Sunday, July 31, 2016

My June Reading: LGBT stories

My June reading is brought to you by Valkopentu! Since June is Pride Month, all the books have LGBT characters. As a bonus, most books also have ethnically diverse characters.

  • Takako Shimura “Wandering Son” vol.1-3 [Japan] 
  • Elizabeth Bear “Karen Memory” [USA] 
  • Malinda Lo “Adaptation” [China, USA] 
  • Noelle Stevenson,  Grace Ellis, Shannon Watters “Lumberjanes, Vol. 1: Beware the Kitten Holy” [USA] 
  • Marja Björk “Poika” [Finland] 
  • Sarah Diemer “The Dark Wife” [USA] 

Wandering Son
[transgender characters]
“The fifth grade. The threshold to puberty, and the beginning of the end of childhood innocence. Shuichi Nitori and his new friend Yoshino Takatsuki have happy homes, loving families, and are well-liked by their classmates. But they share a secret that further complicates a time of life that is awkward for anyone: Shuichi is a boy who wants to be a girl, and Yoshino is a girl who wants to be a boy.
Written and drawn by one of today's most critically acclaimed creators of manga, Shimura portrays Shuishi and Yoshino's very private journey with affection, sensitivity, gentle humor, and unmistakable flair and grace.”

A sweet story! Two trans children are slowly exploring gender and school life. I'm definitely going to continue this series.

Karen Memory
[lesbian, transgender]
“Set in the late 19th century—when the city we now call Seattle Underground was the whole town (and still on the surface), when airships plied the trade routes, would-be gold miners were heading to the gold fields of Alaska, and steam-powered mechanicals stalked the waterfront, Karen is a young woman on her own, is making the best of her orphaned state by working in Madame Damnable's high-quality bordello. Through Karen's eyes we get to know the other girls in the house—a resourceful group—and the poor and the powerful of the town. Trouble erupts one night when a badly injured girl arrives at their door, begging sanctuary, followed by the man who holds her indenture, and who has a machine that can take over anyone's mind and control their actions. And as if that wasn't bad enough, the next night brings a body dumped in their rubbish heap—a streetwalker who has been brutally murdered.”

A diverse steampunk novel! Romance, adventures, scary antagonists, all that in a remarkable voice of Karen.

[bisexual, gay]
“Reese can’t remember anything from the time between the accident and the day she woke up almost a month later. She only knows one thing: She’s different now.
Across North America, flocks of birds hurl themselves into airplanes, causing at least a dozen to crash. Thousands of people die. Fearing terrorism, the United States government grounds all flights, and millions of travelers are stranded.
Reese and her debate team partner and longtime crush David are in Arizona when it happens. Everyone knows the world will never be the same. On their drive home to San Francisco, along a stretch of empty highway at night in the middle of Nevada, a bird flies into their headlights. The car flips over. When they wake up in a military hospital, the doctor won’t tell them what happened, where they are—or how they’ve been miraculously healed.”

This book would make such a great TV-show! Fast-paced and clever, with a bisexual girl protagonist. And what a twist in the end!

[lesbian or bisexual, trans]
[ Mal & Molly <3 and In Lumberjanes Issue #17, Jo Comes Out As Trans]
“At Miss Qiunzilla Thiskwin Penniquiqul Thistle Crumpet's camp for hard-core lady-types, things are not what they seem. Three-eyed foxes. Secret caves. Anagrams. Luckily, Jo, April, Mal, Molly, and Ripley are five rad, butt-kicking best pals determined to have an awesome summer together... And they're not gonna let a magical quest or an array of supernatural critters get in their way! The mystery keeps getting bigger, and it all begins here.”

So quirky and fun! ^u^  And there is a cute girl couple (and in a later issue it's revealed that Jo is trans).

“Suorapuheinen Marion eli Makke on aina tiennyt olevansa poika. Saman ovat tienneet itseltäänkin salaa myös kaikki hänen läheisensä, äiti hänen syntymästään saakka. On kuitenkin vaikea myöntää asiaa jota ei ymmärrä, joten Makkesta yritetään muokata tyttöä, jopa väkivalloin. Juhlapäivät mekkoineen ja nukkelahjoineen, kuukautisten alkaminen ja rintojen kasvu, seurustelusuhteet ja uudet kouluympäristöt ovat katastrofeja yksi toisensa jälkeen. Makke joutuu vastatusten kaikkien ja kaiken kanssa. Vasta aikuisuuden kynnyksellä hän saa tietää miksi: hän on transsukupuolinen. Alkaa helpottava matka omaksi itseksi, lähimpänä tukijana äiti.”

This book was more like a string of random events in the main character's life instead of a story. Many characters were constantly rude to each other (I learned a lot about Finnish cursing! =D), quite unpleasant people to read about. And so it wasn't really interesting, except for the trans issues. Meh.

The Dark Wife
“Three thousand years ago, a god told a lie. Now, only a goddess can tell the truth. Persephone has everything a daughter of Zeus could want -except for freedom. She lives on the green earth with her mother, Demeter, growing up beneath the ever-watchful eyes of the gods and goddesses on Mount Olympus. But when Persephone meets the enigmatic Hades, she experiences something new: choice. Zeus calls Hades "lord" of the dead as a joke. In truth, Hades is the goddess of the underworld, and no friend of Zeus. She offers Persephone sanctuary in her land of the dead, so the young goddess may escape her Olympian destiny. But Persephone finds more than freedom in the underworld. She finds love, and herself.”

A lesbian retelling of the Persephone myth. Zeus is the worst, Hades is hot, and Cerberus is the cutest little puppy in the world. Well, in the Underworld. It was an interesting place to visit.


So, this time I read stories from Japan, USA and Finland. I hope to find more queer books from all sorts of places! Nothing wrong with USA or UK, but I've read way too many books from there and not enough from other countries, especially with LGBT characters. Feel free to recommend such books in the comments!

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