Book Recs

Impostors Book Review

“Frey and Rafi are inseparable . . . two edges of the same knife. But Frey's very existence is a secret.

 Scottwesterfeld.com

Scottwesterfeld.com

Frey is Rafi’s twin sister—and her body double. Their powerful father has many enemies, and the world has grown dangerous as the old order falls apart. So while Rafi was raised to be the perfect daughter, Frey has been taught to kill. Her only purpose is to protect her sister, to sacrifice herself for Rafi if she must.

When her father sends Frey in Rafi’s place as collateral in a precarious deal, she becomes the perfect impostor—as poised and charming as her sister. But Col, the son of a rival leader, is getting close enough to spot the killer inside her. As the deal starts to crumble, Frey must decide if she can trust him with the truth . . . and if she can risk becoming her own person.

With Impostors, master storyteller Scott Westerfeld returns with a new series set in the world of his mega-bestselling Uglies—a world full of twist and turns, rebellion and intrigue, where any wrong step could be Frey’s last.”

I first started reading Scott Westerfeld’s YA novels years ago. To this day I regularly recommend his Uglies book series for fans of dystopian novels. When I heard that he was returning to the Uglies world with a new book, I was ecstatic. It’s the first time in quite a while that I’ve gone to a bookstore to get a book as soon as it came out.

Book: Impostors

Author: Scott Westerfeld

Genre: YA Science Fiction

Rating: 4/5

A New Exciting Look at What Happens After the Revolution Ends

Years after the revolution ends and Tally Youngblood vanishes, society has re-built. For some cities, the changes have been for the better. For other cities, citizens aren’t as free as Tally Youngblood probably envisioned.

Impostors is a fast-paced story with memorable, fleshed-out characters and an extensive look at what happens to society after a revolution ends. Once I picked it up I couldn’t put it down. At times I found myself skimming sentences because I was so eager to see what would happen next.

The action started right away and pretty much never stopped. There weren’t very many quiet moments in this novel, including much time for reflection. And yet, Westerfeld manages to craft masterful character development. Frey is a joy to read. She’s a strong girl who never lets her fears or psychological scars stop her from going after her goals.

Frey made this book. She’s fierce and strong, but still expresses vulnerability. As someone who was raised to be a body double, whose only purpose was to die for her sister, who doesn’t even exist in any official capacity, you would expect her to be a more jaded, cold individual. But her love for her sister is unbreakable and her feelings for Col are solid from early on.

You don’t need to read the Uglies series to understand this novel, but without the world-building from the previous four books you may find yourself a bit lost. Impostors makes quite a few nods and references to the first four books in the series. While this is fun for me, it may be confusing for a new reader.

What I love most about this book though is that we get to see what happens after the revolution is over. In dystopian novels the entire book (or book series) focuses on changing the social order and upending governmental policies. I love those stories, don’t get me wrong, but it is very rare that you get to see what happens when those goals are met. How does society rebuild after being broken? How do people move on after being set free?

Impostors shows us that there is no easy answer for this. In some cities, freedom and privacy are highly protected. In others, leaders rule in an absolute dictatorship, censoring the media and spying on every aspect of civilian and government life. And on the outskirts are the rebels, the ones who helped this revolution begin in the first place, still fighting for their own extreme ideological ideals.

Raising a body double certainly isn’t a new idea, but the political motivations for everything Frey and Rafia’s father have done over the course of their lives was honestly shocking. Raising Frey to die for Rafia wasn’t as simple as a chess move for power, though, it was rooted in fear after the death of their older brother. There’s a lot of layers built into this story and the ending has promised me it’s only going to get more complicated.

There are only a couple reasons this book didn’t get a 5/5 from me, but they’re pretty big ones. The first is simply that the romantic relationship between Frey and Col happened too quickly for me to believe. I didn’t feel their chemistry and I would have liked to see their relationship develop more organically over the course of the book.

My second reason for dropping the rating had to do with the chapter lengths. This is a personal pet peeve of mine so it won’t bother everyone, but I hated how short the chapters were. In most sections the content of three chapters could have been condensed into one. By having so many chapter breaks I actually felt jarred out of the story.

Overall, Impostors makes a great addition to the Uglies universe, with strong characters and a fast-paced plot. I can’t wait to read what happens next.

7 Amazing LGBT Books Coming Out This Fall

I don’t know about you, but I’m always looking for new queer books. Years ago when I was first figuring out my sexuality, LGBT novels could actually be kinda hard to find. Luckily in 2018, new books featuring queer characters are coming out much more frequently.

Here’s 7 of them that are coming out this fall that I’m super excited about.

LGBT Books Fall 2018

1. What If It’s Us - Adam Silvera & Becky Albertalli

Arthur is only in New York for the summer, but if Broadway has taught him anything, it’s that the universe can deliver a showstopping romance when you least expect it.

Ben thinks the universe needs to mind its business. If the universe had his back, he wouldn’t be on his way to the post office carrying a box of his ex-boyfriend’s things.

But when Arthur and Ben meet-cute at the post office, what exactly does the universe have in store for them?

Maybe nothing. After all, they get separated.

Maybe everything. After all, they get reunited.

But what if they can’t quite nail a first date . . . or a second first date . . . or a third?

What if Arthur tries too hard to make it work . . . and Ben doesn’t try hard enough?

What if life really isn’t like a Broadway play?

But what if it is?

Release Date: October 9th, 2018

2. Summer Bird Blue - Akemi Dawn

Rumi Seto spends a lot of time worrying she doesn’t have the answers to everything. What to eat, where to go, whom to love. But there is one thing she is absolutely sure of—she wants to spend the rest of her life writing music with her younger sister, Lea.

Then Lea dies in a car accident, and her mother sends her away to live with her aunt in Hawaii while she deals with her own grief. Now thousands of miles from home, Rumi struggles to navigate the loss of her sister, being abandoned by her mother, and the absence of music in her life. With the help of the “boys next door”—a teenage surfer named Kai, who smiles too much and doesn’t take anything seriously, and an eighty-year-old named George Watanabe, who succumbed to his own grief years ago—Rumi attempts to find her way back to her music, to write the song she and Lea never had the chance to finish.

Release Date: September 11th, 2018


3. Someday - David Levithan

For as long as A can remember, life has meant waking up in a different person's body every day, forced to live as that person until the day ended. A always thought there wasn't anyone else who had a life like this.

But A was wrong. There are others.

A has already been wrestling with powerful feelings of love and loneliness. Now comes an understanding of the extremes that love and loneliness can lead to -- and what it's like to discover that you are not alone in the world.

In Someday, David Levithan takes readers further into the lives of A, Rhiannon, Nathan, and the person they may think they know as Reverend Poole, exploring more deeply the questions at the core of Every Day and Another Day: What is a soul? And what makes us human?

Release Date: October 2nd, 2018

4. Black Wings Beating - Alex London

The people of Uztar have long looked to the sky with hope and wonder. Nothing in their world is more revered than the birds of prey and no one more honored than the falconers who call them to their fists.

Brysen strives to be a great falconer-- while his twin sister, Kylee, rejects her ancient gifts for the sport and wishes to be free of falconry. She's nearly made it out, too, but a war is rolling toward their home in the Six Villages, and no bird or falconer will be safe.

Together the twins must journey into the treacherous mountains to trap the Ghost Eagle, the greatest of the Uztari birds and a solitary killer. Brysen goes for the boy he loves and the glory he's long craved, and Kylee to atone for her past and to protect her brother's future. But both are hunted by those who seek one thing: power.

Release Date: September 25th, 2018

5. Girls of Paper and Fire - Natasha Ngan

Each year, eight beautiful girls are chosen as Paper Girls to serve the king. It's the highest honor they could hope for...and the most cruel.

But this year, there's a ninth girl. And instead of paper, she's made of fire.

In this lush fantasy, Lei is a member of the Paper caste, the lowest and most oppressed class in Ikhara. She lives in a remote village with her father, where the decade-old trauma of watching her mother snatched by royal guards still haunts her. Now, the guards are back, and this time it's Lei they're after--the girl whose golden eyes have piqued the king's interest.

Over weeks of training in the opulent but stifling palace, Lei and eight other girls learn the skills and charm that befit being a king's consort. But Lei isn't content to watch her fate consume her. Instead, she does the unthinkable--she falls in love. Her forbidden romance becomes enmeshed with an explosive plot that threatens the very foundation of Ikhara, and Lei, still the wide-eyed country girl at heart, must decide just how far she's willing to go for justice and revenge.

Release Date: November 6th, 2018


6. On a Sunbeam - Tillie Walden

On a Sunbeam is an epic graphic novel about a girl who travels to the ends of the universe to find a long lost love, from acclaimed author Tillie Walden.

Two timelines. Second chances. One love.

A ragtag crew travels to the deepest reaches of space, rebuilding beautiful, broken structures to piece the past together.

Two girls meet in boarding school and fall deeply in love―only to learn the pain of loss.

With interwoven timelines and stunning art, award-winning graphic novelist Tillie Walden creates an inventive world, breathtaking romance, and an epic quest for love.

Release Date: October 2nd, 2018


7. Pulp - Robin Talley

In 1955, eighteen-year-old Janet Jones keeps the love she shares with her best friend Marie a secret. It’s not easy being gay in Washington, DC, in the age of McCarthyism, but when she discovers a series of books about women falling in love with other women, it awakens something in Janet. As she juggles a romance she must keep hidden and a newfound ambition to write and publish her own story, she risks exposing herself—and Marie—to a danger all too real.

Sixty-two years later, Abby Zimet can’t stop thinking about her senior project and its subject—classic 1950s lesbian pulp fiction. Between the pages of her favorite book, the stresses of Abby’s own life are lost to the fictional hopes, desires and tragedies of the characters she’s reading about. She feels especially connected to one author, a woman who wrote under the pseudonym “Marian Love,” and becomes determined to track her down and discover her true identity.

In this novel told in dual narratives, New York Times bestselling author Robin Talley weaves together the lives of two young women connected across generations through the power of words. A stunning story of bravery, love, how far we’ve come and how much farther we have to go.

Release Date: November 13th, 2018

But why wait to read queer stories? Check out my free queer fiction or take a look at my favorite LGBT novels that are already available!

10 Queer Authors You Need To Follow Immediately

This year during Pride Month take some time to support the work of talented queer authors. As time goes on, more and more queer authors are getting published in both fiction and non-fiction. What is so amazing about this is that queer voices are being heard more often across the media, which means queerness in culture is getting more normalized as time goes on.

I’ve been out and proud since college -- though I am embarrassed now that it took so long for me to figure it out. I grew up around LGBT individuals and couples and I cultivated my love of writing because of male/male fanfiction. Once I finally understood that I was bisexual, I was obsessed with finding books about queer characters, and it was a challenge.

There are some amazing resources out there to help you find fantastic novels featuring queer characters, but I wanted to find queer authors who are writing about queer characters.

These are some of the amazing queer authors that I’ve found. I tried to focus on finding modern LGBTQ authors who are still regularly producing content so you can support their work as they write more amazing books.

10 Queer Authors you need to follow immediately.png

Author 1: Malinda Lo

If you’re like me, you probably heard of Malinda Lo because of her lesbian re-telling of Cinderella. Taking a problematic tale and flipping it to make it not only a story of a female hero, but a queer hero, is enough to snag anyone’s attention. Malinda Lo has several other YA fantasy novels, including one that was published just a few months ago.

Malinda Lo also researches diversity in YA. She’s a proud Asian author who posts regular social commentary on topics revolving around diversity.

Genre: YA Fantasy
Popular Work: Ash

Author 2: Sarah Waters

This author writes about events set during Victorian times with lesbian themes. That’s something you simply don’t see very often. She spends a lot of time doing research for her work, creating a vivid setting that feels completely realistic. I may be a bit biased because I love the Victorian period, but she’s written about other time periods as well.

She’s not published anything new in the past couple of years, but you should definitely check out her old work and keep your eyes peeled for new releases.

Genre: Historical Fiction
Popular Work: Tipping The Velvet

Author 3: CB Lee

If you are looking for diversity in the books you read, this is a queer author you need to check out. Her work features characters who are: bisexual, transgender, Hispanic, Chinese -- and that’s just the start! But her most popular work doesn’t focus on this diversity specifically, because the characters are too busy having superpowers.

Her books are the kind of stories I was looking for when I was a teenager. Keep an eye on her work; she’s not going away anytime soon.

Genre: YA Sci-Fi
Popular Work: Not Your Sidekick

Author 4: Saleen Haddad

I’ve not read this author yet, but I am so excited to. He plays with the role shame has in the life of a gay Arab man in his debut novel, which takes place in an unspecified Arab country after a failed political uprising. This is a unique perspective when it comes to queer stories and I’m really eager to see what this author has to say.

This is his first novel and he doesn’t come from a writing background, so I’m not sure if he plans to keep writing. Either way, his voice is one to listen to!

Genre: Literary Fiction
Popular Work: Guapa

Author 5: David Levithan

David Levithan is pretty well known in the LGBTQ fiction scene, and for good reason; he’s been publishing books featuring strong, gay characters for over a decade. As a teenager he was one of the only authors I could reliably find publishing YA with queer characters in my local library. He’s still writing so keep an eye out for his work.

He also has done collaborations which are worth checking out as well.

Genre: YA
Popular Work:  Every Day

Author 6: Sara Farizan

I cannot talk enough about this author. If You Could Be Mine isn’t just a story about two women falling in love, it’s a story about two women falling for each other in Iran. I was so excited to discover a novel that focuses on a part of the world we rarely get to see in Western media. The cover art for her new book was just announced, which focuses on the topic of race in high school.

She also has a second novel, Tell Me Again How a Crush Should Feel already published. If you like diversity and YA fiction I highly recommend you look into her work. Immediately.

Genre: YA
Popular Work: If You Could Be Mine

Author 7: Charlie Jane Anders

This author and advocate wrote the award-winning speculative fiction novel All the Birds in the Sky. This is a story that combines magic, technology, and the apocalypse all into one book. She’s also organized a lot of events that are aimed at the queer community. She’s still writing and her newest work should be coming out next year.

I feel as though trans individuals are highly underrepresented, so I’m excited that someone so proud and vocal is getting published.

Genre: Speculative Fiction
Popular Work: All the Birds in the Sky

Author 8: C Alexander London

This man has written across a huge range of genres, so you’ll probably find something you like by him. I’m not kidding. He’s written YA, middle grade lit, picture books, and adult books. He’s a gay man writing gay characters into stories that didn’t used to have gay characters.

You can read this author’s work yourself, but also share his picture books with children. Like I said, he’s written something for everyone.

Genre: Everything
Popular Work: Proxy

Author 9: Chinelo Okapanta

This Nigerian-American author made a huge splash in the literary world and is proof that those who work in education can also publish amazing novels. I could list all the awards she’s been nominated for with her debut novel, but that would simply take up too much space.

She’s also published a lot of short stories and essays, which are worth checking out if you can find them.

Genre: Short Stories, Literary Fiction
Popular Work: Under the Udala Trees

Author 10: C.A. Higgins

C.A. Higgins is a relatively new author, which means she’s got many years ahead of her to keep publishing books. Her work is firmly written for sci-fi fans, dealing with both classic topics (space) and newer topics that have been gaining traction in fiction in recent years (AI). Also, she has a degree in physics, which gives her an edge over other science fiction authors.

To be fair, I’ve only seen her mention girl crushes in several interviews, so I’m not exactly sure where she fits under the queer umbrella, but she’s an author to watch!

Genre: Sci-Fi
Popular Work: Lightless

BONUS Author: April Presnell

Ok, so I’m not published yet and I don’t have any books out that you can read, but I’m getting close to finishing the first draft of FanFact, a story about a fangirl who finds herself in the “fictional” world of her favorite book series. She runs into Blane and Liam, the two boys she ships in the series, and gets tangled up in the plot of the third, not yet released book in the trilogy.

Every project I work on features queer characters, so stick around if you’re interested! I blog here weekly and send out the occasional email to email subscribers with exclusive content.

Genre: Fantasy
Popular Work: FanFact

You can read a preview of FanFact here:

FanFact Excerpt 1
FanFact Excerpt 2
Exclusive Short Story For Email Subscribers

Who is your favorite queer author? Let me know in the comments!