Reviews

Rescues and the Rhyssa: F/F sci-fi adventure

Rescues and the RhyssaTitle: Rescues and the Rhyssa
Author(s): T.S. Porter
Series: 
Genre: Science Fiction
Published: December 12th 2017 by Less Than Three Press
LGBTQAI+: F/F main ship
I received an ARC from the author through the Lesbrary in exchange for an honest review.

This review originally appeared on The Lesbrary on January 13th, 2019.

Cadan is cousin to the King of Nidum star system, and his favorite weapon to needle the Imperial forces encroaching on their territory. With her combat implants and a reckless streak the size of a planet, Cadan has never failed him. 

Pan Sophi, Captain of the Rhyssa, is a smuggler who makes her living off the tensions. With her crew behind her, Sophi’s always on the lookout for the next deal. Anything to keep flying. 

They only get along when they’re falling into bed together. Otherwise the clash between Cadan’s idealism and Sophi’s harsher worldview always results in a fight. But when the King’s children are kidnapped, only Sophi has the skills to help Cadan get them back.

5 stars

Two occasional lovers with many differences team up to save three kidnapped kids. And then it gets even more complicated.

Sophi is the captain of a smuggler ship with a diverse crew, including two types of aliens, a nonbinary human, and Muslim humans as well, if I understood the cultural clues right. They are quite literally a found family, especially with the reptile-like aliens who accept Sophi into their family as a male based on her role, despite her being a human female. I absolutely LOVED the aliens we’ve seen, and the fact that we had the opportunity to see from their perspective. Both the analoids and the blatta were well-developed, unique and complex species with their own culture that is very different from humans, and seeing Sophi as a human make the effort to take part in that culture and adjust was really interesting. (No spoilers, but there was a scene pretty late in the book that showed the crucial importance of having blattas on your ship and it was amazing. I love blattas.)

And then there’s Cadan. Cadan is big, dangerous, scarred, and she doesn’t exist. She has been turned into a weapon for her King that she is endlessly loyal to: she goes where he tells him too without question. And yet, she’s far from being emotionless. We find out early on that she is actually part of the king’s family: his children are her niblings, the king is like a cousin or even a sibling, and she is devoted to all of them because she loves them. I loved to see Cadan with her blood family just as much as I loved to see Sophi with her found family. Both of these families had unique members and plenty of love and care for each other despite their differences. I also really love the idea of a transgender king where it is only casually mentioned once because otherwise it’s not a big deal to anyone. And I love the kids. Seriously, I love the kids.

And of course, there’s Cadan and Sophi together. They are very different people with different values and different goals, which causes a lot of tension in their relationship. Yet, they love each other. There are plenty of sex scenes in this book, some of which seriously made me blush, but one of my favourite scenes was the completely non-sexual yet intimate bondage scene that Sophi used to relax Cadan. I admit that sometimes I felt like there is too much tension and not enough common ground between them for this to actually work as a romantic relationship as opposed to casual sex, but the ending/epilogue was open enough that I can believe them getting to that point.

If you are looking for a F/F sci-fi story with well-developed aliens, relationship conflicts and family dynamics, this might just be for you. I know that I enjoyed it.

content warnings: kidnapping, violence, explicit sexual scenes

~ Alexa

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Recommendations · TBR

Just Checking In

Hi everyone! So, the exam season is still going on, and I still have two exams left – the hardest two, actually, because why not leave those to the end, right?

Despite this, I have actually been reading a lot instead of studying, but I didn’t have the time to actually post here.

Awesome Books I Read This Week

The Lady’s Guide to Petticoats and Piracy by Mackenzi Lee: Aroace protagonist with her half-Deaf bisexual brother and his biracial boyfriend. In the 1700s. I love them all so much.

Peter Darling by Austin Chant: Listen. This is already my favourite book this month, which is strange because I hated the original Peter Pan. But this one has a really complex trans protagonist, as well as a complex Captain Hook, who end up falling in love.

In Ageless Sleep by Arden Ellis: This is a sci-fi retelling of Sleeping Beauty where Maleficent and Aurora end up together, and if that’s not enough for you then I don’t know what is. (Apparently retellings with romancing villains is a theme this week.)

Movies/Shows I Watched This Week

Do you see a pattern? This month, I FINALLY read Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen, and… it’s kind of ironic, but I didn’t really like the book. The writing was difficult to understand and I felt like it dragged on too long. But because I love the story, I decided to binge-watch some adaptations, and I adored all of them.

Seriously, I can’t pick a favourite. The 1995 and 2005 versions both had their charms and strengths in different ways, and the Zombie one was a mess, but a glorious mess. I actually loved Pride and Prejudice and Zombies because the new sideplot (zombies) gave a different context to many of the same scenes and interactions, and brought some real uniqueness and fun into the story. (Also, that scene where Jane saves Bingley’s life, and 5 seconds later Lizzy saves Darcy’s? Poetic cinema.)

Not to mention that recognising actors/actresses in movies is my favourite thing: the 1995 version had Colin Firth as well as Helena Bonham-Carter’s cousin, the 2005 version of course had Keira Knightley, and Zombies had… Donna Sheridan, Romeo Montague, The Eleventh Doctor, Olive Byrne, and Cersei Lannister. No, really.

Shout out to The Lizzie Bennet Diaries, which holds a special place in my heart. I didn’t rewatch the entire thing, but I did revisit some of my favourite videos.

Currently Reading

Despite my struggle with the original Pride and Prejudice, I haven’t given up on Jane Austen yet: I’m way too intimidated to start Emma or Mansfield Park with their 500+ pages, but I figured giving Northanger Abbey a chance wouldn’t hurt. (I’m also planning to try Persuasion, because they are both under 300 pages. That seems manageable.)

A Safe Girl To Love

I am also reading two anthologies: A Safe Girl to Love by Casey Plett, which is about the experiences of trans women (fiction stories), and How to Live on Other Planets: A Handbook for Aspiring Aliens edited by Joanne Merriam, which is about immigrant experiences in a sci-fi setting.

What’s Next?

The Poison Within

Goodreads will tell you that I’m also currently reading The Poison Within by Rachel Marie Pearcy for the Sapphic Book Club, and Rosemary and Rue by Seanan McGuire – which might actually be her first book?! The truth is that I haven’t really started either of these (I read the prologue of the first one) but I will. Soon.

I also really want to catch up on Doctor Who, because I would die for the Thirteenth Doctor, no kidding.

You can already read my review of Rescues and the Rhyssa on the Lesbrary, but it will be up on this blog tomorrow as well.

Challenges

Sooo we’re only halfway through January and I somehow already completed 10-15 prompts for Around the Year in 52 books, which has 52 prompts, and the Popsugar Reading Challenge, which has 50. Oops? From this, you might think I’ll finish them way too early, but I’m not too worried because 1) last year I finished most of the prompts before August, then slowed down significantly and barely finished the last one in December, 2) I can double up, and I plan to do that for ATY at least, 3) I realised Beat the Backlist actually has a bingo with 80 PROMPTS, so yeah, I’m not running out of challenges anytime soon.

Still, my next exam is on Thursday and I’m way behind on studying, so I’m putting a hold on the things in this post until then.

How are you all doing? Feel free to share what you’ve been reading/watching in the comments!

~ Alexa

Reviews

More Likotsi!! – Once Ghosted, Twice Shy

Once Ghosted, Twice Shy (Reluctant Royals, #2.5)Title: Once Ghosted, Twice Shy
Author(s): Alyssa Cole
Series: Reluctant Royals #2.5
Genre: Romance, Contemporary, LGBT
Pages: 106
Published: 
January 8th 2019 by Avon Impulse
LGBTQAI+: F/F ship, lesbian and bisexual mains
On-page sex: yes

While her boss the prince was busy wooing his betrothed, Likotsi had her own love affair after swiping right on a dating app. But her romance had ended in heartbreak, and now, back in NYC again, she’s determined to rediscover her joy—so of course she runs into the woman who broke her heart.

When Likotsi and Fabiola meet again on a stalled subway train months later, Fab asks for just one cup of tea. Likotsi, hoping to know why she was unceremoniously dumped, agrees. Tea and food soon leads to them exploring the city together, and their past, with Fab slowly revealing why she let Likotsi go, and both of them wondering if they can turn this second chance into a happily ever after.

Rating: 4 stars

The Reluctant Royals series reviews:

Likotsi was my favourite side character in A Princess in Theory, and who can forget her iconic “High– Hi… man”? That, and the second book in the series, A Duke by Default was one of my favourite romance novels ever, so I was eager to pick up another novella by Alyssa Cole. This time with lesbians! (Well, one lesbian. Fab is bi/pan, I believe.)

This was a typical Reluctant Royals novella, in a good way: it had all the things I love about the series. Complex characters with interesting hobbies, funny lines and flirts, things I would never think of like mini museums in an elevator, puns like Fab’s username, and more. It also had Likotsi’s POV, and with that, more about Thesolo’s religion and their belief system, which I found really interesting and comforting at the same time. Their concept of the “second death” (that you need to grieve again after briefly meeting a ghost) was heartbreaking, especially the way it was woven into the story. Oh, and the shoes. I loved the beliefs about the shoes. (I swear that one makes sense in context.) I confess to my ignorance and say that I have no idea if Thesolo’s religion is based on any real-world beliefs, so I’m not sure how much credit Cole gets here, but regardless, I liked it.

There is another “typical Reluctant Royals thing” that this book has, something that I usually like, but in a novella this short it was gut-punching and left me with mixed feelings. I’m just going to come out and say this: wow, Alyssa Cole doesn’t do escapism. All her books are incredibly current, full of recent, recognisable events or issues – sometimes that’s the use of social media, a recent meme or musing about the importance of representation, and sometimes it’s the very real threat of deportation, hints to a new government, and things getting worse. Still, perhaps I’m harsh on the “no escapism” thing, because a foreign prince and his assistant do swoop in to save the day and give us a happy ending.

Overall, this novella might have been short but it fit perfectly into the Reluctant Royals series that I love. I hope we’ll get to see more of Likotsi and Fab, even if only as cameos in the later books.

~ Alexa

TBR

2019 Retellings Challenge TBR

I have seen the 2019 Retellings Reading Challenge around a couple of times, but I dismissed it because I figured already read most of the retellings on my TBR. However, when I finally caved and looked at my TBR, I realised that’s not true at all!

I’ll try to focus on the books I already own for this challenge, but if I manage to read those, then I might purchase a few more for the remaining prompts. Reading my owned books will get me at least two bingos if I do it right, so that might be enough. (Books marked by the emoji are the ones I own.)

  1. Beauty and the Beast: 🍀Bellamy and The Brute 
  2. Set in a foreign country: 🍀Children of the Knight
  3. Standalone book: 🍀Uprooted
  4. Wonderland
  5. Award winning: The Song of Achilles
  6. One word title: 🍀Ash
  7. Bronte or Austen: 🍀Gay Pride and Prejudice
  8. Native American
  9. A Lake of Feathers and Moonbeams2019 release: Once & Future
  10. Egyptian Myth
  11. Greek Myth: Circe
  12. Debut author: House of Salt and Sorrows
  13. Free space: 🍀Unburied Fables
  14. Shakespeare: 🍀Vinegar Girl
  15. Asian myth
  16. Indie book: 🍀Marian
  17. Russian folklore: A Lake of Feathers and Moonbeams
  18. Weapon on the cover: 🍀King Arthur and Her Knights: Enthroned / Enchanted / Embittered
  19. Norse Myth: 🍀The Gospel of Loki
  20. Peter Pan: 🍀Peter Darling
  21. Over 500 pages
  22. Set in space: In Ageless Sleep
  23. Middle Eastern myth
  24. Brothers Grimm: 🍀The Ice Princess’s Fair Illusion
  25. Written 10+ years ago: 🍀Briar Rose

~ Alexa

Reviews

A Little Familiar: Magical Queer Story with Witches

A Little Familiar (Familiar Spirits, #1)Title: A Little Familiar
Author(s): R. Cooper
Series: Familiar Spirits #1
Genre: Paranormal, Fantasy
Pages: 91
Published: 
October 3rd 2015
LGBTQAI+: gay main character, genderfluid (?) love interest
On-page sex: yes

A powerful witch, Piotr Russell has resigned himself to loneliness, because ordinary humans can’t know what he is, and other witches are intimidated by his abilities. Generations of Russells have lived and died with only their familiars at their side. The presence of a friendly familiar is enough to keep even the loneliest witch sane, and yet Piotr deliberately hasn’t chosen one.

The rarest of rare jewels, Bartleby is a human familiar: a witch with no magic of his own, and a desire to find a strong witch to help and serve. In particular, he desires to help and serve Piotr, and everything in Piotr wants to let him. Bartleby was meant to be his familiar; Piotr knows it as surely as he knows when it will rain or when the apples in his garden will ripen. But what Piotr wants from Bartleby, all he’s ever wanted, is for Bartleby to love him, something he thinks is impossible.

Russells live and die unloved, and he won’t allow Bartleby to feel obligated to spend his life with him as his familiar if he could be happy in love with someone else. But Samhain is a time for change, when walls come down and borders grow thin, and Bartleby isn’t going to waste what might be his last chance to convince Piotr that they were meant to be. He might have no magic, but love is a power all its own.

5 stars

“All that, and they’d have to want me too. That seems like a lot to ask of anyone, Bartleby. That’s a job as well as a husband. Why take that on, for a great big boring grouchy bear?”

I wanted my first review of the year to be of a queer story that I really enjoyed, and preferably one that is self-published and/or lesser known. So, here we are.

A Little Familiar is a truly magical read, and I’m not only saying that because it’s about two queer witches. This was one of those books where I absolutely adored the writing style, and I felt like the descriptions really brought the story to life. I could almost taste the cinnamon, apple and pumpkins. It also had a couple of metaphors that I’m STILL squeeing over, because they are so accurate and descriptive, and yet I never would have thought of them.

  • His rage was the gentlest rage imaginable, the briefest, quietest maelstrom in a teacup.
  • His anger was fierce and soft, stinging like kitten’s claws.

There’s a lot of pining in this book, which was excruciating but beautiful to read. The story is from Piotr’s POV, and seeing him be absolutely smitten with Bartleby was amazing, mostly because I was also absolutely smitten with Bartleby.

Bartleby is exactly my type of character, in style, personality, the fact that he’s compared to a trickster spirit, and the fact that he’s genderfluid. Or, is he? It’s a little confusing, because here’s this quote that states he isn’t:

He wasn’t genderfluid, at least, not how Piotr understood the term, but then again perhaps he was. Bartleby was… Bartleby. He wore what he chose to wear and acted how he chose to act. He’d never requested to be addressed by another pronoun or name, he simply was, like a trickster deity of old, although one not interested in deception.

But honestly, Bartleby is so obviously nonbinary in the entire book, that I have a suspicion Piotr (whose POV the above quote is from) just doesn’t get that genderfluid people can exist without necessarily using different names or pronouns. I mean, seriously:

“I’m, um,” Bartleby said, and didn’t immediately finish his thought. He had slipped a barrette into his hair and his lips were sparkling with gloss. The Dorchester Grocery shirt and red coat were familiar, but he had on a wool skirt and indigo tights. “I’m this me, today.”

In conclusion, I definitely read Bartleby as nonbinary, and the representation really worked for me personally as a nonbinary person.

Please read this book and fall in love with Bartleby with me. (Piotr was also great, but let’s be honest, Bartleby stole the entire show for me.)

~ Alexa

Miscellaneous

My Favourite Books of 2018

2018 is over, so time for a quick yearly wrap-up! By reading lots of short stories and some graphic novels in December, I managed to reach my goal of 300 books and a littl over 50,000 pages.

If 300 books seem like a lot, then remember that 1) most of these were under 200 pages (just look at my average length) – some people got 50,000 pages with half as many books!, and 2) I was unemployed and at home for most of the year. I’ll have much less time to read in 2019, because university and life troubles. (No, my year didn’t start too well, why do you ask? But that’s another story.)

stats

And now, have a collage of my absolute favourite books this year:

Key:

🏳️‍🌈 = LGBTQAI+ representation
💐 = POC/Indigenous representation
🌱 = Disabled or Mental Health representation

We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves is a book about siblings and family with an unexpected twist. I adored this one, but make sure you have tissues ready.

🏳️‍🌈💐 Everything Leads to You is a fluffy, artsy F/F romance with loveable characters and lots of great scenes about movie set-planning. Also, a mystery.

🏳️‍🌈🌱 A Long Way to a Small Angry Planet is a sci-fi book with a found family, and just as good as everyone says it is.

🏳️‍🌈 A Little Familiar is a magical romance between a gay witch and a nonbinary witch with beautiful writing and lots of pining.

🏳️‍🌈💐🌱 The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue is historical fiction between a bisexual white boy and a biracial boy, with an aroace side character. It gets kind of dark at some points, but it’s a really funny read and I relate to the main character in a lot of ways.

🏳️‍🌈 The Cybernetic Teashop is a F/F read between a human and an android/robot where both of them are ace.

🏳️‍🌈💐🌱The Radical Element is a historical fiction anthology with all-female protagonists where the quality of writing is through the roof. Seriously.

Josie’s Coat is a sci-fi retelling of a Bible story, which isn’t something you see every day.

🏳️‍🌈💐🌱 The Ship of the Dead (Magnus Chase) has a bi/pan protagonist with my favourite genderfluid love interest, and I LOVE it.

💐 Akata Witch is a unique Nigerian fantasy with a tween protagonist, and I can’t wait to finally read the sequel this year.

🌱 All Systems Red (and the entire Murderbot series) is one of my favourite sci-fi reads, officially. I re-read all four novellas in one day on January 1st to kick off the year on the right note, and now I need MORE.

🏳️‍🌈🌱Failure to Communicate is a sci-fi with an autistic bisexual protagonist, with eventual polyamory later in the series. Seriously, when is book 3 coming out?

Sky in the Deep also had amazing sibling and family relationships, with a hopeful/positive ending, which was a nice surprise.

🏳️‍🌈Magic, Murder & Mistletoe is a quick and fun holiday F/F story with witches/sorcerers and a murder mystery.

💐 A Duke by Default is a contemporary romance novel, which I rarely read, but this had my absolute favourite dynamic, and also a Black heroine with a Scottish love interest.

🏳️‍🌈 The Queen of Ieflaria is F/F fantasy with pansexual princesses, talking dragons, and more!

🏳️‍🌈 Chasing Stars is another F/F romance with aliens, superheroes, fake dating, and all my favourite tropes in one place.

🏳️‍🌈 How Saeter Robbed the Underworld is M/M fantasy with (adopted) family feels – and I tried not to put the same author here several times, but people, Meredith Katz is GOOD.

🏳️‍🌈💐🌱 By now you probably know that anything Chameloon Moon-related is bound to be my favourite, but Life Within Parole 2 might just be my favourite collection in the universe – SO MUCH polyamory.

How was your 2018? Did you have many favourites this year?

~ Alexa

Wrap-up

December 2018 Wrap-Up + State of the ARC

I’m glad short-a-thon was happening this month, because my attention span is non-existent. As you can see, I read a lot of books this month but pretty much all of them are under 200 pages.

However! I managed to finish the Candybook Land game by Elaine Howlin! In the end, it took me 26 books to reach the end of the board. During my adventure, I visited places such as Licorice Lagoon (twice!) and Lollipop Palace. Plus, a bunch of random tiles. But no pink ones somehow.

Candy-Land-game-board numbered

🏳️‍🌈 = book has a LGBTQAI+ main character [16]
🦄 = ARC or review copy [8]
🌍 = Around the World in 52 Books on Goodreads – [1] COMPLETED
👭 = Sapphic Book Club monthly or bonus read [0 – shame on me]
🍬 = Candybook Land – [7] COMPLETED
🔖 = Short-A-Thon [17]
🌱 = Diverse December [4] [disabled, mentally ill or non-white protagonist]

As always, I’m linking up with Avalinah’s State of the ARC meme:

State of the ARC is a monthly meme at Avalinah’s Books meant to motivate you to finish up all your long overdue ARCs (Advanced or Early Reader Copies).

State of the ARC has a Goodreads groups ARCs Anonymous. Join it here.

Note: In 2019 I’m planning to request fewer ARCs, although I still might read unsolicited ones if I receive them and they interest me. I also decided to stop tracking here how many ARCs I have left, and while I try to keep myself to release dates, I don’t beat myself up if it doesn’t happen. I’ll still list the ARCs I read in my wrap-up posts, but that’s all. I’m also excited for the new bingo, and I’ll try to fill it – although some of these are outside of what I usually read, and I might not request another nonfiction ARC just for the sake of the bingo… but we’ll see.

state of the ARC bingo 2019 first half - empty

Here’s all the books I read this month:

  • The Importance of Being Earnest by Oscar Wilde: 54 pages. 4🌟
  • 🦄🌱Sincerely, Harriet by Sarah Winifred Searle: 176 pages. 5🌟
  • 🦄 Dear Earthling: Cosmic Corresponent by Pen Avey: 116 pages. 4🌟
  • 🏳️‍🌈🦄 A Quick & Easy Guide to Queer & Trans Identities  by J. R. Zuckerberg and Mady G: 96 pages. 4🌟
  • 🏳️‍🌈🌎🍬🌱 The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet by Becky Chambers: 404 pages. 5
  • Josie’s Coat by Amy McNulty: 66 pages. 5🌟
  • 🦄 Afterlife by Tracy Ogali: 62 pages. 4🌟
  • 🦄 Teapot and the Dragon by Nick Jordan: 42 pages. 4🌟
  • 🏳️‍🌈🦄 Surface Tension by Valentine Wheeler: 115 pages. 5🌟
  • 🏳️‍🌈🦄 Some Girls Bind by Rory James: 200 pages. 4🌟
  • 🏳️‍🌈🔖 Mending Noel by Charlie Cochet: 54 pages. 2🌟
  • 🏳️‍🌈🌱🔖 Christmas at the Wellands by Liz Jacobs: 88 pages. 5🌟
  • 🏳️‍🌈🔖 Szembeszél [an anthology of lesbian fiction in Hungarian]: 166 pages. 3.5🌟
  • 🏳️‍🌈🔖 Magic, Murder and Mistletoe by Ellen Jane: 101 pages. 5🌟
  • 🔖Write Faster Today by Emma Fisher: 56 pages. 4🌟
  • 🍬🔖 Jack the Ripper: The Truth about the Whitechapel Murders by Tom King: 58 pages. 3🌟
  • 🍬🔖 Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson: 68 pages. 5🌟
  • She Died in My Arms by Ono Ekeh: 69 pages. 4🌟
  • 🏳️‍🌈🔖 Sleepwalking by Cara Malone: 66 pages. 3🌟
  • 🏳️‍🌈🍬🔖 Noticed Me Yet? by Anyta Sunday: 70 pages. 4🌟
  • 🔖🌱Binti by Nnedi Okorafor: 90 pages. 4🌟
  • 🍬🔖 Outworlder by Joe Vasicek: 79 pages. 4🌟
  • 🏳️‍🌈🦄🔖 Rescues and the Rhyssa by T.S. Porter: 175 pages. 5🌟
  • 🏳️‍🌈🍬🔖 Young Avengers Volume 1: Sidekicks by Allan Heinberg: 144 pages. 4🌟
  • 🏳️‍🌈🔖 Young Avengers Volume 2: Family Matters by Allan Heinberg: 184 pages. 3🌟
  • 🏳️‍🌈🔖 Young Avengers, Vol. 1: Style > Substance by Kieron Gillen: 128 pages. 5🌟
  • 🏳️‍🌈🔖 A Little Familiar by R. Cooper: 91 pages. 5🌟
  • 🏳️‍🌈🍬🔖 Rainbow Rebel by Lina Langley: 83 pages. 4🌟

Favourite books this month:

  • The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet (ensemble cast, F/F ship)
  • Josie’s Coat
  • Surface Tension (F/F)
  • Magic, Murder and Mistletoe (F/F)
  • Rescues and the Rhyssa (F/F)
  • A Little Familiar (M/NB)

Reviews on the blog:

Book tags:

Challenges:

Miscellaneous:

See you all in 2019!

~ Alexa

TBR

2019 READING CHALLENGES

It’s a new year, and that means it’s time for resolutions and new yearly challenges! It’s also the time of the year when everything is full of reading challenges and I want to join all of them but I know that wouldn’t be healthy at all, given how much I stress over books already.

Without further comments, here are my 2019 plans.

  • Read at least 52, at most 104 books for Around the Year in 52 Books.
  • Complete as many prompts for the Popsugar Reading Challenge as I can. (TBR on the ATY link above.) Hopefully at least 25, which is half the prompts.
  • Attempt to read all the books on my owned list below – but if not all, then at least 40. Since all of these books were published before 2019, this TBR doubles as my #BeatTheBacklist TBR as well.
  • Be more picky about requesting ARCs!!
  • Goodreads challenge: starting at 150, might change it during the year.

This post was inspired by Demolish My TBR by Kathy, but I didn’t want to give it the exact same title.

My owned TBR is around 400, so I had to use some criteria to narrow the list down – I tried to focus on the oldest books added to my TBR, and also pick more physical books than ebooks so I can unhaul them if I end up not liking them that much. There are a few books that I’m already not sure I’m going to like but I still want to give them a chance, and they’re taking up precious space on my shelves.

Physical TBR

  1. Darwin-játszma by Ágnes Mészöly [Hungarian YA?]
  2. Watership Down by Richard Adams
  3. Lisey’s Story by Stephen King
  4. The Martian by Andy Weir
  5. Moving Target by Cecil Castellucci
  6. Smuggler’s Run by Greg Rucka
  7. The Weapon of a Jedi by Jason Fry
  8. The London Eye Mystery by Siobhan Dowd
  9. The Abyss Surrounds Us by Emily Skrutskie
  10. We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves by Karen Joy Fowler
  11. Briar Rose by Jane Yolen
  12. The Tenderness of Wolves by Stef Penney
  13. Blueeyedboy by Joanne Harris
  14. Faith by Lesley Pearse
  15. Stolen by Lesley Pearse
  16. The Girl from Everywhere by Heidi Heilig
  17. Plastic Wings by C.T. Callahan
  18. Run by Kody Keplinger
  19. Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor
  20. Mask of Shadows by Linsey Miller
  21. Mass Effect: Nexus Uprising by Jason M. Hough
  22. Assassin’s Creed: Black Flag by Oliver Bowden
  23. Előhívott önarcképek [memoirs by lesbian women in Hungarian]
  24. Eltitkolt évek: Tizenhat leszbikus életút [interviews with sapphic women in Hungarian]
  25. Verazélet by Anna Lovas Nagy [sapphic poetry in Hungarian]
  26. Kecskerúzs by Agáta Gordon [classic lesbian novel in Hungarian]
  27. Almost English by Charlotte Mendelson
  28. A sokszívű by Kitti Szurovetz [book about polyamory in Hungarian]
  29. Given to the Sea by Mindy McGinnis
  30. Daughter of the Burning City by Amanda Foody
  31. All The Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr
  32. American Panda by Gloria Chao
  33. Beauty and Cruelty by Meredith Katz
  34. American Gods by Neil Gaiman
  35. Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman
  36. A Country Full of Aliens by Colin Swatridge
  37. The Well of Loneliness by Radclyffe Hall
  38. Bed of Roses by Nora Roberts
  39. Ólomerdő by Csilla Kleinheincz [Hungarian fantasy]
  40. Shifting Fog by Kate Morton
  41. The Dream-Quest of Vellitt Boe by Kij Johnson
  42. The Lightkeepers Daughters by Jean E. Pendziwol
  43. Every Heart a Doorway by Seanan McGuire [Hungarian translation]
  44. All Systems Red by Martha Wells [Hungarian translation]
  45. The Fifth Season by N.K. Jemisin
  46. Kindred by Octavia E. Butler
  47. Bleeding Earth by Kaitlin Ward

E-book TBR

  1. The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
  2. The Palace Job by Patrick Weekes
  3. Ask the Passengers by A.S. King
  4. City of Strife by Claudie Arseneault
  5. Enchanters by K.F. Bradshaw
  6. Humans Wanted by Vivian Caethe
  7. The Coldest Girl in Coldtown by Holly Black
  8. Keeping Long Island by Courtney Peppernell
  9. Of Fire and Stars by Audrey Coulthurst
  10. Watching Glass Shatter by James J. Cudney
  11. Don’t Feed The Trolls by Erica Kudisch
  12. Boots for the Gentleman by August Li
  13. Running with the Pack by A.M. Burns
  14. My Heart is Ready by Chace Verity
  15. Rosemary and Rue by Seanan McGuire
  16. Angel Radio by A.M. Blaushild
  17. Wild Seed by Octavia E. Butler
  18. Shadow Magic by Patricia C. Wrede
  19. Fourth World by Lyssa Chiavari
  20. Thornfruit by Felicia Davin
  21. Flicker by Melanie Hooyenga
  22. Pink Slip by Katrina Jackson
  23. Children of the Knight by Michael J. Bowler
  24. King Arthur and Her Knights by K.M. Shea

Bonus personal challenges

  • Re-read the Bartimaeus sequence in English (3 original books + prequel)
  • Re-read the Harry Potter series in English (7 original books)
  • Read Blessed Epoch, Vol. 1 by August Li (1,093 pages :))
  • Read the Witches and Death series in Discworld (11 books)

I have also been promising my friend to read Pride and Prejudice since forever, and I might as well include some other books by Austen as well… So, I hope to get to the following ones in 2019:

  • Pride and Prejudice
  • Sense and Sensibility
  • Emma
  • Persuasion
  • Northanger Abbey
  • Mansfield Park
  • + 1995 Pride and Prejudice miniseries
  • + 2005 Pride and Prejudice movie

That’s it! See you in a year when I check in with how this went…

~ Alexa

Reviews

Some Girls Bind: A Genderqueer Journey to Self-Discovery

Some Girls BindTitle: Some Girls Bind
Author(s): Rory James
Series: 
Genre: Contemporary, LGBT, Genderqueer
Published: February 1st 2019 by West 44 Books
LGBTQAI+:  Genderqueer (they/them) protagonist, gay side characters.
I received an ARC from the publisher through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Jamie knows that she isn’t like other girls. She has a secret. She binds her chest every day to feel more like herself. Jamie questions why she is drawn to this practice and why she is afraid of telling her friends, who have their own secrets. Could she really be genderqueer?

Rating: 4 stars

When I look in the mirror,
I don’t see a girl and
I don’t see a boy. I just see
my goofy glasses and Beatle-like hair.

Let’s get this out of the way first: the formatting of the ARC I read is horrible. There is a part where the same section repeats 4-5 times, and there are words that are either missing, or look more like keysmashes than actual words, and I have to try to figure out what it was supposed to be. I’m going to try my best not to let this affect my rating and opinion of the content itself.

I was a little skeptical when I saw that this book is written in a poetry-ish style (as in: no rhymes or real logic, but all the lines are really short for some reason), and I often wished that it had been written in prose instead – but despite that, this book felt really real. Seriously, some parts were as if they were taken straight from my internal monologue as an AFAB genderqueer/nonbinary person.

The whole book is really introspective, and there isn’t really a plot other than finding yourself, figuring out your identity, trying to figure out what others would think, etc. There are supportive parents, unsupportive parents, supportive friends, queer side characters, and going to poetry readings by queer poets. There was also a part about the dangers of unsafe binding, and how you might resort to it if you’re desperate but you really shouldn’t.

The main character also doesn’t have a love interest and kind of questions their romantic orientation, so if you’re looking for a queer book without romance, this might be your thing? They don’t consider being aro, though.

Overall, I’m rating this book 4 stars because other than the formatting issues I don’t really have anything negative to say about it. I personally found the main character really relatable and close to my own personal experience, and I can’t recall any parts that could have been offensive or hurtful – but others might think differently, so proceed with caution.

~ Alexa

Reviews

Why Did I Wait So Long to Read This: The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet

The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet (Wayfarers, #1)Title: The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet
Author(s): Becky Chambers
Series: Wayfarers #1
Genre: Science Fiction, Space Opera
Published: August 13th 2015 by Hodder & Stoughton
LGBTQAI+: Sapphic main characters in a slowburn relationship, aliens with different concepts of gender, probably something else I missed?

Follow a motley crew on an exciting journey through space—and one adventurous young explorer who discovers the meaning of family in the far reaches of the universe—in this light-hearted debut space opera from a rising sci-fi star.

Rosemary Harper doesn’t expect much when she joins the crew of the aging Wayfarer. While the patched-up ship has seen better days, it offers her a bed, a chance to explore the far-off corners of the galaxy, and most importantly, some distance from her past. An introspective young woman who learned early to keep to herself, she’s never met anyone remotely like the ship’s diverse crew, including Sissix, the exotic reptilian pilot, chatty engineers Kizzy and Jenks who keep the ship running, and Ashby, their noble captain.

Life aboard the Wayfarer is chaotic and crazy—exactly what Rosemary wants. It’s also about to get extremely dangerous when the crew is offered the job of a lifetime. Tunneling wormholes through space to a distant planet is definitely lucrative and will keep them comfortable for years. But risking her life wasn’t part of the plan. In the far reaches of deep space, the tiny Wayfarer crew will confront a host of unexpected mishaps and thrilling adventures that force them to depend on each other. To survive, Rosemary’s got to learn how to rely on this assortment of oddballs—an experience that teaches her about love and trust, and that having a family isn’t necessarily the worst thing in the universe.

Rating: 5 stars, favourited

I’m pretty sure this book invented the concept of “found family”.

First, I was kind of surprised by how much the title actually fits the book: yes, this is indeed the description of a long journey to a war-torn planet, with everything that entails. A lot of the journey is getting to know the characters and their cultures, so the plot might seem slow at times, but then something big or dangerous happens and you have to hold your breath. And then it completely destroys you emotionally. So yeah, it was a wild ride, but let’s not rush ahead.

I loved how diverse the inhabitants of the galaxy were: I didn’t feel like the aliens were just slightly different humans, they were all completely unique in biology, looks, culture and history as well. I loved how those cultures sometimes clashed, and the crew members had trouble really accepting something from someone else’s (like in the case of Sissix or Ohan), but they still respected the other crew members and their culture. I found the way Sissix’s people treat families especially interesting – some part of it, like the polyamorous living with your lovers/friends type of thing was appealing, while other parts were admittedly strange for my human brain, but at least I know Ashby and Rosemary shared those thoughts with me. I also loved how Dr Chef’s species treated gender as something that changes over time for their species.

Not only the aliens are unique either: the humans in this book also have different groups with different views, including the Exodans who have left behind their species’ bloody past and became completely pacifists with strong principles on holding guns. I loved how Ashby’s views were explored and handled, and I loved the strong anti-colonialism message.

And the found family aspect? Just, wow. These people love each other so much. Sissix and Ashby are so good. Jenks and Kizzy are so good. Dr Chef’s talk with Rosemary about their species is so good. Ohan and Corbin appear less often, but when they do, they destroy your emotions, especially in the second half of the book. One of my favourite moments was when Corbin gets in trouble (not describing the trouble obviously, because spoilers), and Sissix is SO annoyed because she hates his guts, but she still doesn’t even consider not helping him.

There are also some complicated or questionable moral decisions that come from the difference in the cultures, most importantly in Ohan’s case. I can tell you honestly that I’m not sure how to feel about what happened to him in the end, and I don’t know what would have been the right path there. I just don’t know.

Lovey and Jenks and the whole storyline about AI and their consent was amazing. (It also gave me very strong Joker/EDI vibes, but hey.) And then it destroyed me and honestly this is another storyline that I’m not yet sure how I feel about, but it’s supposed to be in the center of the sequel so hopefully reading that will help me judge it.

As for the F/F ship that develops as a pretty slow burn, I have… neutral thoughts? I liked it, but I wasn’t truly feeling it. Still, it was nice to have casual LGBT characters, like Rosemary’s sexuality or Kizzy’s dads.

Random little bits I loved:
* If you don’t know somebody’s gender, it’s polite to default to xyr pronouns.
* The part towards the end where Ashby acts the AI’s name and he acts so confused and thinks he’s in trouble.
* Humans being like “holy shit she’s sixteen” and Sissix being like “wait how much is that? translate it to my species please.”
* “Come on. Put on your trousers. I want to meet the woman who gets to take them off.”
* Jenks staying to listen to a non-sentient AIs entire intro speech, to be polite.

~ Alexa