So we may or may not be a month late on this post 😅, but better late than never, right?
Back in June, we participated in a bookathon called “Prideathon” as an intersectional LGBTQIA2S+ celebration from home during Pride Month. We decided to do little write-ups of our thoughts on each book we completed for the reading challenge (we hope to do full reviews in the future). Similar to the formatting of our full reviews, we will include content warnings and the types of representation within each book.
For summaries of each book, please check out our original post about Prideathon here.
Here are links to Prideathon’s social media:
Without further ado…
Abarna’s Prideathon Picks & Thoughts
The Heart of the Circle by Keren Landsman
Prompt: a translated book
Representation: Gay (LGBT+), Bisexual (LGBT+)
Content Warning: Violence, political extremism, discrimination parallel to racism, murder, death, stabbing, burning alive, terrorist attacks.
Thoughts: I’m not quite sure how to talk about this book, if I’m to be honest. It pulled me in, there’s no doubt about it. But as I aptly saw someone else describe a different book – it wasn’t in the usual way. It was like quicksand. I fell into the world and became committed to the characters pretty quickly. This doesn’t mean I enjoyed it. I couldn’t put it down, but I didn’t like the book very much overall. Enough to give it three stars, because there are indisputably interesting elements to the story:
This book is an urban fantasy slash thriller that takes place in Tel Aviv. The magic mechanics are really interesting, and the social instability that results from some folks possessing magical powers and those that don’t make for a tense setting. I couldn’t help but equate it with the racial instability that was prevalent during the Jim Crow era, which to be frank, didn’t sit very well with me. I feel like the story itself was really intriguing, but I don’t feel that it was executed well; this could be a result of the fact that this book was the English translation from Hebrew. The characters were interesting, and it was easy to become invested in them, but for some reason I also felt extremely detached from them. The events of the book kept me on the edge of my seat, but things also progressed really unevenly. I think my general feeling about this book is “it was good, but…” May a future re-read may change things for me.
Every Heart a Doorway by Seanan McGuire
Prompt: a book that features magic
Representation: People of Colour (POC), Asexual (LGBT+), Trans (LGBT+)
Content Warning: Death, murder, gore, mutilation, dismemberment, trauma, dissolving a body (using acid), stabbing, trans-antagonism, passive aphobia, allusion to an eating disorder
Thoughts: What an intriguing (albeit sometimes confusing) book! I hadn’t read the summary to this before picking it up, so I had no idea what to expect, but I have to admit I did not at all expect this! A unique set-up and intriguing world. Check out our full review here.
The Subtweet by Vivek Shraya
Prompt: a book that somehow features technology
Representation: People of Colour (POC), Trans (LGBT+)
Content Warning: Allusion to masturbation, past death in a car crash, white supremacy, fake white allyship/performative politics, social dragging, self doubt, self punishment in the form of refraining from eating, racism
Thoughts: I love Vivek Shraya. A lot. I love everything about her, I love her other books. I love what she has to say. I love that she is a prominent South Asian-Canadian trans woman (there doesn’t appear to be many Canadian-South Asians of much renown, let alone women, let alone transwomen; as a cis South Asian-Canadian women, I am here for it). This book is not at all what I expected – and truth be told, it is not the kind of book I normally read. Pure fiction books (with no fantasy, or any other genre cross-over) are not the type that I tend to gravitate towards. I like magic and intrigue, and being transported. This book also included a lot of social aspects that I’m not attuned to or a real part of – such as Twitter and “subtweeting,” social media in general, or internet drama.
However, I loved this book. I would have given in 5-stars if it weren’t for the ending; which was still good, don’t get me wrong. I just wanted more, and I wasn’t satisfied with how it ended. I wouldn’t be surprised, however, if this type of ending is more typical of pure fiction novels than I’m aware of. I love that the characters are strong, flawed, and compulsively unlikeable. What a surprisingly refreshing yet uncomfortable set of protagonists. Both of the main characters are brown women (represent!) who create music, and I loved hearing their commentary on the music industry as women of colour. One of the characters is revealed to be trans, and I loved the lack of transphobia around this. Overall, this book gives you so much to think about in terms of white supremacy, whitewashing, performative politics, and capitalism.
Wayward Son by Rainbow Rowell
Prompt: a book that follows a squad
Representation: People of Colour (POC), Gay (LGBT+)
Content Warning: Depression, PTSD, death, past lost of a loved one, alcohol consumption (underage), mention of sexual assault, cult activities, homophobia, racism, violence, being drugged.
Thoughts: I was really excited about reading this book as I was pleasantly surprised at how much I enjoyed the first (Carry On). YA is not my favourite genre, if I’m to be honest, so when I find books in the genre that I do enjoy, I get really excited. This book, however, fell into some of the traps I tend to dislike about YA. Watching the dynamic of Simon and Baz’s relationship, and realizing how they somehow devolved from the first book was really frustrating. Nothing was ever resolved between them (although I realize there will be a third book), but tension kept building and they would think things but not communicate them to each other. The characters that I loved in the first book just weren’t that interesting in this one. The villain in the story was an weird turn, but in my opinion, a cool take on capitalism and elitist organizations. The book had its fun moments, but left a lot to be desired. Truthfully, my 3/5 star rating is most certainly a rounding-up; I didn’t have the heart to give this book a lower rating considering how much I wanted to like it. I’m hoping for more in the future!
***Note: This is the second book in the Simon Snow series***
Becca’s Prideathon Picks & Thoughts
The Deep by Rivers Solomon
Prompt: a book that intimidates you
Representation: Black People of Colour (BIPOC), Neurodivergent, Non-Binary (LGBT+), Women Who Love Women (WLW) (LGBT+), Men Who Love Men (MLM) (LGBT+)
Content Warning: Murder, death, trauma, descriptions of slavery from the past, self harm, attempted suicide, suicidal ideation, PTSD, depictions of blood, discussions of genocide and erasure, cultural and intergenerational trauma, drowning, mention of war
Thoughts: I ended up changing my original pick for this (An Unkindness of Ghosts by Rivers Solomon) to a different book by Rivers Solomon. Check out our review for it here.
Spellhacker by M.K. England
Prompt: a book that features magic
Representation: Queer (LGBT+), Non-binary (LGBT+), Chronic Illness, Mental Health
Content Warning: Grief, mentions of death of parents, poverty, disease/pandemic
Thoughts: A great second outing from MK England, set in an absorbing techno-fantasy world with an intriguing magic system. While “world-destroying corporate greed” plots may have become more commonplace in recent(ish) literary history, it’s still a very engaging story with fantastic characters. I absolutely love the focus on family, whether it be blood family or found family.
I do kind of wish I could find more stories where the seemingly helpful family figure or ally didn’t turn out to be an antagonist. It’s not a criticism against this book in particular, but I’ve been noticing a trend over the past year of reading of this being a commonly used twist. I get how it makes for good drama and conflict, but I had been hoping so hard that it wouldn’t happen here, especially given how important of a theme family was. (Okay I guess it was a bit of a criticism of this book, but only a very small one haha)
An Unsuitable Heir by K.J. Charles
Prompt: a book set in your favourite time period
Representation: Non-binary (LGBT+), DisAbility
Content Warning: Dysmorphia, attempted murder, suffocation, gun violence
Thoughts: Another excellent book from one of my favourite authors! An Unsuitable Heir is the last book in the Sins of the Cities trilogy and it did a fantastic job of wrapping up the series-long mystery. I loved getting to know (and immediately love) Pen and his amazing sister, Greta, as well as getting even better acquainted with Mark, who’d appeared as a secondary character in the two previous installments. The exploration of what it might have been like to be non-binary in a time when it was an unknown concept in British society was incredibly interesting, while also being only a part (albeit a very important part) of what a fully fleshed out and compelling character Pen was.
***Note: This is book 3 of the Sins of the Cities series***
The Lawrence Browne Affair by K.J. Charles
Prompt: a feel-good book
Representation: Neurodivergent, Queer (LGBT+)
Content Warning: Anxiety, panic attacks, past death of father and brother, past death by suicide, past rape, threat of murder
Thoughts: This was my favourite book of the whole month, and honestly it’s probably become one of my favourite books ever! It was the perfect combination of sweet, heartwarming, heart-tugging, funny, spicy, and dramatic, and I found myself unbelievably attached to the characters in no time flat. (I may or may not have gotten so emotional at one point over how much I loved the characters that I was nearly in tears, despite the scene not being remotely sad) Whenever the words “neurodivergent romantic hero” are uttered within my earshot I become the human embodiment of the eyes emoji, and this book was no exception. While I may not have much in common with Lawrence, his struggles and anxieties still hit close to home and made him all the dearer to me.
I feel like I should have more to say about a book I’m claiming was my favourite, but most of my thoughts about it boil down to me waving the book around and yelling unintelligibly. It’s the second book in the Turner Series, but is completely understandable as a standalone book, so if you’re even remotely interested in queer historical romances you should absolutely give this one a read.
***Note: this is the second book in The Turner Series***
The Disasters by M.K. England
Prompt: a book that somehow features technology
Representation: Bisexual/Pansexual (no specific label used) (LGBT+), Trans (LGBT+), People of Colour (BIPOC), Mental Health
Content Warning: Mentions of a car crash, bullet wounds, violence, genocide, terrorist attack, anxiety, anxiety attack, abusive step-parent, mentions of drug crime
Thoughts: An absolutely killer debut novel that managed to combine a trope I adore and a trope I could do without into a story I loved. The “found family” trope is my absolute shit, and I love stories of “team becomes family”, especially ones that involve a group of “losers”, thrown together by chance, who start out clashing and butting heads, but come together through shared adversity. And while I usually roll my eyes at love triangles, I was stoked to find a story that managed to incorporate one in a way I could get behind. The indecision and “will-they-won’t-they” wasn’t dragged out beyond all good sense just for drama (honestly, very little of the drama in the book has anything to do with the triangle at all, which is refreshing), but rather the topic ends up on the back-burner simply because there are bigger and more urgent things to deal with, and these characters have enough brain cells to know how priorities work! Also, it’s just nice to get a bit of variety in our trope diet and see a bisexual love triangle instead of a straight one for once 🙂
Meddling Kids by Edgar Cantero
Prompt: a book that follows a squad
Representation: Lesbian (LGBT+), Mental Health
Content Warning: Mention of suicide, hallucinations, transphobia, gore, dead bodies, drug use/addiction
Thoughts: I’m always down for a story involving cosmic and unknowable horrors, and this book definitely delivered on that front. It was atmospheric and creepy, even outright scary in a few places, and knew how to create some great tension. The characters were likeable and the plot — about a group of estranged friends returning to the town they spent their summers in as children and trying to unravel the deeper, darker mystery behind their last case as child detectives, which clearly had a lasting and traumatic impact on them – was quite interesting and engaging… when the book actually let you get into it. Unfortunately, my biggest issue with this book was all the odd stylistic choices in the writing that seemed to serve no purpose apart from trying to be “different”. While there were a couple I could live with, such as the large amount of personification used to describe the group’s dog (which made sense given the obvious inspiration taken from Scooby-Doo), I found other choices to be incredibly jarring and immersion-breaking, such as the random switches to screenplay formatting or the constant personification of one girl’s hair (which went on for over a page the first time it happened). In the end, I enjoyed the book enough that I don’t regret reading it or feel like I wasted my time, but it’s definitely not at the top of my recommendation list.
What did you do to celebrate pride month? Did you participate in Prideathon? Feel free to leave a comment, reach out on social media, send us an email, or submit a form through the “Contact Us” tab in our menu.