I’m back for my second AdventBoost post of the year. This time, I have some wonderful books I’d like to recommend to you. I’ll be honest – I haven’t been reading as much as I’d’ve preferred this year, but I did read enough to provide you with 6 titles I highly enjoyed, and hope you will too. Without further ado:
Unbroken: 13 Stories Starring Disabled Teens (anthology by various authors)
Unbroken is an absolutely fantastic short story collection, written by disabled authors and featuring disabled teen protagonists. This commonality aside, the stories in it are very different both in terms of genre, tone and theme. Full disclosure: I haven’t read it all yet. I usually don’t read short story collections all in one go, especially themed ones. I just enjoy it more if I dollop it out, somehow. So far (I think I’m about 5 stories in), Unbroken has been enjoyable, touching and thought-provoking and I expect no less from the stories remaining to be read.
Second Wind by Ceillie Simkiss
Second Wind is a sapphic romance about two older white women who were childhood best friends and who randomly run into each other on a plane after having lost touch for decades. The story deals with some heavy issues, grief being the first that comes to mind, but it still manages to be at its core a very sweet, heart-warming tale that was a breeze to read. It’s so lovely to see a romance story featuring two older heroines. It’s not that I mind reading about young couples but come on – love can be felt at any age, and it’s fun to see that captured in a romance, meet-cute and all. I also really appreciated that one of the side characters is a young non-binary person. I do read books with non-binary characters fairly often, but usually not children so that was great to see.
Ceillie Simkiss is a queer and neurodivergent American author.
That Could be Enough by Alyssa Cole
That Could Be Enough is another sapphic romance, a beautiful and at times heart-wrenching about two black women who fall in love after a mostly chance encounter, and is set in United States in the 1800s. It was really nice to read a historical romance featuring queer characters of color (I really need to find more of that), and I was also thrilled that one of the heroines is a successful entrepreneur (can we kill the myth that no women worked before the 70s please?). What I love the most about the book was the characterization, which is brilliant and life-like. In the description it is called an “angsty but fluffy” novella, and it’s true it’s got some fluff in it (and a happy ending, of course), but the angsty bits really got to me, in a way that felt believable and not just like a plot ploy to postpone the end.
Alyssa Cole is a black American author who writes both m/f and f/f romances (and whose entire backlist is on my to-read list now).
This is how you know I haven’t read that much this year – I’m rec’ing parts 2 and 3 of a series I’ve already featured part 1 of on AdventBoost (see this post from AdventBoost 2017). I would usually prefer to recommend standalones, collections or the first books in series but that’s not to say I didn’t enjoy these two a lot! They’re both super queer, well written and interesting, with really compelling main characters. Additionally, I really enjoy that all the books of this series take place in the same town, so characters from one book show up as side characters in another, and they visit some of the same venues etc. It makes the whole setting feel very much alive and more immersive than if they’d been completely independent stories.
Kris Ripper (who I keep almost calling Jack Ripper until I remember whose name that actually sounds like) is a genderqueer American author, and I look forward to reading the rest of zir books eventually.
Are We Human? (A circa adult collection) by C.T. Callahan
I’m actually in the middle of two short story collections right now, the one above – and this one. This is not an anthology but a collection from a single writer, with 8 independent stories spanning several different genres. They all center (as the title suggests) what it means to be human, particularly for people who are marginalized in some way. The stories are really well-written and imaginative, and feature some very cool and interesting worldbuilding.
C.T. Callahan is a queer person of color whose country of residence (I realize now) I’m actually not sure of. E recently signed with a literary agent and I am honestly just so excited to read whatever e produces in the future.
The Christmas Ball by Lily Seabrooke
Let’s round off this list with a Christmas romance! This book is brand new and just came out on December 10th. I happened across it on Twitter and thought it sounded too cute to resist. Turns out I was right! Two young lesbians, forced to share a bedroom for the very long, very heteronormative, very posh once-a-decade Christmas bash their very posh families celebrate together… hot cocoa, ice skating, ballroom dancing and mutual oh-surely-she’s-straight-pining galore! It is so full of tropes, in the best possible way. I gobbled it up in a day and a half – sweet, cheeky and seasonal, it was just the sort of treat I wanted this week.
Lily Seabrooke is an American trans lesbian. I believe this is her debut novel, and I look forward to more in a similar vein at some point in future.
Looking at this list, I am both thrilled at these great books and slightly annoyed that it’s so predominantly American. I must make sure to read more non-American authors next year! Happy to take any recommendations you have!
Next post will be about games. Until then, take care.