heart Home About Me Contact Reviews Friday Contests heart

Monday, July 31, 2017

Things I've Read Recently (53)

If you're new around here, Things I've Read Recently is a series of posts I do that are basically mini-reviews of books that I either forgot to review, didn't have enough to say for a full review, or just didn't want to do a full post about for whatever reason. Sometimes I pull random books off my shelves and read them because I own way too many books.

Goodbye, Carleton High by B. J. Bond

Published: It was released in 1983 by Scholastic Canada. The copyright page of my copy is missing, and there's not a lot of information on the book online, so that's all I know.
Genre: Contemporary YA.
Binding: Paperback.
Page Count: 131
Part of a series? Nope.
Got via: Library reject.
I can find only an AbeBooks link, and there's only 2 copies.

Summary (from goodreads): Albert "Falko" Falkenheimer is tired of feeling like a loser. His classmates call him stupid because of his reading problem, and his teachers call him a troublemaker just because of a few great practical jokes. And on top of everything else, his girlfriend Cathy hasdecided to go out with Henry Schlieff, the class snob and Falko's worst enemy. Maybe, Falko thinks, the solution is to quit school... but then what will he do?

It takes a few lessons from life, from friends - even from school - to teach Falko that he may have a few things going for him after all.

Thoughts: This is incredibly dated, but I actually would like to see a modern-day equivalent of this. I think a story of a dyslexic teen trying to figure whether they want to stay in school or seek something else for their future. However, this isn't that. This is really dated, a little sexist, and the plot is really confused. I actually like that it's a smaller read because that can be cool for selective readers, who you'd hope would probably be the intended audience for a book about a kid who doesn't like to read because of his learning disorder.

But unfortunately, in just over a hundred pages, the plot manages to meander and doesn't seem to know what it wants to do. Much of the stuff mentioned in the blurb only comes up in the last, like, ten pages or so, and it has absolutely no resolution. I think readers who don't love reading would end up more frustrated than anything at this one, honestly. So I'm gonna pass this one along, because I didn't like it nearly enough to keep it on my packed shelves.

Does This School Have Capital Punishment? by Nat Hentoff

Published: Originally released in 1981, this edition was released March 15th, 1983 by Laurel Leaf
Genre: Contemporary YA
Binding: Paperback
Page Count: 170
Part of a series? This is the sequel to "This School is Driving Me Crazy".
Got via: Library reject.
Amazon / AbeBooks

Summary (from goodreads): Sam Davidson and school never did get along. But at his new school, Burr Academy in New York City, he finds new friends and new interests. When he interviews Major Kelley, a black trumpeter who helped shape the jazz scene, another world opens up to him.

But school, which was bearable, becomes a nightmare when unpopular, well-connected Saddlefield frames Sam and his friend frames Sam and his friend for possession of marijuana. Unless Saddlefield confesses, the boys will be expelled. Is there anyone wo can get through to Saddlefield? Or will Sam's future be ruined once again?

Thoughts: You know, this was interesting. The author is obviously very passionate about jazz, and the respect and knowledge really does show in the writing. While this has not aged incredibly well, it's interesting and I think at the time, it was doing some neat things. The writing style is not my favourite, but the story was interesting, so it's not a total loss. This is another one that would be interesting to read a modern version or equivalent, perhaps.

I don't think I'm going to keep it, but I'm glad I read it.

Dear Bruce Springsteen by Kevin Major

Published: First published in 1987, this edition was released June 1st, 1989 by Laurel Leaf
Genre: Contemporary YA
Binding: Paperback
Page Count: 134 plus a couple ads at the back of the book.
Part of a series? Nope.
Got via: Library reject.
Amazon / Abebooks

Summary (from goodreads): Terry knows Bruce Springsteen is on tour, so he doesn't expect an answer to his letters. What counts is writing it all down, and wondering what Bruce would do if he had a weird life like Terry's.

Dad took off and Mom has a new boyfriend. Terry can't change that, so he thinks instead about saving up for a guitar and organizing a benefit concert. Then he'll meet a really cool girl. Maybe.

As he pours out his feelings to his idol, Terry gradually sees how to manage his own life and become his own hero.

Thoughts: And keeping with today's theme, this was also better than I expected it to be. The format of a book made of letters in general is something I think can be really interesting to read. It's actually the second one like it I've read this year. It's such an approachable format, and I like reading books that use it.

The only thing that just made me cringe was this insistence on using the term "getting off on" as a way of saying enjoying something. There's at least a dozen instances of it and I just couldn't. It is dated, but almost in a fun way. I enjoyed this, and I'm going to pass it along into the world because I think it could fall into the right hands and be enjoyed more.

After the Rain by Norma Fox Mazer

Published: Originally published May 1987, this edition was released November 2nd, 1987 by Avon Flair.
Genre: Contemporary YA
Binding: Paperback
Page Count: 249 plus an about the author.
Part of a series? Nope.
Got via: Library reject.
Amazon / Abebooks

Summary (from goodreads): At fifteen, Rachel is a worrier. She worries about whether her family understands her, whether her friends like her, and whether she'll get her first kiss before she turns sixteen. And she worries about whether she can handle having a real boyfriend if he does come along.

But it takes a dying old man -- her grandfather -- who has never been easy for anyone to handle, to show Rachel she has very special abilities. With love and compassion, she reaches the heart of an old tyrant who has always been unreachable. And in so doing, she comes to a better understanding of her family, her friends, and herself.

Thoughts: This one surprised me, actually. First off, let's get this out of the way. The cover is awful. While the 80s fashions are hilarious, it looks like Rachel is about to be kidnapped. It also doesn't suit the book at all.

However, this is pretty good. The book is a combination of third person present tense narration and letters and journal entries (obviously in first person). Third person present tense is a little odd, honestly, but you get used to it after a while. And this is a little dated, and there's occasionally some language that at the time was fine, but has since become offensive.

But despite that, it's a good book. It talks about death in a very franky and emotionally honest way. Rachel and her family are also Jewish, which is cool. I'm actually going to keep this one, because I liked it, and I honestly think that you could reprint this one and put it out with a new cover and it'd be cool.

Okay, so, that was interesting!

What have you guys been reading lately?

Peace and cookies,

Friday, July 28, 2017

QSR: General Twitter Chat Reminder

Hey Scouts! Can you believe it's almost halfway through summer already? I seriously can't.

But! Do you know what day it is?

It's Twitter Chat day!!! We decided that today would be another general chat so that we could check in on you guys, and you could ask for help with reading suggestions, talk about your progress, or just tell us about your summer. Join us at 9pm UTC / 2pm PDT / 5pm EDT or find your time here.

Come hang out with us tonight!

Peace and popsicles,

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

QSR: Giveaway! (CLOSED)

So, wanna win some stuff? Because I kinda wanna give some stuff away. I'm thinking maybe...

One of these?

Or anything else you can find under 15 bucks?

Then you should get to entering after you read this.

What's up for grabs:

- One book of your choice Book Depository worth up to $15 CAD.

- One sticker of your choice from Queer Enough.

You can enter as long as you live somewhere that Book Depository and Queer Enough ships to. I'd appreciate it if you checked before you entered. Ages 13 and over, and if you're under 18, please have parental permission. Entries put in the comments will not be considered - you must enter in the Rafflecopter. Please do not share personal information in comments because that makes me worry about you guys. I will email the winner only for their mailing address to get the book to them.

The book must be queer. Preferably ownvoices, but absolutely has to be queer.

Contest closes August 9th, 2017. CONTEST HAS CLOSED.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Now get entering!

Peace and popsicles,

Monday, July 24, 2017

Adult Review: The Principles Behind Flotation

The Principles Behind Flotation by Alexandra Teague

Published: March 17th, 2017 by Skyhorse Publishing
Genre: Modern Historical Adult*
Binding: Hardcover
Page Count: 319 plus acknowledgements
Part of a series? Nope
Got via: It was sent to me for review consideration.
Amazon / Book Depository / Indiebound

Summary (from goodreads): When the Sea of Santiago appeared overnight in a cow pasture in Arkansas, it seemed, to some, a religious miracle. But to high school sophomore A.Z. McKinney, it’s marked her chance to make history—as its first oceanographer. All she needs is to get out on the water.

Her plan is easier said than done, considering the Sea’s eccentric owner is only interested in its use as a tourist destination for beachgoers and devout pilgrims. Still, A.Z. is determined to uncover the secrets of the Sea—even if it means smuggling saline samples in her bathing suit.

Yet when a cute, conceptual artist named Kristoff moves to town, A.Z. realizes she may have found a first mate. Together, they make a plan to build a boat and study the Sea in secret. But from fighting with her best friend to searching for a tourist-terrorizing alligator (that may or may not be a crocodile), distractions are everywhere. Soon, A.Z.’s dreams are in danger of being dashed upon the shore of Mud Beach.

With her self-determined oceanic destiny on the line, A.Z. finds herself at odds with everything she thought she knew about life, love, and the Sea. To get what she wants, she’ll have to decide whether to sink or float . . . But which one comes first?

Review: I think this is the most disatisfying book I've ever read. Nothing happens in this book. NOTHING. I can't even. There is like no plot to this book and, okay, I can get behind slice of life books, but there's not even like character development plot. Things happen, kinda, but there's no conflict or anything exciting. It's just dull and slow and I disliked so many of the people.

Maybe this kind of "coming of age" book just isn't for me, but I had so much trouble reading this because I was so bored.

Plot Talk: I think we covered that I thought there was no plot, yeah?

Characters: Here's a thing - I thought there were actually some interesting characters. But we spent no time with them. Instead we spent time with the girl who basically just gave up on her dreams because of a boy (and the emotional impact of that is so shallow a feather in sand would leave a deeper imprint) and an incredibly pretenscious, annoying boy who's every "tortured artist" you've ever seen.

PG-13 stuff: The fourteen year old has a lot of sex and nobody seems to think it's important to talk to her about that besides her mother saying make sure she has orgasms and a doctor giving her birth control pills and condoms and lube. This isn't a YA book, it's an adult book with a young protagonist, which is not the same thing, and I think that makes it less emotionally true to what being a teenager is like honestly. It's like the sex is more about shock value than what it really means to A.Z.

There's also a buttload of underage drinking, a bunch of language, and some really gory images about animal death. Felt again more like shock value than anything.

Cons, complaints, bad stuff, etc.: We've covered most of them. No plot, annoying characters. It's very slow to start and the voice is super removed. It's told in third person present tense, and it's very... tell-y. There are so many "A.Z. feels" but you don't really feel what A.Z. is feeling because the narration told you, but it didn't show it. The time period is also really hard to nail down - it's set in the 80s... because... reasons, but it's hard to tell unless you really know pop culture and when Madonna wore a cone bra. I also found a lot of the backstory with the Sea confusing, and kind of glossed over.

There's ableist slurs for no reason that nobody objects to, there's no queer people, no disabled people, ONE POC who... exists, but I wouldn't be quick to call good representation, and so much fatphobia. Every fat character is a stereotype and a jerk, and there are so many fatphobic comments.

Cover comments: Yeah, I don't get it honestly. It's okay. I like blue. I think the alligator is the only thing that actually matters to the book. It doesn't speak to me though, as a cover.

Conclusion: I really did not like this. Honestly I'm kind of rushing this review because I really want to read something I'll actually enjoy, and I'm tired of spending time with this book. Maybe if you like this kind of meandering slice of life/coming of age book, but when I wasn't bored, I was offended or kind of grossed out, so it really just didn't work for me. One and a half roses.

Other notes:

- Did 14 year olds, even in the 80s, know who Kenny G was????

- *I'm making this a thing. Books set in the 80s and 90s are going to be called this now. It's a bit of an oxymoron, I realize, but I've decided.

Peace and cookies,

Friday, July 21, 2017

QSR: Austin Chant Chat Reminder

Hey Scouts!

It's everybody's favourite day of the week! Time to another Twitter chat!

Today's special guest is Austin Chant! Join us at 6pm UTC / 11am PDT / 2pm EDT or find your time here.

Hope to see you guys there!

Peace and popsicles,

Thursday, July 20, 2017

QSR: 15 Queer Books Set in Canada

So! I should probably have posted this on Canada Day, but that would have meant I thought of it sooner than the fifteenth. But I thought this would still be interesting, even if it is a little late.

Books in this post come from Casey the Canadian LesbrarianQueer YA again and also my own knowledge because sometimes I know things. (Not that kind of thing, Lucia.)

Way to Go by Tom Ryan

Published: April 1st, 2012 by Orca Book Publisher
Genre: Contemporary YA
Amazon / Book Depository / Indiebound

Summary (from goodreads): Danny thinks he must be the only seventeen-year-old guy in Cape Breton--in Nova Scotia, maybe--who doesn't have his life figured out. His buddy Kierce has a rule for every occasion, and his best friend Jay has bad grades, no plans and no worries.

Danny's dad nags him about his post-high-school plans, his friends bug him about girls and a run-in with the cops means he has to get a summer job. Worst of all, he's keeping a secret that could ruin everything.

Rhythm and Blues by Jill Murray

Published: February 9th, 2010 by Doubleday Canada
Genre: Contemporary YA
Amazon and I think this is out of print because I can't find it on Indiebound or Book Depository, but there's a kindle version.

Summary (from goodreads): Many of the things in Alya's life have been unexpected: She never anticipated receiving a full scholarship to the private school she attends; she never thought she would end up as a member of Hydra Force, the hottest all-girl breakdancing crew around, or that she would be "discovered" and asked to be part of a cool new girl group called EnChantay... But that's what happens to her, and overnight, Alya's life changes.

She moves to Montreal and begins voice lessons, practicing choreography with the two other members of EnChantay, and filming a video for their single. Yet, of all the unexpected things in her life, Alya is most surprised when she finds herself questioning the person she is, and feeling things that she never imagined feeling...all for one of her friends.

Evil? by Timothy Carter

Published: August 1st, 2009 by Flux
Genre: YA Fantasy

Summary (from goodreads): Stuart Bradley knows there are a lot of reasons people in his small, conservative hometown might not approve of him. He's openly gay, he's mouthy in church, and he conjures demons in his spare time—the usual. So Stuart knows something is odd when his little brother catches him "self-pleasuring" in the shower and, before he knows it, an angry mob is chasing down every teen who ever had an "impure" thought.

Stuart soon discovers that the new preacher in town is more than he seems. He's a fallen angel-fallen because he became too obsessed with a certain harmless adolescent activity. If Stuart and his demon sidekick don't stop him, blindness is going to be the least of anyone's worries.

(Laina note - I actually WoWed this at one point back when I still did that and my formatting was terrible and actually just don't read that post, it's a mess. Anyways, it sounds interesting.)

Another Kind of Cowboy by Susan Juby

Published: 2007 by HarperCollins Canada
Genre: Contemporary YA
Amazon / Indiebound

Summary (from goodreads): Alex Ford wishes his father had seen the movie Brokeback Mountain. Because then he might understand that it’s possible to be a gay cowboy. Trouble is, Alex doesn’t even want to be a cowboy; his dream is to ditch Western-style riding and take up dressage. But with his mother long gone, his father ensconced in an RV in the driveway, his messy Aunt Grace the Hair Stylist installed in the kitchen (whose cooking tastes like her hairdressing smells), and his Kung Fu–obsessed younger twin sisters, Alex knows that his dream is highly unlikely. So when he does get the chance to try the meticulously intricate art of dressage riding and then bumps into the supremely self absorbed Cleo at a competition, it’s a whole new world for Alex.

Cleo’s been sent to a very posh, very horsey boarding school nearby because of an unfortunate incident with her handsome chauffeur. Cleo doesn’t get why Alex is so serious about everything, especially when his family is so…interesting. But now Alex is about to lose even the slender hold he has on his dream—and on the secret he’s not yet ready to reveal. Meanwhile, Cleo has fallen in with the party crowd, forgetting all about her precious horse. Does this mean Alex and Cleo’s fledgling friendship is doomed from the start?

First Spring Grass Fire by Rae Spoon

Published: September 18th, 2012 by Arsenal Pulp Press
Genre: Memoir
Amazon / Book Depository / Indiebound

Summary (from goodreads): Transgender indie electronica singer-songwriter Rae Spoon has six albums to their credit, including 2012’s I Can’t Keep All of Our Secrets. This first book by Rae (who uses "they" as a pronoun) is a candid, powerful story about a young person growing up queer in a strict Pentecostal family in rural Canada.

The narrator attends church events and Billy Graham rallies faithfully with their family before discovering the music that becomes their salvation and means of escape. As their father's schizophrenia causes their parents' marriage to unravel, the narrator finds solace and safety in the company of their siblings, in their nascent feelings for a girl at school, and in their growing awareness that they are not the person their parents think they are. With a heart as big as the prairie sky, this is a quietly devastating, heart-wrenching coming-of-age book about escaping dogma, surviving abuse, finding love, and risking everything for acceptance.

(Laina note - the library actually has this, so if you're in Saskatchewan too, you can order this through yours. If you're not in Saskatchewan, check anyways! Also, there's a documentary called "My Prairie Home" on Netflix that's also about them.)

10 Things I Can See From Here by Carrie Mac

Published: February 28th, 2017 by Alfred A. Knopf Books for Young Readers
Genre: Contemporary YA
Amazon / Book Depository / Indiebound

Summary (from goodreads): Think positive.
Don’t worry; be happy.
Keep calm and carry on.

Maeve has heard it all before. She’s been struggling with severe anxiety for a long time, and as much as she wishes it was something she could just talk herself out of, it’s not. She constantly imagines the worst, composes obituaries in her head, and is always ready for things to fall apart. To add to her troubles, her mom—the only one who really gets what Maeve goes through—is leaving for six months, so Maeve will be sent to live with her dad in Vancouver.

Vancouver brings a slew of new worries, but Maeve finds brief moments of calm (as well as even more worries) with Salix, a local girl who doesn’t seem to worry about anything. Between her dad’s wavering sobriety, her very pregnant stepmom insisting on a home birth, and her bumbling courtship with Salix, this summer brings more catastrophes than even Maeve could have foreseen. Will she be able to navigate through all the chaos to be there for the people she loves?

(Laina note - I really wanna read this one. You may see it around here eventually.)

Gravity by Leanne Lieberman

Published: November 1st, 2008 by Orca Book Publishers
Genre: Contemporary YA
Amazon / Book Depository / Indiebound

Summary (from goodreads): Ellie Gold is an orthodox Jewish teenager living in Toronto in the late eighties. Ellie has no doubts about her strict religious upbringing until she falls in love with another girl at her grandmother's cottage.

Aware that homosexuality clashes with Jewish observance, Ellie feels forced to either alter her sexuality or leave her community. Meanwhile, Ellie's mother, Chana, becomes convinced she has a messianic role to play, and her sister, Neshama, chafes against the restrictions of her faith.

Ellie is afraid there is no way to be both gay and Jewish, but her mother and sister offer alternative concepts of God that help Ellie find a place for herself as a queer Jew.

Girl Mans Up by M-E Girard

Published: September 16th, 2016 by HarperCollins
Genre: Contemporary YA
Amazon / Book Depository / Indiebound

Summary (from goodreads): All Pen wants is to be the kind of girl she’s always been. So why does everyone have a problem with it? They think the way she looks and acts means she’s trying to be a boy—that she should quit trying to be something she’s not. If she dresses like a girl, and does what her folks want, it will show respect. If she takes orders and does what her friend Colby wants, it will show her loyalty.

But respect and loyalty, Pen discovers, are empty words. Old-world parents, disintegrating friendships, and strong feelings for other girls drive Pen to see the truth--that in order to be who she truly wants to be, she’ll have to man up.

(Laina note - I didn't actually know this was set in Canada before this!)

Cinnamon Toast and the End of the World by Janet E. Cameron

Published: May 7th, 2013 by Hachette Books
Genre: Contemporay YA
Amazon / Book Depository / Indiebound

Summary (from goodreads): Stephen Shulevitz remembers the end of the world. Two o'clock in the morning on a Saturday night, in Riverside, Nova Scotia when he realises he has fallen in love - with exactly the wrong person.

There are no volcanic eruptions. No floods or fires. Just Stephen, watching TV with his best friend, realising that life, as he knows it, will never be the same.

The smart move would be to run away - from Riverside, his overbearing hippie mother, his distant pot-smoking father - and especially his feelings. But then Stephen begins to wonder: what would happen if he had the courage to face the end of the world head on?

Rough Patch by Nicole Markotic

Published: May 16th, 2017 by Arsenal Pulp Press
Genre: Contemporary YA
Amazon / Book Depository / Indiebound

Summary (from goodreads): When fifteen-year-old Keira starts high school, she almost wishes she could write "Hi, my name is Keira, and I'm bisexual!" on her nametag. Needless to say, she's actually terrified to announce—let alone fully explore—her sexuality. Quirky but shy, loyal yet a bit zany, Keira navigates her growing interest in kissing both girls and boys while not alienating her BFF, boy-crazy Sita. As the two acclimate to their new high school, they manage to find lunch tablemates and make lists of the school's cutest boys. But Keira is caught "in between"—unable to fully participate, yet too scared to come clean.

She's also feeling the pressure of family: parents who married too young and have differing parenting styles; a younger sister in a wheelchair from whom adults expect either too little or too much; and her popular older brother who takes pleasure in taunting Keira. She finds solace in preparing for the regional finals of figure skating, a hobby she knows is geeky and "het girl" yet instills her with confidence. But when she meets a girl named Jayne who seems perfect for her, she isn't so confident she can pull off her charade any longer.

Hello Groin by Beth Goobie

Published: October 1st, 2006 by Orca Book Publishers
Genre: Contemporary YA
Amazon / Book Depository / Indiebound

Summary (from goodreads): When Dylan Kowolski agrees to create a display for her high school library, she has no idea of the trouble it's going to cause--for the school principal, her family, her boyfriend Cam and his jock friends, and her best friend Jocelyn. And for Dylan herself.

If only her English class had been studying a normal, run-of-the-mill, mundane book like Lord of the Flies instead of Foxfire things wouldn't have gotten so twisted. Then the world wouldn't have gone into such a massive funk. And then Dylan wouldn't have had to face her deepest fear and the way she was letting it run her life.

(Laina note - I adored Beth Goobie's books when I was a kid. She sounds really interesting, too, honestly.)

Under Threat by Robin Stevenson

Published: January 1st, 2016 by Orca Books Publishers
Genre: Contemporary YA
Amazon / Book Depository / Indiebound

Summary (from goodreads): Franny is close to her parents, adores her horse and is head over heels in love with her girlfriend, Leah. But Franny's parents are abortion providers at the local hospital, and an anonymous stranger is prepared to do whatever it takes to stop them. A stranger who phones at all hours. Who knows where they live. Who knows Franny's name.

When Leah's older brother, Jake, refers to her parents as baby killers, Franny starts to wonder if perhaps the threats aren t coming from a stranger at all. If she tells the police about her suspicions, she could lose her girlfriend. But if she doesn't - and if she's right - she could lose her parents.

(Laina note - I actually have read this, and my post about it will be up in late August. Because I really liked it, I really want to check out some more books by the author, including the following.)

Inferno by Robin Stevenson

Published: April 1st, 2009 by Orca Book Publishers
Genre: Contemporary YA
Amazon / Book Depository / Indiebound

Summary (from goodreads): Dante thinks high school is an earthly version of hell. She hates her new home in the suburbs, her best friend has moved away, her homeroom teacher mocks her and her mother is making her attend a social skills group for teenage girls.

When a stranger shows up at school and hands Dante a flyer that reads: Woof, woof. You are not a dog. Why are you going to obedience school?, Dante thinks she's found a soul mate. Someone who understands. Someone else who wants to make real changes in the world.

But there are all kinds of ways of bringing about change...and some are more dangerous than others.

Big Guy by Robin Stevenson

Published: April 1st, 2007 by Orca Book Publishers
Genre: Contemporary YA
Amazon / Book Depository / Indiebound

Summary (from goodreads): Derek thinks he might be falling in love. The problem is, he hasn't been entirely honest with his online boyfriend. Derek sent Ethan a photo taken before he got depressed and gained eighty pounds.

Derek hasn't been honest with his employer either. When he lied about his age and experience to get a job with disabled adults, the last thing he expected was to meet a woman like Aaliyah. Smart, prickly and often difficult, Aaliyah challenges Derek's ideas about honesty and trust. Derek has to choose whether to risk telling the truth or to give up the most important relationship in his life.

(Laina note - I really want to see how this handles the fat representation. Hopefully there's not a weight loss arc.)

The Scorpion Rules by Erin Bow

Published: September 22nd, 2015 by Margaret K. McElderry Books
Genre: Dystopian YA
Amazon / Book Depository / Indiebound

Summary (from goodreads): Greta is a Duchess and a Crown Princess. She is also a Child of Peace, a hostage held by the de facto ruler of the world, the great Artificial Intelligence, Talis. This is how the game is played: if you want to rule, you must give one of your children as a hostage. Start a war and your hostage dies.

The system has worked for centuries. Parents don’t want to see their children murdered.

Greta will be free if she can make it to her eighteenth birthday. Until then she is prepared to die with dignity, if necessary. But everything changes when Elian arrives at the Precepture. He’s a hostage from a new American alliance, and he defies the machines that control every part of their lives—and is severely punished for it. His rebellion opens Greta’s eyes to the brutality of the rules they live under, and to the subtle resistance of her companions. And Greta discovers her own quiet power.

Then Elian’s country declares war on Greta’s and invades the prefecture, taking the hostages hostage. Now the great Talis is furious, and coming himself to deliver punishment. Which surely means that Greta and Elian will be killed...unless Greta can think of a way to break all the rules.

(Laina note - I really liked this series, and yes, they are set in Canada. No one ever seems to talk about how queer they are either!)

So, Scouts, did you find something to read?

Peace and popsicles,

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

QSR Author Interview: Seanan McGuire

Here's something a bit different for these parts! An author interview! Please welcome Seanan to the blog!

Q. Tell us a little about your books!

I write urban fantasy and modern fantasy and portal fantasy under my own name, and biomedical science fiction thrillers under the name “Mira Grant.” I don’t sleep very much, so I write a lot of books.

Q. What made you write the stories you did? What do they mean to you?

I write the books I write, and tell the stories I tell, because those are the stories I have in me. We’re all made out of stories, and the ones we tell best are the ones baked into our bones. I know where some of them came from. Others are eternal surprises. But I make them work for me.

Q. What are some of your favourite things to read in queer books?

Happy, realistic relationships. Queer communities that feel like my own. Good dialog. I think all books, queer or not, are better with good dialog.

Q. Got any fun summer reading plans?

I’m going to continue to tackle my to-be-read pile like it was the final boss between me and finishing the dungeon, and maybe I’ll find some gems in there.

Q. Tell us one of your favourite experiences with someone who’s read your book.

Oh, goshbiscuits. I was having dinner with someone who’d read some of my work and wasn’t all that excited about it, and then she found out I was Mira Grant, and proceeded to get all fannish and shy. It was adorable.

Q. I want queer vampires to become a thing in 2020. What is a thing you would love to see in queer books in the future?

I’d like to see more casual queerness. I don’t want characters to have a specific orientation because it means something, I want them to be queer because sometimes people are queer.

Q. What’s your favourite recent queer read or a queer book that you're looking forward to?

Winter Tide, by Ruthanna Emrys, is the sort of incredible, queer dissection of the Cthulhu mythos that Lovecraft would hate and I absolutely adore.

Q. What’s something you always want to say in interviews but no one ever asks?

My cats are amazing.

Q. Favourite summer drink?

Diet Dr Pepper.

10. Favourite frozen summer treat?

Ice cream!

Q. Favourite outdoor summer activity?

Blueberry picking.

Q. Favourite thing to do on a rainy summer day?

Blueberry picking.

Seanan McGuire lives and writes in the Pacific Northwest, although she travels enough that her cats would like to argue with that statement. Her first book was released in 2009, which no one really seems to believe anymore. She does not sleep enough. Keep up with her at www.seananmcguire.com, or on Twitter as @seananmcguire.

Thanks again for joining us!

On a sad note, Seanan is having a difficult time right now. Her dear sweet cat Alice is very, very sick. So if you are interested in any of her books, or want to sign up for her Patreon, I'd be very proud of you.

Peace and cookies,

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

QSR: 30+ Queer Books Set Outside the US and Canada

So I wasn't sure if the book I ordered would actually work for the "book set in another country" prompt and I was looking for a backup book to order just in case it didn't work out. I was asking Luci for help and then I asked Twitter and then it kind of spiraled so, look, blog post!

If you're in the US, you can read books set in Canada, and other Canadian peeps can read books set in the US, but I wanted to challenge myself a little more. There is probably going to be a lot of YA because that's kind of my thing, but there were definitely some recommendations from other people that are a bit different from my usual thing!

This post will be long. A bunch of these, though, have kindle version that are under five dollars, and a couple are even free.

Thanks to Deirdre for these suggestions!

Beijing Comrades by Beijing Tongzhi

Published: Originally in 1996!
Genre: Adult... Fiction? Wow, I'm bad at writing about adult books!
Amazon / Book Depository / Indiebound

Summary (from goodreads): When Handong, a ruthless and wealthy businessman, is introduced to Lan Yu, a naïve, working-class architectural student—the attraction is all consuming.

Arrogant and privileged, Handong is unsettled by this desire, while Lan Yu quietly submits. Despite divergent lives, the two men spend their nights together, establishing a deep connection. When loyalties are tested, Handong is left questioning his secrets, his choices, and his very identity.

Beijing Comrades is the story of a torrid love affair set against the sociopolitical unrest of late-eighties China. Due to its depiction of gay sexuality and its critique of the totalitarian government, it was originally published anonymously on an underground gay website within mainland China. This riveting and heartbreaking novel, circulated throughout China in 1998, quickly developed a cult following, and remains a central work of queer literature from the People's Republic of China.

(NSFW image next.)

Partings At Dawn edited by Stephen Miller

Published: July 29th, 1996 by Gay Sunshine Press
Genre: Adult Anthology
Amazon / Book Depository

Summary (from goodreads): Partings at Dawn is a brilliant collection of literature on gay themes covering eight hundred years of Japanese culture---from 1200 to the last decade of the 20th century. It includes stories such as "The Tale of Genmu" and "The Story of Kannon's Manifestation as a Youth"---how a Buddhist Bodhisattva gives his blessing to a gay relationship. The renowned 17th century writer Ihara Saikaku is well represented with his stories of samurai and actors and their boyloves. The amazing 17th century collection Wild Azaleas (the world's premier gay anthology of stories and poems) is presented here for the first time within the pages of a book.

(Laina note: Hehe. *immature snickering* Butt.)

(I'm actually a five year old.)

Our Caribbean edited by Thomas Glave

Published: May 20th, 2008 by Duke University Press Books
Genre: Adult Anthology
Amazon / Book Depository / Indiebound

Summary (from goodreads): The first book of its kind, Our Caribbean is an anthology of lesbian and gay writing from across the Antilles. The author and activist Thomas Glave has gathered outstanding fiction, nonfiction, memoir, and poetry by little-known writers together with selections by internationally celebrated figures such as José Alcántara Almánzar, Reinaldo Arenas, Dionne Brand, Michelle Cliff, Audre Lorde, Achy Obejas, and Assotto Saint. The result is an unprecedented literary conversation on gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgendered experiences throughout the Caribbean and its far-flung diaspora. Many selections were originally published in Spanish, Dutch, or creole languages; some are translated into English here for the first time.

Angelwings translated by Fran Martin

Published: March 1st, 2003 by University of Hawaii Press
Genre: Adult Anthology
Amazon / Book Depository / Indiebound

Summary (from goodreads): Lesbian and gay--or queer--fiction (known in Mandarin as tongzhi wenxue) constitutes a major contribution to Taiwanese literature, as evidenced by the remarkable number of prestigious literary awards won by many of the authors of the short stories presented here. But most strikingly, this fiction has been immensely popular with general readers in Taiwan, Hong Kong, and Singapore, as well as in diasporic Chinese communities worldwide.

The Vintage Book of International Lesbian Fiction edited by Naomi Holoch and Joan Nestle

Published: June 1st, 1999 by Vintage
Genre: Adult Anthology
Amazon / Book Depository

Summary (from goodreads): A groundbreaking volume from Lamda Award-winning editors Naomi Holoch and Joan Nestle, The Vintage Book of International Lesbian Fiction presents a range of literary voices--from twenty-seven countries spanning six continents--and offers glimpses of lesbian life in unfamilar, often exotic climes.

We follow an Irish woman as she travels through time in search of a wronged maiden, and anticipate the harrowing fate of a married Indian woman who pursues pleasure with her female lover under the shadow of her husbands suspicious rage. We meet a teacher in Barcelona who locks herself up in her grandmother's house with her young Columbian student, and witness a Slovenian woman's rendezvous with her long dead lover.

This collection includes the work of familiar writers, as well as a number never before published in English. From the West Indies to Eastern Europe, the Middle East to Southeast Asia, Latin America to South Africa, the distinctive stories found in these pages evoke the diverse political, cultural, emotional, and sexual landscapes of each writer's life. A groundbreaking volume from the Lamda Award-winning editors Naomi Holoch and Joan Nestle, who also wrote the introduction, this collections evokes the universal urgency of persistent desire.

Yellow Rose by Nobuko Yoshiya

Published: January 14th, 2015 by Expanded Editions
Genre: Short story? I'm not entirely sure on this one!

Summary (from goodreads): Yoshiya Nobuko’s short-story series Flower Stories (Hana monogatari) is widely known for launching the genre of shōjo fiction--stories expressly written for girls and young women. For the first time in English, one of the most ardent and influential of the collection, “Yellow Rose,” is published with a translator’s introduction, era-specific design and list of further readings. It will appeal to all readers of fine fiction, especially those with an interest in women’s writings, genre fiction, youth culture, queer writings, and twentieth-century modernist styles.

(Laina note - this cover is so pretty. Seriously, I would legit put this on my wall as a piece of art.)

Miles Away From You by A. B. Rutledge

Published: To be released March 20th, 2018 by HMH
Genre: Contemporary YA

Summary (from goodreads): It's been three years since Miles fell for Vivian, a talented and dazzling transgender girl. Eighteen months since a suicide attempt left Vivian on life support. Now Miles isn't sure who he is without her, but knows it’s time to figure out how to say goodbye.

He books a solo trip to Iceland but then has a hard time leaving the refuge of his hotel room. After a little push from Óskar, a local who is equal parts endearing and aloof, Miles decides to honor Vivian's life by photographing her treasured Doc Martens standing empty against the surreal landscapes. With each step he takes, Miles finds his heart healing—even as he must accept that Vivian, still in a coma, will never recover.

Told through a series of instant messages to Vivian, this quirky and completely fresh novel explores love, loss, and the drastic distances we sometimes have to travel in order to move on.

(Laina note: Okay, so this one kinda doesn't count because it's not out and you can't really get it, but Deirdre mentioned it and I was intrigued. It looks interesting and I'm curious.)

Sinead suggested these ones:

No More Heroes by Michelle Kan

Published: 2015!
Genre: YA Urban Fantasy
Amazon / Book Depository / Indiebound

Summary (from goodreads): The peaceful nights are kept under the clandestine and watchful eye of young, gifted vigilantes the world over. But a sudden rash of vigilante deaths heralds the arrival of a new and unfamiliar enemy – one whose motive is as unclear as their identity. Someone or something seems determined to disturb the peace, and they're going straight for the watchmen to do it. In a city where those who are gifted make up their own rules, who will step forward when the threat of a swift end is real and there stands so little to gain?

No More Heroes is an urban fantasy action/adventure novel about young, would-be heroes who get more than they bargained for when they delve deeper into a world they never knew they were a part of. Featuring a diverse cast of players, discord, a mystery to be solved, plenty of literary action and high-stakes battles, No More Heroes is a story about self-belief and camaraderie, persistence in the face of trials, and what it means to be the best version of yourself.

(Laina note: This technically is set in a fictional city, but we decided to count it because we wanted to. The fictional city isn't based on anything in the US or Canada.)

The Terracotta Bride by Zen Cho

Published: March 10th, 2016
Genre: Fantasy Novella
Amazon (this is only 2 dollars on kindle)

Summary (from goodreads): In the tenth court of hell, spirits wealthy enough to bribe the bureaucrats of the underworld can avoid both the torments of hell and the irreversible change of reincarnation.

It's a comfortable undeath … even for Siew Tsin. She didn't choose to be married to the richest man in hell, but she's reconciled. Until her husband brings home a new bride.

Yonghua is an artificial woman crafted from terracotta. What she is may change hell for good. Who she is will transform Siew Tsin. And as they grow closer, the mystery of Yonghua's creation will draw Siew Tsin into a conspiracy where the stakes are eternal life – or a very final death.

(Laina note - seriously this cover is so beautiful.)

Consu Mesones suggested:

The Gentleman's Guide to Vice and Virtue by Mackenzi Lee

Published: June 27th, 2017 by Katherine Tegan Books
Genre: YA Fantasy
Amazon / Book Depository / Indiebound

Summary (from goodreads): Henry “Monty” Montague was born and bred to be a gentleman, but he was never one to be tamed. The finest boarding schools in England and the constant disapproval of his father haven’t been able to curb any of his roguish passions—not for gambling halls, late nights spent with a bottle of spirits, or waking up in the arms of women or men.

But as Monty embarks on his Grand Tour of Europe, his quest for a life filled with pleasure and vice is in danger of coming to an end. Not only does his father expect him to take over the family’s estate upon his return, but Monty is also nursing an impossible crush on his best friend and traveling companion, Percy.

Still it isn’t in Monty’s nature to give up. Even with his younger sister, Felicity, in tow, he vows to make this yearlong escapade one last hedonistic hurrah and flirt with Percy from Paris to Rome. But when one of Monty’s reckless decisions turns their trip abroad into a harrowing manhunt that spans across Europe, it calls into question everything he knows, including his relationship with the boy he adores.

E H Timms suggested:

Replica by Jack Heath

Published: August 7th, 2014 by Oxford University Press
Genre: YA Science Fiction
Amazon / Book Depository

Summary (from goodreads): 'Whose body is that on the table?' I ask.

She stares at me, as though the answer is obvious. 'It's yours,' she says.

Before I have time to scream, she types a command on the keyboard. My consciousness whirls away like storm water down a drain.

Chloe wakes up to find all her memories have been wiped. And the only person who knows what happened is a teenage girl who looks and sounds exactly like her.

Who is she? And what does she want?

Chloe is running out of time to discover the truth. But she's in even more danger than she realizes, and nothing is as it seems...

Ann Elise Monte linked me to this list which I think is awesome, and a few selections from that are:

The Shattering by Karen Healey

Published: September 5th, 2011 by Little, Brown and Company
Genre: YA Mystery/Paranormal
Amazon / Book Depository / Indiebound

Summary (from goodreads): "If you want to find out who murdered your brother, follow me."

Keri, Janna, and Sione have one thing in common: Their older brothers are dead. Each death was ruled a suicide, but there were no notes, no warnings, and no explanations.

So they've worked out a theory: Their brothers were murdered - and weren't the only victims.

As the search for the serial killer goes on, mysterious forces are unearthed and suspicion is cast on the those the three trust most. When secrets shatter around them, can they save the next victim? Or will they become victims themselves?

Songs That Sound Like Blood by Jared Thomas

Published: August 1st, 2016 by Magabala Books
Genre: Contemporary YA

Summary (from goodreads): Roxy May Redding’s got music in her soul and songs in her blood. She lives in a hot dusty town and is dreaming big. She survives run-ins with the mean girls at high school, sings in her dad’s band and babysits for her wayward aunt. But Roxy wants a new start. When she gets the chance to study music in the big city, she takes it. Roxy’s new life, her new friends and her music collide in a way she could never have imagined.

Being a poor student sucks... navigating her way through the pressure of a national music competition has knobs on it... singing for her dinner is soul destroying... but nothing prepares Roxy for her biggest challenge. Her crush on Ana, the local music journo, forces her to steer her way through a complex maze of emotions alien to this small town girl. Family and friends watch closely as Roxy takes a confronting journey to find out who the hell she is.

The Rosebush Murders by Ruth Shidlo

Published: October 31st, 2012 by Hoopoe Publishing
Genre: Adult Mystery
Amazon (as of writing this post the kindle version is FREE) / Indiebound

Summary (from goodreads): In this first Helen Mirkin novel, Jerusalem-based Detective Inspector Helen Mirkin is challenged with solving the murder of psychologist Dr. Danielle Hall. Before much progress is made, a second murder occurs. Are they related?

The investigation takes DI Mirkin to a state-of-the-art fertility clinic. How does this fit in? Is the killer trying to cover their tracks? Can they be stopped before more die?

Fingersmith by Sarah Waters

Published: October 1st, 2002
Genre: Adult Historical Mystery
Amazon / Book Depository / Indiebound

Summary (from goodreads): Sue Trinder is an orphan, left as an infant in the care of Mrs. Sucksby, a "baby farmer," who raised her with unusual tenderness, as if Sue were her own. Mrs. Sucksby’s household, with its fussy babies calmed with doses of gin, also hosts a transient family of petty thieves—fingersmiths—for whom this house in the heart of a mean London slum is home.

One day, the most beloved thief of all arrives—Gentleman, an elegant con man, who carries with him an enticing proposition for Sue: If she wins a position as the maid to Maud Lilly, a naïve gentlewoman, and aids Gentleman in her seduction, then they will all share in Maud’s vast inheritance. Once the inheritance is secured, Maud will be disposed of—passed off as mad, and made to live out the rest of her days in a lunatic asylum.

With dreams of paying back the kindness of her adopted family, Sue agrees to the plan. Once in, however, Sue begins to pity her helpless mark and care for Maud Lilly in unexpected ways...But no one and nothing is as it seems in this Dickensian novel of thrills and reversals.

(Laina note - I think they made a BBC series of this, too!)

My dearest Luci suggested these:

Black Deutschland by Darryl Pinckney

Published: February 2nd, 2016 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Genre: Adult historical fiction
Amazon / Book Depository / Indiebound

Summary (from goodreads): Jed--young, gay, black, out of rehab and out of prospects in his hometown of Chicago--flees to the city of his fantasies, a museum of modernism and decadence: Berlin. The paradise that tyranny created, the subsidized city isolated behind the Berlin Wall, is where he's chosen to become the figure that he so admires, the black American expatriate. Newly sober and nostalgic for the Weimar days of Isherwood and Auden, Jed arrives to chase boys and to escape from what it means to be a black male in America.

But history, both personal and political, can't be avoided with time or distance. Whether it's the judgment of the cousin he grew up with and her husband's bourgeois German family, the lure of white wine in a down-and-out bar, a gang of racists looking for a brawl, or the ravaged visage of Rock Hudson flashing behind the face of every white boy he desperately longs for, the past never stays past even in faraway Berlin. In the age of Reagan and AIDS in a city on the verge of tearing down its walls, he clambers toward some semblance of adulthood amid the outcasts and expats, intellectuals and artists, queers and misfits. And, on occasion, the city keeps its Isherwood promises and the boy he kisses, incredibly, kisses him back.

Get It Together, Delilah! by Erin Gough (also known as The Flywheel)

Published: February 1st, 2015 by Hardie Grant Egmont
Genre: Contemporary YA
Amazon / Book Depository / Indiebound

Summary (from goodreads): Seventeen-year-old Delilah Green wouldn't have chosen to do her last year of school this way, but she figures it's working fine. While her dad goes on a trip to fix his broken heart after her mom left him for another man, Del manages the family cafe. Easy, she thinks.

But what about homework? Or the nasty posse of mean girls making her life hell? Or her best friend who won't stop guilt-tripping her? Or her other best friend who might go to jail for love if Del doesn't do something? But really, who cares about any of that when all Del can think about is beautiful Rosa who dances every night across the street. . . . Until one day Rosa comes in the cafe door. And if Rosa starts thinking about Del, too, then how in the name of caramel milkshakes will Del get the rest of it together?

(Laina note: My library doesn't have this and I'm bummed. It looks cute!)

Books I found in this article, this blog, and random other places on the internet.

If You Could Be Mine by Sara Farizan

Published: August 20th, 2013 by Alqonquin Young Readers
Genre: Contemporary YA
Amazon / Book Depository / Indiebound

Summary (from goodreads): Seventeen-year-old Sahar has been in love with her best friend, Nasrin, since they were six. They’ve shared stolen kisses and romantic promises. But Iran is a dangerous place for two girls in love—Sahar and Nasrin could be beaten, imprisoned, even executed if their relationship came to light.

So they carry on in secret—until Nasrin’s parents announce that they’ve arranged for her marriage. Nasrin tries to persuade Sahar that they can go on as they have been, only now with new comforts provided by the decent, well-to-do doctor Nasrin will marry. But Sahar dreams of loving Nasrin exclusively—and openly.

Then Sahar discovers what seems like the perfect solution. In Iran, homosexuality may be a crime, but to be a man trapped in a woman’s body is seen as nature’s mistake, and sex reassignment is legal and accessible. As a man, Sahar could be the one to marry Nasrin. Sahar will never be able to love the one she wants, in the body she wants to be loved in, without risking her life. Is saving her love worth sacrificing her true self?

(Laina note: I've heard mixed things about this. Look up reviews and stuff. I'm just saying this exists, not endorsing it, or saying anything one way or another.) (Maybe look up the real life situation with tihs, too, for context.)

A Darkly Beating Heart by Lindsay Smith

Published: October 25th, 2016 by Roaring Brook Press
Genre: YA... Science Fiction or Fantasy, I'm not entirely sure.
Amazon / Book Depository / Indiebound

Summary (from goodreads): No one knows what to do with Reiko. She is full of hatred. All she can think about is how to best hurt herself and the people closest to her. After a failed suicide attempt, Reiko’s parents send her from their Seattle home to spend the summer with family in Japan to learn to control her emotions.

But while visiting Kuramagi, a historic village preserved to reflect the nineteenth-century Edo period, Reiko finds herself slipping back in time into the life of Miyu, a young woman even more bent on revenge than Reiko herself. Reiko loves being Miyu, until she discovers the secret of Kuramagi village, and must face down Miyu’s demons as well as her own.

Our Own Private Universe by Robin Talley

Published: January 1st, 2017 by Harlequin Teen
Genre: Contemporary YA
Amazon / Book Depository / Indiebound

Summary (from goodreads): Fifteen-year-old Aki Simon has a theory. And it's mostly about sex.

No, it isn't that kind of theory. Aki already knows she's bisexual—even if, until now, it's mostly been in the hypothetical sense. Aki has dated only guys so far, and her best friend, Lori, is the only person who knows she likes girls, too.

Actually, Aki's theory is that she's got only one shot at living an interesting life—and that means she's got to stop sitting around and thinking so much. It's time for her to actually do something. Or at least try.

So when Aki and Lori set off on a church youth-group trip to a small Mexican town for the summer and Aki meets Christa—slightly older, far more experienced—it seems her theory is prime for the testing.

But it's not going to be easy. For one thing, how exactly do two girls have sex, anyway? And more important, how can you tell if you're in love? It's going to be a summer of testing theories—and the result may just be love.

Another Word For Happy by Agay Llanera

Published: January 30th, 2017
Genre: Contemporary YA

Summary (from goodreads): What does it take to come out of the closet?

Since he was thirteen, Caleb has always known he’s gay. Now a college freshman, he falls in love for the first time. If it’s true that love conquers all, then will Caleb finally find the courage to reveal his secret?

In this tale about family, friendship and self-discovery, find out how Caleb discovers the path to the freedom he’s always longed for. Here’s a hint: it involves doing things outside his comfort zone, such as joining a spoken word group!

(Laina note - how adorable is this cover?)

Kaleidoscope Song by Fox Benwell

Published: To be released September 19th, 2017 by Simon and Schuster Books for Young Readers
Genre: Contemporary YA
Amazon / Book Depository / Indiebound

Summary (from goodreads): South Africa is loud. Listen. Do you hear the song and dance of it? The chorus of Khayelitsha life? Every voice is different, its pitch and tone and intonation as distinct as the words we choose and how we wrap our mouths around them. But everybody has a voice, and everybody sings…

Fifteen year old Neo loves music, it punctuates her life and shapes the way she views the world. A life in radio is all she’s ever wanted.
When Umzi Radio broadcasts live in a nearby bar Neo can’t resist. She sneaks out to see them, and she falls in love, with music, and the night, but also with a girl: Tale has a voice like coffee poured into a bright steel mug, and she commands the stage.

It isn’t normal. Isn’t right. Neo knows that she’s supposed to go to school and get a real job and find a nice young boy to settle down with. It’s written everywhere – in childhood games, and playground questions, in the textbooks, in her parents’ faces. But Tale and music are underneath her skin, and try as she might, she can’t stop thinking about them.

(Laina note - okay, this one isn't out yet, but if you have an ARC you could use it. Also I'm just excited about it.)

The Other Me by Suzanne van Rooyen

Published: December 19th, 2013 by Harmony Ink Press
Genre: Contemporary YA
Amazon / Book Depository / Indiebound

Summary (from goodreads): Fifteen-year-old Treasa Prescott thinks she's an alien. She doesn't fit in with the preppy South African private school crowd and feels claustrophobic in her own skin. Treasa is worried she might spend life as a social pariah when she meets Gabriel du Preez. Gabriel plays the piano better than Beethoven, has a black belt in karate, and would look good wearing a garbage bag. Treasa thinks he's perfect. It might even be love, as long as Gabriel doesn't find out she's a freak.

As Treasa spends time with Gabriel, she realizes she might not love him as much as she wants to be him, and that the reason she feels uncomfortable in her skin might have less to do with extra-terrestrial origins and more to do with being born in the wrong body.

But Gabriel is not the perfect boy Treasa imagines. He harbors dark secrets and self-destructive tendencies. Still, Treasa might be able to accept Gabriel's baggage if he can accept who she longs to be.

When Love Comes to Town by Tom Lennon

Published: Originally released in 1993, it was re-released in 2013 by Albert Whitman Company
Genre: Contemporary YA
Amazon / Book Depository / Indiebound

Summary (from goodreads): The year is 1990, and in his hometown of Dublin, Ireland, Neil Byrne plays rugby, keeps up with the in-crowd at his school, and is just a regular guy. A guy who’s gay. It’s a secret he keeps from the wider world as he explores the city at night and struggles to figure out how to reveal his real self—and to whom. First published in Ireland in 1993 and compared to The Catcher in the Rye by critics, Tom Lennon’s When Love Comes to Town is told with honesty, humor, and originality.

(Laina note - this book is almost as old as I am! This could be super interesting to read and see how it compares to modern YA and what's changed.)

365 Days by K. E. Payne

Published: June 14th, 2011 by Bold Strokes Books
Genre: Contemporary YA
Amazon / Book Depository / Indiebound

Summary (from goodreads): One mixed-up girl, one dull boy, two hot distractions. How does one figure it all out?

Life sucks when you’re fifteen years old, confused about your sexuality, and the girl of your dreams doesn’t even know you exist. The sudden entrance of a hot new emo at school only adds to the confusion.

Clemmie Atkins thinks she's in love with her school friend, the mysterious and alluring J. Devastated that J doesn’t even seem to know she exists, Clemmie tries to escape her feelings by dating the nice but dim Ben. Unfortunately for Clemmie—and Josh—J just won’t leave her head, or her heart.


In walks sexy new-girl, Hannah Harrison. Before long, dreams of Hannah begin to eclipse the impossible thoughts of J and the boredom of Ben. Clemmie has exactly 365 days to discover herself, and she’s going to have a blast doing it!

(Laina note - I'm pretty sure this is set in the UK. If not, at least this book by the author is.)


Street Dreams by Tama Wise

Published: March 13th, 2012 by Bold Strokes Books
Genre: Contemporary YA
Amazon / Book Depository / Indiebound

Summary (from goodreads): Tyson Rua has more than his fair share of problems growing up in South Auckland. Working a night job to support his mother and helping bring up his two younger brothers is just the half of it. His best friend Rawiri is falling afoul of a broken home, and now Tyson's fallen in love at first sight.

Only thing is, it's another guy.

Living life on the sidelines of the local hip-hop scene, Tyson finds that to succeed in becoming a local graffiti artist or in getting the man of his dreams, he's going to have to get a whole lot more involved. And that means more problems. The least of which is the leader of the local rap crew he's found himself running with. Love, life, and hip-hop never do things by half.

Nightsiders by Sue Isle

Published: March 28th, 2011 by Twelfth Planet Press
Genre: Dystopian YA... anthology? It's like four short stories that make up the book.

Summary (from goodreads): In a future world of extreme climate change, Perth, Western Australia’s capital city, has been abandoned. Most people were evacuated to the East by the late ’30s and organised infrastructure and services have gone.

A few thousand obstinate and independent souls cling to the city and to the southern towns. Living mostly by night to endure the fierce temperatures, they are creating a new culture in defiance of official expectations. A teenage girl stolen from her family as a child; a troupe of street actors who affect their new culture with memories of the old; a boy born into the wrong body; and a teacher who is pushed into the role of guide tell the story of The Nightside.

Wildthorn by Jane Eagland

Published: May 1st, 2009 by Picador
Genre: Historical YA
Amazon / Book Depository / Indiebound

Summary (from goodreads): Seventeen-year-old Louisa Cosgrove longs to break free from her respectable life as a Victorian doctor's daughter. But her dreams become a nightmare when Louisa is sent to Wildthorn Hall: labeled a lunatic, deprived of her liberty and even her real name.

As she unravels the betrayals that led to her incarceration, she realizes there are many kinds of prison. She must be honest with herself - and others - in order to be set free. And love may be the key...

(Laina note - Queer historical fiction AWWW YEAH. I want more of that!)

Hidden Voices by Pat Lowery Collins

Published: May 12th, 2009 by Candlewick Press
Genre: Historical YA
Amazon / Book Depository / Indiebound

Summary (from goodreads): It is a longing and search for love that motivates three girls living in the Ospedale della Pietà, an orphanage renowned for its extraordinary musical program.

But for Rosalba, Anetta, and Luisa, the love they seek is not where they expect to find it. Set in the early 1700s in the heart of Venice, this remarkable novel deftly weaves the history of Antonio Vivaldi’s early musical career into the lives of three young women who excel in voice and instrument.

Under the composer’s tutelage and care, the orphans find expression, sustenance, and passion. But can the sheltered life of the orphanage prepare them for the unthinkable dangers outside its walls?

(Laina note - yeah, like that!)

Swimming in the Monsoon Sea by Shyam Selvadurai

Published: September 13th, 2005 by Tundra Books
Genre: Contemporary bordering on historical YA (1980, y'all)
Amazon / Book Depository / Indiebound

Summary (from goodreads): The setting is Sri Lanka, 1980, and it is the season of monsoons. Fourteen-year-old Amrith is caught up in the life of the cheerful, well-to-do household in which he is being raised by his vibrant Auntie Bundle and kindly Uncle Lucky. He tries not to think of his life “before,” when his doting mother was still alive.

Amrith’s holiday plans seem unpromising: he wants to appear in his school’s production of Othello and he is learning to type at Uncle Lucky’s tropical fish business. Then, like an unexpected monsoon, his cousin arrives from Canada and Amrith’s ordered life is storm-tossed. He finds himself falling in love with the Canadian boy. Othello, with its powerful theme of disastrous jealousy, is the backdrop to the drama in which Amrith finds himself immersed.

Alex as Well by Alyssa Brugman

Published: January 30th, 2013 by Text Publishing
Genre: Contemporary YA
Amazon / Book Depository / Indiebound

Summary (from goodreads): What do you do when everybody says you’re someone you’re not?

Alex wants change. Massive change. More radical than you could imagine.

Her mother is not happy, in fact she’s imploding. Her dad walked out.

Alex has turned vegetarian, ditched one school, enrolled in another, thrown out her clothes. And created a new identity. An identity that changes her world.

And Alex—the other Alex—has a lot to say about it.

Okay, so I think you'll all be able to find something to read! Appreciate the crud out of this list, please, because it took me like two days.

Peace and popsicles,