I can hardly believe that these words that had sunk deep inside me are surfacing and coming out through my own lips rather than resting heavily all the way to my grave.Mother, Concerning My Daughter
Recently I’ve been very taken with My Sister, The Serial Killer by Oyinkan Braithwaite and Concerning My Daughter by Kim Hye-Jin. I’ve talked about the latter elsewhere; it’s definitely not light reading. The mother’s prejudice against her daughter’s homosexuality as a symbol of her rejection of “a good, normal life” as rewarded by Korean culture is difficult to read and really the only thing that made me stick it out was knowing from the get-go — it’s in the blurb, possibly for exactly this reason — that she’s going to grow past it. For some readers, this may be where catharsis lies either because their own parents did or didn’t make it that far.
Either way, I was reminded of a moment in Christina C. Jones’ Something Like Love where (minor spoilers ahead), at a family gathering, Astrid is ready to pick up arms and go toe-to-toe with Eddie’s father. He holds her back and explains that, for his dad, the mildly offensive thing he just said is progress. At several points in the story, I was expecting Green and Lane to pick up and leave, no matter the fact that they’re broke and can’t really afford to go anywhere else. Green would have been justified to disown her mother rather than the other way around, and it’s clear she doesn’t stay for love or hoping that her mother will change. She stays because she has no way out. The fact she doesn’t isn’t a silent condoning of her mother’s words and actions, nor is it the author arguing that children have to remain in abusive relationships with their parents because they are their parents and they owe them.
I don’t want to spoil too much about Concerning My Daughter in this review, but I want to be clear about what it felt like reading it, so that any reader of this review may have a clear idea of its contents. So while I won’t obfuscate, please forgive some occasional vagueness.
Continue reading “CONCERNING MY DAUGHTER — Kim Hye-Jin”
I couldn’t imagine one day where I might be happy, or even sad in an ordinary way. I’d run away, but I couldn’t seem to forget.Dovie, That Green Eyed Girl
That Green Eyed Girl tells two stories: one set in 1955, the other in 1975. The first is the story of two women, Gillian and Dovie, living together under the guise of lodgers. Then, twenty years on and in the same apartment they used to live in, we meet teenaged Ava who has to take care of her mother as her health steadily declines until she is eventually committed to a so-called sanatorium. At first, their lives seem hardly connected. But then, a package appears and, as Ava begins to investigate in the hopes of reuniting sender and recipient, more and more characters emerge who are central to the mystery.
Continue reading “THAT GREEN EYED GIRL — Julie Owen Moylan”
That was the thing about good people. They did the right thing just because it was.— Orfeus, Foxhunt
Orfeus the musician is searching for hope in the heart of danger…
In a lush solarpunk future, plants have stripped most of the poison from the air and bounty hunters keep resource hoarders in check. Orfeus only wants to be a travelling singer, famed and adored. She has her share of secrets, but she’s no energy criminal, so why does a bounty hunter want her dead? Not just any bounty hunter but the Wolf, most fearsome of all the Order of the Vengeful Wild. Orfeus will call in every favor she has to find out, seeking answers while clinging to her pride and fending off the hunters of the Wild. But she isn’t the only one at risk: every misstep endangers the enemies she turns into allies, and the allies she brings into danger. There are worse monsters than the Wolf hiding in this new green world.
Quick review: Foxhunt is an incredibly enjoyable, fast-paced romp at the same time as it is a story that delves deep into the heart of its protagonist. That heart yearns even as it steels itself, and the yearning slow burn of the romance is delicious. It’s a bright look at the future, with smart worldbuilding; for me a wonderful introduction to the genre of solarpunk.
Continue reading “FOXHUNT — Rem Wigmore”
Feeling is always worth it.— Danika Brown; Take A Hint, Dani Brown
Danika Brown knows what she wants: professional success, academic renown and an occasional roll in the hay to relieve all that career-driven tension. But romance? Been there, done that, burned the T-shirt. So Dani asks the universe for the perfect friend-with-benefits… When brooding security guard Zafir Ansari rescues her from a workplace fire drill gone wrong, it’s an obvious sign: PhD student Dani and ex-rugby player Zafir are destined to sleep together. But before she can explain that fact, a video of the heroic rescue goes viral. Now half the internet is shipping #DrRugbae — and Zaf is begging Dani to play along.
Quick review: If you love diverse, incredibly sexy romance, if you love bisexual protagonists, if you love friends-to-lovers stories with lots of pining even as they are together, then this is a novel for you. It’ll make you laugh, it’ll probably make you cry, and you will not regret picking it up. I cannot recommend it enough, and I’ll keep yelling about it.
Continue reading “TAKE A HINT, DANI BROWN — Talia Hibbert”
“Self-Analysis: Darcy Phillips— Sophie Gonzales, Perfect on Paper
Is not set in stone.”
This is the (mostly) spoiler-free review of this novel. If you’re also interested in a transcript of my reading journal discussing internalised biphobia and bi erasure, you can find it on my Patreon.
Darcy Phillips has a secret. It’s not that she’s smart, kind, stubborn, generous, impulsive, or occasionally jealous.
Her secret… is Locker 89.
A prestigious private school’s favourite agony aunt, scholarship student and teacher’s daughter Darcy has her work cut out for her. She’s the genius behind the infamous dating and relationship service dispensed through a layer of secrecy and anonymity that’s becoming increasingly thin when none other than the annoyingly handsome Alexander Brougham discovers her identity. It sets in motion a cascade of events that will shake up St. Deodetus’s foundations. Or, at the very least, the lives of a bunch of lovable youngsters trying to find their place in the world.
Continue reading “PERFECT ON PAPER — Sophie Gonzales”
“Even if she’s upset with you now, if you do right by her, she will forgive you.”— Melissa Bashardoust, Girl, Serpent, Thorn
This is the spoiler-free review of this novel. If you’d like to read my full reading journal, you can check it over on my Ko-fi.
Girl, Serpent, Thorn is a magic, fantastic story about legends and the way they are told: we are, and we aren’t, and what we do with out gifts/curses is up to us. Those who loves us will seek to protect us, and sometimes our choices will lead us astray. But if we do right by each other, love and forgiveness are our reward.
Continue reading “GIRL, SERPENT, THORN — Melissa Bashardoust”
Warning: reading journal entries contain plot spoilers!
After I started reading Watch Over Me and talked about it to my girlfriend, I was in the middle of talking about it when I suddenly realised: I have not read the blurb. (It’s Nina LaCour, so… insta-buy for me.)
If I had, I’d have known going in that this was a literal ghost story — I’m sort of glad that I didn’t. It came as a delicious, unsettling surprise; both for the protagonist, Mila, and for me. Well. Far more delicious for me than for her, to be fair. (I’m just going to assume that the lot of you are more diligent about readin’ your blurbs, so I won’t consider this spoilers yet.) I wonder at the terrible secret in Mila’s past, the horrible thing she did; the fire. Was that her fault, her doing? Or was it Blake? Is it true that they were living in the burnt-out husk of a house? Even knowing that LaCour likes to peel back these layers slowly and all in good time, and that she will, eventually, make the facts plan; I am impatient. I want to know. That’s a good start.
I’ve finished the novel at the point of this writing, so this is more retrospective than my other reading journal entries.
Continue reading “Reading Journal 001: Nina LaCour’s WATCH OVER ME”
“I wanted her to change my world.”— Gabby Rivera, JULIET TAKES A BREATH
“Mi amor, only you can change your world.”
An excellent story about a young queer woman from the Bronx who goes to Portland for the summer to find a new love, White Feminism, and the joy of community. Rivera’s grasp on setting the scene and bringing environments to life is masterful.
The Coming Out
Juliet Takes A Breath begins with tears. During her goodbye dinner, Juliet comes out to her family, and it ends as one might expect. Her father says nothing, her mother locks herself in her room, crying, and makes it all about her “shame.” Throughout the novel, Juliet’s mom is a well of all the things straight people say: ‘it’s just a phase,’ ‘you just haven’t met the right boy,’ ‘you don’t know what love is yet.’ It’s frustrating as hell, especially as Juliet struggles and needs her mother to be there for her. Juliet’s mom says she loves her, but that Juliet has to forgive her for not being able to accept ‘what she told her’ — and that’s a nice euphemism for ‘who her daughter is in her heart.’
Juliet arrives in Portland, OR, still heartbroken and heartsick, too: her girlfriend, Laney, is also doing a summer internship, in D.C., and Juliet hasn’t heard from her since before her flight. No calls, not even a damn text.
And then, we meet Harlowe. Oh my God, Harlowe.
Continue reading “JULIET TAKES A BREATH — Gabby Rivera”
I didn’t touch the audiobook for a couple days after the first chapter with her, because I could not stop rolling my eyes after everything she said. This could have become a Did Not Finish, but I had too much affection for Juliet and too much curiosity about the story to leave it there.
We were miraculous. We were beach creatures. We had treasure in our pockets and each other on our skin.— WE ARE OKAY
WE ARE OKAY is a novel that does not centre its queerness in the sense that it isn’t your typical coming of age + coming out story. It is an undeniably queer story, but Marin’s romantic feelings for and attraction towards her best friend, Mabel, are part of an additional narrative conflict that is both caused by and a contributing factor to the story of her grief.
Continue reading “WE ARE OKAY — Nina LaCour”