Reading for Pride: Week 2

I’m reading LGBTQ books and only LGBTQ books this June for Pride month. Here are my thoughts on my second week of reading; all titles are linked to their Goodreads synopsis.

Between June 7th and 13th, I read:

An Accident of Stars by Foz Meadows (2016)
Genre: fantasy
Audience: adult, but a lot of crossover YA appeal
Queer rep: Lots of it! There’s an ensemble cast featuring multiple bisexual characters, a trans woman, and an aromantic (but not asexual) woman. There’s also a lot of polyamory. Bonus: the author is queer.
Thoughts: Fairly standard portal fantasy, albeit with a very queer cast and a lot more violence than I was expecting. (The cover made it look so fluffy!). The beginning was good and the last hundred pages or so flew along but it dragged a lot in the middle. I doubt I’ll read the second one, A Tyranny of Queens.

Growing Pains by Cass Lennox (2017)
Genre: contemporary/romance
Audience: adult
Queer rep: Two main characters are gay; minor/background characters are gay, asexual, and trans (NB: their LGBTQ ID isn’t mentioned in this book, but the characters are known from prior books). Bonus: the author is queer.
Thoughts: Book three of the Toronto Connections series. Each book is essentially a standalone, with each title focusing on different characters, but prior characters are mentioned so reading them in order is nice. This book is a lot more serious than prior ones (deals with abuse and self-harm), but I liked it a lot. Gigi was not one of my favorite characters when he was introduced as a supporting character in book 2, so I was pleasantly surprised to enjoy this one so much.

Borderline by Mishell Baker (2016)
Genre: urban fantasy
Audience: adult, with crossover YA appeal
Queer rep: the main character is bi or pan; a minor secondary character is gay.
Thoughts: This was on a recommendation list of urban fantasy with queer female characters. However, there really wasn’t any queer content (IMO). There were a couple offhand mentions of the MC finding both men and women physically attractive and a male secondary character mentions his husband. None of it was important to the story in any way and I was left somewhat disappointed in that aspect of the book. I did like the story; it starts as fairly standard urban fantasy but it has some nice twists and the cast is quite diverse in terms of race, ability, and mental health, which is a nice change. It’s a fast read and engaging.

Ramona Blue by Julie Murphy (2017)
Genre: contemporary
Audience: YA
Queer rep: Main character is queer; several supporting characters are gay, lesbian, and demisexual; two minor characters are lesbians. Bonus: the author is queer.
Thoughts: This book got a lot of pre-publication hate because of the blurb, which says that Ramona, who has always identified as a lesbian, has now started to develop feelings for her male childhood friend, Freddie, who has just returned to town. I thought the book dealt really well with Ramona’s confusion about her feelings and what that meant for her sexuality. It was most emphatically NOT a case of “lesbian is ‘cured’ by man” and it is emphasized throughout that Ramona still likes girls. IMO the controversy is way overblown and it would be a shame to miss out on this sweet, poignant book because of all the negative reviews written by people who haven’t even read the damn thing!

Anything Could Happen by Will Walton (2015)
Genre: contemporary
Audience: YA
Queer rep: The main character and two supporting characters are gay.
Thoughts: Pretty typical coming-of-age type story. The emphasis on family connections and the detail given to the rural setting (including a cow in labor on the family farm!) were nice. It’s a very quick read and it’s a solid book, just not anything spectacular.

Concourse by Santino Hassell (2017)
Genre: contemporary/romance
Audience: adult
Queer rep: One main character is gay, the other is demisexual; the supporting cast includes too many queer characters to list here. Bonus: the author is queer.
Thoughts: This is book 5 in the Five Boroughs series, but it’s very much a standalone. (I’ve only read one of the others). I read this one mainly because I knew one of the MCs was on the ace spectrum. I liked it but I don’t have a lot to say about it.

The Wrong Woman by Cass Lennox (2017)
Genre: contemporary/romance
Audience: adult
Queer rep: The two main characters are lesbian; supporting characters are lesbian and gay. Bonus: the author is queer.
Thoughts: Book 4 in the Toronto Connections series (although they are all essentially standalones). I… did not like this book. It wasn’t bad, it wasn’t badly written or anything, it just… wasn’t for me. I didn’t really connect with the characters and the premise didn’t grab me. Disappointing because I liked the first two in this series and really liked the third one.

Coffee Cake by Michaela Grey (2015)
Genre: contemporary/romance
Audience: adult
Queer rep: One main character is asexual and the other is pansexual. A supporting character is gay. Bonus: the author is queer.
Thoughts: Another one that was just OK for me. Picked it up for the ace rep but it wasn’t my cup of tea.

The Summer Isles by Ian R. MacLeod (2005)
Genre: alternate history
Audience: adult
Queer rep: The main character, an important secondary character, and a minor secondary character are gay.
Thoughts: This was perhaps not the best choice of book given the current political climate. Especially given its perspective on individuals shaping history. The alternate Britain that has succumbed to fascism and outlawed homosexuality is chilling. Similar to (but not quite as good as) Jo Walton’s Small Change trilogy, which I wholeheartedly recommend to everyone (and which also has a gay protagonist).

La virgen de los sicarios by Fernando Vallejo (1994) [English title: Our Lady of  the Assassins]
Genre: crime/narcoliteratura
Audience: adult
Queer rep: The main character and two others are gay. Bonus: The author is queer.
Thoughts: This book was short (127 pages) but it took me three days to get through. The last third kept my attention but the first two were a bit of a slog. It’s a classic though and was made into a movie so I think it’s a case of “not for me”.

Then the Stars Fall by Brandon Witt (2014)
Genre: contemporary
Audience: adult
Queer rep: One main character is bisexual, the other is gay; a supporting character is lesbian; a minor character is gay. Bonus: the author is queer.
Thoughts: I liked this a lot. There is a lot happening in this book and a lot of themes – grief, starting over, identity, family, animals – but it never gets bogged down anywhere. I liked all the perspectives we get as well; although it mainly alternates between the two main characters, a few times the narrative switches over to a supporting character and it’s done really well.

Otherbound by Corinne Duyvis (2014)
Genre: sci-fi/fantasy
Audience: YA
Queer rep: One main character is bisexual; an important supporting character is lesbian; themes of gender/gender roles.
Thoughts: I liked this one. It reminded me of Of Two Minds, which I read as a kid, in that one MC was drawn psychically into the other’s mind and was misdiagnosed with a seizure disorder. I still think that plot device is an interesting one and I liked what Duyvis did with it. I thought the world was really well fleshed-out and the plot wasn’t predictable, I was surprised by some of the twists and turns.

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