Trans Rights Readerthon Wrap-Up (+ mini-reviews!)

Posted 27th March 2023 by Sia in Blogathons, Fantasy Reviews, Queer Lit, Reading Challenges, Reviews / 0 Comments

I strayed QUITE a bit from my intended tbr, but altogether I read EIGHT books for the readerthon – and since I pledged $10 for every book read, that makes $80 for the A Place For Marsha project!

I think that’s pretty excellent, really.

My Twitter thread tracking my readathon progress is here (although due to Twitter squiggliness you have to go here to see the first book I read), but for a fuller rundown on each book, read on!

So You Want to be a Robot by Merc Fenn Wolfmoor
Genres: Fantasy, Queer Protagonists, Sci Fi, Science Fantasy
Representation: Queer cast

Step one: forget the convention and disregard the binary. Gender? Sexuality? Old words unsuited for new consciousness. The twenty-one stories in this book challenge the imagination as only acclaimed author A. Merc Rustad can. Pages of robots and AIs constructing lives and exploring "humanity"; wasted worlds with monstrous cityhearts; assassins and the perils of enchanted labyrinths; and always the raw truths of love, loss, and devotion. Step two: read these science-fiction and fantasy tales as if they are the only stories you will discover on your bookshelf this day. Step three: dare to feel.

I was expecting So You Want To Be a Robot to be excellent; I was not expecting it to be breathtaking. From the very first story, this book gave me everything my heart desired; world-walkers, dancers out to rescue the monster from under their bed, androids rescuing souls from sun-gods… And the prose!!! Yes, I knew Wolfmoor’s writing is magic, but SERIOUSLY.



I called this a collection of diamond prose and dazzling imagination on Twitter, and I STAND BY THAT SO HARD!

A Glimmer of Silver by Juliet Kemp
Genres: Queer Protagonists, Sci Fi
Representation: Nonbinary cast
ISBN: B07G395L3F

Jennery is floating on xyr back when Ocean speaks for the first time. Just three days away from freedom, all Jennery has ever wanted to do was become a musician—because if you reach sixteen and Ocean hasn't spoken to you once, then you can pursue a different life instead of becoming a Communicator.

But Ocean speaks to Jennery—only to Jennery. And Ocean is angry. And when Ocean is angry, bad things happen to the humans who have colonized Ocean's world. Jennery must choose whether to listen or to swim away.

A Glimmer of Silver is a novella about responsibility, growing up, and what happens after first contact.

Although the writing was maybe a little simpler than I was expecting, this was a lovely novella that is part (belated) First Contact, part environmental fic, part coming-of-age. I really liked that Ocean was properly alien, and that that alienness was presented without judgement – yes, Ocean is dangerous; yes, Ocean is therefore scary; yes, it’s okay to resent Ocean’s upper hand – so long as you can still accept the compromises required to live in peace with it. And I liked what turned out to be the real cause of the conflict between Ocean and humanity – I thought that was pretty interesting.

Telling this story as a novella was absolutely the right choice; A Glimmer of Silver was exactly as long as it needed to be, neither rushed nor padded to fit. I’m definitely learning to spot and appreciate that!

Good Monsters And Friends: Stories by Merc Fenn Wolfmoor
Genres: Fantasy, Queer Protagonists, Sci Fi
Representation: Queer MCs

Making friends with monsters is easy—bring them cookies!

A young man must find a new reality to live in when his disappears. Birds team up to right the wrongs of classic literature. An android raises baby dinosaurs after the human world ends. Grandma reveals how she invented intergalactic diplomacy...and more.
Good Monsters and Friends collects 33 stories about astronauts and cats, dragons and witches, portals and quests, ghosts and robots, and, of course, all the monsters and their buddies.

This turned out to mostly be a collection of micro-fiction, and I think I’ve been spoiled by Yoon Ha Lee’s collection The Fox’s Tower, because Wolfmoor’s micro-fic didn’t measure up, alas. There were some wonderful short stories, but the best of them were also included in So You Want To Be a Robot – all in all, I’d definitely recommend that collection rather than this one.

No Man of Woman Born by Ana Mardoll
Genres: Fantasy, Queer Protagonists
Representation: Trans MCs, nonbinary MCs
ISBN: 9780984982295

Destiny sees what others don't.

A quiet fisher mourning the loss of xer sister to a cruel dragon. A clever hedge-witch gathering knowledge in a hostile land. A son seeking vengeance for his father's death. A daughter claiming the legacy denied her. A princess laboring under an unbreakable curse. A young resistance fighter questioning everything he's ever known. A little girl willing to battle a dragon for the sake of a wish. These heroes and heroines emerge from adversity into triumph, recognizing they can be more than they ever imagined: chosen ones of destiny.

From the author of the Earthside series and the Rewoven Tales novels, No Man of Woman Born is a collection of seven fantasy stories in which transgender and nonbinary characters subvert and fulfill gendered prophecies. These prophecies recognize and acknowledge each character's gender, even when others do not. Note: No trans or nonbinary characters were killed in the making of this book. Trigger warnings and neopronoun pronunciation guides are provided for each story.

Gods, I loved this so much! Mardoll’s prose is elegant and lovely, and I was delighted with all the different ways this collection subverted gender in prophecy. There’s no gimmick here; these are all genuinely excellent stories, and would still be so even if they didn’t feature nonbinary heroes (although I’m really glad they do!) Impossible to pick favourites, but I did especially appreciate the twist in the Sleeping Beauty-esque story!

Rituals (Rhapsody of Blood #1) by Roz Kaveney
Genres: Fantasy, Contemporary or Urban Fantasy, High Fantasy, Queer Protagonists
Representation: Brown sapphic MC, white sapphic MC, F/F, minor trans and nonbinary rep

Two women - and the workings of Time and Fate.

In a time too long ago for most human memory, a god asked Mara what she most wanted. She got her wish: to protect the weak against the strong. For millennia, she has avenged that god, and her dead sisters, against anyone who uses the Rituals of Blood to become a god through mass murder. And there are few who can stand against her.
A sudden shocking incident proves to Emma that the modern world is not what she thought it was, that there are demons and gods and elves and vampires. Her weapon is knowledge, and she pursues it wherever it leads her. The one thing she does not know is who she - and her ghostly lover, Caroline - are working for.

Rhapsody of Blood is a four-part epic fantasy not quite like anything you've read before: a helter-skelter ride through history and legend, from Tenochitlan to Los Angeles, from Atlantis to London. It is a story of death, love and the end of worlds - and of dangerous, witty women.

I’m working on a full review for this one, but the TL;DR version is that this is a MASTERPIECE of queer myth-making and you should absolutely not judge it by the cover. It is as epic and amazing as the cover is not, I swear!

Let the Mountains Be My Grave by Francesca Tacchi
Genres: Fantasy, Historical Fantasy, Queer Protagonists
Representation: Queer MC, M/M
ISBN: 9781952086410

Let the Mountains Be My Grave unfolds at breakneck pace in 1944 Italy, where partisan Veleno thinks of nothing but killing as many Nazis as he can before leaving this world. Beloved by the ancient Italic goddess Angitia, Veleno is the perfect person to recover a strange weapon the Nazis are planning to use against the Allies in the battle of Montecassino, but doing so may force him to confront his death differently than he expects.

Part of the 2022 Neon Hemlock Novella Series.

Advanced praise for Let the Mountains Be My Grave:
“A touching story about finding hope in times of war and desolation, with a fascinating take on the survival of pagan magic.”—Xiran Jay Zhao, author of Iron Widow

“If you liked Inglorious Basterds but wish there was more kissing and ancient theology, this is the book for you!”—R.J. Theodore, author of Flotsam and Salvage

“A novella that reads like a shot of adrenaline, Let the Mountains Be My Grave is an explosive, high-octane queer Nazi-fighting fantasy packed with tightly-paced action, ancient Gods, and unexpected allies.” —Anya Ow, author of Cradle and Grave

“An intense and thrilling historical fantasy that combines bloody action, sharp character work, ancient gods, and a touch of romance.” —Charles Payseur, author of The Burning Day

I have to admit, this was a disappointment. Unlike Glimmer of Silver, I don’t think this story fit inside a novella; it felt rushed and squashed, like it needed much more room to breathe. The premise was great, but I didn’t love the prose, or a fair bit of the execution.

The Winter Knight by Jes Battis
Genres: Fantasy, Contemporary or Urban Fantasy, Queer Protagonists
Representation: Gay autistic MC, ace-spectrum panromantic MC
Published on: 4th April 2023
ISBN: 177852107X

Arthurian legends are reborn in this upbeat queer urban fantasy with a mystery at its heart

The knights of the round table are alive in Vancouver, but when one winds up dead, it’s clear the familiar stories have taken a left turn. Hildie, a Valkyrie and the investigator assigned to the case, wants to find the killer — and maybe figure her life out while she’s at it. On her short list of suspects is Wayne, an autistic college student and the reincarnation of Sir Gawain, who these days is just trying to survive in a world that wasn’t made for him. After finding himself at the scene of the crime, Wayne is pulled deeper into his medieval family history while trying to navigate a new relationship with the dean’s charming assistant, Burt — who also happens to be a prime murder suspect. To figure out the truth, Wayne and Hildie have to connect with dangerous forces: fallen knights, tricky runesmiths, the Wyrd Sisters of Gastown. And a hungry beast that stalks Wayne’s dreams.

The Winter Knight is a propulsive urban fairy tale and detective story with queer and trans heroes that asks what it means to be a myth, who gets to star in these tales, and ultimately, how we make our stories our own.

I was lucky enough to get on arc of this, and I have a full review of it going live tomorrow, in which I wax EXTREMELY poetic because it is SO VERY GREAT! I loved everything about this – that it plays with and examines Arthurian myth without being a retelling; the amazing prose that is clever and poetic and hilarious by turns; and a cast I absolutely adored. So queer and dreamy and wonderfully weird!

Two Dark Moons (Sãoni Cycle, #1) by Avi Silver, Haley Szereszewski
Genres: Fantasy, Queer Protagonists
Representation: Queer MC, nonbinary love interest

Sohmeng Par is sick of being treated like a child. Ever since a tragic accident brought her mountain community’s coming-of-age ritual to a halt, she’s caused nothing but trouble in her impatience to become an adult. But when she finally has the chance to prove herself, she’s thrown from her life in the mountains and into the terror of the jungle below.

Cornered by a colony of reptilian predators known as the sãoni, Sohmeng is rescued by Hei, an eccentric exile with no shortage of secrets. As likely to bite Sohmeng as they are to cook her breakfast, this stranger and their family of lizards are like nothing she’s ever seen before. If she wants to survive, she must find a way to adapt to the vibrant, deadly world of the rainforest and the creatures that inhabit it—including Hei themself. But Sohmeng has secrets of her own, and sharing them could mean losing everything a second time.

Sometimes a family is you, the kid that screech-danced and bit you, and a pack of (not!-)murderous lizards. And that’s okay.

Actually, it’s not okay – it’s GREAT. This was sweet and deep and high-stakes with really original, interesting worldbuilding, and WOW do I ship the ship. I ship it SO HARD. They are the cutest couple ever. And that ending left me RABID for the sequel, which luckily has been out for a while so I don’t need to wait for it – WHICH IS FORTUNATE BECAUSE WOW I CANNOT WAIT TO LEARN WHAT HAPPENS NEXT!!!

So there you have it! Did you take part in the readathon? Have you read any of these books (or have any recs for me?) Let me know!

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