Pride Month 2018: Recs and TBR

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Happy Pride Month! If you’re looking for books with queer characters, here are my recommendations (click the links for plot summaries):

  • Queens of Geek (Jen Wilde) (bi rep): A read that brought me to tears and resonated with me
  • Not Your Sidekick (CB Lee) (bi rep): I was hooked by the bi poc main character who is tired of being a sidekick and overshadowed by her superhero sister
  • The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo (Taylor Jenkins Reid) (lesbian rep): Golden Hollywood actress and glamour icon Evelyn Hugo opens up in a rare and her last interview and what she reveals will leave you mindblown. CWs: domestic violence
  • Simon vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda (Becky Albertalli) (gay and bi rep): Not Own Voices, but it means so much for many in the community. It’s a book that you would read over and over again.ย CWs: forced outing
  • The Sidekicks (Will Kostakis) (gay rep): An emotional tale of friendship
  • Ash (Malinda Lo) (bi and lesbian rep): A great f/f retelling of Cinderella. I also recommend Lo’s other books.
  • If I Was Your Girl (Meredith Russo) (trans rep): An emotional and sweet read
  • They Both Die at the End (Adam Silvera) (bi rep): Have tissues ready because you would love Rufus and Mateo. I also recommend Silvera’s other books.
  • Leah on the Offbeat (Becky Albertalli) (gay and bi rep): This book resonated with me and we see a main character still figuring out their identity
  • Sailor Moon (Naoko Takeuchi) (lesbian rep): Besides Sailors Star Fighter, Uranus and Neptune who are canonically queer, the characters including Sailor Moon are also interpreted as queer (the anime makes this more apparent; I see Sailor Moon and Jupiter as bi and Mercury as biromantic ace).
  • Labyrinth Lost (Zoraida Cordova) (bi rep): A fantastic magical read about family and how you shouldn’t mess with magic and the dead. I can’t wait to dive back into its world with Bruja Born.
  • The Shadowhunters series (Cassandra Clare) (trans and bi rep in The Dark Artifices. Gay and bi rep in The Mortal Instruments, The Infernal Devices and Bane Chronicles). I saw myself in Magnus Bane who is bi and Indonesian – the first I came across, so the series and character are pretty much special to me.

What’s on my June TBR?

  • Every Heart A Doorway (Seanan McGuire) (ace and trans rep): Just finished this one and it was good – though I found the Japanese rep problematic. The main character is ace and there’s a supporting trans character.
  • When the Moon was Ours (Anna-Marie McLemore) (trans rep): I can’t wait to read this as it’s also intersectional which is done well, I was told

Books I want to read hopefully very soon:

Books with queer characters are growing but there are still underrepresented groups including people who are ace/aro and nonbinary. I definitely want more Own Voices and intersectional reads on my shelves since I mostly have books with gay characters and are written by non-queer authors.

Keep supporting LGBTQIAP+ books especially Own Voices and queer authors by buying or checking them out at libraries (or request if they’re unavailable). If you’re a queer writer and working on WIPs with queer characters like me, you got this.

Please feel free to recommend books especially underhyped ones and I’ll add them to my list. Also let me know if the books I’ve mentioned rep more identities – sorry if I didn’t pick up on them.

May your TBR be blessed with LGBTQIAP+ reads ๐Ÿ™‚

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Review: Esme’s Wish

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What’s It About?

When fifteen-year-old Esme Silver objects at her fatherโ€™s wedding, her protest is dismissed as the action of a stubborn, selfish teenager. Everyone else has accepted the loss of Esmeโ€™s mother, Ariane โ€“ so why canโ€™t she?

But Esme is suspicious. She is sure that others are covering up the real reason for her motherโ€™s disappearance โ€“ that โ€˜lost at seaโ€™ is code for something more terrible, something she has a right to know.

After Esme is accidentally swept into the enchanted world of Aeolia, the truth begins to unfold. With her newfound friends, Daniel and Lillian, Esme retraces her motherโ€™s steps in the glittering canal city of Esperance, untangling the threads of Arianeโ€™s double life. But the more Esme discovers about her mother, the more she questions whether she really knew her at all.


My Thoughts

I really enjoyed Esme’s Wish. It has a Percy Jackson vibe with Greek mythology inspired settings and figures – I’m intrigued with the stygians and the sirens.

There were moments that were predictable and the pacing was slow every now and then, while some important scenes were fast that I got a bit lost or struggle to connect to the characters. I wish the main villain had more scenes because he was convincing, more so than the secondary and surprise antagonist.

Despite its flaws, Esme’s Wish is a page turner, pulling you into its magical world.

Rating: ๐ŸŒŸ๐ŸŒŸ๐ŸŒŸ

April Wrap Up: My Top Reads of the Month

I can’t believe April is over and we’re getting close to the end of the first half of 2018. Are you screaming? I am. Anyway, there were so many books that I read in April and two stood out (and definitely worth the hype and praise). They are…

Children of Blood and Bone

CWs:

There are moments that might come off as ableist.

Child abuse, parental death, racism, internalised racism, torture scenes, violent scenes that reflect police brutality

Oh. My. God. This book is amazing. It blew my mind. I love the writing, the well-written complex characters, the magic, the mythology and religion which is more than just religion. It’s great to see a character like Zelie who is dedicated to their faith and mission, but also waver and feeling down and hopeless when things get too tough.

The book explores racism and internalised racism (which Zelie and Inan experience and are torn by) which parallel to that of the real world. I found the enemies-to-lovers trope refreshing – that twist towards the end was unexpected and pleasant.

I’m so happy that this book is doing well and can’t wait for the sequel ๐Ÿ™‚

Leah on the Offbeat

This one was everything I hoped for a F/F book and it was a great and bittersweet send off for the Simon vs universe. Leah being fat (a positive representation here) and closeted bi resonated with me. The book also has a main character who’s unsure about their sexual orientation (not enough books explore people changing their labels) and also not ready to come out – that resonated with me too.

Simon and Bram continue to be cinnamon rolls, and I fell in love with Abby and Leah more. Martin continues to be…Martin, and I’ve warmed up to Garrett a bit.

There are also Sailor Moon references especially Haruka and Michiru-related ones. Thank you, Becky ๐Ÿ˜‚

By the way, a cute yellow floral dress is definitely on my shopping list.


What were your top reads of April?

 

Song of Blood & Stone Blog Tour

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Hello! Hope you’re having a good bookish April. I’m here on the blog tour for Song of Blood and Stone, a fantasy different and refreshing from what I’m used to reading.

What is it About?

Orphaned and alone, Jasminda lives in a land where cold whispers of invasion and war linger on the wind. Jasminda herself is an outcast in her homeland of Elsira, where her gift of Earthsong is feared. When ruthless soldiers seek refuge in her isolated cabin, they bring with them a captive–an injured spy who threatens to steal her heart.

Jack’s mission behind enemy lines to prove that the Mantle between Elsira and Lagamiri is about to fall nearly cost him his life, but he is saved by the healing Song of a mysterious young woman. Now he must do whatever it takes to save Elsira and it’s people from the True Father and he needs Jasminda’s Earthsong to do it. They escape their ruthless captors and together they embark on a perilous journey to save Elsira and to uncover the secrets of The Queen Who Sleeps.

Thrust into a hostile society, Jasminda and Jack must rely on one another even as secrets jeopardize their bond. As an ancient evil gains power, Jasminda races to unlock a mystery that promises salvation.

The fates of two nations hang in the balance as Jasminda and Jack must choose between love and duty to fulfill their destinies and end the war.


My Thoughts

This book is a letdown to me. The story dragged and was at times aimless. Much of it focused on Jasminda and Jack’s romance which felt off since there wasn’t really a romantic buildup to their relationship. Their sex scenes lacked passion and weren’t necessary, considering how serious the situation they were facing was. Like you’re on the brink of war and all you’re thinking about is each other’s flesh?

At times, I felt lost when it came to the setting. It was sketchy. As for the characters, besides Jasminda, they were fleeting and just there to push Jasminda and Jack to react. I couldn’t connect to them. The True Father didn’t come off as threatening – the non-magical humans did though.

There were positives that kept me reading though. I thought Jasminda was great, had agency and a mission to save memories of her family. She’s also biracial and caught in a conflict, external and internal, which is well written. I found the magical side of Song of Blood and Stone‘s world interesting, especially with the history part. But I wish that it was explored more.

I’m hoping the sequel would be an improvement and hopefully, the one that would hook me in.

Rating: ๐ŸŒŸ๐ŸŒŸ๐ŸŒŸ

 

My Top March Reads

March is over (?!) and it was a good bookish month with amazing releases. I managed to finish my TBR and there are 5 books on it that stood out to me:

Girls Made of Snow and Glass

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TWs: child abuse (emotional)

One of my favourite Snow White retellings. It subverts the tropes including the evil stepmother/queen and instead of a prince charming, we have a female surgeon charming. I also didn’t expect so much family love and loyalty. I cried.

March reads

The Epic Crush of Genie Lo

This book made me laugh so much. It’s a modern and clever retelling of Journey to the West with plenty of twists.

The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo

TWs: domestic violence, sexual harassment

This book…oh my god. Evelyn Hugo did all that for her loved ones…Read it and you will understand.

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Love, Hate and Other Filters

TWs: racism (Islamophobia)

I really like this one. It doesn’t only deal with Islamophobia which the MC Maya faces, but her living her life as an ordinary teen with a love for movies, much to her parents’ dismay, and building a romance with a boy.

To Kill a Kingdom

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TWs: child abuse (physical and emotional), self-harm, characters with Japanese-sounding surnames being othered and foils

Killer sirens and mermaids with a taste for men (not in a romantic sense) is one of my weaknesses. While there are things that made my eyes twitch in annoyance, this book is a page turner.

What are your top reads of March? What are your anticipated reads for April?