Showing posts with label bisexual. Show all posts
Showing posts with label bisexual. Show all posts

Saturday, February 11, 2017

Recommendation: The Seafarers Kiss - Julia Ember: Bisexuality and Mermaids

In THE SEAFARER'S KISS, mermaid Ersel falls in love with shieldmaiden Ragna and causes lots of trouble back home at the ice castle.

What intrigued me: I absolutely loved her debut UNICORN TRACKS.

Action-filled intricate world

I knew I'd love THE SEAFARER'S KISS after about five pages. Just like with her fantastic debut UNICORN TRACKS, Ember writes fast-paced and action-oriented - just what I like.

It's absolutely amazing how Ember painted this intricate world with its own customs and little sayings - THE SEAFARER'S KISS doesn't read like paranormal romance or mythology - it truly reads like a contemporary set in a mermaid kingdom. And you guys, this is the best.

I absolutely fell in love with the characters. Especially Ersel's best friend and now king's guard Havamal - the swoon is real. Even though this isn't really a book with a love triangle, I found myself rooting a bit for him and Ersel. You'll ship everyone while reading this book, that's the beauty of everyone being bisexual! The characters are all just so lovely, you'll find yourself wishing that they'd all just get along. It might also be relevant to your interests to know that Loki is genderfluid with they/them pronouns in this and that there is an amputee. The marginalized identities representation is fabulously refreshing and fun to read about. 

The Little Mermaid gone dark


THE SEAFARER'S KISS is a roller coaster of emotions. The first half of the book presents you with super cute contemporary romance fluff and all the feels, and towards the end it gets so dark that you'll find yourself wanting to turn the lights on. The two halves that THE SEAFARER'S KISS is divided into are without a doubt my favorite thing about this book - it manages to flawlessly combine a cute bisexual romance with an exciting fantasy adventure.

Filled with plot twists, THE SEAFARER'S KISS explores the moral shades of gray between good and evil while being an absolute page-turner. Ember managed to get me with every single twist. I saw none of them coming and am thoroughly impressed with the way she magnificently managed to make this The Little Mermaid retelling absolutely 100% her own.

THE SEAFARER'S KISS stuns with intricately developed character relationships, a fantastic world, and an action-filled plot that'll probably tempt you to binge-read this in one sitting.



Rating:

★★★★★

 



Overall: Do I Recommend?

THE SEAFARER'S KISS is the bisexual Norse Little Mermaid retelling you've been waiting for. Trust me, you want this. I think I have a very strong contender for new favorite LGBT+ writer. Julia Ember's one to watch.



Additional Info

Published: May 4th 2017
Pages: 230
Publisher: Duet Books
Genre: YA / Mythology / Norse Mythology
ISBN: 9781945053207

Synopsis:
"Having long-wondered what lives beyond the ice shelf, nineteen-year-old mermaid Ersel learns of the life she wants when she rescues and befriends Ragna, a shield-maiden stranded on the mermen’s glacier. But when Ersel’s childhood friend and suitor catches them together, he gives Ersel a choice: say goodbye to Ragna or face justice at the hands of the glacier’s brutal king.

Determined to forge a different fate, Ersel seeks help from Loki. But such deals are never as one expects, and the outcome sees her exiled from the only home and protection she’s known. To save herself from perishing in the barren, underwater wasteland and be reunited with the human she’s come to love, Ersel must try to outsmart the God of Lies."
(Source: Goodreads)



What's your favorite mermaid book?

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Monday, January 16, 2017

[Review] The Graces (#1) - Laure Eve: Witches, Racism, and Biphobia

In THE GRACES, River is new to town and immediately grows obsessed with the town "celebrity" family Grace, who are said to be witches.

What intrigued me: Witches!

Carbon Copy of TWILIGHT

Many reviewers note that THE GRACES bears a lot of similarities to TWILIGHT. Which - well if you've been here for a while you know that I certainly wouldn't mind that. But it's very much a carbon copy of TWILIGHT, just interchanging vampires with witches. This is exactly the same reading experience, I don't even know what to say about the plot beyond that. 

The Grace family is exactly that brand of pretentious characters that speak in pseudo deep sentences that really makes you feel detached from the narration. None of the characters feel real, rather almost like a parody, because THE GRACES takes itself so, so seriously.
Eve has this poetic quite dreamy writing style that surely showcases her skills but it absolutely doesn't work in combination with that plot.

Beyond that we have our typical Mary Sue protagonist that's not like other girls and so special and different - can we just retire this already? There's nothing wrong with being exactly like all other girls. Girls are awesome.

Racism, Ableism, and Homophobia Galore 

THE GRACES is littered with slurs and insensitivity. So much so that I could basically educate you on what not to use just by using quotes from this book. Because it's just so much I'll use a list format.
I won't use any verbatim quotes here in the following in order not to clutter things up (and also because it's so much that going back and checking page numbers would take a century.)
  • Questionable POC/Asian rep. There is one non-white character in this book, mean girl Niral who engages in frequent homophobic comments and slut shaming. It's absolutely irresponsible to make your single POC (South-East Asian) character a despicable human being. It's even worse to include this in the first place if none of her horrible action are ever addressed and/or correct. This equals condoning her behavior.
  • Biphobia. THE GRACES uses bisexuality as a plot twist. If I tell you which character is bisexual, this would spoil the story. This is not how you represent LGBT* characters. Beyond that it's stigmatized and seen as disgusting and horrifying when the character is forcibly and violently outed. THE GRACES also features a hate crime on the basis of sexuality that is normalized and encouraged. 
  • Queerbaiting? Protagonist River has an obsession with Summer Grace that comes across more like a misguided crush. This book could've been so much more interesting if the romance was between two girls and not about running after a boy who doesn't really seem interested.
  • Homophobia. Mean girl Niral spreads rumors about a side character being a lesbian. I don't know in what world being a lesbian is a negative thing, but THE GRACES makes sure to portray it like that. Earlier on before the bisexual character is outed him being bullied by a boy is described as '[the bullied boy] seemed to enjoy [getting bullied] a little too much'. 
  • Casual racial slurs. You'll find g*psy and many more in this book as casual descriptors that are never addressed. Normalizing slurs is unacceptable. Racism isn't cool or quirky.
  • Casual ableism. The lovely line 'their parents divorce hung over them like lepracy' and calling a boy 'too strong to faint like that' are always quite lovely to read.
  • Straight-forward ableism. There's this lovely dialogue between two characters fairly early on where they talk about a supposedly mentally-ill character and say 'well you can't be friends with someone [...] with mental problems.'
...and this isn't even a complete list. At some point I just grew so emotionally exhausted that I just wanted to get this over with and stopped keeping tabs. Most of the things I mentioned can be found within the first 80 or so pages. 

It's extremely disappointing to not only see a racist homophobic and ableist book like that published, but also to see reviewers and bloggers recommend this happily. I was hurt by this book. And so many other marginalized readers in the future will be.

So yeah. That was THE GRACES. If you plan on reading this, be extremely careful.

Rating:

★☆☆☆

 



Overall: Do I Recommend?

THE GRACES shocked me through the frequent insensitivity, homophobia, biphobia, and racial slurs. It's extremely horrifying that all of this ended up in the final version. Marginalized readers, please be very careful. Beyond that it's a typical Mary Sue moves to new town story that has so much in common with TWILIGHT that you can only call it fan fiction.

Trigger warning for: racial slurs, slut shaming, homophobia, biphobia, hate crimes (LGBT)


Additional Info

Published: September 1st 2016
Pages: 415
Publisher: Faber & Faber
Genre: YA / Paranormal / Witches & Wizards
ISBN: 9780571326808

Synopsis:
"Everyone said the Graces were witches.

They moved through the corridors like sleek fish, ripples in their wake. Stares followed their backs and their hair.

They had friends, but they were just distractions. They were waiting for someone different.

All I had to do was show them that person was me.

Like everyone else in her town, River is obsessed with the Graces, attracted by their glamour and apparent ability to weave magic. But are they really what they seem? And are they more dangerous than they let on?"
(Source: Goodreads)



What's your favorite book about witches?

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Sunday, December 11, 2016

[Review] Timekeeper (#1) - Tara Sim: Steampunk and Time-Controlling Clocks | #ReadIndie

In TIMEKEEPER, time is controlled by clock towers in an alternate Victorian Era. When the clock towers start getting bombed, mechanic Danny grows curious.

What intrigued me: I heard about a bisexual character in this and immediately needed to get my hands on a copy.

Incredibly Original

TIMEKEEPER impressed me instantly with the rich world building. The second you open this book, you're sucked into the story, a Victorian-Era-inspired Steampunk world controlled by clocks. It sounds strange but works so well and is so delightfully refreshing and new. I've never read anything like this before.

As a Steampunk skeptic I was hesitant about picking this up, but Sim managed to convert me fully. TIMEKEEPER is absolutely not only a novel for fans of the genre, but also for people who'd like to try something different.

Lack of Urgency

The world building is the biggest strength but also the biggest weakness of TIMEKEEPER. A good chunk of the novel is spent feeding background information and letting protagonist Danny walk around to get a good look at everything that it has to offer. This leads to the premise quite quickly growing a little bit wonky. 
The idea with the clock towers getting attacked isn't necessarily the focus of it all and it did bother me because I felt like the story was deriving from its intended path a lot, in order to give the characters more screen time or to info dump. It just feels like urgency of the story just isn't addressed enough and that there isn't any real danger, else the characters would probably proceed more quickly or in the least with more caution.

The lack of urgency is probably due to the story's other plot line, mechanic Danny following in love with a physical manifestation of a clock tower he's repairing. It sounds strange and reads a little strange, too, it reminded me a little of those people who fall in love with inanimate objects. The concept is interesting, but I just didn't grow fond of it at all. Which is probably also due to the quite flat love interest whose only attribute is that he is incredibly lovely and adorable.



Rating:

★★★½

 



Overall: Do I Recommend?

TIMEKEEPER is a cute little story for steampunk-enthusiasts and those who like their romance fluffy and superficial. It stuns with fantastically diverse characters in leading roles (PTSD, bisexual, gay, POC) and a very innovative world.

What's #ReadIndie?



Additional Info

Published: November 1st 2016
Pages: 368
Publisher: Sky Pony Press
Genre: YA / Historical
ISBN: 9781510706187

Synopsis:
"Two o’clock was missing. 

In an alternate Victorian world controlled by clock towers, a damaged clock can fracture time—and a destroyed one can stop it completely.

It’s a truth that seventeen-year-old clock mechanic Danny Hart knows all too well; his father has been trapped in a Stopped town east of London for three years. Though Danny is a prodigy who can repair not only clockwork, but the very fabric of time, his fixation with staging a rescue is quickly becoming a concern to his superiors.

And so they assign him to Enfield, a town where the tower seems to be forever plagued with problems. Danny’s new apprentice both annoys and intrigues him, and though the boy is eager to work, he maintains a secretive distance. Danny soon discovers why: he is the tower’s clock spirit, a mythical being that oversees Enfield’s time. Though the boys are drawn together by their loneliness, Danny knows falling in love with a clock spirit is forbidden, and means risking everything he’s fought to achieve.

But when a series of bombings at nearby towers threaten to Stop more cities, Danny must race to prevent Enfield from becoming the next target or he’ll not only lose his father, but the boy he loves, forever."(Source: Goodreads)


Do you like steampunk?

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Sunday, September 18, 2016

[Review] Assassins: Discord (Assassins #1) - Erica Cameron: Girls Who Like Girls, Murder, and Action, Baby!

In ASSASSINS: DISCORD, assassin Kindra who has been raised to follow the rules, starts rebelling.

What intrigued me: f/f. Enough said.


Fast-paced action-style writing

I was really excited for ASSASSINS: DISCORD. I really really wanted this to succeed, because of the winning combination - fast-paced action + assassination + lady-loving ladies? 
Who doesn't need this in their lives? Unfortunately it was the writing style at the end of the day that irked me the most. 

The way the reader gets thrown into the story isn't written elegantly enough to make it that kind of smooth action-filled, thrilling story ASSASSINS: DISCORD wants to be. It definitely is written like an action movie - cut scenes, lots of different scenery, no time wasted. Murder, car chases, walking away from explosions, spying - you'll find all of that in this book. That's all without exception a great thing, however combined with the writing it doesn't translate very well in my opinion.

I had tremendous problems even establishing the characters, even understanding what is going on and why it is going on. I went in blind without reading the blurb, which I really don't recommend you do. You're going to want to cling to every little bit of information you can find without spoiling the novel for yourself, because ASSASSINS: DISCORD doesn't waste time explaining anything. It simply reads like the second book in a trilogy. I actually went back and checked because I was afraid I had accidentally picked up the second book instead of the first.  

Very plot-driven

A fantastic asset of ASSASSINS: DISCORD is the representation. You'll find characters of many different sexualities in here and also a cheeky little f/f romance that I won't say too much about, only that I enjoyed  that but that we got tremendously. At times I was hoping that the author went more for it, and really really pursued that romance. However, this is a plot-driven book and that's really minor criticism.

But again, I have to criticize a bit; because this is so fast-paced the characters are lacking slightly. From the start I couldn't really identify with anyone or even get attached to anyone, simply because they aren't really introduced. Of course this will also then have an impact on how you perceive the romantic subplot, and how you read this story. 

ASSASSINS: DISCORD is a really really fast, quick book. Sometimes you have to be careful, because it may overtake you.


Rating:

★★☆☆

 



Overall: Do I Recommend?

Sure. ASSASSINS: DISCORD is the read for people who like their thrillers diverse and their ladies loving ladies. It gains a lot of sympathy points with that and really makes me turn a blind eye to the couple of issues I had with it. You will, too.



Additional Info

Published: September 5th 2016
Publisher: Riptide Publishing / Triton Books
Genre: YA / Thriller

Synopsis:
"Kindra’s moral compass has never pointed north, but that’s what happens when you’re raised as an assassin and a thief. At sixteen, she’s fantastic with a blade, an expert at slipping through the world unnoticed, and trapped in a life she didn’t chose. But nothing in her training prepares her for what happens when her father misses a target.

In the week-long aftermath, Kindra breaks rank for the first time in her life. She steals documents, starts questioning who their client is and why the target needs to die, botches a second hit on her father’s target, and is nearly killed. And that’s before she’s kidnapped by a green-eyed stranger connected to a part of her childhood she’d almost forgotten.

Kindra has to decide who to trust and which side of the battle to fight for. She has to do it fast and she has to be right, because the wrong choice will kill her just when she’s finally found something worth living for."(Source: Goodreads)



What's your favorite assassin book?

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Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Hey Authors, Why Is LGBTQ Representation So Hard? | YA Talk



What is LGBTQ*?

LGBTQ* refers to the lesbian/gay/bisexual/trans/queer/and other community.

It basically includes everyone that doesn't identify with the gender they were assigned at birth and/or isn't heterosexual.







What the problem is

If you haven't really paid attention to the lgbtq community before, you probably didn't even know it existed. 
In the common media, all we get is gay representation in form of mostly homosexual men. I mean, there's a token fashion-savvy gay best friend in every romantic comedy movie set in New York. I didn't even know there were such things as pansexuality, asexuality, or even genderqueerness before I dove into the topic after reading David Levithan's "Boy Meets Boy" at university.

And this is the root of the problem. I'm not saying it's your fault if you had/have no idea what all these terms mean. It's not your fault that you've been brought up in a world were everyone is assumed to be heterosexual and identifying as either male or female. 

There are very few books that deal with gender and sex without exclusively being about gender and sex. Most books including LGBTQ* characters are also about coming out. I'm not saying we don't need these, but I'm saying that we need more books that casually feature LGBTQ* characters. 

Why not make your protagonist a bisexual woman? Why not make them indifferent to sexuality or identifying as indifferent to the concept of gender? It sounds far-fetched, but people like this do exist, and there are a lot of them. You'd be surprised as to how many people (even your friends) probably aren't heterosexual. We just assume that everyone is because we are bombarded with white heterosexual characters in all media all the time.

Take a look at popular culture!

Can you name a single super popular book with a main character that identifies as other than straight, or is simply assumed to be heterosexual without needing to mention it? Probably not, if it's not a book about specifically queer issues.

I don't understand what's so difficult about this. You may argue that most writers tend to write what they know about and maybe might shoo away from writing about LGBTQ* characters when they're heterosexual themselves. (Just the fact that I have to pretend for the sake of this argument that every writer is heterosexual is ridiculous...)

Well, I have news for you:

The job of a writer is to make stuff. They make stuff up, and sometimes even base that stuff on real events. If they do, they have to do some research. You can't tell me that someone is able to research everything about 18th century France to write a historical romance, but can't be bothered to do some research on queer issues to make it a novel about an asexual in 18th century France? Well, if you can't do that, you probably shouldn't be a writer. 

I'm not saying that every writer has to write about queer characters, I'm saying that instead of jamming out the 16th  book about a white straight girl falling in love with a mysterious dark-haired poetry-loving semi villain boy, they should try writing about a white gay boy falling in love with that same mysterious dark-haired poetry-loving semi villain boy. 

LGBTQ* people exist and I think they are worth representation just as much as heterosexuals. 


Here are some queer YA reads to get you started:

(links leading to goodreads)

  • Fun Home by Alison Bechdel (lesbian)
  • Luna by Julie Anne Peters (transgender)
  • Boy Meets Boy by David Levithan (gay)
  • Ash by Malinda Yo (lesbian)
  • Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides (intersex)
  • Every Day by David Levithan (pansexual, agender)


What are your thoughts on LGBT* reads?

Any recommendations?


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