Rainbow Reading: February 24

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

Between February 17th and 23rd, I read:

cover images of YES I'M FLAGGING, NON-BINARY GENDERS, THE UNSPOKEN NAME, and THE HOCUS POCUS HOAX

Yes, I’m Flagging: Queer Flagging 101 by Archie Bongiovanni (2020)
Genre: nonfiction/graphic novel/zine
Audience: adult
Queer rep: primarily queer men
Thoughts: This comic zine is a queer flagging 101, including some of the history of the hanky code, a guide to some of the colors, how and where to flag, and some resources for further reading. This is quick and basic (28 pages) but interesting and vibrantly illustrated. It’s also unapologetically NSFW and Bongiovanni celebrates the history of flagging as being specifically about “signal[ing] the sex you want to have”. If you’re flagging other things, Bongiovanni asks if the hanky code is really the best way to do that, or is it, in fact, disrespecting the history of flagging?

Non-Binary Genders: Navigating Communities, Identities, and Healthcare by Ben Vincent (2020)
Genre: nonfiction
Audience: adult
Queer rep: nonbinary
Thoughts: This is a very academic book; it’s a sociological study carried out by Vincent as part of their graduate studies. I admittedly skimmed the chapter about the study methodology and how Vincent found the research subjects, but the actual examination of the research was interesting. The study was in two parts: the participants kept diaries for several months, and then were interviewed by Vincent after the diaries were submitted. The book includes quotes from the interview and from the diaries, and also reproduces some media from the diaries, such as illustrations and poems. The focus was, as the subtitle indicates, on how nonbinary identity is formed and evolves; how nonbinary people interact with their communities; and navigating the UK healthcare system while negotiating a nonbinary identity. It’s a bit dense, but definitely interesting and worth wading through the academic writing!

The Unspoken Name by A.K. Larkwood (2020)
Genre: fantasy
Audience: adult
Queer rep: The MC is sapphic; multiple wlw and mlm characters
Thoughts: This is a dark, twisty fantasy centering around Csorwe, who was raised as the Chosen Bride of the Unspoken Name – raised knowing that she will climb the mountain, enter the Shrine, and become an honored sacrifice. But the day she walks into the Shrine to die, a foreign mage offers to take her away from her death and her destiny and give her a new life and a new fate. Csorwe becomes a thief, a spy, an assassin, a warrior and weapon prepared to do anything and everything to help Sethennai end his exile and reclaim his city. The worldbuilding is fantastic, the character development is exceptional, and I was deeply invested in the plot. I thought this was a standalone, so I was very happy to see it’s actually book one in The Serpent Gates series, although it looks like the expected publication of book two has been pushed from August 2021 to February 2022 😦

Goldie Vance: The Hocus-Pocus Hoax by Lilliam Rivera (2021)
Genre: fiction/mystery
Audience: middle grade
Queer rep: The MC is sapphic, as is a secondary character
Thoughts: This is the second original novel based on the Goldie Vance comic series, and the final chapter is a full-color 16-page comic. Goldie works as a valet at the Crossed Palms Resort Hotel in Florida, but as much as she likes cars and driving (as fast as possible), her ambition is to be a detective. In this installment, Crossed Palms is hosting the League of Magical Arts convention, but someone is sabotaging the acts! Goldie is on the case, hunting for the stolen props and the thief behind it all. She needs to solve the case ASAP, because she’s also trying to plan her first official date with Diane! This is a fun, adorable series that builds delightfully on the world from the comics, but can also be read completely separately from them (although the graphic novels are wonderful, so I don’t know why you’d want to!)

~Bonus books: The MC’s brother is gay in Get a Grip, Vivy Cohen by Sarah Kapit (2020 middle grade epistolary fiction); one of the two POV characters in Edge of Anything by Nora Shalaway Carpenter (2020, young adult fiction) has a married sapphic sister

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