Fresh Transgender and Non-binary Fiction

As readers’ interest in diverse voices and experiences continues to expand, it can be challenging to keep up. Here’s a variety of recent novels and stories that reflect on aspects of transgender and non-binary lives and identities; see our accompanying list for more.

Continue reading “Fresh Transgender and Non-binary Fiction”

Unexpected Embroidery Content

There are times as a reader when you pick up a book and you think you know exactly what you’re getting: this is an historical romance; this is a novel about a family. And you’re right, but you also discover that it is deeply about something else. That was my experience with the two novels below, novels which contained a surprising-to-me amount of high quality embroidery content.

The Lady’s Guide to Celestial Mechanics by Olivia Waite (historical romance)
In the early 1800s Lucy, a scientist and an astronomer, has spent her youth helping her father with his work and publishing work under his name. After his death, she travels to London to apply to the Polite Science Society, a premier scientific organization of the day, and to try her hand at translating a French astronomy text. Turned away by the Society because she’s a woman, Lucy finds refuge with Catherine, a society widow who spent years supporting her explorer husband and is now interested in being Lucy’s patron. There is a lot here about the science of the era and the way it existed as a kind of gentleman’s pursuit; the roles available to women; and, for sure, the love that grows between Lucy and Catherine (this is a romance novel, so expect some steamy sex scenes). But I devoured it because of the detail lavished on Catherine’s hobby: embroidery. She embroiders maps, and botanical motifs, and the night sky on a finely woven scarf! The description of Catherine’s work made me hungry to see the way embroiderers blend colors, how elements of the natural world can be depicted, how craft becomes art. Continue reading “Unexpected Embroidery Content”

Gift Books for Teens (You Only Kinda Know)

Gift books are a “thing”. They can be books that look awesome, box sets to keep readers satisfied, cutting edge content to sharpen their minds, – or some can be pretty, with unique covers or fancy bindings. Not saying that books should be all about looks, but when giving it as a gift this can help. Teens, as parents know, can be hard to shop for and don’t always communicate excellently about what they are enjoying (adults are honestly often just as difficult, but teens still get the bad rep). Here are some picks that will hopefully work for many a teen you need to buy a book for in the coming year!

La Belle SauvageHis Dark Materials series by Phillip Pullman is a well written and excellent fantasy that follows Lira as she navigates a prophecy that brings her far from her home at Oxford and puts everything she knows at risk.  The original series stars with The Golden Compass, a good pick for younger teens. The prequel series starts with the Book of Dust: Volume 1 – La belle sauvage, which works well for teens who have or haven’t read the original, but don’t want to focus on a 12 year old. Both are bigger books with fantastic covers – you can even find a single book that has the original trilogy in one! Continue reading “Gift Books for Teens (You Only Kinda Know)”

New Fiction Roundup, January 2020

Whether reading is part of your New Year’s resolutions, or already a tried-and-true habit, here are some new novels coming out in January 2020 to consider.

1/1: Lost Hills by Lee Goldberg – Recently promoted as the youngest female homicide detective in the history of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, Eve finds herself faced with a crime scene of horrific carnage, but curiously absent of bodies, with just her instinct to go on and a lot of people looking for her to fail.

1/7: The Heap by Sean Adams – In this near-future dystopia, a 500-story building has collapsed, becoming The Heap. Except there’s a survivor, Bernard, somehow broadcasting a radio show from inside the wreckage. Can his brother find him, or will corporate interest prevail?

1/7: Topics of Conversation by Miranda Popkey – This novel about sex, violence, and self-loathing consists of conversations between women over 20 years in the life of an unnamed narrator.

1/14: Cleanness by Garth Greenwell – An American teacher, living in Bulgaria, grapples with the intimate encounters that have marked his time abroad and reflects on a life transformed by the discovery and loss of love.

1/14: Followers by Megan Angelo – Budding novelist Orla and aspiring A-lister Floss come up with a plan to launch themselves using social media; 35 years later, government-appointed celebrities live every moment on camera, and one of them discovers a buried connection to Orla and Floss. Continue reading “New Fiction Roundup, January 2020”

Bus Reads for December

Commuting to Seattle by bus five days a week gives me a lot of reading time. Here’s what I read on the bus in December:

37796866. sy475 Vox by Christina Dalcher. A read-alike for A Handmaids Tale, women of America can no longer hold jobs and are limited to 100 words a day. They are forced to wear a bracelet that will give an electric shock if they break their silence after their word limit. Dr. Jean McClellan was once a cognitive linguist – she watches her daughter endure these limits. An opportunity comes that could make a change not just for her and her family, but all women.29936927

The Best We Could Do by Thi Bui. A story of identity and home – the author tells the story of her family from life in war torn Vietnam to their escape to America. It’s a reminder for a lot of us to not disregard the immigrant story and how our family makes us who we are. Continue reading “Bus Reads for December”