A quick update

Hi readers.

You may have noticed that I have been absent for a couple of weeks, so I wanted to take a minute to say hi and let you know what’s up.

Things have been a little crazy lately.

First, I just finished grad school, so that whole final projects and graduation thing has been taking up a little time.

Second, I’ve been traveling a bit to hang out with a family member who hasn’t been feeling too great.

Third, I’ve been trying to find one of those elusive grown-up type jobs.

Things have definitely been stressful around here and I need to take a little break to play catch up. That said, A Queerer Mirror is still alive and kicking and I have lots more great stuff in store for you when I come back. I’ve been trying to keep up with #bookadaymay and hope you all have done some reading, too. And I’ve managed to get my hands on some great books and literary swag that I’ll be having some giveaways and contests for. So hang in there and keep your eye on Twitter and Instagram for updates. I’ll be posting my #bookadaymay finds there and will tell you all about them in a couple weeks when I get back to a regular publishing schedule. Both sites are linked up top for easy access.

As always, happy reading and I’ll talk to you soon!

It’s almost Book A Day May!

What is Book A Day May? Well, I’m glad you asked. BADM is a 31 Day reading challenge that I have invented for myself and that I am inviting anyone who is interested to participate in. I’ve raided my To-Be-Read stacks for any LGBTQIA+ books that have gone unread and I put in a bunch of requests at my local library. I am pumped up for this reading party.

bookaday

And what does that mean over here at A Queerer Mirror? Well, mostly it means I’ll be reading my face off for the next month and telling you all about everything I read. That means (hopefully!) that you’ll have 31 new recommendations by the end of May. Summer reading here you come! Now I’m going to try to make sure every level reader has something reviewed, but, to be totally honest, a lot of what is available is targeted at you YA folks. It’s not fair and not cool, but it’s what we’re working every day to change. So with that said, I promise to do my very best to make sure I have a good variety, but bear with me if pickings are a little slim. It’s about to be the time of year where I head out to big book conventions to see what new awesome stuff is coming down the line but for now I gotta work with what I got.

More to come soon, but for now what’s a book you are excited to read this summer? It doesn’t have to be a one-day read, just something that’s been on your To-Be-Read list that you’re finally ready to tackle. Let me know down below! And if you want to jump on the Book A Day Bandwagon, let me know about that, too. Maybe I’ll even have some swag made up for everyone who participates. 😀

PS- You can also join the convo on Twitter. Just tweet #bookadaymay to @aqueerermirror.

Dear Past/Future Self

So, ever since I read The Letter Q, I’ve been thinking a lot about what kind of letter I would write to my younger self. Just the idea of being able to send a little message to the past to help out old me had my brain going overtime. And I thought, what better place to write that letter than right here. I also thought it might be pretty awesome to invite all of you to write your own letters, maybe to your younger self or even to future you. So send me a message with your letters and maybe I’ll even publish a few of them right here (with permission of course!) Hit me up through the contact page and don’t forget to include your email so I can let you know if your letter is selected. Or take it to Twitter. Tweet @aqueerermirror using the hashtag #DEARYOUNGERME and I’ll compile all of your tweets into an awesome post down the line. In the meantime, here’s my advice to younger me.

Dearest, darlingest younger me,

First things first, you’ve survived into adulthood. Congratulations. Perhaps that sounds a little flip, but there may come a time when knowing that fact really does feel like an accomplishment.

You know, I have a feeling that it won’t surprise you to receive a letter from the future. You always firmly believed in the possibility of anything. Thank you for that. It’s one of the best things I’ve managed to hold onto.

Now onto the business at hand. There are a few things I think you need to know.

First of all, that fascination you have with a friendly acquaintance? You know the one I mean. That one girl that’s been peripherally in your life since elementary school? Yeah, your heart doesn’t do that weird thing when she walks by because you want to be like her. And I think you know that somewhere very deep down. That weird little heart flip is something you’re eventually gonna recognize as the first sign of a serious crush. Now the bad news is that you’re probably still not going to acknowledge that before college. The good news, though, is that this girl is still going to be around. But that’s all I’m gonna say about that. Just remember, once you finally open that closet door, you are going to be consistently amazed by what you get to experience on the other side.

Second, and this is probably going to be the hardest to hear, but it’s so important. Get yourself a therapist. Get into therapy as quick as you possibly can. There is no shame in talking to someone about what’s going on in your head and your heart. If you don’t talk, it all comes out in much more destructive ways. It’s possible that you’ll still go through a lot of the tough times, even with the help of a therapist, but give yourself your best chance at happiness. Otherwise you’ll be dealing with a lot of the same stuff well into your grown up life. In good news, one day you will be living in a place where therapy is as normal as showering and you’ll find yourself referencing your latest breakthrough in casual conversation. And that feels like freedom.

Third, I know that you’re pretty uninspired with the lackadaisical education you’re receiving in that little town of yours, but that’s not a good reason to slack off. Take the hardest classes you can and ace them all. And then be brave enough to apply for college somewhere far, far away. Trust me on this one. Those gigantic dreams of yours won’t do you any good if you wait too long to get out of that town. So focus. Get amazing grades. Apply for awesome schools. And then get out out out. I know that sounds like an impossible task. The highest aspirations the guidance counselors seem to have for any of you is a two year community college stint before you settle into repopulating the local schools and perpetuating the cycle of mediocrity. But that doesn’t have to be your life. You are infinitely capable.

Fourth, and this is the absolute most important thing. If you take no other suggestions, take this one. You see, you have two lives to save. On November 6, 2014, make sure you are at 326 East 110th Street (between 1st and 2nd Aves.) New York, NY 10029. Get there early. Your best friend is waiting for you. She’s tiny and blonde and a bit of a big mouth, but you will love her unbearably. On August 29th, 2015, get yourself to 2336 Linden Boulevard, Brooklyn, NY 11208. Again, be early, This is imperative. You will meet a woman at the front desk and she will tell you all about a family member you didn’t know you were waiting for. This new member of the family is scrawny and gray haired and occasionally cantankerous, but she needs you desperately. These two will change your life. And you will change theirs. And this is a beautiful thing.

So there you go. You are a pansexual, therapy needing, sometime underachiever. But you are going to do some good in the world. Whatever path you take to get where you’re going, I have faith in you. You are going to get me to where I am now and I’m going to be grateful for all you survived to do it.

Thanks younger me.

See you in 2017.

Let’s talk guest bloggers!

Today A Queerer Mirror is officially welcoming our first guest blogger! I’m super excited to introduce you to Ray. Ray is a voracious reader with a huge interest in queer books and has a great one to recommend to you today.

unspeakable

Unspeakable

QM: So what’s it about?!?

Ray: Months after her best friend dies in a tragic accident, Megan still cannot speak a word. Her voice gets caught in her throat every time she tries. But when a new girl moves to town towards the end of the school year, Megan learns that spoken word is not the only thing that can bring two people together.

Part mystery, part love story, this is a book about learning how to heal even when you don’t feel you deserve it.

QM: What makes it a queer book?

Ray: Megan and Jasmine end up in a relationship together, much more than just best friends. They hug and kiss and hold hands. It takes a while for the plot to get there with a lot of Megan going “Why do I want to kiss her?” and “Why am I jealous of her boyfriend?”. But it does eventually get there!

I think what makes this book stand out among queer books is that it’s not a coming out narrative. In fact, Megan never gives herself a label for her sexuality. She simply lets it be and go with what feels right to her. There is so much pressure in the world to know exactly who you are from day one that it is important to remember that finding yourself is a journey, and it is not the only thing that can be going on in a person’s life.

QM: Why is this book important to you personally?

Ray: I’m a semi-verbal autistic, which means that I can talk a good chunk of the time but not all the time. When I get stressed, I often lose the ability to speak, which makes it harder to communicate with my loved ones. Sometimes I feel guilty about this and wonder if they will eventually just give up on me and leave.

While Megan isn’t written as autistic, she is non-verbal. Not only is she a non-verbal character with a solid friendship and a good mother-daughter relationship and a girlfriend, she is a non-verbal character who is also queer. Most characters are either non-verbal and straight or verbal and queer. But in Megan I can see two large parts of myself. Her relationships turn out all right, even though she can’t speak, so maybe mine aren’t doomed.

QM: What makes it awesome?

Ray: I think this book is awesome because the writing just sucks you in. The people feel real and the setting is believable and you can really get attached to what Megan is going through. Megan feels especially real. She doesn’t know what she wants for lunch let alone what labels to use on herself or how to feel about her whole situation. Her lack of certainty gives her a very human quality that makes it easy to relate to.

QM: Who would you recommend this book for?

Ray: I would recommend this book for any person who loves a good mystery and may or may not be questioning their own sexuality or the validity of it.

It’s a book meant for teenagers, but… I’d say it’s suitable for tweens up to adults. There is a bit of violence in it and some tough social issue stuff, but nothing overly graphic.

QM: Thanks Ray! Now everyone go check out Unspeakable and then let us know what you think in the comments below. Happy reading!

Let’s talk superheroes/superheroines

This week’s topic, as you can see, is superheroes/heroines. This is kind of a tough subject for queer representation, but I’ve dug up a few titles that I think you all will be into. Lots of apologies to my youngest readers, but I had no luck finding awesome queer superheroes in anything younger than a middle grade book. Super sorry. But let me know if you know of any and I’ll make sure to put them up. Hit me up in the comments and let’s talk saving the world.

For Middle Graders

hades

The House of Hades

So what’s it about? This is the fourth installment of the Heroes of Olympus series, which is a spin-off of the Percy Jackson and the Olympians series. This series, in a nutshell, is about seven young demigods (half-bloods) banding together to save the world from an ancient goddess and a terrible prophesy.

What makes it queer? This particular book is the first in the series to explicitly state a character’s queerness. And that’s all I’m going to tell you because I really, really, really don’t want to give anything away.

How awesome is it? It’s awesome enough that it was definitely worth reading the previous series and the early books in this series to get to this one. This book gives the world one of its first queer heroes in a book for younger readers, which is super important because LGBTQ+ folks are every bit as capable of being heroes and heroines as our straight allies!

For Young Adults

hero

Hero

So what’s it about? Thom Creed, our main character, is in the process of discovering some pretty cool things about himself. Among those cool things? Well, super powers. Which generally would be pretty cool, except Thom’s dad was a superhero hopeful once upon a time who got rejected by the group that is currently trying to recruit Thom. Awkward.

What makes it queer? Let’s just say Thom’s superpowers aren’t the only thing he’s having a bit of trouble coming to terms with.

How awesome is it? It’s gotta be a pretty good read to land a Lammy award, for starters. That’s right, in 2008 LAMBDA Literary named this the best new YA book of the year. Pretty flipping awesome.

A little bonus

avengers3

Young Avengers

So what’s it about? Seven superheroes/heroines band together to save the world. (That sounds a little familiar doesn’t it?) These characters feel super contemporary and in between saving the world, you’ll see them dealing with parents, going to therapy, and basically acting like normal teenagers.

What makes it queer? Almost every member of this group falls somewhere on the queer spectrum.

How awesome is it? See above. Most of the time queer characters in books get the short end of the stick. There’s only one or maybe two if they’re lucky enough to get a love interest and generally they are relegated to sidekick status. Not so with the Young Avengers. These are not people who are interested in being unimportant sidekicks and that is ridiculously awesome.

Til next time. Happy reading!

 

avengers2

Free Books: Take 2

Hi Readers!

First off, thanks to all who responded to the previous free books post. If you responded and haven’t seen my response on that page or otherwise heard from me, please send me a message via the Contact page.

Second, welcome to the Queerer Mirror book club Michelle Miller, Ayana M, and CatchKellysFancy. And thanks for being the inaugural members of this little venture. I look forward to hearing what you think of your books.

And finally, there are still two openings for inaugural club members who would like to receive a free book in exchange for letting me know what you think of it. These are all books that could be featured on this site and that I think you will love.  If you’re into it, leave a comment below or on the original post. We also still need an awesome name, so feel free to leave a suggestion and, if I pick yours, I promise a fun prize will be headed your way.

Short and sweet today. And next week is spring break so I’ll be out of pocket for a bit, which means no new posts until Tuesday 4/18 when we’ll talk about SUPERHEROES and SUPERHEROINES!

Til then, happy reading!

Let’s talk Memoirs

Hi Readers!

First of all, thanks to all of you who replied to the last post. I’m going to give it a couple more days to see if we gain any more book clubbers and then I’ll get in touch with anyone who commented.

And now for the good stuff. I’m super excited because this week we’re talking about memoirs and biographies. This area of the shelf can get overlooked because people assume the books are dull and dry. But these books have gone through a major change in the last decade and what you find on the shelves now is not even slightly boring.

So, without further ado…

For Early Readers

jazzI am Jazz

So what’s it about? Jazz is a little girl who realized early on that how she felt on the inside didn’t match what people saw on the outside.

What makes it queer? Jazz is transgender.

How awesome is it? This is an amazing book that tells one little girl’s story in an open and honest way and helps explain what it means to be transgender.

For Middle Graders

letterqThe Letter Q

So what’s it about? So this is not exactly a traditional biography and that’s actually what makes it great. This book is a bunch of authors writing letters to their younger selves. What that means is that we get to read a bunch of mini-bios from a lot of cool people.

Quick note- due to a couple of letters being geared toward slightly older past selves, I think probably my older middle grade readers would do best with this one. If you’re a little younger, this might be a good one to read with an adult you trust in case you have any questions.

What makes it queer? All of these authors identify somewhere on the LGBTQ+ spectrum.

How awesome is it? It’s a really neat thing to be able to read about how these successful people dealt with a lot of the same crap you’ve probably dealt with yourself. These letters give some insight into what they wish they’d known when they were about the same age as you.

For Young Adults

girlheartsgirlGirl Hearts Girl

So what’s it about? You might recognize Lucy Sutcliffe from YouTube, where she regularly posted videos that eventually lead to the writing of this book. This is the story of someone coming into her sexuality and going through some pretty big things along the way. More than anything, though, this is a love story.

What makes it queer? As you’ve probably guessed based on the title, it’s the story of two girls falling in love.

How awesome is it? This book reads like fiction and I mean that in the best possible way. I could not put this story down.

Let’s talk FREE BOOKS!

freebooks

That’s right. Free books.

Today A Queerer Mirror is officially launching our new book club. But it’s not like any other old book club out there. The way it works is this.

  1. I am leaving five books around NYC for people to find. Each has a message in the front explaining it is a book club book and asking the reader to read it, pass it on, and check in right here at this post to tell us all how they felt about the book.
  2. I am offering five more books to you lucky readers. The first five of you to respond will receive a book of my choosing in your age range. The only things I ask are that after you read the book you come back here and tell everyone how you liked it and you pass the book on to someone else and ask them to do the same.
  3. I check back in with this post regularly to see what everyone is posting about.
  4. If it goes well, I’ll send even more books out into the world to grow our little book club even bigger.

For tonight, a little preview. I dropped off the first NYC book at a Little Free Library in Brooklyn and can’t wait to see if someone responds!

 

If you’re interested in reading one of the books but don’t get picked to receive it this time, definitely check it out at your local library and then come back and share your opinion. Or, if you can, you could even by your own copy and write our message in it so you can pass it on after reading it. Everyone is more than welcome to chime in and participate.

So there it is. The first five readers to leave a comment below will become our inaugural book club members and, once they’re selected, I’ll update this post with ALL the books that are being sent out.

Oh, and one more thing. If you can come up with a great name for our little book club and I decide to use it, there will definitely be eternal gratitude and some kind of fun prize in your future.

Until next time, happy reading!

Let’s talk science fiction?

So, the plan for this week was to dig up some super awesome sci-fi for you super awesome readers. This plan, however, did not go nearly as well as planned. I found some fantasy and some romance and lots of other books that we’ll talk about on other days. But what I did not find was good queer sci-fi for young readers. Legit, I could not find anything that I felt like fulfilled those three criteria and would be worth reading. So I’m putting this one out there to all of you. I’m on the struggle bus with this one and can’t find anything. Anyone know of something great that I missed? Maybe a great series or a booklist that celebrates these three awesome things? Because I’m coming up empty and it is a bummer.

In the meantime, though, here’s a cute puppy video to offset today’s lack of recommendations.

Til next time!

Let’s Talk Animated Movies

Hey readers! There is almost nothing that I love as much as taking a couple hours out of my life to sit down in a cool theater with a big old bag of popcorn waiting to see the latest Disney or Pixar or DreamWorks animated movie. I might be a grownup (reluctantly) but I’m not too grown up to say that I sang Let It Go for weeks after Frozen came out and that I own every single Shrek movie. No shame. So this week, in honor of one of my childhood favorites going from animated to live action (here’s looking at you, Beauty and the Beast, with your newly inclusive storyline!), I thought we could chat a little about the few animated movies out there that have some awesome queer characters or LGBTQ+ affirmative storylines. So, in no particular order, here are a few of my favorites. Let me know in the comments if there are are that you would add.

Shrek

Full disclosure, the Shrek movies are some of my favorites and I’m also kind of obsessed with the musical. So when we talk about what makes this a story with positive queer representation, I am pulling from all of those things for information. The biggest thing Shrek does for the queer community is to encourage characters to be themselves. In particular, one of the stepsisters, Doris, is often thought to be a trans woman. Also, the big bad wolf plays freely with gender norms, eventually embracing his penchant for traditionally female attire. Now, could they do more? Sure. But in a genre that rarely sees any queer representation, I’m glad to finally see something.

Just for fun, here’s one of my favorite songs from the musical.

Zootopia

Even if there were no explicitly gay characters in this film, the overall theme is still one of learning to look past labels and to allow individuals to decide who they are going to be without having to live up to any assumptions made by family or friends. It also sends a great message about how the labels we are given come with a certain set of assumptions, but just because something is assumed, that doesn’t make it true.

On a lighter note, there’s also some speculation that the main character’s two arguing neighbors are actually married based on the hyphenation of their last names in the closing credits. And there’s even more speculation that Officer Clawhauser is also gay. Of course, we’ve learned to look past assumptions based on stereotypes, but perhaps if Zootopia gets a part two, we’ll have a chance to learn a little more about these characters. Until then, a little clip…

Now could they do more? Yes. It would be brilliant if the folks producing this lovely film could have let one of the above characters verbally OR visibly acknowledge their queerness. But this movie is contributing to conversations about identity and other people’s assumptions and that is definitely a good thing.

The Box Trolls

The Box Trolls isn’t a movie that is explicitly queer. However, this movie does make a real effort to showcase the idea that just because a family doesn’t look the way you expect it to, that doesn’t mean it isn’t a real family. They also give a great big shout out to the queer community right at the beginning. Check out the clip below.

So that’s it for today. Hit me up in the comments if there’s anything you think I should add to the list and, as always, happy reading (and watching!)