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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Gender Queer by Maia Kobabe

Gender Queer is a graphic memoir that follows the author as e questions eir gender and sexual identities (nonbinary and asexual). It's important to remember this is one individual's story, but its greatest strength is how Kobabe differentiates between cis people who resist gender expectations and how a person comes to understand they are nonbinary. There were a couple spots that I recognized as normal parts of this journey, but I wish these moments were fleshed out a bit more. My fear is that cis readers who don't have the knowledge to fill in the blanks might miss the overall point and be tempted to medicalize gender identity. Kobabe is very open about the many questions e had along the…

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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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Native: Identity, Belonging, and Rediscovering God by Kaitlin Curtice

In Native: Identity, Belonging, and Rediscovering God, Kaitlin Curtice shares how she learned she couldn't get to know God while denying her Potawatomi identity. She takes us through her process of grappling with what it means to be a Potawatomi woman who belongs to a colonizing religion that all too often upholds and perpetuates white supremacy. She makes a clear, passionate, loving argument for why decolonization must be a top priority for the church, and how decolonization is a gift for everyone, not just the oppressed. "I grew up in a church culture that rewarded people pleasing, that punished those who ask too many questions, that pushed out those who seemed too angry or grieved too long." I love how she…

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Finna: Poems by Nate Marshall

I don't feel I could possibly have the words to do justice to Nate Marshall's collection of poem, Finna. The cadences are exquisite; they sound like music in my mind. There's tension and release, perfectly placed pauses in between rushes of words. As I was reading, I was reminded of how AAVE is policed, suppressed, censored, and even mocked outside of its community. Nate Marshall hands it to readers in all its stunning glory, exploring the lives, survival, and culture of Black Americans. I hesitate to say these poems are social commentary, even though they certainly are, because that phrase feels reductive, as if this is some philosophical exercise by someone outside the experience, which of course isn't the case.…

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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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Non-Binary Lives edited by Jos Twist, Ben Vincent, Meg-John Barker, and Kat Gupta

Non-Binary Lives is a diverse collection of personal narratives that encompasses a huge variety of perspectives, reminding readers that there are endless ways to be non-binary. There are so many identities and intersections in this book: age (including coming out at different ages), health, neurodiversity, sexuality, body size, family size (including pregnancy and parenthood), gender identity, gender assigned at birth, race, nationality, class, faith. I especially loved Fred Langridge's essay "Non-Binary Experience in a Liberal Faith Community," about being a member of the Quaker community. And Lucy/Luc Nicholas's essay "Am I Allowed To Be Non-Binary, Too?" hit me right in the gut. Cis readers will learn a great deal from this collection. There are some surprising perspectives in here, and…

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Good Boy by Jennifer Finney Boylan

It's no secret that I love Jennifer Finney Boylan's writing, fiction and nonfiction alike. Her phrasing is beautiful and engaging, making it oh-so-difficult to put down her books. I read her latest memoir, Good Boy, in less than a day. What a lovely premise, to set up a memoir organized by the dogs in one's life. And Boylan's dogs were chock full of personality! Her descriptions are incredibly vivid, whether she's flipping an omelet or describing Matt the Mutt (I'm still laughing at that dog's antics!) knock down a guacamole-carrying visitor. I could seriously listen to her stories all day long. Anyone with pets knows that the animals in our lives can teach us a great deal about ourselves, and…

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