Notes from Small Planets

What is up my lovely little book nerds, it is I, your favourite, distinctively haired blogger! (if you don’t get the reference, I may or may not have caused a minor furore on twitter this week after a customer told me my blue hair wasn’t appropriate to sell books, and the authors of twitter, being the excellent people that they are, rallied and made me feel so much love. Anyway, welcome back, and welcome to my first every blog tour! OMG I know right! I feel like a real blogger! Today is all about one of the funniest books I’ve read in a long, long time, and one I absolutely LOVED so let’s get into it!

(Note: I was sent a copy of Notes from Small Planets by the lovely people at Harper Voyager so I could take part in this book tour and write this review. They didn’t say I had to write nice things about it, but I’m going to because I bloody loved it)

When you open this book, please read the Publisher Note, Author’s Note, and Editor’s Notes at the start. I know thats normally something to skip over, or at least skim read, but these are essential parts to understanding the storyline of Notes from Small Planets. Yes, I said storyline! In a travel guide!

Notes from Small Planets by Nate Crowley describes itself right on the cover as “Your pocket travel guide to the worlds of science fiction and fantasy.” I’ve got to admit, when I first heard about this (from a fellow bookseller and sci-fi nerd) I thought it was literally going to be a guide to the worlds of sci-fi and fantasy, like some kind of adventure manual bouncing from Coruscant to Vulcan by way of Bag End.

I have never been so happy to be wrong.

This is an absolutely joyous spoof of every sci fi and fantasy trope you can imagine. Each chapter is an in-depth look at a different World that you can visit, with each being an absolute pisstake of a different subsection of the genres.

You can visit Mittlevelde (“Its mountains are vast and icy, its woods deep and dark, and its Orcs intimidating yet reassuringly defeated”) or the star filled area known as SPACE (Sector of Pseudofictional Astro-Cultural Environments), each World offering a different array of delights and dangers, and each being expertly – if sometimes a little bit objectively – explored and described by our dashing narrator, journalist, fading television star, and ex-diplomat Floyd Watt. Floyd is best described as a cross between Gilderoy Lockheart and Captain Kirk; cocky, swaggering, easily bought, probably a bit shifty, definitely full of shit, but deep down (deep deep deep deep deep down) has a heart of gold.

He’s a pretty brilliant narrator, giving a lot of personality to his travels, and brilliantly explaining the ins and outs (for the most part) of the different Worlds you can visit. He provided some of the biggest laughs for me as well, especially his discussion of who would win in a fight between Star Wars and Star Trek The Galaxy’s infamous Sword Monks and The Syndicate’s fleet of Science Dreadnoughts. The footnotes at the bottom of some of the entries are hilarious, especially when you get a bit of back and forth between Floyd and his stressed out editor, Eliza Salt. the arguments between the two of them make for so many fantastic moments and more than once did I get a funny look from an old lady on the bus because I was snort laughing. Well, it was either that or my blue hair, but I’m sure it was because of the snorting…

I genuinely haven’t laughed this much at a book in so long. Every page has something on it that will get at least a little chuckle, but with a lot of belly laughs throughout as well. But, it also deals with some really serious issues like government corruption, colonialism, and racism. It’s light hearted, and you can 100% read it as a straight up satire of the sci-fi and fantasy genres, but there’s some cutting remarks in there as well (mostly provided by Eliza’s frankly flawless put downs of Floyd’s old fashion, alpha male posturing and idiocy – she is my idol and I love her) that make you both laugh and cringe and wince.

If you’re a fan of science fiction or fantasy, or you know someone who is, then you need this book. If you want to laugh at thinly veiled pop culture references, you need this book. If you want to find out whatever happens when you go West, you need this book. (Also, Nate Crowley is property nice person and any twitter interaction with him is 10/10 would recommend, so there’s that too. )

Notes from Small Planets is out on Thursday 17th September (so in two days time) and is available wherever fine books are sold, bartered, or stolen by a rampaging barbarian to bring glory to their hold!

If you’ve liked this one, feel free to say hi on twitter on the comments and tell me what your favourite work of sci-fi. or fantasy it! I have so many, it’s hard to pick. If you want to see whats happening next with the tour, have a look down below at the itinerary, or you can head over here to see Heather’s review!

On’davo!1

Notes from Small Planets – Nate Crowley ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

1 Bon voyage in Orcish2

2 Okay so technically it means ‘ready to soar’ but it’s the closest translation I could find!

Thats a bit graphic (novels)

What is up my lovely book nerds, I’m back and I’m feeling like I need to talk about something I really love: Graphic Novels.

No, no they’re not just comic books, they’re seriously incredible pieces of art and fantastic stories that are just presented in more visual way. I’ve always been so jealous of anyone who can draw (one of my friends Sam is a ridiculous artist and I am simultaneously so deeply jealous of them and also really proud of them for being so amazing) and people who can draw AND tell an Amazing story are just gods to me.

So, here’s a little run down of some of my favourite graphic novels, both ones I’ve read recently and old favourites.

Heartstopper – Alice Oseman

This one is no surprise whatsoever, so I’m not going to go on about Heartstopper loads, but I love everything about this queer graphic novel about boys in love. If you want to know more, you can read my blog about when I got to interview Alice for the launch of Heartstopper Volume 3 here, back when human contact was allowed, but just know that Nick & Charlie are my OTP.

In Waves – A J Dungo

This is one of the first graphic novels I read when I started working for Waterstones because I got sent a copy from the publishers. I had heard somethings but no-one I knew had read it so I went in blind. I was blown away

In Waves is two stories woven together. One is AJ’s story, the story of how he fell in love with a girl who loved surfing, how he fell in love with surfing and the ocean, and how his girlfriend got sick and died. The other story is the history of surfing and it’s development from something only found in Hawaii to a global sport.

The shift between the two threads is shown in the colour palettes used; the main story is in teals, blues, greens and greys, the colours of the ocean, whilst the history side of things is literally sepia toned, browns, tans, the colours of sand and beaches. Both are so separate yet perfectly complimentary, it’s honestly one of the most beautiful graphic novels just because of this.

Please, just have some tissues with you when you read it because, if you’re anything like me, you’re going to cry a fair bit.

Pages from In Waves, via LiquidSalt, found here.

Nimona – Noelle Stevenson

I read this purely because it was on the shelf at work and I’d just finished my book and needed something to read on my way home. It’s the reason why I get a lot of my books. I am so glad I did.

Nimona takes the idea of a bad guy’s sidekick, dumps it into a cocktail shaker with some snark, a weird bit of technology, and a lot of silliness, and the result is a chaotic mess of excellence that you can’t help but want to read more about.

Nimona is a shapeshifter, apparently cursed by a witch as a child, who has very few morals, or so it seems, when she enters the employ of the kingdoms greatest super villain! Well, greatest in that he never quite manages the wholesale destruction he’s aiming towards, due to his strict moral code.

The art style is simple but that’s exactly what is needed. It fits the tone of the story perfectly and really thats the whole point of a graphic novel over a novel with words. It’s super fun, super magic, and super messy, and will hit you in the feels when you least expect it, but it is so worth it. If you need something fun and adventurous, this is one for you!

Mooncakes – Suzanne Walker and Wendy Xu

I love me some fantasy and this is the best kind: queer fantasy!

Mooncakes is an incredibly cute, incredibly beautiful graphic novel about a young witch, Nova, living with her witchy grandmothers (the most excellent old lesbian couple ever) and what happens when her childhood friend/sweetheart Tam (who happens to be a werewolf) returns to her life to help solve problems of a demon ravaging the town.

Not only is this a stunningly gorgeous graphic novel (honestly, the style is so so beautiful, Xu know’s what they’re doing and KILLS IT) but it deals with gender identity so so well. In one scene, Tam is talking to Nova about their preferred pronouns, and its just such a non-issue, as it should be. when they tell Nova’s grandmothers, both just accept it and never use the wrong pronouns again once informed. Its the kind of representation that is becoming more wide spread but this gave me all the warm and fuzzies!

Bloom – Kevin Panetta & Savanna Ganucheau

Bloom is a seriously beautiful graphic novel. It tells the story of Ari, a teenager working in his family bakery but with no intention of working there forever, much to his dad’s chagrin. Instead, he wants to move to the city with his band and be a musician. As a compromise, he sets out to find a replacement before he leaves. Enter Hector, stage left. Hector loves baking, loves the chance to work in a family business, and maybe starts to love Ari as well…

This story gave me major Heartstopper vibes. There’s cuteness, adorable boys not realising they have feelings for each other (except Hector is a bit more self aware than Nick) and some really lovely moments as they grow closer and share their lives and experiences with each other. The colour palette and artwork is perfectly matched to the story, Ganucheau did an incredible job, and I love this so much. If you want a gorgeous summery read, or something to remind you of summer now that it’s getting colder again, this is the perfect one for you.

So, there we have it. A run through of some of my absolute favourite graphic novels, some new and some old, but all absolutely brilliant. If you want me to do another post like this, let me know, because I have so many more amazing graphic novels that I’d love to fangirl about on here! If you’ve read any of these, let me know what you thought of them in the comments or over on twitter, and I’ll see you in the next post!

#SixForSunday – Good Role Models

What is up my lovely book nerds. You’re looking wonderful today. I really love what you’ve done with your hair, it really suits you.

It’s time for another #SixForSunday, my first for a while since I fell off the wagon, but I really love this one, it’s characters who are good role models. Lets do this!

Jonathon – The Strangeworlds Travel Agency

Jonathon knows himself inside out and I think he’s just brilliant. Friendly, funny, has his heart in the right place, respectful of other cultures and customer (super important at all times but especially when travelling) and an incredibly snappy dresser. We should all try and be more like Mr Mercator.

Jack – Jack of Hearts (And Other Parts)

Jack knows EXACTLY who he is and what he’s about. I love him to bits, and wish I’d had his level of confidence and known my own worth the way he does when I was 17. Plus, in a world that still is fixated on slut shaming and homophobia (hopefully it will grow out of it soon), Jack is super sex positive and so openly gay that you can’t help but feel a bit more proud.

Lyra – His Dark Materials/The Book of Dust

I think Lyra is such an interesting character, and probably someone who isn’t necessarily a good role model in the traditional sense of the word, but she deserves a spot on this list because of her brains and flexibility. There is almost never a situation that Lyra finds herself in where she’s out of her depth, and even if she is, she has the street smarts and book smarts to get herself out of it. She knows her own mind and when she commits to something, she always follows through.

Saphira – Eragon

Yes, this is a dragon, but that doesn’t mean anything, stop being so speciesist! Saphira is a constant, steady presence, despite being a literal newborn. Loyalty is the main thing I think you can learn from Saphira, and the best kind too: this loyalty is the “yeah I’ll stick with you and always have your back but I will 100% tell you you’re being a dick when you need it” kind. She is a QUEEN!

Morrigan Crow – Nevermoor

Morrigan is brilliant. She has moments of self doubt, moments where she’s convinced nothing is going to go right, and she still always manages to face the adversity head on and get through it. Resilience is probably Morrigan’s middle name, and I guess that comes from a. lifetime of thinking she’s cursed, but still, it’s admirable.

Ed – The Paper & Hearts Society

I love Ed so so much. He is a sweet cinnamon roll of a human, and I’m going to tell you why he should be someone you emulate. He is relentlessly upbeat, but knows when to step back and let you be sad; he is so observant and pays attention to what his friends need; he is super cute; he has an excellent cat who he loves; he isn’t afraid to hug his friends and tell them that he loves them; he is still learning about himself and knows that things are going to change and he’s ok to just roll with things. Honestly, he is a God-tier cutie and you should all love him too.

So, there are my six role model-able characters for this week. What do you think? Do you agree with any of my pics? Do you think I should have picked other characters? Let me know in the comments or on twitter, and I’ll see you in the next post!

Review – Punching The Air

What is up my book nerds, I’m back. I’m posting two days in a row! What kind of magic is this?! See, I told you I had more time now and could actually write things again!

The lovely people at Harper (Thank you so much, you’re all babes) sent me an ARC of Punching the Air by Ibi Zoloi and Yusef Salaam, which I finished this week and boy oh boy did I need to write down my thoughts on it!

Ibi Zoboi is a poet, and YA author, who approached Yusef Salaam after following his trial through the press. Salaam is a member of the Exonerated Five, one of the men tried and convicted for playing a part in the Central Park attacks of 1989 despite there being no conclusive evidence, and used the six years he spent in a detention centre as the basis for Punching the Air.

Punching the Air is a novel in verse, and follows Amal Shahid, a teenager who is sent to a juvenile detention centre for his involvement in a fight that left another boy in a coma: the core of this though is that Amal is Black and the boy in the coma, Jeremy Matthis, is white, and that Amal is very much innocent. The novel follows trial, conviction, and incarceration, and then on to his experiences in jail. I say jail because, even though it is a juvenile detention centre, it is always referred to as ‘jail’ and really, there is no difference.

Amal’s story is told through snapshots, bouncing between the present, slowly sharing more details about his life, his aspirations, and the events that led up to his arrest. It’s not always easy to read. It isn’t meant to be. From the courtroom, to visits with his mother, solitary confinement, the “conversations with God” that is the white woman put in charge of “reforming” the inmates, a fight between two groups that ends in lockdown and poetry sessions with a visiting activist, each scene gives us more insight into Amal, into his journey and experience, and into the way an American jail operates. There is balance, though, and the darkness is given breaks where light can shine through, like letters from his crush, Zenobia, getting through to him, poetry sessions with Imani, the visiting activist who wants to try and inspire the inmates through art, and the group of friends he finds within the walls of the prison.

The whole story flows in the verse form it’s written in, with some incredibly clever and beautifully formed pieces that play on the layout on the page, as well as how they’d sound, and reflect Amal’s character and skill as a poet within the book. The form of the poems also show off his skill as an artist, the words painting the pictures that he describes on the pages, like the mural he paints in the visiting room or the vile tattoo on one of the correction officers arm’s. Every word is considered and perfectly deployed.

I loved this book, but it also made me feel so uncomfortable because I know that, as white guy, I would never have been subject to anything that Amal is put through. I could shrug it off because my skin colour gives me protection without me even having to try. That is so fucked up.

Punching the Air should be required reading, not just because it’s a fantastic example of a narrative told through verse, but because it is SO important as a message of truth and how jail is in the US for Black people. I loved it, although that feels like the wrong word to use, because of how much it challenged me to look outside my own experience, and highlighted how different life is when you aren’t born with the inherent privilege of white skin.

(Note – if you want to know why I’ve capitalised Black through this and not white, have a look at this article here.)

Punching the Air – Ibi Zoboi and Yusef Salaam ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

#ThursTag – The Viper Book Tag

What is up book nerds, I’m back, and I’ve actually finished and submitted my dissertation! Can you believe?! So, that means I have some actual free time that I can use for thinking about things other that special educational needs and funding models and actually write something about books!

Today, I’m going with a tag that I’ve seen hovering around on some friends’ blogs and, since its themed around one of my favourite series (and one that has induced more stress and anxiety than any other), I think it’s time I did the Viper Book Tag! (Also, probably a review of Viper and Venom. Keep an eye out for one coming soon!) So, lets get on with it!

Marianne – A fierce female character

Since most of the books I read have strong female leads, this one is tricky, but I think I have to go with Essun from The Broken Earth trilogy by NK Jemisin. She spends the whole trilogy fighting to survive in a postapocalyptic world, find her daughter, and not be killed for being an orogene. Pretty badass if you ask me.

Twelve Isles – A memorable setting

I loved The Tales of the Otori by Lian Hearn when I read them as a teenager in secondary school, and the backdrop of feudal Japan is one thats stuck with me ever since. It’s one of the series that sparked my interest in Japan and made it a place I’d love to visit some day.

Pirates – A book set on the high seas

This one took me a while to decide on, because apparently I don’t read many things set on boats (except Viper and Venom). I think I’ve got to go with The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue by Mackenzie Lee. There’s a bit bit spent sailing around the Mediterranean and even some on gondolas in Venice, so I’m counting that as the high seas.

Grace – A kickass and supportive female character

Another one with plenty of options for me. I think I have to go with Violet Palmer from Malamander and Gargantis. She appears in a storm asking for help, befriends a mechanical mermonkey, and is generally just a really cool, feisty character that is exactly what she needs to be.

Torin – A reluctant royal

Here’s a pretty recent pick for me, Celestine from Victoria Stitch: Bad and Glittering. She could have been queen but doesn’t really want to be, but will do her duty if she needs to. Thats kind of the definition of reluctant to me and I sort of love her for it.

Bronn – A misunderstood character

(Quick note, I don’t really get misunderstood as a descriptor for characters. Yeah there are characters I like that are bad guys, but I don’t like them because I think they’re secretly good and just confused, I like them because they’re dicks. A murderer is still a murderer, even if they are a soft squishy marshmallow that likes romcoms and hot chocolate…)

I’m going very literal for this one and picking Zola from the new Adventures on Trains book, Kidnap on the California Comet. She’s picked out as being a ruthless person that could be involved in the kidnapping, but its all a misunderstanding because she’s actually a good guy. I won’t say anything more cause of actual spoilers, but I love her and I wish I was even 30% as cool as she is.

Romance – Star-crossed lovers

Nick & Charlie from Alice Oseman’s Heartstopper are my forever OTP. I will never not love them and think of them as the perfect couple, and I will fight anyone who says otherwise. Seriously. I. Will. FIGHT. You.

And there we go, that’s my attempt at the Viper Book Tag. What do you think? What would you pick for each of these prompts? Let me in the comments or on twitter, and I’ll see you in the next post!

#ThursTag – The Quick One

What is up my little book nerds, sorry I’ve been away for so long, I’m currently trapped in the little known dimension of “Dissertation Hell” which is taking up all of my time and energy and life. I’ll be returning there shortly, but I thought I’d do a quick little tag just to say hello and you’re the best and ily. So, here we go with The Quick Book Tag!

E-Book or Physical Book? Both. I love a physical book for the aesthetic and the smell, but my kindle is so much more convenient. Plus, netgalley.

Paperback or Hardback? Paperback all the way

Online or In-Store Book Shopping? In store, although I’ll buy online if I can’t get hold of the book at work.

Trilogies or Series? Trilogies. I love a good series but there’s something about knowing that everything has to be concluded in a set number of books that I think is just so satisfying (most of the time)

Heroes or Villains? I love a bad boy, but not actually evil ones, so I’d go for anti-heroes. Think Prince Zuko.

A book you want everyone to read? Loveless by Alice Oseman (which I reviewed here)

Recommend an underrated book? The Extremely Inconvenient Adventures of Bronte Mettlestone by Jaclyn Moriarty does not get the love it should, and that upsets me.

The last book you bought? Harrow the Ninth by Tamsyn Muir

Weirdest thing you’ve used as a bookmark? A coffee stirer, probably. Or a paper straw that I flattened down. To be honest though, I normally just memorise the page number if I don’t have a bookmark handy.

Used Books: Yes or No? Absolutely yes. One of my favourite bookshops in the world is Barter Books in Alnwick, which is entirely used books. They have their own extra story and I love that.

Top three favourite genres? Fantasy, Japanese fiction, and gentle crime. Like, Agatha Christie levels of crime. (also, honourable mention to sad gays that make me cry)

Borrow or Buy? Buy, although I’ll borrow from friends. I love libraries but find that because they dont get much funding they don’t have things that I’d want to read. Plus, my discount at work makes everything a lot easier.

Characters or Plot? Characters. Good characters can save a rubbish plot, but a good plot can’t save rubbish characters.

Long or Short Books? Both, dependant on my mood and time.

Long or Short Chapters? Depends on the book, but I lean more towards short ones that I can zip through when I need a little break.

Name the first three books you can think of. Erm, tricky one. Heartstopper by Alice Oseman, The Fifth Season by N K Jemisin, and Orion Lost by Alistair Chisholm.

Books that make you laugh or cry? I cry at everything so even if it makes me laugh its a moot point.

Our World or Fictional Worlds? Fictional worlds, but I do love twists on our world, like in Do You Dream of Terra-Two? by Temi Oh.

Audio books: Yes or No? Yes, as long as the narrator is one I like. I’m very particular.

Do you ever judge a book by its cover? Erm, yeah, thats like the whole point of investing in a good designer for the cover…

A Movie or TV-Show You Preferred to its Book? This has yet to happen for me.

Series or Stand-alones? Depends on the book, but stand-alone books always feel like they have that potential to be expanded, but aren’t, which makes them feel a bit more special.

Well, there we go, that was my super quick book tag. Hopefully once my dissertation is submitted, I’ll be back with more exciting posts and reviews and tags, and maybe some more life update-y style posts. Until then, stay safe and happy reading!

Loveless

What is up book nerds. This post isn’t going to have a lot of introduction because I am SO excited about it, so lets go.

If you know anything about me, you’ll know that I am a complete and total Alice Oseman stan. Like, I am Nick and Charlie Trash Number 1, Tori Spring’s biggest fan, the whole shebang. So obviously I’ve been ridiculously excited for Loveless, Alice’s newest novel, to come out. I picked my copy up on Tuesday, started it Tuesday night at about 9:30, and finished it just before 1am. Honestly, I couldn’t put it down. I can’t remember the last book that I stayed up reading because I just had to know what was going to happen, so that should give you a hint at what I thought…

Loveless focuses on Georgia Warr, heading off to Durham Uni with her two best friends, Pip and Jason, and desperate to get rid of her “never been kissed” status. Only problem is, the one time that almost happened – with long term “crush” Tommy – she felt nothing but revulsion. So, with the help of new roommate, the romantically experienced, not at all emotionally messed up Rooney, she sets of trying to find out if love really is in her future.

I don’t know if this is a spoiler or not, but Loveless revolves around Georgia discovering what “asexual” and “aromantic” mean and if/how they apply to her. For those of you who don’t know, “asexual” means someone who feels little to no sexual attraction, and “aromantic” means someone who doesn’t experience romantic attraction. Some people are both, some people are one or the other, some people who identify as aromantic or asexual are straight, some are gay, some are bi. This is perfectly embodied by Sunil, Georgia’s “college parent”, president of Pride Soc, my sweet child, and Georgia’s introduction to sexualities other than the the “common” ones of Gay/Lesbian/Bisexual. As a member of one of these mainstream queer orientations (is that a thing? it feels like a thing but it also feels very, very wrong.) I’ve always been in that more accepted category of queerness and never really had to fight to have my sexuality accepted/acknowledged by the community but that’s not the case for ace-aro people, which Alice again deals with amazingly, by introducing Lloyd, the cis white gay former Pride Soc leader who’s upset about, amongst other things, the inclusion of queer people past the LGBT part of the community, and seems to believe that aro-ace people don’t belong (NB: They totally do, Lloyd is a dick and deserves bad things to happen to him, please ignore his trash opinions because he is trash). I hope it goes without saying, but this kind of gate keeping can do one, because Pride is about more than just being a cis white gay guy who likes getting drunk, and if you disagree, you need to learn more about Pride and how it started.

Georgia coming to terms with her asexuality and aromanticism is only half of the story though. One of the biggest takeaways is that friendships are just as important and deserving of cultivation and attention as romantic relationships are. Georgia, Pip and Jason are a little tripod, always there for each other, comfortable and cozy in the way a sofa that you’ve sat in for hours to the point its formed a crease in the shape of your butt is. And that’s amazing. No qualifiers, not “that’s amazing… for a friendship”. Just amazing, and important. And that, to me, was what Alice was saying; yeah, romantic relationships are important if that’s what you’re into, but your friendships are just as vital to being happy. Is there drama? Yes. Do people make mistakes? Yes. Does this matter in the end because people learn to use their words and actually communicate in a healthy way? Yes.

The Loveless cast, including Jason and Sunil, my sweet children, who deserve good things. Also, Sunil is my absolute style ICON.

Loveless is a literal love letter to the importance and power of friendship, and to loving your friends. It’s also literally just hit me, as I’m writing this, that Loveless is bit of a joke of a title in reference to this; Georgia is so convinced that she’s weird because she doesn’t have the same crushes as her friends, that she thinks she’ll always be without love (loveless, if you will) but is BLIND to the fact that she has so many people that love her so deeply and completely, she is literally the opposite of Loveless. (How did it take me that long to get that? I finished this on Tuesday night/Wednesday morning, what was I thinking?!)

I am genuinely in awe of this book. Not only does Loveless feature some representation that is sorely needed, but it has been so beautifully written, so perfectly crafted, you can tell that it was a labour of love. From interviews, I know that Alice was worried about releasing this to the world, as it’s such a personal story, but I am so, so glad that she did. Although I couldn’t personally identify with Georgia’s journey, I was there for every step, sometimes crying (I didn’t get tears on the book, but my dog was slightly damp afterwards. He wasn’t impressed.) sometimes laughing, and always just wanting her to know she was going to be OK.

If you’ve read any of Alice’s books, you need to go and buy this immediately. Go on, go now. Go get it. It’s a brilliant book and it deserves to be read and loved, and fans of the Osemanverse will love the nods to other books and the little Easter eggs in it. If you haven’t read any of Alice’s books, please re-evaluate your life choices, then go and buy Loveless and Heartstopper Volume 1. You’ll thank me, I promise.

So, in case you didn’t notice from my gushing for the past thousand or so words, Loveless is incredible. Have you read it yet? Let me know what you think down in the comments, or on twitter, and I’ll see you next time.

Loveless – Alice Oseman ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

#SixForSunday – Couple of LGBTQties

(Note – this is going up late because I’m a literal trash person who forgot to schedule it for Sunday morning and was at work trying to disinfect people/computers/books all day.)

What is up my lovely book nerds, it’s another Sunday and we’re continuing with the LGBTQ+ love, so lets do this! This week, it’s favourite couples, and I’m going to try not to be too predicatable here (but lets face it, y’all already know who at least two of the couples on the list are going to be sooooo…)

Nick & Charlie – Heartstopper

Let’s not act surprised, it is a well known fact that these boys are my sweet children and I love them dearly. I refuse to apologise for this. Nick and Charlie are the perfect couple to me because neither one of them tries to change the other one, they’ve always got each others backs, and they’re just so darn cute! ALSO, they have NO issue ripping the shit out of each other every now and then, and that’s what a good relationship is all about.

Dannyl & Tayend – The Magician’s Guild

This was probably one of the first gay couples I came across when I wasn’t reading a YA book. I remember getting the feeling from them and thinking “no… no… there won’t be gays in this… will there?” because I was so used to there being no representation in anything apart from YA, and even then, it was minimal (not like now. You youngsters have it so much better and it makes me SO happy!) I love How Dannyl and Tayend’s relationship develops, and how Dannyl works through years of repressing himself to get to a supportive, loving relationship where he feels safe.

Ari & Hector – Bloom

So this is a very new one, but I love these two. I want good things for them. I want happiness and muffins and a puppy and good music and just everything. Bloom is rapidly becoming one of my favourite graphic novels – the art style is so beautiful – and it just makes me so happy. I need more. I need so much more. Plus, who doesn’t love a graphic novel about bread?! There’s just so much kneading which leads to big arms and I’m a sucker for nice arms!

Tara & Darcy – Heartstopper

I love these two. Just everything about them. I was thinking about why and I believe it’s because they feel like the lesbian version of me and my husband. I’m Darcy, because high energy, wants to do ALL THE THINGS, sometimes makes questionable choices, and gives everything stupid nicknames; he’s Tara because he’s way more chill, mostly just rolls his eyes at me and says “yes dear”, but always has my back and looks after me. These girls are just the cutest and I want them to have a lovely life together.

Ollie & Will – Only Mostly Devastated

Aaaaah these sweet boys. I love their whole story, the summer romance, the supporting each other, the sweaty post-basketball game hugs. It’s also great that they aren’t just plain sailing, perfectly happy all the time. There’s a lot of things that need unpacking throughout the book, and they don’t always act like the best humans, but thats what makes them feel more real and relatable.

Bitty & Jack – Check Please!

This is another new one. Like, really new. I literally read this today and had to change my list. I really love Jack and Bitty together, even if they technically aren’t together until the last page of Book 1 and even then it’s a very VERY tentative together, but I shipped them the entire time and I was SO glad when it happened. They’re also an archetypal pairing that I think is so hot (built rugged jock with pocket-sized twink) so that’s a bonus…

So there we have it, six of my favourite LGBTQ+ couples. There are loads more, so feel free to hit me up if you want some recommendations for adorable couples with excellent stories! Who’s your favourite LGBTQ+ couple? Let me know in the comments or on twitter, and I’ll see you next time!

#SixForSunday – My Gay BAEs

What is up my book nerds, it’s Sunday which means it’s #SixForSunday time! I have my coffee, I have a pack of bourbons, I have my dog curled up in my lap whilst my husband snores in bed still, lets do this! This week, the prompt from the lovely Steph is favourite LGBTQ+ characters, and I have many to pick from, so here we go!

Dannyl – The Magicians Guild

Dannyl was probably one of my favourite characters in the Black Magician trilogy by Trudi Canavan. He spends most of the first book struggling with his sexuality, only becoming comfortable with it through the help of his friend (and future lover/boyfriend) Tayend. The relationship between them develops so naturally, with Dannyl using the friendship to process the bullying that he suffered while he was training as an apprentice. Even though its set in a super fantasy world with magic, his story is really relatable, and I think that makes it even more important.

Jonathon Mercator – The Strangeworlds Travel Agency

Jonathon is an absolute babe. He’s struggled through a lot as the story develops and continues, but I love how he never gives up and forges onwards, doing what he thinks he needs to to protect the magical worlds that are linked by the suitcases. The fact that he’s Trans is purely coincidental, but he’s an excellent role model for how things get better and that who you are is valid.

Simon Snow – Carry On

I have a bit of a weak spot for rebellious nerds, and I think Simon Snow covers that perfectly. I don’t think he ever puts a label on his sexuality, and he doesn’t need to, but I love him and his journey. Plus, I don’t care what your sexuality is, if Baz gave you the chance to kiss him, you’d take it.

Darcy – Heartstopper

I know what you’re all thinking. “Tsam, why haven’t you picked Charlie or Nick? You’re always going on about them!” Well, I do love them, but I think Darcy is just so brilliant, and funny, and enthusiastic about EVERYTHING that she deserves some love. Plus, lets be fair, I could easily have had all six of my pics be from Heartstopper, so the fact I’m only picking one is a miracle in itself and shouldn’t be questioned.

Edmund – The Shell House

I read this book when I was about 13 and I’m pretty sure it came at about the same time as my realising I was gay (triggered by Josh Hartnett in Pearl Harbour – what an absolute BABE), and what hit me most was Edmund’s story oh dealing with being gay during the First World War. It emotionally destroyed me then, and I’m sure rereading it now would do exactly the same thing.

Olivia – The Paper and Hearts Society

I admire Olivia so much as a person. She’s not afraid to fight for what she believes in, or for her friends. I love how she spends time figuring out who she is and doesn’t try to force it, even when she feels like she should have all the answers, she still lets herself work things out on her own time. Demi rep is so rare as well that it’s brilliant to see it!

So there we go! Those are six of my favourite LGBTQ+ characters. I could go on and on and on but I’ll leave it there. Are there any you think should be on the list? Let me know in the comments or on twitter, and I’ll see you next time!

Do You Dream of Terra-Two?

What is up my book nerds! Okay, something bizarre has happened; I’ve read an adult book! No, not that kind of adult book (although one of my friends reads a lot of them and damn maybe I should try some) but an actual, aimed at grown ups book. I know, it’s shocking isn’t it.

I hadn’t heard much about Do You Dream of Terra-Two? by Temi Oh when it was first published back in March. All I knew was that it was a cool sci-fi story and it was meant to be really good. Other than that, I hate to say that I kind of ignored it.

Cue lock down, and me needing things to read (I say as I shove the piles of unread books under a blanket and pretend they aren’t there), so I got myself a copy, and I am SO glad I did.

Do You Dream of Terra-Two? is the story of six English teenagers who have been training for years to become part of the crew to go and colonise a new, Earth-like planet. Why are they teenagers? Well, that’s because the journey to this new Earth, Terra-Two, is going to take 23 YEARS! Thats right, 23 years. Two and a bit decades. Longer than my friend Martha has been alive. Almost as long as we’ve been waiting for the final Game of Thrones book.

I’m just going to say here, I absolutely LOVED that this was set in the UK, and in the recent past (2012 to be exact) albeit with a much more advanced state of technology and space explorations – in it there are people living on Mars, an inhabited space station orbiting Europa, and an engine design capable of interstellar travel. Y’know, just a bit more advanced… So often, books about space travel are either entirely in space or are set in the US (I guess given the role that NASA has played as the poster boy for Space), so having so many familiar elements, like landmarks of London, or descriptions of small, terraced streets in Liverpool, made it even better for me. Plus, I could relate to each other characters just that bit more, because I’d either been in their shoes (although I’m not a child prodigy) or I’d been around people like them.

The story bounces between the perspectives of the six teenage astronauts, the Beta and crew of The Damocles, with each bringing their own distinct personality to the tale. We have Harry, the trainee pilot, a handsome, rich, posh boy who succeeds at everything first try and thinks daddy’s money makes him better than everyone else; Poppy, the linguist from the poorer areas of Liverpool, who was chosen as the communications officer because of her looks and worries that was all; Juno and Astrid, twins who both have their own reasons for wanting to go to Terra-Two, including some strangely prophetic dreams; Eliot, the prodigy of mechanics and robotics, hand picked for the program when he was 11; Ara, care free and fun loving, and not the person you’d think of as being the best fit for a long term mission, cooped up inside a space craft. We’re also introduced to Jesse, a loner from the Astronaut school (is that the right term? It feels too casual when it’s literally a school training preteens to abandon their families and planet to go to another solar system…) who’s the first alternate member of the Beta if anything happens to a member of the crew (SPOILER: something happens to a member of the crew), and who has a strange belief that he’s going to leave Earth by the time he’s 20.

Although there is a brilliant story, with some genuinely shocking moments from the very start, there are so many important points in this book; If you knew you were leaving to be the first colonist of a new planet, would you want to replicate our current world or try and make it better? Can you ever truly be part of a group that was formed without you? It also made me consider whether or not I could be one of the Beta. Not from an aptitude standpoint, I know I am no where near good enough to be an astronaut, but from a “Leave everyone and everything you’ve ever known and go to an enclosed space surrounded by a void of black for the next quarter century” view. I don’t think I could. The Damocles isn’t like a ship from Star Trek (Voyager is the best ship, don’t come for me) where it can just stop somewhere for everyone to pop out for a walk in the air, once you’re on it, you’re on it until the end, and I know I’d get cabin fever within a few days.

It also raises some moral questions, especially with the ethics of picking children to commit to a mission very early. I don’t know about you, but at 11, I was a mess. If you’d asked me if I wanted to be an astronaut, I would’ve said “Yeah sure!” and then changed my mind a week later. I would’ve been happy to have some independence from my parents, but then hated that I wasn’t able to see them when I wanted. I wouldn’t have understood the concept that, if I were successful, I’d be getting on a ship and leaving my entire world (literally) behind and I’d never see or speak to anyone I knew ever again. So how can it be justified that this is exactly what is done?

I didn’t think I was going to love Do You Dream of Terra-Two? as much as I did, but it is genuinely one of my favourite books this year. The concept, the characters, the story, the epic space exploration, all of it combines in the incredible, unique book. If you’re a fan of realistic sci-fi, Do You Dream of Terra-Two? is one you cannot miss!

Have you read Do You Dream of Terra-Two? What did you think? Let me know in the comments or on twitter if you enjoyed it, or if there’s anything else you think I should read.

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