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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Trans Like Me by CN Lester

THIS, Trans Like Me, is the book I'll be recommending to cis people who aren't ready for something as dense as Julia Serano's Whipping Girl. It's written on a 101 level without speaking down to the reader. I have mixed feelings about its tragic overtone, but overall I feel it's vital: Too many cis people have a tendency to focus on the advances they've seen, and either ignore or just don't get that there continue to be very real, current, everyday struggles that trans and nonbinary people face. Good exploration of critical thinking (they quote Ben Goldacre, so I was thrilled!), checking one's privilege, and listening to and learning from the lived experiences of marginalized people (they refer to and quote…

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Mini Reviews: Recent Favorites by Trans & Nonbinary Authors

All the Birds in the Sky by Charlie Jane Anders This was an incredible reading experience! I loved the writing, I was fully invested in the characters, and I felt like I was part of its world. The blend of the scientific and the magical, sci-fi and fantasy, was super cool. The plot was exciting, but Anders also took the time to flesh out deeper themes such as loneliness. I know others have complained about the ending, but I felt like everything came full circle in a lovely, very satisfying way. . The Merry Spinster: Tales of Everyday Horror by Daniel Mallory Ortberg I read this in one day, pretty much straight through! I couldn't get enough and wish the…

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Little Fish by Casey Plett

After reading Casey Plett's short story collection A Safe Girl to Love, which you can download for free on her website, I knew she'd forever be on my "authors I automatically read" list. I pre-ordered her new novel, Little Fish, so I could read it right away, and it exceeded all my expectations. "Wendy Reimer is a thirty-year-old trans woman who comes across evidence that her late grandfather—a devout Mennonite farmer—might have been transgender himself." This story is perfection. It's honest and raw, with characters (and dialogue!) that are so realistic, I felt like I was right there inside the story. It was like being a silent, unnamed member of this circle of friends. I laughed with these characters, I was angry…

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A Quick & Easy Guide to They/Them Pronouns by Archie Bongiovanni & Tristan Jimerson

This comic guide with a goofy, gently sarcastic sense of humor is all about gender neutral pronouns - how being misgendered feels, why pronouns matter, grammar, and examples of how to use these pronouns in real life. I was so glad the authors encouraged people to try to make their everyday language more inclusive by dropping words like ma'am, sir, guys, ladies, etc. and defaulting to "person" instead of assuming "man" or "woman" when speaking about someone you don't know. I wish the authors had addressed grammar pedants who get in a tizzy about singular they/them. They kind of allude to it when someone says "that just doesn't sound right to me", but this is such a common occurrence. I…

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Long Macchiatos and Monsters by Alison Evans

Did I just read a romance - that I liked? Apparently I did. At this point, I'm pretty certain Alison Evans can write anything and I'll read it. Their writing is so beautiful and natural and honestly, a true pleasure to read. Long Macchiatos and Monsters is #ownvoices with a sweet storyline and interesting main characters; a trans guy and a genderqueer person, both POC with disabilities, who are in that whirlwind "just fell in love" stage. The story is completely outside of heteronormativity and that's both refreshing and wonderful. I'm off to read Ida next! Source: I purchased a copy of this book.

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Lost Boy, Found Boy by Jenn Polish

I'm not really into fantasy, but I couldn't resist giving this retelling of Peter Pan a try. Technology plus a dystopian feel? That sounds more like sci-fi to me, the kind of book I reach for! Polish holds true to many of the original Peter Pan character representations and themes, but I wish it hadn't been quite as obvious as it was. Maybe in a longer work there would have been time to allow the reader to figure it out on their own. This was a fast, page-turner kind of read, but it also bordered on feeling rushed. I would have loved a longer book with more detail and more background. I had a lot of questions about the world…

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Transforming by Austen Hartke

Austen Hartke has an easy, conversational style whether he's inspecting Scripture and its historical and cultural contexts or sharing personal stories. Hartke includes conversations with and the experiences of other trans and nonbinary Christians, which ends up giving the book a truly intersectional lens (and that is vital when discussing about trans issues). Transforming is honest about the ways the church has failed trans and nonbinary folx and the challenges they face. Cisgender readers will gain insight and hopefully, empathy. But Hartke's infectious optimism combined with plenty of positive experiences shared give the book a hopeful, "share the good news!" tone throughout. Source: I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest, unbiased review.

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Margins and Murmurations by Otter Lieffe

Ahhh that moment when a self-published title blows you away! Otter Lieffe's novel Margins and Murmurations was fantastic. It offers diverse queer characters, dystopia, a bit of time travel, and resistance. This novel was super disconcerting because as Lieffe builds this dystopian world for the reader, you realize it has way too many real parallels to our current world. So you get social commentary as a natural part of the world-building. There's a hint of utopia as well: Before the State took control, this society had embraced and been shaped by all kinds of marginalized people. Glimpses of how wonderful that would be gave me hope. Speaking of hope, I have to mention the General (Gus). What an interesting, complex character!…

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