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

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 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 Fairy Tales

So today’s post is a super quicky because, alas, grad school is super hard and I am a crazy busy lady right now. So let’s get right to it.

For my younger friends, I have…

kingKing and King

So what’s it about? So there’s a queen who is pretty over being the boss and wants to retire, but won’t until her kid, the prince, gets married. Bring on the princess procession! Only our prince is just not into any of these lovely ladies…

What makes it queer? I’m feeling like it’s pretty clear from the title.

How awesome is it? It is ridiculously refreshing to see a picture book that shows that love comes in all forms. Big props on breaking new ground.

 

And for my YA crowd…

ashAsh

So what’s it about? This is a Cinderella story. But only if you turned Cinderella inside out and upside down and shook it a bit. The protagonist, Ash, is in a pickle. Parents dead and things aren’t going so great with the stepmom. And that’s about where the similarities with the original end.

What makes it queer? Ash doesn’t run off to the ball to find a prince. She’s much too busy wandering the world with the King’s Huntress.

Why is it awesome? Sometimes retellings of fairy tales can feel a little stale and overdone. This is definitely not one of those stories. Ash is the queer protagonist that you might barely have dared to wish for. And as for her supporting characters? You’d have to look for a long time to find any as complicated and intriguing as Kaisa the Huntress or Sidhean the fae.

 

Now, because you are all brilliant and observant, you’ve probably noticed there’s no middle grade choice today. And I’m gonna be honest, that’s because I could not find one book that combined queer themes with fairy tales for my MG pals. Have you found any? Share them below pretty please. I’ve been going nutty trying to find something awesome for you lovely readers!

And make sure you come back next week. I’m going to attempt to find some queer sci-fi for you.

Ta til then. And, as always, happy reading!

Let’s talk Lammy’s!

Greetings readers! Today is a pretty big day in our little queer lit community. Today is the day the Lammy nominees are announced. Now if you aren’t familiar with the Lammy’s, that’s okay. I wasn’t either, until a few years ago. The Lammy’s are LAMBDA Literary’s annual awards for books with queer content. They celebrate diverse writers and diverse stories and it’s a great time to look at what new and exciting books should be on our shelves. There are tons of categories but, sadly, only one that looks at books for younger readers. That’s right, one category for all of kid lit, middle grade, and YA. Pretty crazy. But let’s remember that that’s a reminder to all of us, that we have to keep demanding these books so that one day LAMBDA will need just as many categories for young people as they do for adults. For today, I thought I’d celebrate the release of the nominees by telling you a bit about a few of the titles on the list that I was able to get my hands on. Disclaimer- this post is going to veer toward YA because that’s what most of the nominees are. But don’t worry, you younger folk. There will be plenty of recommendations coming your way going forward.

beastBeast

So what’s it about? So the main character in this book, Dylan, well, he’s a big guy. Like really big. And really hairy. Also kind of intimidating. And he has been since middle school. But the truth is Dylan is more interested in using his brain than his brawn.
What makes it queer? Without giving away too much, let’s just say that Dylan get some information from another character that he was not quite prepared to deal with. Anymore than that and I risk giving away more than I care to.
How awesome is it? You know, there were times while I read this when I was thinking, geez, this guy is not the super likable protagonist that I generally expect in my YA. But I kind of think that’s a good thing. Dylan isn’t living his story to try to impress anyone. He’s just trying to get through it, same as the rest of us.

IllogicalHighly Illogical Behavior

So what’s it about? This book is about an agoraphobic guy named Solomon and a high-achieving girl named Lisa who makes it her mission to cure him.
What makes it queer? One of the three principle characters is dealing with coming to terms with their sexuality.
How awesome is it? It’s pretty flipping awesome. The characters in this story feel authentic, flaws and all. These kids aren’t perfect, not even close, but they all have stories to tell and this book tells them beautifully.

symptomsSymptoms of Being Human

So what’s it about? The story revolves around Riley, a gender fluid high school student living in a conservative town. Riley’s having a tough go of it so when their therapist suggests starting a blog to connect with other gender fluid teens, they figure that it can’t hurt to try. Only Riley didn’t exactly expect to go viral. Oops. There’s a lot at stake if Riley is ever found out.
What makes it queer? Riley identifies as gender fluid, which means that they feel more male some days and more female on other days.
How awesome is it? Riley is a complicated character. In some ways, it’s hard to relate to them. The story veers a little toward the unbelievable side because at some point you kind of just stop being convinced that one character could have all of this stuff happen to them. That said, if you can suspend disbelief for a bit, there is a very poignant story being told.
If you’re interested in finding out what else is up for an award, go here for the full list of nominees.
Until next time, happy reading!

Let’s talk Graphic Novels

But seriously, let’s talk about graphic novels. Because they are THE BEST. Graphic novels paint you a vivid picture of the world you’re jumping into and tell all kinds of stories. And these novels are getting better and better every day. In today’s recommendations, you get a fairy tale, a memoir, and a fantasy, all wrapped up in graphic packages. It’s brilliant. Graphic novels can really take you on a complete vacation from the world. So give them a glance and hit me up in the comments if you have any that you think I should check out. Happy Reading!

Kids

princessPrincess Princess Ever After

So what’s it about? Princess Sadie is stuck in a tower. And she has completely had it with the gaggle of princes that keep showing up promising to rescue her. Princess Amira is a smart, prepared adventurer who is not interested in playing the role of weak little girl. Together they’re two girls taking on all the obstacles the world throws in their way.

What makes it queer? Sadie rejects the idea of needing a prince to rescue her and sets off on a grand adventure with a princess that doesn’t play by the rules. Together they have to learn that there are all kinds of ways to happily ever after.

How awesome is it? This is the fairy tale that every kid needs on the shelf. It is beyond awesome to see all kinds of princesses taking on the world and doing it their own way.

Tweens

lumberjanesLumberjanes

So what’s it about? The Lumberjanes are a group of young women spending the summer at a camp for “Hardcore Lady Types.” Just on that line alone, I am hooked. But they quickly come to discover that this is no ordinary camp. Nope, they come face to face with all kinds of mysteries and oddities and face them down with crazy amounts of nerve and tons of smarts.

What makes it queer? At some point in this series, one of the main characters is going to talk very frankly about her gender identity and become the insta-role model that you didn’t know you needed.

How awesome is it? I mean, 26,854 people on Goodreads have conspired to give it ~4 stars, which is not bad at all. So, if 26,854 people are digging it, odds are pretty good that you will too.

Teens

honorHonor Girl

So what’s it about? Honor Girl is another book about summer camp. Only with some pretty big differences. Camp Bellflower is a real place and the author, Maggie, really did spend some pretty memorable summers there. But the summer described in this book… well that may have been the most memorable of all.

What makes it queer? Maggie spends this summer coming to terms with her feelings for another girl. But the girl she’s into? She’s not just any girl… but I’m not spoiling it for you here!

How awesome is it? This is a beautifully illustrated graphic memoir that tells the story of one life-changing summer. Definitely a must read.

Let’s talk Realistic Fiction

Today we’re talking about the kind of books where you can really put yourself in the story. The kind of stories that might just be playing out in the world somewhere even while I am writing this or you are reading it. That’s right. It’s realistic fiction day. And there’s something for kids of all ages. Check them out. No really, go your your library and check them out! And then come back and tell me how awesome they are. And, as always, drop me a note in the comments or on the contact page if there’s something you’d like to see included in the future. Happy reading!

First, for some of my awesome young readers.

morrisMorris Micklewhite and the Tangerine Dress

So what’s it about? This book is about a young person who was born male, but really enjoys wearing a fancy orange dress from the play center at school.

What makes it queer? Morris doesn’t act like the world expects a little boy to act, so he is teased for it and rejected by his friends. A lot of kids, queer or not, go through similar experiences when they are young.

How awesome is it? Let’s just say you’ll be rooting for Morris from the moment you meet him.

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I didn’t forget about my Middle Grade friends!

lily

Lily and Dunkin

So what’s it about? If you ask Lily she’ll tell you, she is a girl through and through. Unfortunately the rest of the world sees her as Tim. Fortunately she finds a friend she can be honest with in Dunkin, who knows how it feels to worry that people will judge you for something you can’t help. Unfortunately life is never simple and Lily and Dunkin face some real challenges and setbacks in their friendship.

What makes it queer? The lead character is a young transgender female in the early stages of  coming out.

How awesome is it? I don’t give many 5 star ratings on Goodreads, but I would give this 6 stars if I could.

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And for those of you heading pretty quickly toward adulthood, a little romance today.

tellmeagain

Tell Me Again How A Crush Should Feel

So what’s it about? Leila is a pretty typical high school junior. She works hard and has fun and tries to keep her parents off her back. There’s just one problem. Leila’s been keeping a little secret. And with the arrival of a new classmate, that secret is about to be blown right out of the water.

What makes it queer? The main character is a Persian-American lesbian trying to figure out how to come out to a conservative family and community. (And also trying to figure out how to get the new girl’s attention…) Bonus- she’s not the only queer character in the book!

How awesome is it? If you love romance, you’ll love this. If you love books with interesting queer characters, you’ll love this. If you’ve ever struggled with being yourself for fear that that self wouldn’t be accepted, you’ll love this. Pretty much, if you are (or ever have been) a teenager, this is a book you will dig.

Let’s talk Dystopia

We’re going to switch things up a bit for this week’s reviews. Instead of focusing on individual books, I’m going to give you some great options for dystopian series. Now generally I try to make sure there’s something here for all ages, but that’s a touch more difficult when we’re looking at dystopian fiction. Nobody’s really putting that in books for you younger folks. So, just for today, these suggestions might resonate a bit more for my tween and teen readers.

Alright, let’s get to it. From good to better to best, here are my picks for three dystopian series that I think are going to pull you in so much you’ll be begging the authors for more books.

 

divergent#3 The Divergent trilogy by Veronica Roth

It’s a pretty good bet that unless you legit live under a rock somewhere, you’ve heard of this little series and at least seen a trailer here and there of its relatively successful trip to the big screen. What you may not remember super well is that there is a gentleman by the name of Amar who shows up with some regularity and also used to have a gigantic crush on Four. But then, who doesn’t?!?

 

 

 

gone#2 The Gone series by Michael Grant

So I have to risk a small spoiler here by saying make sure you pay attention to Dekka. That girl is the kick butt lesbian role model of your dreams. Cross your fingers that Michael Grant decides to write this sidekick her own story some day because she is awesome. Definitely the girl you want on your side in a world where all the adults have somehow been poofed right out of the picture.

 

 

 

proxy#1 The Proxy series by Alex London

In the world according to this series, things aren’t going super well. Somehow things have gotten so messed up that slavery is a thing again. Only this time, people are bought and kept in order to take punishments for the “owner”. In this world, if you’re rich enough and heartless enough, you can get away with anything. If you’re poor, like Syd, you take the rap for every stupid thing your “owner” does. Syd doesn’t have any hope of happily ever after with a great guy. He’s just trying to survive.

 

 

So there they are and off you go to the library. (I hope!) Let me know what you think and, as always, if you have any suggestions that you think should have been included or that I should include in a later post, leave ’em in the comments.

Happy reading!

Let’s talk Poetry

When we say poetry or verse, a lot of people tend to get the wrong impression. It’s boring or doesn’t make sense. Maybe it’s just not your thing. I totally get feeling that way. I spent most of my life thinking just that. I read a couple of boring poems and washed my hands of the whole genre. But I think that I closed that door too soon. I’ve recently reopened it and discovered a whole new world of poetry and verse. And the stories that are told this way… brilliant. So today I’m going to share a few with you. If you dig poetry and verse already, awesome, here are a few new options. And if you don’t, well, I’d love to see hear what you think if you give one of these a shot. Let me know what you think in the comments!

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june

This Day In June by Gayle E. Pitman

So what’s it about? This is a great rhyming picture book about all kinds of different people celebrating their diversity.

What makes it queer? The celebration being documented is the annual LGBT+ Pride Parade that takes place in many towns and cities every June.

How awesome is it? This book shows how joyful Pride celebrations are. I’d recommend it to anyone looking to tell young readers what that big parade in June is about.

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addie

Addie On The Inside by James Howe

So what’s it about? This is the third book in the Misfits series and it’s Addie’s turn to tell her story. The fact that it’s written in verse, well, that’s definitely Addie for ya!

What makes it queer? While Addie is not LGBT+, one of her good friends, Joe, is. Now you can read all about Joe in prose in Totally Joe, which is #2 in the Misfits series, but since we’re looking at books in verse today, take a look at Addie’s story. She may not identify as LGBT+ but she is definitely an Ally and Joe is a big part of her story.

How awesome is it? This series sparked a national movement sponsored by GLSEN called No Name-Calling Week. It takes a pretty epic series to be able to create that kind of positive change in the world. So, yeah, this book is really flipping awesome.

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freakboy.jpg

Freakboy by Kristin Elizabeth Clark

So what’s it about? This book in verse tell the story of three teens whose lives intersect in personal and profound ways during some difficult moments.

What makes it queer? Two of the three characters who voice this novel are members of the LGBT+ community. Two queer protagonists in one book is pretty much unheard. One character is struggling with sexuality and the other is dealing with a world full of people that believe gender is fixed and binary.

How awesome is it? The writing in this book is so beautiful and engaging that, even if you’re not into poetry, you’ll be so drawn into the story that you’ll forget it’s not prose.

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Well readers, I’ll readily admit that when it comes to poetry and verse written about LGBT+ characters or with LGBT+ themes, it can be tough to find plenty of examples, especially for young people. But take a look at the ones above and, if you know of any others, hit me up in the comments. I love getting new book suggestions. Until next time, happy reading!