Vlogmas 2020

Hello, I’m Rogan and welcome to the official start of Vlogmas! This will be the fourth year in a row that I’m doing this. I am definitely not following the traditional format, which is a video for every day of December until Christmas. That’s already obvious by posting today, rather than on December 1st. Also, we’re in a pandemic. There’s not much happening, and most of us are spending our days at home. Vlogs certainly wouldn’t be very exciting. However! I decided that I do want to push myself to make a higher volume of videos for this month, so I’ll be doing every other day until Christmas. That’ll make a final of 13 videos, including my November books wrap up. I will be doing some translations of stories into ASL, some baking, and we’ll see what else! I have a text post with what I have planned on Patreon, so if you’re a Patron, you can already access it. If you become one, for as little as $1, you can see it! I will be trying my best to give early access, which is the $3 tier or up, for all of the videos this month, but I can’t guarantee it. It’s totally up to you if you want to become a Patron just for this month, then cancel once December is over, but I would appreciate it very much if you became a longer-term Patron! Alternatively, if you want to support me but not on a monthly basis, I have Ko-fi, which is once, whenever you pay. That self-promotion aside, I’m excited for some of the videos coming up this month! I’m hoping they’ll turn out as well as they do in my head. I’m still not sure what I will be doing for Christmas this year, if anything. I’m curious, are any of you going to be doing something different or special for the December holidays this year? Let me know, I’d love to see your ideas!

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.

November Books Wrap Up | BookTube

Hello, I’m Rogan and welcome to my November wrap up! I know, I don’t have any videos between this and the October wrap up, buuuut! In December, there will be plenty more videos! Really quick before we start, I want to mention Adri’s video – 7 Things I’ve Learned From BookTube. I think it’s a great watch for anybody who’s a part of the BookTube community. Okay! Let’s get started, we have several books to get through.

First up is The Roommate by Rosie Danan. I saw Kathy read this, and the premise sounded like a hilarious and fun read. It was! Buttoned up socialite Clara moves to LA with hopes of kindling a relationship with her longtime crush. She arrives to learn that he’s leaving on tour and she’ll be stuck with a roommate she’s never met. After living together for a bit, she eventually finds out that Josh makes his living as a porn star. Clara is awkward at first, but she gets inspired by Josh’s passion for focusing on female desire and pleasure, and they work together to tackle the stigma. This was a great fun read, I enjoyed the dynamic between these two, I loved the development of both the personal and business relationships. This gets very steamy! I mean, how can it not when it involves a porn plot line? But it never get gross and fetishizing. It actually speaks against that, and celebrates sex positivity, being comfortable with your own body and desires. Josh and Clara had a really healthy relationship, they didn’t always act on their desires because they recognized that the moment wasn’t right for it. They also had great banter, and felt like real people. I did feel like there were some unresolved things with the family, but that in no way took away from my enjoyment of this fast and fun read!

Plain Bad Heroines by emily m. danforth. I was sent an ARC by Willam Morrow for a review, so thank you for that! This is a very sapphic book that tells us two stories that happen around the same location, one in the past and another today. In 1902, we learn of Brookhants in its day as a boarding school for girls and we follow the founders, staff, and some of the students. There’s a lot of drama around a certain book that’s sparked some romantic feelings among the girls. In the present day, we follow a group of three girls who are in one way or other connected to the production of a movie about the happenings at Brookhants and its history of sapphic love and death. At this point, Brookhants has been abandoned and is falling apart. The movie production is plagued with problem after problem, echoing the past. It’s odd, because this is called a horror-comedy, but I didn’t really get that much comedy. It certainly had more horror than comedy, but it was more creepy and atmospheric than actually scary. The 1902 storyline was actually interesting and the most gothic. Present-day was…well, okay. This is a story in a story in a story, so it can get a little confusing at times, trying to separate all of the threads. The concept of multiple stories within one was interesting, but it almost felt like the author was trying too hard to make it metafiction. Also, it is LONG. My copy of the book is 619 pages, and Goodreads says that the hardcover is also 619 pages. Don’t get me wrong, I did enjoy reading this, it just took me a while, because I was exhausted just thinking about how much I had to go. While I did appreciate the level of detail in this, I felt like it could have been cut down a little bit for better flow and pacing. The beginning of the story, probably about half of the book, was a little slow and could have been paced a little more quickly, but the second half of the book was great… Except for the very end. There was a lot of build up that kept going only to just kind of end, no major climax or anything. The epilogue left a lot to be desired. A lot of questions weren’t answered, and after finishing, I was disappointed that there wasn’t really any big connection with the past and today. The only overlaps were Brookhants and the book. It felt like two completely separate stories put together, which isn’t a problem but there’s no strong connection, so they could’ve probably stood on their own. Overall, I did enjoy reading this, but I wouldn’t enthusiastically recommend this.

Moonstruck Vol 1 & 2 by Grace Ellis and several illustrators. This is a world just like ours, where magical creatures exist alongside humans, and it focuses on a werewolf barista and her new girlfriend. In the first volume, they go on a date to a magic show that goes wrong. They have to work together to put a stop to this magician before worse things happen. In Vol 2, the group of friends go to a party at a fairy frat house, and one of them gets trapped. The winter solstice is coming up, a night of magical mischief, and they have to save the day. I thought this was a cute little queer graphic novel, and I enjoyed seeing the world that the author and artists built. They included different accommodations for different sized creatures, a wheelchair filled with water for water-dwelling creatures like mermaids, and so on. It was fine, and certainly enjoyable. However, I had a little too many questions unanswered. Like, they make a whole thing out of werewolves not being supposed to transform, but then it kind of goes away without a reason to why it was mentioned. Several plot holes and too convenient moments. Cute but left me wanting more. I’d love to see this world be built on and expanded more!

Persephone Station by Stina Leicht. We’re taken to a planet that seems to be backwater, largely ignored by the United Republic of Worlds, and Serrao-Orlov Corporation wants to exploit a few secrets of the planet. Rosie is an owner of a bar that caters to wannabe criminals and rich tourists, but in the back, high-tier criminals and people who want to employ them mingle. Rosie also happens to know the secrets of Persephone, and has been doing what they can to protect the secrets. They hire Angel and her crew to do the work. Angel is an ex-marine, her crew has a mercenary, assassin, and criminals, who all have a penchant for doing the right thing even if it means breaking laws. Rosie’s job will pit Angel’s small crew against a well-funded army, but despite the odds, they’re all in to protect Persephone once they learn the secrets that Serrao-Orlov is exploiting for their own gain. I very intentionally avoided saying what the secrets are, because I didn’t know them going into this book and I think it’s best that way. This is about a nearly all-women cast, multiple queer characters, multiple characters of color, and the kicking ass that goes down in this. The queer identities that appear are lesbian, bisexual, trans, and nonbinary. A case could also be made for having disability rep in this, since Angel is ex-military, and her role caused her to leave the military with several cybernetic modifications. This has been described as a space opera, and a read for fans of The Mandalorian, which is indeed accurate! Be warned, the pacing of the first portion is somewhat slow, but once the main mission starts, it really picks up. The beginning has a lot of info about the characters, and I enjoyed the world-building even though it was a teeny bit lacking. I didn’t really have a problem with it, because I’m a huge nerd for anything sci-fi, so I had no problem filling in the gaps myself. I would definitely recommend this if you love sci-fi and queer badasses kicking ass. (Also, that cover is gorgeous!)

Darius the Great Deserves Better by Adib Khorram. This is the sequel to Darius the Great Is Not Okay, set not long after the family’s trip to Iran. Darius has had a lot of changes in his life – he’s actually getting along with his dad, he has a boyfriend, he’s on the varsity soccer team, and has an internship at his favorite tea shop. Life seems to be going well. So well in fact, that he’s surprisingly becoming friends with Chip, who is a teammate but also best friend of his biggest bully, Trent Bolger. But of course, it won’t stay that way. His dad is out of town for a long business trip, so his grandmothers come into town to help out, and he’s not even sure if they like him. The internship is not what he thought it would be, and he’s starting to have doubts about his boyfriend. Darius still has struggles with his depression and self-confidence. The first book was great, but I was left unclear on if Darius was queer or not. It’s crystal clear now! It’s always hard for a sequel to live up to the first book, but this one certainly does. It’s very much a coming-of-age story, figuring out his feelings about his boyfriend and sex, keeping the family together when the parents are overworked and his sister is struggling at school, and uncertainty about Chip. I loved how supportive his teammates are when they meet his boyfriend, and barely blink when he shows up with nail polish on. His entire family is great, especially Laleh. I love Laleh so much. His queer grandmas were very closed off at first, but they eventually opened up a bit and talked with Darius about their past. One of them is trans, and they talk a little about the transition and how that affected the family. I appreciated that. I also really appreciate the mental health representation in this, how they talked about it and handled it. I’ve said this before, and I’ll say it again. I really love that more and more authors are going the route of having a person be described with gender neutral pronouns until they’re introduced. That’s how people should be thinking, to avoid assumptions, and avoid misgendering someone who might not even use he/she. Overall, I really enjoyed this sequel and would be thrilled if there was a third book!

Build Yourself a Boat by Camonghne Felix. This is a poetry collection that explores trauma, healing, survival, and what might come after. Obviously, because it’s poetry, I can’t really tell you more about it. I’m not big on poetry, but I am trying to read more. For this one, I decided instead of reading multiple poems at once, I’d read one or two a night to absorb it a bit more. That doesn’t work for everyone obviously, but I think that might be a better way for me to read poetry collections. There are some poems that really stood out to me, and some not so much but I think that’s pretty typical of collections. Felix plays around with style and form which is interesting to see. I don’t know if enjoyed is the right word, but I do think this is a good collection of powerful poetry.

And finally, I read The Sound of Stars by Alechia Dow. I had hoped to read this during the Queer Lit Readathon, but my hold came in earlier than expected. Earth has been invaded by the Ilori, and a misunderstanding wiped out one-third of the world’s population. We have two views, a human named Ellie and an Ilori named M0Rr1s, or Morris. All humans have been herded into centers so the Ilori can control them because they were deemed dangerous and volatile from the initial reaction to the invasion. Ellie is in a New York City center, where she runs a secret library. Ilori have banned all forms of human expression, including art, music, books. Morris is an Ilori that was born in a lab and raised to eventually invade Earth and prepare it for the true Ilori. He was raised to be emotionless, like true Ilori, but he has a secret liking for human music and wants more. He happens to find Ellie’s hidden library, and instead of delivering her for execution, he recruits her to get him more music. They form a tentative alliance, and work together in their rebellion. They bring stories and music together to fight back and save humanity. I absolutely loved this, I tore through this book. Ellie has a huge love for books, and I relate to that so much. She’s a plus-size Black queer teen that has anxiety, and Morris learns about his own demi-aceness after talking with Ellie. There are also multiple queer side characters, one of them being nonbinary. The Ilori have standard greetings where they say their name, gender, and pronouns, which was cool to see. I loved how even though this story is literally about an alien invasion and trying to overthrow that, it’s still a very grounded story and empowering. This story doesn’t pull any punches though, and Ellie speaks about how the world has always been dangerous and unsafe for her, it’s just coming from a different source. She ends up being the one that has the decision and power to save humanity, and whether they deserve it, if it’s possible for humanity to change. Ellie and Morris could have easily fallen into violence, fear, or hate, but they kept choosing love above all else. I enjoyed the world-building, why/how the Ilori came to Earth and changed it. The only thing that threw me was the ending. I won’t spoil anything, but as far as I know, this is currently a standalone novel. The ending seems to be setting up for a sequel, and it doesn’t end in a satisfying way. It’s extremely open-ended, so be aware of that if you dislike that kind of ending. I really, really enjoyed this despite that ending.

Technically, I finished two other books this month, but they were for the Queer Lit Readathon, so I’ll be putting those into the wrap-up for the readathon. That’s it for this month! Let me know if you’ve read any of these books!

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.

October Books Wrap Up | BookTube

Hello, I’m Rogan and welcome to my wrap up for October. I know this is a little late, but I just hadn’t gotten around to writing down my thoughts on the books I read. It’s going to be fairly quick this month, I think.

First, I read all four volumes of Hawkeye, the recent run of it. It’s basically about Hawkeye a little later on in his life, as he’s getting older and realizing he’ll have to stop doing superhero work soon. He has an ex-Young Avenger working by his side, Kate Bishop. This has several adventures and I really enjoyed reading this. One thing I particularly enjoyed is that they played around with format several times, it wasn’t the same all the way through. I read these because I wanted to learn a bit more about Hawkeye, beyond what you see in the MCU and cameos I’ve seen of him in other stories. But the main reason why I picked these up is because there’s one issue that was done in mostly silence, with sign language throughout. This was shortly after Hawkeye had lost his hearing from one of his jobs. The backstory is that Hawkeye and his brother knew sign from when they were young, they’d used it to communicate with each other when they didn’t want to be caught by their abusive father. It just happened to be useful when Hawkeye went deaf, and I did enjoy seeing how they portrayed it. They made it clear that he doesn’t catch every word with lipreading, and showed his thought process figuring out what was actually said. Their choice of using a neutral body, like what you’d see in sign dictionaries, to show sign language was a very interesting one. It was very clear though! With that being said, some of the lipreading scenes were a little unrealistic, and sometimes the words that Hawkeye was processing weren’t the best choices. What I mean is that those words were clearly different on the lips, the authors should’ve chosen words that were much more similar in lip movements. Overall, I did enjoy this series, and did appreciate how they handled the “deaf issue.”

Black Sun by Rebecca Roanhorse. An epic story set in a rich world based on pre-Columbian cultures, Black Sun tells the story of four people that become intertwined over time. Xiala, a ship’s captain who has a penchant for drink and the ability to drive men mad and calm the seas with just her voice. Serapio, a mysterious blind man covered with scars that plays with shadows and whispers to crows. Naranpa, a young Sun Priest that has ambitious plans to revitalize the Watchers and their role in the Sky Made Clans. Okoa, a young scion burdened with a bloody legacy of oppression and the decision to join an uprising or quell it and maintain the peace. We travel between wide open seas, sprawling seaside towns, and narrow, tall cities built into and on cliffs. We experience cultures that believe in only science and scoff at magic, to those who revere it and honor ancient traditions. Political intrigue abounds, people wanting belonging to societies who shun them or begrudgingly accept them but never fully, relationships bloom and burn. When I saw Rebecca Roanhorse had a new book, I knew I had to read it. I really enjoyed The Sixth World series, and looked forward to reading more. I liked the worldbuilding in the previous series, but I was blown away by what Roanhorse did with this! High fantasy inspired by pre-Columbian indigenous peoples, Roanhorse creates a rich world with people who vary widely in their beliefs, customs, clothing, and living ways. One of the main characters, Xiala, is bisexual and frequently mentions being interested in or having had relations with multiple genders. There is so much casual queer rep in this, and it never feels superficial or tokenized. It feels like an authentic part of the world, and people simply accept it as a fact of life, which is amazing. There are multiple people who use neopronouns and more than two genders are recognized. If I recall correctly, Roanhorse also described a person’s appearance without using gender until the person was introduced or the gender was made known. Disability rep – I’m not blind myself, but I appreciated how Roanhorse portrayed Serapio, the blind character. It felt like she really made sure she wrote him respectfully, and I never felt like she pitied him or wrote him as “oh poor blind man.” Serapio was his own person and very capable. I also liked that Roanhorse never made it seem like he was gifted with extraordinary abilities to walk around and live like a sighted person. There were parts where he emphasizes that he simply had good tutors, and worked hard to get to where he is. I just absolutely loved it and was devastated when I finally realized it was only the first of a series, and it ended on a major cliffhanger. I cannot wait for the next book in the series!

The Haunting of Beatrix Greene. Beatrix Greene is a fake medium, and she knows it. However, she has made a name for herself as a reputable medium in Victorian England due to her ability to read people very well and understand what will bring them peace. One day, she’s approached by James Walker, a man who has a reputation for exposing fraud mediums. James offers Beatrix a job that would make her a lot of money, and she decides to take the risk. If she’s successful in fooling him, she’ll be set for true freedom. If she fails, she’ll lose her living. James wants Beatrix to do a séance at Ashbury Manor, which is known for being haunted and had some grisly deaths there. He’s searching for some answers from his past, but he doesn’t realize it could be dangerous. His reasons are secret to Beatrix until the séance, when an angry spirit is awoken with Beatrix’s gift. They along with a group of other supernaturally inclined people race to put an end to the rage before they all die. There was no discernible rep that jumped out at me, and I’m fairly sure the cast is all white. There were some twists that I didn’t anticipate, and some that I did, but I enjoyed this quick supernatural horror story. This is set in Victorian England, when the spiritualist movement was at its peak. I felt like the vibe of the era was captured well in this story, acknowledging the sexist views of the time. It does rely quite a bit on having some prior knowledge of the era for imagery. With that, it still had strong woman characters in Beatrix and a famous spirit photographer who was married, but still maintained her interests. I enjoyed the horror aspects of this, even if they were a little obvious and on-the-nose at times. I didn’t really like the romance, especially since I saw it coming from miles away. It felt like it happened far too quickly, there was barely any build-up and it didn’t feel that believable to me. It wasn’t really based on anything except appearances, which does happen, but that’s more lust than love. There was several convenient plot points, but generally, they didn’t detract from the story. There is some action, but it doesn’t really happen until later on in the story. I’d say this is a good read if you want something quick and don’t mind a somewhat generic romance.

The Deep by Rivers Solomon. This is about wajinru, the descendants of pregnant African slaves who were thrown from the ships. They’ve evolved to living in the water, and because of their incredibly traumatic past, it’s all held by one person who is the historian while everyone else forgets. Once a year, the historian will share the past with them. This is about the current historian, Yetu, who really struggles with her role. She doesn’t want to continue carrying the history because it’s incredibly painful for her, in part because she’s extra-sensitive to external stimulation, and carrying the history makes it all that more difficult. To be honest, I know I can’t do justice to this book, and it is INCREDIBLE for a short read. So I’ll be linking to Adri’s 5 Reasons to Read from when they first read it. I tried to find captioned videos from Black reviewers, but there aren’t any that have proper captions. There are some that do have auto-captions—though that’s not the same—and they’re linked in Adri’s video. Back to the book. It is queer lit, the wajinru are very fluid in both sexuality and gender, and they’re all canonically intersex. This is a very traumatic and painful story, but it is incredible, and I would definitely recommend it. Adri has a list of trigger warnings in their video, so be sure to check that if you need to make sure it’ll be something you want to read.

And that’s what I read in October! So far, November looks like a better reading month, it’ll definitely be a longer video. Have you read any of these, what did you think? Let me know!

Round 6 TBR | Queer Lit Readathon

Hello I’m Rogan, and today the hosts of Queer Lit Readathon round six are going to be telling you what we’ll be reading this round! Before we start – obviously, several of these challenges will be covered more than once with these books, but I will just tell you what I’m assigning to the book. Also, I’m not going to be saying what the books are about because I don’t want to know *too* much about them. I will be posting a wrap up after the readathon with what they’re about and my thoughts, so if you want to know that, subscribe!

I’m going to start with the Group Read, Summer of Everything by Julian Winters. This one hits the most challenges – BIPOC Main Character, #ownvoices, a Non-Coming Out story, and a cast of Queer Friends. I’m really excited for this one, because I loved Running With Lions.

Confessions of the Fox by Jordy Rosenberg. I’m borrowing a friend’s copy of this. He suggested that this would be a good fit for Winter Vibes. This is also Adult Fiction and a historical one! Not one of the challenges this round, but just wanted to throw that in. In the blurb, it calls this a reimagining, and this is technically based on a true story, so it’d be a Retelling.

Tarnished are the Stars by Rosiee Thor. This one is probably the first one I’ll be reading since I have the digital library copy, and it’ll expire during the readathon. This one has a main character that is Ace AND Aro, who seems to be questioning his labels. That’s why I also chose this for See Yourself, because I went through that with my own labels. For Choose Your Own Category, I’m making this one Steampunk. It’s being compared to The Lunar Chronicles, and with the first line of the synopsis, I can see why! “A secret beats inside Anna Thatcher’s chest: an illegal clockwork heart.” I’m ready for this.

Death Threat by Vivek Shraya. I chose this for Graphic Novel and Pre/Non-Medical Transition. As far as I can tell, Shraya hasn’t medically transitioned nor is there any interest in doing so at the moment. If I am wrong, please let me know!

And the final book for today, Clap When You Land by Elizabeth Acevedo. I have LOVED all of Acevedo’s other books, The Poet X and With the Fire On High, so I am definitely looking forward to this one! This was a Host Rec from Kathy for a Background Romance. This is also for a Main Character Not Like You. I’m really hoping my library hold will come through in time for this! If not, I’ll figure out something else.

With those five books, I black out the bingo board! This looks to be a very doable list, but we’ll see what happens the week of. Will you be joining in? What will you be reading? Let me know!

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.

White interpreters, listen to the Black community

Hey, you white interpreters. While working, if the presenter says the full n-word, you go ahead and interpret it. Is that okay? No, never. Never. Let me explain more.

Hello, I’m Rogan. Yes, this happened a few weeks ago and made the rounds. I’m “late” with this vlog, but really, this topic is still relevant. I feel like this will continue to be a problem. Before I continue, I want to recognize that obviously, I am white. I’m also very masculine-presenting. I have those privileges. So if I say anything wrong, please correct me in the comments. Please.

A little backstory for those who may not be aware or forgot. White interpreters think it’s fine to–while interpreting and working–if the speaker says the full n-word, go ahead and spell it or sign the full word. That’s fine, because “it’s not me saying it, it’s the speaker saying that.” Plus, several ITP students are currently being taught to, yes, do that. I actually saw on Twitter, one person saying that their ITP did this–They felt really uncomfortable, the teacher had the students chant the n-word. It’s not okay! Never! For a long time, the Black community, Black interpreters, have asked white interpreters to please stop saying the full n-word. Stop. But it still happens. And there are ITPs teaching this!

I want to take a moment now to clarify. I did mention this on my IG Stories when this came up. I said yes, that’s right, we should not. I’ve never. I don’t want to. I’m not saying that interpreters should skip that word. No. I’m saying that white interpreters, if the speaker says the full n-word, okay. I sign “n-word” or I can say “they said the full n-word.” Something like that. I don’t go ahead and spell the full word or actually sign that word. That’s not my place. You know what I mean. You know. You don’t need me to say the full word. You don’t need it.

I had some of my friends who are white interpreters message me. We had a discussion. They said that it feels like censorship, cleaning up their words. Ahh, that’s…no. You still say, or inform, that the speaker said this word. Yes. You still say that. Don’t remove that word from the sentence completely, no! They have a purpose, a reason why they said that word. Still sign “n-word” or maybe “full n-word.” Something like that. Use context to explain, inform that they did use the full word. I want to add emphasis here. The full n-word should never be signed, fingerspelled, or voiced by white interpreters. Never. I want to clearly emphasize that.

About censorship and cleaning up the language. Really, no it’s not. Yes, there are interpreters who won’t say or sign curse words, like fuck, bullshit, shit, like that. Yes, those are curse words–and interpreters should be signing these. The n-word… That’s not a curse word. It’s a slur. Negative, a put-down. Specifically, a racial slur. This targets a group of people, Black people. Curse words don’t, they’re broad and apply to anyone. The n-word applies only to Black people. That’s the difference.

Again: curse words should be interpreted directly. Racial slurs–the n-word, or others putting down Mexican people, Asians, like those–those should be, not implied, but informed of the intention. Like “n-word.” People understand what it means. They will understand. White people, when they use the n-word… It’s only with the intention of putting down. They may have some who will use with their friends, but that’s with a specific group of people.

Really, you have no reason for a white person to say the n-word. Never. Not even while interpreting. No. While interpreting, yes, do give context, give information, inform that they said the full word, not just “n-word.” They actually said the full word. White interpreters should never say it. I don’t know how many times I can say that. Do not say the n-word, period. No matter the reason.

I hope that helped it become clear why. Because some people were like, yes I understand that I should not say it, but why? I hope that helped clarify it. Or for those who thought it was okay, this helped you realize that you should not.

I want to again recognize my white privilege and masculine-presenting privilege. I just want to use my platform, as a white and male-presenting person, to spotlight those issues and voices that have been pushed down for a long time. So if there’s a way I can do this better, please let me know. And I will be happy to work with BIPOC for more visibility. But at the same time, I don’t want to put the work on them. I’m trying to find that balance. Using my voice to say hey, look, pay attention and at the same time, make sure they have their time, have their voices seen. I want you to discuss in the comments. Please keep it civil. Don’t get mean. That doesn’t help anyone. But be open to listening.

That’s it for today. Please, before you leave, look below this paragraph. I’ve linked a few Black Deaf creators. Please check them out, learn from them. Don’t rely on me as your only learning resource, okay?

September Books Wrap Up | BookTube

Hello, I’m Rogan and welcome to my September books wrap up. This was a month of really good books, and four ARCs! Okay, let’s talk books!

First up was a book that I pre-ordered and got on release day, Cemetery Boys by Aiden Thomas. This is a #ownvoices queer paranormal romance, focusing on Yadriel, who is trans and comes from a family of brujx. Yads wants to go through the rites to become an official brujo, but his family won’t let him because they don’t think the traditional rites of passage will “work” with him being trans. He decides to just do the ceremony on his own, with the help of his cousin, Maritza. Then Yads decides that he needs to prove that it worked by trying to summon the spirit of his recently deceased cousin, but he accidentally summons Julian, the resident “bad boy” of his school. Julian has unfinished business and drags Yads into it. Hijinks ensue. There was a pre-order campaign that if you signed up, you’d get a signed bookplate and some character cards. They are gorgeous!!

I just absolutely loved this, and I will never be able to be as eloquent as Adri is, so I’m just going to link their 5 Reasons to Read video, which is *amazing* and you just need to read this book already. I will quickly mention a few key things. This is such a great representation of a trans person, you can tell the author has experienced some of these things themself. They explore the dynamics of a Latinx family, a lot of the traditional views Latinx families often have around trans and queer people, but Yadriel’s family is mostly accepting of him. There is deadnaming that happens, but the name is never said on the page, which I love to see. It’s never necessary for us to know the deadname. Also, magic! I will warn you, if you are averse to blood, there is description of that and self-harm, both for ritualistic/magical purposes. Honestly, this book is just incredible and there’s a lot happening not mentioned in the synopsis. It’s the perfect spooky read for Halloween season!

Heavy Vinyl Vol 1 by Carly Usdin and Nina Vakueva. This is a cute graphic novel which is basically about a record store that’s a front for a secret teen girl fight club that’s fighting crime and working to take the patriarchy down. I can’t really say much more than that. It was a cute quick read, and it also has queer characters!

All of the books from now on are ARCs, one physical from William Morrow and the others are ebooks I got through NetGalley. If you don’t really know book terminology, ARC is short for Advance Reader Copy, meaning a copy given to readers before it’s released for the general public. It’s a way of marketing the book and getting reviews of the book out before it’s published. ARCs are generally given to reviewers for free, in exchange for honest reviews.

Hench by Natalie Zina Walschots. I received a physical ARC from William Morrow. Thanks for providing a copy to review! Anna has been working as a temp for a while, but her temp jobs aren’t for just any boring company. She works as a temp for villains. Though it’s equally boring – paperwork is pretty much universal. She gets hired for one particular villain, and after working there for a while, she’s brought along on an assignment. Things go awry and she ends up badly injured and laid off. Angry and stuck at home while she recovers, she puts her data smarts and internet connection to heavy use. Anna discovers she’s far from alone in being hurt at the hands of a hero, and eventually creates something that shows how much damage heroes actually do. Her skills get noticed by one of the Big Bads, and she puts them and her team to work weaponizing the data against the so-called good heroes. Quick rundown of the representation in this book: bi protagonist that becomes disabled, multiple queer characters – a trans super, several same-gender couples, use of they/them pronouns. I immensely enjoyed reading this! This is a unique perspective, from a hench or an underling rather than the heroes or the villains. This book is not action-packed or flashy at all. Well, there are some scenes later on, but that’s well after all of the world-building, the mundane, the data collection and weaponizing, the lives of henches. I really enjoyed that aspect, actually. It’s certainly not for everyone, definitely not if you’re expecting action all the time. There have been some comparison to The Boys which I can see, but that’s still very action-packed. This is far more mundane than that, and it’s about the people who work for the villains, helping them do their “evil” deeds. There’s a lot of time spent on Anna’s recovery, how those injuries continue to impact her well after she’s healed, some roommate drama, and everyday things. It does get a little…disturbing toward the end, far more than I was expecting after having read most of the book, so be aware of that. I thought this did really good with the commentary on various topics that parallel our world. This book might be a little long, but I think it was worth it in the end.

Machine by Elizabeth Bear. Dr. Brookllyn Jens works on a medical rescue spaceship that’s been sent to answer a distress call coming from a generation ship that left Terra a long time ago. Her crew arrives to find that the entire ship is in cryopods, the on-board AI seems to be unstable, there’s a strange tinkertoy-like machine filling much of the ship, and there’s a modern ship docked that isn’t answering any hails. A rescue operation is begun, and they return to the central hospital in space. Jens can’t resist a mystery and starts digging. She quickly learns that there might be some life-changing hard truths she’s not prepared for. I will always enjoy science fiction, unless it’s *really* bad. Happily, this is not one of those! I immensely enjoyed reading this, and was pleasantly surprised to learn in the beginning that Jens is a lesbian and that she has chronic pain, using an exoskeleton that enables her to move around far more than she would without it and be a functional member of this society. There’s honestly so much that happens in this book, I don’t even know where is best to begin. Worldbuilding – it’s so complex and rich, and I really appreciated that it was spread out throughout this and not dumped all at once. This society includes a wide variety of species, and the collective term for all of them, including humans, is systers. (Side note: I suspect the origin of this term could be from Anita Borg, and is short for system sisters, which makes sense in this context. It also simply means sister in others.) I really loved the descriptions of Core General, the hospital, and how it was designed for a wide range of environmental and gravitational needs, along with the varying sizes of the systers. I also liked the descriptions of the specific systers that had a role in the story, even if it was brief. This is written in first person, so we’re in the head of Jens, and she will occasionally go on a small tangent to explain some things, maybe philosophize about the situation, things like that. For most of the book, it’s fine and I think it actually helps us understand the world better and be more engaged with the story. Towards the end, it gets a little overly complicated and I didn’t think it was completely necessary. There’s also casual queer rep, some characters use they pronouns, and it’s standard for the hospital staff to have tags that have names, species, and pronouns. Some species prefer to be referred to as “it” and it seems that it’s typically the bug species. There’s a LOT that happened in this story that I’m not even mentioning, but I did really enjoy this and would definitely recommend if you want to read something sci-fi that’s also a mystery.

Bestiary by K-Ming Chang. This story follows a family of Taiwanese- and Chinese-Americans, focusing on the women: Mother, Daughter, and Grandmother. Daughter is telling us the history of her family to the best of her ability, translating from letters written by her grandmother, relaying stories that her mother told her. Shortly after being told a story about Hu Gu Po, a tiger spirit living in a woman, she wakes up with a tail. That’s not even the strangest thing that happens throughout this book. There are backyard holes that breathe, fish-daughters, a golden cage with a shadow of a bird in it but no visible bird, and she’s falling for a neighborhood girl that has her own strangeness. This was extremely interesting to read because of the writing style, which reminded me quite a bit of Akwaeke Emezi’s Freshwater and Carmen Maria Machado’s Her Body and Other Parties. Chang’s writing bends reality, uses words normally associated with the human body to describe nature and makes it possible for a human to get pregnant by a river or grow a tiger tail. It’s very poetic at times, which the author has background in. The author said that she’d sometimes class this as “speculative history” and I can see that! I’d definitely put this into the fabulism category as well, plenty of the things that happen in this book fall into that. This is a generational story, exploring how different generations experience the world, pass on their stories and their trauma. There are many folktales in this, and they’re all based on Taiwanese, Chinese, or Fujianese folktales. The author says that they can all be found in text form online, but because they’re often from an oral tradition, there might be many different versions. There isn’t exactly a plot to this, but that is not a bad thing at all! It feels like an epic being told to us, rather than something that’s written down in a book to start with. It touches on domestic violence, poverty, racism. It also has bright moments of queer love between Daughter and the neighborhood girl, and this love is simply accepted by those around them. Queer love even stays in their family myths, with a man falling for a pirate, Grandmother experiencing some love for a woman. I really enjoyed reading Chang’s writing and look forward to reading more of her work.

The Hollow Places by T. Kingfisher. Kara is going through a divorce, and she absolutely *cannot* bear to be around her mother for very long, so instead, she goes to stay with her eccentric uncle at his Wonder Museum. This museum is chock-full of all these odd things – a ton of dried cane toads, taxidermy taking up a lot of space, unique carvings here and there. Kara grew up in this museum, so none of it bothers her while she helps her uncle out for a while. Uncle Earl has to go into surgery for a while, so Kara takes over with some support from Simon, the quirky gay barista that works at and lives above the coffee shop next door. The first day, they discover there’s a hole in the wall that they assume a tourist carelessly broke and ran off. But when they take a closer look at the hallway through the hole, they realize that the proportions are impossible. They explore some and discover it leads to some strange world filled with willows and quiet islands dotting foggy water. *dun dun dunnnn* Normally, I’d tell you a bit more about this, but that was kind of all I knew, and let me tell you, that’s the best way. This is a horror story after all, but if you desperately want to know more details, I’d be happy to tell you more! This is the first I’ve read from T. Kingfisher, and I definitely would love to read more from this author! I really loved the writing in this, it was beautiful and sufficiently creepy when needed. The humor woven throughout, both regular and gallows humor, was fantastic. I really appreciated that the main characters, Kara and Simon, were very relatable, and they didn’t suddenly have some special ability or were already completely competent. They were just regular people, trying to figure this out, understand space-time physics, other dimensions, and all this science stuff that they’re definitely not qualified for. If you like horror that has some humor thrown in, this is for you!

That’s all of the books I read in September! I hope you found something new that you want to read, enjoy the spooky season. Bye.

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Commander in Chief – Demi Lovato | ASL

No blog post, because this is an ASL translation of a song. Full lyrics are below.

Commander in Chief – Demi Lovato (Lyrics)

Were you ever taught when you were young
If you mess with things selfishly, they’re bound to come undone?
I’m not the only one
That’s been affected and resented every story you’ve spun, and I’m a lucky one

‘Cause there are people worse off that have suffered enough
Haven’t they suffered enough?
But you can’t get enough of shutting down systems for personal gain
Fighting fires with flyers and praying for rain
Do you get off on pain?
We’re not pawns in your game

Commander in Chief, honestly
If I did the things you do, I couldn’t sleep
Seriously, do you even know the truth?
We’re in a state of crisis, people are dying
While you line your pockets deep
Commander in Chief
How does it feel to still be able to breathe?

We were taught when we were young
If we fight for what’s right, there won’t be justice for just some
Won’t give up, stand our ground
We’ll be in the streets while you’re bunkering down
Loud and proud, best believe
We’ll still take a knee while you’re…

Commander in Chief, honestly
If I did the things you do, I couldn’t sleep
Seriously, do you even know the truth?
We’re in a state of crisis, people are dying
While you line your pockets deep
Commander in Chief
How does it feel to still be able to breathe?

Breathe
Be able to breathe

Won’t give up, stand our ground
We’ll be in the streets while you’re bunkering down
Won’t give up, stand our ground
We’ll be in the streets while you’re…

Commander in Chief, honestly
If I did the things you do, I couldn’t sleep
Seriously, do you even know the truth?
We’re in a state of crisis, people are dying
While you line your pockets deep
Commander in Chief
How does it feel to still be able to breathe?
Able to breathe