TTBF Author Repost Guest Review: More Happy than Not by Adam Silvera


Team Midsummer, Jessica & Lyv, are attending the Texas Teen Book Festival again this year in Austin, TX! To prepare and get ourselves amped-up for this event, we are reposting some of our reviews by some of the TTBF 17 authors!

This review was originally posted on October 31, 2016

eveThis review was done by another one of Team Midsummer’s favorite people, Eve.  She has submitted reviews to us before, so we were excited to have her on board for LGBT History Month! Thanks so much, Eve!

 

 

 

In the months after his father’s suicide, it’s been tough for sixteen-year-old Aaron Soto to find happiness again—but he’s still gunning for it. With the support of his girlfriend Genevieve and his overworked mom, he’s slowly remembering what that might feel like. But grief and the smile-shaped scar on his wrist prevent him from forgetting completely. 

When Genevieve leaves for a couple of weeks, Aaron spends all his time hanging out with this new guy, Thomas. Aaron’s crew notices, and they’re not exactly thrilled. But Aaron can’t deny the happiness Thomas brings or how Thomas makes him feel safe from himself, despite the tensions their friendship is stirring with his girlfriend and friends. Since Aaron can’t stay away from Thomas or turn off his newfound feelings for him, he considers turning to the Leteo Institute’s revolutionary memory-alteration procedure to straighten himself out, even if it means forgetting who he truly is. 

Why does happiness have to be so hard?

I was immediately drawn into narrative of this intriguing novel, although I’ll confess to being a little suspicious of its potential similarity to Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, with a sexuality angle rather than the desire to forget a past heartbreaking romantic relationship. But I was impressed by the way the focus wasn’t specifically on any one of the main issues addressed by the story, but rather a cleverly crafted weaving of the elements of grief, mental health, class and social structures, teen relationships, and love developing outside of an expected heteronormative paradigm. For this reason, while the book certainly addresses the complexities and struggle of coming out, I found the whole story to be involving and important – not just the relationship between Aaron and Thomas. It also isn’t a copy of Eternal Sunshine – it has one similar element, the neuroscience of forgetting, but it fans out to be much greater than that.

One thing I will note, because it stood out to me so much while reading that I texted Jess about it at the time, is that Aaron and Thomas say, “No homo” to each other a seemingly inordinate amount of times in the space of two pages. Now, it may be my heterosexual, cisgender privilege showing that I have never had to clarify my sexuality while interacting in an affectionate way with someone of the same sex as me, but I did feel that this phrase was somewhat overused. I’d be interested to know if this is a common experience among young men, because perhaps this phrase is used so frequently and that is part of the culture of hiding homosexual attraction.

Aside from this, the character development seemed very natural and totally solid within a few chapters – I feel like I know Aaron Soto, his friends and family, and have an understanding of his perspective on the world. The outstanding part of this book for me was how bravely and easily it tackled upsetting and painful topics, making it comfortable for the reader to continue (albeit through tears) even when the characters were suffering. Silvera does not shy away from the impact of suicide nor from the violence inherent in some relationships. On top of that, the balance of wit and warmth is spot on, throughout the happy moments and the hard ones.

I don’t want to give away too much about the plot but there are twists, and they’re the delicious ones that you sort of see coming but still have to pause and take a moment to think back on and process them once they do happen. The story will have you feeling all of the emotions and, while it certainly has a central homosexual relationship, I think it actually is a more profound commentary on humanity as a whole.

4.75 Bards

475-bards

Book Review: Georgia Peaches and other Forbidden Fruit by Jaye Robin Brown

Joanna Gordon has been out and proud for years, but when her popular radio evangelist father remarries and decides to move all three of them from Atlanta to the more conservative Rome, Georgia, he asks Jo to do the impossible: to lie low for the rest of her senior year. And Jo reluctantly agrees.

Although it is (mostly) much easier for Jo to fit in as a straight girl, things get complicated when she meets Mary Carlson, the oh-so-tempting sister of her new friend at school. But Jo couldn’t possibly think of breaking her promise to her dad. Even if she’s starting to fall for the girl. Even if there’s a chance Mary Carlson might be interested in her, too. Right?

I’m not going to lie to you, the beginning of this novel put me off almost immediately.  As a born and bred southerner, I too, grew up in the church, but I grew up in a denomination that is much more accepting and less judgmental than that of the Southern Baptist sect that is depicted in this novel.  Yes, I have been to a few Southern Baptist churches, and I’m not condemning them for their style of worship, because some of them were wonderful, but I do take issue with the church I remember specifically (and subsequently the church in Brown’s novel) preaching fire and brimstone with prejudice against those different than them.  But, unfortunately, this is a real reality in some churches, and not just in the South. Initially, this, and the ridiculous request of Jo’s father to “re-closet” herself for a year really just ticked me off.

Seriously, I hated her father for doing that to her.  But all of these things really culminated in me wanting to continue reading Jo’s story to see if these issues are resolved, and they were.  I can’t fully understand how hard it is to come out as LGBT in the south, since I am a straight, cis woman, but I have a number of close LGBTQ friends and I have witnessed how hard it can be for them.  Disclaimer: I also live in Charlotte, North Carolina, a giant blue dot in a red state, so I can’t totally imagine Jo’s situation in a backwoods Georgia small town.  Brown did a good job of keeping me interested and involved despite almost alienating me with Jo’s father’s request.

The overall message of this book is a good one: do not hide who you are for anyone or anything.  

Sure, the stakes are raised when Jo meets and falls for the picture perfect Christian girl, Mary Carlson, only to find out that Mary also has feelings for her.  A roller coaster happens with Mary desperate to come out and have the small town recognize her as a Lesbian and in a relationship with Jo, but of course that pesky promise she made to her dad kind of hinders that. Serious praise-hands emojis for Mary Carlson, who was the biggest star of this novel for me. I’d pay Jaye Robin Brown for more stories about Mary Carlson and Jo’s adventures after they get out of Rome, Georgia.

More shenanigans and heartbreak ensues, and Jo eventually creates a LGBTQ friendly youth radio program through her father’s ministry, and it made me so happy to have the warmth and love of that ministry involved as a juxtaposition to the bigoted church at the beginning of the narrative. So I think that it was important that Brown started out with the alienating church experience towards the beginning.

I loved the dynamic of the friend group that Jo finds in Rome, and how much they grow to accept her (save for one character and good riddance).

I grew to really enjoy this whole tumultuous story and the way that Brown was able to manipulate my emotions from the polarizing start to the accepting and wonderful ending.

Overall this was a really well written novel, the characterizations and the plot was well executed. Plus, if a novel can make me feel strong emotions, regardless, I will recommend it everyone.

A solid 4 Bards!

fourbards

Book Review: How to be You by Jeffrey Marsh

An interactive experience, How to Be You invites you to make the book your own through activities such as coloring in charts, answering questions about how you do the things you do, and discovering patterns in your lives that may be holding you back. Through Jeffrey’s own story of “growing up fabulous in a small farming town”–along with the stories of hero/ines who have transcended the stereotypes of race, age, and gender–you will discover that you are not alone, can deepen your relationship with yourself, and find the courage to take a leap that will change your life.

So, first things first, if you haven’t heard of Jeffrey Marsh, please go check out their vines! I’ve been following them for a while now, and they’re always so inspirational. I was so excited when they announced their book.

I wish that I had actually read the full description and known that it was interactive ahead of time. As it is, I didn’t have time to sit down and actually interact with this book. But the beauty of this book, is that I can come back to it again and again and I can do the exercises every time I read it with different results.

This book is so great for anyone of any age. Even those of us who think we have it figured out. (Spoiler: we don’t.) Jeffrey Marsh does a great job of relating the their ideas of loving and being yourself to all people. The struggle of trying to find yourself is universal and they not only tell us you don’t have to “find yourself” but they also tell us the best ways to stop trying to find yourself and stop trying to fit into other people’s expectations of you. The best piece of advice in all of this, though, is that you can congratulate yourself just for trying. The goal is not to “complete” something, the goal is a journey of learning. And that journey doesn’t stop.

My favorite parts of the book are the Hero/ine segments. They talk about pioneers of equality throughout history and just people they regard as a hero/ine (including my future wife, Wonder Woman). The segments show that people are much happier just being themselves, even when it’s hard. He emphasizes that you shouldn’t try to BE those people, but rather use them as an example to be YOU.

A quick read (without the interactive parts) and really fun and inspirational. 4.5 bards.
four.fivebards

Guest Book Review: As I Descended by Robin Talley

cass-profileGuest Review for LGBT History Month is provided by Cassie! Cass and Jess met back in Graduate School when they were both pursuing their Master’s Degree in English Literature.  They’ve been friends ever since.

 

Maria Lyon and Lily Boiten are their school’s ultimate power couple—even if no one knows it but them.

Only one thing stands between them and their perfect future: campus superstar Delilah Dufrey.

Golden child Delilah is a legend at the exclusive Acheron Academy, and the presumptive winner of the distinguished Cawdor Kingsley Prize. She runs the school, and if she chose, she could blow up Maria and Lily’s whole world with a pointed look, or a carefully placed word.

But what Delilah doesn’t know is that Lily and Maria are willing to do anything—absolutely anything—to make their dreams come true. And the first step is unseating Delilah for the Kingsley Prize. The full scholarship, awarded to Maria, will lock in her attendance at Stanford―and four more years in a shared dorm room with Lily.

Maria and Lily will stop at nothing to ensure their victory—including harnessing the dark power long rumored to be present on the former plantation that houses their school.

But when feuds turn to fatalities, and madness begins to blur the distinction between what’s real and what is imagined, the girls must decide where they draw the line.

As a graduate student of English literature, I spent most of my career ensconced in the Renaissance era, happily devouring poems and plays and studying delightfully weird science texts and recipes from the 16th and 17th century, and I have a special place for all things Shakespeare and Shakespeare adjacent in my heart of hearts.

As such, I love a good Shakespeare retelling.

And let me tell you, As I Descended is a great Shakespeare retelling.

The author writes in her acknowledgements that she wants to write a Macbeth with ghosts and gay people (which are two of my personal absolute favorite things) and she definitely succeeds at doing that – there are an abundance of both in the text and both the ghosts and the gays represent a diverse spectrum; the novel takes place on a restored Virginia plantation, which is rich in history and legends and horrors, but two of the prominent LGBTQ characters are of Hispanic heritage, and I was pleased with the weaving of Hispanic folklore with that of the Old South.

I think that what I really enjoyed most about this novel was the fact that as a reader, you don’t at all have to be knowledgeable with respect to Shakespeare and his plays to enjoy the book – it stands alone as a good read and a great story – but if you are familiar, it just heightens the enjoyment of the novel. As a Shakesqueerian scholar, I love, love, love the homages to the Bard within the text, and how the chapter titles are lines from the play and elements of the hauntings within Acheron Academy are dripping with bloody good nods to the play itself. The narrative stands well on its own as a modern ghost story, but pairing it together with Macbeth makes it tenfold more appealing.

Knowing the play so well can serve as a double edged sword – or dagger, if you will – hanging over your head as a reader; if you know what happens in the play, you know relatively early on which of the characters within the novel will meet a most tragic end. And, ultimately, I found that I didn’t want those characters to meet a tragic end – and maybe that is my own personal bias, as 2016 has been a terrible year for lesbian characters and LGBTQ representation – the “bury your gays” trope has ruined some fantastic characters and storylines, but here, in this space, with these characters, it’s to be expected – but that doesn’t make it any easier to digest, which I think is a great testament to the quality of writing by Talley in this novel. As I read, I found myself feeling particularly sympathetic towards Lily, our Lady Macbeth (who, interestingly enough, to me at least, goes more the way of Ophelia from Hamlet, in a haunting scene on the cursed lake, than how I envisioned her off-stage death in the play itself), which given the nature of her character, I am uncertain as to whether sympathy is the right emotion to feel for her.

Despite knowing going into this that everything is going to end horribly and tragically, because Macbeth, the road to hell is worth riding on, and I would highly recommend giving this book a read.

4.5 Bards!

four.fivebards

 

 

 

Be sure to check out our Calendar to keep up with LGBT History Month here on A Midsummer Night’s Read!

midsummer-lgbtq-history-month

Book Review: Far From You by Tess Sharpe

The first time, she’s fourteen, and escapes a near-fatal car accident with scars, a bum leg, and an addiction to Oxy that’ll take years to kick.

The second time, she’s seventeen, and it’s no accident. Sophie and her best friend Mina are confronted by a masked man in the woods. Sophie survives, but Mina is not so lucky. When the cops deem Mina’s murder a drug deal gone wrong, casting partial blame on Sophie, no one will believe the truth: Sophie has been clean for months, and it was Mina who led her into the woods that night for a meeting shrouded in mystery.

After a forced stint in rehab, Sophie returns home to a chilly new reality. Mina’s brother won’t speak to her, her parents fear she’ll relapse, old friends have become enemies, and Sophie has to learn how to live without her other half. To make matters worse, no one is looking in the right places and Sophie must search for Mina’s murderer on her own. But with every step, Sophie comes closer to revealing all: about herself, about Mina and about the secret they shared.

I looooooooooove this book. I couldn’t put it down. I’ve had it for almost a year and I can’t believe I didn’t read it right away. In the last year or two I’ve realized I really love mysteries, and this book is perfect for that. I love trying to figure out who did it. But even though I guessed who it was, I still think that Sharpe does an excellent of keeping readers of track with other possible suspects.

The back and forth from present to past was done really well. I’ve read a few books where authors don’t have the right rhythm and it ruins the whole flow of the story. But Sharpe does an excellent job of keeping us in the present while still giving us a great glimpse into the past. Especially, since this is the only way we get to know Mina. Get to know how Sophie really feels about her. Their entire relationship takes place in the past before Mina died and we don’t get a chance to see them in the present time, but we still get great insight into Mina’s character through those flashbacks.

Their relationship is flawed and beautiful. From best friends as little kids to growing up to realize that what they felt for each other was more than just friendship. As we see more flashbacks we see that Mina struggled with her identity because of her religion, and with her feelings for Sophie because of her brother’s feelings for Sophie as well.

The fact Sophie actually says the word “bisexual” makes me so happy. In so much of today’s media, it’s almost like it’s a bad word to say. Which is so damaging to anyone who identifies as bi, like no one in the world can actually validate their identity. It’s so important that Sophie says the word, that she doesn’t struggle with it (even if Mina did). One of the things I loved the most about this book is that it felt real. The characters and their relationships and their struggles are just so wonderfully done, and I can’t wait to read more from Tess Sharpe.

5 bards for this.
fivebards

Be sure to keep up with Midsummer’s LGBT History Month Celebration by keeping your eyes on our schedule!
midsummer-lgbtq-history-month

Book Review: Drag Teen by Jeffery Self

Seventeen-year-old JT Barnett lives a humdrum existence in Clearwater, FL, working in the family gas station, drifting through school, and dreaming of fabulous days to come. His one attempt at drag led to public humiliation in a school talent show, so he is reluctant when Seth, his wildly attractive, overachieving boyfriend, encourages him to enter the Miss Drag Teen pageant in New York City.

The prize of a four-year college scholarship ultimately convinces JT, and after lying to their parents, he, his best friend Heather, and Seth embark on a spring break road trip that leads to fights, honest reckonings, and encounters with a cast of remarkable personalities. With the exception of spiteful Tash, the diverse group of pageant contestants offer JT acceptance and a tantalizing glimpse into a brighter world.

I am a massive fan of drag queens and drag in general, in the past year alone I’ve been to three drag shows, one drag brunch, and have binge watched RuPaul’s Drag Race countless times.
So when I got wind of this book, and Jeffery Self, being at the Texas Teen Book Festival, I knew I would absolutely love the story.  I was not disappointed at all.  The narrative is mostly focused on JT’s struggle with accepting himself as who he is, back rolls and all (eyes Alyssa Edwards), and coming to realize that if you start to live in the moment then things can really start to happen for you.

Yes, this is a very positive LGBTQ book, and I love that.  But I also love that other than a few mentions of name-calling, that this was a personal journey of self love and discovery than it was someone trying to grapple with their sexuality—not that it’s a bad thing to have that narrative—I just was pleased to be reading one that was more focused on the individual.  In addition, as someone who has struggled with anxiety and crippling self esteem issues, I related so much to JT and his journey.

JT is in a happy relationship with his boyfriend of almost 4 years, and has been out and proud for a while.  It’s really just his self doubt that holds him back, well, that an the lack of money.

Shenanigans happen and JT finally gets to leave his bubble of Clearwater, FL and goes to the Big Apple to compete in a teen drag pageant. I don’t know about you, but I have helped a friend dress in drag for an amateur drag show and it was so much fun, so it brought back some happy memories.

Clearly there are some characters that were blatantly based off of some of the queens from RuPaul’s drag race, and I totally loved it.  I’m talking about the Pip/Adore Delano hybrid (PARTY), and the bitchy Tash that reminds me of Coco Montrese.

I loved this book.  The writing is punchy, upbeat, and the pacing is excellent.  Do yourself a favor and get into Drag Teen.  You won’t regret it!

5 Bards.

fivebards

Guest Review & Author Interview: Daybreak Rising by Kiran Oliver

Team Midsummer has reached out to a few friends to participate in our celebration of LGBT History Month, and Jessica’s college friend, Leia, decided to step to the plate to hit this one out of the park! Check out her review of indie author Kiran Oliver’s Daybreak Rising, and the interview below!

 

Celosia Brennan was supposed to be a hero. After a spectacular failure that cost her people their freedom, she is offered a once-in-a-lifetime chance at redemption. Together with a gifted team of rebels, she not only sets her sights on freedom, but defeating her personal demons along the way.

Now branded a failure, Celosia desperately volunteers for the next mission: taking down the corrupt Council with a team of her fellow elementally gifted mages. Leading the Ember Operative gives Celosia her last hope at redemption. They seek to overthrow the Council once and for all, this time bringing the fight to Valeria, the largest city under the Council’s iron grip. But Celosia’s new teammates don’t trust her—except for Ianthe, a powerful Ice Elementalist who happens to believe in second chances.

With Council spies, uncontrolled magic, and the distraction of unexpected love, Celosia will have to win the trust of her teammates and push her abilities to the breaking point to complete the Ember Operative. Except if she falters this time, there won’t be any Elementalists left to stop the Council from taking over not just their country, but the entire world. 

Sitting down to write this review wasn’t the easiest thing. I’ll be frank with you; I loved this book. ADORED it. However, in the spirit of being honest, I should also tell you that I adore the author. He and I have been friends for about six years – and he introduced me to my husband. I’ve spent the past few days trying to separate my love for the book from my love for Kiran, but I’m not totally sure that that’s possible. I’m going to do my best to write this review in a non-biased, non-spoilery way!

First, Daybreak Rising’s main character, Celosia Brennan, has dealt with life-crushing failure. This isn’t a spoiler – you learn about it within the first few pages of the book – and it sets the frame for who Celosia is as a person. Through the book, she has this intense weight bearing on her shoulder for what happened before Daybreak Rising begins. You will have to read it to see how she grows from this position, but trust me… the journey is definitely worth it!

Celosia’s journey includes many characters who are people of color and characters who fall many places along the sexuality and gender spectrums. Honestly, I’m not sure that I’ve read a more diverse book. These characters added a richness to the story that made me feel like I was making new friends that were real. Kiran’s character development made them real for me.

Another unique piece of the book is the way that magic and technology is woven together. At first, I felt a bit uncomfortable and nervous about the combination, but the two coexisted so seamlessly that it felt natural.

Overall, I don’t want to say too much about Daybreak Rising. It was such a unique, exhilarating experience that I won’t soon forget.

4 Bards

fourbards

 

 

 

 

Author Interview:

Leia on behalf of Team Midsummer (LKC): Thanks so much for agreeing to do an interview. I am really excited to be reviewing your book and everything!

Kiran Oliver (KO): No problem! Thank you for thinking of it!

 

LKC: What inspired you to write this novel?

KO: Honestly my wife. We were doing email-based role-play based off Harry Potter …judge me all you want… and she actually put a stop to it and said, “Look. Your writing is at the point where you need to just sit down and write a book.” so I did. She’s been telling me to write one for years, but she finally put her foot down.

 

LKC: Did you purposefully set out to write with such a diverse cast of characters?

KO: Yes. Absolutely. That’s always been something I was focused on. Particularly as my wife is a queer person of color and I’m a transgender guy on the autistic/ace/queer spectrum myself along with being Jewish. The cultural, religious, and gender/sexuality/romance diversity was important to me to have in there.

 

LKC: One of the things that I love so much about Celosia is that, at the start of the book, she has experienced some major, seemingly life crushing failure. What made you decide to write about a character who had experienced this?

KO: I honestly was just like, “OK. I’m really tired of the standard heroine that has the world at her feet just waiting to be ordered around by her/she can do no wrong. Let’s flip that on its head.” so with Celosia, I was basically like, “Here, have some crushing failure. Now let’s see how you bounce back from it.” having her have to earn the respect of not only her comrades but the entirety of Esonith is something that’s very important.

 

LKC: I happen to know that you are an avid role player. Were any of your characters influenced by characters that you RP?

KO: You can put in there: Yep. I’ve been playing World of Warcraft for about 7 years. Kayvun has a lot of ties to my character Caoilainn. Particularly her accent. Though I’ve got to say Kayvun had a better upbringing than Cai did.

 

LKC: What was it like writing about your RP character(s)?

KO: It was so loosely done that in the end I could see glimpses of Caoilainn in Kayvun, but she became her own person entirely by the end of it. The only things still really ringing true for Caoilainn’s influence are Kayvun’s accent.

 

LKC: Can you tell us a little bit about the world building involved in Daybreak Rising?

KO: That was honestly the best part for me. I really enjoyed it. I think my favorite locations have to be Dakul and Basau. Though, in the next book I’m really looking forward to showing everyone what the Ardonians have been up to over the last 7 years. I worked incredibly hard to bring realism in terms of religion and culture into it. This is really seen in Basau and Dakul especially. I also enjoyed the breakdown of not only currency and culture, but magic between regions.

 

LKC: I really loved the way that you combined magic with technology. What made you decide to do that?

KO: I figured it was something that’s usually not done. Often, books are either hard to the left or the right. Either it’s your usual fantasy with oil lamps and furs, or there’s so much technology you feel like you need a PhD in Computer Science just to read the book. I thought it would be best to create a comfortable blend of the two.

 

LKC: What can we expect from you in the future?

KO: I’m going to be working on the next book in the Embers of Redemption series for later next year to be put out by a new publisher, as will all my future titles. More on that publisher later, folks. I’m working on a novel called Dragonsong at the moment, which is a lovely blend of similar futuristic magic and technology in a much more modern secondary world, with a university setting for a large chunk of the story.

 

LKC: That sounds right up my alley.

KO: It involves shapeshifting dragons, centaur baristas, badass knife-wielding princesses, and Knights wearing neon that are kind of your average jocks. It’s glorious.

 

LKC: What do you hope readers take away from this book?

KO: That even if you fuck up beyond belief, keep pushing forward. Keep improving, and don’t give up. Anything is within your reach.

 

LKC: What do you want to say to young LGBT readers, maybe something that you didn’t hear?

KO: Your gender identity is valid. Your orientation is valid. It might change as you get older, and that’s OK. Don’t let anyone put you in a box. If you think a community is becoming toxic, get away from it as fast as you can. Find friends that will support and respect you.

 

Daybreak Rising is on sale for $1.99 this week.  Check it out!

Book Review: Ash by Malinda Lo

In the wake of her father’s death, Ash is left at the mercy of her cruel stepmother. Consumed with grief, her only joy comes by the light of the dying hearth fire, rereading the fairy tales her mother once told her. In her dreams, someday the fairies will steal her away, as they are said to do. When she meets the dark and dangerous fairy Sidhean, she believes that her wish may be granted.

The day that Ash meets Kaisa, the King’s Huntress, her heart begins to change. Instead of chasing fairies, Ash learns to hunt with Kaisa. Though their friendship is as delicate as a new bloom, it reawakens Ash’s capacity for love-and her desire to live. But Sidhean has already claimed Ash for his own, and she must make a choice between fairy tale dreams and true love.

After a slow first half, I really enjoyed the second part of the Ash. While the writing is beautiful and it flows really well, the first part is essentially just the Cinderella introduction. That said, there were some obvious differences, in that fairies are just a part of this world, even if only in legend for some. It’s clear that Ash’s mother believed in the fairies and the “old ways” even if Ash’s father didn’t and didn’t keep up with them after she died. And that definitely leaves you wondering how that’s going to play into this retelling.

Turns out it’s a really big deal. And it took me until the second part to realize that Sidhean was basically her fairy god…father? I guess? Mostly because he was set up as a potential love interest from the beginning. The way that Ash talks about him and the way that he speaks to her, it’s obvious there’s something there. Until Ash meets Kaisa. I love the slow budding relationship between them so much. You can tell it’s very sweet and just overall, more equal. With Sidhean, it always felt like he had power over her and was using that to his advantage, it wasn’t an equal partnership, and for most of the second part of the book, it was easy to see that she felt more for Kaisa than she did for Sidhean.

However, I was always worried/confused about where the book was going. I never knew how it was going to end… until the end. Sometimes I like that in a book, but I can’t totally decide how I feel about it in this one. I am glad that she was able to go back and be with Kaisa, but I feel like I would have liked to be sure about that sooner.

Two things I did love about the book as a whole, were that there were old fairy stories and old love stories about women falling in love and that the most famous hunters in the land were huntresses. Always. I love when fantasy authors actually make that decision to actually have something different than the perceived nonsense of “oh, that’s just how it was back then.” You are writing a fantasy. The only “back then” is the one you make. I wish more fantasy authors would just do this.

Overall I’d give it 4 bards.
fourbards

 

 

 

Be sure to keep up with Midsummer’s LGBT History Month Celebration by keeping your eyes on our schedule!

midsummer-lgbtq-history-month

 

Review Repost: Luna by Julie Anne Peters

In order to keep up our celebration of LGBT History Month here at Midsummer, we are going to spotlight a few of our favorite LGBT young adult reads from over the years!  This review is from former Midsummer teammate Missy *waves to Missy* and it focuses on a Transgender main character! Check it out:

Regan’s brother Liam can’t stand the person he is during the day. Like the moon from whom Liam has chosen his female namesake, his true self, Luna, only reveals herself at night. In the secrecy of his basement bedroom Liam transforms himself into the beautiful girl he longs to be, with help from his sister’s clothes and makeup. 

Now, everything is about to change-Luna is preparing to emerge from her cocoon. But are Liam’s family and friends ready to welcome Luna into their lives? Compelling and provocative, this is an unforgettable novel about a transgender teen’s struggle for self-identity and acceptance.

I am on the home stretch of Molly Horan’s list of 15 Young Adult Books Every Adult Should Read.  The next book I read from the list was Luna by Julie Anne Peters

I was very excited to read this book.  I had not previously seen a young adult book that focused on the LGBT community, specifically on a Transgendered person.  Liam/Luna’s story is one that needed to be told.  I thought the concept of having the POV from the sister of a pre-trans woman (genetically male transitioning to female) was exceptional.  Because being a Trans affects the whole family and I thought this book did a great job showing that.  I really liked this book.  It was interesting, factual, captivating, heartbreaking, tragic, and a true must read for everyone.

I liked that while the topic of the book was super heavy the author still managed to create levity by having the POV from the sibling (Regan) as opposed to Liam/Luna.  If the book focused on Luna it may have been too heartbreaking to read.  It was touching to see Luna come to terms with who she is while at the same time watching Regan live “normal” her life.  It shows how completely life altering decisions can affect one person so completely and yet the other person has to try to continue living their lives.  I love that it also shows the complete love and dedication that Regan has for her sister.  That bond between the two is priceless and beautiful.

I thought the way Julie Anne Peters was able to portray a wide variety of emotions through her writings was phenomenal.  My emotions ran from scared for Luna, to relief for Regan for finally not having to keep this secret, to heartbreak for Aly (who discovers that she won’t get the man of her dreams) and then back to scared for Luna when she decides to be herself all within one sentence.

I think that this is an important book for all teens to read, not just for an LGBT teen.  This can help people understand how hard this decision is for any Trans person and how hard it is for the family to come to terms with this change.  I also believe that it could help any LGBT teen feel less alone and like an outsider.
4 Bards.

 

Be sure to keep up with our LGBT Celebration by checking our calendar!

midsummer-lgbtq-history-month

Author Spotlight: Caleb Roehrig

book-birthday

Unfortunately technical difficulties attacked Team Midsummer and we had to transcribe the interview with the fabulous and wonderful Caleb Roehrig.  We hope he forgives us, because we adore him!

We were lucky enough to connect with Roehrig when he was promoting his book at the Texas Teen Book Festival in Austin, TX on October 1, 2016.

A Midsummer Night’s Read (MSNR): What inspired you to write this novel?

Caleb Roehrig (CR): Well, I love thrillers, especially anything with missing persons.  But also there was very few young adult books when I was growing up, and even less with LGBT protagonists. So I wanted to write a 25036310book that combined both of those elements and it ended up coming out as Last Seen Leaving.

MSNR: Well, you kind of answered this question already, but did you set out to write an LGBT novel?

CR: Yes, as I mentioned, there were very few novels that were written featuring LGBT characters and I really wanted to be able to show readers that there are characters and people like them in literature and in the world. 

MSNR: What is your writing process like? Do you outline, or do you just sit down and write?

CR: Well, I don’t know if you’ve heard but there are two types of writers, pantsers and plotters. I am definitely a plotter, otherwise I will go in too many directions. One time I wrote 160,000 words, but I kept writing myself into a corner, then took forever writing myself out of a corner, then wrote myself into ANOTHER corner.  I definitely have a start and an end, but sometimes I figure it out from there.

MSNR: What was your favorite part about writing this novel?

CR: I think it was being able to put red herrings in everywhere to deter readers from the actual answer. Although I did keep giving everyone an airtight alibi at first, so that made it difficult!

MSNR: What can we expect from you in the future?

CR: Well, I have two finished manuscripts, but my publisher is trying to decide which one will come out next!

MSNR: That’s awesome!

MSNR: What do you hope readers take away from this book?

CR: Well, I really want them to be in suspense and to be thrilled, but also for LGBT readers to see themselves in the main character, oh I think I just gave away a spoiler. SPOILER ALERT. Although the main goal is for all readers to identify with the journey that Flynn takes through the story. 

MSNR: So, your biography says you’ve lived in a lot of different places, where has been your favorite place to live?

CR: It is really hard to choose, because I’ve liked everywhere I’ve lived! I lived in Michigan, Chicago, Los Angeles, and Europe.  We did just move back to LA, and I guess that means I chose LA? I remember not liking it at first when I moved there, but once I found my tribe and my place in LA, I loved it. So, if you go to LA, you have to find your LA.

MSNR: Where would you like to live that you haven’t lived?

CR: Hmmm, well, I’ve always wanted to live in Sweden! 

MSNR: Because it’s neutral?

CR: That and it just seems like such a nice place to live!

MSNR: What do you want to say to young LGBT readers, maybe something that you didn’t hear? 

img_2953

Jess sucks and this photo is blurry, but he’s awesome.

CR: Okay, you might hear this a lot, it does get better. Everything feels heavy when you’re a teenager and that it might be the end of the world, but it really does get better. Please, never stop having adventures.  You’ll always have time for new ones.  I mean, I just started this whole new book adventure, and that could be you. 

Thank you so much to Caleb and Fierce Reads for being so enthusiastic about Team Midsummer. We are so honored to support this sweet and enigmatic debut author and his novel!

Be sure to keep an eye out for our review of Last Seen Leaving in our celebration of LGBT History Month.

Also, we not so low key are in love with Caleb, so you should be too.

You can follow Caleb on his social media outlets:

Twitter. Instagram. Website.

Order his book now!

 

 

Follow
Get every new post delivered to your inbox!
Join our other followers!
Powered By WPFruits.com
Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox

Join other followers