Pride Month Author Interview: Kaia Sonderby!

I had the opportunity to interview yet another wonderful author this month, and she happens to be one of my favorite people ever! I consider Kaia a good friend and I’m so glad I got to talk to her about my favorite series ever! Yes, I said EVER. I have never recommended a book more than I have Failure to Communicate.

First, here’s a synopsis of Failure to Communicate: 

 

Xandri Corelel is one of the last existing autistics in the universe, but she’s worked hard to become the leader of the Xeno-Liasons on the Carpathia, a first contact space ship that works to form alliances with aliens of all different kinds. Now, she finds herself having to negotiate with the Anmerilli, a group of people known for their xenophobia and stubborness, in order to keep the powerful weapon they’ve created from falling into the wrong hands and becoming a major threat to the well-being of the entire universe. No pressure at all!

Xandri is also bisexual. Though the romance isn’t super strong in book one, she clearly has feelings for two of her friends-Diver (m) and Kiri (f) and there are very strong hints at a polyamorous relationship in the works. I’ve already read book twovand can confirm that the romance becomes a larger focus and I can’t wait to see where it goes next!

I love this book because it has a bisexual and autistic main character-like me!-and she is probably more like me than any other character I’ve ever read. Plus we’ve got cannon polyamory instead of just a love triangle, space politics, alien species of all different shapes and sizes and intellectual capacities and of course plenty of action and drama and character growth! The second book, Tone of Voice, is available now, as is the prequel novella Testing Pandora. Book 3 is set to come out within a year!

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Now, onto the interview!

 

 

1) Failure to Communicate has great Own Voices autistic and bisexual rep! What would you say good representation means to you?

This is kind of hard–good representation of, for example, autistic people is hard to find. That’s one of the many reasons I set out to write Failure to Communicate in the first place. I’ve read so many bad representations, and they always hurt. I think one of the few good bits of representation out there was Temperance Brennan from the tv show Bones, but she’s never actually referred to as autistic. So even though she’s fantastic rep, and made me feel so seen, non-autistic people wouldn’t have to acknowledge her as autistic at all.

For me, I feel like good rep, truly good rep, needs to be accurate but also explicit. And when it is, it’s such an amazing feeling. I’ve been lucky enough to see some good bisexual representation in more mainstream stuff–for example, The Librarians, one of my favorite characters is bisexual, and they show this by her being interested both in a man and a woman at various points in the series. There’s nothing about threesomes or promiscuity or greediness or “a phase” or anything like that. And there was no denying it.
That is to me the most important part. Seeing an accurate portrayal that can’t be denied or walked back. When I see that, it makes my world a better place. When I’m writing, I want to provoke that same feeling for readers. I honestly think good representation is necessary for healthiness and happiness.
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2) What do you have in common with Xandri and what makes her different from you? Which of your characters would you say you’re most like?

 Oh man…well, I mean, obviously Xandri is going to be the character most like me, since she’s the autistic one! But we have a lot of differences even so. I don’t think starship specs would ever be my type of special interest, for one. And she might need a coffee intervention, but I’m not much of a coffee drinker. I only drink as much as I do now because my husband introduced me to mocha lattes, damn him.
With Xandri, I took many things–including what I knew of fellow autistics–and wove them together. We both like books and birds, but she’s had intensive therapy and I haven’t. We’re both touch adverse and struggle in crowds, but I’m better at maintaining eye contact. We both love deeply and don’t trust easily.
Actually, one of the funnier things we have in common is hair texture. When I first wrote FtC, I had really short hair, and had for years. Then I started growing it out, only to be reminded how straight, flat, and slippery it is! I’d never intended for that to be a thing at all, I very much wanted her physical traits to be different from mine, but I guess we don’t always get what we want.
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3) Do you remember the first book you ever read with an autistic character? Do you remember how you felt about the rep?

I was an adult before I encountered an autistic person in a book. To be honest, if I knew about it, I would usually avoid it–the authors were never autistic themselves. One of them got by me, though, because there was no mention of it in the blurb or anything.
It was…not good rep. Your typical white autistic boy. A teenager, but of course he acted much younger than his age, and had a bracelet declaring him autistic so other people would know, because non-autistic people see nothing wrong with invading our privacy. I hated it. That sort of rep reinforces dangerous stereotypes, and makes life harder for all autistics. In general, I prefer not to read books with autistic characters if the writer is allistic.
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4.    What about bisexual rep? Do you remember the first book you ever read with a bisexual character? Did you like it?

Honestly, the first book I read with confirmed bisexual characters, I think I was young enough the first time I read it that I didn’t fully realize I was bisexual myself. But I did know what it was. Among other things, my mom was out about her own bisexuality, so it wasn’t something I’d never encountered before, at least.
I remember just taking it at face value, as part of the characters I was reading about. It was there, and it did no harm, and no one had told me it was wrong, so I accepted it. (To be fair, I was isolated from other people a lot when I was younger and didn’t really talk to people much before oh, 14 or 15, so that’s why I hadn’t really encountered things like vitriolic homophobia at that point). I think I appreciate it far more now than I could have then, since I am bisexual and good bi rep is hard to find.
Now whenever I encounter it in media, and it’s good rep, it’s so thrilling.
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5)   If you could spend a day in the Failure to Communicate universe where would you go/what would you do? What planet(s) would you visit, what animals would you wanna see, etc?

A day?! A day would never be enough! I’d want to ride a caroua on Cochinga, and swim with the Hands and Voices, and see great reachers on the Ongkoarrat homeworld. Visit the space stations, see the starships with my own eyes. So many, many things. And that’s only the stuff I can tell you about. There are other things, but those would contain spoilers.
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6.   What’s your favorite part about writing scifi? Are there any scifi books, movies, games or shows that helped build your love of scifi?

I enjoy writing speculative fiction of all sorts, but one of the things that I really love about sci fi is the sheer scope. I mean, sure, you can limit a sci fi story to a single block somewhere on Earth, and I think it could still be a great story. But for me, the fact that I can make something so large, that I can make multiple worlds instead of just one, that I can reach far beyond our tiny blue dot and into the vastness of space–that’s what draws me the most. In terms of stretching my wings as a writer, it’s been amazing.
I had never written it before the Xandri books, nor read or watched much, though I’ve been a Star Wars fan for years. I began to poke around, to familiarize myself with it more. I think one of the first and biggest influences for me was Tanya Huff’s Confederation of Valor series. A couple of other influences were Lilith’s Brood by Octavia Butler and The Best of All Possible Worlds by Karen Lord. The first couple seasons of the TV show Andromeda are fantastic, and also had an influence on how I do sci fi. And well, there’s Star Wars, of course. There’s more, but those are some of the very biggest.
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7)  You’ve said that the Xandri Corelel series will have 8 books. Can you give us any hint as to what kind of things we can expect to see in the next 6 books? I’m super curious; Will there be any other neurodivergent characters introduced? Will we get to read from any other POV’s aside from Xandri and Divers?

Obviously, there’s things I can’t tell you. But one thing about the series is that, although their is an overarching story arc that covers the full series (though you only see glimpses of it early on) there’s also two smaller arcs. Mini-arcs?
The first four books focus really strongly on Xandri’s growth: developing some confidence in herself, learning to trust her instincts, over-coming a lot of her self-doubt, accepting her autism. Things like that. As much as she’s gone through in the first two books, the next two are really going to put her and her friends under the hammer. But it’s important growth for her. Both in terms of where the story is going, but also, I really wanted to present people–especially other autistics–with an autistic character that becomes strong and learns to believe in herself. We need more of that, all of us. We need to see we can have faith in ourselves and our abilities.
I’m not going to talk much about the second arc, except to say it continues a lot of the themes that have already been in the series, and brings in some new ones. I’ll also start writing Kiri’s point of view in the second arc.
As to whether there are more neurodivergent characters coming…I guess you’ll just have to wait and see!
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8)  If you could sort your characters by Hogwarts houses and/or assign Zodiac signs, who would be what?

I admit, I don’t think I know the Zodiac well enough to give astrological signs, and anyway, our astrology is based on the stars around Earth, and none of my characters have even been there, so Zodiac signs don’t really apply to them. I guess I’ll do Hogwarts houses, but not the twisted versions you get of some of them *cough Slytherin cough* in the later books. Also, I’m going to keep it to a few key characters.
I think that Xandri (like me) would be a Hufflepuff. Sure, she’s got bravery, but her key characteristics to me are her fierce loyalty for friends and loved ones, and her willingness to work as hard as is needed to achieve her goals.
Diver, nerd that he is, is definitely a Ravenclaw. I think in the end Kiri would be one too, since it’s about the best fit. I don’t know, for some reason Rowling didn’t have any house founders who appreciated art and creativity, and I think those aspects are a more important part of Kiri than many would realize.
I’m sure some people would be surprised to know I’d consider Captain Chui a Slytherin, but I’m referring back to the first couple of books, where Slytherins had qualities like ambition, and the books made it clear that didn’t have to be a bad thing. Captain Chui has Plans. Big ones. She always has. It’s her ambition and drive that got her where she is in life, that made her dream of the Carpathia come true.
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9) What would you like to see more of in books in terms of queer and autistic rep?

In terms of autistic rep, I of course want far more own voices work, and much less from allistics. But I also want a much wider scope of autistic characters that challenge so many of the stereotypes. I want outgoing autistics, autistics with amazing senses of humor and a knack for sarcasm, ones who are graceful, coordinated, eloquent even. I want to see more who have developed tact (instead of making running jokes about how they say whatever is in their heads), more who mask and more who don’t, more who are emotional about every little thing.
I especially want to see more representations that deal with the sensory overload issues, instead of making autism all about social things. And most of all, I want more explicit representation. I want to know right from the get-go that a character is autistic, and I want it clearly stated in the text or dialogue or whatever the medium in question is using.
With queer rep, I’d like a lot more casual queer rep. What I mean is, yeah, there’s a place for LGBTQ+ books, but I still want queer characters in books that aren’t, say, published by an LGBTQ+ publisher, or focusing solely around queer characters. There should always be queer characters in media even if queerness isn’t the focus.
Also, I’m happy for YA that they’re beginning to get more queer characters (as well as other types of diversity) but adult fiction needs more too!

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What are you currently working on? Multiple projects? Can you tell us anything about them-genre, age group, etc?

I have a number of projects in a number of states. Most of them are just ideas in a notebook. But I’m editing the third Xandri Corelel book, Facial Expression, and I’ll be serializing an f/f/f sci fi story called Once Upon a Distant Star, on Wattpad (I hope to start posting some of it soon). I’m also in the middle of writing some erotica, and will be looking to finish that soon as well.
Honestly, I have so many things I want to write, I wish there was three of me. Though I’m pretty sure the world’s not ready for that.
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Thank you all so much for reading, and thank you Kaia for taking the time to answer these questions! Till next time<3

-Becca von Zweck

Pride Month Author Interview: Kayla Ancrum!

I had the opportunity to interview the wonderful Kayla Ancrum, one of my favorite people and author of the queer YA books The Wicker King and The Weight of the Stars. Thank you so much Kayla, for taking the time to talk to me! We talked about queer rep, characterization and writing technique.

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Before we get to the interview portion, lets start with some background information about Kayla’s books!

 

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The Wicker King follows best friends Jack and August as they navigate their increasingly codependent relationship, while battling mental illness and dealing with parental neglect. Jack sees another world and otherworldly beings, and both he and August don’t know whether or not what he’s seeing is real, or a sign of declining mental health. Their journey towards learning to be less dependent on one another is a tough one and filled with vandalism, toxicity, and psychological torment, but it’s one I think everyone should read.

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The Weight of the Stars is told from the POV of Ryann, an orphaned bi girl who lives alone with her brother and his baby. When a new girl named Alexandria moves to town, Ryann is determined to take her under her wing and adopt her into her group of friends. But Alexandria isn’t so easy to get close to, and she’s got her sights set on the stars, where her mother has gone to live for the rest of her life, and where Ryann has always yearned to travel to herself. As Ryann helps Alexandria catch her mothers messages from space, they grow close, first as friends and then as something more. Fun fact: Jack, August and Rina (another important character from The Wicker King) make a cameo in this book as the parents of one of Ryann’s best friends!

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Now, onto the interview questions!

 

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The Wicker King and The Weight of the Stars both have great own voices queer rep! Do you remember the first queer book you ever read that made you feel represented?

The first queer book I ever read was actually THE DANISH GIRL, and it also doubled was my first exposure to the trans experience. While I have a complicated opinion about it now, and vastly prefer other works by trans people in their own words. The poetic, luscious and beautiful portrayal of trans women moved me deeply as a 12 year old.

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Your books are very character driven. Do you have anything in common with your characters? What’s your favorite part about creating characters? Least favorite part? What advice would you give aspiring writers on how to make their characters voices authentic?

Like I’m sure many authors would agree, all of my characters are one tiny part of me and the people around me, but expanded and then refined. I feel like the  best part of creating characters is thinking up the parts of them that aren’t typical stats. Anyone can write up a character profile like: 25 years old, woman, loves her career, has a boyfriend, everyone thinks she’s cool. But Once you get past all those basic details, you can focus on the fun ones like: Is allergic to mangoes, is terrified of sharks, has a secret obsession with manga, but pretends she doesn’t even know what that is. I think the best way to make realistic characters is to think about yourself and all of the magnificent facets that you contain, and imagine that your character is just as multifaceted an fill in the details.

 

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Like in The Weight of the Stars, If you had the chance to go into space (and never return) would you take it or not?

Yes, I would. I genuinely crave oblivion and the thought of leaving the atmosphere and plunging into the black makes my heart race to think about.

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Are there any fictional characters you drew inspiration from while writing your own characters?

Mmm. Jack and August are a great mixture of Cook and Freddie from Skins and Stiles and Scott from Teen Wolf.

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I noticed that nearly every page of The Wicker King has a sort of ‘title’ and that the page edges get increasingly darker as the story progresses. What made you decide to do this and was there something you wanted your readers to take away from it?

This is anticlimactic, but I actually write that way because I have ADHD and it’s a much more natural way for me to express myself. Every so often other people who have ADHD discover my work and rave about how easy and enjoyable it is to read and honestly it makes it feel like the sun is rising in my chest. And as for the pages, that was actually the art team at Macmillan | Imprint! They did such a good job making the book beautiful (and won an award for it!) that I’m always very excited to tell people that it was their idea.

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Jack, Rina and August make an appearance as the polyam parents of one of Ryann’s best friends, Ahmed, in The Weight of the Stars. Did you always plan to do this or was it on a whim? Did you always know they’d all end up together?

Yes! I always wanted them to show readers what kind of parents they would become after the terrible and harrowing experience they had with their own parents. As for whether I knew they would all end up together, yes! They’re canonically getting together in TWK. August is an unreliable narrator, and the reader only sees through his eyes, but if you squint you can see what’s going on around him. First, Jack finds Rina for August because she “reminds him of august”, he woos her by making her cupcakes and helping create the situation where they go to Rina’s house all the time. Rina and jack beginning holding hands and August sees them doing this and instead of getting jealous feels yearning and completeness. Rina begins kissing both of them hello and goodbye, then a part of the end of the book is Rina telling him that Jack is with her and that she can’t wait for him to come “home” to them. Its all very sweet and loving and nice.

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What’s next? Can you tell us anything about what you’re working on right now? Is it YA, Adult, fantasy, contemporary, etc?

It’s a secret I’m so close to making an announcement, that I can’t tell you details, but I have 2 YA on the table and 1 Adult in the rafters.

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What are your pride month recommendations? What queer books have you read recently and loved? What kind of queer rep would you like to see more of?

I’m just going to scream RED WHITE AND ROYAL BLUE over and over again. Also I’d love more good books about bi people and butch girls.

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And that’s that! Thank you all for taking the time to read<3
-Becca vZ

Monthly Wrap Up: May

I read only 5 books last month and I am sorely disappointed in myself folks. I can do WAY better than that. But it’s fine cause I’m already making up for it this month. I unfortunately only read two books with Asian rep for AAPI (Asian American and Pacific Islander) Heritage Month. I’ll finish many more by the end of the year though!

 

 🔺Diverse Books Read: 2/5

🔺New Adult/Adult Books Read: 4/5

🔺Middle Grade Books Read: 0

🔺Young Adult Books Read: 1/5

🔺Graphic Novels Read: 0

🔺Novellas/Anthologies Read: 0

🔺Favorite reads of the month: Roomies, Poison Study, Spin the Dawn

🔺Least favorite read(s): The Chase

🔺Longest Book Read: Spin the Dawn (418 pages)

🔺Shortest Book Read: Trade Me (337 pages)

 

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Roomies by Christina Lauren

This was first time reading a Christina Lauren book outside of their Wild Seasons series. It was quite a different experience! The Wild Seasons books are much steamier and sexually explicit. Not that this one doesn’t have explicit sex cause it does, it’s just not quite as….I dunno….prominent? A little toned down? Which is fine! It was just an adjustment of expectations. I immediately got to reading this one after someone on twitter mentioned a certain very entertaining scene from it. I thoroughly enjoyed it! It was sweet and messy and awkward as hell in the best way possible. I loved that Holland had a crush on Calvin for months before they actually officially talked and the fact that they arranged a fake marriage thing to get him green card and all while Calvin had no idea she was basically in love with him. HELL YES. I also loved Holland’s relationship with her uncle and his husband and how they were like dads to her. Their relationship was very sweet. I highly related to her complicated and messy friendship with her bestie as well. I loved every minute of it of this book!

Rating: 5/5 stars

The Chase by Elle Kennedy

This is the first Elle Kennedy book I’ve read outside of her Off Campus series. I didn’t enjoy it quiiiiite as much as her other books but it was still entertaining. I’m one of those weird people who kinda likes miscommunication tropes in romances, so this was fun to read in that aspect and the sex scenes were just as sexy as always. There were some scenes and lines here and there that were a bit ‘problematic’ and rubbed me wrong. I felt like the creepy, predatory professor aspect was well written but I didn’t really like how an attempted assault (against another character not Summer) was used as a plot device or how much girl on girl rivalry there was. I think there was plenty of girl empowerment to make up for it though. I did like how Summer was a girl passionate about clothes and hair and makeup and how the stereotypes regarding the intelligence of these kinds of girls was challenged. Overall it was a (relatively) lighthearted, fun read.

Rating: 3.5/5 stars

 

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Spin the Dawn by Elizabeth Lim

 I loved this Mulan retelling! It had so many things I love: the girl-disguised-as-a-boy trope, a mischievous and soft male love interest, forbidden romance, and a magical and dangerous adventure during which love blooms. The journey across lands and the dangers the face and the mutual love that grows between Maia and Edan-that was definitely my favorite part. Although I loved the sewing competition in the palace too cause that was dramatic and suspenseful, wondering who would win and not knowing who Maia could trust. I loved Maia’s stubborn determination and Edan’s gentleness and supportiveness and I loved how cute they were together. I really just loved everything about Spin the Dawn. The ending absolutely killed me and I can’t wait for the sequel!! So sad I have to wait an entire year for book 2.

Rating: 5/5 stars

 

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Poison Study by Maria V Snyder

I read this book back in highschool…..and didn’t even realize until I was about halfway through the audio book. Oops. So it’s technically a re-read. I had completely forgot about it though. But that’s definitely not due to it being bad or unmemorable-I thoroughly enjoyed it. I just think I read it at the wrong time, if that makes sense. It’s ‘older YA’ although I think it’s technically adult. The main character is 19. I’m not usually one for huge age gaps but I thought the romance between Yelena and Valek (who’s like 32) was done really well. It was built on trust and honesty and respect, even if it took awhile to get there, and even though he was in a position of authority over her, he never once abused that power. I loved the friendships that Yelena formed too, and the forbidden magic aspects and how Yelena had to fight with all she had against everyone trying to take her down. Trigger warning for rape flashbacks if you wanna read this one-they get pretty detailed. And there’s attempted assault a few times in the present too. It didn’t feel like it was used as a plot device to me, rather just a part of Yelena’s past that didn’t define her. Overall, this was an exiting and unforgettable read. The audio book narrator was also amazing and made the experience ten times better.

Rating: 5/5 stars

 

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Trade Me by Courtney Milan

 Trade Me is my first read by Courtney Milan and I throughly enjoyed it! It has a very unique story line-a poor girl and a rich boy decide to trade lives for a short period of time, and as they come to understand each other more, they fall for each other hard. It had some pacing issues-I was like halfway through and it felt like they hardly knew each other and hardly anything had happened-but then it picked up and really improved and I was impressed with how real their relationship felt. I liked Tina’s complicated relationship with her mother-tbh her mother frustrated me a whole lot but in the end I came to understand her more and I liked how their relationship grew once Tina was finally honest with her. I think this is the first adult romance I’ve read with an Asian heroine? It’s own voices, so the rep is authentic and I could tell the author wrote from experience. Also this is the first time I’ve ever come across a piece of media in which a male character has an eating disorder-Blake has a problem with under eating and it just felt so realistic and it was heartbreaking to read but was really well done. Blake’s relationship with his father was another super complicated relationship in this book and just like with Tina’s mom, I kinda hated him at first but came to really understand him and Blake’s relationship with him. Overall this book was a wonderful introduction to Courtney’s books! Can’t wait to read the next book in this series, which has a trans woman of color heroine.

Rating: 4.5/5 stars

Monthly Wrap Up: April (Late, I Know)

I read 12 books last month! 6 of them had autistic rep for Autistic Pride Readathon and 2 of them had A-Spec (asexual or aromantic spectrum) rep for Aspec April!

🔺Diverse Books Read: 9/12

🔺New Adult/Adult Books Read: 7/12

🔺Middle Grade Books Read: 0

🔺Young Adult Books Read: 5/12

🔺Graphic Novels Read: 0

🔺Novellas/Anthologies Read: 2

🔺Favorite reads of the month: Testing Pandora, If We Were Villains, Seven Ways We Lie, Every Heart a Doorway, Serious Moonlight, The Luminous Dead

🔺Least favorite read(s): Can’t Escape Love

🔺Longest Book Read: The Luminous Dead (432 pages)

🔺Shortest Book Read: Testing Pandora (166 pages)

 

 

Testing Pandora by Kaia Sonderby

Failure to Communicate is one of my top 5 favorite reads of this year. It’s got autistic and bisexual rep and it’s the best kind of political scifi/space opera out there. I was eager to read this prequel novella to get a little more of a glimpse into Xandri’s life pre Carpathia. We don’t really get to see that much of what her life was life, it focuses more on her joining the Carpathia than her life before it but I adored it all the same. I cannot get enough of this series and the fact that it’s gonna be 8 books long makes me unbelievably happy! I loved getting to see how Xandri first met Diver and Kiri and adjusted to life on board the Carpathia. I’m currently reading and loving book 2!

Rating: 5/5 stars

The Gilded Wolves by Roshani Chokshi

The Gilded Wolves had some unique and interesting concepts and I loved reading about the setting and time period……however I was beyond confused most of the time I was reading it. A lot of it just went over my head I guess? I got the general idea though. I think. And I loved the characters. Especially Zofia, who’s autistic and jewish. I thought the rep was pretty good for not being Own Voices! It was sliiiightly stereotypically as Zofia is a math wiz and wicked smart but I still loved her nonetheless-her strength and individuality were very admirable. Her budding romance with Enrique (a bisexual cutie whom I love) is adorable but Enrique has interest in both Zofia and another character, Hypnos. So it’s a bit of a love triangle but I’m hoping we miiiiiight get a polyamorous endgame out of this? Who knows? As for the other characters, I loved them as well. Layla is the super sweet, motherly type, and I loved how she looked after everyone. Severin is a bit broody but he’s a cupcake on the inside and will protect his friends with his life and maybe one day he’ll admit he loves Layla! Then there’s Tristan, the baby of the group and an adorable nerd. Definitely reading the next book to find out what happens next!

Rating: 4/5 stars

A Study in Charlotte by Brittany Cavallaro

I tried to read this a couple years ago and DNF it, deciding it wasn’t for me. However, there was a lot of hype for it on twitter (especially from a certain someone named Rocky…) and after hearing about the rest of the books in the series I decided to give this one another go. I am SOOO glad I did! I loved it! The relationship between Jaime and Charlotte is complicated as hell and I loved their dynamics as they solved a perplexing crime together. It was so much fun! It did feel a little rushed at the end (I was also hoping a certain something would be waaaaaaaay more slow burn) but overall it was super entertaining, an emotional ride, and I can’t wait to read book two!

Rating: 4.5/5 stars

If We Were Villains by M.L Rio

2019 is the year of me venturing into Adult and New Adult books. I’ve read plenty of New Adult college romances in the past but until this year, the only Adult books I’d read were The Bone Season, Uprooted and The Song of Achilles. I’m just growing out of YA a bit and craving books with characters my age and/or catered to me age group! Anyway,  If We Were Villains is one of the Adult books I decided to read and I loved it to death! I’ll admit I was a little confused by some of the Shakespearean language, which is used excessively in this book, but it did little to hinder my love for this book. It’s complicated and messy and comprised of complicated, messy, morally grey characters. Our main character, Oliver, is probably the gentlest and softest of them all. And he’s also bisexual! A sweet, bisexual cinnamon roll. I adored him. I adored James and I adored Filipa and I adored Alexander. They were by far my favorites in this complicated group of theater kids although I appreciated the complexity of Meredith and Wren as characters as well. I really liked how the book switched between 22 year old Oliver and 32 year old Oliver, after being in prison for 10 years. That’s not a spoiler! It’s literally in the first couple pages. It was super interesting to read about Oliver in three entirely different periods of his life-before tragedy, during, and after. This book is gut wrenching, utterly shocking, and had an end that blew me away.

Rating: 4.5/5 stars

Serious Moonlight by Jenn Bennett

Jenn Bennett never fails to write perfectly swoony, heart warming romances. Serious Moonlight was no exception. Although the chemistry between the two characters wasn’t as mind blowing as it was in her previous YA’s, I still adored the adorable awkwardness and the nerdy banter between them. I loved how Birdie and Daniel had a one night stand, expected to never meet again, and then wound up working at the same hotel. Awkward romance tropes like that are my absolute fave. Birdie is also narcoleptic while Daniel is Asian and deaf and has a history of mental illness, so it was great to see some disability and interracial rep. I loved watching them fall in love as they spied on suspicious authors, explored Seattle, traded life stories and bonded over a shared love of a good mystery. And of course I loved all the drama as well!

Rating: 4.5/5 stars

The Luminous Dead by Caitlin Starling

The Luminous Dead is one of the most creepy, mysterious, suspenseful books I’ve ever read. It takes place solely underground in dark, dangerous caves. The entire time you’re reading you’re on edge, expecting some horror to be around every corner, feeling as though something is about to go terribly wrong. It’s incredible. This book is also very queer, but in a very subtle way. The two female main characters don’t touch or meet in person almost the entire novel. Their relationship exists almost solely via video chat and helmet speakers. And yet, it was one of the most intense and beautifully messy romances I’ve ever read. If you’re looking for a good f/f adult horror, pick this one up!

Rating: 5/5 stars

 

Unbroken by Marieke Nijkamp (and other authors)

I don’t go for anthologies all that often because I very rarely find short stories satisfying, and I’m likely to dislike more stories in anthology than I like. Unbroken wasn’t really an exception although there were a few short stories in here that I absolutely loved and won’t forget anytime soon. It was so refreshing to read an anthology entirely focused on disabled main characters, including those with both physical and mental disabilities, and stories by and about queer and poc disabled folk. My favorite stories were the ones by Marieke Nijkamp, Corinne Duyvis, Kody Keplinger, Katherine Locke, and Kayla Whaley. All amazing stories I’d recommend reading!

Rating: 4/5 stars

Every Heart a Doorway by Seanan McGuire

I’m usually not huge on short stories or novellas. They just don’t typically leave me feeling satisfied. However, Every Heart a Doorway blew me away. I was beyond satisfied with the ending, I became attached to the characters, I was drawn deep into the chilling, grim, captivating story. I did have a bit of an issue with the asexual rep though; it seemed to conflate asexuality with not wanting to date. It does explicitly state that aromanticism is different from asexuality though, so I appreciate that. I was just a bit boggled that it seemed to go back and forth between stating “asexuality does not mean a lack of romantic attraction” and suggesting that the main character didn’t want to date BECAUSE she was asexual. But I know a lot of other Aspec folk loved this one and since I loved the rep and the story overall, I’m willing to overlook it. I can’t wait to read the rest of the Wayward Children series!

Rating: 5/5 stars

Can’t Escape Love by Alyssa Cole

Can’t Escape Love was a bit slow and difficult for me to get through. I am glad I read it though cause it was great to read a love story between two disabled characters, even if I wasn’t entirely satisfied with the story overall. This is the first time I’ve read a romance with a wheelchair user as a POV character and I loved Regina’s confidence and forthrightness and ability to stand up for herself. I loved the way they bonded over comics and cartoons and nerd culture as well and I thought their relationship was very respectful and healthy. I was a bit disappointed that the word autistic was only mentioned once, and neither times were in conversation between the two of them. I wanted Gus to state outright to Regina that he was autistic. I’m always sad when romances with autistic characters don’t include this. I did like the rep overall though and thought it was pretty well written.

Rating: 3.5/5 stars

 

Seven Ways We Lie by Riley Redgate

I thought this would be a very difficult to get through. It has SEVEN points of view, l so I was wary that it’d be too confusing. But it’s written so well. The seven main characters were so distinct that I had no trouble telling them apart at all. I especially loved Valentine, the autistic and aro/ace outcast. I could relate to him in many ways and I loved how honest he was. Lucas was probably my second favorite. He’s pansexual and so so pure, with a heart of gold. I really loved him and Valentine’s friendship. I loved the twins Kat and Olivia as well, and how they slowly grew close to each other again. Claire was probably my least favorite, at least for most of the book. I feel like she really grew as a person and redeemed herself in the end though. I loved Kat/Matt’s budding romance and I loved how Junipers heart wrenching chapters were written in verse. I just loved everything about this book and my only complaint is that it ended too soon!!

Rating: 5/5 stars

 

Blood-Bound by Kaelan Rhywiol

This book was very…weird. Kind of in a good way, kind of not. It’s not all that well written and there were a lot of ‘wtf’ moments and badly written lines. But I was entertained the entire time. I also really appreciated the asexual spectrum, bisexual and polyamorous rep. It was nice to see a grey ace character who enjoys sex, cause many people forget that lack of sexual attraction doesn’t mean lack of libido. Rhian is mostly asexual, her estranged husband (whom she meets again for the first time in hundreds of years) being the only person she’s ever been sexually attracted to. If you want an entertaining (but also very bloody and kind dark) adult paranormal romance, check this one out! The queer rep is own voices and the author is autistic as well.

Rating: 4/5 stars

 

The Line Between by Tosca Lee

The only reason I picked this one up is because I heard it had a 22 year old main character (same age as me) and some romance. That’s literally it. Lol. I enjoyed it! The characters were very surface level but the concept was original and interesting. It involves a religious cult and a pending apocalypse. I found the main characters story to be a very interesting one and I was reading in suspense the whole time, waiting to see what obstacles would be encountered next. I’m looking forward to the sequel!

Rating: 4/5 stars

Happy Autism Acceptance Month! A list of Do’s and Dont’s and Examples of Good and Bad Autistic Rep!

HAPPY AUTISM ACCEPTANCE MONTH!!!

Or more like Autistic Pride Month cause I like the sound of that better. WE like the sound of that better. Because it IS something the majority of us take pride in. However, some people still have trouble accepting that autism isn’t something that needs to be fixed, and so acceptance is still needed to help people see autism as something beautifully different instead of tragically different. And Acceptance is still a step up from Awareness, which focuses more on family members of autistic people than autistic people themselves, and is 100% associated with Autism Speaks, a horrible organization. Why is Autism Speaks horrible? We’ll get to that.

 

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First of all, some useful terms you should know:

Ableist/Ableism: discrimination towards disabled people

Allistic: a person who is not autistic

ABA: Applied Behavioral Analysis (an abusive therapy used by the awful charity Autism Speaks)

Own Voices: a marginalized author writing a character that shares their marginalization. For example, a gay author writing a gay character, a bipolar author writing a character who’s bipolar, a black author writing a black character, etc

Stimming: short for self stimulation, refers to repetitive motions autistic people may perform when they’re stressed, excited, etc (for example rocking back and forth, hand flapping, leg bouncing, finger tapping and so on)

Special Interest: a subject that an autistic person tends to hyperfocus on. It’s something they love and that brings them joy and they’ll typically learn all they can about it and talk about it all the time (it can be a singer, a band, a certain species of animal, cars, a movie or tv show, etc)

 

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THE DO’S AND DONT’S OF AUTISM ACCEPTANCE MONTH: How to be a good ally, and how not to be a good ally

 

1.) DON’T insist on Person First Language. Use Identity First Language first and foremost, but Respect Individual Preference.

What is Person First/Identity First Language? Person First Language= “person with autism” and Identity First Language= “autistic person. Now, if all this is news to you, you’re probably thinking ‘But why does it hecking matter? What’s the difference?’ I’ll explain.

The vast majority of autistic people prefer Identity First Language, and this has been shown in various polls and studies. Why is that? Because for years, allistic (non autistic) people have pushed Person First Language because they claim that calling us “autistic” is somehow dehumanizing, and that we need to be separated from our disability to be considered people.

That’s why they try to talk over us and tell us that “no you’re not autistic, you HAVE autism” as though autism is something I carry around with me, something separate from me rather than an integral part of who I am. They seem to think “autistic” is a bad word, an offensive word that erases who we are. To that I say, if you need to add “person with” in front of the label to remind yourself that we’re human, then you have a lot of deep thinking to do about why that is. We don’t call gay people “people with gayness” do we? No, because that would be ridiculous. “Autistic” just like “gay” is simply another descriptor, and not a bad one at that. That being said, some autistic people DO prefer to be called a ‘person with autism’ or maybe ‘on the spectrum.’ So if they tell you to use those terms to refer to them, respect their wishes. But use ‘autistic’ over ‘with autism’ when talking about autistic people as a whole/in general.

2.) DON’T talk over us or for us.

No matter how ‘well meaning’ you think you’re being, it is super shitty to try and talk over autistic people who are trying to tell you when something is harmful. No matter how many autistic people you know or have worked with, you have no right to act as a spokesperson for all things autism related or tell us that we’re wrong when we talk about autistic issues.

3.) DON’T support Autism Speaks.

They’re a horrible, hateful charity that harms autistic people, promotes harmful stereotypes, ignores the voices of actual autistic people in favor of their family members voices, and is all around abusive and awful. Simply google ‘autism speaks bad’ to find out more.

4.) DON’T ‘Light it up Blue’ or use puzzle pieces as a representation of autism. Don’t support ABA therapy.

The ‘Light it Up Blue’ campaign and the puzzle piece imagery were created by Autism Speaks and will forever be associated with them and their hateful charity. ABA therapy is a form of abuse. If you want to know more about WHY, simply google it and look for articles written by autistic people.

5.) DO promote autistic creators and boost their work.

Make a list of how any books you’ve read that are by autistic authors or that have (good) autistic rep that has been deemed not harmful by autistic folk. If you haven’t read any yet, I have a list of suggestions coming right up.

6.) Don’t write super ableist reviews. And If you’re allistic, you don’t get to determine what is or isn’t bad rep.

I don’t care how many autistic people you know. I don’t care if your brother or cousin or best friend is autistic. If you yourself are not autistic, you can’t decide whether a book has good representation of autism or not. Only autistic people can do that, because we know more than anyone what is or isn’t harmful, since we’ve dealt with the ups and downs of being autistic our whole lives.

Also, please be very careful when writing reviews of books with autistic rep. Like I said, DON’T give your opinion on the autistic representation if you’re not autistic yourself. You can reference reviews by actually autistic people who’ve read the book if you wanna inform people on whether autistic people consider it good rep, you can gush or complain about every other aspect of the book, but your opinion on the rep itself is not relevant. I’m so tired of allistics not bothering to check whether autistic people have talked about the rep, and what they’ve said about it.

Be careful not to say ableist crap in your reviews too, for the love of god. Don’t say shit like “it’s so hard to be close to a person like that” in regards to an autistic character. Don’t say shit like “the autistic character was sooooo annoying but oh well guess we can’t blame them.”  Don’t imply that the autistic character only existed as an annoyance or as a hindrance to their whole family or simply as a means of creating conflict. Chances of are, if the autistic character is presented this way, it’s not good rep in the first place. Also, don’t use terms like “special needs” or “mental r*tardation.” Don’t use the R word at all, ever, in any context. I mean jesus christ. You wouldn’t believe how many ableist reviews I’ve read with such hurtful comments. Think very carefully about what you say. 

7.) DO listen to autistic people when it comes to autistic issues.

PLEASE don’t prioritize the voices of non autistic ‘experts’ who have never bothered to listen to what actually autistic people have to say. Typically, ‘autism experts’ who’ve worked with autistic people or parents/friends/family members of autistic people tend to talk over us and ignore our voices. They’d rather continue to believe falsities that suit their own agendas that listen to autistic people trying to educate them on certain things. It’s really not okay. If autistic people tell you something that involves us is harmful, LISTEN. That’s really all there is to it, listening.

 

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Now lets talk about good representation vs bad representation!

Here you’ll find a list of books with autistic rep that I’ve read and loved and others that I’ve read and found to be very harmful. To be honest, I’ve only really read one book that I consider to be bad rep, but there are plenty of other books that other autistic authors have read and reviewed and therefore convinced me to never read EVER because of how horribly they represent autism. I don’t need to waste my time on books I know will hurt me, no matter how much I want more rep. I will link their reviews here as well (all with permission of course.) I have not reviewed every autistic book that I’ve read, but the ones I have reviewed, I will link. Simply click on the books cover to be redirected.

 

Lets start with a basic outline of how to determine what is good or bad rep when it comes to autistic characters:

 

Good:

  • Not over the top stereotypical ( a math wiz, a super genius, unaware of social norms to the point of unrealistic and ridiculous and downright mocking)
  • Respectfully includes standard autistic traits without portraying them as something annoying or cringey (for example stimming, special interests, a degree clueless-ness when it comes to social norms, sensitivities to touch, bright lights and noises. Not all of us are the same and may experiences these things to a lesser or worse degree)
  • It doesn’t focus only on the negative and the ‘problems’ that autistic people
  • It doesn’t center around how much ‘trouble’ autistic people cause for everyone around them
  • It doesn’t present autism as something that needs to be ‘fixed’ or ‘changed’ or as something shameful. It doesn’t indicate that autistic people should ‘act less autistic’ in order to be respected

Bad:

  • Infantilizes autistic people (paints us as childlike in an extremely negative way)
  • Paints autistic people as a burden to their family and everyone around them
  • Promotes harmful stereotypes (like that we don’t feel empathy or can’t possibly want/have romantic and sexual relationships)
  • Pushes Person First Language

Note: not all stereotypes are necessarily harmful, and it’s not like autistic characters who fit certain stereotypes don’t exist. BUT it gets old when the only representation we see is autistic characters who are white, male, cisgender, heterosexual geniuses who are social outcasts and amazing at math. Autistic girls exist. Autistic people exist. Autistic queers exist, in abundance. Autistic people who aren’t geniuses and who suck at math exist. And portraying only the stereotype of the white heterosexual cisgender male does actively harm autistic people by making it harder for people who DON’T fit these stereotypes to get diagnosed or recognize autism in themselves.

 

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Now, I’m gonna include an example of a book synopsis with horrible autistic rep as an example of what exactly NOT to do. Just the synopsis itself talks about autistic people horribly:

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First of all, the use of the word “quirks” is annoying because it kinda seems dismissive of the fact that autistic people may need extra support in some areas of their life. Then there’s the fact that she revers to Levi as “one giant temper-tantrum” which is a horribly dehumanizing way to refer to an autistic person. And then there’s the fact that “sickness” is used in correlation to autism. I know from reading a review that Levi also has schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. But that’s not mentioned anywhere in the synopsis, so it sounds like autism is being equated to a ‘sickness’ or mental illness, which is not ok. This synopsis wasn’t already bad enough, but the book itself is just as horrible. A review is provided below under the ‘bad and ugly rep’ category.

 

 

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NOW ON TO THE BOOKS!

 

THE OWN VOICES REP:

(autistic rep written by autistic authors)

(not including reviews for these ones, simply cause you need to know about the rep is that it’s own voices and I’ve read and loved all of them.)

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SOME MORE OWN VOICES REP

(the ones I haven’t read yet but can’t wait to!)

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THE GOOD(?) REP (but that’s NOT own voices)

I haven’t read all of these myself so I can’t necessarily recommend them and say they’re good rep but I’ve linked reviews from autistic people who loved them! First 3 books are reviewed by me, the rest are reviewed by CG Drews/Cait at PaperFury and Anniek at Anniekslibrary

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Here’s a second own voices review for The Gilded Wolves by CG Drews, if you’d like more than one: https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/1837248530?book_show_action=false&from_review_page=1

Note: some autistic people may consider any of these bad rep and that’s OK. We don’t all have to agree. It’s just that these books have more autistic people leaning towards the ‘good rep’ end than the ‘bad rep’ end.

 

THE BAD AND THE UGLY REP:

The only book here that *I* have reviewed is What to Say Next. The rest have been read and reviewed once again by the lovely CG Drews at Paperfury or by Disability in Kid Lit

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Here’s another own voices review by CG Drews for What to Say Next: https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/2166068174?book_show_action=false&from_review_page=1

 

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Wanna support autistic

authors this month?

Before I go: I am hosting a month long Autistic Pride Readathon for the month of April, including a bingo board and instagram photo challenge. If you follow me on twitter or insta you probably already know all about it, but I thought I’d give it an extra boost on here. Yes, you can double up on squares (meaning use one book to cover multiple categories)

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I’ve also provided lists of books that fit each category, to make things easier for those wanting to participate!

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And that’s it for now! Thank you all so much for reading and for supporting me.

 

-Becca vZ

 

Monthly Wrap Up: March

I only read 6 books in March?? Wahhhh. I may have gotten distracted by video games. Oops. But hey, I found plenty of new favorites. And I read my very first book with an aro/ace main character!

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🔺Diverse Books Read: 5/6

-4 of them were queer! Two of those had m/m romances, one had a bisexual and polyamorous main character, and the third had an aro/ace main character

-1 of them had an autistic (and bisexual/polyamorous) main character!

-4 of them had autistic main characters

-1 of them (that I know of) was Own Voices for queer and autistic rep

🔺New Adult/Adult Books Read: 3!

🔺Middle Grade Books Read: 0

🔺Young Adult Books Read: 3!

🔺Graphic Novels Read: 2!

🔺Favorite reads of the month: Fence, Heartstopper, Barbed Wire Heart and Failure to Communicate!

🔺Least favorite read(s): Make it Count

🔺Longest Book Read: Barbed Wire Heart (416 pages)

🔺Shortest Book Read: Fence (27 pages)

 

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Fence: Volume 1 by C.S Pacat, Johanna the Mad and Joana Lafuente.

Diversity: queer MLM (male who likes males) main character, queer and asian love interest

Own Voices? I don’t think so, but I’m pretty sure Johanna the Mad is queer

Thoughts: I was told I may need to read at least the first two volumes in this series before I became invested and when the first volume came in the mail I could see why. It was so thin! So short! But by the end I was already desperate for more. I think sports dramas/romances are becoming my new favorite thing. I’m loving the rivalries and friendships among the teammates and I can’t wait to see what happens next with Nicholas and Seiji (is this an ememies to lovers romance??!) and with Nicholas and his estranged father/half brother. I’ve never read a sports book centered around fencing before and it’s interesting to learn about all the different techniques and the jargon and all the hard work required to become a champion. So much fun. Give me more!

Rating: 5/5 stars

 

 

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Make it Count by Megan Erickson

Diveristy: Brazilian and dyslexic main character

Own Voices? Don’t know!

Thoughts: This started off really good-I really liked the authors writing style, the sexual tension was amazing and it seemed like it could possibly be a new fave. Then some things started to bother me: there were some “not like other girls” thoughts/comments from the hero. And he like sexualized random things she did that weren’t sexual, like sucking on a straw. Called it a “sex kitten act” which made me cringe. Shit like that really annoys me, when the hero over-sexualizes the heroine, like “she looked at him from under her lashes” it just seems cringey to me. And there was a loooot of internalized ableism from the heroine when she first found out she might have a learning disability. But it got better. I liked the turn the story took, with the heroine learning to accept herself and the hero learning from his mistakes in their relationship. They learned to communicate better. And their relationship was really cute: sexy nerdy boy tutors a dyslexic girl (she’s also Brazilian) who people dismiss as an airhead cause she gets easily distracted and sometimes says really random things. But he likes those things about her and doesn’t treat her like she’s dumb. Despite the few things that irked me, I enjoyed this one. I’ll definitely read more from this author!

Rating: 3.5/5 stars

 

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Heartstopper: Volume 1 by Alice Oseman

Diversity: a gay main character and bisexual love interest (m/m)

Own Voices? the queerness miiiiight be OV in someway, I’m not sure

Thoughts: My. Heart. Is. so. Full. Such a sweet, heartwarming story. It does deal with some serious issues though: Charlie, the main character, has an abusive ex boyfriend. Some characters make homophobic comments (no slurs though!). The love interest, Nick, is realizing he’s bi for the first time and having some trouble coming to terms with it. I loved the way his realization of his sexuality was portrayed, it was realistic and made me cry a little cause I could relate so much. I loved Charlie’s supportive sister Tori and I loved how Nick stood up to his dickhead friends. I love every interaction between Charlie and Nick, they’re ridiculously adorable and I loved that they became really good friends first, friends who aren’t afraid to be intimate and talk about feelings and touch each other casually. Also, I didn’t realize how young they are at first. Only 14 and 15! Practically babies. I feel like a mom haha. Need the next volume now!!

Rating: 4.5/5 stars

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Barbed Wire Heart by Tess Sharpe

Diversity: I don’t know if I’d call this book ‘diverse’ cause the main character, while female, is cishet, white, able bodied and neurotypical. BUT it has very strong feminist themes, it discusses racism and sexism and privilege. There are white supremacists and misogynists as the bad guys. The love interest is also half Native American, and it’s discussed often how much harder things are for him in their small town because of the color of his skin.

Thoughts: Oh. My. Lord. Tess Sharpe is definitely a new favorite author. Her first book, Far From You was the first book I ever read with a bisexual protagonist and it blew me away. This one did too. I mean, it’s basically a feminist Breaking Bad! And her name is Harley, which is perfectly suitable. Talk about a bad-ass female character who has to fend for herself and is smarter than any of the men in her life give her credit for. She knows how to use a gun and use her fists, yes, but she’s incredibly strong mentally as well. She’s quick thinking, she’s a problem solver, she knows how to use men’s sexist assumptions that she’s fragile and helpless to her advantage. If you love reading about female characters who take down sexist, racist scumbags and neo nazis getting shot, you’ll love this one. There’s also a cute little romance between Harley and her childhood best friend, Will. It’s cute and doesn’t override the intense revenge plotline at all and Will is one of the very few male characters in this book who isn’t trash. I’m blown away by this story and can’t wait for more from this incredible author!

Rating: 4.5/5 stars

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Switchback by Danika Stone

Diversity: an aro/ace female main character

Thoughts: I really enjoyed this one! It’s the first book I’ve ever read where a POV character is both aromantic AND asexual. I liked how sure of her sexuality Vale was. Not that I don’t appreciate questioning queer characters, but it’s nice to read queer characters who KNOW who they are and put a specific label to it. I also loved her friendship with Ash, the other POV character and her best friend. He was super supportive and respectful of her boundaries and he was also adorably geeky and a huge gamer. I loved him. The survival aspect of the story was exciting and nerve wracking, although I did have to wonder how realistic it was that they seemed to run into every single animal they could possibly come across in the woods. But who knows, maybe the Canadian wilderness is just more dangerous!

 

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Failure to Communicate by Kaia Sonderby

Diversity: a bisexual and polyamorous autistic main character, f/f/m polyam romance, 2 love interests of color (a black girl and man of color, I’m not entirely sure of his race)

Own Voices: for autism and bisexuality, yes

Thoughts: EVERYTHING ABOUT THIS BOOK IS PERFECT. I mean, we have an Own Voices autistic main character! Who’s also bisexual and polyamorous! And has feelings for both a boy and a girl! Polyamorous flirting! Strong hints at a f/f/m romance! And it takes place wayyyy in the future, in a world where eugenics has wiped out most disabled people. Xandri is one of the few autistic people left in the universe. And she’s the head of Xeno-Liasons on board the ship Carpathia, which deals in first contact with all different alien species on all different planets. Which basically means she helps solve disputes and form alliances between humans and aliens. So there’s a lot of politics in this book, and I may have been a bit lost at times trying to understand everything. But I didn’t even care cause I was so captivated by the many different alien species from all different cultures, by the different planets and foreign animal species they came across. Xandri loves animals and loves researching them and was super interested to learn everything about them. To which, I can relate. And she’s such a well written character, one who I related to more than I’ve related to any character ever. She’s incredibly smart and conscientious, but she also has some issues with touch and certain food textures and with reading people/situations, despite having studied social behavior and norms for years. I love her so much. Diver and Kiri, the love interests, are wonderful. I loved their flirting and I can’t wait for more in book 2, which is already out. And book 3, which will possibly come out this year. And 4. And 5. And so on. Because guess what? THERE’S GONNA BE 8 FLIPPIN BOOKS IN THIS SERIES. Which sounds crazy and for any other series I’d be like….buy why??? But when it comes to a series with a bisexual polyam autistic main character, I can’t get enough. I am psyched. The thought of 6 more books to come……is the most comforting thought in the world. I’m currently reading the prequel novella because I NEED more but don’t wanna start book 2 until I at least have an idea of when book 3 will be released. BUT GUESS WHAT? Book 2 is told from both Xandri AND Diver’s POV’s. I love Diver to death and can’t wait for a glimpse into his head. So, I may not be able hold off from starting it as soon as I finish the prequel. AHHHHHH. Okay, this is getting wayyyy to long and I gotta stop now! Bye! Read this book!!!

Rating: 5/5 stars

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That’s it!! Thanks for reading. Check in soon for an Autistic Pride Month post about how to support Autistic people in April and how to discern good and bad Autistic rep in books.

Monthly Wrap Up: February

I read 10 books this month!

🔺Diverse Books Read: 10/10 of them were diverse. I read 0 non diverse books this month. Wow!

-5 of them had black main characters and/or were written by black authors for Black History Month!

-3 of them were queer (and 2 of those were sapphic)

-4 of them had autistic main characters

-7 of them (that I know of) were Own Voices!

🔺New Adult/Adult Books Read: 2

🔺Middle Grade Books Read: 0

🔺Graphic Novels Read: 0

🔺Favorite reads of the month: The Bride Test, The Poet X, When My Heart Joins the Thousand, The Disasters, Dear Martin, Into the Drowning Deep!

🔺Least favorite read(s): What to Say Next

🔺Longest Book Read: Into the Drowning Deep (448 pages)

🔺Shortest Book Read: What to Say Next (301 pages)

The Bride Test by Helen Hoang.

Diversity: Vietnamese heroine, Vietnamese & Autistic hero

Own Voices? Yes

Thoughts: Since Hoang’s debut novel The Kiss Quotient was one of my favorite (Adult) reads of 2018, I was beyond excited for the companion novel. Let me start by saying I DID love this book and the characters and the story and I still treasure it even If I didn’t love it as much as I did TKQ. My expectations were VERY high and that might’ve dampened my experience a bit. Maybe it’s cause TKQ had so much sex in it so I expected the same of TBT, which didn’t have near as much AND THAT’S TOTALLY OK….but it just felt like there was so much instant attraction (which is also ok!) only for the sex scenes to kinda ehh…fall flat when they finally happened? And the ending felt a little rushed. BUT I loved Kai and Esme’s stories and their voices and it was lovely to read about a heroine from another country adapting to life and culture in America, and the struggles that accompanied such a big change. I sympathized with Kai’s struggle to define his feelings and to accept the fact that he wasn’t a bad person just because he experienced and expressed his emotions differently. All in all, The Bride Test was a beautiful love story with great autistic rep but I feel like I need to…re-read this one with less expectations clouding my judgement. Kai and Esme are definitely a favorite book couple and I’m glad I was able to read an early edition of this beautiful book.

Rating: 4/5 stars (normally I don’t consider 4 star reads favorites but in this case I do cause it was only my expectations that made me a little disappointed, i don’t know why I expected it to be so similar to TKQ)

What to Say Next by Julie Buxbaum

Diversity: autistic hero, Indian American biracial heroine

Own Voices? No

Thoughts: The second book I read in February with an autistic main character, but this one was such a disappointment. It started out pretty good! I really liked David. I think he’s the only thing I liked about the book, actually. I was enjoying the drama and the growing friendship between Kit and David, at first. But then it just got worse and worse until I was left feeling terribly hurt at the ending. Not good autistic rep at all. I mean, I felt like his traits were realistic but the way his autism was treated as something embarrassing was just not ok. Read my full review here.

Rating: 2.5/stars

The Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo

Diversity: Afro Dominican heroine, black love interest

Own Voices? Yes

Thoughts: This is the first book written in verse that I’ve read for quite some time. And I loved it to pieces! It was also the first book I finished for Black History Month. It follows a 15 year old girl as she falls in love, both with poetry and with a boy, as she learns to pour her heart and her pain into her poetry, as she struggles to get along with her obscenely strict and religiously devout mother, as she deals with harassment and school and judgement. I loved the relationship between her and her twin brother. I loved how she stood up for herself. I cried so much. The Poet X is definitely a new favorite.

Rating: 5/5 stars

When my Heart Joins the Thousand by A.J Steiger

Diversity: autistic girl heroine with ptsd, hero with brittle bone disease and depression.

Own Voices? No that I know of

Thoughts: The third book with autistic rep that I read this month, but this one was fantastic and I loved the rep. It’s an adorable love story between an autistic girl and a physically disabled boy. It’s hilarious awkward, tragically heartbreaking and incredibly heartwarming. I loved every minute of it. Read my full review here.

Rating: 5/5 stars

The Sun is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon

Diversity: black heroine, Korean hero

Own Voices? Yes

Thoughts: My second read for Black History Month! The Sun is Also a Star was a pretty quick read. I loved how it switched between Daniel and Natasha’s povs, as well as the POV’s of random people they encountered, their parents, etc. That made it soooo intriguing!! I loved the banter between Daniel and Natasha and their chemistry was undeniable, although Natasha’s cliche “I don’t believe in love/it’s just a chemical reaction” spiels got a bit annoying. The ending also wasn’t quite what I’d hoped and the book was slow at times but I enjoyed this unconventional love story a lot!

Rating: 4/5 stars

The Disasters by M.K England

Diversity: a bisexual, Muslim, Pakistani main character. Both male and female love interests, both of whom poc. A black gay guy. A kick ass trans girl. A hijabi hacker girl.

Own Voices: I know the author is queer, I just don’t know their exact identity(ies)

Thoughts: Queers in space!!! A bisexual, Muslim Pakistani main character!! The Disasters was a hilarious and heartwarming read. I literally laughed out loud multiple times, swooned at others, almost cried a few times. Although it hinges on a pretty heavy plot point, this book is very lighthearted. There’s lots of action, lots of awkward moments, and wonderful new friendships among a group of space academy rejects. And every single one of those rejects is diverse in some way! I think The Disasters is a stand-alone but I would loooove a sequel or companion! It’s hilarious and so much fun.

Rating: 4.5/5 stars

Pride by Ibi Zoboi

Diversity: black female main character, black love interest

Own Voices? Yes

Thoughts: Pride was a cute, diverse re-telling of Pride and Prejudice (which I’ve personally never read). I loved the main character Zuri’s snark and self confidence buuuuut she could also be very rude, self centered, dismissive and judgmental at times….which I guess is the point of the book and the classic it’s based off, but I couldn’t help it, I didn’t like Zuri for the most part. I did love her relationship with her family, especially her sisters. I thought her romance with the new rich boy in town, Darius, was cute. But it didn’t seem like she’d changed much at the end. And I wasn’t completed invested in her story overall. It was still a fun read though!

Rating: 3.5/5 stars

Dear Martin by Nic Stone

Diversity: black hero, based on real life issues of police brutality and racism

Own Voices? Yes

Thoughts: My fourth read for Black History Month. I flew through this one cause I could not stop reading! It was intense, full of very real issues and devastating at times. But it also had hopeful moments, and I was rooting for Jus the whole way through. I loved his resilience and his strength and his big heart. I was so angry over all the shittiness he had to deal with and I was happy he had supportive friends and an open minded, strong willed love interest. His letters to MLK really gave us a glimpse into his mind and helped to understand his character better. I did feel like certain events in the book happened a bit abruptly and therefore didn’t evoke as much of an emotional reaction as they normally would have (this coming from someone who cries very easily). So that kinda took me out of the story a bit. Regardless, I would still recommend this book to everyone and am so glad I read it!

Rating: 4.5/5 stars

Into the Drowning Deep by Mira Grant

Diversity: an autistic lesbian news reporter, a bisexual female scientist, two deaf female scientists, a physically disabled scientist

Own Voices? Not that I know of

Thoughts: By far the scariest book I have ever read. It’s full of science, killer mermaids, diverse characters and lots of horribly suspenseful, terrifying moments. It takes place on a ship venturing into the mostly unexplored Mariana Trench. Read my full review here.

Rating: 5/5 stars

The Weight of the Stars by K. Ancrum

Diveristy: bisexual butch female main character, biracial(?) queer female love interest. Also queer and poc side characters, and one of the mc’s (main characters) best friends has 2 dads and a mom. Like, 3 parents in an actual polyamorous relationship!! The mc’s brother is mute and doesn’t talk, due to trauma.

Own Voices? K. Ancrum is black, but I don’t know whether she’s queer

Thoughts: I loved Ancrum’s first book The Wicker King, a m/m contemporary about a toxic codependent friendship turned something more. She did an excellent job portraying an unhealthy relationship and the ways it needed to change for them to have a healthy relationship. I really loved The Weight of Our Stars (with a f/f romance this time) too! I enjoyed the hate-to-love, slow burn relationship between Ryann (a girl) and Alexandria. I loved all the unlikely friendships in Ryann’s strange little group of friends. I loved how supportive they all were of each other and I loved how determined Ryann was to help Alexandria listen to the messages her mom was sending her from space. I loved that there were so many diverse characters and that there was an actual character with 3 parents in m/m/f polyamorous relationship. I loved Ryann’s relationship with her brother and the way they looked out for each other and weren’t afraid to show affection. All of that was amazing. The ending made me cry, in a good way. My only issue is that it could be a little slow at times and I needed a little more excitement, and I also expected it to have way more scifi elements. It’s more a story about relationships than a story about space. But I still enjoyed it and the wonderful ending mostly made up for that! Overall I’d definitely recommend this book.

ALSO: I JUST REALIZED THAT THE MAIN CHARACTERS FROM THE AUTHORS FIRST BOOK ‘THE WICKER KING’ ARE THE POLYAM TRIO PARENTS OF THE MC’S BEST FRIEND IN ‘THE WEIGHT OF THE STARS’!!!?HOW DID I MISS THIS. LITERALLY JACK/AUGUST/RINA FROM THE WICKER KING ARE AHMED’S PARENTS HOLY SHIT I AM ACTUALLY CRYING

Rating: 4.5/5 stars

GREAT AUTISTIC REP, RABBITS, AND A TRAGIC YET HEARTWARMING LOVE STORY

Since my last read with an autistic main character contained harmful rep, I was nervous about reading another one by an allistic (non autistic) author. But this one was a breath of fresh air, and it was such a relief to read a story that made me feel SEEN and that handled issues of ableism so much more appropriately.

When My Heart Joins the Thousand is about two disabled teens (17 & 19) with tragic pasts falling in love. Alvie is autistic and Stanley has Osteogenesis Imperfecta, also known as Brittle Bone Disease. Because his bones break easily, he uses a cane, occasionally a wheelchair, and ends up in the hospital a lot. Their story definitely isn’t a light hearted or an easy one. It was messy and devastating at times. They’re both dealing with mental illness as well: Alvie with PTSD and Stanley with depression. But it was still a pure, adorable, and heart warming story with an an ending that made me sigh with contentment and satisfaction.

I’m gonna talk first and foremost about the autistic rep. I felt that it was on point, realistic, relatable to me as an autistic person. Alvie has meltdowns (the term ‘meltdown’ is actually used!!), she has sensory issues with smells and with touch and has a terribly hard time communicating, catching social cues, reading expressions, and all that. She’s very socially awkward and often says things that make people cringe or or give her weird looks.

But she ALSO has a job, can drive, and can take care of herself, which I loved. All autistic people are different and a lot of people seem to think that no autistic people can possibly be independent.

I did find her lack of social skills/inability to read people a little over the top at times. Her constant absence of question marks was a little excessive. She never used inflections when asking questions, she always made them sound like they were statements:

“What are you doing here.”

“Where are you going.”

“Are you ok.”

Etc. But I’m sure many autistic people are actually like this, even if I’m not. Maybe it’s realistic to some autistics, I don’t know. That was just a small thing though.

I’m also always a little wary when autistic characters have an ‘Aspergers’ diagnosis, since it’s technically not a thing anymore and has been changed to just ‘Autism Spectrum Disorder.’ A lot of people tend to think Aspergers and Autism are different things but they’re NOT. If you’re autistic, you’re autistic. If you have ‘Aspergers’ you’re autistic.

The words autistic and autism were used though and her aspergers diagnosis wasn’t treated like something entirely separate from autism so it wasn’t a huge issue. I’d just personally rather not see ‘Aspergers’ used as a diagnosis in books anymore. Even if I myself was technically diagnosed with it. I just feel like it’s a way to divide ‘high functioning’ and ‘low functioning’ autistic people, and put us into two neat little boxes, when it’s really not that simple or linear. Autism is a spectrum and is a lot more complex, not just a straight line with “mildly autistic” at one end and “severely autistic” at the other. The author didn’t make it seem that way though, so that’s good!

Those were my only two drawbacks though, so back to the good stuff!!

Alvie’s special interest was animals. Or more specifically, rabbits. She reminded me of myself when I was 12, not because she was childish, but because as a preteen I would read up on lots of different animals and recite facts about them at random times. My special interest was once animals just like Alvie’s was and I could relate deeply to her love for animals and the way she felt more connected to them than to most people. ALSO I WILL ADMIT THAT I’VE NEVER READ ‘WATERSHIP DOWN’. EVER. All I know is that it’s about rabbits. But I loved all her little references to it and they made me reaaaally wanna read it.

Steiger did an excellent job at portraying the difficulties that we autistics often face. The ways in which we’re misunderstood, the ways people react to our differences, the harm that being ‘weird’ and ‘different’ can bring us. That one scene with the police officer where he thinks she’s doing something suspicious because she’s stimming/rocking back and forth and fiddling with a stim toy in her pocket… was just scarily accurate. Her mom also literally said to her “I know there’s a real you hidden in there somewhere” which is the absolute worst thing autistic people can and have been told. Neither are things I can relate to fortunately but I know many autistic people can.

I also appreciated the fact that the author stressed multiple times that being autistic isn’t bad, that it’s not a personal failing, that it’s not something to be ashamed of was really important. Steiger made it clear that just because autistic people don’t fit into “normal” people’s expectations of behavior doesn’t mean they’re lesser or should be treated poorly. Although Alvie struggled a lot with self acceptance, there was never any suggestion that she needed to be “fixed” or “cured.” It was obvious the author wanted the reader to know that Alvie herself wasn’t the problem, that it was everyone else’s attitudes towards her differences that was the problem.

Alvie’s mistreatment by her mom and classmates was never made to seem like her fault or like it wasn’t a big deal, and I really appreciated that. She reacted to the bullies, she fought back, and their behavior wasn’t dismissed by Alvie or by the author, even though the bullies weren’t actually punished. I’m just glad the author stressed how horrible they really were. That is unlike the last book I read, where the mistreatment of the autistic character seemed to be downplayed and brushed off by the autistic character himself as well as everyone witnessing his bullying.

Alvie deals with a lot of ableism from everyone around her and it can get a bit stressful to read about at times but the author handled it really well in my opinion.

This book also focuses a lot on sex and on Alvie’s feelings towards sex. I don’t mean it was full of sex scenes, just that Alvie and Stanley talked a lot about it and both had their reservations about it even though they were clearly attracted to one another. Alvie’s initial reasons for wanting to have sex with Stanley were not healthy at all. She basically felt like she needed to fix herself and prove to herself that she could be normal. But I was very glad the author handled this the way she did. I’m glad neither of them rushed into sex. They talked about consent and were both very patient with each other and never pushed one another. There isn’t a lot of graphic sex, just a short semi descriptive sexual scene near the end, but throughout the book Alvie is very vocal about sex. She asks a lot of questions and makes some really blunt remarks; it was honestly pretty hilarious and I loved it. I loved how unafraid she was to be upfront.

This definitely felt like upper YA or maaaaybe even NA. Not just the content but the story and the way it was written. And I loved that, but be aware of that going in!! Alvie is living on her own in an apartment, she’s got a full time job, and she’s looking to get emancipated. So, she was forced to grow up very fast and isn’t exactly living the typical teenage life.

Stanley was sweet and patient and adorable and I loved him so much. He was perfect for Alvie. He accepted her for who she was and was super understanding and he literally bought books on autism so he could learn more about it which was just sksksksk SO CUTE. He was kind and not judgmental even when Alvie said really weird things and behaved ‘abnormally.’ He was bewildered at times by some of her quirks: like her tendency to spout random animal facts, but never in a way that seemed rude or judgy. He was flawed, of course. They both were. Hoo boy they both make some HUGE mistakes and don’t always handle things appropriately and they both get into a lot of trouble. But overall they were both genuinely good people who deserved each other and happiness. Stanley deserved so much more than he’d been dealt and so did Alvie. I’m glad they found each other. My heart is so full.

When My Heart Joins the Thousand made me laugh and cry and swoon and I could not recommend it more. I’m so glad I have another autistic book to add to my favorites pile. Alvie and Stanley will forever be in my heart and their story is one that I’ll never forget.

One last thing: I don’t want it to seem like I’m praising and bowing down to an allistic author simply for not writing harmful autistic rep. That would be like praising someone for showing basic human decency. Which should be something everyone strives for when writing about marginalized characters. BUT Steiger did an amazing job. She obviously did her research and didn’t half ass anything. I don’t know if she hired sensitivity readers or just talked to a lot of autistic people, but it’s clear that she knows what’s harmful and what isn’t. And for that I’m very grateful. Take note, for those of you looking to write autistic characters. Learn from autistic people, not our caregivers or the so called ‘autism experts’ who try to speak for us. That is all! Such a lovely book.

KILLER MERMAIDS, AUTISTIC LESBIANS AND BISEXUAL SCIENTISTS, OH MY!

I cannot stop thinking about this book and I don’t know if I ever will. From the very first line I was hooked. I had to pace myself while reading cause the story is stressful as FUCK but there was never a time I was bored, never a time I was underwhelmed, never a time I had to force myself to keep reading. The ending left me in what feels to be a permanent state of absolute shock and awe.

Where to start with this raving review?

Well, let’s begin with a brief synopsis of what it’s about. It follows a large crew of scientists embarking on a dangerous voyage aboard a giant cruise ship to the Mariana Trench, a largely unexplored area of the ocean, in search of proof of the existence of mermaids. And oh boy, do they find them.

I um, kinda suck at synopsis so real quick, here’s the official one from Goodreads:

“Seven years ago the Atargatis set off on a voyage to the Mariana Trench to film a mockumentary bringing to life ancient sea creatures of legend. It was lost at sea with all hands. Some have called it a hoax; others have called it a tragedy.

Now a new crew has been assembled. But this time they’re not out to entertain. Some seek to validate their life’s work. Some seek the greatest hunt of all. Some seek the truth. But for the ambitious young scientist Victoria Stewart this is a voyage to uncover the fate of the sister she lost.

Whatever the truth may be, it will only be found below the waves.

But the secrets of the deep come with a price.”

So there ya go! Killer mermaids, ambitious scientists, and an extremely dangerous voyage into the deep. Now, onto my FEELINGS.

Let’s next talk about the rep. There is rep galore! There’s a bisexual scientist, an autistic lesbian, two deaf characters who have an interpreter, and a physically disabled scientist. There’s lots of use of sign language. My favorite characters were bisexual scientist Tori, the adorable Latino nerd Luis and Olivia, the autistic lesbian news reporter. And GET THIS: the autistic character is basically the only non scientist/genius on a ship full of scientists. She’s a reporter. And she’s fucking amazing in her own way, but she’s not a savant or a math wiz or a science nerd who can spout facts and equations off the top of her head. What a way to break stereotypes. I’m so happy. She’s socially awkward and quick thinking, she has some issues with touch and eye contact, she’s super smart and a little blunt at times. She has trouble comprehending the hidden meanings in people’s words. I loved her! And she’s also a lesbian!! And there’s a sweet little f/f romance that I loved which didn’t feel at all unrealistic or out of place in the bloody chaos of their deadly adventure.

Into the Drowning Deep is told from various perspectives. Like, a lot. But not all of the POV’s are those of the main characters. So many random characters get short perspectives throughout the book and you’d think that’d get boring or confusing but it doesn’t!! NOT AT ALL. It really adds to the creepy, mysterious factor. You’d think that a single third person pov would be the best way to make a horror novel horrifying, because of the limited perspective. But Into the Drowning Deep handles those multiple perspectives SO WELL and I was without a doubt the most scared I’ve ever been while reading a book. Ever.

I’ve seriously never read a more terrifying, stressful, nerve wracking book. There were moments I was literally holding my breath, afraid to turn the page. It was like watching a train wreck, over and over, wondering who would die next, who’d make it out alive, what terrifying encounters were yet to come. Sometimes when I’m reading a scary book this thing happens where my eyes just start streaming tears. It doesn’t happen often cause I don’t get scared by books very easily. But when it does happen, I have zero control over it and I’m usually very good at holding back tears if I have to cause I read in public a lot and well, it doesn’t take much for a book to make me cry. There were multiple moments this happened as I was reading. It was THAT emotionally impactful.

And the mermaids? Holy crap. They’re so far from the demure, dainty, beautiful Ariel of our childhoods that you’ll never look at or think of “mermaids” the same way ever again. These things have TEETH and they are ugly as hell. They’re monsters, and they’re hungry. There is lots of blood in this book, yall. Lots of um, spilled guts and severed body parts and horrific deaths. Call me a sadist but I found it awesome. It was horrific and disturbing and awesome. That’s not the only thing that made it scary though. Grant’s writing is what made it so, because she really knows how to build up the suspense, and her descriptions of the creatures and the gore and the research into these creatures had me literally shaking in fear and shock. I’m glad the book is over, in a way, cause that was one anxiety inducing ride. PHEW!

There is a LOT of science in this book. Lots of descriptions of different types of research equipment/methods, paragraphs and paragraphs of facts about this and that. Info dump mania. But in a good way!!! Cause I was NEVER bored while reading them. I WANTED to read all about the science, I WANTED to know more. I was fascinated and awestruck and beyond intrigued. It was SO interesting you guys!!!! It made me wanna learn more!! Even if I kinda don’t wanna go anywhere near the ocean any time soon!!

I mean, seriously. I don’t wanna hear the word mermaid, look at a picture of a mermaid, think the word mermaid for at least the next 6 months. Don’t look at me, don’t talk to me, don’t even breathe in my direction if it has anything to do with mermaids. Mermaids are dead to me. They’re canceled. Just kidding. Kind of. But I will definitely never see them the same way ever again.

ALSO: Apparently the prequel novella to this book, Rolling in the Deep (which I haven’t read-yet) has been optioned for film. While I’m not as excited as I’d be if Into the Drowning Deep were to hit the big screen (because hello, an autistic character in an actual movie??), I’m still stoked. Because there’s rumors it could be a franchise. And if Rolling in the Deep does well, then we very well might get a movie for Into the Drowning Deep, and for the first time in my life, I, an autistic person, may be able to see a well written and lovable autistic character come to life in movie format. I MEAN HOW AMAZING WOULD THAT BE!!!

I just know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that this book will stay with me for the rest of my life. I cannot stop thinking about it, haven’t been able to since I picked it up. I like or love most books I read, but I haven’t felt quite this level of intensity in a while. I’m seriously in shock and have not recovered and probably won’t anytime soon. Pick this book up NOW and tell your friends all about it, so we can get the diverse horror movie adaptation we deserve!!

Most Anticipated 2019 Book Releases (January-April)

Note: I’m not including books I’ve already read on this list, but I am including books that have been already released, or that I’ve received advance copies of. Because while I’m no longer anticipating their releases, I am still anticipating reading them!

 

I’ll tell yall now which 2019 releases I’ve already read and loved:

 

See my review for The Birds the Bees and You and Me by Olivia Hinebaugh here

See my reviews for:

The Wicked King by Holly Black, Small Town Hearts by Lillie Vale and Red, White and Royal Blue by Casey Mcquiston here

 

 

Now back to those anticipated releases/reads……..

 

 

January

LGBTQ

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If you follow me on any social media platform, you may know how obsessed I was/am with the first book of this series. I ranted and raved about it for months, I interviewed the author, I was part of the blog tour. I talked about it so much that the author herself, Sarah Glenn Marsh, put me in the acknowledgements of book two, Song of the Dead. Something for which I am eternally grateful, and will always cherish. Sarah sent me a signed and personalized of arc of Song of the Dead a few months back and I’ve just now gotten to reading it. I’m loving it far, like I knew I would, and I’m so happy to have my name permanently in the acknowledgements of this wonderful series with its wonderful bisexual rep. READ REIGN OF THE FALLEN NOW IF YOU HAVEN’T ALREADY.

 

39863498So I learned literally yesterday that The Gilded Wolves apparently has both bisexual AND autistic rep?!?!? WHY DO PEOPLE FAIL TO SPREAD THIS INFORMATION LIKE WILDFIRE??? Anyways I’m buddy reading this with a friend as soon as she’s done with midterms and I am super super super super super super excited!!

 

Fantasy:

A.G Howard has been a favorite author since I finished her Splintered trilogy years ago. She writes amazing, dark, re-tellings of fairy tales and I’m really enjoying Stain so far, a story inspired by the story The Princess and the Pea. I actually met A.G Howard just a couple weeks ago, and she was the sweetest!

 

 

 

February

Contemporaries

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Comic books, family rivalry and geeky romance? Count me in! I have an arc of this so I’ll be reading it soon.

38251237I’ve been reading Kasie’s books for years now and they’re perfect for when you’re looking for something light hearted and heart warming and fluffy that’ll leave you feeling happy and satisfied. Can’t wait for her latest, especially since it’s a companion to Love, Life and the List, which I really adored. Can’t wait to fall in love with new characters and also reunite with some old ones!

 

LGBTQ

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We Set the Dark on Fire takes place at a school for girls where they are raised to either run a husbands household or raise his children, and nothing more. But Dani is asked to spy for a rebel group fighting for a equality and finds herself falling for someone forbidden. I don’t know how exactly this book is queer, if it’s f/f or what but I’m all in and can’t wait to find out!

New Adult/Adult

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SO I LITERALLY FOUND OUT ONLY LIKE A WEEK AGO THAT PRIORY OF THE ORANGE TREE APPARENTLY HAS A F/F ROMANCE?!?!?!? WHY DID NO ONE MENTION THIS. AGHHHGHGGGGGG. I’M NOT THE ONLY ONE WHO DIDN’T KNOW UNTIL RECENTLY EITHER!! Anyways, I loved The Bone Season and I can’t wait to read this monster of a book. I think it’s like 800 freaking pages or something. And I am pumped! Look at that beautiful cover!

 

Scifi/Fantasy

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I’ve seen this book described as The Darkest Minds in space and that was enough that hook me. Love me a book about teens with super powered banding together to fight for what’s right!

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I loved Amy Ewing’s first trilogy, the Jewel series. I actually haven’t read the last book yet but I loved the first two and I can’t wait to read something new from her.

36613718Paris in the 1700’s. Dark magic. Aristocracy, thieves, gambling. Romance. That’s all I need to know-I’d like a copy of this book ASAP.

I’ve seen this one a lot on twitter and instagram and to be honest I don’t really know much about it except that it’s a mystery(?) surrounding the sudden deaths of the queens of different kingdoms, and the one girl, a thief, who knows what happened. Sounds intriguing and I’m interested to see if it lives up to the hype.

 

 

March

Contemporary

I loved Sara Biren’s heartbreaking debut The Last Thing You Said and I can’t wait to finally read something else of hers! I wonder if it’ll be as heartbreaking as her last book…..

 

Scifi/Fantasy

I’ve been reading Meagan’s books for a couple years now and I can’t get enough of them. I recently read and loved her Beauty and the Best retelling Hunted, and I can’t wait to read this Robyn Hood retelling. I have an arc of it fortunately, so I can read it as soon as I finish what I’m reading right now!

 

I read Children of Blood and Bone just a few months ago after several months of seeing people rave about it. I was definitely not disappointed and I miss all the characters and can’t wait to see what happens next, especially in terms of the romance and magic system…

 

I read The Queens Rising almost a year ago and I really enjoyed it, although I felt like I didn’t get enough out of the romance. So I’m really excited there’s a sequel so I can see what happens next and see what happens next in that aspect. Not just that aspect, but the main characters journey as well.

 

 

LGBTQ

This is another one I’ve seen all over social media. I’ve heard its got queer and Jewish characters and has a m/m romance but I don’t know much beyond that. That doesn’t stop me from wanting to read it right this second though. I want all the diverse queer books I can get.

 

I read my first book by Cori McCarthy in 2018 and I loved it. I haven’t read anything by Amy Rose Capetta so I’m excited to see how these two authors collaborate. Pretty much all I know about Once and Future is that it’s a queer, gender bent King Arthur retelling, but that’s honestly enough to make me wanna read it ASAP.

 

I read K. Ancrums first novel The Wicker King early last month and I adored it. It’s a m/m contemporary and you can see my mini review on my last blog post, my January wrap up. The Weight of Our Stars is a f/f sci-fi and I can’t wait to see how Ancrum writes in a science fiction setting. Gays in space, here we go!

 

April

 

Contemporary

I read and loved Emily and Austin’s first novel Always Never Yours a few months ago and loved it. They know how to write a perfectly cute, relatable and touching high school love story. I met them at a signing in late December as well and they’re both great people who love to write Shakespeare inspired YA dramas. I’m excited to read If I’m Being Honest, about a girl who’s super popular and known for being brutally honest….and is learning to deal with the consequences. It’s been pitched as Mean Girls meets The Taming of the Shrew and I can’t wait to get my hands on it!

Jenn Bennett has been a favorite contemporary author of mine for a couple years now. All of her YA romances are perfect. Just literally perfect, ridiculously satisfying, unbelievably heartwarming and unforgettable. I can’t get enough and you better believe I have a fat collection of all versions of all her books on my shelves. I have no doubt Serious Moonlight will be another perfect addition to my collection. NO DOUBT.

 

Scifi/Fantasy

One trope I wanna see more of in books is VILLAIN LOVE INTERESTS. And Wicked Saints has got that, as well as Russian based fantasy and a story inspired by Joan of Arc. I’m currently reading it right now and boy I can’t wait to see what happens next and see how this romance comes into play.

 

LGBTQ

A town of mysterious founding families? Danger lurking on the woods? Monsters? Ancient bloodlines? Dark family secrets. Yea, everything about The Devouring Gray sounds intriguing.

I immediately wanted to read Hot Dog Girl as soon as I saw the cover. I mean, just look at it. It’s freaking hilarious. And then I found out it’s QUEER and now I’m even more excited!! It takes place at a theme park, and follows a teen girl and her friends who dress in costume as part of the parks entertainment. It sounds funny and heartwarming and romantic and I’m super pumped to read it.