There will not be a blog post. What I say in this video is essentially everything on this page: roganshannon.com/queer-lit-read.
Hello, I’m Rogan and welcome to my wrap up for January and February books! Since I was behind anyway, I decided to just combine these two months. Hopefully, I’ll get back to monthly after this! I read six books in January, and four in February, so let’s right into it. I’ll be doing more simple summaries since you can generally find more in-depth synopses online if that’s what you want.
Under the Whispering Door by TJ Klune. Wallace Price is watching his own funeral when a woman approaches him and confirms that he’s dead. She brings him to a little tea shop hidden deep in the woods, one that has impossible architecture and Hugo, the owner that makes the most delicious tea while also helping people cross over when they’re ready. Wallace isn’t ready to die, and lingers at the shop until he’s given an ultimatum by the Manager, Hugo’s boss. He decides to make the most of it and live a lifetime in the time he’s given. — This has a lot of similar vibes to Klune’s other book, The House In the Cerulean Sea, even a similar cover, but these books aren’t connected at all. At least, not that we know of! There’s strong found family, Wallace and Hugo are so into each other, but it’s a very slow burn which I enjoyed. This book talks a lot about death, big feelings around it on the part of the living, and what it potentially could be for those who have died and those who work with the recently passed. It handles all of these topics with care, but also with honesty, saying things that can be hard to hear but are necessary. It’s a very melancholic book but it absolutely has its moments of joy and happiness. I loved this book, and definitely will read anything by Klune.
The Removed by Brandon Hobson. This is about a Cherokee family still struggling and healing from the trauma of their son Ray-Ray being killed in a police shooting fifteen years ago. The mother is trying to manage her husband’s Alzheimer’s, their daughter is mostly solitary except when she has bouts of romantic obsession, and their other son left home long ago, and is dealing with addiction that helps him not feel so alienated. As the annual family bonfire, an occasion that marks both the Cherokee National Holiday and Ray-Ray’s death, approaches, the mother attempts to get the whole family together again. The closer it gets to the date, the more the family experiences a blurring between reality and the spirit world indivivdually. — This draws on a lot of Cherokee folklore, and really explores familial grief, how it impacts everyone as a whole but also individually, how the trauma can last for a long time, never fully healing. I’m certainly not the right person to give a review for this because I’m not indigenous and I haven’t experienced trauma like what’s happened in this book, but I thought it was very well-written. There are a few periods where I wasn’t sure what exactly was happening, but the characters weren’t sure either, so that was very effective. I would recommend this, but absolutely look up trigger warnings for this if you need to.
Legends of the North Cascades by Jonathan Evison. Dave has served three tours in Iraq, and after coming home to Vigilante Falls in Washington state, he realizes he’s had enough of people and civilization. He works through it for his daughter, Bella, but then tragedy strikes and he makes a dramatic decision. He takes Bella and goes to live in the wilderness of the North Cascades, completely off grid. As Dave and Bella get used to their new routine, Bella retreats into another world. This world is one of a mother and son who once lived in the same area, at the end of the Ice Age which is thousands of years before. The stories of these two families have strong parallels and start to merge, becoming a story of survival, the dangers of isolation. — I really enjoyed the writing of this, the stories told in this were very captivating. I don’t know how accurate the Ice Age story really is, but again, we still don’t know a lot about that time period so it’s very possible that it could’ve happened. This felt like it had real stakes, it never felt too dramatic or stretching to make it fit. Sure, there were some times that I went, wow, that’s convenient, but this is titled Legends, so there’s bound to be some dramatics. I did enjoy this very much though!
Starstruck: The Play by Elaine Lee, Susan Norfleet Lee, Dale Place, illustrated by Michael Kaluta. Full disclosure, I read this only because of the current season of Dimension 20, A Starstruck Odyssey. This is the first iteration of this universe, written in an era where women rarely got lead roles, so they decided to write their own. Starstruck is a wild sci-fi universe where it’s basically complete anarchy and that’s reflected by the name for this time period, AnarchEra. What I read is the original script for the stage play, and I can tell this was probably very fun to actually watch on stage. Stage plays are really not made for casual reading, so I try to imagine it as if I was seeing it on stage. This edition has some pictures from an actual production, so that helped a lot with picturing what it looked like! Starstruck was eventually turned into a comic series with Kaluta as the illustrator, I’ve been slowly working through the web version, though I’d love to get a physical copy to read. I know I haven’t really described the story at all, but it’s hard to explain, it’s so out-there and jumps around a lot. I enjoyed it, so there’s that!
Not a Nation of Immigrants: Settler Colonialism, White Supremacy, and a History of Erasure and Exclusion by Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz. The author explores the myth that the United States was proudly founded by and for immigrants, and does a deep-dive into the founding, development of the country using slaves and immigrants to build it, all the way up to modern-day rhetoric about immigrants. There’s eight chapters, and each focuses on a different facet, but also shows how it all comes together to create the US of today. Some chapters focus on when bunches of laborers were brought over, such as the Irish, Chinese, Japanese, in periods of growth, others focus on settling, colonizing, and modifying the history of some people and how the country was truly founded. — So much is talked about in this book, and a lot of it is history that many of us learn in school. However, this looks at it with a different lens, one being critical of colonialism, the settler mindset and how many immigrants took that on as their own and turned it into their de facto origin story. I really appreciated all of the information I learned from this that was in addition to the history I’d learned over my life. I would absolutely recommend this read for anyone interested in history or wanting to understand more about the start of the US.
Seek You: A Journey Through American Loneliness by Kristen Radtke. Loneliness is everywhere in America, from metropolises to small towns. Humans have so many ways that we use in an attempt to feel closer to each other, and the distance that’s still there. Radtke takes us through a history of longing, telling us about using laugh tracks, Harry Harlow’s experiments, various ways we experience being lonely. — This book is done in graphic novel form, so you really get the visual experience of loneliness along with the stories and info. I personally felt meh about this, nothing about it made me go wow, this is really good, but it was still interesting to read.
That’s the six books I read in January, let’s move right into February.
Fuzz: When Nature Breaks the Law by Mary Roach. Fuzz explores human-wildlife conflict, where laws and human lives intersect with wildlife, sometimes in hilarious ways and sometimes in very destructive ways. Roach goes out in the field with animal-attack forensics investigators, people who specialize in specific animals that come into contact with humans often like elephants, bears, gulls, macaques. She explores the different methods that humans have used to attempt to mitigate conflict with animals, how those attempts sometimes cause another problem, and sometimes they provide a path to a better solution for all. — I really enjoyed this. I’ve had a couple of Roach’s books for a while now, but haven’t gotten around to them yet. I definitely will be after reading this, I enjoy Roach’s style of writing and telling stories. This book was absolutely fascinating, I learned a lot about a field that I knew existed but didn’t really know, if you know what I mean. Like, it’s something that has to exist, but we don’t hear about it because it’s not exactly glamorous or flashy. I really appreciated that Roach showed us a wide range of animals that humans come into conflict with, and all across the world, not just focusing on one country. She shares a lot of data and hard facts, but she does it in a way where you feel like you’re having fun, going on adventures with her. At least, that was how it felt in this one! I’m hoping that her other books are similar, but I’ve heard nothing but good things about her work so I’m looking forward to it.
Sex Cult Nun: Breaking Away from the Children of God, a Wild, Radical Religious Cult by Faith Jones. This is a memoir where Jones tells us about her upbringing on an isolated farm in Macau, with her family and other members of the Children of God. An international organization that became notorious for its sex practices and accusations of abuse and exploitation, it was founded by her grandfather, with tens of thousands members looking to him as their light. Faith and her siblings were celebrated as special, but also punished to remind them that they were not, everyone was equal in this one big Family. Jones was born and raised in this cult, but had a thirst for knowledge that she fed by sneaking books and teaching herself high school curriculum. She finally hit her breaking point at twenty-three and left the cult, forging her own path in America. — This was a wild ride from start to finish. Jones writes this more or less linearly, starting from as young as she can remember up to present day. She also writes how she was thinking in each period of time, so we really get to see her evolution from unquestioning obedience in the Family’s rules to feeling stifled and wanting to learn more, wanting more from life than just the Family. This is from Jones’s perspective, but we also learn a lot about the Family and how it was run, how the adults in it thought and did things. It’s just wild to me how this kind of thing can happen, how people get sucked into cults, but it can happen so easily until you’re so deep in it, it’s near impossible to get out. This was an incredible read, and I would recommend it.
Brown Girls by Daphne Palasi Andreades. A group of friends who grow up in Queens, New York City, a vibrant and eclectic borough. Languages from all over the globe, the scent of the ocean, dollar stores and subways, girls trying to reconcile their immigrant backgrounds with being Americans and coming of age. They roam the streets of NYC, pine over crushes, have broken hearts, trying to be dutiful daughters and heed their mothers. As they age, their paths diverge – some choose to remain home, surrounded by familiarity, while others feel drawn to other places and skylines, the unfamiliar. A portrait of life for women of color, exploring race, class, marginalization, finding their place in the world while many forces work to keep them down. — I really enjoyed the collective way this book was written in. There isn’t a singular person, it’s always “we” and names are said, but always as part of a group. The prose in this is very lyrical and beautiful. It shows us the whole range of experiences, from girls who are dutiful and do all their mothers say, to those who are rebellious and want to forge their own path in life. Those who follow career paths laid out for them, and those who choose to go against what is expected of them. We see queer women, those who don’t fit the mold. But we also see in the end they return to each other and to Queens, where their true heart is.
The Inheritance of Orquídea Divina by Zoraida Córdova. The Montoya family is used to strange things happening, like letters from their grandmother appearing out of nowhere or being delivered by birds, the pantry never seems to run low, and their matriarch won’t ever leave their family home in Four Rivers. One day, they all get invitations to come and collect their inheritance. Happily or resentfully, they all show up, hoping to learn more and get something good. But Orquídea has something else in mind. She transforms into a tree right in front of the family’s eyes, leaving many more questions behind. Like who was Orquídea really? Where did this strange magic come from? Orquídea also left behind blessings for each of her family, some more unique than others, and these four attempt to find the truth behind their inheritance as family members start dying one by one. — If this sounds a lot like Encanto, you aren’t wrong! There are a lot of strong parallels with these stories, but they also are very different. This talks about generational trauma being carried down through the family even when most of them don’t know what that trauma is. Some of them get slightly unusual gifts, but they’re kept hidden from the world for the most part. You definitely get the feel of a big family, with all the mini conflicts between members but also all coming together for a single reason. I’m definitely not the right person to be reviewing this, and there’s so much that happens it doesn’t feel right to reduce it down to my review. I would definitely encourage you to go read other reviews, especially those by Latine reviewers.
That’s all of the books I read in January and February! March and April should be coming very soon, hopefully along with other posts not book-related!
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Hello, and welcome to my first Title Talks! This is a series where I will dedicate a post to one book or a whole series, and it might be for various reasons such as I really, really liked the book and want to talk more about it, I have criticism or feel like I need to discuss more in-depth about my problems with it, the book has specific representation I want to talk about, and so on. With series, I’ll be talking more in-depth about all of the books, rather than what I do now for wrap-ups, which is being very brief about later books in the series. With that intro out of the way, let’s get started!
I thought I’d kick off this series by talking about a recent read, True Biz by Sara Nović. This is a deaf story written by a deaf author, and I was SO excited when this was announced. I was even more excited when I was able to get my hands on an early copy! It’s out now, so you can order it or request it at your local library! I also want to mention that this has already been optioned for a TV adaption and they’re currently in process of finding a cast. Very exciting stuff! For those who may not be familiar with ASL, “true biz” is the English transliteration of a phrase often used in ASL. This phrase can mean several things, like “I’m not kidding you,” “Seriously,” “yes, really!,” and things similar to that.
True Biz follows three different people that have ties to the deaf community in vastly different ways. Charlie has grown up oral with a cochlear implant, has never met another deaf student until she transfers to River Valley School for the Deaf. Austin comes from generations of deaf people, and his world is shaken when his baby sister is born hearing. February is a CODA, child of deaf adults, and the stressed headmistress of RVSD which is a step away from being closed for good.
I immensely enjoyed this book which is all about the deaf community, and the range that exists—no involvement or knowledge about the deaf community, to growing up in it and coming from generations of deaf people.
That’s the short version of what this book is about and my thoughts, but let’s go more in-depth shall we? There obviously will be spoilers, but I won’t be spoiling everything. I think the best way to do this is by looking at the journeys each character takes, because each journey is more or less about an aspect of the deaf community, and that’s also the best way to discuss how the book explores the deaf community.
Let’s start with Charlie, the deaf girl who grew up oral with an cochlear implant. A quick explanation for those who might not be familiar: oral typically means someone who grew up speaking English only, knows zero ASL or any other form of sign such as SEE (Signed Exact English). Cochlear implants are similar to hearing aids, they’re both tools for deaf people to use with hearing. The major difference is that CIs require a very invasive surgery to implant a part of the machine into the user’s head. They used to leave huge scars across the person’s head, but now they’re barely noticeable and done behind the ear. Back to Charlie, she grew up being the only deaf person in her school and she didn’t meet a single other deaf person until she decided to transfer to RVSD. Growing up, she just accepted this as the way of life, and worked very hard on her speech, taking speech therapy for years, struggling to fit in with her peers as she gets older and starts falling behind in class.
Quick tangent here, this is VERY common with deaf children whose parents decide that they want to raise their child orally. There is an initiative to make sure kids don’t fall behind in their important milestones, called LEAD-K. Unfortunately, they focus only on ages 0-5. Once they’re aged out, the kids are more or less on their own. Schools and parents use the “evidence” that their child is doing just fine in school, and often by age 5, it can seem that way on paper because the kid is showing the same as their peers. However, this tends to drop off at around second grade. That age is where you start to see the flaws in the system, and the deaf kids start to fall very behind their peers. The reason? Up to kindergarten, many of the activities done are group ones, or very easy to mimic. As kids get older, they start being forced to focus on their own work and not allowed to glance over at anyone. This is where deaf kids start becoming behind because the teaching has changed completely, and there’s no way to mimic or look over at others’ work to figure out what to do. I could easily go on a whole rant on how the school system, over and over, fails deaf children and their families. But that’s not for right now. Back to the book.
As Charlie starts to struggle a lot more in her classes, her mother doubles down on speaking only, while her dad and Charlie start to explore ASL and look into transferring to a school where she would have full access to education through sign language. When she transfers, she’s more or less thrown into the deep end with fluent signers when she’s still learning. However, she picks up quickly and starts having a sense of belonging. But she’s also fallen in with the not-most-great people because of conflict she’s experiencing with her parents, mainly her mom. These people call themselves anarchists, have done some breaking in, stealing, and some bomb building. This leads to some wild things which I won’t say here, you have to read the book for yourself!
Let’s talk about Austin, the Deaf boy from a Deaf family. He’s the “golden boy” at the deaf school, viewed as nearly royalty because his mother is deaf, and his grandparents are both deaf. His dad is hearing and an interpreter, so everyone in his family signs. Austin’s gone to RVSD his whole life, so he’s never had a life where language deprivation was an experience he went through, though he did hear stories from all his classmates. Life’s good—he has a baby sister on the way, there’s an interesting new student at RVSD and the headmistress asked him to show her around. Charlie and Austin get off to an awkward start because Charlie hasn’t really picked up sign yet, and Austin is fully fluent. Over time, they build a good relationship and even flirt a little. His baby sister is born, everyone’s excited and thrilled. Then the nurse comes back and says that she passed the hearing test. Austin and his mom are disappointed, but he catches his father reacting oddly. As they take the baby home, he notices his dad singing, talking, and being very close to her. Austin accuses him of wanting a hearing baby, and they get into a big fight over that. Culturally, Deaf people are often going to want their children to be Deaf like them, because you me deaf same. There are people out there who say that’s child abuse, but that’s literally what a lot of parents dream of, having a child that’s just like them. I’d flip that on its head and say that not making sure your child has full language access is borderline abuse. I’m not saying that sign is the only option, I’m just saying that it should be one of many options. I’m going to leave Austin here, and move onto February.
February is the headmistress in charge of River Valley School for the Deaf, and she’s a CODA. It’s short for Child of a Deaf Adult, and it’s a way of identifying those who are very much a part of the deaf community, due to being raised by deaf parents, but aren’t deaf themself. CODAs have a very strong cultural identity of their own, separate from deaf people. I also want to clarify something, CODAs are hearing. If you’re deaf and you have deaf parents, there’s no separate signifier for that. You’re simply one of the lucky few who come from deaf families. At the start of this story, February is feeling good about the new school year, looking forward to what the future will bring her students. She gets called in for a meeting with the superintendent, and she’s told in no certain terms that RVSD will be closing at the end of the academic year. February is stunned and tries to argue, but is shut down in every direction. She’s left with wondering what to do, and she’s struggling with this while not telling her wife and dealing with her deaf mother who has dementia. February starts to drown while juggling her regular duties, covering for a teacher who’s absent, her mother’s declining health, and sitting on top of a ticking bomb of information. There’s conflict with her wife over some previous indiscretions, and guilt about not sharing the school closing with her. I want to share here one of the truly best quotes from this book (of which there are many!):
“…if hearing people ever studied the power and speed of the Deaf rumor mill, they might think twice about classifying deafness as a ‘communication disorder.’”True Biz by Sara Nović
There are already rumors of the school’s closing circulating, and when it’s finally confirmed through an announcement, outrage spreads through the community, but there isn’t much to be done at that point. February goes through a constant battle of caring for her students but trying to not care too much, lest she gets hurt herself.
There’s a lot that happened that I haven’t even touched on, but I’m okay with that. This book should be read to get the full impact of everything that weaves together into one big beautiful story about our complex deaf community. It’s impossible to cover every aspect of it in one single book, but this book is a great step in the right direction of shining a light on parts of our community that doesn’t often get seen. I don’t really know how to best wrap up this review, other than saying read this if you have the chance. I truly, truly enjoyed this book and probably will re-read it multiple times in the future. Thanks for watching, let me know what you think if you’ve read this book!
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This is a song translated into ASL, so there won’t be a blog post. This video also uses an instrumental, so there’s no vocals. The full lyrics are below, and they can also be found here.
Reflection – Mulan (Lyrics)
Look at me, I will never pass for a perfect bride
Or a perfect daughter
Can it be I’m not meant to play this part?
Now I see that if I were truly to be myself
I would break my family’s heart
Who is that girl I see
Staring straight back at me?
Why is my reflection someone I don’t know?
Somehow, I cannot hide
Who I am, though I’ve tried
When will my reflection show who I am inside?
When will my reflection show who I am inside?
I know I’m behind on my monthly wrap ups!
Hello and welcome to my big wrap up of books I read in October, November, and December! It’s not as bad as it seems, since I read only one book in October, three in November, and a chunk of the books I read during December are already covered in my Queer Lit Readathon wrap up, which is linked here. Let’s get right into October!
Bi: Bisexual, Pansexual, Fluid, and Genderqueer Youth by Ritch C. Savin-Williams. Bisexuality and the many similar sexualities are still very unknown about, heavily stigmatized, and frequently erased by data. The author interviews many Millennials and Gen Zers across racial groups, ethnicities, and social classes that identify as bisexual to find out how the younger generations define bisexuality, rejecting the traditional definition, or otherwise choosing to not identify as straight or gay/lesbian. — I really, really wanted to like this book, but for me, it’s simply… Fine. Not fantastic, but not awful either. I wouldn’t recommend this for people who want to learn about bisexuality and the multitudes of similar identities, especially people who are completely clueless. I’ll be referring to these sexualities as m-spec from now on. For those who don’t know, m-spec is short for multisexual spectrum. This is intended as an umbrella term to include anybody who is attracted to more than one gender. The entire time I was reading this, I was bothered by the rigid definitions and language use in this. While Savin-Williams did briefly touch on trans and nonbinary people, he constantly wrote in binaries, reinforcing the idea that bisexual people are attracted to only men and women, which isn’t accurate. This was despite the author saying at several points that m-spec people aren’t strictly limited to one gender, and I felt like many times he wasn’t considering the identities outside of bisexual. He did say that he was using it as an umbrella term, but the way he used language tells me that’s not the case. Also, if you noticed, the title also has genderqueer in it. This is confusing, because genderqueer is a gender identity, not a sexuality. Reading through this, I felt like the author was often conflating gender with sexuality or just being very reductive, making it more confusing for people who aren’t familiar with these identities. I did like the case studies, the individual interviews with people and about their personal experience of attraction. However, the author kept putting his own interpretations on it, and sometimes he was kind of invalidating the person’s own definition. He was also very focused on *sex* rather than gender, which is a whole other thing. I haven’t mentioned it yet, because I wanted my review to stand on its own first. Savin-Williams, as far as I can tell, is an older white man. I don’t know how he identifies, but he has done a lot of work with the queer community, which I do appreciate. Despite that, based on his previous work, I can see that Savin-Williams approaches a lot of this from a very scientific and psychological perspective, and not a socio-cultural one. I think that’s where he’s gone wrong writing this book, because a lot of this is not easily defined by science and psychology. So unfortunately, I can’t recommend this book at all.
That was the only book I read in October, since I was busy and traveling quite a bit and didn’t have much time to read. Let’s move onto November.
I read the entirety of the Tensorate series by Neon Yang. Here are the titles in order of release: The Black Tides of Heaven, The Red Threads of Fortune, The Descent of Monsters, and The Ascent to Godhood. Each of these novellas focus on a different period of time, are told from different perspectives, and can individually stand on their own. I did find it much more enjoyable by reading them in the order they published though, because together they tell about a world with an epic story spanning generations. Black Tides follows twin siblings that were sold to the Grand Monastery when they were very young. One of them gets visions of the future, and the other can see what makes people tick. As they grow up, there’s rebellion happening all over, against their mother’s regime. The prophet stayed with her mother, and the other joins the rebellion after he’s seen the sickness at the heart of this regime. Red Threads jumps forward to where the twins are adults now. The prophet can no longer see and shape the future, is broken by the loss of her young daughter. She loses herself in hunting deadly nagas that rule the sky alongside her loyal pack of raptors. As she’s chasing a particularly large one, she meets a very mysterious person. As they dance around each other, they discover that the naga has a secret that could incite war and tear up the whole region. Descent takes us to the Rewar Teng Institute of Experimental Methods, where something horrifying has happened. One of the experiments got loose and in its rage and pain, it left no survivors. The Tensorate investigators arrived after it happened, and return to the city with many questions, few clues, and two prisoners: the rebel and the mysterious person. The investigator assigned this case has quite the puzzle to work at. What happened, why were the rebels there, what’s being covered up? Ascent tells us about Lady Han, who started out as a desperate dancing girl who dared to fall in love with the young Protector. The iron fist of the Protector, how she ruled for fifty years, driving her enemies far and wide, the world turning around her. And now she is dead. Lady Han raised the movement that ended her, but now she only mourns the loss. — I absolutely enjoyed this. I do have a few issues, but overall, I really liked this. This is an Asian inspired fantasy series with sprinklings of steampunk, and I thought this was a very interesting way of telling a larger story in four chunks. This series is very focused on characters and their relationships rather than plot. The worldbuilding is great, I would absolutely love to see more of it! Slackcraft is this world’s form of magic. It’s an intangible force called the Slack, and people are able to manipulate it in different ways. The skills and abilities vary person to person, and I really enjoyed this magic system. I’d read Black Tides before, but reread it to refresh my memory. This is definitely a strong start to this great series, and it dives right into this world’s idea of gender identity. Gender isn’t assumed or assigned at birth, rather children are raised neutral and when they decided they want to affirm their gender however they want, doctors will make it happen via Slackcraft. The twin siblings who are the protagonists in this book are going through their life and figuring out their gender at the same time as discovering that one of them might be much more powerful than they ever thought. Red Threads sounds very exciting, being a story about a badass monster hunter that happens to be queer. While it is good, it’s not so much about the hunting. It’s more about her grief over her daughter, quiet connections with strangers, and mother-daughter relationships. Descent was written as reports from the investigator on the case of the Rewar Teng Institute. It was fascinating seeing their descent into darkness as they discover that their job isn’t what they expected, having to decide whether to break their own moral codes, and how they were going to stop even worse things from happening. Ascent was the shortest of all, and I felt the weakest about this one. It gave interesting background to the Protector, and some characters we meet in the other novellas, but it didn’t really leave an impression on me. Out of these four, I would say I enjoyed Black Tides and Descent the most, but they’re all good as a whole. I just wish we had novels of these, rather than short versions. I would LOVE to read more of this gorgeous world!
A Charm of Finches by Suanne Laqueur. This book follows three people – Javier, Stef, and Geronimo or Geno for short. Javier is an ex-hustler who used to sell his body, and made good money doing it. He’s also a writer who has published several things, including a book about his exploits. He’s done with hustling, and just wants a chance at love. He meets Steffen Finch, an art therapist who works with tough cases. They both need deep, passionate connection, and they might find that in each other. Stef is a very talented therapist, and he mostly works with men who have been assaulted. He gets a very challenging case with Geno, who went through something pretty brutal. Geno has created an alter-ego called Mos, and Mos makes all the decisions to protect them from anything hurting them. This has created a double life, thick with lies. He’s brought to where Stef works, and Stef helps Geno work through his trauma, using art. Geno also meets Jav at the same place, but doesn’t realize that Jav and Stef have a relationship. The boundaries between professional and personal start to become blurry as the three men get to know each other over a year. — This is the sequel to An Exaltation of Larks, which I loved. I also really enjoyed this, and while there are characters that cross over, they’re fairly separate stories. Javier was one of the main characters in Larks, but we learn a little more about Javier’s background in this. What happens in Larks is also touched on in this, but not in detail, much like it would happen in real life when you meet someone after certain things happen. All the trigger warnings for this book. Like I said earlier, Stef works with male survivors. Some of the assault is talked about on page, pedophilia is on and off page, child abuse is off page. This was a very painful story to read, but it was incredibly well-done in my opinion. The author showed care for her characters, giving them space to feel their feelings without being exploitative. I enjoyed the romance in this, it was steamy sure, but it was also fragile and very passionate. Jav and Stef both wanted love, but they also wanted to make sure they did it right, didn’t rush into it and ruin it for either of them. I just really enjoyed this book, and would recommend it. You don’t even have to read Larks to understand what happens in this.
Secret Seattle (Seattle Walk Report): An Illustrated Guide to the City’s Offbeat and Overlooked History by Susanna Ryan. It’s what it says in the title, Ryan takes us on a trip through various areas of Seattle, pointing out forgotten parts of history. We learn about hidden treasures in parks, architecture, infrastructure, and different green spaces that are gems studding the city of Seattle. — I really enjoyed this, because there were several things that I already knew because I’ve lived in Washington for a long time. However, I’m not all that knowledgeable about Seattle and its history, so this was a great way of learning about that aspect of Seattle. I certainly added some things to my list of things to do and see here! I think this would be a great read if you’re a local or planning to visit the city and explore, or have a love for this city.
That’s all for November, and now we’re on the biggest month, December. I read thirteen things this month – four were graphic novels, five books were for the Queer Lit Readathon. That has its own wrap up, so I won’t be talking about them here, but the video is linked. Let’s get right into it!
Homewaters: A Human and Natural History of Puget Sound by David B. Williams. This is the story of the Puget Sound stretching back for millennia, waters dense with food, many cultures becoming intertwined across the various waterways, and vibrant Coast Salish communities living there for a long time. It explores the transformation brought on by white settlers coming for new homes and resources from the forests, rivers, and creatures. Williams dives into the history of people, but also the natural histories of flora and fauna in, on, and around the Sound. Generations of indigenous relationships with the native species, all of that being impacted by settlers, warfare sparking development and rapid change, the evolution of the water highway form canoes to today’s ferry system. Williams also clearly shows how the ecosystems of the Sound have been affected by human behavior, specifically pollution, destruction and major changes to habitat, climate change. — I really appreciated this book, I learned a lot more about the Puget Sound as a whole that I didn’t know before. This book is kind of a collection of essays, each focusing on an aspect of the Puget Sound ecosystem. Williams takes the time to explain the indigenous way of life, well before settlers showed up. By doing this, it pays respect to the people who have been here the longest, and sets them at the center of this story. The others who arrive later are put in sharp contrast with them, with how they extract resources without thought for the long-term effects and the people currently living there. There’s a lot of dives into specific groups of species like orcas, geoduck, salmon and herring, plants, and so on. I think this is a good book that took a hard look at what we as humans have done to the environment, and what must be done to protect it for the future. Yes, it’s specifically about the Puget Sound, but it can also help you think of how to look at your home environment in a different way. If you enjoy learning history about anything, this is definitely a great read.
Critical Role – Vox Machina: Origins Vol 1 & 2, comic series written by Matthew Colville, interior art by Olivia Samson, and coloring/lettering by Chris Northrop. This is a comic series based on the D&D actual play show, Critical Role, and their first campaign. This is the origin story of six would-be heroes, and the first volume happens primarily in a small coastal town where there’s a plot to destroy the town. The second volume leads them out of the town on a new adventure, uncovering some secrets of one party member’s past. — These were very quick reads, so I’m not going into too much detail. I personally have never watched Critical Role’s first two campaigns, because those are SO many hours of content. This was a nice way to get an introduction to these characters and learn some of the story without having to watch hours and hours of actual play. I’ve also been watching the animated show, The Legend of Vox Machina, on Prime, and am enjoying it so far! If you like D&D, this is a fun read.
Fahrenheit 451: The Authorized Adaption by Tim Hamilton, based on the book by Ray Bradbury. Guy Montag is a firefighter who burns books, because they are highly illegal to have in this dystopian future. People are kept busy with constant TV shows, they don’t really have free time to think and question things. Montag however, brings a book home one day and reads it. He starts to question everything he’s been taught, and his life. — Fahrenheit 451 was one of my favorites in high school, and still is. This is the graphic novel adaption of it, and I liked the visuals used in this. It’s not exactly my favorite art style, but I still enjoyed it! This is a great way to read a classic book without reading the original and having to work through language from the 1950s, which is when the original novel was first written.
Immune: a Journey into the Mysterious System that Keeps You Alive by Philipp Dettmer. In a nutshell, this goes in-depth on your immune system, how it works, when it decides to become active and defend the body, how it checks your body for disease and unwanted guests. Each chapter focuses on an aspect of the immune system: antibodies, inflammation, threats like bacteria, cancer, allergies, how parasites and viruses work. There is a story linking all the chapters that illustrate how the whole system works in sync to keep us healthy and well when we get a wound, when we come down with a disease. — I really enjoyed reading this because the immune system is a very complex topic, even for people in the field, but this does a good job of breaking it down into more digestible chunks. This was written by the creator of Kurzgesagt, one of my favorite science YouTube channels. If you haven’t watched any of their videos, go check them out! The illustrations in Immune are done in the same style as Kurzgesagt’s videos, so I really enjoyed that! There are plenty of illustrations to go with all of the things they’re describing, to make it easier for you to visualize how things work. This is definitely heavy on the science, but in layman’s terms and enjoyable. I also want to add that the author has been learning about immunology for years, and started writing this book a while ago. They happened to be working on it when the pandemic started, so they were able to add some new immunology information that came up as a result of the pandemic. They also added a section all about COVID-19, and how it works in immune system terms, which I appreciated. I absolutely recommend this book!
Nat Turner by Kyle [Baker]. This is the story of Nat Turner and his slave rebellion that he led in 1831. Some view him as a hero, a precursor to the civil rights movement, a symbol of Black resistance. Others view him as a murderer and a monster, his name to never be said. Turner was born into slavery, and when he got a little older, he taught himself how to read. The other slaves viewed him as their messiah and listened to what he had to say. One day, he decided that he was done and started the rebellion. Many white slave owners and their families were killed by the angry slaves, but many slaves were also killed when the other white slave owners crushed the rebellion. — This is a very heavy and violent story, told with almost no words. There are excerpts of an interview with Turner, but other than that, words are rarely used throughout this. The illustrations are very bold and striking, all monochromatic. However, this is NOT for children, because there is a lot of violence shown, and it can be quite graphic. This was a powerful read about a figure who is polarizing for many people, but an important part of history to know about.
Black Birds in the Sky by Brandy Colbert. A story about the history and legacy of one of the most destructive and deadly events in American history regarding racial violence, the Tulsa Race Massacre. The predominantly Black Greenwood District in Tulsa, Oklahoma, was a thriving, affluent neighborhood known as the Black Wall Street. On the morning of June 1, 1921, a white mob marched into the Greenwood District, bringing firearms, gasoline, and explosives. In just a few hours, there were hundreds dead and 35 square blocks razed to the ground, still burning. This is one of the worst acts of racial violence in US history, and this book looks at what led up to this event, what exactly provided the spark, and why it’s so unknown to so many today. — This was heartbreaking to read, so many amazing things gone in just a few hours because white people just couldn’t handle Black excellence, political and economic advancement, and took any excuse to push down and hold back Black people. I really appreciated that this book took the time to go further back in history than just the massacre, to look at all the various factors that led up to this and converged to cause this horrible event in US history. It talked about Oklahoma in the time period before it became a state, while it was still in the early settler days and was Indian Territory. The land runs started, and many women and Black people came there to start a new life, oil boomed, the resurgence of white supremacist groups, lynchings happening more, the police doing nothing to help Black people, white resentment toward Black people who were moving upward in life, and so much more. I learned A LOT that I didn’t know before reading this book. I knew about the Tulsa Race Massacre thanks to the explosion of Black history being shared in the summer of 2020, but I didn’t know many details around it or what happened after it, the mark that it’s left on US history and the legacy of Black Tulsans. This is absolutely a must read.
Interior Chinatown by Charles Yu. Willis Wu is just a Generic Asian Man on Black and White, a procedural cop show that happens in the Golden Palace restaurant, and feels the same about his own life. He’s just a bit player in everyone else’s life, but he dreams of climbing the ladder and eventually becoming Kung Fu Guy, the highest aspiration for Chinatown residents. One day, he accidentally falls into the spotlight, and discovers the legacy of his own family and secrets of Chinatown. — I really enjoyed reading this satire but also social commentary about assimilation, identity, individuality, colonization, and how that all affects us, from not being able to imagine greater things beyond what’s expected of us, keeping our heads down and following the roles given to us. I knew this was going to be using Hollywood tropes, Asian stereotypes, but I wasn’t expecting this to be written like a movie script. It has scene set ups, dialogue headings, asides, everything you would see in an actual script. That made it a very interesting read, and there were times I felt like the line between reality and Black and White were blurring, it was a trip! Willis and his character that he plays in Black and White were similar in their circumstances so that makes sense, and added to the story of having to assimilate and blend into the larger culture. I’m white and was born in the US, so I can’t relate to the immigrant or child of immigrants experience, so I would encourage you to go read reviews by other people that share identities with the author. I could tell Yu put a lot of himself in this book, and I think that really added to the strength of this story.
At last, that’s all of the books I read in the last three months of 2021! If you made it this far, you’re the best. I will try to get January out soon, but no promises on that! Let me know in the comments what you’ve read or are interested in reading, or what your current read is. Thanks for reading!
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Hello, I’m Rogan and welcome to a new Regional Signs! It’s been a while. Let’s get into it!
First, a few additional signs from the previous videos. I will link the playlist here. Two signs from Georgia. Rude, signed like farm but with a Y handshape.
Pretend, using the L handshape touching the chin twice, moving almost like you’re thinking and going “hmm.”
Another sign to add, gray. This one is signed with the R handshape, thumb out or in (more often open thumb), and twisting the wrist quickly. For this one, I don’t remember which region. I know it’s east somewhere, but where exactly, I don’t remember. If you know, let me know!
Now it’s time for new signs! Same as always, I will spell it, tell you what the common sign is, then the regional sign and where it’s from if I know. If I don’t know, I will tell you, and if you do know let me know!
I will start with chile, the food not the country. Chile is commonly fingerspelled.
This regional sign is from New Mexico. It uses the same handshape and motion as LUCKY, with an open hand and the middle finger bent down to touch the chin. In this sign, the twist away from the chin is done twice rather than once. In a way, it has similarities to the sign for spicy.
Next, pizza. Commonly: it’s lexicalized fingerspelling, and you spell ZZ-A. You drop the P and I, keep the ZZ-A.
There’s two regional signs that I have. The first one, I don’t see often: Using a curved index and thumb to suggest a crust, it’s shaken back and forth in front of the mouth. I don’t see this particular one used often.
The second is becoming more and more common. Using the Y handshape with both hands, it’s held horizontal and tapped in a way that suggests the pizza’s circle. The reason being there’s a deaf-owned pizza place, Mozzeria. Their sign is this one, and the sign is actually originally from Italy.
Next, donut. This is one of those signs that have MANY regional signs. I have no idea where the regions are, I think it’s also partly because of migration around the country. So there’s no really clear region where these signs are from. I will just tell you the different signs for it.
Both hands in the R handshape start touching, then move and rotate in a circle shape, the standard donut shape. This is what I tend to sign.
Same motion as the previous one, but using a D handshape instead.
The R handshape moves in an O around the mouth.
The non-dominant hand is in a fist, and the dominant hand in a D handshape. The gathered fingers of the D are twisted in the hole of the closed fist.
There are more for donut, but I don’t remember them. So go ahead and comment them!
Next, pineapple. It’s commonly fingerspelled. Pineapple.
I have three signs, I don’t know which region they’re from. First: using the F handshape over the eye, looking through it while the F is rotated. You know, how sometimes pineapples will be cored and sliced in rings, and you can look through the hole.
Second: The dominant index finger and thumb are extended and curved, other fingers closed. The thumb is stuck into the non-dominant hand, which is in a fist, then the dominant hand is rotated, which can look like cutting the skin off, and taking the core out.
Third: The non-dominant hand is held in a fist, palm down. The dominant hand uses an open claw handshape, tapping the backs of both hands together. It gives the impression of a solid body and spiky leaves on top.
Next, and the last for today, store. It’s commonly signed like SELL, but done twice.
The regional sign is from Michigan, and maybe in the areas around it. It’s signed similar to HOME, but connects only the index and thumb, the other fingers are curled in.
That’s it for today. As always, if you know of a regional sign that I haven’t mentioned, whether it’s one that I’ve said the word, but you haven’t seen your regional sign. Or a new word I haven’t said in this series. Let me know in the comments! I love learning more regional signs. 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 – Facebook, Twitter, Instagram. Thanks for reading, see you next time.
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!
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.
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.
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.