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

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Miscellaneous · Recommendations

PRIDE MONTH | Queer Characters I Adore

In honor of Pride month, I’d love to talk about some queer characters by queer authors that I really loved

  • 1) Regan (Chameleon Moon, Runtime, etc.)

Regan is important to me the way breathing is.

Runtime (Chameleon Moon, Short Story #1)Let’s be honest, I can make an entire list of queer characters from Chameleon Moon that I loved, but in order to avoid all the characters in this post being in the same book, I narrowed it down to one. Regan, my beautiful polyamorous ace lizard son with his one nerdy boyfriend and two enby lovers (who also have husbands and boyfriends of their own). I’m not sure why Regan is the one who grabbed me the most, but it is. Special shout out to Evelyn, Indra, Jay and Shiloh as well.

Even more special shout out to the best line ever written, about Regan but said by Jay: Regan, babe, most amazing and aggravating of reptilian runtime specialists, I would be awash in a sea of ecstasy if you would get off the freaking exposed rooftop–

  • 2) Xandri (Failure to Communicate, Tone of Voice, etc.)
“There’s a lot of cruelty in the universe. I prefer not to be a part 

34216194

of it if I can help it.”
While I love a lot of things about this series, especially the worldbuilding, it wouldn’t work half as well without Xandri. She is a wonderful #ownvoices bisexual and autistic protagonist. I’m not autistic myself, but I’ve seen several reviews by autistic people that talk about what wonderful representation she is. As for me, I enjoyed reading her narration, her view of the world, and her unique and creative solutions to problems. Shout out to Kiri, the other bisexual polyamorous female character in this series that I love.
  • 3) Esofi (The Queen of Ieflaria)

“Yourself? Surely you wish to select a champion. Or… at least… a different dress.”

Esofi and her arranged fiancée, Adale are both princesses, but they couldn’t be more different. I adored both of them, but I liked Esofi a little more. I liked her approach to religion, although damn, Esofi, burning down hospitals is not a good idea. I loved the duel scene where she went up against her challenger in a dress, I loved her magic, and I especially loved the ending where she finally came face to face with the dragons. I can’t wait to see more of this series, both with Esofi and Adale, and with new characters as well.

Note: the second book, Daughter of the Sun will not feature Esofi and Adale, but it’s going to be a main F/F ship as well and it’s coming out in November.

Moodboard was made by the author herself on Twitter.

  • 4) Jessica Tran (Not Your Sidekick & sequels)

They’re lucky they live in Andover, where the biggest thing to worry about is Master Mischief stealing all the oranges again or Mistress Mischief turning all the street signs upside down.

31698951One of my favourite things about Jessica (other than the fact that she’s an #ownvoices bisexual Chinese/Viatnemese protagonist) is her unconventional powers. Without spoiling the powers, I’m going to tell you that they aren’t flashy at all and might seem useless at first, but they actually end up incredibly useful in many situations. Other than Jessica and her girlfriend, the sidekick squad also has a trans guy, Bells, and I’m pretty sure Emma is aroace spec, although this is only revealed in the sequels I haven’t read. While this book was often predictable, it had some really interesting perspectives on heroes and villains (particularly with the Mischiefs). I can’t wait to pick up Not Your Villain soon.

  • 5) Alex Cyprin (Astoria: Fate’s Kiss)

You’re never in my way. Gods, you’re my way.

tumblr_messaging_p0hko8LiAx1qigpz3_1280This is a little different, since Alex is not from a book, but a visual novel app called Lovestruck. I still put them here, however, because 1) shh, visual novels are still kind of like books, even if they are in phone apps, and 2) Alex was really helpful in recognising my own gender identity. They’re a demigod child of Aphrodite (and given my love for Greek myths, that certainly helps), a potential love interest, and the protagonist’s best friend and boss. While I adore Alex’s romance route, I also love that they always remain a supportive friend in every single route, even when the protagonist breaks rules or goes against the gods. They’re an amazing character with wonderful romantic lines and I love them so much.

Note: You can only play female protagonists in the app, but there are several female love interests, two nonbinary love interests, some of the guy love interests are queer (although unfortunately several of them are word of god only), and there are plenty of queer side characters in every story.

What are your favourite queer characters in books by queer authors?

~ Alexa

Miscellaneous · Recommendations

GUEST POST: How A Small Press Is Born

Today, I have a guest post for you by Joanne Merriam, who is the editor of many amazing anthologies mentioned below, including two new books in the Women Up To No Good dark fiction series. She is also the owner of Upper Rubber Boot Books, which published one of my favourite books this year, Sunvault: Stories of Solarpunk and Eco-Speculation. (Click here to see my 5-star review.)

If you’ve ever wondered how small publishers like Upper Rubber Boot Books work, wonder no further, because you’ll get at least some of your answers in this post.

~ Alexa

**

In June 2009, the economy crumbling around me, I spent six weeks looking for work in Nashville, where I’d just moved with my husband. Every day, I applied to every new job posting for which I was even remotely qualified, and then had the rest of the day to come up with a business plan for Upper Rubber Boot Books. I had worked for five years at the Writers’ Federation of Nova Scotia before immigrating to the States, but I didn’t know anybody in the publishing or writing worlds in Nashville, and was unlikely to get any sort of loan to start a business, especially when all the capital in the world had seemingly dried up the year before.

13191593I started a Twitter literary journal, Seven by Twenty, now edited by Julia K. Patt (@chidorme), which published extremely short poems and stories, and began building an audience. I talked to a lot of people to get advice. I got in a bad car accident and spent six months recovering. I got a day job at a local hospital. Finally, two years later, I put together a best-of anthology of the short stories and poems I’d been publishing on Twitter, and ran a Kickstarter to raise money to publish it, and officially spoke Upper Rubber Boot Books into existence.

The name comes from a Nova Scotian expression for an insignificant, marginal, probably deeply unhip place, similar to the American “Podunk.” When I was still working for WFNS, I came up with the name so that I could use a non-existent press in examples and avoid besmirching some actual press. Continuing to use it for my own press was something of an inside joke with myself, made funnier because I wanted to publish marginal works: that is, the sort of books that have trouble finding a home.

For the first few years, I only published ebooks, in part because print runs were too much of a financial commitment, and in part because print-on-demand options were still reputed to be somewhat shoddy in quality, and in part because I only had the capacity to learn about so many things at once. I started putting out paperbacks of our new titles in December 2012 with Apocalypse Now: Poems and Prose from the End of Days, co-edited by Andrew McFadyen-Ketchum and Alexander Lumans.

Small publishers like me do pretty much everything except, in most cases, distribution and printing. I use Ingram for distribution to Barnes & Noble, Blackwell’s, Chapters, and independent bookstores worldwide, and Ingram’s print-on-demand service for everything they sell, and CreateSpace, Amazon’s print-on-demand service, for titles sold through Amazon. I also do a small print run, usually 250 copies, of my non-poetry titles, to sell at conventions and the like. So what does “everything” entail? I contract with authors and editors and occasionally other presses, edit, copyedit, hire proofreaders, create ebook files, do layout and cover design, create advertising, do marketing and more marketing and yet more marketing, make sure credits and permissions are in order, negotiate with vendors, and attend conventions and trade shows. Sometimes I sleep.

It’s a good life, if busy. I’m lucky to have a job I love and a side hustle I’m passionate about. Making ideas turn into tangible, physical books is extraordinarily satisfying, and gives me the opportunity to work with a lot of writers, who are, as a group, some of the most thoughtful, kind, and generous people around. I’m a better human being for knowing them.

nogoodWe’re living in interesting times in the book industry. Issues like monopoly power and predatory pricing, piracy, authors’ rights, and fair compensation are all coming to the forefront. Opportunities to interact in new ways are growing as technology matures. Writers can contact readers more directly. Readers can become book critics with tools like NetGalley. And tiny publishers like me can use tools like Kickstarter to reach readers directly and ask for pre-orders so they can pay their writers professional rates without going bankrupt. That’s what I’m doing right now with two books of feminist dark speculative fiction, Broad Knowledge: 35 Women Up To No Good (edited by me) and Sharp & Sugar Tooth: Women Up To No Good (edited by Octavia Cade), which I hope you’ll all check out! Click here to see the Kickstarter.

~ Joanne Merriam

Guest post custom image A Thousand Worlds

Miscellaneous · Recommendations · TBR

Bookish BuzzWords

So, I saw a post about Bookish BuzzWords vs Bookish NopeWords over on Aurora Librialis, and I started thinking about what those would be for me. Then I realised I have way too many buzzwords that make me pick up books. As you can see, I cheated at some places.

  • 1) fairytales / retellings

This is one buzzword Aurora and I have in common. I love fairytale retellings, and if they’re queer or otherwise diverse, even better! Peter Darling is a Peter Pan retelling that I’ve been meaning to read for so long and somehow still haven’t – it has transgender Peter Pan who falls in love with Captain Hook. And isn’t that cover just beautiful? In Ageless Sleep is a queer Sleeping Beauty retelling I haven’t read yet, and Magic at Midnight is a YA fairytale anthology that I’m looking forward to.

fairytales

  • 2) angels

I have this thing where I love stories with angels, but I don’t like when they go too far into Christianity/religious themes. I know, I know, a contradiction. Unfortunately, I haven’t found many angel books that I’ve enjoyed yet. Hush, Hush is one that I loved as a teen, but I’ve been afraid of re-reading it because I don’t think I’d enjoy it now. Out of the Blue is a book I can’t wait to get my hands on – it’s a f/f romance with angels, although surprisingly, the angel is not part of the main couple. And Plastic Wings has an ace protagonist – I won this book forever ago in a giveaway and still haven’t read it. Welp?

angels

  • 3) mermaids

Another buzzword Aurora and I share. I love mermaid books, especially The Little Mermaid retellings, and thankfully, there’s a lot of those. The Little Homo Sapiens Scientist isn’t strictly about mermaids, but it’s the closest thing you can compare these creatures to. It was darker than I expected, but that was my fault for not remembering that the original story was pretty dark too. I still adored it, and it has a f/enby pairing as well. (Warning: don’t expect a happy ending.) I ended up enjoying Ice Massacre more than I thought I would, despite the violence – although the queer girl protagonist certainly helped. And Sea Foam and Silence is a retelling with an ace protagonist and a polyamorous relationship that I still haven’t read… I’m wary of books in verse, but I’ll make an exception for this.

mermaids

  • 4) superheroes

I just love superheroes, okay? Even if they’re sometimes cliché or cheesy, I have a soft spot for them. Not Your Sidekick is pretty cheesy, but with the ownvoices bisexual protagonist, f/f ship, secret identities and queer side characters, it’s a great first book in a great series. Strong Female Protagonist deals with a topic I adore but rarely see: what happens to heroes after they save the world? I haven’t read Girl Reporter yet, but I certainly want to.

superheroes

  • 5) robot / AI / android

There’s a lot of overlap between these three, and I love books with them all. All Systems Red is one of my favourite books, with an anxious android/AI protagonist, one of the best protagonists I’ve read. The Cybernetic Tea Shop is a great asexual f/f romance between an android and a mechanic that also touches on the topic of ownership, something that often comes up with robots and androids. Medusa Uploaded is a book I haven’t yet read, but it definitely sounds amazing.

ais

  • 6) space pirates / thieves / smugglers

It’s a little difficult to sum this up in one word, but I adore morally grey characters, thieves, smugglers and misfits – especially if they happen to be in space. Beauty, Glory, Thrift is a short story about a thief who steals a goddess, and what else do you need, really? Honor Among Thieves is a book I haven’t read, but it sounds right up my alley. And who would be better than one half of the ultimate space misfit pair, Lando?

thieves

  • 7) dragons

Dragons make everything better, duh. Just look at The Tea Dragon Society, which is adorable fantasy graphic novel with tiny dragons and plenty of queer characters. Smoke Signals is a romance between a dragon and a regular IT guy, which was one of my favourite reads of the year. And Wings of Renewal has both dragons AND solarpunk, so it’s like, the ultimate buzzword book for me.

dragons

  • 8) solarpunk / hopeful futures

I already kind of spoiled this in the previous one, but I discovered the solarpunk genre not long ago and absolutely fell in love with it. A polar opposite of gritty dystopias, solarpunk is all about hopeful futures, sustainable and eco-friendly methods, community, working together and supporting marginalised people. Basically, a big “fuck you” to the current worldstate, which is where the “punk” part comes from. Most solarpunk books I know are actually anthologies, but I’m always looking for more.

solarpunk

  • 9) goddesses / mythology

I especially like greek mythology, but I just really like to read anything with goddesses. Outrun the Wind isn’t strictly about the goddess herself, but a huntress of Artemis, and it’s one of my most anticipated releases of the year. Antigoddess is about greek mythology as well, and I don’t know much about it but it has been recommended to me and sounds good. And I’m not sure whether Nobody’s Goddess is actually good, but the blurb sounds interesting, and isn’t that the most beautiful cover you’ve ever seen?

goddess

  • 10) polyamory

I am always, always looking for more books with healthy, committed polyamory. Chameleon Moon and anything else in that universe is a given: it has a committed polyam triad, and a complicated network of polyamorous ships with many cuddles. Running With The Pack was one of the first polyamorous books I came across, with an asexual character AND werewolves, but I still haven’t read it. And Failure to Communicate is the first book in a series that has a polyamorous slowburn. The author has stated that the relationship will happen, although it will take several more books to get there.

polyamory

  • +1) bisexual / asexual / aromantic

I am biromantic asexual, and while I’m not aromantic, I recognise that all three of these identities have things in common – for example, being incredibly rare in fiction. Bisexuality is significantly more common than the other two, but finding well-written #ownvoices portrayal of it is still difficult. I am still waiting to find the perfect bisexual book that really resonates with me, and I am always looking for more ace and aro #ownvoices fiction. (Note: I do recognise that asexual and aromanic are far from being the same, but the communities and identities do have a lot in common and they both need more rep.)

biaro

Runner-ups: Some other concepts/buzzwords I love are books about siblings, especially twins. I like the concept of identical twins, but I’d also love to see sibling relationships like Thor and Loki in the MCU, for example. I absolutely love anthologies, because they are a quick way to get to know several authors, and even if I don’t like all the stories, there’s always something that catches my eye. And this might be cliché, but I still love princesses, especially queer princesses, especially in fantasy.

What are some of your buzzwords that will always make you pick up a book? And what are your favourite books that include my or your buzzwords?

~ Alexa

Recommendations

Resource: The Lesbrary and Others

When you first question your gender identity or sexual orientation and come up with the idea to read about people similar to you, it might seem like there are absolutely no books about queer people, ever. Mainstream publishing has a problem where books about marginalised characters, especially by marginalised authors, don’t get published or advertised as much. They don’t show up on your radar, don’t make it to libraries or bookstores near you – or if they somehow do, they aren’t labelled, and you can only come across them by chance (something I’ve complained a lot about in Hungarian bookstores).

And yet, saying that these books don’t exist would be a huge lie – and it’s especially easy to see why when you come across a website such as The Lesbrary. The Lesbrary is run primarily by Danika Ellis, and it has a Tumblr as well besides the website. It has not only reviews of books with queer women by several reviewers, but also plenty of links to other similar blogs, and the Goodreads project, which is the biggest project I’ve seen that collects books about queer women divided into categories.

Wow! So many books, right? And these are mostly books about queer women, so imagine all the books out there about queer men and nonbinary people! The Lesbrary is also inclusive of nonbinary, trans and ace/aro-spec people.

Some other great blogs focusing on sapphic people (queer women) are Bibliosapphic, or Sapphic Book Club – the second, as you can see, is a book club you can join on Discord (that I’m also part of!) where we read a different book with a f/f relationship each month. However, just following the Tumblr is always worth it, because Lara posts plenty of other sapphic bookish content, and is also a pro at book recommendations for specific requests. You can also check out LGBTQ Reads for more recs, and Claudie Arseneault’s Aro and Ace Character Database is my go-to for a-spec characters specifically.

Most (if not all) of these blogs and databases also have Ko-fi pages, Patreon, or both – so if you have some extra money to spare, it would be great to support them for more content in the future!

And finally, a little surprise: The reason why I started this blog with The Lesbrary is because I recently joined the team of reviewers (or Lesbrarians :). You’ll be able to find my first review up on the website around the 13th of May!

What are your favourite queer bookish blogs or websites? I’m sure there are many great ones I missed, so add them in the comments!

~ Alexa

Miscellaneous · Recommendations

Greek Mythology Book Tag

Remember when I read holy-shit-so-many-books back in March? Well, apparently the price of that is a major reading slump in April. It’s the 16th of the month and I’ve finished three books (one of them a short story/novella) so far. I also have work to do this month, which means I shouldn’t be reading at all… not that it’s going to stop me, since I have ARCs and book club reads and other plans to finish!

In any case, I saw the Greek Mythology Book Tag on Scorpio Book Dreams (created by Flip That Page), and I immediately knew I had to do it. I love Greek Mythology, mostly because of Rick Riordan but also partly because of Astoria: Fate’s Kiss in the Lovestruck app 🙂 And a book tag is the perfect bookish thing to do when you’re otherwise in a reading slump.

Since this survey has two parts, I decided to do them in two different posts – look forward to the second part in a few days!

(Note: Most of the links below go to my own review of the books I mentioned, so feel free to check those out for more info.)

survey

⚡ Zeus || God of the Thunder and Sky / King of the Gods || Favourite book

My favourite book is Chameleon Moon by RoAnna Sylver – an action-packed goodness with a huge, diverse cast, PTSD and anxiety rep, characters of colour, literally everyone is LBGTQAI+, oh, and have I mentioned they have superpowers?

33623041🌊 Poseidon || God of the Seas and Earthquakes || A book that drowned you in feels

I’m going to pick The Lifeline Signal for this one, which is the sequel to Chameleon Moon, and in a way it had more feels than the first book. Dealing with the death of several characters (one recently, and one long ago), as well as the disappearence of another, on top of the usual Parole happenings… And yet it still has plenty of cute moments and good feels as well.

💎 Hades || God of the Underworld || Favourite book with a dark/ominous plot

This is difficult because I prefer not to read very dark books – but then again, most YA dystopian/fantasy books have some kind of dark plot going on in the background. I’m going to pick Ice Massacre by Tiana Warner for this one, which has a pretty dark plot and a lot of character deaths – a group of teenage girls being trained to go to war with mermaids to save their people. I really enjoyed this first book, although I’ve heard mixed reviews about the two sequels.

💍 Hera || Goddess of Marriage and Family || Cutest fictional couple

I’m going to pick Esofi and Adale from The Queen of Ieflaria for this one – both because they are the cutest couple I can think of, and because they get married in the book. Hononary mentions go to basically anyone in Chameleon Moon, including Evelyn/Rose/Danae (f/f/f polymarriage!) and Regan/Zilch/Rowan + Jay, because polyamory is great.

🦉 Athena || Goddess of Wisdom, Handicraft and Strategic Warfare || Series with the best world-building

Can I just say Chameleon Moon again? OH! I’m going to say The Bartimaeus Sequence by Jonathan Stroud. It’s an old favourite of mine and I absolutely love the trilogy (starting the Amulet of Samarkand), although I unfortunately haven’t read the prequel yet. I also want to reread the entire series, but I loved the characters, and while the worldbuilding might be a little cliché (wizards in London, big deal)… well, I still loved it, and I don’t read many series. (Honorary mention to the Wayward Children series by Seanan McGuire, otherwise known as Every Heart a Doorway and its sequels.)

22840182🕊️ Aphrodite || Goddess of Love and Beauty || Most beautiful cover

The Queen of Ieflaria could fit here, of course, with the beautiful dress on the cover – as well as the Life Within Parole Vol 2. cover, but that one is only public to Patreon subscribers at the moment, so I can’t post it here… just believe me when I say it’s beautiful. I’m going to pick The Summer of Chasing Mermaids for this one, because I’m in love with that cover.

🐍 Ares || God of War and Bloodshed || Most violent book you’ve ever read

The easy answer to this is Ice Massacre – the word “massacre” is literally in the title, and half the cast dies by the end. I was going to try to pick something that I haven’t mentioned so far, but yeah, I don’t actually think I can top that one. (Unless we count some of the short stories they made me read for literature class that I still have nightmares about… Fuck Csáth Géza, in all honesty. And whoever wrote that one with the gangrape.)

34216194🖖 Hephaestus || God of Blacksmiths and Fire || Scorching hot swoon-worthy character

(See what I did there with the emoji?) Huh. I am actually horrible at book crushes so I thought this would be difficult, but then I suddenly remembered Failure to Communicate, which had both Diver and Kiri, who are both definitely swoon-worthy. I can’t wait to read the sequel, since there have been hints that Xandri may end up in a polyrelationship with both of them 🙂

🏹 Artemis || Goddess of the Hunt and Virginity || Favourite Kick-Ass Heroine

I’d say that Xandri from Failure to Communicate definitely counts here – she might not be the traditional definition of kick-ass, since her talent isn’t mostly in combat, but she definitely deserves the title anyway. Also, do you remember when Danae from Chameleon Moon punched a tank in the face? Or when Esofi in The Queen of Ieflaria fought a duel in her dress?– But to pick someone I haven’t mentioned yet: Every single heroine from The Radical Element would count. This is a historical fiction anthology with twelve stories that all have female protagonists somehow rebelling or defying expectations. I adored every single story, which is rare with anthologies. (Special love goes to Lady Firebrand and Better for All The World!)

Alex_fierro🎼 Apollo || God of Light and Healing || Sequel book that redeemed its series

This is definitely The Hammer of Thor by Rick Riordan (second book in the Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard series). Maybe “redeem” is a strong word, since the first book wasn’t bad by any means – but it was definitely lacking something for me, and that “something” turned out to be Alex Fierro, the most badass character Rick ever created.

🐢 Hermes || Messenger God of Thieves and Commerce || Book with the best message

I like books with diverse protagonists because they often send the message that you are valid, you are okay, and you are perfect – in this regard, Chameleon Moon would definitely be the best pick for this one. Seriously, there’s so many wonderful quotes.

  • Words are important. They let you know it’s real, you’re fine, more people like you exist. They let you know you’re not alone.”
  • They’ll use guns and they’ll use words, and the worst part of all is that you might listen when they say you’re a freak or a monster, and you might start to believe it. But they are lying.”
  • Love yourself, love the people around you, and never give up. If you need help, reach out. If you’re drowning, make some noise. There are people who love you, who will throw you a life preserver. That’s what it all comes down to, love. That’s how we’re gonna get through this. And we are gonna get through this.”
  • Remember, panic’s a guy, and we just punch him in the face.”
  • There is enough air.

🔥 Hestia || Goddess of the Hearth and Home || Book with the most relatable story

Hah… given that I mostly read fantasy and sci-fi, I don’t exactly read books for relatable stories (unless it comes to queer characters), and I have trouble relating to fictional characters most of the time. Perhaps Green Toes by Avery Flinders, where I related to the bisexual main character in a lot of ways – the way she feels out of place with both in the straight and gay communities.

🐖 Demeter || Goddess of Fertility and Agriculture || Favourite bookish setting

Although the books themselves didn’t age very well, I still have a nostalgic feeling towards the world of Harry Potter, and that of course includes Hogwarts. I would love to hang out in the Hufflepuff common room. I would also love to visit new planets with Xandri in Failure to Communicate. I probably wouldn’t like living in Parole, though.

🍷 Dionysus || God of Wine and Celebration || 2018 release you are most anticipating

I’m going to be honest here, I usually don’t keep up with release dates because I have so many things to read that I only get to new books months after they were released… But I’m definitely looking forward to Baker Thief by Claudie Arseneault, which comes out in 2018, as well as Daughter of the Sun, which is the sequel to The Queen of Ieflaria.

That was long! And there’s another post coming! But I had tons of fun with it, and I hope some of you will too 🙂

I’m tagging: Everyone who reads this and feels like doing it, but especially Lia, Dorka and Laura.

~ Alexa

Recommendations

Recommendation: 10 Best Stories Under 100 Pages – Part 2

Here is the second part I promised – five stories between 40 and 70 pages that you should absolutely read.

The Stable Boy by Megan Derr – Amazon (Free!)| My Review | 40 pages

This is one of the two m/m short stories on this list – a fantasy story about two princes who have to overcome betrayal and curses before they can get married. While I felt like that the resolution could have been more detailed, I still enjoyed this story and rooted for the princes to be happy together.

The Little Homo Sapiens Scientist by S.L. Huang – Amazon | My Review | 46 pages

This dark reverse retelling of The Little Mermaid classic has a female scientist fall in love with and transform to join – well, not a mermaid exactly, but you’ll see that if you read this amazing short story. I adored it despite the fact that it broke my heart.

The love interest presents as feminine due to our standards and uses she/her pronouns, but she comes from a species with only one gender. There is also a nonbinary supporting character in the story who helps the main character. Warning: This story does not have a happy ending – it’s closer to the original Little Mermaid story than the Disney version.

Beauty, Glory, Thrift by Alison Tam – Amazon | My Review | 55 pages

I am Thrift and I want to leave this place, and see the far ends of the universe, and never spend another moment in stasis ever again. Take my hand and bring me with you…

Would you ever still a goddess? This thief would. The goddess Thrift is perhaps the most insignificant of her sisters, and yet she’s the one who gets to see the universe with the help of the thief who eventually captures her heart. This is an f/f short story set in space that you will absolutely adore, though I cannot say much more about it without spoiling the story.

The Cybernetic Tea Shop by Meredith Katz – Amazon | My Review | 65 pages

How do people even come up with all these beautiful and magical stories?! I can’t tell you, but The Cybernetic Tea Shop is a masterpiece. The main characters are a fully autonomous robot, Sal, a technician specialising in Raise AIs (small robot companions), and of course, Joanie, the hummingbird-shaped Raise AI herself. This is a story about a woman who can’t settle, a tea shop that is almost 300 years old, moving on, and finding new purpose. I recommend it to everyone.

Avi Cantor Has Six Months to Live by Sacha Lamb – Amazon | My Review | 67 pages

This is the other m/m story on the list – in fact, it is an #ownvoices story about a romance between two trans gay teenage boys, one of whom is Jewish. The author describes it as a “romantic, #ownvoices fairy tale for trans boys”, and nothing I can say would really explain it better than that. (It does deal with topics of suicide, although nobody actually commits it in the story.)

~ Alexa 🐉

Recommendations

Recommendation: Chameleon Moon + Others

Let me tell you about the Chameleon Moon universe and why I adore it.

(Disclaimer: I am not getting paid or compensated for this in any way, I just really love this author and this world, so here’s why you should love it too and also the best ways you can get extra content.)

Love yourself, love the people around you, and never give up. If you need help, reach out. If you’re drowning, make some noise. There are people who love you, who will throw you a life preserver. That’s what it all comes down to, love. That’s how we’re gonna get through this. And we are gonna get through this.

Chameleon Moon and its sequel, The Lifeline Signal are both hopeful dystopian novels by RoAnna Sylver. What is a hopeful dystopia, you ask? The world sucks, but we’re still here. We support each other, we carry on, and everything is going to be okay.

I cannot emphasize how much I admire the world, and especially the characters RoAnna Sylver created. Not only is the cast incredibly diverse in terms of sexual and romantic orientation, race, disability and personalities, but there is also a huge focus on anxiety, PTSD and related mental health issues. The story of Chameleon Moon is all about standing together.

I could talk forever about the different types of representation in Chameleon Moon, so let me highlight my favourite parts: it has several asexual and aromantic characters (although in the first book the aromanticism is only word-of-god), and also plenty of polyamory. Over here, there is a trio of three women (one of them transgender) married to each other with a kid. And over there… like 5-6 guys and nb people dating each other in all kinds of combinations. (There are also several nonbinary characters using they/them pronouns, as well as at least one of them using xie/xir pronouns – and it’s all completely natural.)

Another huge part of why I love the Chameleon Moon books is the author, RoAnna Sylver themself. They are not only an incredibly skilled writer with a wonderful soul (I mean, you have to have a wonderful soul to be this committed to writing books about hope and love), but they are also super approachable and open to me fans screaming at them about the various characters.

The best place where you can buy the author’s works is Gumroad – you can find all of the stories plus some extra stuff there (including What You Remember, the Chameleon Moon theme song, which is honestly worth every penny), and you can even choose to tip if you can. However, if for some reason you can’t afford the five dollars for the first book, it is actually cheaper on Amazon.

I actually got almost everything by RoAnna Sylver (the two Chameleon Moon novels, a bunch of short stories, as well as their other projects – Stake Sauce with punk gay vampires and Death Masquerade with 19th-century lesbian vampires) either for free or incredibly cheap – all through legal means and from the author themself. Two of the short stories, Runtime and Always Be You are free on both Amazon and Gumroad, and a third one, Un-Dead is included for free in the second edition of Chameleon Moon. (The ebook, at least – I can’t speak for the physical book.)

Signing up for RoAnna’s mailing list (link on the sidebar here) also gets you free stuff, and just paying one dollar per update on Patreon gives you access to a crapton of posts with extra content (with higher tiers getting you exclusive commissions!).

All in all, this is honestly one of my favourite book series, and apparently there are at least five books planned?! I’m here for the long-run, and you should be too.

~ Alexa 🐲

Recommendations

Recommendation: 10 Best Stories Under 100 Pages – Part 1

While 500-page novels can be wonderful, sometimes they just feel overwhelming and I prefer to read something shorter. In this post, I compile my favourite short stories or novellas under 100 pages that I read recently. These are ordered according to page numbers and not based on how much I loved them, because I love them all 🙂

I picked 10 short stories to share with you, but I decided this post would get too long if I posted all of them at the same time – so have the first five and look forward for the second part (with five stories between 40 and 70 pages).

Swelter by Jules Kelley – Amazon | My Review | 20 pages

This wonderful story is about a girl called Grace who attends her older brother’s wedding and hooks up with her childhood crush. Who is her brother’s friend and has a motorcycle.

I adored the writing and the characterisation here, and isn’t that cover just the most beautiful thing you have ever seen? Also, as you may have guessed from the title and the description, this story has some steamy scenes – be aware of that before reading.

Gunrunners by Cecil Wilde – Amazon (Free!)| My Review | 20 pages

Retired intersolar troublemakers (criminals, revolutionaries, lovers, spies, gunrunners) reunite for one last adventure, and perhaps a little redemption.

Things go well, until they don’t.

This is not necessarily a happy story, but it is also not necessarily a sad one.

There’s not much I can add to that description by the author. It was amazing to see older queer characters, one of whom is nonbinary, getting into adventures. There’s so much implied history between them and I would have loved to read more, but this story is still complete on its own.

Out of Her Depth by Pike Martell – Amazon | My Review | 24 pages

This story is about a school where human students go together with supernatural students, and the first mermaid who tries her luck. It’s a love story between a human girl and a mermaid girl who have a happy ending together, even though there are some difficulties and things they have to sacrifice along the way.

Warning for mentions of self-harm scars.

The Witch Sea by Sara Diemer – Amazon (Free!) | My Review | 28 pages

Another f/f fantasy story about a witch, a selkie, sea gods, old grudges, and expectations placed on the younger generations by those who came before them.

Keep in mind that this story has a slightly bittersweet ending instead of a real happy one, but I enjoyed it immensely and I think you will too.

Green Toes by Avery Flinders – Amazon | My Review | 31 pages

This short story is set in a world that is mostly realistic, except for one magic element. The protagonist is a bisexual girl who moves from her rural town to the big city in search of a queer community… she just happens to have magic boots that make gardening a lot more easier.

In the end, she finds the community she was looking for, although not the way she expected. This story has a genderqueer love interest and supportive friend characters, as well as a happy ending.

~ Alexa 🦊