosed with HIV, which completely changes his life, and he’s dealing with his new reality. He meets Victor, who was just tested and got negative results. Victor is angry because he recently found out that the guy he was dating is HIV positive, and lets his fear of what could’ve happened and prejudices about HIV take control. However, he sees that Ian could benefit from talking with someone who’s been HIV positive for a while. Victor puts him in touch with Henrique, who’s been living with HIV for three years. There’s a lot of grief, anger, long conversations about stigma, and love. It emphasizes the importance of having a support system, people who don’t judge you based on things out of your control, and being there to help you move forward. — This book was the group read, and covered translated, borrowed, and rainbow cover. I really appreciate this book for the rawness it showed, on the part of HIV positive people, the things they have to go through with people – loved ones and strangers alike. I wanted to strangle Victor multiple times for his stubbornness and childishness, but that is really how some people act about HIV/AIDS. I really felt for Henrique when a certain person decided to just wreck his life, and I loooooved how they retaliated. You will be emotional reading this book, no question about that. I think this book is just fantastic and actually teaches a lot about HIV/AIDS in a very approachable way. Definitely read this if you’re able.
Cemetery Boys by Aiden Thomas. This hits trans debut, seasonal vibes, and choose my own category, which was a reread. I’ve talked about this book multiple times, so I’m just going to say that this is a fantastic story about Yadriel, a trans brujo who just wants to be accepted by his very traditional Latinx family, so he decides to do the rituals himself. He ends up summoning the wrong spirit, Julian, and has to help this very handsome and annoying ghost before he’ll pass over. They stumble onto something huge, and it gets very dramatic very fast. I will always recommend this book!! I can’t wait for Thomas’s new book, The Sunbearer Trials. I am SO ready for this.
Then I read The Passing Playbook by Isaac Fitzsimons. Spencer Harris just transferred to a new school, he’s kinda a nerd, loves playing soccer, and decides to check out the QSA, Queer-Straight Alliance. Spencer is trans, and not yet out at this school. He transitioned while at his old school and got bullied for it, hence the transfer to a new school. He meets a guy that he immediately has a slightly antagonistic relationship with, but it might change as they get to know each other more. His being trans is not a problem, not even when he’s recruited to the soccer team that Spencer really wants to play on. There’s no need to tell anyone, so he doesn’t. Until his coach pulls him aside one day, and tells him that his birth certificate has a F on it, and he won’t be able to play because of league rules. Spencer has to decide what his next step is: come out and fight for his place on the team, or maintain his life and leave the team? — I appreciated that we got a slightly different trans experience with Spencer, in several aspects. His choosing to not be openly trans, having experienced blockers then going onto hormones, no surgery involved. I liked that the QSA wasn’t “perfect” and the people involved had some work to do in terms of being an ally/supportive of queer students regardless of number. There was a nonbinary character that I love and wish we had gotten to see more of! Spencer has a little brother who is autistic, and I can’t speak to the authenticity of that representation. However, I did feel a little bit like the brother showed up mostly only to push the story along in some way, and didn’t really let him just be the little brother. I loved the soccer team, and how supportive they were of everything. Maybe a little idealistic, considering that this was set in Ohio, but again, this is supposedly the most liberal school in Ohio. Overall, I really enjoyed this book!
Then to wrap up the week just in time, I read To Be Taught, If Fortunate by Becky Chambers. This is a journal of sorts, written by Ariadne, who is a space explorer that has gone to worlds beyond to observe and learn about them, what life is there, and just explore. As they explore, Ariadne and her three crewmates sleep between worlds and wake up with different features. This is a future where the explorers terraform themselves to fit the environments they visit, rather than forcing the environment to match their needs. Of course, time runs differently for them, so each time they wake, they don’t know what Earth is like and whether support for their space program has continued or waned. This doesn’t matter to them, because they came out to do a mission, and they will do their job. — This book hit the novella and ____punk, which would be biopunk or cyberpunk, challenges. I love Becky Chambers, she also wrote the Wayfarers series, which I really enjoy. This is not in that universe, but the style is very similar. I loved the little details that changed in the explorers on each world, and the explanation as to why. This was staying on the side of more realistic space travel, where the crew was put into stasis between each world, their bodies continuing to shed and grow slowly, them being out of sync with the passage of time on Earth and knowing that they’d never return to the Earth they knew at the time of their departure. This is a novella, so I can’t say much but I really enjoyed this and loved the gorgeous descriptions of the various worlds they visited. If you enjoy Chambers, you’ll like this as well.
Those are the books I read for the Queer Lit Readathon, and I also covered the final challenge, 40%+ BIPOC. Three were written by non-white authors, and two were white authors. Overall, this was an excellent readathon for me! Let me know what you’ve read from this list, and what you think of them. Or if you want to read any of them! Thanks for reading, bye.
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