2021 Look Back, 2022 Goals

Hello, I’m Rogan and welcome to the first post of 2022! I want to look back at what I did in 2021, and what I would like to do in 2022. I’ll just be focusing on YouTube here. When I was starting to get ready for this post, I realized that I had made a similar post last year… And promptly forgot about it. So let’s review what I said in that, and see how I did! That video will be linked here if you want to see it for yourself. Also, any other video I mention will be linked. I started with talking about what videos I was proud of, and what I’d like to do differently. Let’s do that for 2021, shall we?

The videos I’m most proud of are my ASL translation of Defying Gravity, and finally finishing my art project, Maskenfreiheit. There’s not really much to say, I’m just really pleased with those two, and hope to do more like them this year! I got the Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows as a Christmas gift, so I might be browsing that to inspire some artsy videos. I also have Lost In Translation, and have thought about doing some videos inspired by words in there, but I need to revisit it! As for what I’d do differently, I don’t think there’s much except background or the set up. One thing that I did recently get is a ring light, so if you’ve noticed the lighting in my videos is much better, that’s why!

As I’ve said several times on this channel, I don’t really believe in resolutions or specific, numbered goals. Instead, last year, I chose a theme which I think I’ll be continuing this year. The theme I chose is Consistency, and I don’t think I really succeeded in the way that I wanted. I essentially wanted to try and produce minimum of one video per week. I know I just said no numbers, but I wanted to have *something,* and I wasn’t being strict on when during the week. Just *a* video, to end the year with at least 52 videos. I started off pretty alright, maybe not every week, but put out videos semi-regularly. But then I dropped off during June and didn’t get back to being as consistent. This was when I’d started picking up a lot more work, due to vaccinations and things starting to open up again. I was also starting to play D&D, and running it! I ended the year with 29 videos, which isn’t terrible, but not where I’d like to be.

I also wanted to be better at continuing series, which I was very bad at last year. I was consistent (mostly) with only one series, my monthly book wrap ups. Those are easy, because I have a set way of doing them, so maybe that’s what I need to do for my other series. I have two series that I’m not great at updating – ASL Ponderings and Regional Signs. I talked about starting two – Rogue with Rogan, my cooking/baking series which I currently have only one video for, and Title Talks, which I haven’t really started. That one is where I plan to talk about individual books or book series more in-depth outside of my monthly wrap ups. This isn’t really a series, exactly, but I’ve really enjoyed doing ASL story times and have three made already. Making series videos will definitely be something I work on this year!

I hate to say this, because it means more work for me, but I have been thinking about the possibility of doing shorter form videos, because that format is becoming very popular now. There’s a version on nearly every major platform now – YouTube Shorts, Instagram Reels, and obviously, TikTok. There’s a few ways of doing it. I could do clips from my regular YouTube videos to share on other platforms, or to act as a trailer of sorts? But I could also do exclusive content, though that is more work overall. I’m just putting it out there to see what happens!

Not completely related to YouTube, but one thing I want to do this year is start up a place where you can buy prints of my artwork. And possibly merch, but I don’t really know what that would look like, so if you’ve got ideas, let me know!

That’s it for this post. Feel free to leave your thoughts, questions, or whatever in the comments! I look forward to this year with you all. Bye!

If you want to support my content financially, I would really appreciate it if you joined my Patreon or made a one-time donation to my Ko-fi tip jar. Subscribe to my channel. Follow me on my socials – FacebookTwitterInstagram. Thanks for reading, see you next time.

Maskenfreiheit

Maskenfreiheit: freedom of wearing a mask.

I wrote the text in this video in around 2017-2018, so it was written well before the pandemic and the prevalence of medical masks. I tried multiple times to film this, but could never be happy with the footage. When I went on a deaf artists’ retreat in August 2021, I decided that this would be my project, and I’m so excited this is finally done! Thank you to everyone who participated in this video, I couldn’t have made this without y’all.

Maskenfreiheit (text)

Masks. What are they? A way to conceal your identity? Staying anonymous? Conformity to mainstream society? Well… That’s how most people perceive masks anyway. But… What if it was something else? What if we were to look at it differently? Maskenfreiheit: freedom that comes with wearing masks. What if…masks were a way for us to be someone we never could be? A way to meet people we never would otherwise? Freedom to test out things and learn about ourselves in a way that we couldn’t otherwise? You decide. What are masks? Anonymity, conformity, hiding who you are? Or freedom, experimentation, learning about the world? What are they? Masks.

Round 8 Wrap Up | Queer Lit Readathon

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.

If you want to support my content financially, I would really appreciate it if you joined my Patreon or made a one-time donation to my Ko-fi tip jar. Subscribe to my channel. Follow me on my socials – FacebookTwitterInstagram. Thanks for reading, see you next time.

The wizard author is at it once again

Straight cis white people, we need to talk.

*big sigh* She-Who-Will-Not-Be-Named is at it again. I completely understand if my trans and queer followers need to skip this video for their own reasons, absolutely no hard feelings. 

Queer and trans people, you can do whatever you want with this fandom, I know it means a lot to some of you as queer people. For the rest of you… I’m not going to go into detail myself, there’s plenty of information out there for you to find on your own. What it boils down to is: the author of the Harry Potter series is a very transphobic woman, and she is going all-out on it now. She is not backing down, despite the controversy it’s causing. I am appalled by the things she’s said about trans people, after all of the morals and values she taught a whole generation with the Harry Potter series. But then again… She’s a very privileged white woman, and is doing whatever she can to hold onto that power and stay relevant. It’s not just the transphobia that’s problematic, oh no. She’s also racist and will cherry pick from other cultures, twisting things to suit her needs.

But enough about her and her actions. What’s next? It’s simple. *Don’t* support her or any of her properties. She is STILL getting money from anything tied with the wizarding world. Publishers, marketers, and various industries will continue producing wizarding world things as long as it makes them, and her, money. I know for some people, this is very difficult because Harry Potter means so much to them. I want to be clear – I’m not saying you have to completely cut it out of your life if that’s not what you’re willing to do. But I am saying this. Consider the impact that you will be making by continuing to consume Harry Potter content, buy merch, talking about it with others. You can absolutely enjoy it on your own in the comfort of your home, but posting about it? Continuing the visibility of Harry Potter? Think about that.

If you’re thinking, but what about the wizarding world? What about that lore? I can assure you, there are so many other books out there just as good, and perhaps even better than Harry Potter. This series stopped publishing in 2007. It’s been fourteen years, I can guarantee you there’s far more interesting things out there now. Especially with publishing becoming much more diverse in the past few years! We still have quite a ways to go, but it’s already come a long way since 2007. Here’s some recommendations – from me and some of my friends. The Young Wizards series written by Diane Duane is an excellent one, it was one of my favorites alongside Harry Potter. I’ve been re-reading this series, and it’s holding up! The Wayward Children series by Seanan McGuire. I’ve read the first couple, and this is a good series that takes inspiration from classic children stories. Trans Wizard Harriet Porber by Chuck Tingle, there are two books now. I haven’t read this personally, but Kathy has and she loved it. This is very much a satire of Harry Potter, absolutely brimming with queerness. I will create a pinned comment with the ones I just mentioned, along with a few more recommendations I didn’t mention. Feel free to add your recommendations on that comment.

I can’t tell you what to do, but I just ask you think about the potential impact that your actions will have, whatever route you choose. I personally said my goodbyes to Harry Potter a long time ago. It’s something I loved and cherished in my childhood, but I’m okay without it today. There’s a whole universe out there to explore.

If you want to support my content financially, I would really appreciate it if you joined my Patreon or made a one-time donation to my Ko-fi tip jar. Subscribe to my channel. Follow me on my socials – FacebookTwitterInstagram. Thanks for reading, see you next time.

Recommendations:

  • The Young Wizards by Diane Duane (series, first book titled So You Want to Be a Wizard)
  • Wayward Children by Seanan McGuire (series) 
  • Trans Wizard Harriet Porber by Chuck Tingle (start of series)
  • Magic for Liars by Sarah Gailey (standalone)
  • Of Fire and Stars by Audrey Coulthurst (duology)
  • The Flames of Albiyon by Jean Z. (start of series)
  • The Witch King by H.E. Edgmon (start of series)
  • Percy Jackson and the Olympians by Rick Riordan (series)
  • Honestly, anything by the Rick Riordan Presents imprint. So much delicious mythology!

Round 8 TBR | Queer Lit Readathon

Hello, I’m Rogan and welcome to my Queer Lit TBR. I’ll go over the books that I hope to read during this round. The reason why I said “hope” is because I’m working for half of this, a work trip. So… Two days are travel days, so I can get a lot of reading done during that time, but… We’ll see. I have six books on this list, so let’s just get into it.

One thing I want to mention before I continue. I built this list in a way that yes, I have six books, but I will prioritize two. Because those two, if I’m counting right, will cover ten, maybe eleven challenges. So… If nothing else, I will read two books.

The first book that I will read is Where We Go From Here written by Lucas Rocha. This is obviously the Group Read. It also meets Translated and Rainbow Cover. And… This one applies to most of these, books, because I’m getting most of these from the library, so it’ll go toward Something Borrowed.

Next, I’m planning to read Cattywampus written by Ash Van Otterloo. This will meet five challenges: Middle Grade, Fantasy, Host Rec, Beyond LGBT, and Queer Joy.

Next, I would love to read Cemetery Boys written by Aiden Thomas. It will meet three challenges: Trans Debut, Seasonal Vibes, and ??? – Choose Your Own Category. My own category is Reread.

Next, The Passing Playbook written by Isaac Fitzsimons. This will meet Queer Sports.

Approaching the end, I hope to read To Be Taught, If Fortunate written by Becky Chambers. This will meet Novella.

Last, but not least, I hope to read all of Paper Girls written by Brian K Vaughan and illustrated by Cliff Chiang. This will meet Cyberpunk.

One more challenge that I haven’t mentioned – 40%+ BIPOC authors. If I read all of these, or some, I should have no problem meeting this challenge. Because out of these authors, including the illustrator, I have four BIPOC and three white authors. From what I can tell.

That’s the six things I hope to read during this round. We’ll see how much I succeed in, because traveling for work will eat up some of my time, but I think I can do it, no problem.

Let me know what you’re reading for this round, what are you most excited for? Thanks for reading!

If you want to support my content financially, I would really appreciate it if you joined my Patreon or made a one-time donation to my Ko-fi tip jar. Subscribe to my channel. Follow me on my socials – FacebookTwitterInstagram. Thanks for reading, see you next time.

August & September Books Wrap Up | BookTube

Hello and welcome to my wrap up for both August and September. I didn’t read very much in these months, so I’m combining them. Let’s just get right into it.

The first book I read in August was Good Talk by Mira Jacob. A graphic memoir told in a series of interviews and conversations with her son, her parents, various people in her life or fictional conversations with celebrities. Jacob looks at the American experience through the lens of being a first-generation American, coming from a family of immigrants. She speaks about her experience of being the only non-white student to win an essay contest and how it felt to be a brown-skinned New Yorker when 9/11 happened. — This was an unique take on a memoir, using a mixture of drawings for people and pictures for backgrounds. I’m not entirely sure I like it personally, but I did enjoy reading this and seeing the various experiences that Jacob has had. This is very much about the immigrant experience and growing up surrounded by that.

Iron Widow by Xiran Jay Zhao. Huaxia is at constant war with Hunduns, mecha aliens that lurk beyond the great walls, and they fight the aliens with Chrysalises, which require two pilots. Zetian, a 18-year-old, signs up to become a concubine-pilot, who usually are the ones to die while the male pilots burn through them. Zetian signed up because she wanted to kill the man who had murdered her sister, and she gets her wish in a way no one anticipated. She eventually gets paired with one of the strongest and most unpredictable pilots, but she’s not about to back down. Not when she could burn her way through the ranks and destroy the system, preventing more girls from being sacrificed. — There is so much that happens in this book, I wouldn’t be able to cover it all without spoiling some major plot points, and I wouldn’t do it justice! Zetian is based on the first empress of China, so this is essentially Asian-inspired sci-fi/fantasy. You can really feel Zetian’s rage at this unfair system, one that is rigged in favor of the men, the overarching oppression of women and keeping them under control. She is far from the stereotype of a meek and obedient Asian woman, is a powerful woman, not afraid to take risks, but it doesn’t veer into becoming the opposite stereotype. She’s still human, still feels fear and has emotions, struggles with her being. This book challenges the strong binary traditions and thinking of Huaxia, and by extension, the world’s. It absolutely speaks against patriarchy and strong gender roles, not allowing those to be a determinant in how Zetian lives her life, along with her lovers. There is polyamory that comes up later in the book, along with men loving men. I could go on and on, but I would prefer you go read this amazing and epic story. This is the first in a series, and I can’t wait to see what Xiran Jay Zhao writes next!

Juliet Takes a Breath: The Graphic Novel by Gabby Rivera, illustrated by Celia Moscote. Juliet is headed to Portland, leaving the Bronx right after she came out to her family. She’s not sure she’ll ever speak to her mom again, but to figure herself out, Juliet is going to Portland to intern with her fave feminist author. However, it’s not a perfect plan since Harlowe is white, has a different upbringing, and isn’t all-knowing. Juliet is dealing with figuring out her identity as an out Puerto Rican lesbian, and she lucks into finding some queer family who help guide and encourage her. — This is based on the novel by Rivera, which I’ve already read. This is essentially the same story, just in a visual format. The colors and art in this is gorgeous! I really enjoyed this, and would recommend it even if you’ve already read the novel.

Ace of Spades by Faridah Àbíké-Íyímídé. Devon Richards and Chiamaka Adebayo are both students at an elite school, Niveus Private Academy. At the start of their senior year, they’re both selected to be prefects, which is going to look fantastic on their college applications and puts them in running for valedictorian. Not long after the announcement, a mysterious person calling themselves Aces starts sending mass texts to the whole school, revealing secrets about Devon and Chiamaka that could completely destroy their carefully planned futures. The secrets start out as very minor and seemed like a sick prank, but become more serious and dangerous, stacking everything against them. Chiamaka and Devon race to stop Aces before it gets deadly, and expose Aces for who they are. — This is so so good, and I can’t believe it’s a debut! Àbíké-Íyímídé does a great job of creating and building up the unease, suspense, and the sense of danger everywhere we turn. Chiamaka and Devon are the only Black students at Niveus, and it does quickly become obvious they’re being targeted because of that. I don’t want to spoil anything, so I’ll just say that there are queer characters in this. It’s a weird phrase to be saying, but this book is very cinematic. I can easily see this being adapted to the big screen, and I hope it is, with a great director.

The Gilded Ones by Namina Forna. Deka is coming of age and is about to undergo a ritual to determine the purity of her blood. Deka prays it’ll run red and not gold. Those who bleed gold are impure and will be put to death. The feared day comes, and Deka bleeds gold. She’s locked away from the town as the elders attempt to find her final death. Deka goes through an unimaginable amount of pain before she’s rescued by a mysterious woman who wants to recruit her into an army of the impure, called alaki. This is when Deka learns that those who bleed gold are considered demons and have supernatural gifts. They’re sent to fight creatures called deathshrieks, which threaten the safety of the Otera empire. The deathshrieks attack villages, stealing young girls and killing all else. Deka also learns that she is unique, even among the alaki, and is figuring out what this all means for her. She also learns of many dark things that have happened in Otera’s history, realizing that all she’s been told growing up is not the whole truth. — There is so much that goes on in this, but it is incredible. It is very dark, and a lot of violent things happen, including allusions to sexual assault, torture, war, child soldiers and a bunch I’m not covering. Make sure you look up a full list if you need to check. This is a story about a girl who was raised in an extremely patriarchal society, one that controls women by judging the “purity” of their blood, and when they’re recruited into the army of impure, they’re sent to the frontlines ahead of the men soldiers. It’s a very violent story full of exploitation and oppression, but also has stories of love, people caring for each other, finding their own meaning among the horrors that surround them. I didn’t care for the romance between Deka and her assigned soldier, but that was minor. There is a queer relationship which is casually mentioned, but not until much later into the story, nearly at the end. I’m also so over gendered magic because it never considers the relationship that queer, trans, and nonbinary people have with it. Fantasy also rarely considers the lives of queer, fat, and disabled people, which would’ve been nice to see in this especially since it speaks of revolution and pushing the envelope of who can do what. However! That doesn’t mean I didn’t enjoy The Gilded Ones. I did very much, and I will definitely be picking up the next Deathless book when it comes out.

That’s all of what I read in August and September. I haven’t been reading much this month either, so I might bundle October with November, we’ll see. Let me know what you think of these books, and I’ll see you next time!

Big Life Update

Hello and welcome! I know, it’s been two months since my last post. Part of that is I just haven’t been motivated to make videos/posts. That’s part of it. Part of it is that I’ve just been busy doing things. I will give a quick sum up and catch you up on what I’ve been up to.

In August, I had a family reunion from my dad’s side of the family. It was really good to see them. I hadn’t seen many of them for a long time, years. So it was really good to have that short weekend with all of them getting together. Plus we had my two aunts and a cousin visiting for one week, so it was really good to see them. That was nice. So of course, because they were here, I wanted to focus on them, spend time with them.

Then I was involved in the Deaf artists retreat, over a long weekend. Several different Deaf artists got together, mostly from the PNW, some joined from other areas. This was just a great experience. I really enjoyed it, I went as an artist. And I do have a project from that. I still haven’t really started editing, but my goal is to do that while–over the next few weeks. That’s my goal. It was a really great experience. Meeting new people, working with some people that I’ve known for a while or followed for a while. It was a really rich experience. I’m now on the committee for that, and I’m really looking forward to the future, what happens from now on.

Right after the retreat, I went on a road trip from the retreat which was in west Washington, down through Oregon and to north California. Unfortunately, I had to cut it a little short, because the fires… It’s not great air quality. While I stopped by a beach, my car got broken into. I’m fine. It happened while I gone, and they stole mostly what had just sentimental value, nothing with monetary value. Most of what they stole was dirty laundry. So…suckers! Yes, it was annoying that my window was broken, but. The important thing is that I’m fine, things can be replaced. Nothing really valuable like my camera, laptop, iPad, none of that was stolen. So that’s the important part. And really, that trip was good. Getting out, sightseeing a little bit, visiting my friend in Oregon. It was good to see him for a few days.

Not long after the roadtrip finished, I got asked if I was available for a work trip. Sure, so I was arranging hotels, flights, all of that, making sure everything’s good to go for my trip to California and Colorado. I enjoyed it, it was a good trip. I enjoy the people I work with. It was ten days, but exhausting. I came back home, and had only a few days to rest before I went to catsit for a friend, and a friend was visiting from out of town for a week or so. That was really good to see them here, meeting in person, finally. I was taking them and showing them around Seattle, that was fun.

Now you’re mostly caught up on the last two months of what I’ve been up to. Last, but definitely not least, I’ve moved! This is a different location, you can’t tell because of the blank wall. But yes, trubiz! I now live in a house. I have three roommates, they’re all hearing and don’t know sign. But I’m working on it! This house is in the Green Lake area, close by. This is one of my favorite areas of Seattle, I just love this area. So I saw this place, oh yes. I was lucky to get this place. The rent is really good for this location. I just moved in, barely over a week now. I will not show the outside of the house, to protect my privacy and that of my roommates. I probably won’t give a house tour, probably not. But my room, yeah. Once I’m more settled in, have my room set up how I want it, then I’ll show you. For now, just know that I have my own place in Seattle now. I’m very excited about this, much closer to everything. Just happy I found this place, and that I can finally move.

So that’s the two months that I disappeared for. I wasn’t motivated partly because I was tired from all of my doings – work, friend visiting, travel, moving to a new place. And I just wanted to say hi, yes. I’m just busy, and not motivated. I might disappear again for a month? Because I’m leaving soon to travel for a friend’s wedding, visiting a friend, a bachelorette party. So… I will try to, when I have downtime, I will try to do videos and editing, yes. I will try, but no promises. Just saying, don’t be surprised if I disappear again for a month. Go ahead and leave in the comments if you have any questions about what I’ve been up to, or… Any exciting life updates with you all? Let me know! I miss making videos for you all! I’m hoping to get back into it, we’ll see. Thank you for watching, I hope to see you again soon!

June & July Books Wrap Up | BookTube

Hello, I’m Rogan and welcome to my wrap up for June and July! I read 10 books in June, and six of them were completed during the Queer Lit Readathon. One of them was intended for that, but I didn’t finish it in time. And in July, I read only three books. I decided to go ahead and combine them into one video. I’ll also be keeping my reviews brief unless it was an ARC, which I already have a full review for. Let’s get started!

My first book that I finished in June is Men With Their Hands by Raymond Luczak. This is a book written by a deaf author about Michael, a young deaf man from a small town who moves to New York City, struggles to fit in and find his people until he falls in with a chosen family of deaf gay men from various backgrounds. This is set over decades, starting in 1978 and finishing in 2003 (this book was published in 2009). — This book was fine, I gave it three stars. I thought it was a decent concept and story, but I felt the plot was somewhat lacking. There’s an archetype of almost every type of a gay person and they’re all completely different, which is fine! It did feel a little forced, like Luczak was attempting to cover all his bases. There’s naturally going to be some similar people in a group, or some overlaps, so I think it was a little over the top to make all of them completely different people. I didn’t feel there was any real depth or meat to the story. There is sign language used in this, and Luczak chose to go the route of writing in a modified form of ASL gloss. For those who aren’t familiar, ASL gloss is writing out the signs a person uses with English words, but in the order that the person signed. So it can look a little like “broken” English, and it really doesn’t capture the nuance of ASL, because it doesn’t include facial expressions and body language. Luczak modified it to be more of a mix between gloss and English for some more clarity. However, I don’t think it was fully successful. But I personally don’t think I’ll really ever be happy with how sign language is portrayed in written form. Moving on!

The Mirror Season by Anna-Marie McLemore. This is a beautiful and very difficult story about Ciela and Lock who both experience being sexually assaulted at the same party. They slowly discover this, and develop a fragile friendship built on her family’s pastelería where she might have a little magic, and his secret, otherworldly forest. — I thought this was heartbreaking and very well-written. McLemore really took care with their characters, and never wrote anything graphic, but gives you enough to understand what’s happened. There’s elements of magic and surreality woven throughout, with Ciela’s ability to know exactly what pan dulce a person needs at the given moment, that gift disappearing after the assault, and things in the world turning into mirrored glass, bringing dangerous magic with it. Also! Ciela is pansexual, and there are other queer characters throughout. I would absolutely recommend this read, if you are able. Obvious content warnings for sexual assault, please check for others to make sure.

Now, we’re on books I read for the Queer Lit Readathon. First up, I read The Princess and the Fangirl by Ashley Poston. This is the second book in the Once Upon a Con series, the first being Geekerella. This is the same universe, but following Jessica Stone, one of the stars of Starfield. She plays Princess Amara and wants out, and Amara might be killed off in the show. Amara is Imogen’s favorite character, she doesn’t want that to happen, so she’s doing what she can to stop it from happening. Someone mistakes Imogen for Jess, and they end up being thrown together, they trade places to figure out who leaked the newest script. — This leads to some chaos, because of course. This was a great fluffy summer read that happens at a con, just like Geekerella. I enjoyed it.

The Love & Lies of Rukhsana Ali by Sabina Khan. Seventeen-year-old Rukhsana has very conservative Muslim parents, and she does her best to live up to their expectations. However, she’s finding it harder to do as her parents continue to blatantly favor her brother, hiding her makeup and “inappropriate” clothes, along with her girlfriend. She hopes to keep it hidden until she escapes Seattle to go to Caltech, pursuing her dream of being an engineer, but one day her parents catch her kissing her girlfriend. They’re devastated and immediately take her off to Bangladesh, forcing her into the world of arranged marriages and tradition. Rukhsana is floundering but realizes she needs to find the courage to stand against tradition for herself and her love. — This was very frustrating to read, I could really feel Rukhsana’s anger and frustration with her overbearing parents. She also had to deal with her non-Bangladeshi friends not understanding what lengths her people can and will go to, to protect the family name. I thought this was a very touching story as Rukhsana reconnects with her family in Bangladesh, especially her grandmother. I would absolutely recommend it.

She of the Mountains by Vivek Shraya. A love story between a man and his body, who’s exploring his relationship with sexuality, gender, and with other people around him. Woven throughout, re-imaginings of Hindu mythology that also explore the complexity of gender and how damaging the policing of it can be to humans. — I liked this far more than Shraya’s other book, Death Threat, I think because I had better expectations for this one. I also enjoyed both of the stories, especially the Hindu mythology reimagining. I love mythology of all kinds, and don’t often read Hindu stories, so this definitely got me interested in reading more Hindu mythology.

Freshwater by Akwaeke Emezi. Ada is born in Nigeria as a fractured self, growing up as a concern to her family. Her parents had prayed for her to be born, but as Ada gets older, it’s clear that something went awry. Ada comes of age and moves to America for college, and the swirling chaos in Ada’s mind starts coalescing into more distinct selfs. Asụghara comes into being after a very traumatic assault, to protect Ada in any sexual or dangerous situation. Saint Vincent also moves in, and is hedonistic, not caring very much about Ada and what she wants. With these two mostly in charge, Ada starts fading to the back of her mind, her life starts going down a very dangerous and dark path. — This was my second time reading Freshwater, and I absolutely loved it. I appreciated it much more the second time around, because I understood more what it was about. Emezi talks about ọgbanje, which are often thought to be evil spirits in Igbo, these spirits plague families with misfortune. Ada is hosting multiple ọgbanje in one body, as said in this sentence: “The first madness was that we were born, that they stuffed a god into a bag of skin.” I’ll link an article here where Emezi talks about reorienting their thinking about gender, and wondering if they are an ọgbanje themself, and how the Western view of gender so often doesn’t align with how various cultures view gender. This book is just stunning, and I would absolutely recommend this. I have yet to read Emezi’s other work, but I look forward to it!

Me, Myself, They: Life Beyond the Binary by Luna M. Ferguson. A memoir where Ferguson talks about their journey of exploring their gender identity, their traumatic experiences with conversion therapy, sexual and physical assault, depression. Ferguson became a filmmaker, scholar, and advocate for trans rights. They were the first person to receive an X on their birth certificate, making history in the process. Ferguson talks some about the long journey and fight to get this marker changed, how they dealt with that and becoming very visible in the process. — I really enjoyed reading about this bit of queer history from the person who actually went through it. Ferguson also explains any terminology that might not be commonly known, but they never make it seem like they’re speaking down to you, it’s just along with everything else. I liked this, and would recommend it if you’re interested in a piece of queer history.

America, Vol. 1: The Life and Times of America Chavez by Gabby Rivera. America Chavez is a super-powered teenager who was a Young Avenger, she leads the Ultimates. In her own series, she’s going to college, but of course as a super, it’s not that simple. She has to stop interdimensional monsters, an alien cult that worships her, and then she can get started on her first assignment which gets her sent to the front lines of WWII, with Captain America there. — I’d only vaguely heard of America Chavez before reading this, so I feel like this was an alright introduction to this character that’s brash, full of confidence, and fearless. She’s a queer person who took on a Latina identity, she’s from another dimension so to blend in, she picked something that people told her she looked like. Her powers are very interesting! She’s very strong, can fly, and she can punch star-shaped portals between dimensions. The reason why I said alright is because the plot felt all over the place, I had to go back to re-read things sometimes to make sure I was understanding or find something that I missed. The art is fantastic, and I’d love to see more of it! After reading some reviews on Goodreads, it would seem that how America is portrayed in this is not the same as how she was portrayed in Young Avengers, so take that how you will. Overall, I did like this, but wasn’t blown away by it. I might be picking up more in the future.

That’s all I read for the Queer Lit Readathon. Those books cover nearly all of the bingo board, and for the remaining squares, I read more than half of Gilded Wolves, but didn’t finish.

The Mermaid, the Witch, and the Sea by Maggie Tokuda-Hall. The pirate ship named Dove passes themselves off as a passenger ship until they’re on the high seas, then turn around and sell their rich and privileged passengers into slavery. One of the crew, Flora the girl takes on the identity of Florian to fit in and earn the respect of the crew. Flora used to be a starving urchin, and as a pirate: no trust, no sticking out, no feelings. But as they prepare this group of passengers, Flora is drawn to Lady Evelyn Hasegawa, who is being sent away for an arranged marriage. They both unexpectedly find something in each other. Pretty quickly, they plan a wild escape that will also get a mermaid free, involve the mysterious Pirate Supreme, a witch, and the Sea itself. — I loved this very queer, very swashbuckling adventure. It starts off intense, and doesn’t really have much downtime. I really enjoyed reading this because it was never what you expected, the story beats weren’t completely predictable and just good. The way magic works in this is fascinating, and I love it. Essentially, it uses stories as a form of power, they’re how you can change the world around you, memories are also stories that we tell. I’m not doing a very good job of describing this book, but just trust me on this one, it’s fantastic and I would absolutely recommend.

The Gilded Wolves by Roshani Chokshi. Paris, 1889. The Exposition Universelle is in full motion, it’s brought new life to the streets and pulled ancient secrets from the dark. Séverin Montagnet-Alaire, a treasure-hunter and wealthy hotelier, is a pro at keeping track of dark truths. The powerful Order of Babel coerces him to help them find something, offering a treasure he thought he’d never get – his true inheritance. To do this, Séverin pulls together a band of unusual experts: an engineer with a debt to pay, a historian banished, a dancer with a dark past, and a brother in arms. What they find may change the course of history, if they make it out alive. — I’m purposely staying vague. When I read this, that was a bit more than I knew. When I found out that this was set in 1880s Paris, extremely queer, disabled rep, a diverse cast? I didn’t need to know more, sign me up. I absolutely enjoyed every minute of reading this. The details are so rich, and there were several twists that were just delicious. This is the first in a series, and I can’t wait to get my hands on the next book!

Last Night at the Telegraph Club by Malinda Lo. America in 1954, during the Red Scare, we follow seventeen-year-old Lily Hu in Chinatown as she struggles with the question of the possibility of two women falling in love with each other. The moment Lily and Kathleen Miller walked into the Telegraph Club, a lesbian bar, the answer confronted her right there and then. This is a time where it’s not safe for two girls to fall in love, and even more dangerous for Lily, being a Chinese-American. Her father’s been threatened with deportation despite his citizenship, her community is tense, but even with all of that, Lily and Kath risk it for their love. — I absolutely can’t do this book justice, it was just fantastic. The descriptions of the environment, especially in the Telegraph Club when they went and watched the male impersonator, Tommy, was just so good. This is a queer historical fiction, and I think it did an incredible job of telling this story without wallowing in trauma, repression, homophobia. It instead focused on self-discovery, finding a family and belonging, and loving. There are other longer, better reviews than mine so read those if you want, especially if I haven’t convinced you yet!

The Mark of the Bear Clan by David Allen Schlaefer. Ulla, a small green-eyed girl, is tromping along in the forest, looking for mushrooms to bring home when she runs into a bear. She gets badly mauled by it, but is saved by the famous wizard, Väinämöinen. After recovering, it’s discovered that her scar healed into a striking resemblance to a bear claw, the Mark of her clan. This is the start of an ancient prophecy about a child who will come from the North, and bring all the seven Clans together once again to defeat Löhi, the Witch of the North. Ulla lost her family at a young age, and is torn away from her village as Löhi’s forces start moving south, attacking and destroying the Northlands. Väinämöinen is traveling all over the lands, trying to bring tidings of war, warning people to prepare for hard times ahead, and using his magic to help however he can. Miles and miles away, Prince Egan is forced to become king when his father is killed by one of Löhi’s people spreading sickness. He’s burdened with war and all the tough decisions that come with at the age of around fifteen. — I really enjoyed this! It definitely reads as the beginning of an epic, and this is the first book in a series. This takes Finnish mythology and uses the world of the Kalevala (a work of epic poetry that compiles Karelian and Finnish mythology into an epic story) to tell a story that mixes the mythology with completely original characters to give us a new take on fantasy. I don’t really know much about Finnish folklore, but really enjoyed what I learned through this! This book had a very interesting approach to storytelling. It’d often swing between epic, fantastical, big storytelling and detailed descriptions of clothing worn by the different clans, farming methods, how these people live year-round, and so on. I would definitely recommend this to those who enjoy high fantasy, detailed mundanity, and mythology from other countries.

Assassin’s Orbit by John Appel. The planet Ileri is planning to vote on joining the Commonwealth, but a government minister is assassinated, which threatens everything that people have worked for. Private investigator Noo Okereke, spy Meiko Ogawa, and police chief Toiwa are forced to work together on the investigation. They discover a wide-spread political conspiracy, something that was thought to have been left behind in the past civilization, and tensions running through everything. What these three discover could spark a whole interplanetary war if the mystery isn’t solved. — There is SOOOO much that I left out, because I don’t want to spoil anything, and I wouldn’t do it justice. This takes place mostly on a space station, with one brief trip planetside. All of our main characters are women and what we would consider senior citizens, which is great! This definitely changed how the story was told, because each of these characters have decades of experience and knowledge with them. This is basically a space opera, and damn, I loved it! There’s multiple queer characters, neopronouns are used, and all of them are BIPOC from what I can figure. One bit of note, there are a lot of characters, so it can sometimes be hard to keep track of who’s who, especially when the perspective’s changed between chapters. Just be aware of that going into this, but apart from this, I loved this book and would absolutely recommend for those who enjoy sci-fi, mysteries, thrillers, political intrigue.

That’s all of the books I read in both June and July! Let me know if you’ve read any of these or want to in the comments. Thank you for reading if you made it all the way here!

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