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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Amateur by Thomas Page McBee

In his memoir Amateur, Thomas Page McBee tackles the masculinity crisis and toxic masculinity, drawing from his own experiences as a trans man. McBee's insights complement the works of both Julia Serano and Brené Brown. If you're like me and the thought of reading about boxing makes your eyes glaze over, don't worry - it's honestly not too bad, and he connects it to broader, truly important points. This was so compelling that I listened to the audiobook straight through. Even though I was left feeling grieved at the end, I also had a lot of points to mull over, things I'd never considered before. Amateur is the kind of book that sparks compassion, encourages discussion, and effects change.

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Trans Power by Juno Roche

I haven't read any book on trans experiences quite like this one. TRANS POWER brings up perspectives and conversations that you don't tend to hear very often. The intimacy, the love for people in the community is so powerful I almost feel protective of the words inside. I love how NOT binary this book is. It creates an incredibly affirming, empowering space. Juno says after interviewing Michael, "They always push me to extend my line of thinking beyond my comfort place to a place where it tests the idea." And really, that's what TRANS POWER does for its readers. This is an emotional read that encourages readers to push their intellect beyond simplistic statements of what it means to be trans into deeply nuanced discussions. Best of all, it…

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The City in the Middle of the Night by Charlie Jane Anders

Last year I read Charlie Jane Anders' All the Birds in the Sky, which was an incredible reading experience. I mentioned in my mini-review that I was fully invested in the characters of that book, and felt like I was part of its world. The same holds true for Anders' latest novel, The City of the Middle of the Night. Anders has been called "this generation's Le Guin," and that is spot-on, especially in the way she created the political, economic, and sociocultural aspects of the Argelan, Xiosphant, and Gelet. This novel has that "epic journey" feel you get when you've been with characters through their intense adventures and personal growth. I loved all the layers and nuance. I enjoy…

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Nonbinary by Rajunov/Duane

In Nonbinary: Memoirs of Gender and Identity, 30 authors share how their experiences are shaped by the deeply entrenched gender binary of our society. I have so many post-it flags marking my favorite points and memorable quotes, I'm not sure where to start. So let me list my top three favorite essays in the collection: - "Token Act" by Sand C. Chang, about being a token among liberal/progressive allies - "Lowercase Q" by Cal Sparrow, about not feeling sure where you belong, no label feeling quite right, yet continuing the journey because it's part of the process - "An Outsider in My Own Landscape" by S.E. Smith, a thoughtfully expressed middle finger to how society relentlessly labels people instead of…

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Real Queer America by Samantha Allen

Samantha Allen's book Real Queer America is an inspiring, optimistic, heartfelt letter to fellow queer folks living in red states in the United States. But it's also incredibly informative (and gently corrective) to cishet liberals living in blue states. You know, the people who tend to look down from their high horse, putting us on their personal "no travel" lists, making assumptions about what life is like in conservative areas of the country. Allen's book offers a more realistic perspective on queer life in Red State America than the media prefers to show (and for that matter, a more honest perspective on life in blue and swing states, too). She shows us how these places and the people in them are…

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Lord of the Butterflies by Andrea Gibson

I read Andrea Gibson for the first time back in June, and once again, I'm in love with their poetry. Lord of the Butterflies is described in the About the Author section as "a book of protests, panic attacks, and pride parades. These poems riot against gun violence, homophobia, and white supremacy, while jubilating gender expansion, queer love, and the will to stay alive." It also says Gibson is "known for pulling hearts out of chests to either wrench or kiss". Yes, hundred times over, yes. I'm quoting because I honestly couldn't sum it up any better than that. Some of these poems make you want to stop reading and go share them with a friend, now. Others feel like private…

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So You Want to be a Robot by A. Merc Rustad

A. Merc Rustad's So You Want to be a Robot is full of heart with its devastatingly beautiful speculative sci-fi/fantasy stories. I wanted to simultaneously laugh with delight and also...just have a good cry. These stories are all unique, so there was no slump due to homogeneity as you sometimes find in short story collections. Starting each story was like opening a gift, because I never knew what I was going to find. But I always had a feeling it was going to be amazing and unlike anything I'd previously read. The #ownvoices rep here (queer, ace/aro, ASD) really shines. It's full of the kind of love, care, and joy (even when the stories are dark) that simply cannot be…

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Invasions by Calvin Gimpelevich

Thanks to Calvin Gimpelevich, I can now say goodbye to a two-month reading slump where I couldn't focus on reading one darn thing. Short stories?! Speculative fiction?! Trans #ownvoices?! Yes, please! The most impressive thing to me about Invasions was how different each story was, in mood, style, premise, everything. So this book never dragged, not even once. It was like opening a bunch of small, delightful presents. What every story did share, though, was a whole lot of heart. These characters are going to stay with me for a while. Fantastic collection. .. Source: Thanks to Instar Books for reaching out to me and offering up a review copy, and to Casey Plett for letting them know this would…

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