review: drones to ploughshares by sarah gailey

You can read Drones to Ploughshares online: here.

Close your eyes for a moment, and imagine being part of a society that asks, indiscriminately, each and every single individual: “what do you want?” and “how can we help?” and “you don’t have to be afraid—there’s all the time in the world for you to find out what you want”.

Tell me—did you allow that vision to build itself in your imagination, to grow, stretch wings, and soar in your mind? Or did it melt into nothingness before you could completely grasp it?

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review: a spindle splintered by alix e. harrow

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Alix. E. Harrow is one of my auto-buy authors, and her debut novel, The Ten Thousand Doors of January—a book about stories and doors and how, sometimes, the two are interchangeable—is one my heart books. When I picked up A Spindle Splintered, it was for the indulgence of a fun and short story that reimagines (to borrow some of the author’s words) “the spider-verse but with sleeping beauties”, but I found much more than I bargained for. Many and fierce delights, and terrors too.

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review: razorblade tears by s.a. cosby

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“What does it take for two cishet men to grasp the basic fact that queer people are also human beings deserving of dignity and basic human decency?” is the question this novel asks. The answer we are left with by the end is: *spoilers* the savage murder of their two gay sons, the subsequent defacement of their graves (by none other than one of the fathers), the traumatizing of a trans woman, the unnecessary death and injury of several innocent bystanders, the kidnapping of a child, and a whole ass massacre. *end spoilers*

But hey, at least they finally manage to get it into their heads that “love is love” and all that, right?

This book still strikes such a chord of anger within me, and my train is delayed, so let me elaborate very briefly:

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review: the traitor baru cormorant by seth dickinson

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Tomorrow, on the beach, Baru Cormorant will look up from the sand of her home and see red sails on the horizon.

The Empire of Masks is coming, armed with coin and ink, doctrine and compass, soap and lies. They’ll conquer Baru’s island, rewrite her culture, criminalize her customs, and dispose of one of her fathers. But Baru is patient. She’ll swallow her hate, prove her talent, and join the Masquerade. She will learn the secrets of empire. She’ll be exactly what they need. And she’ll claw her way high enough up the rungs of power to set her people free.

In a final test of her loyalty, the Masquerade will send Baru to bring order to distant Aurdwynn, a snakepit of rebels, informants, and seditious dukes. Aurdwynn kills everyone who tries to rule it. To survive, Baru will need to untangle this land’s intricate web of treachery – and conceal her attraction to the dangerously fascinating Duchess Tain Hu.

But Baru is a savant in games of power, as ruthless in her tactics as she is fixated on her goals. In the calculus of her schemes, all ledgers must be balanced, and the price of liberation paid in full.

How do you talk about a book that has completely obliterated your capacity for language?

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review: summer sons by lee mandelo



Andrew and Eddie did everything together, best friends bonded more deeply than brothers, until Eddie left Andrew behind to start his graduate program at Vanderbilt. Six months later, only days before Andrew was to join him in Nashville, Eddie dies of an apparent suicide. He leaves Andrew a horrible inheritance: a roommate he doesn’t know, friends he never asked for, and a gruesome phantom with bleeding wrists that mutters of revenge.

As Andrew searches for the truth of Eddie’s death, he uncovers the lies and secrets left behind by the person he trusted most, discovering a family history soaked in blood and death. Whirling between the backstabbing academic world where Eddie spent his days and the circle of hot boys, fast cars, and hard drugs that ruled Eddie’s nights, the walls Andrew has built against the world begin to crumble, letting in the phantom that hungers for him.

This book seduced me with its promise of spooky times and long stretches of repressed miserable queer longings and subsequently hooked me—line and sinker—with the clarity of its prose, the gorgeous character work, and the musings on vampiric love and inheritance and masculinity and all the bleak many-faceted enormities of grief. I felt, moreover, compelled by the delicious and increasingly fraught tensions crisscrossing the cast of characters. The slow-burn is real, and I lived for it.

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Book Recommendations

🌈 Be Gay, Do Crime: Queer Heist Books Recommendations for Pride Month 🌈

There is such a thrill in reading heist books against which no drug compares. Is it the life-and-death stakes? The desperate we-have-nothing-to-lose-and-everything-to-gain bravado? The sheer vindictive joy of eating the rich? The queer found family dynamics between morally fraudulent characters who live in a world that disdains them and grow as close as entangled trees through committing crime and wreaking fierce and terrible havoc wherever they go?

Whatever it is, it’s working. And working damn well, too. At this point, heist books should be their own genre. The categorization is not only cool as hell, but it would also make it easier for readers like me (who have an untoward degree of affection for books about being gay and doing crime) to find them. I’ve been scouring the internet for heist books with queer representation for some time now, and managed to pin down 17 in total. I was actually delightfully surprised to find that almost every heist book I came across had some kind of lgbtq+ representation, and the very few that didn’t—well… frankly, I figured cishets can make their own lists, y’know?

Anyways! Without further ado, here are some queer heist books:

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review: the big bad wolf series by charlie adhara

synopsis for the 1st book:

Hunting for big bad wolves was never part of Agent Cooper Dayton’s plan, but a werewolf attack lands him in the carefully guarded Bureau of Special Investigations. A new case comes with a new partner: ruggedly sexy werewolf Oliver Park.

Park is an agent of The Trust, a werewolf oversight organization working to ease escalating tensions with the BSI. But as far as Cooper’s concerned, it’s failing. As they investigate a series of mysterious deaths unlike anything they’ve seen, every bone in Cooper’s body is suspicious of his new partner—even when Park proves himself as competent as he is utterly captivating.

When more people vanish, pressure to solve the case skyrockets. And though he’d resolved to keep things professional, Cooper’s friction with Park soon erupts…into a physical need that can’t be contained or controlled. But with a body count that’s rising by the day, werewolves and humans are in equal danger. If Cooper and Park don’t catch the killer soon, one—or both—of them could be the next to go.

I discovered this series a little while ago and fell headlong into it, gulping down all five books in a three-day marathon stupor of wanting to feel something—and I have absolutely no regrets!

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“You gotta make your own place to belong”: One Last Stop by Casey McQuiston



For cynical twenty-three-year-old August, moving to New York City is supposed to prove her right: that things like magic and cinematic love stories don’t exist, and the only smart way to go through life is alone. She can’t imagine how waiting tables at a 24-hour pancake diner and moving in with too many weird roommates could possibly change that. And there’s certainly no chance of her subway commute being anything more than a daily trudge through boredom and electrical failures.

But then, there’s this gorgeous girl on the train.

Jane. Dazzling, charming, mysterious, impossible Jane. Jane with her rough edges and swoopy hair and soft smile, showing up in a leather jacket to save August’s day when she needed it most. August’s subway crush becomes the best part of her day, but pretty soon, she discovers there’s one big problem: Jane doesn’t just look like an old school punk rocker. She’s literally displaced in time from the 1970s, and August is going to have to use everything she tried to leave in her own past to help her. Maybe it’s time to start believing in some things, after all.

McQuiston’s stories have a way of destroying my heart in all the best deepest ways. I still well up with unreasoning joy when I think about Red, White & Royal Blue, a book I still return to, from time to time, to scrape out some solace from the harsh, ugly world. And I’m happy to report that none of the author’s enchantment has ebbed away in this sophomore novel. If anything, One Last Stop only cemented for me that I will be reading every Casey McQuiston book for as long as they keep writing them.

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