HEROES NEED DISPOSABLE WOMEN: The Refrigerator Monologues by Catherynne M. Valente

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My last non-Top-5-Wednesday post was about the Women in Refrigerators trope as a whole, so if you want some background about that, I suggest you read it. I’ll provide a Readers Digest version of the trope, but those that want a deeper understanding, as well as some examples, may want to check out that entry first!

The Stuffed Into The Fridge trope became famous in a Green Lantern comic storyline of old. Kyle Rayner came home to find his girlfriend chopped up by the bad guy and stuffed into his refrigerator. Well, to be honest, I’m not entirely sure she was chopped up, but it’d be kind of hard to fit her into the fridge if she wasn’t, right? I guess that’s beside the point. Anyway, this gave our friend Kyle enough man-pain to really get his ass in gear and beat the villain.

It wasn’t an ‘officially’ named trope back when it first started happening, and I say ‘first’ as loosely as possible. Women being killed, raped, paralyzed, put into a coma, etc, in order to provide the male hero with enough motivation to beat the bad dude has been happening for… a while. Since before comic books were a thing. Since way before that specific comic book was a thing. But Gail Simone, a comic book writer, coined the term ‘fridging’ based on that Green Lantern comic and since then, it’s stuck.

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Catherynne Valente, of Deathless and Fairyland series fame, and one of my favorite writers, wrote this book of short stories based on the unsettling feeling most female geeks get from this particular trope. With illustrations by Annie Wu that contributed to the comic book theme of each story, this short read was, I imagine, must like taking a bungee plunge off a cliff: sobering and jarring, but ultimately satisfying.

The stories are grounded in a sort of urban afterlife occupied by standard demon-esque monsters along with, of course, various dead people. The women telling their tales of heroic woe meet as a sort of club in a cozy locale, and are made up of several on-the-nose dupes of famous comic book women of today. There’s Paige, the Gwen Stacy, dealing with her boyfriend gaining superpowers from a scientific means. There’s Julia, the Jean Grey, doomed to pop in and out of the afterlife due to a shit-ton of retconning. There’s Pauline, the Harley Quinn, stuck to her evil boyfriend but ultimately disposed of by him. There’s Blue Bayou, the Mera, who takes a backseat to her human husband’s grief when they lose a child. There’s Daisy, the Karen Page, taking second fiddle to her superhero boyfriend even though she puts just as much work in. And, of course, there’s Samantha, the Alexandra DeWitt, who ends up stuffed into a refrigerator just like her Green Lantern counterpart.

When I first began reading this, I hovered between thinking it was genius and thinking it was just a big old ripoff. Pauline’s story particularly made my bullshit alarms go off, since she was so utterly transparently a Harley Quinn reference. That was the first time reading through. The second time, it was much clearer to me that these weren’t spoofs, or knockoffs, or dupes, they were accusations, and accusations that needed to be made.

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Valente pulls from both Marvel and DC, but still manages to develop a single world of her own despite the characters being thinly-veiled representations of the real (so to speak) fridged women in comics from both companies. The villain in one story is mentioned in another; the superhero team reminiscent of the Avengers or Justice League is composed of all the girls’ hero boyfriends and husbands, and exist in not only the same universe, but the same storyline.

I think that my favorite thing about this selection of stories is how bitter the heroines are allowed to be. None of them smile and take their fate with a scoff and a good-natured smile. They realize how unfair it was that they died in the name of their superpowered partners, and they aren’t happy about it. Some are more upfront about it than others, but none of them are complacent. Even Pauline, true to her Harley Quinn roots, who still feels a fair amount of affection for her puddin’, realizes how shitty it was that she died for him.

I’m aware that this is a short review, but, truth be told, I said most of what I had to say about fridging in the article I wrote exclusively for it, the article linked above. Before I leave, though, I do want to say that I think this book would be a drastically better experience if there was an audiobook of it, with each chapter read by different actresses. Seriously, that would be amazing, and I’m shocked it hasn’t happened yet. If it weren’t for those darn copyright laws, I’d assemble some friends and do it myself, honestly. Quite frankly, I’m considering doing it just for fun and not posting it anywhere. Maaaaaybe.

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Anyway, like, go read this book. It took me about three hours the first time through and maybe an hour and a half the second time around. It’s amazingly insightful and filled me with so much feminist rage to direct at other things, I might just reread it before every rally.

Tomorrow I’m going to try something new, so stay tuned. We’ll see if it sticks or not.

Also, a small  note before I forget: this Friday I will be taking a trip to Portland, Oregon, and I don’t plan on taking my computer with me. So I will be gone for the week. However, I will probably write up my Top 5 Wednesday beforehand and just slap it in my drafts so I can post it from my phone. When I get back, I imagine I’ll have quite a book haul from Powell’s and Kinokuniya to show you guys!

See you tomorrow!

♥ Kell

 

TOP 5 WEDNESDAY: Favorite Unlikable Protagonists

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I am the literal queen of unlikable protagonists, but hoo boy, this is a tough one. Not because I can’t think of any unlikable protagonists that I enjoy, obviously, but because a lot of other people’s unlikable protagonists are actually… quite likable to me (Holden Caulfield) and a lot of protagonists that are incredibly likable to others are unlikable to me (Hermione Granger). But I’m going to do my best here.

You will notice that all of these hail from my favorite genre, my ‘home’ genre, if you will: horror. That is because if a protagonist is meant to be unlikable, and they are not a serial killer or crazed lunatic, I probably will find them terribly uninteresting or underwhelming. But that’s just me and my fondness for murderous protagonists.

So, without further ado, let me introduce you to my four fucked up asshole sons, Victor, Light, Herbert, Patrick, Andrew, and Jay.

1. Victor Frankenstein (Frankenstein)

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Alright, I’m just gonna come out and say it. The reason Victor is an unlikable protagonist isn’t because he graverobbed his way to a weird human-quilt of a son and played god out of sheer curiosity. Nah, that ain’t it. What makes Victor difficult to read isn’t the fact that he’s a creep, it’s the fact that he’s so goddamn whiny and dramatic about it.

This little bitch brings a dead body back to life and is so utterly shook by it that he has to lie in bed and be coddled by his buddy Henry Clerval for four months. Yeah, you read that right. Four months. Like, dude, you’re the one who wanted to do this. You should have psyched yourself up more beforehand. You can’t go bringing things back from the dead for science and then getting spooked when it works.

Later, when he’s finally gotten over it, he discovers his little brother William has been murdered and he automatically assumes the creature he made is the thing that did it. I mean, he did, but way to assume. So instead of, y’know, taking responsibility for his weird undead manchild, what does he do? Runs away to the mountains to sit there and marinate in his guilt until the creature hunts him down to call him out on his bullshit.

Victor, my dude, you didn’t think this one through. Still, I can’t help but love the little asshole. He was basically the 18th century equivalent of a college dude fucking around in his basement. He’s like the annoying, disappointing son I will never have.

2. Light Yagami (Death Note)

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Look, another smart white guy playing god. Light Yagami is even worse than Victor, because he’s not even a college student, he’s a high school student. So he’s walking down the street one day and he notices this weird black book lying on the ground, so naturally he picks it up, and sees it says DEATH NOTE on the front in creepy letters. Cool. He takes it with him, which, if this were a horror movie and he was a stereotypical protagonist, would immediately mean the audience yelling at the screen what dumbass he is. But nah, he’s not a dumbass. Just a massive dick.

The first thing he does after he figures out what this book does is decide that he’s gonna be some sort of couch potato vigilante, extracting justice without even having to leave the comfort of his room. He vows to rid the world of naughty people, not even seeming to consider that murdering people might be a little naughty, too.

Light is the dickest of dicks. He basically kills anyone who even gets close to figuring out he’s the one magically murdering all the city’s criminals, he uses the only people who really enjoy his company to his own careless advantage, and (and maybe this should have been first on the list), he thinks it’s ultimately his decision who deserves to live and who deserves to die. He’s basically a lazier Dexter Morgan.

But, honestly, he’s pretty fascinating. Y’know, from a psychological perspective. And I can’t really bring myself to dislike him. Plus, he gave us this gem:

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Literally murdering people under the guise of eating potato chips. What a legend.

3. Herbert West (Herbert West: Reanimator)

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I will admit, my introduction to Herbert was via the movie version of Re-Animator rather than the story. But it did inspire me to go read the story, which… alright, I didn’t enjoy quite as much as the movie, but was still pretty good, cause, y’know, it’s H.P. Lovecraft. Now, Herbert is yet another white college guy playing god… hold on, could it be that I have a type? No, c’est impossible! Eh heh… heh….

Anyway, Herbert is like Victor in a lot of ways. He’s a college student, he’s weirdly obsessed with bringing people back from the dead, and he’s totally fine with robbing graves in the name of science. There are a couple of key differences between Herbert and Victor, however. The first is that, unlike Victor, Herbert is actually happy when he succeeds, and doesn’t cry about it like a little bitch. The second is that Herbert drags someone else into it, our narrator, who has no name in the short story but is named Dan Cain in the movie.

Herbert could not give a metric shit about anyone but himself and his lil science project throughout the course of the story (which is actually pretty meaty for a short story), and continually forces the narrator/Dan into his schemes. However, despite the fact that he’s a selfish, narcissistic asshole, there’s still something rather endearing about him, in both the book and movie versions but especially the movie.

4. Patrick Bateman (American Psycho)

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I know people who absolutely despise Christian Bale solely for the fact that he starred in the movie version of this book and was such a dick the entire time. And honestly, I don’t blame them at all; Patrick is everything I hate about men rolled up into one shitty little package. He’s rich, self-obsessed, petty, shallow, misogynistic, violent toward women… basically, if he were uglier, he could be president.

But there’s one thing that saves the character of Patrick Bateman, and that is the fact that he is literally a spoof on the type of men mentioned above, written by a gay man, and presented as a social commentary (much like Chuck Palahniuk). There’s just something about Patrick that’s inherently hilarious, something that keeps me from being completely disgusted and horrified whenever I read the book. Bret Easton Ellis knows exactly what to exaggerate and what to leave fucked up, from Patrick’s obsession with his coworker’s business cards to the horrifying way he treats the prostitutes he’s hired (and renamed).

5. Andrew Compton and Jay Byrne (Exquisite Corpse)

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Okay these guys are the ones I have the least excuse for liking as much as I do. They’re god-awful people. They’re serial killers, necrophiliacs, possibly the worst couple to ever exist. But dude, dude. They’re such great characters. Villains are so often queer-coded without being made explicitly gay, gay characters are so often woobified and made to look perfect in an attempt to not offend. Having two genuinely horrifying gay villains (who are still protagonists; the entire book is from their points of view) is so cool to me.

Not to mention, serial killers in horror, especially this kind of splatterpunk, extreme horror, are usually misogynistic men who get off on raping and killing women, which, as a horror fan, I won’t go so far as to say is wrong to write about (the horror of it is quite clear), is still disgustingly common enough to make me groan whenever I encounter another one (which is why I stopped reading a lot of Edward Lee, even though I love his style, and prefer Jack Ketchum these days, who seems to have more varied protagonists).

The way Poppy Z. Brite (who, by the way, is my favorite author of all time) gets in these guys’ heads and shows us why they do the things they do, how they feel when they do it, what they get out of it, et cetera, is beyond fascinating. I’ll take these fictional serial killers over any true crime nonfiction, thanks.


And that’s it for this week! Tune in next time for another Top 5 Wednesday! I should have a couple more entries up this week, but if I get lazy and put them off, I’ll see you then!

♥ Kell

FRIDGING: A Serious Talk About Women in Fiction

WARNING: This post contains spoilers for The Mummy (2017), The Dark Knight, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and Thor: The Dark World. The last three have been out for a while so you probably have seen them already if you care. Still, just a warning!

Hello, everybody. Today I’m going to talk about something that’s only partially book-related. And quite frankly, that might happen more often. I love movies just as much as books. I’m a media person in general. So I’m sorry if people have a big problem with the concept of me talking about movies and TV as well.

Well… actually, nah, I’m not really sorry.

But I have to talk about this because it’s something that really chaps my ass, really burns my bacon, really twists my knickers. See, I had the misfortune of being dragged to see The Mummy yesterday, and let me tell you, that’s an hour and a half of my life I’m never going to get back. I could have been watching Wonder Woman again. I sat there staring at Tom Cruise’s ugly mug knowing that somewhere, in that very same building, people were staring at Gal Gadot and Robin Wright. It just wasn’t fair. At least I didn’t pay for it.

Anyway. The whole time I was watching the two (count ’em: two) female characters in that sausage fest of a movie, I was utterly bothered, and it took a while for me to realize exactly why I was bothered. These two women, both of them, they weren’t people. They weren’t fleshed-out characters with strong personalities. Ahmanet is a two-dimensional villain who spends the whole movie chasing after Tom Cruise so she can turn him into Set and have a buddy, or a fuck buddy, or whatever, and Jenny was a great character for probably the first minute and a half after she was introduced, afterwards doing a complete one-eighty and also becoming weirdly fixated on Tom Cruise and forgetting that she had her own agenda. I don’t even remember his character’s name, because there was very little acting involved. I’m not even sure they gave him a script.

There are spoilers for the movie beyond this point, but honestly, you shouldn’t spend any money on it, so I wouldn’t really care if I was you.

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TOP 5 WEDNESDAY: Favorite Side Ships

Hey guys! Welcome back to Top 5 Wednesday.

Before I begin, I must gush at you. Last night I got to meet my favorite author in the whole world, Victoria Schwab, for the second time. She was touring with Madeleine Roux, author of the Asylum series, and she was a total delight as well. Talking with Victoria never gets old, and I don’t think it ever will. She’s a writer after my own heart. They took some questions from a local bookstore, then from the audience, and as a fellow writer I loved listening to their perspectives on writing and publishing. And Victoria remembered me from last time! It probably helps that I have the same name as one of her main characters.

Maddie: Do you want [the book signing] personalized?
Me: Sure! My name’s Kell, with two Ls.
Victoria: Hell yeah it is!

Anyway, if their tour comes anywhere near you, I highly recommend you high-tail it to the bookstore or library or wherever they’re speaking and have a listen!

Enough with my fangirling. Here’s Top 5 Wednesday!

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This week’s prompt is ‘Side Ships: Tell us your favorite relationships that don’t involve the protagonist!’

Now, I’m not entirely sure if this is supposed to be only canon ships, only non-canon, etc, so I’m gonna have a lil of both. You will notice a trend here, and that is the fact that I absolutely despise ‘will they or won’t they’ relationships. I usually either want them to be literally married and together forever, or never have a chance of getting together and have a ship composed entirely of fanon stuff (there is one, arguably two, notable exceptions here, but for the most part, this holds true). This is because I’m an immature little pissbaby and hate devoting myself to something that isn’t set in stone, at least in regards to fiction.

You will also note that most of these are het. In fact, all but one are het. This is because most, if not all, of my same-gender ships involve protagonists. Or are in shows and movies rather than books. Like, my Hunger Games OTP, Johanna and Katniss, is out, as is Rhy and Alucard from the Shades of Magic trilogy (Rhy being a POV character, I count him as a main character). As is Hannibal and Will from Red Dragon. And so on.

But let’s get started.

1. Bill Weasley and Fleur Delacour (Harry Potter)

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Oh gosh, where do I even get started with these two. Bill was my favorite Weasley since the moment we met him. Harry was not the only one completely mesmerized with his coolness. And Fleur, I was utterly smitten with as a child. Pretty, graceful, and a badass who could hold her own in the Triwizard Tournament? Sign me up. But when it was revealed that Bill and Fleur were together, I was a goner. I couldn’t care less about Hermione and Ron, or Harry and Ginny. These two were where it’s at. I love their dynamic, a true beauty and the beast story (I choose to forget the part where the movies made Bill’s horrible scars just a couple little scritches across his face). And the fact that Molly hated Fleur so much, as did Ginny and Hermione, and fully expected her to be so shallow she would dump Bill as soon as his face wasn’t quite as handsome, only to have Fleur utterly insulted by the idea she would be so flippant about his looks. That she proved them wrong. A part of me, the part of me that never quite left my werewolf days, does wish that Bill would have been bitten and gone full werewolf, like Remus, but I guess that’s a dick move to wish on poor Bill. Also, I may have once written a fic where Bill was mesmerized by Fleur’s beautiful veela pubes. Maybe.

2. Esme and Carlisle Cullen (Twilight)

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I am unashamed to admit that I loved Twilight when it first came out. The first three books, that is. Once the weird baby stuff started happening, I was outie. But I have a bit soft spot for vampire lovers, and I mean romance between two vampires, not one vampire and one human, which gets old pretty fast. Another thing about me is that I love doctors. Medical doctors. So Carlisle was my favorite from the beginning, and that combined with my love of vampire couples meant I really wasn’t very enthused with Edward and Bella and wanted to spend all my reading time thinking about Carlisle and Esme. The fact that he sired her in order to save her life, after remembering her ever since he treated her such a long time before… I love it. And their decision to save many of their pseudo-children from near-death by siring them, continuing their tradition of sorts, it’s a type of familial camaraderie that I’m a sucker for in fiction. So yeah, Twilight sucks, but I liked it anyway. And I still have a soft spot for Carlisle and Esme.

3. Haymitch Abernathy and Effie Trinket (The Hunger Games)

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My first non-canon ship, of sorts, although honestly it’s so widely accepted by fanon that they put a lil reference to it in the last movie, which was very very sweet. But I fell in love with them in the books first, their bickering and complete opposition, the way they clashed so incredibly and yet completed one another in Katniss and Peeta’s lives as sort of parental figures during the games. The addition of their little kiss before saying goodbye in the movie adaptation of Mockingjay is honestly something I was actually happy they didn’t stay true to the book for. I think it added something valuable instead of just needlessly fleshing out what needed nothing extra. Admittedly, my favorite way to imagine Haymitch and Effie are in some sort of modern AU, giving them a situation to get to know each other that isn’t as awful as the Hunger Games. Maybe things would have been different for them if not for the games hanging over their heads. Who knows.

4. Oberyn Martell and Ellaria Sand (Game of Thrones)

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This, to me, counts as a queer ship because both of them are bi/pansexual. House Martell is my favorite by far (I have their sigil tattooed on my leg, after all) and one of my favorite things about them is that they don’t treat their bastards as less than. Oberyn isn’t looked down upon for having Ellaria as his paramour, and Ellaria isn’t looked down upon for having children with a man out of wedlock. Another thing I love about them is that they’re so secure in their relationship and sexuality that they have zero problem bringing other people into it, not quite polyamory, but plenty of sharing, even to the extent of choosing the participants of their threesomes and foursomes together, no less casually than a couple shopping for groceries. I love that Ellaria isn’t bitter toward the Sand Snakes for being Oberyn’s children with other women, and that she treats them as her own daughters. They’re just so comfortable and trusting with each other, and so undeniably in love.

5. Enjolras and Grantaire (Les Miserables)

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Finally, you say, some gays! What’s that? Tragic gays? No way, I want my money back! Oh, but I love them so much. I will tell you, Les Miserables is the longest fucking book I’ve ever read, and I was bored to tears for a good 75% of it. Victor Hugo’s writing is just so heavy and wordy and pointlessly detailed that I can’t bring myself to like it. But I did like nearly all of the dialogue points, and once you get to Les Amis de l’ABC there gets to be quite a lot of it, so it was easier to pay attention to without nodding off. But that’s when I read the gayest quote I’ve ever read in my life, from Grantaire to Enjolras, and I’ve not forgotten it to this day. It wasn’t intended as romantic (as far as I know), and yet it’s still the most romantic thing I can ever remember reading.

Enjolras: You don’t believe in anything.
Grantaire: I believe in you.

That entire conversation was gay as shit, but I won’t list the entire thing. Go… well, I can’t in good conscience recommend you read that entire book, but go flip through it til you find that line of dialogue and read the whole page.


That’s it for Top 5 Wednesday this week! I should have another entry by the end of the week, about the Women in Refrigerators trope. If for some reason that doesn’t get up before next week, I’ll see you then!

♥ Kell

 

THE QUEER GENERATION: Why is most LGBTQ lit YA?

DISCLAIMER: In this article I, as a bisexual woman, reclaim the Q slur many times (as may be obvious by the title). If the slur still makes you uncomfortable, you might wanna skip this one. If not, onward!

On Tuesday afternoon I stopped by my favorite local bookstore to pick up something I’d put in an order for (The Godfather. Don’t ask). When I walked in, an employee I’m relatively good friends with said he was glad I came in, because he was making a display for Pride Month and was having a hard time finding adult LGBTQ books to put on the display. He showed me the cart of books he’d picked out already and a good 80% of them were, indeed, YA. There were even more middle grade and younger books than adult contemporary.

I had a couple of suggestions, but, given that it is me we’re talking about, they were all horror. Side note: Queer Fear and Night Terrors, the two best queer horror anthologies you will ever read. Possibly the only ones. But I digress.

It got me thinking, even as I left with my Italian mobsters tucked under my arm. It was true; most mainstream LGBTQ literature falls under the YA category. Sure, there are some classics (Brokeback Mountain, Maurice, Tipping the Velvet) but those are getting on in age. There haven’t been many mainstream queer contemporaries for adults. Why is that?

Well, there’s a few things to consider.


Firstly, there’s the fact that being gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender is much more accepted in this generation than it has been in the past. And those four identities are just the beginning. We got our pansexuals, our homo, bi and panromantic asexuals, our nonbinary bretheren, and more. The concept of identity in regards to orientation and gender is much more open for my generation (millennials) and those that come after it.

So it really only makes sense that the lit marketed toward people my age and younger reflects our identities. After all, queer YA wasn’t always as big a subgenre as it is today. When I was in my early teens, a wee babe all the way back in 2007-ish, pretty much all I had were a few David Levithans and the Rainbow Boys trilogy. And while I loved Wide Awake and Boy Meets Boy with a passion, and Rainbow Boys was integral to my maturation as a queer teen, coming-out stories weren’t what I needed. Plus, I wasn’t a gay boy, I was a… well, back then I had no idea what I was, but I definitely was not a gay boy. And the majority of queer YA was centered around gay boys.

Now, LGBTQ teens have a plethora of books to choose from. Gay boys, lesbians, bisexuals… shit, there’s even a couple of ace and nonbinary books out there, and the variety and numbers are only growing. And the readers are gobbling it up, which makes publishers even more motivated to sell them. Which is amazing!


Another thing to think about is this: people like me, those kids who raked the YA shelves at our libraries, who drank up David Levithan and Alex Sanchez but wanted more… those kids, we’re growing up! And a lot of us are becoming writers! And what are queer writers who wanted more representative lit when they kids gonna write? Do I even need to answer this rhetorical question?

I mean, and I don’t mean to make this all about me, but take me for example. Something I really wanted when I was a teenager (and now!) were fantasy and sci-fi novels that weren’t classified as ‘queer lit’, just a fantasy novel that happened to have a same-gender-attracted character in it. Since then, I’ve had multiple sources of inspiration: Maggie Stiefvater’s The Raven Cycle and Victoria Schwab’s Shades of Magic series come to mind. Even then, though, the queer characters are supporting, not main. Well, you could argue that Ronan is the main character of The Dream Thieves, I guess.

The point is, I’m using that desire to work on a book of my own. I’m writing what I wanted when I was younger. And other LGBTQ authors are doing the same thing. And why wouldn’t we? Isn’t the point of writing to write what you would want to read? If you’re not writing something you would want to read yourself, you ain’t doing it right. We’re giving the next generation the gift ours didn’t receive. And all we ask for in return is that these readers grow up to do the same. Shit, who knows, maybe we’ll chase all the straighties out of YA by 2030.


Another thing to consider when thinking about why more people turn to YA for queer lit as opposed to adult contemporary is the fact that adult contemporary centered around gay relationships is just depressing! One of them dies, both of them die, they’re closeted and tormented, there’s a creepy age gap, the list goes on and on. I’m aware I haven’t read every single piece of LGBTQ adult contemporary out there, but I can’t off the top of my head think of a single darn one with a genuinely happy ending. Whereas I can think of plenty of YA queer stories with very happy endings indeed. Compare Brokeback Mountain to Simon VS The Homo Sapiens Agenda. Compare Maurice to We Are The Ants. Compare despair to hope.

There are some really sad YAs out there. More Happy Than Not, for example. But it’s different, reading something sad when you also have the option of reading something happy. It’s more of a choice. So even adults like me gravitate toward YA when we want to read stories that reflect our own, because they give us hope. That we could have an ending like Simon and Blue rather than Jack and Ennis. And it doesn’t help that for a really long time, gay cowboys were the first thing people thought of when they thought of gay men. It was more than a little fucked up when “I wish I knew how to quit you” became a running gag for straight people.

There was a time I was self-conscious in regards to being an adult that still read YA more than anything else, until I really started thinking these things over. So if you’re a queer grown-up, and the target audience is stopping you from reading LGBTQ YA stuff, consider this me setting you free. Free to read what you needed when you were a kid. Because it’s not too late to get it!


I’ll see you guys next time, probably with a review of New 52 Wonder Woman, if I can finish it all before next Top 5 Wednesday! If not, I’ll see you then!

♥ Kell

 

 

TOP 5 WEDNESDAY: 5 Books For My Hogwarts House

Hello friends! This week’s Top 5 Wednesday, brought to you by Top 5 Wednesday on GoodReads, is ‘Books For Your Hogwarts House’. My house is Slytherin (which… may have already been obvious), house of ambition, cunning, unfathomable camaraderie, and loyalty so fierce it can become deadly.

Before I start on these books I’ve chosen for my beloved house, I feel as if I must begin with a disclaimer: as a Slytherin, I’m aware, of course, that we are not ‘the evil house’, that there are Slytherins who aren’t pure evil, however, horror is my favorite book genre. So there’s gonna be some characters in here that maybe aren’t the best representatives of Slytherin as a whole, but are just some of my favorite characters because they happen to be in horror novels. There are a couple of non-horror ones, though!

So let us begin!

1. Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

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Hah! Like we could get through a Slytherin book rec list without talking about Amy Dunne. This bitch is a poster girl for Slytherin house: resourceful, ambitious, determined, cunning, good at making all her moves behind the scenes and under the radar.

Gone Girl tells the story of a man named Nick Dunne, who’s approaching his fifth wedding anniversary with his wife, Amy. Suddenly, just before the date approaches, Amy disappears, leaving behind a diary filled with accusations toward Nick, that he’s been abusive, that she’s frightened of him. The only problem is, Nick hasn’t done any of those things (and we know this; the first half of the book is from his point of view). But what motive does Amy have to make all of this up about him? And how far will she go?

Gone Girl is probably most famous for the movie starring Rosamund Pike and Batman Ben Affleck, and, admittedly, I saw the movie before I read the book, so a lot of the twists and turns were perhaps lost on me. Still, in a twisted way, Amy was someone who awed me, someone so intelligent and calculating, using her powers for evil instead of good. A Slytherin through and through.

2. The Hannibal Lecter series by Thomas Harris

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Another incredibly smart and suave baddie. I’m pretty sure everyone on planet Earth has heard of Hannibal Lecter, at least in passing, mostly because of his portrayals by Anthony Hopkins and Mads Mikkelsen. But I think less people have read Thomas Harris’s original books, which is a shame, because they’re amazing.

The first book in the series, Red Dragon, is told from the point of view of Will Graham, an FBI instructor with a special gift for hunting madmen, like Hannibal himself. But it’s not enough to be talented at catching killers; this time around, he has to take the advice of a killer himself, visiting Hannibal where he sits dormant in a high-security prison and taking what advice he gives Will in order to bring his current maniac to justice.

But it’s not just Hannibal I think represents Slytherin in these books. Will himself (and later, Clarice) shows remarkably Slytherin-ish tendencies himself; who else would use a convicted cannibalistic serial killer as a valid resource in a case, just because he knew that Hannibal would have exactly the mindset he needed? No, no, Ravenclaws would be too sensible, Gryffindors too proud, Hufflepuffs too loyal to the justice system. Will Graham is a Slytherin, through and through.

3. The Charlie Bone series by Jenny Nimmo

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This one is definitely not horror, although I guess it has some spooky elements. This is actually a middle-grade series, that I read when I was much younger, probably still in elementary school, but I still remember it quite vividly because I loved it quite a bit. It has the added bonus of being set in a school not unlike Hogwarts itself, but with academic departments instead of houses. Let me explain.

The first book, Midnight for Charlie Bone, introduces us to Charlie, a little guy totally normal except for the fact that he can hear people in photographs talking. Turns out, he’s the descendant of some weird dude called the Red King. And he’s not the only one. There are actually quite a few kids around his age who appear to be descendants of this Red King, and all of them go to a place called Bloor’s Academy, a school for prodigies in music, art, and drama.

But what would a boarding school story be without a slimy little Draco Malfoy type? Yeah, we got one of those. His name’s Manfred Bloor, which is the nerdiest name in existence and reminds me of Mandark from Dexter’s Laboratory. He’s the son or grandson or something of the person who founded Bloor’s Academy, and a descendant of the Red King himself. Now that I think about it, the only reason I included these books is because he reminds me of Draco. whoops.

4. Nefertiti by Michelle Moran

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This badass, amazing book gets double the points because Nefertiti was a real, badass, amazing lady, and a Slytherin without a doubt. There is nothing I love more than a ruthless, ambitious woman, and this novel by Michelle Moran shows off Nefertiti’s Slytherin side in spades. I really am overdue to reread it.

The story is actually told by Nefertiti’s younger sister, Mutnodjmet, and the two of them are the youngest women in a powerful Egyptian family. Because of this, Nefertiti is all set to marry Amunhotep, Egypt’s newest pharaoh, and honestly, a little bit of a nutjob. He’s talking about worshiping only one god, to totally ignore Egypt’s pantheon, which is basically making all of the priests hate him. But she’s alright with it, as long as she gets to be queen, which, hey, same.

Throughout Amunhotep’s rule, Nefertiti just goes with whatever nonsense he’s spewing in order to maintain her high status, all the while making sure her sister wants for nothing. Until they start realizing the priests might not just kind of hate Amunhotep. They might despise him enough to kill him. So, yeah, probably do something about that.

5. The Dexter series by Jeff Lindsay

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Last but not least, a Slytherin favorite. This was a thing I actually read the book of before the show came out, which was cool (but not like, necessary). But this is a story where a Slytherin uses their powers for (debatable) good.

Dexter is a serial killer (stay with me!) who only kills shitty people. Honestly, that’s enough for me to consider him not a horrible person, though I know my standards are a little low. He also, conveniently, has a job as a blood splatter expert for the Miami police department, so he gets front row seats to all the really horrible people and the evidence that surrounds them. Which is awfully handy.

However, one fine day, they come across a crime scene that looks… weirdly similar to the stuff Dexter himself does to all the dicks he disposes of. A copycat killer. He’s half flattered and half creeped out. Cause, on the one hand, hey, it’s nice to have your work appreciated. But on the other hand, what if this other dick-killer is using this as a threat? What if he knows who Dexter really is? Or even worse, what if it’s Dexter himself doing these things, and he somehow doesn’t remember it?


That’s it for Top 5 Wednesday this week! Join me next week for Side Ships, aka ships between secondary characters I totally love. Until next time!

♥ Kell

KELL READS HET (WHAAAT?): When Dimple Met Rishi

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So here’s something probably everyone knows about me by now. I do not really like het romance, especially YA het romance. Everything is so cringe-worthy and stereotypical and they use the same 5 tropes over and over again and they’re always white and pretty, except the girl is definitely ordinary looking because she looks in the mirror and says so about a dozen times before the book is over.

But! Something I will always give a chance is a diverse YA romance. Which is why I liked Everything, Everything and The Upside of Unrequited. Because when you step outside the mold, the tropes don’t fit into it anymore. And that only proves beneficial to these authors and books. I also really, consciously try my best to read not only sexually diverse novels, but racially diverse as well, and as sad as it is, there aren’t a lot of LGBTQ books that feature main characters of color. So I turn to the hets.

My boss at the library hyped this book to me for like, months  before it was released, and I was so excited I ran out to Barnes and Noble literally the day it came out, and finished it in three days. Which is fast for me, though I’m aware it’s a snail pace for a lot of other book bloggers. I know she was genuinely worried she’d over-hyped it and I would end up liking it less than anticipated, but au contraire. Reading it made me feel so happy and bright and I’m so glad I did!


When Dimple Met Rishi is about a girl named Dimple and a boy named Rishi (duh). Dimple is extremely enthusiastic about coding and computers, and is ecstatic when she’s accepted into Stanford. Rishi (that’s Rih-shee, not Ree-shee) is one hundred percent devoted to his Indian culture, from traditional garb to arranged marriage. Dimple’s parents, concerned that her ambition will prevent her from finding a husband and giving them grandbabies, contact Rishi’s parents and arrange a relationship for the two of them. Or, what was supposed to be a relationship. The thing is, Rishi knows all about it, and Dimple doesn’t have a clue. So when Rishi shows up at the web-developers-in-training camp Dimple persuaded her parents into letting her spend her summer at, and introduces himself joyously as her future husband, she throws her coffee in his face and books it. And things only get better from there.

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A Note on Pride Month!

Hello, my fellow LGBTQ readers, and happy pride month from one queer girl to any others!

I’m happy to report that the entire month of June, I will be reading only LGBTQ books and reviewing them as I finish them. I started When Dimple Met Rishi on May 30th, so I will finish that one first, but after that, I’m going to start on as much queer lit as I can fit into one month.

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I will almost certainly not finish all of them. But dangit, I’m gonna get as far as I can. Honestly, I’ll probably save The Captive Prince for last (or not at all) not because I’m not excited to read it but because it’s part of a series and I want to have all 3 books before I start reading it.

So I am very excited, and want to hear about the LGBTQ reads you guys are reading this month too!

♥ Kell

MY FAVORITE BOOKTUBERS!

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I’m more than a little bit of a YouTube addict, but most of the people I watch are either makeup and fashion channels, dudes doing stupid stuff, a la Good Mythical Morning, or BookTubers, who, coincidentally, I get most of my book tags for this blog on.

I really love watching BookTubers, and honestly the entire reason I started this blog was because I really like and admired what BookTubers do but don’t really like making videos as a medium (not because I think I’m ugly or anything, I’m just better at writing). So this seemed like a nice compromise for myself.

But I thought, hey Kell, if you were inspired to make this blog by BookTubers,  how come you’ve never talked about any? Well, me, you make a fine point. So I think this post is long, long overdue.

So without further ado, let me tell you my favorite BookTubers to watch!

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TOP 5 WEDNESDAY: Fandoms I’m No Longer In

Before I get started on this Top 5 Wednesday (something that’s going to become routine, by the way), I need to share some special news. Well, it’s probably not special to anyone but my boss, Jen, and I, but…

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I HAVE ACQUIRED MY MOST ANTICIPATED READ OF 2017, WHEN DIMPLE MET RISHI!

Listen, y’all. I normally avoid het romance like the dang plague. But Jen has talked this up to me so much that she made me shake like a nervous chihuahua waiting to get my hands on it. It’s about an aspiring web designer (Dimple) whose Indian parents have arranged her to meet Rishi, a respectable Indian boy they want her to marry. Dimple cringes at the idea of an arranged marriage, but Rishi is very into the idea of the tradition, and when his parents tell him he’s going to the same web developers’ camp as Dimple, with the intent of courting her, he’s excited as heck. The only problem is, while he knows their parents’ intent here, Dimple doesn’t until they meet.

POC romances are the only het I’ll read (hence why I enjoyed Everything, Everything), since it often seems to avoid the tropes that annoy me most about cishet romance, and this sounds cute as heck. So I’m extremely excited to start reading it. I’m strongly considering disappearing to the bathroom at work for ten minutes to read. They’ll think I’m pooping, but that’s a risk I’m willing to take.

ANYWAY. Yes. Top 5 Wednesday.

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