Bookworm corner 📚
If they’re on my 2021 best of list, find the review in the blog post! I will note them.
Ancillary Sword (Imperial Radch #2) by Ann Leckie ⭐ 5/5 stars
Genre: epic far future sci-fi
#6 on the 2021 list
Bi: Notes for a Bisexual Revolution by Shiri Eisner ⭐ 5/5 stars
Genre: non-fiction LGBTQ+ studies
#10 on the 2021 list
The City of Brass (The Daevabad Trilogy #1) by S.A. Chakraborty ⭐ 5/5 stars
Genre: YA historical fantasy
#3 on the 2021 list
Deathless Divide (Dread Nation #2) by Justina Ireland ⭐ 4/5 stars
Genre: YA historical (US post-Civil War) horror
This was an extremely stressful book to read at the end of 2021/beginning of 2022 with the omicron variant raging in the US. Especially the first half.
Loved the addition of Katherine's voice. Some of the new characters just popped, and I so appreciate the breezy way Ireland introduces even more queer characters.
That said, some of the pacing was off, and the treatment of West Coast Chinese immigrants was questionable. And it was disappointing that we didn't get even one Chinese character joining the crew in the book's second half. The zombies lost a bit of their metaphor compared to book one.
Ireland's portrayal of race as a caste system with Black Americans at the bottom was more effective than a certain very famous nonfiction book.
The last hundred or so pages, I couldn't put the book down.
Detransition, Baby by Torrey Peters ⭐ 5/5 stars
Genre: contemporary fiction
#1 on the 2021 list
A Duke by Default (Reluctant Royals #2) by Alyssa Cole ⭐ 4/5 stars
Genre: contemporary m/f romance
** spoiler alert ** I liked the first half of this book better than the second as it seemed rushed for a HEA(FN). The conceit of the Romance genre works well... unless the story is emotionally complex. Portia and Tavish need to work through a litany of issues, which is why I'm giving this book 4/5 stars.
I wanted more of the Portia and Tavish energy that they had at the Renaissance Faire. I wanted more sword making! More #swordbae. Thank you.
Cole knows how to write steamy sex, and I appreciate that.
I wish Portia would've talked to Tavish about her ADHD. Or maybe Cheryl.
Tavish is way too nice to the Queen. She's a monster. I feel like Cole might've tackled that scene differently post-Megan and Harry Oprah interview. (And maybe some reviewers on this app should take back what they said about the villain being too racist.)
I'm an anti-imperialist, so I don't give a fuck if Cole messed up the British peerage titles. It's all made up anyway.
Evil Under the Sun (Hercule Poirot #24) by Agatha Christie ⭐ 2/5 stars
Genre: historical UK mystery
Such misogynistic bullshit through and through. The victim was blamed for her murder constantly, and the single lady with a successful company ditches it for a man as a little cherry on top in the ending.
Greedy: Notes from a Bisexual Who Wants Too Much by Jen Winston ⭐ 3/5 stars
Genre: non-fiction LGBTQ+ memoir
This memoir felt extremely rushed, and the editing was looser in style than it should've been. I wanted to cheer on Jen in parts, but in other places, I wanted her to get over herself. I'm shocked none of Jen's many stories about dating cis men involved biphobia, or at least she didn't mention it, especially since she mentions it about lesbians. (I've gotten biphobia personally from both groups when dating.)
In the acknowledgments, Jen thanks her partner for helping her realize that queerness can be breezy, which accurately describes this book. Except when I had to put it down for a while as I felt like I'd drank too much of something sickly sweet.
Hunger Makes Me a Modern Girl by Carrie Brownstein ⭐ 3/5 stars
Genre: non-fiction music memoir
Like me, you’re someone who has been a long-time Sleater-Kinney fan or has a keen interest in the PNW punk/indie/riot grrrl music scenes of the 90s/early 00s, this is worth the read.
I felt myself filling in details to Brownstein's stories, whether the scenic and cultural ones of the PNW or knowledge of the music and the scene.
The best illustration is Brownstein's recounting of the "last" Sleater-Kinney show at the Crystal Ballroom in Portland, Oregon. She speaks to how the entire venue became a moshpit and how after the show ended, everyone had gone, and the house lights were back up, the band and their family and friends continued to dance with the show's energy. But for those who've never been to the Crystal Ballroom, she leaves out a critical detail: the famous flexing venue floor. The motion is a critical detail to the story, and it's missing, which illustrates how a lot of this memoir felt.
The Kiss Quotient (The Kiss Quotient #1) by Helen Hoang ⭐ 3/5 stars
Genre: contemporary m/f romance
** spoiler alert ** Mixed bag of feelings on this one:
The good stuff:
- Autistic heroine written by an Autistic author.
- Stella is also a woman in STEM who makes all the money.
- Steamy sex scenes with good physicality.
- Consent for sex acts go both ways.
- Michael's lovely family dynamics and Vietnamese rep.
- Michael has the creative profession.
- In general, the writing was excellent and compelling.
The groan stuff:
- The other man interested in Stella is a walking pickup artist and #MeToo sexual harassment lawsuit. He never posed an actual threat.
- Very contrived that Michael didn't notice Stella had fallen for him.
- While most of this book was based on OwnVoices and probably additionally researched and reads, it didn't feel like sex work (Michael's other profession) and sex workers were. An ample missed opportunity for this gender reversal Pretty Woman take. It lacked nuance.
- There lacked a real reunion scene at the end.
- Weird capitalism takes.
Lost On Planet Earth by Magdalene Visaggio, Claudia Aguirre, and Zakk Saam ⭐ 4/5 stars
Genre: far-future sci-fi graphic novel
This story hit me where I live in so many ways. It looks at the imperialism of a Starfleet and going after what you want in your life.
Magic in the Blood (Allie Beckstrom #2) by Devon Monk ⭐ 4/5 stars
Genre: urban fantasy
Perhaps these books have escalated too quickly, but perhaps, you felt every second of it.
Query Craft: The Writer-in-the-Know Guide to Getting Your Manuscript Requested by Angie Hodapp ⭐ 5/5 stars
Genre: non-fiction how-to writing
Beneficial and thorough advice on how to craft a query letter and what to expect in response from an agent.
Rainbow Bridge by Steve Orlando, Steve Foxe, and Valentina Vianconi ⭐ 4/5 stars
Genre: YA animal stories graphic novel
The dog does die, and then the boy goes to help the dog in pet heaven. I cried fully at the beginning, thinking about my cat, who passed in 2020.
Shattered Spear by Otava Heikkilä ⭐ 4/5
Genre: Historical far-past fictional graphic novel
Two strangers meet when one’s injured and the other’s trying to find missing family members.
Taking the Lead (Secrets of a Rock Star #1) by Cecilia Tan ⭐ 3/5 stars
Genre: contemporary m/f kinky romance
Sometimes characters have silly jobs in romance, but Ricki's inheriting a secret BDSM club was a bit over-the-top for me. Same with her mother's death cause. There were moments where I lost my connection with the characters and their motivations.
But this was a fun kinky romp, and I'll certainly read more in this series.
Voices (Annals of the Western Shore #2) by Ursula K. Le Guin ⭐ 5/5 stars
Genre: YA historical fantasy
#7 on the 2021 list
Reread: Yes, Roya by C. Spike Trotman and EA Denich ⭐ 5/5 stars
Genre: historical fiction (US 1960s) m/m/f kinky erotic graphic novel
Special mention on the 2021 list