Hello, it's been months! I'm hoping to write a few sentences about every book I read this year.


Skid Road: On the Frontier of Health and Homelessness in an American City by Josephine Ensign

A top-notch, highly focused history of homelessness in Seattle. It touches on mental health management, hospital systems, county politics... It's less interested in housing policy, more in health and community elements. Even though it's specific to Seattle, it's a relevant read for anyone in the U.S. seeking to learn more about the public (state and civic) perspectives and policies that developed into our contemporary housing crisis.

Elite Capture: How the Powerful Took Over Identity Politics by Olúfẹ́mi O. Táíwò

A powerful piece of philosophical and political theory, with some historical grounding. I think I was expecting more history out of this one, and I'm still curious in a more detailed history of how conversations around identity politics shifted over time. That said, anyone who's engaging with identity politics, discourse about identity politics, etc, would find this interesting and relevant.

Corrections in Ink by Keri Blakinger

Really interesting memoir from a prison reporter about her own time in prison for drug-related charges. Also deals with disordered eating and high school ballet trauma. Recommend listening to the author-narrated audiobook, if you're into audiobooks.

Lust & Wonder by Augusten Burroughs

This is a hysterical memoir about alcoholism, love, the publishing industry, and some perhaps ill-advised mixing between all those. Definitely going to listen to more self-read memoirs from this author.

The Deviant's War: The Homosexual vs the USA by Eric Cervini

The actual history here — of early gay rights organizing, including a lot on the Mattachine Society — is very interesting. Unfortunately, the book itself is wanderingly structured, a little dry, and somewhat hard to follow from chapter to chapter. Fairly standard for a big general history, but not my favorite format of historical writing.

My Name's Yours, What's Alaska? by Alaska Thunderfuck 5000

Truly, Alaska reading the entire audiobook in drag voice made this. The memoir itself is on the low end of quality for celebrity memoirs. It also felt a bit like her PR team instructed her to write the whole thing to get ahead of and apologize for the various public controversies she's been involved in. There's a fantastic interview at the end worth checking out.

Queer Data: Using Gender, Sex and Sexuality Data for Action by Kevin Guyan

Great research on existing gender & sexuality data, plus some provocative discussion on what/why/how to collect and use said data. Appreciated the extra attention to questions like, “do we actually need this at all?” and “if we collect this but don't use it, is that in itself a problem?” Essential read for anyone in research, social work, or journalism fields where data like this is relevant.


Nightwood by Djuna Barnes

Felt like reading a lesbian Aldous Huxley novel, for better or for worse. This is one of those “persisting queer classics.” I felt very interested while reading it, but now that I'm several weeks out, I don't remember much of anything about it.

Our Wives Under the Sea by Julia Armfield

To the butch phlebotomist who asked me what this book was about and got a horrendously incoherent answer: sorry, you were very handsome and about to stab me with a needle.

Anyway, lesbian horror novel about a couple dealing with one of the partners' strange transformation after getting trapped in a submarine at the bottom of the ocean. Eerie, claustrophobic, perfectly executed. Loved it. One of the better horror novels I've read.

Leech by Hiron Ennes

One of the more experimental and daring books I've read from Tor, which often feels like its queer books don't take a lot of risks. Body horror, shifting POV, some truly creepy steampunk medical elements, a provocative and disturbing exploration of personhood and self-determination... I really enjoyed this.

novellas / short fic

Empire of the Feast by Bendi Barrett

Neon Hemlock once again with an absolutely rad little book. Trans space opera orgy magic? Ok, let's go. This felt very anime-inspired (in a good way) and exactly the sort of weird horny sci-fi I adore. Definitely checking out more of Barrett's work.

Chouette by Claire Oshetsky

File under “books I absolutely never would have read if not for three of my most trusted book recommenders loving it.” Weird little book about a woman who gives birth to an owl baby after a lesbian affair. The world is apparently mostly full of dog babies, so this is perturbing. Anyway, that's besides the point. It's billed as magical realism, but it feels much more like a horror novel. It depicts a woman trapped inside a horrible relationship, trying to protect herself and her nonconforming (via the metaphor... disabled? autistic? queer?) child from a gaslighting father who wants to bend her into normality.

Helen House by Kayla Kumari Upadhyaya

Okay, this is freaky discomfitting queer horror shot through with incestuous undertones. For anyone who ever watched one of those bad gay “meet the family coming out” romcoms and thought, “this is a horror movie, actually.” Don't want to say too much, but the vibes are creepy and the ending is chilling. Cool art, too.

Leather Blues: A Novel of Leather folk by Jack Fritscher

Pornographic gay coming of age novella about a young man leaving a small town to get connected with the leather scene. Very much a historical artifact, and a fun read.

Monk & Robot 1&2 by Becky Chambers

I found aspects of the worldbuilding extremely charming, but overall, I found the characters' arcs preachy and kindof annoying. It made a lot of sense to learn that the author is Californian, because this feels like an extended ad for some electric vehicle that no one can afford that's still somehow going to change the whole world.

A Tranquil Star by Primo Levi

I'd meant to read his nonfiction, but this collection ended up being interesting. Literary, political, and a bit playful, despite dealing often with fascism.


In general I'm not a poetry reviewer, but.

Your emergency contact has experienced an emergency by chen chen

This is very funny and irreverent and unless I'm mixing it up with something else, contains a poem about farts. It's also dealing with darker topics. Enjoyed it a lot.

Content Warning: Everything by Akwaeke Emezi

There are some real impactful lines in here and this is about as interesting of a collection as you'd expect from Emezi, who seems to release something masterful in a new medium & genre every 3 months.

the t4t project – issue one

A tiny little zine collection packed with poetry and visual art by tpoc creators. Very exciting to see this series happening. I'm excited for the next issue.


Twittering Birds Never Fly vols 6&7 by Kou Yoneda

This gay BDSM series rocks, and it feels like these volumes tip it past the endless back and forth of circular nothing that felt like it was starting to set in throughout the middle volumes. Things are done that can't be undone, the protagonists are separated in a manner that totally upends their power dynamics and connection, and a time skip brings all sorts of consequences.

The Titan's Bride vol 1&2 by ITKZ

This is not good, and idk what I was expecting. I did get vague enjoyment out of it, but it ended up in that manga place of “the character motives make no sense, and instead of just being silly, it got abruptly somewhat political but in a nonsensical and terrible way that makes the improbable character interactions even worse.”

Berserk Deluxe vols 2&3 by Kentaro Miura

Probably everything that can possibly be said about Berserk has already been said, but Gutsca rights etc etc. The 3rd vol contains a particularly good arc.

My Solo Exchange Diary vol1&2 by Nagata Kabi

These memoirs wobble between “excellent” and “maybe too depressing?” for me. This one was more in the middle, dealing with depression, alcoholism and other mental health topics, but not getting so explicitly into eating disorders. The author's troubled relationship with her family continues to be a tough in the series.

#y2023 #roundups #books

I'm a data journalist and media educator based in the Pacific Northwest. Follow what I'm reading live on Storygraph. You can subscribe to this blog via email or via the Fediverse Find me at @petrinkae on Twitter or on Mastodon.

Here's a quick roundup of my top October readers, generally grouped by seasonal spookiness and heebie-jeebies.

fungus-eaten rabbit on book cover

What Moves the Dead by T Kingfisher

Kingfisher takes the imagery of despair and decay in Edgar Allan Poe's Fall of the House of Usher and turns it into a spine-chilling tie-in novella replete with eldritch horrors. There was also some unexpected and fun trans worldbuilding via a POV character from a speculative historical country.

abstract dystopian shadow-bureacracy shapes shown in red and black on book cover

They by Kay Dick

Recently republished and lauded (maybe... wrongly) as one of the first truly “gender-neutral” and “bisexual” novellas (despite being published well after some ground-breaking sci-fi that plays much more directly with both gender and bisexuality), it was kindof more... philosophically queer, than anything. But! Eerie dystopia! Artists and dilettantes fleeing a strange government-adjacent threat to creative life! A fun read.

drag queen esque green hand, scaly and webbed, splays pink fingernails on book cover

Queer Little Nightmares ed. David Ly & Daniel Zomparelli

Fantastic collection of horror shorts. A few standouts (Andrew Wilmot's sci-fi piece about technological glamours prompted me to immediately order Wilmot's published novel), but no true duds in this one. Also appreciated the inclusion of poetry (notably, two pieces by Kai Cheng Thom). Other reviewers have noted that the collection was less horny than expected — it's definitely less sexy, more freaky.

spooky vulva art on book cover

Unreal Sex ed. Adam Zmith & So Mayer

Fantastic collection of erotic shorts across a few speculative genres (including horror). Once again a few standouts but no duds. And maybe a better option for anyone looking for queer romance or erotica with a horror flavor. Lots of monsters in this one.

blood-dripping hand reaches over a city framed in decorative flowery illustrations on book cover

The Bruising of Qilwa by Naseem Jamnia

Not an obvious shoe-in for this list, but it does deal with blood magic and has some gruesome scenes, as well as a throughline of dread, so although it's marked as “dark fantasy,” it felt like it had more roots in horror at a number of points. Still, this novella is deceptively rich for its size, packed with complex navigations of refugee identity, queer coming-of-age and trans adulthood, and colonial violence. “What if someone took the idea of bloodbenders from Avatar: the Last Airbender” and really ran with it.

collage imagery of eyes, mouths, and hands on book cover

Virology: Essays for the Living, the Dead, and the Small Things in Between by Joseph Osmundson

Nonfiction! But, you know what! The COVID-19 epidemic is certainly a horror all its own. Osmundson's essay collection explores queerness through the lens of epidemics (old and new), via personal and intellectual writings on COVID-19 and HIV/AIDS. A really interesting collection of work, with a scientific and humane bent.

Honorary mentions:

  • Rescued by the Married Monster Hunters by Ennis Rook Bashe as R Bird caught my attention as a polyamourous book involving a trans man character. Didn't float my boat due to the prose style (I've preferred Bashe's other work), but worth mentioning.
  • Just Like Home by Sarah Gailey. As a big Gailey fan, this felt like more typical/rote fare than their usual work. Still, a big blast of a serial murdery, haunted housey tale. That said, I preferred their short story Haunted on similar themes.

#y2022 #roundups #adultfiction

I'm a data journalist and media educator based in the Pacific Northwest. Follow what I'm reading live on Storygraph. You can subscribe to this blog via email or via the Fediverse Find me at @petrinkae on Twitter or on Mastodon.


The Route of Ice and Salt by Jose Luis Zarate The Silence of Wilting Skin by Tlotlo Tsamaase Fireheart Tiger by Aliette de Bodard Caroline's Heart by S.A. Chant The Companion by E.E. Ottoman Briarley by Aster Glenn Gray Home by Toni Morrison In the Watchful City by S. Qiouyi Lu A Necessity of Stars by E. Catherine Tobler


Detransition, Baby by Torrey Peters The Ruthless Lady's Guide to Wizardry by C.M. Wagonner The Echo Wife by Sarah Gailey Confessions of the Fox by Jordy Rosenberg The Hollow Places by T. Kingfisher The Gentle Art of Fortune Hunting by K.J. Charles Nearly Roadkill by Caitlin Sullivan & Kate Bornstein Nevada by Imogen Binnie Kindred by Olivia Butler Swordheart by T. Kingfisher White Trash Warlock / Trailer Park Trickster by David R. Slayton The Queer Principles of Kit Webb by Cat Sebastian Summer Sons by Lee Mandelo Light From Uncommon Stars by Ryka Aoki

Short Fic Collections

Everyone on the Moon is Essential Personnel by Julian K. Jarboe Even Greater Mistakes by Charlie Jane Anders


Last Night at the Telegraph Club by Malinda Lo Bad Witch Burning by Jessica Lewis Iron Widow by Xiran Jay Zhao The Thief of Always by Clive Barker

Memoirs & Nonfiction

All Boys Aren't Blue by George M. Johnson Glitch Feminism by Legacy Russell Care of by Ivan Coyote Dear Senthuran by Akwaeke Emezi A Restricted Country by Joan Nestle Belly of the Beast by Da'Shaun Harrison On Connection by Kae Tempest


from unincorporated territory [guma'] by Craig Santos Perez Knots by R.D. Laing Cross Cutting by Charles Jensen Can you sign my tentacle? by Brandon O'Brien next by Lucille Clifton The Black Maria by Aracelis Girmay On the Spectrum of Possible Deaths by Lucia Perillo

Graphic Novels/Manga

Thirsty Mermaids by Kat Leyh The Magic Fish by Trung Le Nguyen Our Dreams at Dusk by Yuhki Kamatani (vol. 1-4) Are You Listening by Tillie Walden Alone in Space by Tillie Walden The Dire Days of Willoweep Manor by Shaenon K. Garrity Boys Run the Riot by Keito Gaku Eat the Rich by Sarah Gailey (iss. 1-5) A Map to the Sun by Sloane Leong

#y2021 #roundups #endofyear #books

I'm a data journalist and media educator based in the Pacific Northwest. Follow what I'm reading live on Storygraph. You can subscribe to this blog via email or via the Fediverse Find me at @petrinkae on Twitter or on Mastodon.

Eternally struggling w/ how to accurately and meaningfully describe romances in these short summaries — I want to help hype up queer books but being like “cis whatever” “trans whatever” etc always just feels vaguely beside the point. You might see that formatting change over the months.


Detransition, Baby by Torrey Peters

adult novel, modern day litfic, disaster polycule (kindof?), complicated trans romance

Ames, who used to live as a trans woman but has begun trying to pass as a cis man again, accidentally impregnates his boss. He doesn't want to be a dad for Gender Reasons but proposes that Katrina (his cis woman boss) and he co-raise the baby with his ex-girlfriend, a trans woman named Reese who's always wanted a baby. The proceedings turn into a whole mess-and-a-half.

So, I think I started this one in January, and it took me absolute ages to finish. It's so smart, and so incisive, and possibly the meanest and most accurate book about gender in American society that I've read in... ages? Maybe ever? And it's very darkly comedic. But I also found it pretty hard to read — there's a lot of misery, in this book. Still, I finished it several weeks ago, and I'm still thinking about it, so that's high praise.

From Unincorporated Territory: [guma'] by Craig Santos Perez

poetry collection

The first in a series that's part personal story, part protest against militarism and colonialism. The author is a native Chamoru from the Pacific Island of Guåhan (Guam), and he incorporates more standard poetic forms with found-documents work that deals with migration, culture, and custom. The collection is multi-lingual and takes a bit to work through if you really want to pay it proper attention. Really emotionally affective, and well worth the time.

The Ruthless Lady's Guide to Wizardry by C.M. Waggoner

adult novel, fantasy mystery, f/f romance, bi woman main character

This was so fun and grabbed me immediately. It stars Delly, a poor fire mage who's used to bad luck and scarcity. She just wants to get enough money to help her mom, who's a drug addict, to stay safe and housed. So she takes a job as a body-guard, which quickly escalates into a mystery plot involving creepy necromancy, an undead portentous mouse, and the very drug her mom's hooked on. Delly's voice is SO fun, and there's also a lovely little romance plot that follows along with the mystery, as Delly falls in love with a well-heeled lady who's also a fellow bodyguard.

Worth noting that this book is the second in a series, but can be read totally independently of the first. (I actually picked up the first a few times but never got into it after a few pages, so I've never gotten anywhere with it.)

The Silence of Wilting Skin by Tlotlo Tsamaase

adult novella, surreal fantasy mystery, f/f established relationship

This book is surreal and gorgeous, and refuses to give straight-forward answers. It's about a woman who receives a warning from a “dreamskin,” which seems to be a familial magic-power object that's a bit mythic in this world. She has one, and her grandmother's is the one that warned her of coming darkness and corruption. The narrator's skin and color starts coming off, and she enlists her girlfriend in a journey to stay awake and protect her family. Having read the whole thing, I'm not totally sure I wrapped my head around it — but it was beautifully written and poignant, and worked with a lot of resonant imagery that leaves a lot unspoken. The sort of thing that works perfect in a novella format. I definitely recommend it, with the caveat that you'll want to prepare yourself for a narrative structure that feels more experimental.

The Triple B by S.Y. Tyler

adult novel, modern day romance x like 4

I picked this one up because I really enjoyed the author's Star Wars fanfiction. Don't @ me. Anyway, this is a little book that follows a bunch of romances centered on a bakery run by two brothers. It's from the POV of the brother who gets involved in everyone else's lives to help them out, but never seems to manage to have much luck himself. Overall was a cute quick read, although there were just so many characters and romances to keep track of that I got a little lost.


Star Wars: The High Republic: Into the Dark by Claudia Gray

ya novel, scifi with a bit of horror

This was a ton of fun! It stars a Padawan who's just like “please... don't make me have adventures... I just want to sit in the library,” but gets dragged to the Jedi's (probably doomed) new outpost in the Outer Rim. (For context: this new canon series is set ~200 years before the Star Wars films, and everything happening in these books... uh... doesn't exist anymore! So SOMETHING went wrong!)

This book is half-locked-space-station horror feat. Sith artifacts and evil cthonic tree aliens, half political/YA space opera ethic. I enjoyed it a lot!

Boyfriend Material by Alexis Hall

new adult novel, modern day romcom, m/m romance

In short: Son of flaky rock legend starts fake-dating a handsome barrister because of workplace homophobia, and things get a bit too real for both of them. I've poked around at some of Hall's other work, and it seems really excellent. This is his first book released by a larger publisher, that I'm aware of, and it has a lot of the traits of large-market queer romance that just... don't appeal to me? It's very funny and extremely well-written and just overall well-done, and I'd recommend it to basically anyone who reads queer romance. That said, it was not for me. I did enjoy the book enough that I'll probably check out some of his smaller publications; I suspect my lukewarm feelings are more a byproduct of the book's broader audience than the author.

Graphic Novels

Star Wars: Shattered Empire by multiple

adult comics collection, scifi

Look... I read this for one (1) reason, and it was for Shara Bey and the Force tree comic. I literally don't remember anything else about any of the others. Poe Dameron's mom is hot, the Force trees are cool, whatever. Mostly an unremarkable collection, but some really great explosion art.

Star Wars Omnibus: Boba Fett

adult comics collection, scifi

Yes, I have Boba Fett brain-rot right now. This was a collection of no-longer-canon comics centered on Fett. The most interesting ones detail his work with the Empire and his early interactions with Vader (I cannot BELIEVE Vader hired him again after all of that, but then again... the chaos of it all). A long multi-issue arc in the middle is a serious dud, and ugly to boot, but many of the single-issues and smaller collections are pretty brilliant. If you're trying to hunt this one down, I recommend trying to get it from a library or a friend (or just... you know... look around REALLY hard on the internet in definitely legal places) — it was a hassle and a half to source.

#y2021 #roundups

I'm a data journalist and media educator based in the Pacific Northwest. Follow what I'm reading live on Storygraph. You can subscribe to this blog via email or via the Fediverse Find me at @petrinkae on Twitter or on Mastodon.

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.


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.)


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.


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.


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.

#roundups #y2021

I'm a data journalist and media educator based in the Pacific Northwest. Follow what I'm reading live on Storygraph. You can subscribe to this blog via email or via the Fediverse Find me at @petrinkae on Twitter or on Mastodon.