Monday, 18 June 2018

Pride Month

Happy Pride Month everyone! So I wanted to make this post to talk about my thoughts on Pride Month, my own struggle with my gender identity, and recommend some LGBTQ books.

Just a warning, I will be discussing dysphoria and bigotry in this post, along with a negative view of my gender identity. 

First off, Pride Month is essentially a month to celebrate the LGBTQ community. It is, contrary to some peoples' perception, more than just a month of waving rainbow flags around and shouting "I'm gay!" It is a month to celebrate how far we have come. It is a month to celebrate many countries decriminalizing homosexuality, legalizing marriage equality, and acknowledging transgender and nonbinary peoples' existence. For me, it is also a month to reflect on the state of LGBTQ rights worldwide (though I honestly do that all year round). While LGBTQ people generally face an easier time living in western countries (such as my own country of Canada), it is also important to remember that things are not perfect here yet. While many of us are lucky not to live in a country that prescribes the death penalty for LGBTQ identity, prejudice still remains. LGBTQ people are often looked down on, disowned, bullied, abused, and used as a scapegoat for causes outside of, and even within, their own communities.

I remember going to my first pride parade. Seeing people be themselves brought so much hope, it made me literally cry. I grew up in a very queerphobic home, went to queerphobic schools, and met many, many queerphobic people. Coming out as bisexual (later as pansexual) to my family did not go well, and I struggled with dealing with gender dysphoria as a genderfluid person, alone. So to me, pride parades are a symbol of hope, and of moving forward.

I also like pride parades because I like seeing transgender identities celebrated. To be perfectly honest, I hate being genderfluid. I hate it. I mean, we've all seen those videos of happy go lucky, chatty genderfluid people talking about their clothes or their pronouns or their favourite kind of coffee. But its not really like that. That's a snapshot of a genderfluid person's life: it doesn't show the whole picture. While not all genderfluid people may experience life as I do, my experience is very painful. My dysphoria fluctuates severely, which means my inner sense of self, and my inner sense of gender, fluctuates as well. I believe this is because my brain is somewhere in between the male and female range of development (just as trans men have male brains and trans women have female brains). Because my dysphoria and gender identity fluctuate, that means that I will never ever be rid of my dysphoria. Ever. There is this narrative of (binary) transgender people as trapped in their own body. Well, thats quite literally my experience. I could get surgeries and take hormones. And I'd just be paying to have dysphoria opposite the type I have now. So here I am. As you can see, this is a very negative experience for me. So it is nice to take a break from brooding over my dysphoria, and its nice to take a break from hateful, cruel comments against nonbinary people from both outside of, and within, my own community, and see a place where I can let it all go and celebrate my existence.

You might wonder why I feel the need to talk about this, about my identity, my struggles, and my thoughts. I want to be out so I can challenge stereotypes and prejudices, correct misunderstandings and misconceptions, and maybe even inspire other people like me to look forward with hope in their heart. That is why I'm going to add this: your gender identity and sexual/romantic orientation are all wonderful parts of who you are, and if they cause you suffering (such as in my case), remember that you are not alone, you are not broken, and together we can work for a better future.

Alright. Now that my ideas on pride and my identity are out of the way, its on to the books!

I am going to suggest some LGBTQ reads. I may have suggested some of these last year as well, but I might have new followers that haven't seen last year's post so I will repeat some of them.

So I suggest Symptoms of Being Human, Mask of Shadows, and Freakboy for nonbinary characters. Freakboy is actually written in a poetry format, and Mask of Shadows is a cool fantasy.

Genderfluid Flag

I also recommend Reign of the Fallen, which has a bisexual character and lots of other queer characters as well. Switch is a (recent) historical book with a bisexual male character, and Seven Ways we Lie features a pansexual character.

Pansexual Flag

Simon vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda is a fairly light-hearted contemporary story featuring a closeted gay boy, and When Everything Feels Like the Movies is a heartbreaking novel featuring a queer main character. Proxy is a great dystopian starring a gay boy, and Three Truths and a Lie is a short mystery featuring a gay couple.

 Gay/LGBTQ general flag

Captive Prince is an adult novel featuring LGBTQ relationships, and The Crimson Spell is a gay adult manga that I enjoyed. Finally, a great and emotional book featuring a forbidden LGBTQ relationship is If You Could Be Mine, and a nice anthology of real-life stories about life as an LGBTQ person is It Gets Better.

I'm also going to shamelessly promote the anthology featuring my short story I Am Logan (where I write as Caleb Andrews).

So there are just a few LGBTQ books I enjoyed and recommend. Please tell me what you think of these books, and also recommend some more in the comments!

Happy Pride month to all, and remember that there is hope beyond hatred.

Monday, 11 June 2018

Demon Road by Derek Landy

Demon Road (Demon Road, #1)

Series: Demon Road
Author: Derek Landy
Page Count: 507
Published: August 28, 2015
Publisher: HarperCollins Children's Books
  4.5 Stars ★★★★

Amber's parents are a little weird, and she isn't very close with them. One night, she discovers why: they're demons, and they are going to, quite literally, eat her. They made a deal with a demon years ago, and part of the deal includes blood tributes, which involves slaughtering their young. Amber barely escapes.

Her life has changed forever. Amber can now shift into demon form, she's on the road with a man she doesn't know at all, and her parents and their friends are searching for her. A cat and mouse chase across the United States puts Amber's life on the line, unless she can make a deal with a demon, too. But things can't be so simple for a demon girl with psycho parents, can they?

So this book was literally almost perfect. I read the first hundred pages in one day, and then I binge-read the rest of the book the next day. I could not stop reading!

Derek Landy returns with his humorous yet dark writing style, perfectly balancing funny moments with terrifying ones. I was really pleased to find the writing similar to that from his Skulduggery Pleasant series! He has such a unique writing style, and it made the book an easy, gripping read.

His characters were fascinating, as usual. Amber herself is relatable, with her body image issues, her attachment to her family despite their demonic mission, and the discoveries that she makes about herself. Amber's parents were despicable villains who I hated, yet loved to read about. Amber's companions on her journey brought mystery and humor to the story, with me wondering about their backgrounds and hoping that they'd survive the ordeal.

A lot happened in this book. While there was the main issue, Amber trying to escape her parents, there were smaller conflicts within the plot that made the book even more exciting. Amber and her companions have to fight a tiny serial killer and a town of vampires, all while dealing with the bigger issues. Despite this, the book never seemed to sway off course.

My only issue was the way that Amber seemed to accept things a little too quickly. Maybe it's just me, but I'd probably lose my mind a lot more than she did upon looking in a mirror and seeing that I've transformed into a demon.

I absolutely recommend this, especially to fans of paranormal books with no to little romance. If you're interested in a book that's both funny and dark, Derek Landy's books are a great pick.

Find Demon Road on Goodreads

Monday, 4 June 2018

Three Truths and a Lie by Brent Hartinger

Three Truths and a Lie

Series: N/A
Author: Brent Hartinger
Page Count: 272
Published: August 2nd, 2016
Publisher: Simon Pulse
  4 Stars ★★★★

In this young adult mystery, boyfriends Liam and Rob, and couple Mia and Galen decide to head to a cabin in the woods for a nice, relaxing weekend together.  Unfortunately, things go south quickly when items are moved around, escalating over time. It becomes obvious that somebody is messing with the four friends. And if they aren't careful, they won't all make it out alive. 

This was a short mystery with some twists that I did not see coming. I was drawn into the mystery immediately and I honestly had trouble putting the book down! 

The setting was a bit cliche, but it worked well. I mean, if I were in a cabin in the forest, and stuff was moved around, I'd definitely be suspicious. The author uses the setting effectively, leaving me feeling like the characters were in a dangerous, almost isolated situation. 

The mystery behind the strange happenings was also well written. In my opinion, the best mysteries encourage the reader to constantly analyze the situation and form their own theories, which was certainly the case for myself and this book! I was always switching who I thought was the culprit. And I was always on the lookout for clues in the setting, the characters' speech and actions, etc. 

I think that at times the book was pretty unrealistic, which bothered me. This is a contemporary young adult mystery, which means that, as its not a fantasy or paranormal, certain real-life, rational aspects need to remain. I felt that at times, the characters acted in ways that would not make sense for someone in their situation. 

I did really appreciate that two of the characters were LGBTQ! I love mysteries, and I love LGBTQ characters, and this book combined both those things very well! I also love how the gay couple was really not a big deal in the book, in that themes of coming out and prejudice weren't in the spotlight. I love "casually queer" books. 

And finally, that ending! I did not see that coming. I should have for sure....but I didn't! 

I recommend this book to those looking for a short mystery. If you're looking for YA LGBTQ books, you might enjoy Three Truths and a Lie. 

Find Three Truths and a Lie on Goodreads

Monday, 21 May 2018

Book Talk

Image result for keep calm and book

Image found here

Hey everyone. I hope you're doing well! I wanted to talk about books, what I've been reading, what I want to read, and other things. 

So recently I've been getting into nonfiction a bit more. I especially love books about creepy or strange things, such as unsolved crimes, strange phenomena, mysteries, and modern day controversies. For example I recently read Going Clear, which is about Scientology. I'm looking into books about Jack the Ripper, for example books that speculate on his identity. What are your favourite nonfiction books? What topics are you interested in reading about?

I attempted to read the first Spiderwick Chronicles book in french, but I failed miserably. It turns out my french skills are much worse than I thought! So I guess its to the picture books I go. I am so annoyed how after thirteen years of french classes and living with a family who speaks french fluently, the language still does not stick in my brain! It is so incredibly frustrating. Do any of you struggle with this? And for those who are great at your second language, how did you accomplish this? Any tips?

I'm so happy I renewed my library card. While I have lots of books to get through at home, taking a walk on a nice day to the library, sitting down for a bit and reading bits and pieces of books, is somehow relaxing. I like the general quiet one finds in a library as well, its like taking a break from the outside world for a while. 

How many books have you all read so far this year? I've read 35 according to Goodreads, which is 70% of my goal of 50 books for 2018. 

Happy reading!

Monday, 14 May 2018

Wrecked by Anna Davies


Series: N/A
Author: Anna Davies
Page Count: 336
Published: May 1st, 2012
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
  3 Stars ★★★

Miranda lives on Whym Island with her grandmother, where superstitions about sea witches are popular among the locals. The death of her parents isn't the only tragedy she has to deal night, she and her friends get into a boating accident. She survives, and holds memories of a mysterious boy on the beach.

Christian is a betwixtman from Down Below. He saved Miranda from drowning, but Sephie, the sea witch, isn't happy with him. She charges him with killing Miranda, and he has a time limit. Things become complicated when he starts falling for her. Will Sephie end them both?

This is a case of a book not being horrible but not being amazing either.

There were some things that I liked. I liked the characters, especially Christian. The characters were all pretty interesting, and poor Miranda! Dealing first with the death of her parents, and now the death of some of her friends and her own possible death! Sephie was an interesting villain, although I kind of guessed what was going on with her from the beginning.

I liked the mermaids, mermen, betwixtmen, etc. I love sea creatures/people, and this book gave an interesting twist to the idea of these sea people, or in Christian's case, betwixtmen. He is able to walk on land and transform back in the water, and this ability to walk between worlds was reminiscent of werewolf or shapeshifter books. I also liked that he essentially became an assassin for the sea witch, that added another level of danger, and forbidden romance, to the story.

I wasn't a huge fan of the writing style. It wasn't terrible, and I could definitely see myself liking it if the author had added a bit more description and watched the way she used words....what I mean is that there were sometimes awkward repetitions of words within a few consecutive sentences, which kind of drew me out of the story.

I also think that there could have been some more events going on to make the book seem a bit more dangerous. I know that Miranda's life was in danger but, the focus seemed more on her relationships with others than the threat to her life. I wish there had been more emphasis on creepy happenings, maybe the sea witch could have played around with Miranda a bit more.

Overall, this was an enjoyable, but not amazing, read. I liked the sea people and the characters, but the writing style could have been better, and I wish there had been more creepy events. I do recommend this for fans of young adult romance featuring sea creatures/people and forbidden love.

Find Wrecked on Goodreads