Rainbow Reading: August 29

Bite-sized reviews of the LGBTQ books I’ve read in the past week. All titles are linked to their Goodreads page.

Between August 22nd and 28th, I read:

Shadebloom by Felicia Davin (2018)
Genre: fantasy
Audience: adult
Queer rep: The MCs are two queer women (one bi, the other unclear if bi or lesbian) and a genderqueer bi man; numerous gay/bi/lesbian/trans secondary & minor characters
Thoughts: The conclusion of the Gardener’s Hand trilogy and if possible, even better than the first two. I enjoyed this series immensely and was very excited to see that Davin is planning another book in this universe focusing on one of the side characters from this series. Shadebloom wrapped everything up in a satisfying way, but did so in a believable manner – no deus ex machinas. And yes, there are happy endings on a personal level for allllllll the queer characters.

Rat Queens, Vol. 1: Sass & Sorcery by Kurtis J. Wiebe, Roc Upchurch (2014)
Genre: fantasy/graphic novel
Audience: adult
Queer rep: A bunch of queer women, both main and secondary characters
Thoughts: This has been on my radar for a long time and I kept putting off picking it up because I was wavering back and forth as to if it appealed to me or not. And… it did not. Just wasn’t my thing. Too much gore. But it does what it does well; this was a case of “it’s not you, it’s me”.

The Clothesline Swing by Ahmad Danny Ramadan (2017)
Genre: magical realism
Audience: adult
Queer rep: The MC, the most important secondary character, and several others are gay; an important secondary character and a few minor ones are lesbians
Thoughts: Unsurprisingly in a book where Death is a supporting character, this was depressing. Really beautifully written, but depressing. There are a lot of difficult topics: war, refugees, homophobia, gay bashings, illness, death… The narrative moves back and forth in time and works in memories and stories and scenes that could be both, and it’s compelling, and it’s won and been nominated for all sorts of awards, but it was heavy enough that I really struggled to finish it.

Wave by Hoa Pham (2015)
Genre: magical realism/novella
Audience: adult
Queer rep: The two MCs are lesbians
Thoughts: This was strange and confusing. The narrative moves back and forth between Midori and Âu Cô and a few characters who are only ever named in relation to the women (such as “Brother”). It moves around in time as well and I was frequently lost as to the order of events. Everyone on GoodReads thinks this was beautifully written, lyrical, etc. but I just found it unclear and fragmented. Part of that may have been deliberate, since Wave deals with grief and mental illness – is the narration unreliable, or are the narrators? – but it was too frustrating for me.

The Tiger’s Watch by Julia Ember (2017)
Genre: fantasy
Audience: adult/young adult
Queer rep: The MC is nonbinary (they/them pronouns); a couple of secondary characters are queer
Thoughts: I liked this much more than I was expecting to. I’d read Ember’s other book, Unicorn Tracks, and wasn’t that taken with it, but I thought this one was very engaging. I’m a sucker for bonded-animal-magic and the twist to it was an interesting one. I also liked the balance between the war/siege plot and the uncovering-the-truth-of-the-land’s-magic plot. The writing was good and I loved how queerness is so commonplace in this world that even the invaders who have captured Tashi use their correct pronouns without blinking. My one complaint is that this ended rather in the middle of things, but it is supposed to be the first in a series so I guess I can’t complain that much.

Close to Spider Man by Ivan E. Coyote (2002)
Genre: short stories
Audience: adult
Queer rep: Lesbian, gay, and gender nonconforming
Thoughts: Coyote’s debut short story collection. I think I’ve read all of their other ones by now and I’ve enjoyed all of them a great deal. I’d read most of the stories in this one in other collections already but they were just as good the second time around. Coyote is one of my favorite authors and I love how the stories have such an authentic voice, like Coyote is actually standing right there telling a story.

Coda by Emma Trevayne (2013)
Genre: sci-fi
Audience: young adult
Queer rep: The MC is bi, one of his friends is gay, several secondary/minor characters are gay/bi
Thoughts: I picked this up mainly because the premise of a dystopian world where music is highly important reminded me of The Chimes by Anna Smaill, which I adored. There are more differences than similarities between the two, but I liked this for the most part. It’s fast paced and drew me in, and Anthem was an engaging character, but I wish the supporting cast had been fleshed out a bit more. I liked it enough to plan to read the sequel, though.

Bonus Books: Stars Uncharted by S.K. Dunstall (2018) has a secondary trans man character; Heretics Anonymous by Katie Henry (2018) has a secondary gay character and a minor lesbian character

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