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review 2019-06-11 00:12
Darkdawn: Book #3 of the Nevernight Chronicles
Darkdawn - Jay Kristoff

You’re not reading a review of the third book in a trilogy to decide whether or not to read the series. You’re reading a review to find out whether or not the author sticks the landing. Whether or not the conclusion is satisfying. Whether the big questions are answered and the plot wraps itself up in a meaningful way. And the answer to your question is yes. In my opinion Kristoff absolutely nails it.


Without spoilers, here are some of the things you can expect from this book: Old friends from the previous books putting in appearances. New friends, because why not make a few new friends along the way. Pretty much every enemy you can think of also putting in an appearance. Pirates. You heard that right: pirates. Mythology and divinity revealed. True love. Epic battles. Derring do. Snarky footnotes. Sexy times. Cool assassin shit. Creepy blood magic. Watching characters you probably love die (if you think this is a spoiler you haven't read the first two books). Watching characters you probably hate also die (see previous comment). Leveling Up. Worldbuilding (yes, even in the last book). Some meta as hell stuff that made me smile. Plenty of action as well as brooding. And, arguably the most important part, closing the chapter on Mia's story.


Look, if you liked the other two books you will like this. And I feel it's safe to say that if you loved the other two books you'll love this one too. I know I did. I feel satisfied with the conclusion of this trilogy, and at the same time I'd love to read a new trilogy set in this world. And that's how I can tell it was a good ending.


Darkdawn hits shelves in September.

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review 2019-05-23 17:56
Outstanding LGBTQ novel encompassing immigration, grief, PTSD, and has a sci-fi twist; this debut is an easy 5-star
The Grief Keeper - Alexandra Villasante

I can already say that this will be on my list as one of my top and most impactful reads of the year (and it’s only May). I’ve not read too many books lately that can bring me to shed both happy and sad tears, as well as make me drop my jaw, and cause me to put the book down for moments so I could collect my thoughts. And although the title would suggest that ‘The Grief Keeper’ is filled with sadness, it also brings with it a bright message of love and hope.


The novel opens with seventeen-year old Marisol being interviewed in a federal border detention center, having just crossed into the U.S., after fleeing El Salvador with her younger sister Gabi, afraid for their lives after the death of their brother Pablo. She has dreamed for years for a life in the States, perfecting her English, and getting lost in the imaginary world of her favorite TV show ‘Cedar Hollow.’ When it looks like her asylum request will be denied, and a new and curious opportunity to have it granted arises, Marisol will do just about anything for her and her sister to make that happen. And that’s by becoming a ‘grief keeper.’


Debut author Alexandra Villasante has written an expertly crafted novel about the complexities of immigration, grief, sexual orientation, PTSD, depression, and, new love. There are even more nuanced topics woven in  such as attitudes towards immigrants (legal and otherwise) being hired to do menial jobs in this country, our political climate, and how the LGBTQ community suffers in other countries (ie which would cause a young girl like Marisol to flee her home).

This story gives so many deep, complex topics to talk and think about but at the core there is this beautiful story about Marisol and Rey (grieving her own brother) who are discovering their relationship with each other, including Marisol who would never have been allowed to explore this part of her back in the country she has fled. Persecution of LGBTQ youth and ‘conversion by rape’ is brought into the spotlight and from this story of family and migration, I was enlightened and educated.


This is a novel about connections as well as grief, and Villasante sheds light on PTSD, and gives new meaning to the idea of taking someone else’s pain away so they don’t have to suffer. There are serious moral and ethical questions to the procedure that’s used so that Marisol will absorb Rey’s grief and pain (this actually brings quite a futuristic aspect to a very realistic story, which I really liked) and shows the extent that Marisol will go to gain entry to the U.S., and it’s heartbreaking.


I read this book and I felt so many different emotions, and the very fact that it’s able to envelope immigration criticism, discussion on sexual identity, loss, classism, plus a loving sister relationship, AND a sci-fi twist, make it a VERY special book. I think it belongs on every school and YA library shelf everywhere and I hope many people will pick it up, even if it’s initially because of the insanely gorgeous cover (thanks to Kaethe Butcher and Kelley Brady), and that they end up holding it close to their hearts.


*Trigger warnings/mentions: sexual assault, suicidal ideation, violence, bombing, PTSD






Source: www.goodreads.com/book/show/34522727-the-grief-keeper
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review 2019-05-22 01:05
She/He/They/Me: For the Sisters, Misters, and Binary Resisters - Robyn Ryle

This was so wildly disappointing. Given the title and cover design I was expecting a book that explores numerous different gender expressions and experiences. What I got was an extremely binary book. I took a few different paths and discovered, to great disappointment, that the bulk of the book focuses on very binary experiences. It seems designed for cisgender stories. If you try to follow a genderqueer path good luck. There is a branch where you have to pick either acceptance or rejection from your family at a young age. If you pick rejection the rest of the branch reads as cis. If you pick acceptance and are nonbinary you get a page at best, then proceed down the same path. Even if you take a trans branch the later sections overlap with the cis ones. It's really frustrating.

Here's the thing: there's a lot of good info in this book for those who are new to ideas of gender and feminism. It's a decent primer for people who are not familiar with these concepts at all. However, if you're well versed in gender, or a member of the queer community, the odds are good you will find this book off-putting or alienating. After interacting with this book for several hours I really want someone to write the book I thought this would be when I picked it up. I'm glad I borrowed this one and didn't buy it.

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review 2019-04-23 19:16
A Q&E Guide to Queer and Trans Identities
A Quick & Easy Guide to Queer and Trans Identities - Mady G,J. R. Zuckerberg

Some curious snails happen across a group of campers in their forest that don't look like the Boy or Girl Scouts who usually stop there. A cool snail comes out of a tank and takes them on a journey. Its a very silly beginning, but the snails and the other talking woodland critters allow a more open discussion of queer and trans identities. The guide also talks about everything from the reasoning for using certain words, like queer, how to decide for yourself when and if to come out, identifying good partners from toxic ones, and other valuable advice.


This guide is appropriate for everyone, whether they are themselves questioning, on their journey already, or want to know more about the subject or wish to avoid offense. It's OK! Everyone is different and as long as we're respectful to each other everything else follows naturally. The authors do a good job of explaining identities and emphasize that everyone may not fit into these categories and that is OK, too.

So this is as advertised: a great new guide that helps the reader understand queer and trans identities. The illustrations are charming and the definitions are straight-forward and simple. A great resource - the series also has another title on pronouns.

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review 2019-04-04 23:41
Lord of the Butterflies
Lord of the Butterflies - Andrea Gibson

I usually prefer to write my own reviews, but the write up in the back of this book nails it so perfectly I have to steal it:


"In a fierce oscillation between activism and love, Andrea's most recent literary triumph, Lord of the Butterflies, is a book of protests, panic attacks, and pride parades. These poems riot against gun violence, homophobia, and white supremacy, while jubilating gender expansion, queer love, and the will to stay alive."


A perfect summary. Written with all the passion I've come to expect from Gibson this collection has teeth. Political, queer, brutally raw, heart-wrenchingly honest, and fierce as hell these poems hit me right in the heart - my thanks to Gibson for writing them.

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