Pride Month: Fiction Spotlight

This week for Pride Month, I pulled some books that focus on LGBTQ+ representation in fiction! 

They Both Die at the End by Adam Silvera 

What if a service existed to let you know you had 24 hours left to live? Would you do anything differently? Reckless Rufus and anxiety-ridden Mateo become unlikely friends after meeting on their last days alive and set off to enjoy themselves, and maybe do a few things they wouldn’t normally. Through adventures, tough goodbyes to loved ones, and virtual reality travels, Rufus and Mateo build a deep, emotional and romantic connection that reminds us to always tell people we love them and to make every day count. The title tells us exactly what we’re getting into, but it doesn’t make the ending any less heartbreaking. 

One Last Stop by Casey McQuiston 

A meet-cute on public transportation is pretty much the most classic, ideal love story. For August, a cynical 23-year-old woman, New York City seems like the perfect place to confirm her beliefs that the world is just not a romantic place. But like a scene from a movie, August begins to fall for punk rock Jane on the subway during her commute. Turns out, though, that Jane is from the 1970s, having been displaced in time. August sets off to rescue Jane, while gaining insight into the queer culture of New York City in the 70s and trying to make subway dates fun. Full of pop culture references, witty characters, and lots of heart, McQuiston’s sophomore novel is an absolute delight. 

The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid 

Being in the public eye and scrutinized at every turn makes it a challenge to be true to oneself. For Evelyn Hugo, the bombshell Old Hollywood actress, she kept up the false narrative of a maneater to keep her and her true love, Cecilia, a secret from tabloids. Finally ready to tell her story, she recruits unknown journalist Monique Grant to tackle the tale and reveal her authentic self. Is the price of fame worth it when Evelyn couldn’t step on the red carpet with her partner, instead having to attach herself to men she didn’t always love? Reid wrote a beautifully intricate story that sucks you in, unable to put the book down until you finally find out just how it all fits together. 

Some other LGBTQ+ novels to check out are:  

You Exist Too Much by Zaina Arafat 

Giovanni’s Room by James Baldwin 

Patsy by Nicole Dennis-Benn 

Less by Andrew Sean Greer 

The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller 

The Color Purple by Alice Walker 

-Linnea

Do The Time Warp Again

A Rip Through Time
by Kelley Armstrong

It’s May 20, 2019 and Vancouver homicide detective Mallory Atkinson is in Edinburgh, Scotland visiting her dying grandmother. To let off some steam, Mallory goes for a run and comes across what appears to be a woman in period costume being strangled. Mallory attempts to intervene and is strangled and left unconscious.

When Mallory wakes up, she’s not herself, both figuratively and literally. Instead, she finds herself in the body of a young housemaid, Catriona Mitchell, who was also attacked and left for dead in the exact spot Mallory was, on the very same day – 150 years earlier, in 1869!

Mallory cannot reason why she’s become a stranger in a strange body in a strange time, but quickly realizes that if she wants to survive (and not end up in an insane asylum), she’ll have to keep her origin story to herself and learn what it takes to be a housemaid in Victorian Scotland. Lucky for Mallory, her “new’ employer, Dr. Duncan Gray, is the local undertaker who assists Edinburgh Police Detective McCreadie solve crimes. When Mallory learns that the two men are investigating the strangulation of a man, an attack like the one made on Mallory’s life, she pins her hopes that helping to catch the murderer will lead her back to modern times.

Playing the role of Catriona along the way, however, who is more street-savvy thief than young, timid maid, might be tougher than Mallory suspects. And if Mallory is in 1869 making a mess out of Catriona’s life, what ever could Catriona be up to in Mallory’s life in 2019?

If you like mysteries, time travel stories, engaging characters, and historical fiction, you won’t want to miss A Rip Through Time by Kelley Armstrong. My only complaint about this first in a new series is that I will have to wait for the sequel. It almost makes me wish that time travel were truly possible.  

-Carol

Listen With Pride

June is both Pride Month and Audiobook Month. Let’s get you listening to some fabulous stories starring LGBTQ characters!

A few of my favorite Fiction Titles-an exciting space opera, a whirlwind romance, a heartwarming fantasy, and a charming tale of family and grief.

Check out these nonfiction titles, a mixed bag of humor and heartbreak.

New Books Tuesday @ RRPL

Here we have some new exciting releases for you to take a look at this week!

AN HONEST LIE by Tarryn Fisher – A girls’ weekend in Las Vegas takes a violent, desperate turn when one of the group is kidnapped by a killer, leaving the rest to piece together the diabolical clues he leaves behind for them.

I’LL BE YOU by Janelle Brown – An identical twin and former child TV star reassesses the complicated bond with her estranged sister after their panicked father says she stopped answering her phone and has checked into a mysterious spa in Ojai that might be a cult.

THE BAXTERS: A Prequel by Karen Kingsbury – On Kari Baxter’s wedding day, a building storm brings conflict and doubt to the family until a moment of danger reveals important truths, which could bring them back together or tear them apart.

CITY ON FIRE by Don Winslow – A mid-1980s longshoreman who does occasional stints for the Irish crime syndicate becomes embroiled in a conflict between rival factions in the first book of a new series from the New York Times best-selling author of The Force.

THE GOOD LEFT UNDONE by Adriana Trigiani – This richly woven tapestry of three generations of women faced with impossible choices follows Matelda, the family’s matriarch, as she, facing the end of her life, must decide what is worth fighting for and when to let go.

THE PALACE PAPERS: Inside the House of Windsor – The Truth and the Turmoil by Tina Brown – The #1 New York Times best-selling author of The Diana Chronicles takes readers inside the British royal family since the death of Princess Diana, showing the Queen’s stoic resolve as family drama raged around her.

COUNTRY BORN  by Linda Lael Miller – Discovering that he’s falling for his best friend’s sister, J.P. McCall decides to do whatever it takes to protect her after someone from her past returns to Painted Pony Creek in the third novel of the series following Country Proud.

UNMASKED: My Life Solving America’s Cold Cases by Paul Holes – An icon in the true crime world, the cold case investigator who finally caught the Golden State Killer provides an insider account of some the most notorious cases in contemporary American history and opens up to the most intimate scenes of his life.

THE WRONG VICTIM by Allison Brennan – When a charter boat holding nine people explodes near the San Juan Islands, FBI Special Agent in Charge Matt Costa and his Mobile Response Team must discover which one of the dead was the target—and who committed the largest act of murder in San Juan Islands history.

LITTLE SOULS by Sandra Dallas – In 1918 Colorado, as the Spanish Influenza runs rampant, sisters Helen and Lutie, after their tenant dies, must care for her daughter, which leads to murder, placing them both in danger from the ensuing investigation and the flu.

~Semanur

What we’re reading now, spring edition…

This is How You Lose the Time War by Amal El-Mohtar and Max Gladstone

Two soldiers on opposing sides of a war throughout time begin to fall in love via the letters they exchange. While it’s a short read, the book is dense with meaning and subtext, and readers will enjoy the romance and intrigue of this intergalactic Romeo and Juliet story. Shannon

Black Cloud Rising by David Wright Faladé

Tells the story of the African Brigade, a unit of former slaves tasked with rooting out pockets of Confederate guerilla fighters in the Tidewater region of Virginia and in North Carolina’s Outer Banks through the eyes of formerly enslaved Sergeant Richard Etheridge of the African Brigade. Dori

The Diamond Eye by Kate Quinn

It’s 1937 when Mila Pavlichenko a young history student, mother, and sharpshooter joins the Russian army. Her rifle skills are soon apparent and she becomes a sniper. She rises through the ranks and is put in charge of a platoon. Her job is to train others and to kill Nazis. Mila is very successful at her job. Americans are very curious about this lady sniper when she comes to Washington D.C.  as a guest of the White House. Is she for real? Emma

A Night at the Sweet Gum Head by Marty Padgett

A deep look at 1970’s gay Atlanta through the lens of the Drag scene, political activists, and the bars that brought them all together. Deeply researched and well written, this non-fiction gives detailed insight into how a community of people who just wanted to live their lives had to become leaders and inspiration in order to exist. Christine

Ring Shout by P. Djèlí Clark

Set in 1920’s Georgia, this vivid horror story asks the question: What if the Klu Klux Klan was led by actual demons? Stray dog eating, multi-eyed, otherworldly demons. Three Black female demon hunters, led by Maryse, who gets her guidance from ethereal Gullah Aunties, must destroy the Klu Kluxes to stop the spread of White Supremacy. A beautiful and gory blend of historic events with a horror twist. Christine

Goodnight, Beautiful by Aimee Molloy

A thriller that does not hide the inspiration it takes from King’s Misery. As a newlywed couple tries to put down roots in a small town, tragedy strikes when the husband comes up missing and his wife has to beg the authorities to care all while it becomes more and more apparent that he has been lying to her this whole time. As he fights for his life through the only way he knows how, his wife has to reconcile the man she loves with the man she has uncovered. Christine

The Sentence by Louise Erdrich

A touchingly funny book about a small bookstore in Minnesota run by a group of Native American women during the pandemic, and the community of unusual, crazy, genuine people whose lives are touched by this place and by each other.  It’s one of those books where you truly fall in love with the characters and more than anything, want them to find peace and happiness in their lives.  Sara

Review of Siren Queen by Nghi Vo

Cover of Siren Queen by Nghi Vo. Image is a link to the RRPL catalog.

Hollywood is said to be a magical place where anything can happen. Lucky nobodies can be discovered on the street and catapulted into stardom, while someone who bags your groceries one day might be lighting up the silver screen the next. In Nghi Vo’s newest outing Siren Queen, Golden Age Hollywood really is a fairy tale, but the kind that runs on magic, sacrifices, and demons controlling the big studios. The lucky few actors who become stars rise up to become immortal beings in the sky, while anyone who fails becomes fuel for the movie machine. Luli Wei yearns to see her name in lights, but she is a poor Chinese American girl who refuses to be what the studio wants: the maid character, a bit part, or a racist caricature. Instead, her only path forward to stardom and immortality is to embrace the monster inside her. With luck, courage, and conviction, Luli may achieve the stardom that she so desperately desires.

Vo’s protagonists often rail against sexism and racism in their respective societies, and Luli is no different. Since she is not a white heterosexual man, she fights against the societal and magical forces that would keep her from being a star or relegating her to only bit parts. Readers looking for nuanced lesbian romance will enjoy the different relationships with Luli’s various partners over the course of the novel. As always with Vo’s books, readers must pay attention and read between the lines; the world of Siren Queen is mystical, complicated, and very little is explained about the world or the magic system. Vo takes you along for the ride and you are expected to follow along or be swept under, much like Luli Wei in the world of Hollywood. This is another strong novel from Vo about an admirable, complicated woman learning to embrace who she is, whether that is a monster or a movie star (or both!).

Release date: May 10, 2022

Thanks to Netgalley for the ARC!

I Read YA: The Initial Insult by Mindy McGinnis

Tress Montor had status in Amontillado, Ohio until her prominent parents vanished without a trace while driving her then best friend, Felicity Turnado, home one night seven years ago. After being orphaned Tress went to live with her grandfather at his wildlife attraction, known by the locals as the “White Trash Zoo”. Tress’s fall from grace was swift and her friendship with Felicity was over. Tress could not accept Felicity’s claim that she had no memory of that fateful night. So Tress does what she needs to in order to get by and she stews and plots until she has the perfect plan to get Felicity to talk. At a Halloween party in an abandoned house Tress lures Felicity to the basement, where she begins to bury Felicity alive behind a brick wall that she lays a row at time. Meanwhile, upstairs, the town’s teens suspect nothing. They are falling victim to the flu-like illness that is spreading through Amontillado. Also, a panther from the zoo is on the loose.
Inspired by Edgar Allen Poe’s The Cask of Amontillado, this is another dark and mesmerizing offering from Mindy McGinnis. The second book in the duology, The Last Laugh, is also available.

New and Upcoming Graphic Novels

Spring is in the air, the sun is making it’s slow but triumphant return to Northeast Ohio, and there are great new graphic novels being published! We’ve got some stellar new fiction and non-fiction titles making their way to our graphic novels shelves. Below you’ll find five new graphic novels or soon to be published books that you should add to your to-be-read pile ASAP.

The Me You Love in the Dark by Scottie Young

Writer Skottie Young, author of the fantastic I Hate Fairyland series, and artist Jorge Corona, follow up their critically acclaimed series Middlewest with a haunting new tale. An artist named Ro retreats from the grind of the city to an old house in a small town, hoping to find solace and inspiration—only to realize that the muse she finds within may not be what she expected. Fans of Stephen King and Neil Gaiman will enjoy this beautiful, dark, and disturbing story of discovery, love, and terror.

Request the print book here or read it on hoopla here.

Fine by Rhea Ewing

For fans of Alison Bechdel’s Fun Home and Meg-John Barker’s Queer, Fine is an essential graphic memoir about the intricacies of gender identity and expression. As Rhea Ewing neared college graduation in 2012, they became consumed by the question: What is gender? This obsession sparked a quest in their quiet Midwest town, where they anxiously approached both friends and strangers for interviews to turn into comics. A decade later, their project has exploded into a fantastical and informative portrait of a surprisingly vast community spread across the country.

Fine won’t be out until April, but you can get on hold for the book now!

Karmen by Guillem March

Spanish writer and artist Guillem March, best known for his work on Batman, Catwoman, and Harley Quinn, takes up his pen for a cutting-edge story about a highly unconventional angel named Karmen and the young woman she takes under her wing when heartbreak strikes too hard. Packed with intriguing twists and metaphysical musings, this gorgeously drawn series brings tenderness, heart, and humor to the delicate and difficult matters of life and death that we all face.

Karmen is set to be published early in May, so keep your eyes peeled for this title.

Crushing by Sophie Burrows

This quiet, wordless book is artist and author Burrows’ graphic-novel debut. A young woman, pale and rosy-cheeked with a straight black bob, lives alone in London—except for her cat. One night she runs down to the local kebab and pizza shop in her pajamas and encounters a young man, pale and freckled with floppy red hair, also wearing pajamas. Unfortunately, they don’t notice each other surreptitiously noticing each other and head their separate ways. The story conveys life as a series of small indignities, slight misses, and minor connections but ends on a hopeful note. The backmatter includes mental health organizations and crisis lines and a note from Burrows referencing inspiration from missed connections columns and pandemic isolation. 

Request a copy of Crushing here.

Policing the City: An Ethno-graphic by Didier Fassin and Frederic Debomy; Translated by Rachel Gomme

Adapted from the landmark essay Enforcing Order, this striking graphic novel offers an accessible inside look at policing and how it leads to discrimination and violence. What we know about the forces of law and order often comes from tragic episodes that make the headlines, or from sensationalized versions for film and television. Around the time of the 2005 French riots, anthropologist and sociologist Didier Fassin spent fifteen months observing up close the daily life of an anticrime squad in one of the largest precincts in the Paris region. This ethno-graphic is chilling in the parallels that can be seen in the struggles of Black people in the United States, exemplified by the murder of George Floyd and the Black Lives Matter movement.

Request a copy of Policing the City here.

Happy reading!