January Reads

I'm moving my “reading lists” to here, mostly. I'll still highlight my favorites on Twitter, though! Talk to me about books on Twitter @petrinkae.

Books

Going Postal by Terry Pratchett

adult novel, fantasy-comedy

A delight, though probably 50 pages too long. Love the “hapless conman discovers the oddities of magical government services” concept. Am absolutely stealing it. Also oddly relevant with, uh, gestures at the USPS.

The Route of Ice & Salt by José Luis Zárate, trans. David Bowles

adult novella, horror (Dracula tie-in), cis gay narrator

I wrote a full review of this one here. Short version: Wow. Stunning, horrifying, gothic, lonely, erotic-but-fraught-about-it. Extremely worth your time if you have the remotest interest in horror or gothic genres, vampire lit, or queer lit. And the hard copy is gorgeous.

Across the Green Grass Fields by Seanan McGuire

YA novella, portal fantasy, intersex main character

This one's for everyone's inner horse girl. A short tale about defying destiny and conformity and what the world expects you to do. Stars a girl who learns she's intersex, tells an untrustworthy best friend, and tearfully stumbles into a portal world of centaurs and fauns and kelpies while running from the aftermath. My enthusiasm for this series had been dwindling — the last few have had a lot of aesthetic but felt overly packed for their brevity — but this one was very thematically coherent and more focused. They're all independent, so I'd put this one high on the list of books in this series to pick up.

Medusa's Touch by Emily L. Byrne

adult novel, sci-fi, central cis f/f romance

I gave this one a try but didn't end up reading it super closely — the central romance felt a bit weird to me, especially as in the beginning it seems like the main character is somewhat aggressively going after a woman who has been avoiding her. It does turn out to be a misunderstanding, but. Just not my vibe. The plot and worldbuilding were very cool despite that, with an intrigue/spy political storyline. Snake head/cybernetic sex elements were fun, also.

Rise of the Red Hand by Olivia Chadha

YA novel, cyberpunk, side cis m/f romance involving main characters

This book has fantastic worldbuilding and ideas but has a bit of the “we'll continue this in the next book so decent portions of the plot are unresolved” problem. Full review here.

Dearly by Margaret Atwood

collected poetry

Eh. Atwood has published better collections. She's having a lot of fun with this one, which does show, but I prefer her poetry when it's a little more dour and over-the-top. (Sorry.)

Magazines/Chapbooks

Baffling Mag iss. 1

This is such a cool new magazine concept, with a stellar line-up of authors writing speculative flash fic. Read here.

When We're Done Here by Paula Molina Acosta

A beautiful piece of specfic set in a future torn apart by climate change and political terrors. Lyrical, surreal. Loved the prose and the vibe. Overall a great short chapbook prose-poetry read.

Comics

Raise Hell by Ray Nadine & Jordan Alsaqa?

short, kickstarter

This is a fun and funny little short story, with a bonus short at the end. It stars a group of punks who summon a demon for mischief, only to end up with a sloth devil who wants to do nothing but sleep. Very cute style & fun story. Short — would read a whole anthology of these, though.

Star Wars: The High Republic, Iss. 1 by Cavan Scott illus. Anindito/Leoni

single-issue 6-part series

Gosh. The eternal problem with Star Wars is that I can never tell if they're trying to make the Jedi come off as deeply irresponsible and vaguely unethical, or if some of the tie-in writers are just so ga-ga over the Star Wars cultural legacy that they're missing all the weird stuff baked into some of these plotlines. It's turned out to be about 50/50 so far. Holding out judgment on this one until I have a clearer idea of what they're trying to do with the writing. It's very pretty, though. The High Republic armor...

Serial fiction

I'm currently reading Effie Calvin's Cursed (sapphic arranged marriage in fantasy world, available for $3/mo on Patreon) and Johannes T. Evans' The Boatswain's Hook (Hook/Smee post-story Peter Pan retelling dealing with chronic illness/disability, available for free on Ao3). Enjoying both a lot.

Audiobooks

Two phenomenal ones here, both written by gender non-conforming black gay people. The writers narrate their own books for audiobook, which makes them doubly awesome listens. Both are short audiobooks (<5 hours).

The Black Flamingo by Dean Atta

fiction, gender non-conforming gay main character

Autiobiographically inspired. Follows Michael, a kidin the UK, as he figures out what he wants, grows up, comes out, and finds some of his first adult moments of happiness and belonging through drag performance. Grapples with experiences of being mixed-race and gay.

All Boys Aren't Blue by George M. Johnson

nonfiction, gender non-conforming gay author

Structured as a series of memoir essays + thoughtful manifesto on gender nonconformity, trauma, coming out, and sex. This feels like a very vulnerable book, and it has some especially poignant thoughts on queer sexuality and consent.

Worth noting it deals with multiple instances of sexual assault, against the author as both a child and an adult.

Story-Driven Video Games

I, For One, Welcome Our New Lady Knight Overlords is an extremely gay bitsy/twine hybrid that fills me with absolute joy. Give it a play if you have a few minutes.

Kae Petrin is a data journalist and media educator based in the Pacific Northwest. Find them at @petrinkae on Twitter.