Hello I’m Rogan and welcome back! Alright, I’m [checks wrist] about six months behind on wrapping up the books I’ve read. So today, I’m going to get through all of it as quick as I can. I’ll be doing just a few sentences for each, and if there’s any that you’re curious to know more about, comment below and I’ll do a deeper dive in a Title Talks. December will get its own post, I read quite a bit this month! This post is going to be long anyway, so let’s get right into it.
Starting off with July, I read 13 books. Two of those were graphic novels, three of those were children’s books. I did film a whole wrap up for this, but never got around to editing it. It would be long, so I’m going to do this instead! Most of the books this month were eARCs, so there are full typed reviews on my Goodreads account if you want to check that out.
The Adventure Zone Volume 1 and 2. This is a graphic novel adaptation of a podcast by the same name, and it’s a D&D actual play. The McElroy brothers are playing with their dad, one of the brothers DMs. The novels tell it as the adventurers going on their journey with the DM occasionally popping in, being the voice of God. It’s full of fun hijinks and wild choices by chaotic players. The first volume is a classic dungeon crawl, and the second one is a play on Murder on the Orient Express. I’ve been told that this is a pretty faithful adaption to the podcast, and I’d say this is a good read if you enjoy D&D in any way.
Fevered Star by Rebecca Roanhorse. This is the sequel to Black Sun, which I absolutely loved and I obviously can’t say much about this because of it being a sequel. I did really enjoy this, and liked how Roanhorse continued to build out the world, adding more layers of politics and intrigue. We saw more of the world outside of Tova, the main city, and learned more about legends and history of other cultures. I also appreciated that Roanhorse had all levels of society, so to speak, in this. There are characters in the highest echelons of society, those who are in the middle, and those who are in the lowest that run mobs and the such. I look forward to the next book!
Woman of Light by Kali Fajardo-Anstine. An epic telling the stories of five generations of an Indigenous Chicano family while they strive for life in the American West before and after the white man arrived. We mostly follow Luz “Little Light” Lopez, the seer of her generation and keeper of stories. She gets visions of her ancestors and homeland, of all the violence enacted upon indigenous peoples for generations. — I thought this was a good book, but looking back, I don’t remember a lot of details. This may be because I’d read a lot of books around the same time and didn’t let the story sit long enough to stick. I did rate this four stars, I still think this is good! I just wish it’d focused more on Luz and her story, the history around that era, rather than pushing romantic interests. Neither of them were interesting to me, and I was far more interested in the history and the layering of that with her story.
I read three children’s books from The Surdists, which is a deaf imprint. The books are called Deaf Artist Ancestors, De’VIA Ancestors, and ABC Portraits of Deaf Ancestors. I will be making a longer post about these three books, but in short: these all have history about our community and certain ancestors who had a big impact on our community. Deaf Artist Ancestors is about contributors to deaf art in general, De’VIA Ancestors is about people who gave a lot to the start of the De’VIA movement specifically, and ABC Portraits covers a wide range of deaf people across history.
Queerly Beloved by Susie Dumond. This is a cute sapphic romance about Amy, who works at a Christian bakery called The Daily Bread by day and is a “good straight woman,” but works at a queer bar by night. A person that just moved to Tulsa stops by the bakery, and Amy immediately clocks Charley as a new queer in town. Amy also gets asked to step in last minute for a bridesmaid who backed out, and she discovers that it’s something that she actually enjoys. She gets outed and fired at the bakery, so she decides to go all-in on the bridesmaid business. This causes tension between her and her friends, which forces her to rethink who she is and how to stay true to herself. — I did enjoy this very fluffy read, despite its issues. It felt like it was happening during 2019 because of the language they used, but it’s actually set in the 2010s, before equal marriage was legalized in 2015. There was a gay couple in there that had barely any dimensionality, it felt like they were one person and there just to support Amy through her journey. The romance between Amy and Charley was barely there, their attraction felt very surface-level. The romance was really a subplot, the story was very focused on Amy and her life. Amy does go through some good growth, from very self-centered and people-pleasing to more aware of herself and how she affects people around her. I really liked the chosen family in this, and just wish we had more of them! This is a good read when you don’t want to think too hard about things.
The Low, Low Woods by Carmen Maria Machado and illustrated by Dani. In a small Pennsylvanian town called Shudder-to-Think, the residents are plagued with a mysterious illness that shows up out of nowhere, leaving them with missing hours. El and Octavia wake up in a movie theater to discover they’re the latest victims. They start to investigate and try to find the core cause of this illness and start to uncover some horrifying stories and far more darkness in the town than they imagined. They have to keep the town safe, and protect the world from the monsters that live there. — The description has to stay vague, because this is a graphic novel and it’s a fairly quick read. But I will say this, WOW. This is SO good. I mean, it was written by Machado, which is an amazing writer. If you haven’t already, I would recommend reading her short story collection, Her Bodies and Other Parties. Back to this one, it is extremely dark so I would encourage looking up trigger warnings beforehand. There’s quite a bit of body horror, goriness, allusions to sexual assault, and more. This packed a very powerful story in a small thing, and I would say definitely read this if you’re able.
The Lifestyle by Taylor Hahn. Georgina has the perfect life, until she walks in on her husband having sex with a junior associate. She’s not about to lose this perfect life, so she decides that swinging is what will save their marriage. Georgina also brings in her friends and their partners to fix their problems too. She eventually realizes that it wasn’t what she was looking for. — I really didn’t like this, which is a bummer because it’s not often you see swinging in books, and it being the main focus. I did not like Georgina at all, she had a bad attitude about her own life and was very paternalistic to her friends. And I didn’t like that she immediately turned to swinging to fix her relationship. If you have problems, they’ll only be swept under the rug until they can’t be ignored anymore or just cause more issues. From the description, I expected a much more smutty book, but this was boring and the sex scenes had barely any spice. The language used in this also felt kind of sexist and very objectifying. I think the writing was good, just not great content.
The Perfect Crimes of Marian Hayes by Cat Sebastian. Marian Hayes just shot the Duke, her husband. Not the plan, but now she has to disappear for a while, and the only person she can ask is the man who’s been blackmailing her. Rob Brooks, the blackmailer, was doing it only to get some money so he could disappear, but grew to like Marian through the banter they carried on with letters. When she shows up asking for help, he can’t say no and takes charge. General crime and debauchery happens on their travels, but the past catches up then they have to decide what’s next. — I loved these two chaotic people, and they’re both bisexual! I really enjoyed the portions where we got to see the letters, and the shift from blackmail to banter to nearly love letters. There wasn’t much actual crime in this, just some stealing and blackmail. And one murder of a pretty horrible person. I really liked the sexual dynamics in this, there was a lot of talk about consent and bodily autonomy. This has some pretty unusual things during sexy times, which I appreciated. I didn’t realize that this is the second book in a series, but this runs almost parallel with the first book, so there’s not too much to be missed.
The Dawnhounds by Sascha Stronach. The city of Hainak is alive: everything’s made from plants and fancy biotech. Yat Jyn-Hok is a former thief turned cop, and recently got demoted because of her “lifestyle choices,” read: homophobic superiors. She gets murdered just as she finds a dead body, but was brought back to life and now has a new ability to manipulate life. She joins a pirate crew that has others with similar abilities, and discovers there’s a plot to destroy the whole city. It becomes a race against time to stop it from happening. — I absolutely loved this! Such incredible detail and worldbuilding, I wanted to just dive into all the nerdy details. We don’t learn what exactly made Hainak turn to biotech, but that wasn’t a bad thing. This is absolutely queer, but the politics of the city lean conservative because of a very powerful religious group. This felt like the author was trying to fit a lot of ideas into one book, and I wish it had been spread out a little because this is the first of a series. Regardless, I definitely enjoyed this and would recommend it for sci-fi fans.
Ana on the Edge by AJ Sass. Ana loves figure skating, but hates skirts and dresses with a passion. She tries to put up with it for skating. Ana starts helping out with a skating class to cover some costs, and meets Hayden, a new student who forces her to rethink how she views gender and look at her own identity. There’s a major skating competition coming up, and she has to decide if she’ll be a princess or be true to herself. — I enjoyed this story about a young teen trying to figure out what feels right once confronted with the fact that there are options other than the standard boy/girl. The book ends with Ana still figuring out herself, and the book makes it clear that it’s okay to not know exactly who you are.
That’s the 13 books I read in July! In August, I read five books and two of them were graphic novels.
But before we get into August books, a short ad break! If you want to support this channel with money, I have a few ways you can do that. First, since y’all are likely watching this on YouTube, here’s a tip. I know ads are annoying, but they do help a little bit. If you let them play all the way through, I get paid more than if you skip it immediately. But I completely understand if you aren’t feeling it or if the ad is one of those ridiculous five-, ten-minute ones. It’s much appreciated! Another option is Patreon, which is monthly, and you can choose how much you want to spend. You get access to different things, depending on what tier you sign up at. If you don’t want to or aren’t able to commit to monthly payments, I also have ko-fi which is the equivalent to a tip jar or buying me a small coffee. If you aren’t able to contribute financially at all, that’s alright! Even just sharing my content with your friends or retweeting helps. That’s it, back to August books!
The Cartographers by Peng Shepherd. Nell Young’s whole life is cartography, and her father is a legend in the field. They haven’t spoken for years, since her father fired her and destroyed her reputation after arguing over an old gas station highway map. One day, he’s found dead in his office, and she finds that same map hidden in his desk. She can’t resist investigating and discovers that it’s very valuable and rare because a mysterious collector has been hunting them down and destroying them, along with anyone who gets in the way. She starts out on a dangerous journey to find out why and she’ll discover dark family secrets along the way. — I enjoyed this a lot, the way the magic worked in this was certainly unique! It reminds me a bit of Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore, and all the mystery of that. I do feel like the villain, so to say, was a little overblown, but I still enjoyed it.
The Light of the Jedi by Charles Soule. Set long before the Clone Wars, Jedi are at their peak in the High Republic. The Republic is extending their reach to the farthest stars, helping worlds flourish, and peace reigns across the galaxy. A shocking catastrophe happens and tears a ship apart in hyperspace, shooting shrapnel across a whole system and threatening millions of lives. The scope is so big even the Jedi are pushed to their limit. As they battle against this calamity, something deadly grows beyond, in the darkness and waiting. — I grew up on Star Wars, so I’m definitely biased but I really enjoyed reading this. I love seeing anything beyond the stories of the characters we’ve learned a lot about in the main Star Wars canon, seeing a variety of Jedi and philosophies under one larger umbrella. If you enjoy Star Wars or sci-fi, this is very good.
Heartwood: Non-binary Tales of Sylvan Fantasy edited by Joamette Gil. An anthology of comics that are entirely nonbinary, and created by all cartoonists who are some nonbinary gender. All of these stories are tied to the forest – tales of caution, adventure, rites of passage, and discovery. — I really liked the wide range of comic styles and stories. There were some I liked more than others of course, but overall this was a fantastic collection of queer stories.
Cosmoknights by Hannah Templer. Pan had a small life – working in her dad’s body shop, sneaking out to dance with her friend Tara, watching the skies for ships. Tara is also a princess, and that didn’t matter until one day, she had to say goodbye forever. Years later, off-world gladiators show up and Pan decides to run off with them, and she discovers amazing secrets of her world. Along with the possibility of tearing it all down. — I really enjoyed this neo-medieval world where we’re very much in the future, but there’s still medieval traditions like jousting. Except jousting is done in the air and in mech-suits. The art in this is absolutely gorgeous, and it’s VERY queer. I mean, you just have to look at the cover alone! Definitely recommend, and I can’t wait for the next installment in this series.
Heckin’ Lewd: Trans and Nonbinary Erotica edited by MX Nillin. A collection of erotic stories from trans and nonbinary gender diverse writers, this book celebrates queerness and nonconformity in all forms. The stories certainly cover a wide range of genres, from fantasy with summoning a demon to sci-fi with seedy back-alley trips. Some of these stories were very good, some of them were…questionable. I’m all for gender fuckery but the way it’s viewed in some of these stories put me off a little.
That’s all for August! I read six in September, two of them graphic novels. I started and finished this month strong with fantastic books.
Hell Followed With Us by Andrew Joseph White. I will make a Title Talks about this one, it’s just SO good and not what I expected from a YA book at all. Prepare to die. His kingdom is near. Sixteen-year-old trans boy Benji is currently on the run from the fundamentalist cult that unleashed a virus that killed most of the world’s population. The cult turned him into a bioweapon, and while he’s trying to find a safe place, he gets cornered by monsters created during the destruction. Benji gets rescued by a group of teens from the Acheson LGBTQ+ Center and is welcomed into their group. There are a lot of secrets happening, and the world is still burning. — This was an absolutely incredible read, and SO gory. Much gorier than I was expecting for a YA book, but it is marketed as a dystopian horror. I loved every character in this book, even the bad ones. It was all so well written, and it felt all very fleshed out. I LOVE the concept of the center, teens that were trapped there when the outbreak happened and banding together to survive. That’s what we queer people have always done, and always will. I absolutely recommend this, but with so many trigger warnings! Look them up beforehand, because whew, this book does not hold back.
The Sunbearer Trials by Aiden Thomas. Teo is a lowly Jade, and the odds of him getting selected to compete in the Trials are so small, it’s laughable. He doesn’t mind, because that means he won’t have to fight for being the Champion or having the honor of placing last and being sacrificed to replenish Sol’s power to keep the evil Obsidian gods at bay for the next ten years. Teo’s more worried about others who are Golds that he cares for…until he gets selected along with another Jade. Now they have to compete against Golds who have trained their whole lives for this. — I’m telling you, anything that Thomas writes, I will enjoy. I will eventually do a Title Talks or a full Instagram post for this, it’s so good. This has a whole pantheon of Mexican inspired gods and mythos that Thomas created. The trials in this will make people immediately think Hunger Games, but it’s nothing like that. I don’t want to explain too much, because that was part of what I really enjoyed, learning things as I went. I also really enjoyed all of the little mentions of accessibility, like people signing for the one deaf character, the equipment during the trials having built-in tools to include everyone. I 100% recommend this if you enjoy fantasy, especially with a completely new mythology and unique gods.
I’m Not in Love by Mia Kerick. Remi is in his last year of art college, savoring it before he’s expected to take over the family business empire, which he’s not looking forward to. He’s also avoiding creating any attachments to people because of past trauma, but a model in one of his classes upends that. Remi only plans to sleep with Tristan, but as they get to know each other beyond just their looks, they have a hard time keeping up those walls. — I didn’t really like this for a good quarter of the book, mainly because of Remi and his better-than-you attitude, but he does go through some growth eventually after interacting with down-to-earth Tristan and unlearning his behaviors from growing up in a wealthy family. I really liked Tristan and his family, they’re adorable. The push and pull of their relationship was painful at times because so much could’ve been solved by pretty basic communication. Overall, this book was okay for me.
Next, I read Vol 3 and 4 of The Adventure Zone. Volume 3 centers around a very dangerous competition, battle wagon racing, and Volume 4 has them answering a distress call coming from a floating laboratory that’s slowly turning into pink crystal, and they have to stop it before it crashes and Midases the whole planet. Like I said earlier, I really enjoy this group and the wild adventures they get themselves into!
The final book for September is Record of a Spaceborn Few by Becky Chambers. This is another book in the Wayfarers universe, and all of the books in this series can stand on their own. In this story, we learn about the Exodus Fleet, a living relic of Old Earth. It’s where many humans are from, but few have seen it, apart from those who are still living on it. Humanity has been accepted into the galactic community, but those who still reside on the fleet fear for the loss of their way of life. There are three main perspectives in this: an older woman who chose to stay when her brother left and worries about her future in the Fleet, a young apprentice who wants change but doesn’t know where to find it, and a newcomer who just wants a place to belong. A disaster happens to the Fleet, and they have to question their way of life. — Chambers is so good at worldbuilding in fairly short books, I always enjoy reading her stories. These books are all stand-alone, but they also do so much to enrich each other if you read them all. I loved seeing the possibilities of what it would look if generational ships were still running but not completely necessary anymore, what cultural behaviors would arise from that. I also appreciated that Chambers very specifically wrote the Fleet to be designed in a way that there would be no castes, no privileged jobs or locations on the ship, which is certainly important in long-term survival but also moving away from colonial structures. If you’ve read any of Chambers’ books or enjoy sci-fi, absolutely read this.
We’re nearly there! October was a very busy month for me, so I read only two books.
First was The Art of Feefal by Linnea Kikuchi. This is a Kickstarter I backed, because I follow this person on Instagram, and I LOVE the art style. The book is the artist going through her art journey from a child to the artist she is today, talking about her thought and artistic process in creating some of her pieces. I’ll definitely be referring to this again! I also got some cool perks as a backer. [insert perks] This is really something that would appeal to other artists or those who love learning more about individual artists.
Bi: The Hidden Culture, History, and Science of Bisexuality by Julia Shaw. Written by a bisexual psychologist and bestselling author, Shaw studies the science of sexuality. This book looks at the science and culture of attraction beyond the binary, including the Kinsey scale, asylum seekers fighting for recognition of their identity, and so much more. There’s research, but there’s also some drawn from her personal experiences. — I enjoyed reading this, and far, far more than the one written by Savin-Williams. This one actually comes from a place of personal understanding, and looks at the complexities that come from cultural influences alongside science and research. It’s also very readable, for me it didn’t get too bogged down in technical terms. Is it the best book ever written? No, but it’s certainly one of the better ones that I’ve read on bisexuality.
Now, onto the last month and the last book for this post! I read only one book in November, so we’re just about done.
Make it a Double: From Wretched to Wondrous: Tales of One Woman’s Lifelong Discovery of Whisky by Shelley Sackier. Her first taste of whisky almost put her off it forever, until she met Scotland and its passionate people. She develops a deep curiosity and passion for whisky, diving deep into this world dominated by men. Shelley has to fight through assumptions and prejudice, but becomes very knowledgeable, writing and working within this industry. — I didn’t know much about whisky before reading this, and now I know quite a bit! I really enjoyed Shelley’s humor and storytelling style, it’s very relatable while being very informative. She tells us about all the different types, processes of making it, the culture around whisky, how the industry has always been and how it’s changing today, and some tips and resources for people who are interested in diving deeper and learning more. If you have any interest at all in whisky, and the history behind it, I would recommend this great read.
At long last, that’s all of the books I’ve read from July to November. I considered including December, but knew this post was already pretty long, and I may have read over 20 individual things in December alone, so… December is getting its own post! If you actually made it all the way through this post, I appreciate you. That’s all for today, leave in the comments whatever you’re reading right now and how you’re liking it.
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