Tag: diverse books

Highlighting Novels from Transgender and Nonbinary Authors

When you’re reading a novel, you don’t often think of the experience of the person behind the words. What is their heritage? What experiences have molded their lives, and therefore their work? How much of them is sprinkled into their characters?

The particular experience we’ll be highlighting today is that of non-binary and transgender authors. Sometimes, the life of these individuals is chalked up to not having the bathroom that matches their under identity, but the real numbers are much more grim. Data and statistics from the Human Right’s Campaign on the trans experience revealed 29% of trans adults living in poverty, and nearly 50% not going to large events like voting because of fear of prejudice. And in today’s world, this means avoiding getting vaccines, since the name on the card may be the person’s dead name—putting them directly in the line of fire for bias.

That being said, it’s important to showcase the authors of this demographic who have been published in fiction, as pushing past all of these biases is a feat in itself.

 

 

  1. Felix Ever After by Kacen Callender (NONBINARY AUTHOR)

    IMAGE VIA AMAZON

Felix Love has never been in love—and, yes, he’s painfully aware of the irony. He desperately wants to know what it’s like and why it seems so easy for everyone but him to find someone. What’s worse is that, even though he is proud of his identity, Felix also secretly fears that he’s one marginalization too many—Black, queer, and transgender—to ever get his own happily-ever-after.

When an anonymous student begins sending him transphobic messages—after publicly posting Felix’s deadname alongside images of him before he transitioned—Felix comes up with a plan for revenge. What he didn’t count on: his catfish scenario landing him in a quasi–love triangle….

But as he navigates his complicated feelings, Felix begins a journey of questioning and self-discovery that helps redefine his most important relationship: how he feels about himself.

 

2. THE BLACK TIDES OF HEAVEN by NEON YANG (NONBINARY AUTHOR)

IMAGE VIA AMAZON

Mokoya and Akeha, the twin children of the Protector, were sold to the Grand Monastery as infants. While Mokoya developed her strange prophetic gift, Akeha was always the one who could see the strings that moved adults to action. While Mokoya received visions of what would be, Akeha realized what could be. What’s more, they saw the sickness at the heart of their mother’s Protectorate.

A rebellion is growing. The Machinists discover new levers to move the world every day, while the Tensors fight to put them down and preserve the power of the state. Unwilling to continue as a pawn in their mother’s twisted schemes, Akeha leaves the Tensorate behind and falls in with the rebels. But every step Akeha takes towards the Machinists is a step away from Mokoya. Can Akeha find peace without shattering the bond they share with their twin?

 

3. DOCILE by K.M. SPARZA (TRANSGENDER AUTHOR)

IMAGE VIA AMAZON

To be a Docile is to be kept, body and soul, for the uses of the owner of your contract. To be a Docile is to forget, to disappear, to hide inside your body from the horrors of your service. To be a Docile is to sell yourself to pay your parents’ debts and buy your children’s future.

Elisha Wilder’s family has been ruined by debt, handed down to them from previous generations. His mother never recovered from the Dociline she took during her term as a Docile, so when Elisha decides to try and erase the family’s debt himself, he swears he will never take the drug that took his mother from him.

Too bad his contract has been purchased by Alexander Bishop III, whose ultra-rich family is the brains (and money) behind Dociline and the entire Office of Debt Resolution. When Elisha refuses Dociline, Alex refuses to believe that his family’s crowning achievement could have any negative side effects—and is determined to turn Elisha into the perfect Docile without it.

Content warning: Docile contains forthright depictions and discussions of rape and sexual abuse.

 

 

4. EMPIRE OF LIGHT BY ALEX HARROW (NONBINARY AUTHOR)

IMAGE VIA AMAZON

Damian Nettoyer is the Empire’s go-to gun. He kills whoever they want him to kill. In exchange, he and his rag-tag gang of crooks get to live, and Damian’s psychokinetic partner and lover, Aris, isn’t issued a one-way ticket to an Empire-sanctioned lobotomy.

Then Damian’s latest mark, a suave revolutionary named Raeyn, kicks his ass and demands his help. The first item on the new agenda: take out Damian’s old boss—or Raeyn will take out Damian’s crew.

To protect his friends and save his own skin, Damian teams up with Raeyn to make his revolution work. As Aris slips away from Damian and his control over his powers crumbles, the Watch catches on. Damian gets way too close to Raeyn, torn between the need to shoot him one minute and kiss him the next.

With the Empire, Damian had two policies: shoot first and don’t ask questions. But to save the guy he loves, he’ll set the world on fire.

 

5. LITTLE FISH BY CASEY PLETT (TRANSGENDER AUTHOR)

IMAGE VIA AMAZON

When thirty-year-old trans woman Wendy Reimer comes across evidence that her late grandfather—a devout Mennonite farmer—might have been transgender himself, she dismisses this revelation, having other problems at hand. But as she and her friends struggle to cope with their increasingly volatile lives—which range from alcoholism, to sex work, to suicide—Wendy grows increasingly drawn to the lost pieces of her grandfather’s life, becoming determined to unravel the mystery of his truth.

 

6. MAGIC FOR LIARS BY SARAH GAILEY (NONBINARY AUTHOR)

IMAGE VIA AMAZON

Ivy Gamble was born without magic and never wanted it. Ivy Gamble is perfectly happy with her life – or at least, she’s perfectly fine. She doesn’t in any way wish she was like Tabitha, her estranged, gifted twin sister. Ivy Gamble is a liar.

When a gruesome murder is discovered at The Osthorne Academy of Young Mages, where her estranged twin sister teaches Theoretical Magic, reluctant detective Ivy Gamble is pulled into the world of untold power and dangerous secrets. She will have to find a murderer and reclaim her sister—without losing herself.

 

7. THE DEATH OF VIVEK OJI by akwaeke emezi (NONBINARY AUTHOR)

Image via She Reads

One afternoon, in a town in southeastern Nigeria, a mother opens her front door to discover her son’s body, wrapped in colorful fabric, at her feet. What follows is the tumultuous, heart-wrenching story of one family’s struggle to understand a child whose spirit is both gentle and mysterious. Raised by a distant father and an understanding but overprotective mother, Vivek suffers disorienting blackouts, moments of disconnection between self and surroundings. As adolescence gives way to adulthood, Vivek finds solace in friendships with the warm, boisterous daughters of the Nigerwives, foreign-born women married to Nigerian men. But Vivek’s closest bond is with Osita, the worldly, high-spirited cousin whose teasing confidence masks a guarded private life. As their relationship deepens—and Osita struggles to understand Vivek’s escalating crisis—the mystery gives way to a heart-stopping act of violence in a moment of exhilarating freedom.

 

8. ALL THE BIRDS IN THE SKY BY CHARLIE JANE ANDERS (TRANSGENDER AUTHOR)

IMAGE VIA AMAZON

An ancient society of witches and a hipster technological startup go to war in order to prevent the world from tearing itself apart. To further complicate things, each of the groups’ most promising followers (Patricia, a brilliant witch and Laurence, an engineering “wunderkind”) may just be in love with each other.

As the battle between magic and science wages in San Francisco against the backdrop of international chaos, Laurence and Patricia are forced to choose sides. But their choices will determine the fate of the planet and all mankind.

9. CEMETERY BOYS by AIDEN THOMAS (NONBINARY AUTHOR)

IMAGE VIA AMAZON

When his traditional Latinx family has problems accepting his true gender, Yadriel becomes determined to prove himself a real brujo. With the help of his cousin and best friend Maritza, he performs the ritual himself, and then sets out to find the ghost of his murdered cousin and set it free.

However, the ghost he summons is actually Julian Diaz, the school’s resident bad boy, and Julian is not about to go quietly into death. He’s determined to find out what happened and tie off some loose ends before he leaves. Left with no choice, Yadriel agrees to help Julian, so that they can both get what they want. But the longer Yadriel spends with Julian, the less he wants to let him leave.

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In Conversation With: Silvia Moreno-Garcia

Bookstr got to interview Silvia Moreno-Garcia, bestselling author of 'Mexican Gothic', to talk about her books, writing, and representation in publishing. 

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Pure Gold: Jonathan Van Ness’ Children’s Book Debut

Jonathan Van Ness, the author of Over the Top and star of Queer Eye, has stepped out of his comfort zone. Bringing his signature humor and positivity, Van Ness has written a Children’s Book to inspire kids to celebrate everything that makes them special.

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Looking back on his childhood, Van Ness never understood why he was more over the top than the rest of the children. It came to a point when he realized that there was little to no solace in books to make him feel as though his uniqueness was what made him special. This inspired Van Ness to write a book of his own that focused on a gender-neutral character in the form of a guinea pig.

 

Peanut Goes for the Gold is a heartfelt picture book that shows the uniqueness of a gender nonbinary guinea pig named Peanut. Peanut never fails to show their uniqueness. As the blurb states, “Whether it’s cartwheeling during basketball practice or cutting their own hair, this little guinea pig puts their own special twist on life.” By using gender-neutral pronouns, Van Ness gives room for children to insert themselves into the story in ways that they wouldn’t normally be able to.

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Image Via Amazon

Although Peanut can love themselves at such a young age, it wasn’t as easy for Van Ness to do the same. In his book, Over the Top, Van Ness shares his experiences with being different from other children. Growing up in a small Midwestern town, his unique personality caused “years of judgment, ridicule and trauma.”

 

Over the Top gives permission for Van Ness to share a side of himself that others haven’t seen. By sharing the pain and passion he felt at such a young age, it made headway for many to gain more insight into the whole Jonathan.

Through the good and the bad, Van Ness has been able to rise above and uplift children who may be experiencing the same.

 

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6 Reasons You Should Read Leigh Bardugo’s Six of Crows Duology

After finishing Leigh Bardugo’s Six of Crows duology, it bumped The Lunar Chronicles right out of the top-spot as my favorite book series (sorry Marissa Meyer, but you’re always in my heart). This high-fantasy heist series is a striking read. I can’t get enough of the characters, the narrative, the world. Despite having read it a few years ago, to this day it’s left me with the biggest book-hangover of my life. Here are the top six reasons why you need to read this duology too.

 

 

6. You don’t have to read her first series to understand it

Grisha Trilogy

Image via Goodreads

 

While technically a sequel series to Bardugo’s Grisha Trilogy, you definitely don’t have to be well-versed in the world to dive right into these books. I personally didn’t read any of the original series and was still able to fall head-first into everything Six of Crows had to offer. It’s completely different than the first series with all new characters. And while I’m told there are a few minor cameos by characters from the Grisha Trilogy, this duology works brilliantly as a standalone.

 

5. It doesn’t play into YA fiction tropes

YA love triangle

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Spoiler alert: there are no lost princesses in this duology! No love triangles, no “I’m not like other girls” girls, and absolutely no Chosen Ones. Even though this is a fantasy novel (and a high fantasy one at that), it strays greatly from the YA conventions of the fantasy genre. With those elements gone, it makes way for a truly unpredictable narrative. With the absence of these stylistic tropes, this series makes way for different aspects of YA to be explored. Not to mention without the comforting predictability of the high fantasy story structure, you’re constantly on your toes while you’re reading.

 

 

4. It delves into real-world issues

 

World Vs. Money

Image via Investopedia

 

Ketterdam is where the duology is primarily set and it’s a nation that is so dedicated to capitalism that it’s a religion to them. Bardugo uses these books to explore the dangers of a country that values money above all else. As a consequence of this world, we see characters as members of gangs, having to be prostitutes, and being plagued by illness and addiction. Bardugo paints a grimy world—one that requires her teenage-aged protagonists to grow up faster than most and she writes the psyche of each character so incredibly well.

 

3. The writing is extraordinary

 

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Bardugo’s one of those authors whose writing just hits you. She balances the serious with the loving and the heartbreaking. And despite how grim the subject matter might seem, the duology still manages to be uplifting, relatable and hilarious. Not to mention quotable as hell. Careful, though. You might end up with a Six of Crows quote as your Twitter bio.

 

 

2. The diversity is on point

 

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Image via We Heart It

 

Much needed discussions in the YA community about diversity are finally being had. And as a tough critic on the lack of book characters of color and how they’re treated when they are there, I can actually give these series a stamp of approval. Not only are the characters racially diverse, but Bardugo is also inclusive in other ways. There’s a character that is plus sized, characters with both physical and mental disabilities, and LGBT+ representation. And when I say LGBT+ representation, I don’t just mean That One Gay Character in the main friend group and his under-developed boyfriend. I’m talking MULTIPLE queer characters of varying identities that are fleshed out. Not only is this diversity baked into the narrative, but it’s also not tokenized or stereotyped. Bardugo strikes a nice balance between writing her diversity so obscurely that nobody knows they are until she retroactively tells us in interviews (looking at you J.K. Rowling) and making that diversity the sole trait of those characters. She’s able to write diverse characters as people and that’s what we want when we ask for representation.

 

1. It’s going to be a TV series

 

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Image via Vox

 

This is your chance to be the “I saw it first” friend. As of January of this year, Netflix has ordered an eight episode series of Shadow & Bone and Six of Crows. While there’s no details on how yet, the show will be combining both of Bardugo’s book series to make the show. Get a jump on the narrative by reading the Six of Crows duology. Not only will you be ahead of the curve for what is sure to be a highly talked about adaptation, but it’ll also be fun watching the world and character you know come to life onscreen.

 

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