Rainbow Reading: September 19

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

Between September 12th and 18th, I read:

Wolfsong by T.J. Klune (2016)
Genre: fantasy/paranormal/romance
Audience: adult
Queer rep: The MC is bi, multiple characters are gay, one is aromantic, one may be ace
Thoughts: I read this last year, just before I started doing these Rainbow Reading posts. The second book just came out (see below!) and after starting it, I decided I needed to reread book one. I liked this a lot the first time I read it, and my opinion didn’t change the second time around. The story covers a lot of ground – about 12 years – and the way the characters evolve and develop is done very well. Klune also does a great job blending the paranormal elements (werewolves and witches) with the mundane realities of a small town.

Ravensong by T.J. Klune (2018)
Genre: fantasy/paranormal/romance
Audience: adult
Queer rep: The MC is gay, as are multiple other characters, one is bi, one is aromantic, one may be ace
Thoughts: Book two of the Green Creek series. The MC switches from Ox to Gordo and the plot overlaps a little bit with the first book, showing the events that happened when the main group was separated, but the majority of the book is fully its own and the ending left me immediately running to find out when the next book is coming out (some as-of-yet-unspecified time in 2019 ☹). The world Klune has developed is so engaging and the characters are so vivid. Even the secondary characters feel like real people.

The Raven and the Reindeer by T. Kingfisher (2017)
Genre: fantasy/fairy-tale retelling
Audience: adult/young adult
Queer rep: The MC and love interest are lesbians
Thoughts: This is a queer retelling of the Snow Queen, and the writing is just delicious. Kingfisher has a perfect story-telling tone, with a wry humor that really resonated with me. I stopped several times to appreciate and savor the sentence I had just read. As if that wasn’t enough, the actual story is engaging as well and I absolutely loved the raven, who has a wonderful reply when Gerta asks, “Are you a he-raven or a she-raven?”, namely: “I am a raven, and the rest is none of your business as we’ll not be having eggs together.” When Gerta apologizes and says she only wanted to stop thinking of the raven as “it”, the raven declares, “You may call me he, for ‘it’ is an ugly word. I may feel differently later, but I will inform you first.” So on top of all the other delightful parts of this book, we have a somewhat genderqueer raven who has grandiosely named himself the Sound of Mouse Bones Crunching Under the Hooves of God, as those are the “very shiniest words” he found. Mousebones may be my favorite character, but everything about this book is delightful.

Idyll Hands by Stephanie Gayle (2018)
Genre: mystery
Audience: adult
Queer rep: One POV character and two secondary characters are gay
Thoughts: Book three of the Thomas Lynch mysteries. Lynch alternates POVs in this one with detective Michael Finnegan and I thought that worked well (the first two books were solely from Lynch’s POV). The back-and-forth between the two perspectives, two different cases, and two timelines kept the story moving along well without causing any confusion. A solid entry in the series.

Night Soil by Dale Peck (2018)
Genre: fiction
Audience: adult
Queer rep: The MC is gay, a few minor secondary characters are not straight
Thoughts: This is a very “literary” novel. I liked it quite a bit initially – the first few pages really drew me in – but parts of it got very dense. There’s half a page or more that is just a list of tree names, and then it starts repeating the list with the scientific names, and yes it’s illustrating several points but at the same time I don’t care to read lists of tree names in the middle of a novel! So things like that frustrated me a bit. I ultimately did like it, but it also made me feel sort of lowbrow, which is not my preferred reading experience.

Summer Bird Blue by Akemi Dawn Bowman (2018)
Genre: fiction
Audience: young adult
Queer rep: The MC is on the ace- and aro- spectrums and is questioning; two secondary characters are a same-sex couple
Thoughts: I am very much in the minority here, but I just didn’t like this. And I really was expecting to! I recently read Bowman’s first book, Starfish, and I loved it. So I was very excited to see she had a new book coming out, and then even more excited to see it had an aro-ace-spec character. I was primed to love this. But I just never connected to the story or to Rumi. I can’t pinpoint exactly why – it’s not like the writing is bad or the characters are one-dimensional or the plot is full of holes – and judging by everyone else’s glowing reviews, I can only chalk this up to a case of “it’s not you, it’s me”.

Noble Falling by Sara Gaines (2012)
Genre: fantasy
Audience: young adult
Queer rep: The MC and love interest are lesbians
Thoughts: This was pretty “eh”. I wasn’t expecting much (it has very mixed/indifferent reviews) and it was about what I expected. The world-building was bare bones and I did not understand the political divisions regarding the various duchies/kingdoms/countries. It ends without really wrapping anything up but I have no interest in picking up the sequel.

The Remedy: Queer and Trans Voices on Health and Healthcare by Zena Sharman (ed.) (2016)
Genre: nonfiction/essays/anthology
Audience: adult
Queer rep: All authors are queer, many are trans
Thoughts: Like most anthologies, there were pieces I loved, pieces I liked, and pieces that I didn’t. Most in this collection fell into the “liked” category; there was really only one essay that I felt like skipping and there were several that had me entranced. In addition to the essays, there is also an illustrated graphic-novel segment that I liked a lot and a few poems. I think my main stumbling point with this collection was that there were several pieces that had to do with systemic problems, such as how doctors are trained, or the politics of healthcare, while I wanted more of the individual narrative experiences of accessing healthcare as a queer and/or trans person. But overall this was well worth the read.


2 thoughts on “Rainbow Reading: September 19

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