ARC Review of The Electric Kingdom by David Arnold

Disclaimer: I won an ARC through BookishFirst in exchange for a review.

“In the beginning, there was nothing.

Then the world.

Then people, but no art.

Then people made art.

Then people died.

Now there is art, but no people.”

Years after a deadly Fly Flu pandemic*, the Earth as it was is no more. Whole cities of people are gone. There are small pockets of community banding together to make do in a world reshaped by the Fly Flu. 

But now something has happened.18-year-old Nico’s mother has died of a mysterious illness, and now her father is exhibiting the same early symptoms. On Nico’s 18th birthday, her father gives her a task. She must leave for Manchester. On the eighth day, her father will ring the bell on their house’s bell tower a couple hours after sunset to attempt to open some sort of portal that may be the solution to the latent Fly Flu now infecting those who survived. 

David Arnold began his writing career with Mosquitoland, an odyssey of a sort about Mim trying to find her way back to her mother on a bus trip that doesn’t go as planned. He followed that up with Kids of Appetite, where those who do not fit into society forge their own. Next was The Strange Fascinations of Noah Hypnotik which asked the question: what do you do when your life no longer makes any sense?

While The Electric Kingdom is a departure from Arnold’s previous contemporaries, Arnold builds upon the themes of epic journeys, found families, and how to keep on living when your life as it was no longer makes sense. It is a perfect evolution for Arnold as he masterfully weaves together a carefully constructed world with brilliant words. 

The Electric Kingdom is about the journey, about the questions, and about making peace when answers do not come. It is about asking “how can I fight this darkness?” and finding that answer. 

Arnold takes you on a journey in The Electric Kingdom, and it is not one that I will soon forget. 

The Electric Kingdom releases on February 9. 

Preorder here

Add to Goodreads here

*The Fly Flu pandemic is not at all like covid-19. The Fly Flu (which is actually bees) was caused when an attempt to genetically modify honeybees went wrong. The Flies killed off billions of people before the flu struck. Very, very different from Covid-19

Thoughts about Surrender Your Sons by Adam Sass

This isn’t a review so much as it is an essay response to the fantastic book Surrender Your Sons by Adam Sass. 

In June 1977, Dade County, Florida voters voted to repeal the county’s gay rights ordinance after a successful smear campaign by anti-gay activist Anita Bryant. Bryant then took her group, called Save Our Children, to other communities to repeal gay rights laws and to pass oppressive legislation against LGBTQ+ rights. 

In June 1977, Harvey Milk announced his campaign for Board Supervisor in San Francisco. That night, he gave the first version of his Hope speech. He said, “And the young gay people in the Altoona, Pennsylvanias and the Richmond, Minnesotas who are coming out and hear Anita Bryant on television and her story. The only thing they have to look forward to is hope. And you have to give them hope. Hope for a better world, hope for a better tomorrow, hope for a better place to come to if the pressures at home are too great. Hope that all will be all right” (Milk, 1977).

And that’s what Surrender Your Sons is all about. Hope. 

After Connor’s boyfriend pressures him into coming out to his very religious mom, a cold war begins between him and his mom. She confiscates his phone and restricts access to any Internet source. He’s allowed to continue his Meals on Wheels job until his client Ricky Hannigan dies. 

And then his mom gives him back his phone. He immediately senses something is wrong and texts his boyfriend that he thinks she’s going to kick him out. His boyfriend doesn’t answer. And that night, Connor is kidnapped from his bed (with his mom’s permission) and taken to a religious conversion therapy camp on an island off the coast of Costa Rica. 

But Connor is ready to fight like hell. And in doing so, he discovers a decades-old mystery that might be the one to finally take down the camp. 

Although a novel that involves conversion therapy, especially one at a camp that is running off the grid and uses physical punishment and isolation practices, seems like it would be a dark novel, I found it full of light despite the dark moments—or perhaps because of the dark moments. 

Why? Because there’s hope. 

Through Surrender Your Sons, Sass writes a compelling thriller that infuses hope onto every single page. No doubt the circumstances these characters are in are bleak. But it’s so filled with hope. 

We don’t live in a post-homophobic United States. Although some LGBTQ+ persons find immediate acceptance, this is not the reality for everyone. And even with immediate acceptance, there’s still the reality that homophobia exists and sneaks up in unexpected ways at times. Once again, “Save Our Children” trends on Facebook and Twitter. Under the guise of human trafficking and pedophilia, many using the hashtag equate LGBTQ+ individuals to pedophiles in attempts to strip away hard-fought for rights and in attempts to sow hatred against LGBTQ+ individuals. In 2018, 1 in 5 hate crimes reported in the U.S. were related to anti-LGBTQ+ crimes. As of writing, 20 states ban conversion therapy. 30 states still allow it. And in those 20 states that ban it, there are some with religious exemptions; as long as someone isn’t acting as a psychologist, this is allowed in some states such as Utah which has a conversion therapy ban. And as Sass points out, conversion therapy does NOT have to be a formal practice to still be considered conversion therapy.  And it can still be just as psychologically damaging, even when a person does it to themselves.

But yet there’s hope. 

People carve out places where they are accepted and loved for who they are. They experience found families. That doesn’t mean the pain goes away, but there’s still joy. 

And that’s what Surrender Your Sons is all about. Sass says in the author note that the book is not about queer pain; it’s about what queers do with pain. 

It’s about fighting back against those who hate who you are. 

It’s about finding reasons to keep going when those who are supposed to love and fully accept you reject you and harm you instead. 

It’s about finding those who love you for who you are. 

It’s about finally loving yourself for who you are after you were made to hate yourself.

It’s about hope.

References

https://www.historyisaweapon.com/defcon1/milkhopespeech.html 

https://www.lgbtmap.org/equality-maps/conversion_therapy 

https://www.nbcnews.com/feature/nbc-out/nearly-1-5-hate-crimes-motivated-anti-lgbtq-bias-fbi-n1080891 

Resources

https://www.thetrevorproject.org/ 

http://bornperfect.org/ 

https://www.crisistextline.org/

Book/Author Links: 

Add to Goodreads

Buy 

Follow Adam Sass on Twitter

Adam Sass Website

Ziggy, Stardust, & Me: A Historical Perspective

One of my favorite books of 2019 was Ziggy, Stardust, and Me by James Brandon. 

Ziggy takes place in 1973 which was a very historic year in LGBTQ history although most people don’t know about this. I personally didn’t know anything about it until I read Ziggy!! 

I previously did a historical perspectives post about Robin Talley’s Music From Another World, and I enjoyed it so much that I’m doing it again here!! Although Ziggy does have other historical events covered in it, I’m limiting this post to just the LGBTQ history components. 

Jonathan’s uncle and the criminal history of homosexuality

Throughout United States history, homosexuality had been criminalized; in fact, it pre-dates the year that the country was officially established. It wasn’t until 2003 in Lawrence v. Texas that the Supreme Court decided that U.S. laws prohibiting private homosexual activity between consenting adults were unconstitutional. However, several states still had sodomy laws where the language still specifically prohibited homosexual contact between consenting adults. As of September 1, 2019, 15 states still have laws against sexual activity among consenting adults with Kentucky, Kansas, and Texas having laws that specifically target same-sex couples.

Prior to 1962, there were sodomy laws on the book in every single state. Illinois was the first state to remove these laws in 1962 which essentially meant that Illinois was the first state to decriminalize homosexuality. 

Ziggy, Stardust, and Me takes place in Missouri, and Jonathan’s uncle is in jail for homosexual behavior. Missouri officially criminalized homosexual acts until 2006. Yes, 2006. Three years after the Supreme Court ruled that those laws were unconstitutional. 

Homosexuality in the DSM 

The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders is essentially the Bible of Psychiatry. It also constantly goes through revisions as doctors and scientists come to learn more about various mental illnesses. (For example, I have had two diagnoses that are no longer in the DSM due to their most recent revision!) 

At first, homosexuality appeared in the DSM-I under “paraphilia” before revising it to appear under “sexual orientation disturbance” in the DSM-II. DSM-III called it “ego-dystonic homosexuality.” 

Protests against the American Psychiatric Association (APA) began in 1970 when activists disrupted the conference ridiculuing the APA’s decision to still include homosexuality in the DSM. In 1971, Frank Kameny (who actively worked with the Mattachine Society and was fired from his government job for being gay) grabbed the microphone at one conference, decrying psychiatry and declaring a war on the APA. 

A group of closeted gay psychiatrist began working from within the APA to eliminate homosexuality from the DSM, alling themselves the GAYPA. At the 1972 conference, Frank Kameny along with Barbara Gittings (of Daughters of Bilitis) were a part of a panel called “Psychiatry: Friend or Foe to the Homosexual?; A Dialogue”. Gittings specifically looked for a gay psychiarist who would be willing to speak out. She found John Fryer who appeared anonymously wearing a distorted Richard Nixon mask and spoke into a microphone that would distort his voice and called himself Dr. H. Anonymous. He spoke of his experience. (He did not publicly tell who he was until 1994.) A year later, homosexuality was officially removed from the DSM, majorly due to the activists who fought to have it removed. The vice president of the APA at the time acknowledged that psychiatry at the time was prejudiced and was focusing on the more predominant social mores of the culture.  

The propaganda video 

In Jonathan’s health class, he watches a video reel, warning about the dangers of homosexuality. When I first read Ziggy, I naively thought, “there’s no way that’s real.”

But it’s 100% real. 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MmqNiFJyI28

In particular, watching this, it very much plays on the public fear that LGBTQ+ individuals are pedophiles. In the past couple months, I have seen this resurgence of belief from some of my more conservative friends. As I wrote to one, this incorrect belief has been used to actively harm the LGBTQ+ community over the last 50 years as LGBTQ rights have increased. This particular point was used heavily in the Briggs Initiative in California in 1978. Harvey Milk said it far better than I ever will so I would encourage you to read this particular speech: :https://www.onearchives.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/05/1978_harvey_milk_gay_freedom_day_speech.pdf  

Why Ziggy, Stardust, & Me is so important

While I focused on U.S. history here, the reality around the world is bleak for many LGBTQ persons. Homosexuality is still punishable by death in many countries. Homosexuality didn’t get removed from the WHO’s ICD-10 (like the DSM on a global level) until 1990. But in some countries, it’s still considered a mental disorder–in Indonesia, that got added in 2018. And I covered the danger of that propaganda video and how the devices used there are still being used today to try to steer the public opinion against LGBTQ+ people. 

LGBTQ+ rights are always being threatened worldwide, including in the U.S. It’s important that we understand the history to realize that just because rights happen once doesn’t mean that they’re here to stay. (Look at Anita Bryant and the Briggs Initiative)

Ziggy, Stardust, & Me serves as a primer for LGBTQ+ history in a way that is devastatingly enjoyable. Although I’d hope that most readers would end up like me and take the journey into learning more, even if they don’t, James Brandon wrote a magnificent piece that effectively educates while “entertaining” the reader. 

Relevant Links

Add Ziggy, Stardust, & Me to Goodreads

Buy Ziggy, Stardust, & Me

That time I interviewed James Brandon

Note on my research

I used a variety of articles including https://www.thisamericanlife.org/204/81-words. 

I also used The Mayor of Castro Street by Randy Shilts.

 

DRC Review of I Am Here Now by Barbara Bottner

I received a DRC of I Am Here Now by Barbara Bottner from Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review.

I Am Here Now is a novel-in-verse, taking place in 1960-1961. The main character Maisie lives with her parents, but her mom is terribly abusive. She finds friendship with the boy across the way whose father is terribly abusive. As Maisie enters high school, she becomes friend with a girl named Rachel whose mother is an artist. Maisie quickly finds refuge in spending time with Rachel and Rachel’s mother Kiki. However, that refuge always ends as soon as Maisie goes back home.

This book is brutal. The abuse that Maisie experiences is horrific, and her father and her grandmother often ignore how bad it gets at time. Throughout the book, Maisie attempts to find hope through art and through relationships, trying to find something that will love her back when no one else does.

After reading the author’s note, I found out that this is a semi-biographical work of fiction, and because of that, I find it especially hard to critique this as a novel, to separate the author’s own experiences from the work of fiction.

That said, I had two main issues with this book from the fiction standpoint:

-The book is set in 1960-1961. However, unlike some historical fiction works, there is not a great deal of historical world building. Had the book not explicitly told me the time period it was set in, I wouldn’t have known. After reading the author’s note, it makes sense why it was set in this time period: that was the time that the author was a teen. However, as a work of fiction, it was hard to remain in the 1960s throughout this.

-Lack of hope. Although Maisie finds refuge within art, for most of the book, hope is sorely lacking. As a memoir, lack of hope makes sense; after all, depending on how much of this is autobiographical, there likely realistically was not much hope. However, the book summary said the world Maisie catches a glimpse of is full of life, creativity, and love. However, Maisie frequently has issues with Rachel and Kiki as well as the two male relationships in this book. None of the love that she experiences in the book is actual love. From a memoir perspective, again, this makes sense. However, for being a YA fiction work, the lack of hope until the final 50 pages concerned me a great deal.

However, if you like novels-in-verse and can handle tough subject matter, I would still recommend checking this out. While brutal, it is a quicker read, and it will leave you thinking. If you come into it with the lens of “this is semi-autobiographical,” you will have a better experience as a reader.

I Am Here Now releases Tuesday, August 4.

Author Interview with Rob Rufus

Today, I have the honor of interviewing Rob Rufus, author of YA historical fiction novel The Vinyl Underground. 

First, here’s what the book is about:

During the tumultuous year of 1968, four teens are drawn together: Ronnie Bingham, who is grieving his brother’s death in Vietnam; Milo, Ronnie’s bookish best friend; “Ramrod,” a star athlete who is secretly avoiding the draft; and Hana, the new girl, a half-Japanese badass rock-n-roller whose presence doesn’t sit well with their segregated high school.

The four outcasts find sanctuary in “The Vinyl Underground,” a record club where they spin music, joke, debate, and escape the stifling norms of their small southern town. But Ronnie’s eighteenth birthday is looming. Together, they hatch a plan to keep Ronnie from being drafted. But when a horrific act of racial-charged violence rocks the gang to their core, they decide it’s time for an epic act of rebellion.

And here’s a little bit about Rob:

Rob Rufus is an author, musician, and screenwriter. His literary debut, Die Young With Me, received an American Library Association Award and was named one of The Best Books of The Year by Hudson Booksellers. It is currently being developed for the screen. His musical projects, Blacklist Royals/The Bad Signs, have released numerous full-length albums and toured in over a dozen countries.

And here’s the interview!

1.) The Vinyl Underground is your fiction debut after publishing a memoir. Can you talk about your road to publishing?

It was honestly harder to publish a work of fiction than my memoir.  My former publisher didn’t think the protest movement of the 1960s was a “relevant” topic to young readers, which in and of itself is troubling given the current political/social climate.  I was very happy to find the book a home that understood and welcomed hard topics and conversations.

2.) The Vinyl Underground takes place in 1968, one of the most turbulent years of the 20th century. What type of historical research did you do for the book?

It was really important to me to get the details right.  I read a LOT of books, watched a lot of documentaries, read articles and watched news stories from the time to get a sense of how the narratives were discussed without the gift of hindsight.  I also talked to people who participated and lived through the events covered in the book.

3.) There were several years in which the Vietnam War took place. What drove the decision to set the book in 1968?

1968 was one of the most turbulent years in American history.  We almost got out of the war, but then doubled-down in full force.  Martin Luther King was assassinated, and the Democratic Convention sparked one of the most violent sociopolitical protests in American history.  I think I chose 1968 because the country was ready to blow, which felt very familiar.

4.) Your book is filled with rich atmospheric details that makes the book come alive in that time period.  How do you handle historical world building?

I think mainly research, research, research.  It helped that I am very enamored with that time period.  My dad is a Vietnam Vet, but would never talk about his experiences.  So, all of my life I’ve immersed myself in the culture, music, and history of the war to get some sort of understanding of what his life was like.  When it came time to write the book, it was easy for me to close my eyes and see that world come alive.


I absolutely loved The Vinyl Underground, and you can read my review here.

(Disclaimer: I am an affiliate of Bookshop and earn a small amount if you click on that link to buy.)

Blog Tour for Music From Another World by Robin Talley: A Historical Perspective

After having previously read Pulp by Robin Talley (partly historical set in the 1950s), Ziggy, Stardust, & Me by James Brandon (queer historical set in 1973), Annie on My Mind by Nancy Garden (published in 1982), Like a Love Story by Abdi Nazemian (queer historical set in 1989), I eagerly jumped at the chance to read Music From Another World which is set from June 1977 to November 1978. My review for the book can be found here. 

However, I didn’t stop at just reading this book. I was hungry to know more so I decided to read When We Rise by Cleve Jones and The Mayor of Castro Street by Randy Shilts, both of which are mentioned in the acknowledgment sections. I also watched the documentary The Times of Harvey Milk. When the opportunity arose for me to do a post for the blog tour, I decided to do something atypical and talk more about some of the important moments that are included in the book as well as more of what happens after the book ends.

Who was Harvey Milk?

Harvey Milk was born in New York, and he served in the military until he was honorably discharged. He ended up San Francisco while he was in the military where he first became familiar with the city’s emerging gay community in the 1950s. During this time, however, he was not publicly out because being gay was illegal. Public displays of affection and private intercourse could all be prosecuted. It was also illegal to be gay and to serve in the military. 

Milk ended up back in New York before leaving for Dallas. Eventually, he ended up back in New York before making the decision to move to San Francisco. Once in San Francisco, Milk became an asset to the Castro District, using his camera shop as a way to meet with neighbors and begin to organize his political campaigns. He first ran for the Board of Supervisors in 1973. It was not until the Board of Supervisors were reorganized into neighborhoods that Milk successfully won his bid for Supervisor in November 1977. 

While Milk only held the position of Supervisor for 11 months, during his tenure, he worked to create a city ordinance prohibiting discrimination in housing and employment in San Francisco. Milk was shot and killed by former Supervisor Dan White on November 27, 1978. 

Who was Dan White?

Dan White also served in the military, although he was discharged in 1971 because he was considerably younger than Milk. He briefly was a San Francisco police officer before quitting and joining the fire department instead. He ran for Supervisor of District 8 and won. 

Although Dan White murdered Mayor George Moscone and Harvey Milk, he and Milk actually worked well together for a time. However, after Milk changed his mind and voted to approve a juvenile offender facility in White’s District, White turned on him. White refused to speak to Milk for months, began spending less time at City Hall, and was noticeably different at board meetings. 

But the biggest change in attitude was towards gay rights. White originally stated that “the sooner we leave discrimination in any form behind, the better off we’ll all be” (Shilts, 1982, p. 198) However, after Milk changed his vote on the juvenile facility, White voted no on the gay rights ordinance, telling Dick Pabich, a campaign manager for Milk, that he voted against Milk’s ordinance because Milk voted against him on the juvenile center. 

White’s behavior became more erratic in the following months, and he ultimately resigned from the Board of Supervisors. Less than a week later, however, he wanted his position back. Mayor George Moscone considered this before ultimately deciding against reinstating Dan White as Supervisor. 

Who was Anita Bryant?

Some who read Music From Another World may say to themselves, “Anita Bryant sounds too much like a villain to be true.” However, she is one-hundred percent real (and still alive). 

During the 1970s, gay rights experienced a sudden progression. Across the nation, several cities were passing ordinances similar to the one passed in San Francisco, protecting LGBT people from discrimination based on sexual orientation. However, this came to screeching halt when Anita Bryant launched a very overt anti-gay campaign. Anita Bryant was a pop singer, a Miss Oklahoma winner, and a spokesperson for orange juice. But she’s most known for her work against gay rights. 

Bryant launched the Save Our Children group after Dade County passed their ordinance to protect gay rights. Save Our Children collected 65,000 signatures to repeal the ordinance, and when put to a vote, the voters repealed the gay rights law on June 7, 1977. 

But she wasn’t satisfied with one county. Across the nation, other towns and counties faced similar repeals–some worked in Save Our Children’s favor by repealing gay rights while some voters shut down the repeals or new initatives. 

 

What happened historically after the novel ended?

On November 27, 1978, Dan White sneaked into City Hall through a basement (now the ground floor) window, knowing that he could bypass the newly installed metal detectors if he did so. He went first to Mayor George Moscone’s office where he shot Moscone multiple times and killed him. He then went across City Hall, found Harvey Milk, and shot and killed him. White fled from City Hall, met his wife inside of St. Mary’s Cathedral and confessed what he had done. They went together to the Northern Station of the San Francisco Police, where White had once worked. White was treated exceptionally well by his former colleagues as he confessed to the crime. Ultimately, White’s lawyer managed to stack the jury full of sympathetic white conservatives, and they found him guilty on only the charge of voluntary manslaughter. White served only five years for the murders of Moscone and Milk. 

After Milk was assassinated, a spontaneous candle light march drew up to 40,000 people who marched from the Castro District to City Hall. Friends of Harvey Milk had to fight to allow Milk to lie in state next to Mayor Moscone in the rotunda, and officials eventually agreed. 

In 1979, after White was found guilty of only voluntary manslaughter, pandemonium erupted in the Castro District. They marched to City Hall, but they were no longer peaceful protestors as what had happened many times in the past. Instead, a riot ensued. Several police cars were burned, and protestors broke doors and windows at City Hall. 

While it was too late for justice for Milk and Moscone, their murders and the subsequent trial changed the California judicial system, making it extremely more difficult to claim diminished capacity as White had done in order to get away with murder. 

What if I Want to Learn More?

You should check out: 

When We Rise by Cleve Jones

The Mayor of Castro Street by Randy Shilts

The Times of Harvey Milk (1984 documentary)

Meet San Francisco Supervisor Harvey Milk: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O9iYasWREzE

25th Anniversary of Moscone-Milk killings: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O_K0moovYM8

Harvey Milk interview 1978: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XVlxq7wqgeU

Links to Music from Another World

Add to Goodreads

Buy from IndieBound

 

ARC Review of When You Get the Chance by Tom Ryan and Robin Stevenson

Disclaimer: I received an eARC from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

Cousins Mark and Talia used to spend summers together at the family cottage, but when a fight happened between their parents, those happy summer days ended, and they no longer talked with each other. When their grandpa dies, Mark and Talia are reunited for the funeral.

Although Mark is sad about his grandfather, he’s more interested in trying to go to Pride in Toronto while they are there for the funeral. He’s grown up in Halifax, and while they have a Pride event there, it’s nothing compared to what happens in Toronto.

And while Talia is sad about his grandfather, she’s more interested in trying to meet up with Erin, her partner, who recently left Victoria and moved to school early—which just happens to be in Toronto.

But their parents have other plans. Instead of either of them staying in Toronto, the families decide to go to the family cabin to begin to decide what to do with it because Mark and Talia’s grandmother’s health is also declining.

But when their grandmother’s health calls their parents away, they decide to unleash a plot to get them both what they want: Mark to Pride and Talia to Erin in Toronto. Can you say roadtrip time?

When You Get the Chance is a beautiful look at family secrets, dealing with the past, and the messiness of teen life. These are not perfect characters; they are not written to be that way! Their personalities are very nuanced, and it was honestly refreshing to see how messy they were at times. They are incredibly realistic and act like some people I know in real life. This very realistic messiness was dealt with in such a careful way by Tom Ryan and Robin Stevenson, and I loved how much the characters grew throughout the novel.

I absolutely loved this read, and it’s one that I definitely recommend!

Preorder here: 

IndieBound

Barnes & Noble

 

 

DRC Review of The Fell of Dark by Caleb Roehrig

Disclaimer: I received a digital review copy from Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review.

Auggie lives in Fulton Heights, Illinois, a suburb of Chicago. It’s a decaying suburb, and unfortunately, it’s known to be a hub for vampires. Yes, vampires. An average of three people die each year in Fulton Heights of vampire attacks, and public places in town are equipped with emergency kits to handle vampire attacks.

So why should Auggie care about Algebra when he lives in a vampire town? Why does he have to get tutored in Algebra so he can hopefully actually pass it this time around when there are bigger issues to worry about?

And then Auggie finds out from Jude, a vampire, that the world as he knows it is coming to an end—and he may be the only one to stop that from happening.

The Fell of Dark is Roehrig’s fifth novel, but it is fourth original novel. (He has an intellectual property work titled A Werewolf in Riverdale which releases April 7) . While Roehrig became known for his twisty whodunit thrillers, Last Seen Leaving and White Rabbit, he has also expanded his range of thrillers to include Death Prefers Blondes and now The Fell of Dark which might best be called a paranormal thriller.

Roehrig has carefully crafted a world where vampires are known to walk among us and carefully crafted two cults of vampires: the League of Dark Star and the Syndicates. The amount of careful world building Roehrig did was outstanding, but it never once feels like an info dump on the reader. As Auggie comes to know elements of the vampire world that he didn’t know prior, the reader learns along with him in ways that fully immerse the reader into the story.

As Roehrig is also known for, The Fell of Dark includes a multitude of queer characters including queer vampires. And within this, Roehrig also manages to sneak in a bit of mid-twentieth century queer history.

Roehrig’s The Fell of Dark is a novel that you can really sink your teeth into and rejoice in delight, and it’s an absolute must read.

The Fell of Dark releases July 14.

Preorder here: 

IndieBound

Barnes & Noble

 

ARC Review of Dragon Hoops by Gene Luen Yang

Disclaimer: I received an eARC through Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

Dragon Hoops is a true story about Bishop O’Dowd High School’s 2014-2015 basketball season. Yang was a teacher at Bishop O’Dowd High School, and upon being stuck about what story to tell next, he turned to the famed basketball team. While the basketball team had made state several times, the state title remained elusive. While Yang didn’t quite know what the outcome would be for that season, he decided that this story needed to be told.

Yang tells of current coach Lou Richie, Coach Mike Phelps (retired), and the teens on the team that season. He effortlessly weaves together basketball history along with the history of basketball at Bishop O’Dowd High School.

Essentially, Yang manages to tell a story through a graphic novel that can be fairly compared to Friday Night Lights.

This will appeal to all readers, especially those who love basketball.

Dragon Hoops releases March 17, 2020.

ARC Review of The Phantom Twin by Lisa Brown

Disclaimer: I received an eARC from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

Isabel and Jane are the Extraordinary Peabody Sisters. Sold to a carnival shortly after they were born as conjoined twins, they are a part of the “Freak Show” in the carnival. When a doctor sees their act, he believes that he can successfully separate them, giving Jane what she’s always longed for: her own life separate from Isabel.

But then the surgery goes wrong, and Isabel is the one to survive. She’s then haunted by her twin Jane as she tries to navigate life no longer conjoined and now no longer an asset to the carnival.

Isabel finds allies along the way, but she also finds that she shouldn’t be so easy to trust people. She must find ways to navigate her new life successfully before she can no longer go with the carnival.

The Phantom Twin is a historical graphic novel that explores the idea of the old school freak shows in a new light. This is a quick read.

The Phantom Twin releases on March 3.