Mini Reviews: Transathon Wrap-Up

All of July was Transathon, hosted by Ocean over on Twitter. This event was about reading and enjoying books by transgender and non-binary authors. I do this year-round, but it was the perfect opportunity to focus solely on my huge list of books by not-cis authors I've been meaning to get to. I ended up reading a total of 9 books for Transathon! I've already posted about Homesick by Nino Cipri (review here) and Gender Queer by Maia Kobabe (review here), but here are mini reviews for the 7 other titles I read during this event: Something That May Shock and Discredit You by Daniel Lavery A memoir rooted in faith, literary classics, pop culture, and the author's experiences being…

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Homesick by Nino Cipri

I love speculative, fabulist fiction, and Nino Cipri's short story collection Homesick delivered. The formats of some of these stories were so creative. "Which Super Little Dead Girl Are You" is written as a quiz. "Dead Air" is an epistolary short story, using recordings, and whoa was it ever creepy! In "Before We Disperse Likestar Stuff," speculative elements served as a backdrop to give us a taste of Cipri's talent for writing character-driven stories. Homesick put me in awe of the breadth of their imagination. I really enjoyed this collection, just as much as I loved their novel Finna.

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The Lightest Object in the Universe by Kimi Eisele

Published by Algonquin Books, The Lightest Object in the Universe by Kimi Eisele is now out in paperback. Check out that stunning cover! I'm a sucker for bokeh against a mostly-monochrome background like this. So pretty. . If you're looking for post-apocalyptic fiction with an optimistic, hopeful take, where there is good within all of the chaos, where the focus is on how we rebuild and the connections we make with others, this just might be the book for you. See what others had to say about this title: . "The Lightest Object in the Universe is a hopeful, heartbreaking post-apocalyptic novel set in a world where half the population has been killed by a widespread flu and electricity and…

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The Scent Keeper by Erica Bauermeister

I read Erica Bauermeister's The Scent Keeper for a book club discussion. There was a lot I loved about this book, especially early on: how magical things seemed when Emmeline was viewing things as a child, and how that gently shifted as she matured; the mystery of why she and her father were on this island, and how she didn't know anything about the rest of the world; the way scent can trigger memories and feelings. The book fizzled out in the last third, though. What had felt like hints of magical realism didn't carry that same intrigue. There was more telling than showing, characters started to become flat and one-dimensional, and things wrapped up far too quickly and neatly,…

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The Inexplicable Grey Space We Call Love by Chuck Augello

I love people stories, I love fabulist fiction, and Chuck Augello's collection The Inexplicable Grey Space We Call Love is an interesting mix of both. These stories explore the human condition, especially grief and fear, through a hint of bizarre. The way I was left hanging on "The Prerogatives of Magic" was infuriatingly satisfying. "In Two" ripped my heart out. I'd normally race through an under-200-pages book like this. But I found myself reading through it slowly, wanting to savor each story before moving on. Every story in this collection is a gem. Consider this a must-read.

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$50,000 by Andrew Weatherhead

Anyone who's experienced existential dread or a feeling of ennui will relate to this long poem. To be honest, I don't always do well with poetry. I often feel like I'm not really getting it, or like it's just trying to show off how smart it is. But Weatherhead's prose isn't stuffy like that. It hit me in a raw, real (and at the same time, surreal), down-to-earth way. Beautifully written.

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What Shines From It by Sara Rauch

There are 11 short stories in Sara Rauch's collection What Shines From It, and overall this was a solid "it was good, I liked it" read for me. The first five and the final stories really wowed me, but the ones in between didn't have the same impact. I found my mind wandering as I read. Sara Rauch has a knack for telling people stories, though, getting to the heart of what motivates and moves her characters and how they interact with each other. Her writing flows easily and is filled with warmth, even when exploring darker themes. If you love character-driven short stories, be sure to check out this book.

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Pet by Akwaeke Emezi

The town of Lucille is essentially a utopia. Its older citizens have done some hard, difficult work. Justice is restorative, not punitive. There's a deep sense of community, of caring for each other as if they're all family, of getting to the root of problems and working them out. The community emphasizes free access to knowledge and the importance of public spaces like libraries. But Lucille is also a reminder that when we think we've figured things out, we must stay vigilant; complacency makes us unable and/or unwilling to acknowledge that injustices continue to occur. The characters in Pet are wonderfully diverse without their diversity being a plot point. And Jam and Redemption's friendship is the most loving, beautifully written…

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Finna by Nino Cipri

FINNA is a fun, anti-capitalist, wonderfully queer, light sci-fi adventure novella and I'm all about it. It's like NBC's Superstore meets Grady Hendrix's Horrorstör, but FINNA has its own unique style. You've got wormholes and multiverses, danger and discovery, humor and heart. I would have been thrilled to read a slightly longer book that fleshed out the characters a little bit more, but this shorter format worked great, too. I raced through this book right along with Jules and Ava, and I'm rushing off to read Nino Cipri's short story collection Homesick ASAP.

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Meg, Jo, Beth, and Amy by Rey Terciero and Bre Indigo

Confession: I'm really not fond of Alcott's Little Women. But Meg, Jo, Beth, and Amy is a contemporary retelling, in graphic novel format, and it removed a lot of the reasons I couldn't make it past the halfway mark of the original story. Sometimes the girls' letters to their dad felt clunky, more like an info dump than realistic letters from his children. (This didn't bother my 10-year-old at all, though. She said she enjoyed the letters.) The Women's March illustration at the end included some trans-exclusive imagery, which was especially disappointing considering how diverse and inclusive the book otherwise was. But overall, I enjoyed this retelling. The characters are facing situations and issues that kids today can relate to,…

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