“This Arab Is Queer” Review

The cover has a white background with the title in the center in outlined letters "This Arab is Queer" and the subtitle is in solid black with the editors name below it. Around the top and bottom are shapes in rainbow colors - red at the top ending with purple at the bottom Full Title: This Arab Is Queer: An Anthology by LGBTQ+ Arab Writers
Edited by Elias Jahshan
Published by Saqi Books, January 2022
216 pages
Completed March 23,2024

This ground-breaking anthology features the compelling and courageous memoirs of eighteen queer Arab writers — some international bestselling, others using pseudonyms. Here, we find heart-warming connections and moments of celebration alongside essays exploring the challenges of being LGBTQ+ and Arab.

From a military base in the Gulf to loving whispers caught between bedsheets; and from touring overseas as a drag queen to a concern in Cairo where the rainbow flag was raised to a crowd of thousands, this collection celebrates the true colours of a vibrant Arab queer experience.

This was a great collection of stories. Each one felt important to read and understand as the individuals told their stories. As the introduction explains being Arab and Queer can be difficult for a number of reasons and each person has had to deal with a lot because of where they come from. There are also other issues they have to deal with as well. There was a range of different queer topics that were good and informative. Some stories were harder to read than others – with different issues happening to the individuals. I’m glad I read this book and I’ve already looked up the authors to learn more about them.

2024 Trans Rights Read-a-Thon

Information graphic announcing the read a thon and the dates March 22nd through 29th and my two goals to raise money for OUT MetroWest and to read at least three books. The covers for the books are displayed in the picture and are also named in the text of the postThe 2024 Trans Rights Read-a-Thon has begun and this year I am fundraising for OUT MetroWest located in Framingham, Massachusetts!

“The Trans Rights Readathon is an annual call to action to readers and book lovers in support of Trans Day of Visibility (TDOV) on March 31st.”

My Fundraiser for OUT MetroWest

More information about the Trans Rights Readathon

I will be reading the following books this year:

“This Arab is Queer: An Anthology by LGBTQ+ Arab Writers”
Edited by Elias Jahshan

“Real Sugar is Hard to Find” a collection of short stories by
Sim Kern

“Breakout” – first novel in new series by Alek Cristea, described as a “space-opera/cyberpunk adventure featuring queer teens in space fighting back against oppression.”

Previous books I’ve read with Trans characters or written by Trans individuals include:

“The Thirty Names of Night” by Zeyn Joukhadar

“Seeds for the Swarm” by Sim Kern

“Transcendent: The Year’s Best Transgender Speculative Fiction” by K.M. Szpara et al.

Other books written by or with Trans individuals

“Lakelore” by Anna-Marie McLemore

“Depart, Depart!” By Sim Kern

“Hell Followed With Us” by Andrew Joseph White

“We Have Always Been Here: A Queer Muslim Memoir” by Samra Habib

“VenCo” by Cherie Dimaline

“The Many Half-Lived Lives of Sam Sylvester” by Maya MacGregor

“The Wicked Bargain” by Gabe Cole Novoa

“The Evolving Truth of Ever-Stronger Will” by Maya MacGregor

“The Free People’s Village” by Sim Kern

“The Gilded Ones” trilogy by Namina Forna

“Never Whistle at Night” Review

Around the edge of the cover are various images of plants, flowers and animals (a snake, mouse, frog, snail and butterfly). The title of the book is in the center with the subtitle above it and the names of the editors below it. Full Title: “Never Whistle at Night: An Indigenous Dark Fiction Anthology”
Edited by Shane Hawk and Theodore C. Van Alst Jr.
Published by Vintage, September 2023
384 Pages
Completed January 12, 2024

Many Indigenous people believe that one should never whistle at night. This belief takes many forms: for instance, Native Hawaiians believe it summons the Hukai’po, the spirits of ancient warriors, and Native Mexicans say it calls Lechuza, a witch that can transform into an owl. But what all these legends hold in common is the certainty that whistling at night can cause evil spirits to appear—and even follow you home.

These wholly original and shiver-inducing tales introduce readers to ghosts, curses, hauntings, monstrous creatures, complex family legacies, desperate deeds, and chilling acts of revenge. Introduced and contextualized by bestselling author Stephen Graham Jones, these stories are a celebration of Indigenous peoples’ survival and imagination, and a glorious reveling in all the things an ill-advised whistle might summon.

I always say this but anthologies are a fun way to be introduced to a group of new authors all at once. In this case there were a few author’s I’ve already read but it was good to see more of their work. There were a few stories I didn’t really understand but overall I really enjoyed this anthology. It was a good mix of types of horror stories where sometimes the horror came more from people (colonizers) rather than the supernatural which is to be expected when reading Indigenous stories. This will be another anthology where I look up all the authors and see what else they have written.

2023 in Review

Reading Stats

61 Books

20,992 Pages Read

Average length 346 pages

Average reading time 4 days

50 Fiction / 11 Non-Fiction

18 Fiction Anthologies

41 Novels

2 Non-Fiction Anthologies

5 Memoirs

4 Essay Collections

Top Ten Books in No Particular Order with links to my reviews

“Being Ace: An Anthology of Queer, Trans, Femme, and Disabled Stories of Asexual Love and Connection”
Edited by Madeline Dyer
Type: Fiction Anthology
“We Have Always Been Here: A Queer Muslim Memoir”
Written by Samra Habib
Type: Memoir
“The Thirty Names of Night”
Written by Zeyn Joukhadar
Type: Novel
“A Master of Djinn”
Written by P. Djèlí Clark
Type: Novel
“The Disordered Cosmos: A Journey Into Dark Matter, Spacetime, and Dreams Deferred”
Written by Chanda Prescod-Weinstein
Type: Essay Collection
“We Don’t Swim Here”
Written by Vincent Tirado
Type: Novel
“Four Hundred Souls: A Community History of African America, 1619-2019”
Edited by Ibram X. Kendi with Keisha N. Blain
Type: Non-Fiction Anthology
“Invisible Son”
Written by Kim Johnson
Type: Novel
“To Shape a Dragon’s Breath”
Written by Moniquill Blackgoose
Type: Novel
“The Free People’s Village”
Written by Sim Kern
Type: Novel

“A People’s Future of the United States” Review

The title of the book is written across the black cover - one word on each line in various colors. The names of the editors are at the bottom of the cover.Full Title “A People’s Future of the United States: Speculative Fiction from 25 Extraordinary Writers”
Edited by Victor LaValle and John Joseph Adams
Published by Random House Publishing Group, February 2019
432 pages
Completed December 24, 2023

In these tumultuous times, in our deeply divided country, many people are angry, frightened, and hurting. Knowing that imagining a brighter tomorrow has always been an act of resistance, editors Victor LaValle and John Joseph Adams invited an extraordinarily talented group of writers to share stories that explore new forms of freedom, love, and justice. They asked for narratives that would challenge oppressive American myths, release us from the chokehold of our history, and give us new futures to believe in.

They also asked that the stories be badass.

The result is this spectacular collection of twenty-five tales that blend the dark and the light, the dystopian and the utopian. These tales are vivid with struggle and hardship—whether it’s the othered and the terrorized, or dragonriders and covert commandos—but these characters don’t flee, they fight.

Thrilling, inspiring, and a sheer joy to read, A People’s Future of the United States is a gift for anyone who believes in our power to dream a just world.

This was a really dark and interesting anthology. All of the stories take a potential dystopian scenario and run with it. All of them involve marginalized and oppressed people becoming more so due to things that are already problems in this country. The book was published in 2019 so a lot of ideas come from the actions of then President Trump – only catastrophic for a lot of people. It’s interesting reading it now in 2023 knowing that things did in fact get worse because of the COVID Pandemic. And while we don’t have President Trump anymore, we’re will dealing with COVID and various other issues that that have developed. The stories all show how the various characters are fighting to survive against what has happened. All of the characters still have hope for a better future despite everything that has occurred.

“Being Ace” Review

The cover is purple with a darker shade at the top and lighter at the bottom. There is a person wearing a white outfit and shoes within the title - there areas are wrapped around some of the letters oof the title and their feet go through the letters as well. They are holding the Asexuality flag (stripes of black, grey, white and purple). Full Title: “Being Ace: An Anthology of Queer, Trans, Femme, and Disabled Stories of Asexual Love and Connection”
Edited by Madeline Dyer
Published by Page Street Publishing, October 2023
353 pages
Completed: October 29, 2023

A disabled vigilante trying to save her kidnapped girlfriend, a little mermaid who loves her sisters more than suitors, a slayer whose virgin blood keeps attracting monsters and more, the works in Being Ace are anything but conventional. Whether in psychiatric hospitals, space ships, haunted cemeteries, or under the sea, no two aces are the same in 15 unique works that highlight asexual romance, aromantic love, and the many sub-identities of the asexual spectrum umbrella. From a mixture of established and emerging YA writers, contributors include Rosiee Thor, Akemi Dawn Bowman, Linsey Miller, and Moniza Hossain.

This is a great collection of fantasy and science fiction stories with asexual characters! I had a lot of fun reading all of the stories in the collection. I really liked that there wasn’t just one type of asexual representation but multiple variations on the theme and how it drove the stories. There was also great disability representation involved with some stories as well. I’m definitely checking out all the authors to see what else they’ve written.

“Reclaim the Stars” Review

The cover has a black background with red and pink flowers along the left and right boarder with green leaves and stems. At the bottom is a mermaid with brown skin and black hair and a goat. Full Title: “Reclaim the Stars: 17 Tales Across Realms & Space”
Edited by Zoraida Córdova
Published by Wednesday Books, February 2022
417 pages
Completed July 8, 2023

From stories that take you to the stars, to stories that span into other times and realms, to stories set in the magical now, Reclaim the Stars takes the Latin American diaspora to places fantastical and out of this world.

Follow princesses warring in space, haunting ghost stories in Argentina, mermaids off the coast of the Caribbean, swamps that whisper secrets, and many more realms explored and unexplored; this stunning collection of seventeen short stories breaks borders and realms to prove that stories are truly universal.

Reclaim the Stars features both bestselling and acclaimed authors as well as two new voices in the genres: Vita Ayala, David Bowles, J.C. Cervantes, Zoraida Córdova, Sara Faring, Romina Garber, Isabel Ibañez, Anna-Marie McLemore, Yamile Saied Méndez, Nina Moreno, Circe Moskowitz, Maya Motayne, Linda Raquel Nieves Pérez, Daniel José Older, Claribel A. Ortega, Mark Oshiro and Lilliam Rivera.

Another great collection of short stories to read! The stories were great and I enjoyed all of them. There’s a bit of science fiction, and then more fantasy and magical realism – all good stuff. I did feel like a couple of the stories ended to abruptly and would have been better as longer stories but the rest felt complete as they were. Going to spend some time looking into the various authors and seeing what else they’ve written.

“How Long ’til Black Future Month?” Review

On the cover a young black woman is facing towards the right in profile with her long hair styled with decorations that are white geometric shapes. The shirt or dress she is wearing has a thick collar that looks like two rows of white balls. The title of the book and authors name are on the top and bottom of the cover. Written by N.K. Jemisin
Published by Orbit, November 2018
416 pages
Completed June 14, 2023

“Three-time Hugo Award winner and NYT bestselling author N. K. Jemisin challenges and delights readers with thought-provoking narratives of destruction, rebirth, and redemption that sharply examine modern society in her first collection of short fiction, which includes never-before-seen stories.”

“Spirits haunt the flooded streets of New Orleans in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. In a parallel universe, a utopian society watches our world, trying to learn from our mistakes. A black mother in the Jim Crow South must save her daughter from a fey offering impossible promises. And in the Hugo award-nominated short story “The City Born Great,” a young street kid fights to give birth to an old metropolis’s soul.”

This is a great collection of short stories all written by N. K. Jemisin. Some of them are early ideas that would become her larger works. Others are stories she had written for other publications. All are great. I also highly recommend reading the introduction to the book for more background and to know where the title of the book comes from. I really enjoyed each story and will likely read more by this author at some point.

“Land of Big Numbers” Review

Four images in the shape of China are shown on the cover in various colors one half covering the other downwards. The title of the book is over the images.Land of Big Numbers
Written By Te-Ping Chen
Published by Houghton Mifflin, February 2021
256 pages
Completed: May 20, 2023

“Gripping and compassionate, Land of Big Numbers traces the journeys of the diverse and legion Chinese people, their history, their government, and how all of that has tumbled—messily, violently, but still beautifully—into the present.”

“Cutting between clear-eyed realism and tongue-in-cheek magical realism, Chen’s stories coalesce into a portrait of a people striving for openings where mobility is limited. Twins take radically different paths: one becomes a professional gamer, the other a political activist. A woman moves to the city to work at a government call center and is followed by her violent ex-boyfriend. A man is swept into the high-risk, high-reward temptations of China’s volatile stock exchange. And a group of people sit, trapped for no reason, on a subway platform for months, waiting for official permission to leave.”

“With acute social insight, Te-Ping Chen layers years of experience reporting on the ground in China with incantatory prose in this taut, surprising debut, proving herself both a remarkable cultural critic and an astonishingly accomplished new literary voice.”

I enjoyed all of the stories in this book one way or another. Some were a little confusing – but I’m pretty sure that was a the point in at least one case. Things were happening for basically no reason at all besides government regulations. Each story was interesting with good characters to learn about. That said to some degree I did feel like there could have been more variety in the stories told or at least more depths to the “why” of things if there was a specific cultural element to everything. Not that things have to be explained to outsiders but I felt like something was missing from some of the stories.

“In Between Spaces” Review

The book cover has a light brown background with the title in the center. The bottom half is taken up by a collection of triangle shops in various shades green on the bottom corner and pink and orange along the left corner and cup the side towards the middle of the book. Full Title: “In Between Spaces: An anthology of disabled writers
Edited by Rebecca Burke
Published by Stillhouse Press, November 2022
Number of Pages: 268
Completed: April 21, 2023

“In Between Spaces, Stillhouse Press’s first ever anthology, centers the experiences of thirty-three disabled poets, short-story writers, and essayists as they navigate the physical and emotional complexities of disability, chronic illness, neurodivergence, and mental illness.”

This book fits one of the prompts for the Disability Readathon I’m participating in for April: “Read an anthology” – which is good because April is almost over – just two weekends left.

As I’ve said before I love reading anthologies (especially for Readathons) and finding new authors to check out. This one is no exception – the majority of the stories in the book are non-fiction or poems with a few fiction stories mixed in so it’s going to be listed on the non-fiction page of my website. I really enjoyed the majority of book though I’m not sure I understood all of the poems. Which is fine – poems work better for other people I’m sure. The fiction and non-fiction stories are all mixed together and all had similar themes and settings (modern day, real world) so the only way to tell was to look at the contents of the book and see. I wish the note about fiction or non fiction has also been included with the title of the story at the beginning of each. All of the stories were written by people with disabilities and were about disabled people which I like especially for non-fiction works as we always should be the ones to tell our own stories.