Happy PRIDE!

Happy Pride month. Here are a few of my favorite books and series that feature LGBTQIA+ characters. What are your favorites? Leave them in the comments.

Iron Widow by Xiran Jay Zhao – Polyamorous
Science Fantasy reimagining of the rise of Chinese Empress Wu Zetian. With a true love triangle as Zetian has two love interests who are also in love with each other. There truly isn’t anything else like it.

These Witches Don’t Burn by Isabel Sterling – Lesbian
Love is always hard but harder when you meet someone new but your ex girlfriend is still apart of your coven and there are witch hunters after you.

Labyrinth Lost by Zoraida Cordova – Bi
The first of the Brooklyn Brujas trilogy follows Alex, who hates magic so much she accidently makes her family vanish and has to go into a different realm to find them. She also discovers herself as well.

Girls of Paper and Fire by Natasha Ngan – Lesbian
This is not an easy read as it deals with sexual assault but at it’s core is a love story between two young girls who risk everything to be together.

Carry On Trilogy by Rainbow Rowell – Gay
Based on fan fiction written by another of Rainbow Rowell’s characters in Fangirl and takes it to a new level. Harry Potter like chosen Simon Snow falls in love with his childhood enemy Baz. Fans of the enemies to lovers will love it.

Deathless Divide by Justina Ireland, Bi
This is actually the second book in the series but I’m picking it as it goes more into main character, Jane’s sexuality. Jane is an amazing character that just knows how to survive and isn’t going to let some zombies get in the way.

Rick Riordan books – Gay, Lesbian, Bi, Trans, Ace
Rick Riordan’s many children series based on world mythology are filled with LGBTQIA+ characters. I would first suggest Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard series. Main character, Magnus is definitely queer who falls in love with Alex who is trans. The Trials of Apollo series follows God Apollo who based on Greek mythology was bisexual. Actually many of the Gods of different world mythologies are somewhere on the rainbow and Riordan doesn’t shy away from these stories just because who writes for kids.

ShadowHunters Chronicles by Cassandra Clare – Gay, Lesbian, Bi, Trans, Poly
Like. Rick Riordan, Cassandra Clare’s ShadowHunters Chronicles populated with many LGBTQIA+. Original series features Alex and Magnus, a gay shadowhunter and a bi-sexual warlock. The Dark Artifices series features a poly relationship, a trans character and more than 1 same sex couples. The most recent series, The Last Hours has a bisexual and lesbian character as part of the main group of characters even takes place in Edwardian England. I’ll admit that as the series go on, there are times I get tired at the formulaic it is but I always come back for the characters because they are always well written

The Dreamers Trilogy by Maggie Stiefvater – Gay
A spin series from her popular Ravens Cycle, centers around gay and dreamer and Ronan. True, his relationship with fellow Raven Boy, Adam, isn’t the center of the story as many who read the first series would assume but it’s not far off. Anyways, Ronan is a fantastic character who l love and what the world for him.

Audible is having a sale!

So, I have been recently going through my subscriptions and canceling things that I haven’t been using. The pandemic has killed my interest in many things, I think this is what we call burnout? And I’m taking this as an opportunity to try new things and see what I like (and maybe save a little money). I’m obviously not abandoning reading or abandoning audiobooks, but I’ve got some credits built up and a TBR that exceeds my life expectancy, so it might be time to pause my audible subscription for a while.

And just in time for an audible sale (that is ending tonight), I log in to take a look at my wishlist. So, I thought it might be fun to see what I got with my surplus of credits.

First up, we have The Galaxy, and the Ground Within by Becky Chambers. This is a sci-fi book about a truck stop sort of spaceport on the galactic road. The description makes it seem like it might be slice of space life/centering a mother-child relationship. I’m excited to see if I’m right.

The Galaxy and the Ground Within by Becky Chambers

Next up we have Jake’s Magical Market by J.R. Matthews. This looks like it is going to be about a clever child during an alien invasion. I’m hoping it is fun because it appears to be the first in a series.

Jake’s Magical Market by J.R. Matthews

I will be honest and say I picked the next one because I was pulled in by the cover art. This is a YA novel by an award-winning author to promises to be full of mystery and magic.

Legendborn by Tracy Deonn

My next selection is Black Sun by Rebecca Roanhorse. This is, I believe, YA and Sci-fi. It also had a neat cover. I’ve heard that Rebecca Roanhorse is a good writer and I don’t think I’ve read anything by her yet, so I’m excited to try this one.

Black Sun by Rebecca Roanhorse

My next pick is the Girl who Fell Beneath the Sea by Axie Oh. This seems like it is going to be full of magic and heroism and I am so excited for it. The main character is a young woman who makes a sacrifice to save her brother and then goes on a quest to save her people.

The Girl Who Fell Beneath the Sea by Axie Oh.

My last pick (which was actually my first pick) is These Violent Delights by Chloe Gong. This one is set in 1920s Shanghai and appears to be about gangsters and flappers. There may be some disease and mayhem and mystery. I couldn’t tell you why but I love novels set in historical Shanghai, so I am very pleased this was an option for me to pick.

These Violent Delights by Chloe Gong

And thus ends this haul post. Hopefully, I will get to some of these sooner rather than later and I can follow up on them.

Have you bought any books recently? What have you picked up that you’re excited to dive into next?

Review: A Magic Steeped in Poison by Judy I. Lin

I admitted that I picked this book based on the cover. It is so pretty. Thankfully the book was good or I would have been super disappointed. Ning is from a small town but one day gets an invitation from the Palace to compete to be the new shennong-shi, a master of the art of magic and tea. If she wins and becomes the Palace’s shennong-shi it will bring her power she can only dream of but more importantly, it will give her access to cure to save her sister. Ning immediately gets caught up in Palace politics. The Princess is currently ruling as he Emperor is sick. Her cousin, the son of the banished Prince wants something but his motives are allusive. Others in court have their own agenda. Who can Ning trust? It’s a lot of back and forth as I doubted each character’s motives, convinced that they were the bad guys, only to be surprised at the end. Ning is definitely my favorite character. She is super smart but a little naïve. She is a little over her head when it comes to the machinations of court. Despite that, she is very resourceful and talented. She is able to move through the competition by using what she knows and being able to think on her feet. She often knows the smart thing is to walk away but the does the right thing and stay and help. This often gets her in trouble but also helps her find allies. I was really drawn to this book and sad, I have to wait until October for the sequels. I guess I should be grateful, I don’t have wait a year.

What I’m Reading Now: A Magic Steeped in Poison by Judy I. Lin

I am not going to lie. I picked this book because of the cover. I mean just look at it! It’s just so pretty!!

What I’m Reading Now: Our Violent Ends by Chloe Gong

Okay this series is as good as everyone said it was.

What I’m Reading Now: These Violent Delights by Chloe Gong

I resisted reading this for a while despite the good reviews because the world doesn’t need another Romeo and Juliet story but maybe they do. So for it’s been pretty amazing.

What I’m Reading Now: Trouble the Saints by Alaya Dawn Johnson

I went looking for a new fantasy novel to read and this came up and I’m intrigued. I do like a good historical drama. Especially when you add magical elements to it.

What I’m Reading Now: Wayward Witch by Zoraida Cordova

Latinx Brooklyn witches. Yes please

Review: Firekeeper’s Daughter by Angeline Boulley

This book was heartbreaking as it was beautiful. The reality that Indigenous Women face everyday is kind of horrifying when you think about how susceptible they are to violence and little resources they have to help them. Daunis straddles between two worlds. She’s half indigenous and half white. The white half also happens to be one of the richest families in her town. So rich that one of the dorms in the local University was named after her grandfather. She belongs to both worlds but doesn’t. When multiple deaths due to overdose on Meth, Daunis gets recruited by the FBI to help with the investigation on a possible Meth ring coming from the Rez. Around the same time, a new boy moves to town that is mysterious as he’s attractive and adds a new complication to her life. In the investigation, Daunis uncovers some truths about people in her life that she thought she knew and some even more painful harsh reality. Many of which she had been shielded from thanks to her mix heritage and that she is light skin and easily passes as white. A privilege that has kept her safe up until now. The intersection of racism and misogyny comes in full force in this one as it’s pretty clear that both lead to so many of the issues that led to this happening and it’s hard to read. Daunis is picked to help with the investigation because of her knowledge of her tribes customs but also her understanding of chemistry. I love her Daunis pieces things together and works through the problem to find a solution. She is as brave as she is smart and doing so helps solves the mystery but unfortunately at a personal cost. I have to say, this is not an easy read because the reality that Indigenous women face every day are hard and the lack of empathy and resources they receive is heartbreaking. Even with Daunis privilege of being half white and born into a wealthy family is not enough to shield her from them. So please bare that in mind when you pick it up. It is definitely worth the read and I highly recommend it. It’s a novel that is going to stick with me for a long time.

Review: Kim Jiyoung, Born 1982 by Cho Nam-Joo

I write this knowing that I will not able to truly express how I feel about this novel. It is equal parts breathtaking, heartbreaking and infuriating. I was drawn to this book by the title. If you are a regular reader of this blog, you know that Kate and I have an interest in Korea and I was born in 1982. You add the feminist storyline and it had me. Kim Jiyoung quit her job that she liked to be a full time mother and wife. She starts speaking in other women’s voices which not surprisingly concerned her husband so he enlist the help of a male therapist to treat her. The novel plays out out a narrative her life as she explains it to her therapist during their sessions. Through this we see the hardships she endures throughout her life and everything that has led her to today. Like so many women of our generation, Jiyoung was encouraged to follow her dreams and pursue a career that she wanted but also expected to give it all up once marriage and children come into the picture. As the novel progresses and she gets older I could see of how the toll of constantly being undervalued, dismissed and harassed by a misogynistic society has taken on her. There are the all too familiar stories of having expectations of taking care of ones family over yourself. The expectation that her brother should get cherished because he will be the one to bring the family honor and not the sisters. The expectations that women have to do just deal with being harassed and belittled at the work place. That she will always come in second to the wants and needs to the men in her life. Every woman knows how this all feels. Growing up in the US during a time of mostly prosperity, there were things about her childhood I could not identify with but what I could was being told that the boy teasing you/bulling you means that they secretly like you. The assumption that the boys are just smarter and some how more mature and more immature then you too. I remember a specific incident in college getting a grade two points below my fellow male student even though it was a group project and we both did equal amount of the work. At least twice I was passed over for promotions in favor of a less experience male coworker. As a single woman living in New York City. I am constantly aware of my surroundings and cautious of what I say and do when I’m around men. On the occasion I went out with friends, we always make sure to text each other when we get home to check in that we all got home safely. It’s exhausting to be a woman. Admittingly, Kim Jiyoung had it harder then I did. I do admit that I have a certain amount of privilege that has allowed me to live an easier life than most. I have had some sense that Korea is a very patriarchal society based on the amount of Kdramas and Kpop I’ve consumed but how it’s illustrated here makes it feel so oppressive. It seems to be getting better but you can’t change thousands of years of thinking and traditions overnight. Jiyoung is constantly trying to find the balance of sticking up for herself but also not rocking the boat. She sees that what she is being told and taught is unfair but doesn’t what to to say or do about it. When she does stand up for herself it is often her that gets in trouble and not the man in question. Again all too familiar. It really is a wonder that after a lifetime of this abuse and oppression that all women don’t just snap. The sense of dread I began to feel as the narrative came closer and closer to her getting married was just heavy. I wished I could tell her no. Don’t do it. Don’t quit your job. Insist more that your husband give up more of his time once the baby is born. At the end we get to read the therapist diagnosis and like so many good intention men he gets so close to getting to the truth and understanding what she is really going through but in the end fails to comprehend. Mostly because it would mean he would have to start to actually see women as something other then just their wives, mothers, daughters and human beings and to do that he would have to make them people, equal and that is just too hard for too many men. So nothing changes and we all suffer for it.