Trans Books Recs for Awareness Week!

My mom actually reminded me of this week, which is quite wholesome.  Since GLADD is celebrating trans awareness as well as TDOR this year, I wanted to do one of my fav things — and talk about trans books. This post is about my fav trans books so if you are in the mood for a new read I hope this helps. 🙂 

All Time Favorite In Trans Book: 

Dreadnought (and it’s sequel) has not only the own voices quality when it comes to trans representation being included, but the plot is too intertwined with the experiences of being trans and being a part — or pushed — out of a community. 

Runner Up In Fav Trans Books:

If I Was Your Girl is the winner of a Stonewall Book Award and several others. This contemporary book has a lot of heart. While I don’t remember it’s plot as in detail as the last I remember feeling like it was a gift. Insight to a “less complicated” (as I believe the author says in the back) trans experience I do not share. This book probably has the only acknowledgments that I remember afterwards. That were incredibly important to include because they reminds us that real people are always more complicated and diverse.  

Trans Books Honorable Mentions: 

Okay, and maybe some mixed media because it can’t be about books 24/7.

Did you know in Watch Dogs Legion you can just find trans aces walking around doing their things? That is until you ask them to fight against a police state. Watch Dogs Legion’s representation is at one level so throw away text based. And at another an innovative choose your own adventure hero experience. I get a spark of joy when I see a random character with bio that reads: ‘Had Gender Affirming Operation’, “Looked for Trans Friendly Therapy” or “Purchased a They/Them Pin”. It’s not Ubisoft’s first trans character, but the random endless amount of trans playable non-playable characters in WD:L reminds me how just anyone can be trans.

There’s Chameleon Moon by RoAnna Sylver and Rose Sinclair’s books that both always seem to include ace and transgender characters. (If not trans ace character within them.) There’s Unburied Fables which is a-spec focused charity anthology with several fairytale retelling that are about trans characters. And I wish more of Anne Chivon’s poetry was in print so I could show you really kick ass non-binary poems.

That fact that big and small trans awareness efforts are being done across the media landscape (including emoji now) makes me so hopeful that people will someday soon stop pretending that there’s not enough of us to matter.

Did you know the creator of the transgender flag Monica Helms also wrote novels? I haven’t read any of them, I just think that’s so cool and fantastic. That might be since the top the listed reasoning for making the trans flag’s stripes mirrored was so no matter how you fly the flag it’s still right. Symbolizing that there is no one way to be trans. Sorry for the longer post than planned but say can I say: Trans is beautiful

Happy Release Day To Pharos!

Hackers, faeries, screaming rockabilly neighbors.

Rachel Sharp first seamlessly merged our world with one of fae in the first book Phaethon, and Pharos is a brilliant addition to the series. 

Here’s our full review of the second:
The amount of heart this sequel holds is as magical as the mythical creatures it features. This time around we are presented with more of the book’s timeless, yet now changing, world. A story filled with situations that may be dire at first glance, but reveal hope with the aid of new friends and old fae. 

By the end, you’ll want to believe in fairies too. Pharos is everything a sequel should be, making the Phaethon Series even more of a must read event.

🌹 Reviews: Permanent Record by Mary M.K. Choi

The first fifty to hundred pages on this book are fantastic. There was so many good lines about identity, depression, race and how all of those things are intermix in a confusing fashion that make it really hard to explain unless you are living it. At one point our main character Pab says, “I don’t even know what we’re arguing about at this point, but it’s clear that being locked in an idiot’s arms race of saying ignorant things is easier than having a real discussion.” That’s a fucking brilliant line, and contextually an even more brilliant summary on how important discussions often get handled.

The next hundred of pages however? A mess. The author’s acknowledgements make a point to say that second books are really hard and she broke her brain trying to write it and I think this book needed more time to actually bake in her mind since she did not what you wanted to say with this story so says nothing for most of the book, leaving us with this raw contradictory rambling of a book.

Reviews will highlight the gems in this story. Show the strength of Mary H.K. Choi’s writing style, but I don’t really see any reason to going to find those gems myself. An honest summary of the book would be two characters with self made problems who aren’t working together as much as they’d like because they aren’t honest with each other or themselves. Mary H. K. Choi’s first book, does not have this problem. Which makes Permanent Record come off more as an author deeply confused trying to empathize with both these two extremes and unable to bridge her own thoughts.

I want to end on a good note so I’ll say now and always, the hardcover of this book is a work of art. The dust sleeve being part of the cover, but yet not. The work that is hidden underneath the dust cover is amazing. I got my copy for like ten bucks versus the nineteen cover price so I don’t feel like the time or money was a waste. I just wish I had popular highlights in my paperback version that marked the hidden treasures so I could view the collective thing as work of art. More then any other book I’ve read that ability would also better reflect the theme. The online listing doesn’t do the cover justice, go look at it the next time you are in bookstore.

I’m officially calling this #spelunking trip over at 205 pages, when writing the review I tried to flip through the book but felt it fall even more apart. If you make it to the bicycle seen I feel like Lee over the idea of finishing this. If you’re the Pab here, or both at once, maybe this book is what you needed, like I hope it is what the author needed even if I’m left with more concerns then I started out with.

🌹Rose Reviews: Asexual Erotics

Asexual Erotics

Asexual Erotics, as you can imagine, discusses erotics with a focus on asexuality. The focus is how the meaning of erotic had changed since Freud. How more modern queer theorists define it to mean more than simply the “sexual”. Packed for with historical examples of black and lesbian activism. The great thing about about hitting such a specific note is this discussion is all but nonexistent elsewhere. It asks what are we missing when we make ‘erotic’ be a single note.

The book definitely is not an introduction to asexuality.

It’s strong academic voice at times. This makes some points less clear than they could have been. If you hang around queer spaces and think your life could use more theory or history. Maybe even wish those discussions tossed in of human development. Then this is definitely the sort of book to pick up. 

The book also does a good job explaining how white women were rewarded for being “sexually liberated”. While in the same decade, people of color were punished in a number of ways. For even the appearance of the same. By doing so, this book showcases that social change is not an absolute for all people. But varies along intersectional lines.

The book also goes over ‘political celibacy’. Why it exists, how it often differs across race, and why it’s often grouped under asexuality history. Dig in to find out why those groups are so casually always put together, and glossed over. 

My criticism about Asexual Erotics? The chapters on childhood and ageism could have been combined for a stronger point. Instead of a vague “this is a thing that people debate about” tone. The epilogue featuring the discussion of violent entitled sexism felt like an afterthought more then an ending note. 

Despite my less than rave review for those chapters, overall the book left with me plenty. New ideas and history nearly lost to time. Things to consider when discussing how complete freedom can be gained for all. Here’s a few quotes I haven’t posted on our social media accounts.

“It is only through asexuality that a sufficient critique of compulsory sexuality as limiting to people across spectrums and different positionalities can be developed.” 

“Where there is queerness there is also asexuality.”
– Asexual Erotics 

Curious to read more? You can get your own copy here! If fiction is more your style, check the rest of our Rose Reviews series here.

🌹 Rose Reviews: Waking Up The Sun

Waking Up The Sun ebook and cat

Waking Up The Sun front loads a protagonist who has anxiety and has already learned ways to cope with it. It mentions magic almost right away too, but my favorite part of that is that a potion is considered magic instead of just having a spell go “cure” him. It’s a great bit of world building I wish more things had. Having a lead character who has to consider their racing thoughts and find medicine because that’s part of their basic needs is so a plot point, instead of a casual one off line. That’s amazing to see.

Around the 20% mark you see the consideration of being lost in the woods and having to wash your clothes. These are such small things that most writers just ignore because they think it will ruin— whatever. But these are the exact things that makes Waking Up The Sun real and something that feels new.

The only criticism I have of this was I thought the writing could be tighter. Sometimes I thought why is this being mentioned now, or at all. It may not be the best read for the sex repulsed for similar reasons but maybe this review can serve as your content warning.

With that said, this book is why I like to read from LGBTQ authors, generally found from small publishers. They have a number of important things that aren’t found elsewhere. Both men in the pairing are sweet. Awkward only in an realistic way instead of being an often sexist adorkable trope. I think my favorite thing is how much they check in with each other, ask if the other is okay.

[Learn more or buy your own copy here.]

Waking Up The Sun

If you like our quick book reviews, be sure to check out more from the rose garden archive.

🌹 Rose Reviews: Our Bloody Pearl

Welcome to another edition of Rose Reviews today we have Our Bloody Pearl by D.N. Dyrn! The book review series where I quickly since you my opinion of a book, and then allow you to run off so you can enjoy it for yourself. Because I’m sure you will!

First stop in this treasure hunt? Our Bloody Pearl has a great cover.

Our Bloody Pearl

I see this book cycle around from time to time in ace places. The books protagonist, Dejean, is an ace of color and everything is respectfully done. Honestly that can turn into a trash fire if written by someone who didn’t care about the community. It’s super clear D. N. Bryn did here.

But wait there’s more! Ace rep isn’t the only plus this book has going for it. The story ✨ shines ✨ the brightest when it talks about disability and healing from abuse. That’s where the heart of this novel is to me. Almost every line about accepting your disabilities is a popular highlight. For good reason.

If you even passively like mermaids and pirates I’d absolutely recommend this book. Hell, if you don’t. Try this. Let Our Bloodly Pearl change your mind.

Be sure to check out our other reviews here. Also, I love Dejean v much, kthxbuy!

Nemesis Series Review 1 & 2

Today I’m reviewing the Nemesis Series. Dreadnought and Sovereign are both by April Daniels. Here’s a quick overview of the series as a whole. Then we will get to the reviews of each.

Danny Tozer has a problem: she just inherited the powers of Dreadnought, the world’s greatest superhero.

Until Dreadnought fell out of the sky and died right in front of her, Danny was trying to keep people from finding out she’s transgender. But before he expired, Dreadnought passed his mantle to her, and those secondhand superpowers transformed Danny’s body into what she’s always thought it should be. Now there’s no hiding that she’s a girl.

Dreadnought’s murderer—a cyborg named Utopia—still haunts the streets of New Port City, threatening destruction. If Danny can’t sort through the confusion of coming out, master her powers, and stop Utopia in time, humanity faces extinction.

Dreadnought

Nemesis Series

That’s it. This my whole review in highlighted / blackout poetry form.

Kidding! This book shines by interweaving own voice experiences with a kid picking up the mantle of a famous superhero. It also has the worst/best bad guys in any story I’ve seen in a very long time. There’s nothing redeemable about them, but since their motivations are so every day I found myself rooting for their downfall even harder.

Sovereign

Nemesis Series

The Nemesis Series continues with my next highlighted poetry review for you. I normally care most about the plot the most in sequels. When continuing a story the story is a really important factor. But here, I cared more about how Dreadnought was doing. And that answer makes up the majority of the book. It’s also nice that book 2 showed more community issues giving us a bigger picture of both the superhero and transgender world. There were several lines in this book that were simply brilliant and I stopped to think only a thoughtful author like April Daniel could have pulled them off. Villains continue to be the ~worst~ but to my delight, we also get another trans superhero, Kinetiq, who I love dearly.

I don’t want to spoil anything, but I’m pretty happy how this book ended and I’ll be among the first to nervously and hopefully read a book 3 when we get it.

As a series, I give these two ★★★★½ ! I’d suggest this series for anywho who has ever even vaguely enjoyed superheroes, burnt out on the “trend” or not this story has something unique and powerful to offer.

Don’t miss out on other Rose Reviews.

From Under The Mountain Review

 

FUTM Cover

Let’s be real here, reviews are hard. Or at least for me they are. They feel even harder when I have to describe something like From Under The Mountain. It starts slow like all of this genre does, but then becomes a friend. The world and the characters bit by bit reveal themselves to you. And my main questions while reading become ‘what are they up to’ and ‘are they okay’?

Another thing I’ll forever be grateful for is there is no shock for shock value here. I got to enjoy the diversity without having to tolerate bull to get there. There was some gory, and spooky things but they all felt like a true part of this world.

While I length of the paperback lends itself akin to a weapon, I just might use it as such if I could have all the questions above answered now. Is Theo okay? Will he stay okay? How about my baby girl Guerline? Ahem, I mean four out of five stars to From Under The Mountain.

If you aren’t convinced yet check out this book’s amazing author:  Cait Spivey is a speculative fiction writer, author of high fantasy From Under the Mountain and the horror novella series, “The Web“. Her enduring love of fantasy started young, thanks to authors like Tolkien, J.K. Rowling, Diane Duane, Tamora Pierce, and many more. Now, she explores the rules and ramifications of magic in her own works—and as a panromantic asexual, she’s committed to queering her favorite genres.

Darkly cinematic, From Under the Mountain pairs the sweeping landscape of epic fantasy with the personal journey of finding one’s voice in the world, posing the question: how do you define evil, when everything society tells you is a lie?

Where To Grab a Copy: Amazon | Reuts Publications | Goodreads

 

Undeath & Taxes Review!

 

About Undeath & Taxes:
After discovering just how filled with magic, intrigue, and adventure the parahuman world of being an Undead American can be, Fredrick Frankford Fletcher did exactly what was expected–he became a certified parahuman accountant. Myths and legends, as it turns out, are not so great at taking appropriate deductions and keeping their receipts, and Fred is more than happy to return to a life others view as woefully dull, expanding his accounting business to cater to various monsters and their respective financial needs.

Said monsters are, unfortunately, still spectacular at pulling Fred into trouble, though. And despite merely wanting to stick with simple paperwork, Fred once again finds he is going to have to deal with enchanted weaponry, government agents, possessed houses, and one enigmatic dragon’s interest. In the parahuman world, any business can turn deadly, even one as mundane as accounting.

Available on Amazon and other retailers.

Review:  ★ ★ ★ ★

Here is the one negative thing I’m going to say. Feels a little less epic than last time. Now I can spend the rest of the review on things I love! I’ve been in a reading slump. Nothing was grabbing me, that is until Fred came back into my life. I really love Fred and his friends. This time around seems to focus more about their adventures than Fred himself, which really works for Drew Hayes’ episodic style.

I particularly enjoyed Albert this time around. I didn’t dislike him last time, but while reading Undeath and Taxes I keep thinking Albert is a dear, the sweetest zombie around, a  cutie pi– ahem. I’ll continue on.

The following is a slight spoiler, so slight spoiler warning and what not. Drew Hayes had urban fantasy down. ‘Need a weapon of destiny? Check out the newest paranormal convention!’ These are literally the ideas that make urban fantasy one of my favorites genres. That seamless merging of fantasy and modern life.

I definitely recommend this series to lovers of the genre and skeptics. You can even win a signed paperback copy over on goodreads. Still not convinced look at this ridiculously awesome author bio.

Drew Hayes Author Photo

Author Bio:

Drew Hayes is an aspiring author from Texas who has written several books and found the gumption to publish a few (so far). He graduated from Texas Tech with a B.A. in English, because evidently he’s not familiar with what the term “employable” means. Drew has been called one of the most profound, prolific, and talented authors of his generation, but a table full of drunks will say almost anything when offered a round of free shots. Drew feels kind of like a D-bag writing about himself in the third person like this. He does appreciate that you’re still reading, though.

Drew would like to sit down and have a beer with you. Or a cocktail. He’s not here to judge your preferences. Drew is terrible at being serious, and has no real idea what a snippet biography is meant to convey anyway. Drew thinks you are awesome just the way you are. That part, he meant. Drew is off to go high-five random people, because who doesn’t love a good high-five? No one, that’s who.

See Drew talk about himself in first person on his website and twitter.