Thursday, June 28, 2018

Queer Summer Reading 2018 Graphics

Alright, Scouts, let's talk graphics. You might have noticed this one in the beginning of the QSR posts I've made.



Now this one is sized specifically to fit perfectly in my blog because, you know, I can. But, we have several of those available that you can download and use wherever you want.

We also have our bingo cards that I kind of love, not to brag too much:


If you're on mobile, since my layout hides my sidebar for the sake of, you know, not bogging down the load times and taking two hours, you may have also missed this beauty.

You can grab this and put anywhere that takes HTML. Otherwise, you can download the photo and put it wherever you want. Feel free to have fun with our graphics.

grab button for Queer Summer Reading 2018
<div class="queer-summer-reading-2018" style="width: 185px; margin: 0 auto;">
<a href="https://lainahastoomuchsparetime.blogspot.com/p/queer-summer-reading-masterlist-2018.html" rel="nofollow">
<img src="https://1.bp.blogspot.com/-VqxyfBtp6Hw/WxEFzQyyVfI/AAAAAAAAO-s/KRBAV1A5BNQVqvoXFZ-pt315oHjjVmZVwCLcBGAs/s1600/2018%2Bbutton%2Blarge.jpg" alt="Queer Summer Reading 2018" width="185" height="165" />
</a>
</div>

The link to the drive is here, so go check it out.

To download, just double click a picture and then hit download.


(Click to enlarge.)

We also have something that I think is really fun, that I think will be great for posting on Twitter or blog posts, or anything you want.


This honestly is kind of my favourite thing we have this year. I'm so happy with it!

We're getting so close!! Are you all as excited as I am?

Peace and popsicles,
Laina

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Can't Wait Wednesday (13)

Can't Wait Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Tressa of Wishful Endings. It's based on Waiting on Wednesday, which was created by Jill Breaking the Spine.

We've got a middle grade book this week!

Worth a Thousand Words by Brigit Young

Release date: August 14th, 2019 by Roaring Brook Press
Amazon / Book Depository / Indiebound

Summary (from goodreads): Whether it’s earrings, homework, or love notes, Tillie “Lost and Found” Green and her camera can find any lost thing—until a search for a missing person forces her to step out from behind the lens.

Ever since a car accident left Tillie Green with lasting painful injuries, she's hidden behind her camera. Through the lenses, she watches her family and classmates, tracking down misplaced items and spotting the small details that tell a much bigger story than the one people usually see. But she isn’t prepared for class clown Jake Hausmann’s request: to find his father. In a matter of days, Tillie goes from silent observer to one half of a detective duo, searching for clues to the mystery of Jake’s dad’s disappearance. When the truth isn’t what Jake wants it to be, and taking photographs starts exposing people’s secrets, Tillie has to decide what—and who—is truly important to her.

Why I'm excited: I think the idea of a middle grade book with a MC with chronic pain sounds really, really interesting, and unique. I also love the mystery angle. All around this sounds like totally my thing.

What are you looking forward to this week?

Peace and cookies,
Laina

Monday, June 25, 2018

Things I've Read Recently (73): Some Incredibly Random Books

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.

Abel's Island by William Steig

Published: Originally released May 1976, my edition was probably released in 2005, although it doesn't say. There's been a lot of reprints of this, and is a kindle version.
Genre: Middle grade adventure is what I'm going to go with because, you know, anthropomorphic mice aren't really contemporary and it's not really clear when this is set, but I think it might be historical?
Binding: Paperback
Page Count: 117 plus there are two full page illustrations at the very end of the book.
Part of a series? No, I don't believe so.
Got via: It looks like I bought it at a yard sale at some point.
Amazon / Book Depository / Indiebound

Summary (from goodreads): A wild August torrent sweeps Abel Mouse away from home, family, and familiar world to an uninhabited island where, between efforts to return home, he makes new discoveries about himself and the world.

Thoughts: This is like a less brutal version of Hatchet starring a rich mouse. I can't honestly say I was that wowed by it, honestly. It's not just the age, either. Some old books age really well, as we've seen here before, and obviously people like it since it got a recent reprint, but I found it just kind of... dull. And "rich privileged dude mouse" is probably not my first choice in protagonist, lol.

With all the great books out there these days, I don't think the voice of this would really capture kids these days and I would not re-read it. I'm going to pass this one on and I wouldn't really say it's something you should rush to seek out unless you have childhood memories of it or something.

Also apparently there was a short film made based on this? I watched a clip of it and, sorry Tim Curry, even you can't make me interested in it.

The Summer of the Falcon by Jean Craighead George

Published: First published in 1962, this edition is from Harper and Row somewhere between 1979 and 1983. There's also a kindle version, but I don't think there are any current physical printings.
Genre: Historical YA (Not just because of its age - it's set in the 30s)
Binding: Paperback
Page Count: 153
Part of a series? No, I don't believe so.
Got via: It was weeded from my library, although it's in surprisingly good shape for that. I don't know it was checked out as a ton.
Amazon / AbeBooks

Summary (from goodreads): The summer June Pritchard turns thirteen, her family gives her a sparrow hawk to train. She names him Zander, and over the next three summers she helps him develop the natural hunting instincts he will need in his adult falcon life. Zander, in turn, helps June understand the natural world around her and the delicate balance of life, growth, and death that exists in nature.

June is growing into a young woman, and she is finding it hard to accept the added responsibilities of her approaching adulthood. She wants freedom more than anything, but first she must learn - for both herself and her falcon - that freedom without self-discipline means nothing.

Thoughts: This is kind of frustrating because the writing is great, but the subject matter frustrated me so badly. It's so ridiculously sexist, and I don't care that it was written in the sixties and set in the thirties, because you know what, feminism existed in the sixties and the author made a choice to write the most frustratingly sexist characters. Her brothers are like two years older than her, and they can't set the table when she's left alone to run the house and instead she has to clean up behind them and make their beds??? Why?? Let them suffer if they want to be jerks.

I just. I can't even. This message that you must be forced into things you have no interest in because girl is so terrible and might be part of the reason this muscle in my forehead won't stop twitching. I just. I know books age, and I'm not angry at this like I'd be angry at a modern book, but it's still really frustrating. It's also casually racist which I'm sure no one is surprised by, and there's one point where June ogles her cousin a little too much.

Come to think of it - the next book I'm reading for this post mentions the Great Depression like a lot - how come this book never brings it up? They're set at the same time.

Again, I think the author's descriptions and prose are wonderful when I don't want to murder the characters, lol. I actually did enjoy a lot of it. But I'm going to get rid of it. And if you have a lot of nostalgia for this one, maybe don't reread it. I actually do think this could be adapted into an interesting modern movie, though, if you went a little less in the "your role in live is inevitable" route.

Sarah and Katie by Dori White

Published: Originally published in 1972, this version is from Harper Trophy and was probably released in 1973. The library stamp that I can make out that's the oldest is 1976.
Genre: Historical MG (Again, it's set in the 30s and written in the 70s, so it was historical at the time as well)
Binding: Paperback
Page Count: 168
Part of a series? I do not believe so.
Got via: It was a weeded library book.
Amazon / AbeBooks

Summary (from goodreads): Sarah and Katie are best friends. Together they have written a play for their class to perform at Thanksgiving. But when a beautiful new girl, Melanie, joins their class, Sarah is fascinated by her. As director of the play, Sarah picks Melanie rather than Katie to play the leading roles. And things start to go wrong.

Thoughts: Okay, first off, this is a scan of my actual copy, and let's talk about a couple things about that. One, it's pretty gross and boy my scanner picked that up incredibly well. This book is forty years old and there's not a lot of information about it or the author online. It doesn't, in fact, seem like the author wrote any other books. Which is kind of sad. It seems she died in 2007. I hope she was happy. Goodreads does have a slightly cleaner-looking photo, but it's much smaller. I'm going to include it to talk about a thing that I have before.

This is apparently another old book that was yellow and turned pink! I wish I had more pictures of this, because I find it so interesting how so many books that were originally deep mustard colours or bright yellows eventually turn this not very pretty, pale peachy-pink. I'm so curious about how this happens and why so many books end up such a close shade to each other.

Okay, now on to the actual book.

It was fine. I did appreciate that they actually mentioned the Depression, and I thought the attitude about it being absolutely fine to get help when you needed it wasn't bad at all. Sarah's mom also is fat and it's handled very well. Her illustrations even draw her that way, and it's not exaggerated or stereotyped. She's just a mom who's all round and soft, and it's nice.

There's some casual racism that you'd expect from a book written in the 70s and set in the 30s, and overall there's really nothing special to it besides that in the modern world it reads as exceptionally queer. Sarah is super fascinated about Melanie and it honestly reads like she has a crush on her. Like hugely. Girlfriend smells Melanie's perfume and gets super excited about it while sitting next to her. Also, the book does do the "gay old time" thing including Melanie smiling "gaily" at them.

Reader, I laughed a lot.

Anyways, it's not the worst thing I've ever read, and if you have nostalgia for this, I don't think it would hurt to pick up a copy, but it's not one I'm super drawn to. Also it's physically kind of gross. I'm gonna pass it on, but it was a cute read.

Cheater, Cheater by Elizabeth Levy

Published: December 1st, 1994 by Scholastic
Genre: Contemporary MG
Binding: Paperback
Page Count: 164 plus an about the author and a list of other books from the Apple Paperbacks imprint.
Part of a series? I do not believe so.
Got via: It was a weeded library book as well.
Amazon / AbeBooks

Summary (from goodreads): The only thing Lucy wanted to do was get the attention of the most popular boy in school. She didn't mean to hurt anyone. It was just a silly game. And now, the very person she wanted to impress is telling everyone that she's a cheater!

There's only one problem - the rumor is true.

Thoughts: If I read the word "cheat" again, it'll stop looking like a real word. This is another one that's just fine. It's really dated, weirdly focused on the Indiana basketball team, and had some mildly offensive moments.

It's a pretty average book overall. The funniest thing was the fashion descriptions, like a large shirt that looks "like a patchwork quilt", or another character wearing red glasses, a red miniskirt, and a red school sweatshirt. Good fashion descriptions in 90s books crack me up.

This just didn't do that much for me and I don't really have a ton to say about it. It was fine. I wouldn't read it again and I'm going to pass it along.

Okay, so. Am I getting rid of all four of these books? Wow, good for me. It's a little bit of a bummer there weren't any hidden gems, but oh well.

At least it was a good decluttering session!

Peace and cookies,
Laina

Friday, June 22, 2018

Waiting on Wednesday Update (1)

This is something I thought could be interesting. I probably won't do it too often because these posts take a while to write and they'd probably get annoying to do constantly, but I thought an interesting thing to do would be to look at my old Waiting on Wednesday posts and talk about if I actually ever did read the book, if I liked it if I did, and if I haven't, would I or not. That kind of thing.

Since I used to do two books a post, I'll generally do five WoWs per post, and that'll get us ten books per post, but this one will just have four since I had two posts with three books.

...that's a lot of numbers. Don't worry about the numbers. I'll do the worrying for you. Let's just get into this!

WoWed March 4th, 2009:

Feast of Fools by Rachel Caine (The Morganville Vampires, Book Four)

Release date: June 3rd, 2008

(Summary from goodreads): The wait is over... dig into the feast.

In the town of Morganville, vampires and humans live in relative peace.

Student Claire Danvers has never been convinced, though, especially with the arrival of Mr. Bishop, an ancient, old-school vampire who cares nothing about harmony.

What he wants from the town's living and its dead is unthinkably sinister. It's only at a formal ball, attended by vampires and their human dates, that Claire realizes the elaborately evil trap he's set for Morganville.

Lord of Misrule by Rachel Caine (The Morganville Vampires, Book Five)

Release date: January 6th, 2009

(Summary from goodreads): In the college town of Morganville, vampires and humans coexist in (relatively) bloodless harmony.

Then comes Bishop, the master vampire who threatens to abolish all order, revive the forces of the evil dead, and let chaos rule. But Bishop isn't the only threat.

Violent black cyclone clouds hover, promising a storm of devastating proportions as student Claire Danvers and her friends prepare to defend Morganville against elements both natural and unnatural.

(These have really short summaries that messes up my formatting. This text is solely here so it doesn't annoy me.)

Carpe Corpus by Rachel Caine (The Morganville Vampires, Book Six)

Release date: June 2nd, 2009

Summary (from goodreads): In the small college town of Morganville, vampires and humans lived in (relative) peace.

Until all the rules got rewritten when the evil vampire Bishop arrived, looking for the lost book of vampire secrets.

He's kept a death grip on the town ever since. Now an underground resistance is brewing, and in order to contain it, Bishop must go to even greater lengths. He vows to obliterate the town and all its inhabitants-the living and the undead.

Claire Danvers and her friends are the only ones who stand in his way. But even if they defeat Bishop, will the vampires ever be content to go back to the old rules, after having such a taste of power?

Update: So, I own and have read all three of these. I really used to like this series and read them as soon as they came out. I own everything up to Kiss of Death. Hey, maybe I should put the rest of the series on my Amazon wishlist and maybe finish it. I might do that.

Interesting fact, in March 2009 I could not get a book that had been released in 2008. That is what access to a limited library looks like, my literary... listeners. (The alliteration got away from me a little bit there.)

WoWed March 11th, 2009:

The Morgue and Me by John C. Ford

Release date: June 25th, 2009

Summary (from goodreads): Christopher just needed a job to kill time the summer after high school graduation. He didn't expect it to be in the morgue. Or that he would accidentally discover a murder cover-up.

Or that his discovery would lead him to a full-blown investigation involving bribery, kidnappings, more murders... and his best friend. And he certainly could never have predicted that Tina - loud, insanely hot, ambitious newspaper reporter Tina - would be his partner.

But all of that did happen. And Christopher's life will never be the same.

Update: I honestly am not reading very many books by dudes these days, especially white/nonqueer dudes. Sorry! The summary isn't doing a lot for me either, honestly. Did not read it, and I think I would pass on doing so.

Me and the Blondes by Teresa Toten

Release date: April 25th, 2006 by Puffin

Summary (from goodreads): Sophie Kandinsky has spent the last six years trying to keep her crazy family life secret. The devil is in the details. The first detail is her larger-than-life, eccentric, Bulgarian mother. The slightly larger detail is the fact that her gentle, poet-father has been charged with murder. All Sophie wants is to be adored and invincible, which is really hard once people find out her father’s in prison.

But this time, after yet another move to another new school, and another opportunity to wipe the slate clean, Sophie has devised a plan. On her first day of school, she will locate The Blondes—that clique of perfect, confident girls who are beyond gossip and reproach—and she will make them her friends. This time, no one will find out the truth. This time, everything will be brilliant.

Update: I had already read this, but I didn't understand how regional releases worked. Ah, the follies of my youth.

Better than Blonde by Teresa Toten

Release date: April 3rd, 2007

Summary (from goodreads): Life is almost ... well ... potentially perfect for Sophie Kandinsky. As it turns out, the Blondes were as dazzled by her as she was by them, and Sophie enters grade ten at Northern Heights smack in the centre of the power grid.

There will be no more cascading lies and secrets from her, but the Blondes—now that’s another story. And her eccentric Aunties are still peppering Sophie with their eccentric advice on life, love, and how to land the elusive Luke Pearson. But in the end, the best and biggest news is also the worst.

After seven years, Sophie’s beloved Papa is finally out of prison. Papa is home. Trouble is ... he’s supposed to be dead. No more lies? No more secrets?

Update: I never read this one, and apparently a third one was released in 2011. I'm kinda curious about them now, and if they've aged well at all.

WoWed March 26th, 2009:

Fairy Tale by Cyn Balog

Release date: June 23rd, 2009

Summary (from goodreads): Morgan Sparks has always known that she and her boyfriend, Cam, are made for each other. But when Cam’s cousin Pip comes to stay with the family, Cam seems depressed. Finally Cam confesses to Morgan what’s going on: Cam is a fairy. The night he was born, fairies came down and switched him with a healthy human boy. Nobody expected Cam to live, and nobody expected his biological brother, heir to the fairy throne, to die. But both things happened, and now the fairies want Cam back to take his rightful place as Fairy King.

Even as Cam physically changes, becoming more miserable each day, he and Morgan pledge to fool the fairies and stay together forever. But by the time Cam has to decide once and for all what to do, Morgan’s no longer sure what’s best for everyone, or whether her and Cam’s love can weather an uncertain future.

Update: I never read this, but I think I gave away bookmarks of it for a while whenever I did giveaways. I probably wouldn't seek this one out from the library or anything, but if I saw it at a yard sale or something, I'd grab it. There are other books by the author I'm more interested in, though.

Bones of Faerie by Janni Lee Simner

Released: January 27th, 2009

Summary (from goodreads): The war between humanity and Faerie devastated both sides.

Or so 15-year-old Liza has been told.

Nothing has been seen or heard from Faerie since, and Liza's world bears the scars of its encounter with magic. Trees move with sinister intention, and the town Liza calls home is surrounded by a forest that threatens to harm all those who wander into it. Then Liza discovers she has the Faerie ability to see into the past, into the future and she has no choice but to flee her town.

Liza's quest will take her into Faerie and back again, and what she finds along the way may be the key to healing both worlds.

Update: Similar story here where I never read this one and probably wouldn't seek it out, but wouldn't pass it by if I saw it somewhere.

Wings by Aprilynne Pike

Released: May 5th, 2009

Summary (from goodreads): Laurel was mesmerized, staring at the pale things with wide eyes. They were terrifyingly beautiful—too beautiful for words.

Laurel turned to the mirror again, her eyes on the hovering petals that floated beside her head. They looked almost like wings.

In this extraordinary tale of magic and intrigue, romance and danger, everything you thought you knew about faeries will be changed forever.

Update: Ditto for this one, although part of me has a feeling this one has probably aged the poorest. Not to be rude, I just have that gut feeling.

Also, wow, all these covers were so similar. That had to be Twilight influence, right?

Alyzon Whitestarr by Isobelle Carmody

Released: September 26th, 2005 but it was re-released in 2009 which was why I was just hearing about it.

Summary (from goodreads): Are Alyzon’s new abilities a blessing... or a curse?

Alyzon Whitestarr doesn't take after her musically talented father or her nocturnal, artistic mother. In fact, she’s the most normal member of a very eccentric family... until the day that an accident leaves her more unique than she ever could have dreamed.

Suddenly colors are more vibrant to Alyzon; her memory is flawless; but strangest of all is Alyzon’s sense of smell. Her best friend smells of a comforting sea breeze. She registers her father’s contentment as the sweet scent of caramelized sugar. But why does the cutest guy in school smell so rancid?

With Alyzon’s extrasensory perception comes intrigue and danger, as she becomes aware of the dark secrets and hidden ambitions that threaten her family. In the end, being different might be less of a blessing than a curse....

Update: Never read this one, and I probably won't ever seek it out unless I heard something absolutely amazeballs about it.

Kaleidoscrope Eyes by Jen Bryant

Released: May 12th, 2009

Summary (from goodreads): Will Lyza's 1968 summer mystery lead to... pirate treasure?

When Lyza helps her dad clean out her late grandfather's house, a mysterious surprise brightens the sad task. In Gramps's dusty attic, Lyza discovers three maps, carefully folded and stacked, bound by a single rubber band. On top, an envelope says For Lyza ONLY.

What could this possibly be? It takes the help of her two best friends, Malcolm and Carolann, to figure out that the maps reveal three possible spots in their own New Jersey town where Captain Kidd (the Captain Kidd, seventeenth-century pirate) may have buried a treasure.

Can three thirteen-year-olds actually conduct a secret treasure hunt? And what will they find?

Update: Actually, while I never read this one, I'm going to put it on my to-read list. It sounds fun, and apparently it's told in verse and that sounds really cool. Good choice, past!Me.

Meridian by Amber Kizer

Released: August 11th, 2009

Summary (from goodreads): Meridian has always been an outcast. It seems that wherever she goes, death and grief follow. On her sixteenth birthday, a car crashes in front of her family's home - and although she's untouched, Meridian's body explodes in pain.

Before she can fully recover, Meridian is told that she's a danger to her family and is hustled off to her great-aunt's house in Revelation, Colorado. There she learns the secret her parents have been hiding for her entire life: Meridian is a Fenestra. the half-angel, half-human link between the living and the dead.

It's crucial that Meridian learn how to transition human souls to the afterlife - how to help people die. Only then can she help preserve the balance between good and evil on earth. But before she can do that, Meridian must come to terms with her ability, outsmart the charismatic preacher who's taken over Revelation, and maybe - if she can accept her sworn protector, Tens, for who he is - fall in love. Meridian and Tens face great danger from the Aternocti, a band of dark forces who capture vulnerable souls on the brink of death and cause chaos. But together, they have the power to outsmart evil.

Update: The sound of this one doesn't do much for me now. I'm not that into angel/demon books anymore. The cover is really pretty, though.

Well, that was interesting! I'm kind of excited to do this again, and see what other books I talked about previously, and what I think about them now.

What did you all think? Have you ever done anything like this before? Do any of these books strike your fancy? Thanks for reading and leave me a comment with an answer!

Peace and cookies,
Laina

Thursday, June 21, 2018

QSR: Twitter Chat Schedule

Hey Scouts! How's everyone doing? Are you getting ready?

One thing that we loved doing last year and are super excited to bring back are twitter chats. This year we decided to have one every Saturday at the same time, so it's a bit easier to remember when they're happening.

Welcome Chat: July 7th 6pm UTC / 11am PDT / 2pm EDT
To find your time, click here.

Come introduce yourself, share your reading plans or ask for recommendations, talk about your summer plans, or just hang out and meet other members!

RoAnna Sylver Chat: July 14th 6pm UTC / 11am PDT / 2pm EDT
To find your time, click here.

For the second year in a row, we have RoAnna Sylver, author of CHAMELEON MOON, THE LIFELINE SIGNAL, STAKE SAUCE, and MOON-BRIGHT TIDES.

Ashley Woodfolk Chat: July 21st 6pm UTC / 11am PDT / 2pm EDT
To find your time, click here.

Join us and chat with Ashley Woodfolk, author of THE BEAUTY THAT REMAINS, and the upcoming WHEN YOU WERE EVERYTHING

CT Callahan Chat: July 28th 6pm UTC / 11am PDT / 2pm EDT
To find your time, click here.

Come chat with CT Callahan, author of PLASTIC WINGS and ARE WE HUMAN?

Check-In Chat: August 4th 6pm UTC / 11am PDT / 2pm EDT
To find your time, click here.

It's halfway through, so come tell us about your progress, how your summer's going, or just chat!

Claudie Arseneault Chat: August 11th 6pm UTC / 11am PDT / 2pm EDT
To find your time, click here.

Also for the second year in a row, welcome Claudie Arseneault, author of VIRAL AIRWAYS, CITY OF STRIFE, and the much-praised (especially around here) BAKER THIEF.

General Chat: August 18th 6pm UTC / 11am PDT / 2pm EDT
To find your time, click here.

Come hang out and chat about anything!

JL Douglas Chat: August 25th, 2018 6pm UTC / 11am PDT / 2pm EDT
To find your time, click here.

Chat with JL Douglas, author of LUNASIDE.

Wrap Up Chat: September 1st 6pm UTC / 11am PDT / 2pm EDT
To find your time, click here.

For our last chat of the summer, tell us how you did, tell us how we did with our events, or just hang out and chat for a little bit before it's officially not summer anymore.

You can also check out this handy dandy graphic, and save it for easy reminders.


Remember, everything must be tagged with #qsrchat for us to see it during chats. Hope to see you all there!

Peace and popsicles,
Laina

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Can't Wait Wednesday (12)

Can't Wait Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Tressa of Wishful Endings. It's based on Waiting on Wednesday, which was created by Jill Breaking the Spine.

This week's pick:

Hullmetal Girls by Emily Skrutskie

Release date: July 17th, 2018
Amazon / Book Depository / Indiebound

Summary (from goodreads): Aisha Un-Haad would do anything for her family. When her brother contracts a plague, she knows her janitor's salary isn't enough to fund his treatment. So she volunteers to become a Scela, a mechanically enhanced soldier sworn to protect and serve the governing body of the Fleet, the collective of starships they call home. If Aisha can survive the harrowing modifications and earn an elite place in the Scela ranks, she may be able to save her brother.

Key Tanaka awakens in a Scela body with only hazy memories of her life before. She knows she's from the privileged end of the Fleet, but she has no recollection of why she chose to give up a life of luxury to become a hulking cyborg soldier. If she can make it through the training, she might have a shot at recovering her missing past.

In a unit of new recruits vying for top placement, Aisha's and Key's paths collide, and the two must learn to work together--a tall order for girls from opposite ends of the Fleet. But a rebellion is stirring, pitting those who yearn for independence from the Fleet against a government struggling to maintain unity.

With violence brewing and dark secrets surfacing, Aisha and Key find themselves questioning their loyalties. They will have to put aside their differences, though, if they want to keep humanity from tearing itself apart.

Why I'm excited: I heard there's an aromantic character in this, and that's enough to sell me on anything.

Seriously, I'm that easy.

Peace and cookies,
Laina

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

QSR 2018 Link-Up



Hey Scouts!

We're going to try a new link-up widget this year, because I think last year's didn't work. *sheepish grin* This one should actually allow you to link things to it, and be visible and whatnot. The useful things.

So, if you've written something about Queer Summer Reading, we want to see it!

Have you come up with your challenge books and made a post about them? Written about something else? Did basically literally anything that mentions us? Share!!



Remember when you sign up, that "Your Name" is what will show on the link. When I do these, I write "Laina @ Laina Has Too Much Spare Time".

We're super excited about seeing posts from you all!

Peace and popsicles,
Laina

Monday, June 18, 2018

Adult Review: Baker Thief

What a strange creature for these here parts.

Baker Thief by Claudie Arseneault

Published: To be released June 26th, 2018 by the Kraken Collective
Genre: Adult Urban Fantasy with some science fiction elements
Binding: E-arc
Page Count: Around 400 but there's not a paperback yet.
Part of a series? Goodreads says this is the first in a series! I suspect it will be one that follows different characters in the same universe, not the same characters through different books.
Got via: Claudie sent it to me for review consideration. Claudie is a friend, which is why I broke my usual review rules, but this will not stop me from giving an honest review. Claudie, don't read this, okay? ;)
Amazon / Book Depository / Indiebound / Gumroad / Everywhere else

Summary (from goodreads): Adèle has only one goal: catch the purple-haired thief who broke into her home and stole her exocore, thus proving herself to her new police team. Little does she know, her thief is also the local baker.

Claire owns the Croissant-toi, but while her days are filled with pastries and customers, her nights are dedicated to stealing exocores. These new red gems are heralded as the energy of the future, but she knows the truth: they are made of witches’ souls.

When her twin—a powerful witch and prime exocore material—disappears, Claire redoubles in her efforts to investigate. She keeps running into Adèle, however, and whether or not she can save her sister might depend on their conflicted, unstable, but deepening relationship.

Review: This is none of the things I usually read, and I'm honestly kind of shocked by how much I liked it. I kind of signed up to review it on a whim, honestly, because the cover was really pretty and it had an interesting premise with some representation I was really excited about. I was honestly so impressed by how good this is, and it was a really fun read. I'm going to spend so much time bugging Luci to read this now because I think they'll love it and turnaround is fairplay.

Plot Talk: The summary is great, just read it. I'm so bad at trying to talk about plot, and the one already there is great. I will say that the execution of the plot is great. I did think it dragged just a tiny bit at the end, and could have been just a little tighter, but honestly it wasn't enough to make me want to stop reading or anything.

Oh, and since I usually put this here, the worldbuilding is great. It's set in a world that has magic alongside more futuristic technology/science, which is super cool. I really liked the blend of the magical elements with a more "modern" setting.

Characters: The characters are amazing in this. It's definitely one of the strongest elements, which I think after this long you all have noticed works for me. I actually don't want to give a certain thing away, so I'm going to neatly sidestep talking about the characters for the most part, besides that I really, really liked them. They're just... great.

And the thing I really do want to talk about is how great the diversity in this is. In the main characters, there is demisexual rep, aromantic rep, genderfluid rep, and that's not even getting into the side characters where you can find multiple instances of nonbinary representation, binary trans representation, more aromantic rep, and on and on. I also thought having a main character with asthma was something I don't see enough in books, and that's really interesting. It's just a lovely thing to read a book that so well reflects a diverse world.

PG-13 stuff: This is an adult book, so there is some adult content. Actually, the trigger warnings at the beginning of the book pretty much cover the section for this, so I'll just hit those up, honestly. General trigger warning for genocide, police violence, and then there are more specific ones for breaking and entering, gunshots, food, alcohol, mob violence, human experimentation and trafficking, accidental misgndering, fire/burns, and breathing difficulties/asthmas. There is also some sexual content - talk about sex and one POV character experiences sexual attraction/arousal and describes it. However, I don't think there's anything that a teen couldn't handle in this, and while it is NOT YA, I think the appeal for teens who also like to read adult books is totally there.

Gosh but this part's easier when the book does it for me.

Cons, complaints, bad stuff, etc.: I don't really have much? Besides that the plot dragged a tiny bit for me at one point, and the fact that it seriously made me hungry every single time I read it because of the amazing food descriptions, I honestly just enjoyed this and was really pleasantly surprised by how much I did.

Cover comments: The cover was totally the reason I was like "I want to read that", because it's so freaking cute. THERE IS A FAT CHARACTER BEING A SUPERHERO ON THE COVER. And it's purple! Like. Like honestly look at this on my blog. This is my colour scheme. This is QSR 2018's colour scheme. This is just everything. I kind of want to take inspiration from this for a page in one of my colouring books actually... but, yes. I love it.

Conclusion: Sorry if this is a bit short, but I don't have anything bad to say. I think this was super fun, and if you think the idea of witches and thieves and a whole lot of descriptions of really delicious sounding bread (which, if you preorder the book, you get a cookbook with it!) in a super diverse, unique universe sounds good, you should check this out. That includes you, Luce, you'll like this. It's only three dollars, and that is a great deal for a really, really good book. I spent more than that on Oreos today, y'all. Solid four out of five roses from me.



Other notes:

- Did I mention the fat rep is really, really good? This is going on my fat positive goodreads shelf for sure.

- There are really great sibling dynamics in here.

That's about it for me!

Peace and cookies,
Laina

Friday, June 15, 2018

Book Blogger Hop (8)

The Book Blogger Hop was originally created by Jennifer from Crazy-For-Books and is now hosted by Billy of Ramblings of a Coffee Addicted Writer.

This week's question is: You have just won a $100.00 Visa gift card. Will you spend the entire amount on a rare collector's edition you have always wanted, or buy several newly-published books? Explain your choice.

If I find $100 giftcard, I'd spend it on groceries. Your blogger is broke. Or, no, I'd probably spend it at Warehouse One. Your blogger always wants new leggings and Warehouse One is my favourite clothing store. Or maybe ASOS, because I need a pair of capris or two, and some plain black leggings, and ASOS is actually the cheapest place to buy leggings for me, which seems weird to me.

But if I was given, say, a $100 Amazon or Borders giftcard, I would probably buy like one new book that I really wanted, and then look through all the cheapest bargain books, because that's what I usually do, lol. I like buying the ones that are like three or four years older and you can buy hardcovers for like four dollars. I'm cheap!

Although I do have some really random books I would love to own. I wouldn't really call them collectors's editions. Mostly I have random whims to own books that I owned as a child, or random books about mythology, or books to complete series that I own parts of. I will leave a shameless Amazon wishlist plug here, because why not.

Sorry this was a bit of a boring answer, but it's the truth!

Peace and cookies,
Laina

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Can't Wait Wednesday (11)

Can't Wait Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Tressa of Wishful Endings. It's based on Waiting on Wednesday, which was created by Jill Breaking the Spine.

This week my pick is:

I Am Still Alive by Kate Marshall

Release date: July 24th, 2018
Amazon / Book Depository / Indiebound

Summary (from goodreads): After - Jess is alone. Her cabin has burned to the ground. She knows if she doesn’t act fast, the cold will kill her before she has time to worry about food. But she is still alive—for now.

Before - Jess hadn’t seen her survivalist, off-the-grid dad in over a decade. But after a car crash killed her mother and left her injured, she was forced to move to his cabin in the remote Canadian wilderness. Just as Jess was beginning to get to know him, a secret from his past paid them a visit, leaving her father dead and Jess stranded.

After - With only her father’s dog for company, Jess must forage and hunt for food, build shelter, and keep herself warm. Some days it feels like the wild is out to destroy her, but she’s stronger than she ever imagined.

Jess will survive. She has to. She knows who killed her father… and she wants revenge

Why I'm excited: REVENGE. Okay, I'm just being silly, but this does sound super cool. Survival YA for the win. Heck yeah. I haven't read anything like this in a while, and it's sounds great.

Peace and cookies,
Laina

Monday, June 11, 2018

Things I've Read Recently (72): All Around Me Are Familiar Faces

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.

All Day: A Year of Love and Survival Teaching Incarcerated Kids at Rikers Island, New York's Most Notorious Jail by Liza Jessie Peterson

Published: May 2nd, 2017
Genre: Memoir
Binding: Hardcover
Page Count: 243 including all the acknowledgments and such.
Part of a series? No.
Got via: The library
Amazon / Book Depository / Indiebound

Summary (from goodreads): Eighteen years ago, performance artist Liza Jessie Peterson never thought that her day of substitute teaching at Rikers Island C-74 would change the course of her life, but it did. It ignited a lifelong passion--which continues in her work with incarcerated kids today--to make a difference in the lives of youth in trouble.

Her powerful narrative captures the essence, humor, intellect, creativity and psychology of children in the penal system. She intimately introduces readers to her students. We see them, smell their musk, feel their attitudes, hear their voices and learn how they came to be jailed--residents of "the island."

Everyone in the classroom grows-including the teacher-in this must-read memoir for anyone who cares about children and education. Peterson's perspective and insights will make any teacher a better teacher. This book will encourage and empower anyone committed to social justice.

Thoughts: This was really interesting. I don't have a ton to say about this one, and I'm probably not going to rate it on goodreads because I just don't feel like I know enough about the subject matter to really have any clue what I'm talking about and I'm just going to come off ignorant and out of my lane, because I would be.

I will say there was some fatmisia from the author (using "oversized" and "obese" to describe the bodies of others), and that irked me. I enjoyed her voice a lot, and it was a very easy book to read, and very approachable. Oh, also, can we talk about how gorgeous this cover is?

A Girl Like That by Tanaz Bhathena

Published: February 27th, 2018 by Farrar Straus Giroux Books for Young Readers which I believe is an imprint of Macmillan.
Genre: Contemporary YA
Binding: Hardcover
Page Count: 369 plus acknowledgments and stuff
Part of a series? No.
Got via: The library.
Amazon / Book Depository / Indiebound

Summary (from goodreads): Sixteen-year-old Zarin Wadia is many things: a bright and vivacious student, an orphan, a risk taker. She’s also the kind of girl that parents warn their kids to stay away from: a troublemaker whose many romances are the subject of endless gossip at school. You don't want to get involved with a girl like that, they say.

So how is it that eighteen-year-old Porus Dumasia has only ever had eyes for her? And how did Zarin and Porus end up dead in a car together, crashed on the side of a highway in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia?

When the religious police arrive on the scene, everything everyone thought they knew about Zarin is questioned. And as her story is pieced together, told through multiple perspectives, it becomes clear that she was far more than just a girl like that.

Thoughts: This was interesting. I was surprised about how much the book was about things not mentioned in the summary. TWs for rape culture and child neglect/abuse, bullying, sexual assault... I think this review has a good summary of the content warnings for this. I personally found this easy to read despite that. It's not that it's a light book or anything, but I think the author manages to balance heavy topics without feeling like you're drowning. That will obviously differ for everyone, especially if those things are a specific trigger for you and not just generally upsetting.

And if you want to go into this book not knowing what's going on with the premise beyond the content warnings, skip to the next book. Since this stuff happens basically on the first page, I'm not really considering it a spoiler, but you know. You do you, boo.

Now, to actually explain what I'm actually talking about - this book has a similar premise to If I Stay, in that the main character(s) are dead when the book starts, and it's told mostly through flashbacks. Cool premise, and I think it's very interesting to do that from a perspective that isn't Christian or Christian-adjacent. Zarin's thoughts of afterlife and what she thinks could happen are really cool. However, I think the book kind of loses at some points. It's almost entirely negated to the first and last chapters, and the epilogue. It doesn't connect to the rest enough. There isn't really perspective from people in the present about what happened, so it seems more like just a normal book than a flashback or anything. While it's told in past tense, it's still as though things are just happening to characters in the moment.

Honestly I wish it had used that more often. It would have been very interesting to see the characters in the present reflecting on it more. It's kind of a bummer because it is a very unique premise, and I don't feel like it delivers on that.

One thing I really liked was Zarin pointing out how hard it was for her to get popular YA books like the Hunger Games. We as a community tends to take it for granted that access to books is easy for us, and that if you can't afford them, there's always the library, when that's really not true in all places. I found a couple reviews that I'm going to link to because some parts of this isn't my place to be talking about, but overall, I thought the voice of this was great, and I thought it was a solid read.

The Adoration of Jenna Fox by Mary E. Pearson

Published: Originally published April 29th, 2008 by Henry Holt and Company, my edition was releasedd September 1st, 2009 by Square Fish.
Genre: YA Science-Fiction
Binding: Paperback
Page Count: 265 plus discussion questions, author interview, and an excerpt.
Part of a series? Yes, this is the first of the Jenna Fox Chronicles trilogy.
Got via: According to the sticker on the back, it was an amazon bargain book.
Amazon / Book Depository / Indiebound

Summary (from goodreads): Everything is different

Seventeen-year-old Jenna Fox has just awoken from a year-long coma - so she's been told - and she is still recovering from the terrible accident that caused it. But what happened before that? She's been given home movies chronicling her entire life, which spark memories to surface. But are the memories really hers? And why won't anyone in her family talk about the accident? Jenna is becoming more curious. But she is also afraid of what she might find out if she ever gets up the courage to ask her questions.

What happened to Jenna Fox? And who is she really?

Thoughts: How is this book nine years old and I managed to avoid being spoiled but I get spoiled for movies the day after they come out? No, I'm not bitter!

Anyways, I don't actually want to talk abou this one too much because I don't want to ruin it for you all if you've managed to avoid finding anything out about it either. I don't think it's the most unique premise ever, or one that you have to not know to enjoy the book, but I think it's a lot of fun to try and figure it out yourself as you read.

It kind of super lacks almost any type of diversity, and honestly I don't personally think there was any need for a sequel let alone a trilogy. I kind of felt like the ending wrapped things up well enough, and there didn't need to be more books. But, you know, yay for the series being successful and the author making money and everything. I'm just probably not going to seek them out. I will keep this one, though, and I'd totally reread it. It's a neat book and I really enjoyed it.

I would love to read like a really detailed analysis on this book/series from someone who's disabled, though.

Shadow Girl by Liana Liu

Published: December 19th, 2017 by HarperTeen
Genre: YA horror
Binding: Hardcover
Page Count:
Part of a series? Honestly that'd be cool, but it's very well finished and leaves everything wrapped up as a standalone.
Got via: The library.
Amazon / Book Depository / Indiebound

Summary (from goodreads): The house on Arrow Island is full of mystery.

Yet when Mei arrives, she can’t help feeling relieved. She’s happy to spend the summer in an actual mansion tutoring a rich man’s daughter if it means a break from her normal life—her needy mother, her delinquent brother, their tiny apartment in the city. And Ella Morison seems like an easy charge, sweet and well behaved.

What Mei doesn’t know is that something is very wrong in the Morison household.

Though she tries to focus on her duties, Mei becomes increasingly distracted by the family’s problems and her own complicated feelings for Ella’s brother, Henry. But most disturbing of all are the unexplained noises she hears at night—the howling and thumping and cries.

Mei is a sensible girl. She isn’t superstitious; she doesn’t believe in ghosts. Yet she can’t shake her fear that there is danger lurking in the shadows of this beautiful house, a darkness that could destroy the family inside and out… and Mei along with them.

Thoughts: I really liked this. I didn't really realize what this book was really about when I ordered it. Which is kind of silly, because it's not unclear in the summary, lol, and that is what I read when I ordered it. But my memory is terrible at times, so. It was a really pleasant surprise when I started reading it and realized how much I was probably going to like it because it's a kind of book I really like.

And I was right! That atmosphere in this is really, really great and there's a certain way that the book uses repetition very strategically to install a sense of deja vu and really unnerve you that I loved. I thought it was neat that this was a book set during the summer after the MC had graduated high school. Those seem to be becoming more common. It also had a really good "creepy summer" atmosphere that I'm super fond of. And since Mei is Chinese, the book does talk about microaggressions and I suspect that was done well, along with the rep in general, since this is ownvoices, but you know. You should trust my opinion on that about as much as you should trust my opinion on which fuel works best in a rocket ship. I'll try and find some reviews to link to before this goes up.

The book's not perfect. There was one moment that made me be like "wow, that's not really very ace/aro friendly" and it lacks diversity in other areas - there's not really many fat people, no disability rep, absolutely no queer characters. But overall it did a whole lot that I really liked and I had a lot of fun reading it. I read it basically all in one sitting and if you want a spooky summer read, I'd recommend it for sure.

Also, the cover is great.

Geez, look at all the faces in this post! That's weird when something like that happens. It wasn't on purpose or anything.

Thanks for reading!

Peace and cookies,
Laina

Friday, June 8, 2018

Book Blogger Hop (7)

The Book Blogger Hop was originally created by Jennifer from Crazy-For-Books and is now hosted by Billy of Ramblings of a Coffee Addicted Writer.

This week's question is: What author have you read the most in the past two years?

I've read seven volumes of Ms. Marvel over the last two years (and change), and that is definitely the most of anything. Other than that, it's just trilogies, and I'm not going to list a bunch of those, lol.

Other than that, if you count novellas, I read four books by Bree Despain. I'm gonna stick with the Ms. Marvel/G. Willow Wilson answer, though.


I guess I just don't read that many repeat authors! How about you?

Peace and cookies,
Laina

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

Can't Wait Wednesday (10)

Can't Wait Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Tressa of Wishful Endings. It's based on Waiting on Wednesday, which was created by Jill Breaking the Spine.

Learning to Breathe by Janice Lynn Mather

Release date: June 26th, 2018
Amazon / Book Depository / Indiebound

Summary (from goodreads): Indira Ferguson has done her best to live by her Grammy’s rules—to study hard in school, be respectful, and to never let a boy take advantage of her. But it hasn’t always been easy, especially while living in her mother’s shadow.

When Indy is sent to live with distant relatives in Nassau, trouble follows her. Now she must hide an unwanted pregnancy from her aunt, who would rather throw Indy out onto the street than see the truth.

Completely broke with only a hand-me-down pregnancy book as a resource, Indy desperately looks for a safe space to call home. After stumbling upon a yoga retreat, she wonders if perhaps she’s found the place. But Indy is about to discover that home is much bigger than just four walls and a roof—it’s about the people she chooses to share it with.

Why I'm excited: There doesn't seem to be a lot of teen pregnancy books these days, and it's still a very real issue that teens have to deal with. I'm also kind of curious if the MC is also plus sized, as it seems the model on the cover could be.

What are you all excited about this week?

Peace and cookies,
Laina

Monday, June 4, 2018

YA Review: The Unbinding of Mary Reade

Buckle in, kids, this is going to be a long one. Go get a drink. Go get a snack. Also, I'm warning you now, trigger warnings for basically all the things including queermisia, sexual assault, and transmisia.

The Unbinding of Mary Reade by Miriam McNamara

Published: June 19th, 2018 by Sky Pony Press
Genre: Historical YA
Binding: E-arc
Page Count: Goodreads says 336
Part of a series? No, thank goodness.
Got via: It was available for download through Edelweiss.
Amazon / Book Depository / Indiebound

Summary (from goodreads): There’s no place for a girl in Mary’s world. Not in the home of her mum, desperately drunk and poor. Not in the household of her wealthy granny, where no girl can be named an heir. And certainly not in the arms of Nat, her childhood love who never knew her for who she was. As a sailor aboard a Caribbean merchant ship, Mary’s livelihood—and her safety—depends on her ability to disguise her gender.

At least, that’s what she thinks is true. But then pirates attack the ship, and in the midst of the gang of cutthroats, Mary spots something she never could have imagined: a girl pirate.

The sight of a girl standing unafraid upon the deck, gun and sword in hand, changes everything. In a split-second decision, Mary turns her gun on her own captain, earning herself the chance to join the account and become a pirate alongside Calico Jack and Anne Bonny.

For the first time, Mary has a shot at freedom. But imagining living as her true self is easier, it seems, than actually doing it. And when Mary finds herself falling for the captain’s mistress, she risks everything—her childhood love, her place among the crew, and even her life.

Review: Oh, I started out so hopeful, and at the beginning of this, I was enjoying it. And then it just kept going more and more downhill until it was a frankly miserable experience to read. Here's me being the nicest I can: I did not like this one bit.

Okay, now I'm done being nice.

Plot Talk: There's a lot that's offensive in this book, but something that really bothered me about this book is that it's really, really boring between offensive bits. Long, long stretches of nothing happen. This book has over 50 chapters and I got 30 in and was like "how is half this book left?" At one point, I stabbed my arm a little and that was more fun than reading this. I read a little slower on kindle than with paperbooks, but this dragged so much. It feels like almost nothing actually happens in this book and it's just a bunch of assault and violence and annoying angst.

Characters: I'll come back to Mary in a bit, but let's talk about Anne. Anne Bonney, awesome female pirate who kicked butt and ruled and all that fun stuff we want to read about, right? Sucks to be us, then, 'cause that's not what we got. Anne cries a lot, and hides behind people (literally), and at one point seriously just lays down to die while they're being attacked. It is incredibly frustrating to read this character who's based on a real, cool historical figure, being reduced to "crying girl who doesn't do anything". Or, frankly, just "girl". The book uses her femininity so much to contrast against Mary's supposed lack of so much that at some points, Anne's character is basically "wears a dress and looks pretty". It makes her character really inconsistent, as the narrative lauds her as this super tough, powerful person, when she's not doing anything along those lines.

Now, this is going to sound like a bit of an odd complaint from me, but hear me out. All the men in this suck besides literally one old dude who dies halfway through, and I think that is an incredibly weak aspect of the writing for a few reasons. One is it's SUPER depressing if literally everyone your MC meets who's a man is trying to hurt them. It's also incredibly predictable, because pretty much as soon as you meet any male character, you know they're not a good person. It's never a surprise, which means there's no tension. There's just ongoing dread.

Third, and this is a big one - there is a love... square? Web? There's a somewhat complicated love interest because Mary and Anne are into each other but they both have other love interests as well, who are both men. Anne's other love interest straight-up abuses her. Marys's other love interest, and I'll point out that this dude is presented as an actual romantic option, not just a decoy, is not only kind of a jerk, but he actually watches her be sexually assaulted at one point and doesn't do anything about it, and is still meant to be a viable love interest after that. I don't want to like this guy, book! And I don't! So their romantic scenes are just icky!

Other than those four main characters, who I disliked pretty much all of, no other character really has any depth. They have like one trait and that's their character. No one else is really memorable in this book and other characters don't add much.

PG-13 stuff: There's a lot of violence, especially aimed at queer people (I'll go into this more in a bit in my cons/complaints section, as this is not a judgement based section), alcohol use (sometimes quite heavily), and sexual content.

Cons, complaints, bad stuff, etc.: Okay, this is gonna take a while. Let's start with some of the simplist stuff. This one heck of a white book. While it's mentioned at one point that the pirates have many skin tones, in the actual execution of the book, that's basically meaningless. I could not tell you one POC character with a name. Along with that, I don't think I could name a disabled or fat character, and there aren't really any queer characters besides Mary and Anne.

Again, boring plot that dragged on and on, didn't like the characters, yada yada, that's all covered.

Let's get into my big thing here. And oh boy this is going to be long, but it's going to boil down to - I would never want a trans friend to read this, because I feel like it would be super hurtful for them. This book is one in a long line of books about (presumably) cisgender female characters cross-dressing because sexism, written by (presumably) cisgender authors. This seems to be especially prevalent in pirate books, but it is not solely their territory. This includes The Pirate Captain's Daughter by Eve Bunting, Bloody Jack by L. A. Meyer, Alanna: The First Adventure by Tamora Pierce, and obviously many more.

I'd really like to be able to link to essays or blog posts or even twitter threads here from trans people talking about this trope, but that was a struggle and I didn't find a lot. So what I'm going to do, is I'm going to summarize the relevant for this book/review parts from this thread and also several other tweets by Shenwei (and then make Luci read this part to yell at me if I screw up, probably) and then I'll tell you which parts of the book do the things they said not to do/that were bad. Does that make sense?

Crossdressing characters are lying about their gender (implicating that trans characters are as well). This is gonna be important to remember later. Most of these stories do not get trans sensitivity readers, and are often written by cis authors who have no experience or sensitivity to trans issues. It also takes away focus from genderfluid and trans characters, especially ones written by ownvoices authors. I believe at some point Shen also mentions that many of these stories also culminate in the cross-dressing character being assaulted during the reveal.

The book does all of these, while adding a bit of an odd twist that I'll discuss after the rest. (I keep having to say that. This book has so many layers of bad.) First of all, it's not Mary's choice to cross-dress. Her mother forces her into it to scam her grandmother. To me, that could be read as saying adults force kids to be trans and they wouldn't really be it adults didn't say they were. Maybe that's a stretch, but looking back, it makes me raise an eyebrow. Mary dressing as a boy is 100% treated as lying about her gender by other characters, unless they're calling her slurs about trans people. The only actual kind of maybe (ridiculously offensive) trans-rep is what Mary refers to as "men dressed as women" who are described as having garish makeup, and who Mary then sees executed. They are only there to give Mary something to be afraid of if she's caught. I mean, I could keep going on about thngs like small penis jokes but I really, really don't want to. I think you get the point.

The thing I do want about, though, is that I think the author was trying to create the idea that Mary might be nonbinary or genderfluid or gender noncomforming, or something like that. It's not clear because she did it badly. There are several instances of Mary saying she's "not a girl or a boy" or "she's nothing", but never goes anywhere. This actually could have been a great way to go to subvert the usual tropes from an ownoices author, but this is not (afaik) an ownvoices author. As it is, it's just super messy and unclear what the author's intentions were.

Almost all instances of Mary being exposed also include sexual assault. This really reflects how much of the book includes sexual assault. There's one point where three straight chapters are someone getting sexually assaulted. It's exhausting and kind of exploitive and incredibly unnecessary. Especially when the characters getting assaulted are queer. Oh, there's also the part where Mary goes to her drunk and I mean wasted love interest, ties him to a table, and has sex with him. That was not awful to read at all.

Okay I only have energy for one more complaint in me, and that's is that Mary binds her chest with a strip of linen. For six or seven years. And she doesn't take it off at night. THAT WILL WARP YOUR RIBS. THAT IS INCREDIBLY DANGEROUS. WHAT THE ACTUAL EFF.

Cover comments: The cover is the only thing I like about the book at this point. It's what drew me in. I should have resisted harder.

Conclusion: This is a case where I'd love to link to ownvoices reviews, but I also don't want any trans and nonbinary people to actually read this, because I'm pretty sure it would be really hurtful, and I don't want to sign people up for pain. I didn't like this. I really, really did not like this. I would not recommend it to anyone. You can take my opinion with a grain of salt as I'm not trans, but, geesh, this was exhausting to read. One out of five roses solely because I enjoyed the beginning before the book destroyed my soul.



Other notes:

- I can't figure out where to put this in the review, but the book also does a really annoying thing with Nat and Mary. At one point, Nat has a bunch of angst because he's attracted to her while she's dressed as "Mark", and he panicked thinking that made him gay or whatever and now he's all relieved because it's okay, she's really a girl! Mary is not offended by this. Mary is just excited that that means he really is into her and now they can be married and make babies! Laina is offended by this.

- Mary is kind of annoying too.

- The main romance is also pretty annoying.

- Is the title referring to her not binding her chest anymore? Because seriously that's what I'm getting from it.

- I could probably keep going, but I am thoroughly sick of thinking about this book.

I hope whatever you guys have been reading, you've enjoyed it more.

Peace and cookies,
Laina