Literary Fiction Review: Jonny Appleseed by Joshua Whitehead

Jonny Appleseed by Joshua Whitehead

Published by: Arsenal Pulp Press

Format: Softcover

Genre: Literary Fiction

Order here: Arsenal Pulp PressAmazon

Reviewed by: Alex

What to Expect: A literal and figurative journey crafted by an own-voices author, an indigiqueer two-spirit, working to get home for his step-father’s funeral. The baggage he gathers inevitably explodes, leading the reader to witness how one might pluck a sense of being and belonging from the remnants of family, community, identity, sex, love, cyber-presence, queerness, rez life, language, remembrance, and how to express all that is left and left behind.  Read More

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A Note from Binge on Books

Hey book friends!

Judith here. I’ll be honest, this is perhaps the most difficult post I’ve ever had to write on Binge on Books. That very first post way back in 2012 was a cinch. The site was still called I Love YA Fiction then and we hadn’t met any of you or read any of these amazing, funny, sweet, reverent, sexy, and endearing books. Writing that post was the easiest thing in the world. The words flowed and everything about it was effortless. Words and emotion on paper. Fin.

Today though, it is heavy and momentous and halting. There is meaning here that can’t be put into words. Emotion I can’t even articulate.

Binge on Books is closing. I have adored and treasured all my time reading, writing, and discussing books with you here. I will miss the site but will still very much be active in the community through my work with A Novel Take PR, Open Ink Press, and my columns on Teen Vogue, HEA USA Today, and The Mary Sue.

I am so very grateful for the times we had, you and I and the books. So very grateful.

To my reviewing team past and present – I thank you. You are, all of you, amazing.

Please stay in touch. Until I decide on a new handle, you can find me on Twitter as @bingeonbooks or email and I would love to hear from you.

Best,

Judith

Please note: there might be one or two more straggler reviews that go live between now and June 30. (Alex is a reading machine!). All reviews and the site itself will stay active until further notice.


Dear friends and fellow binge readers (as if the two terms didn’t mean the same thing),

If you come to Binge On Books, I imagine you as a devourer of words. As am I.

Since I’ve joined the BoB team, I have read and shared some books I will treasure always. If you have read my reviews, thank you. If you have shared your enthusiasm for books we’ve both enjoyed, thank you. If you have pressed me to try something new, thank you. If you were brave enough to do a buddy read with me, thank you. If you happen to be Judith–amazing founder of Binge On Books and a bazillion other most wonderful things–I cannot thank you enough.

Binge On Books may be ending but I shall continue to read. I hope you will, too. Please hit me up on twitter if you want to chat about new and old finds or — better yet — need someone for a buddy read.


Binge on Books, I will miss you so much. This is the first blog I have ever reviewed on and it has been an AMAZING, invaluable experience.  I finally had a place to voice my love for queer romance and interact with people who share that love. Judith, I’m forever grateful that you gave me a chance and accepted me into BoB family. You are the kindest and so brilliant and I have learned so much from you *sends you all the virtual donuts*. To all the fellow reviewers: thank you for being such a friendly and inspirational bunch, feel free to always squee with me about books on Twitter <3
Hugs, Anya

When Judith told me she was closing Binge on Books, I completely understood. Running a blog is a lot of hard work. It requires time, energy, and organization, and even though it seems like Judith has enough of those things for ten people, apparently she’s human like the rest of us? Weird.

However, even though I understand why, I can’t help but be a little sad about it. I haven’t contributed to the blog in a long time, as life circumstances and world circumstances have significantly derailed my reading, but this blog has had an enormous impact on me, and I wanted to talk about that a little before it closes its doors.

Writing for Binge on Books introduced me to the wide world of romance writers and book bloggers, many of whom I now count as close friends. It led me back to writing and connecting with my own voice as a writer, which is a gift I thought I’d lost. Writing for BoB helped me branch out to find new authors and new genres, and to push myself outside of my own reading comfort zones. I joined BoB during a difficult time in my life, and I am immensely grateful for the home I found here, for the kindness and enthusiasm I found from Judith and from my fellow reviewers.

I’m not a long-winded person (ask Judith, when she edited my first reviews, she was always like “…maybe a little MORE? A little longer?”) so I’m going to wrap it up here. Binge on Books was a place I was happy to call home, a place I was happy to contribute to, and my work here is something I’m very proud of. I’m not sure what the next phase holds for me, but I wish Judith and A Novel Take PR the very best, and I will see you all on Twitter!

-Erin


BoB is more than a website. It’s a community of people who embrace the beauty of all genres in the reading community. For that, I am eternally grateful. Judith and the BoB team have opened my eyes to so many books and a wonderful community. Thank you for reading along with us. All great things must end but Binge on Books will always have such a special place in my heart. I am so happy I took a chance and threw my hat in the ring.
– Madison
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YA Review: Darius the Great is Not Okay by Adib Khorram

Darius the Great Is Not Okay by Adib Khorram

Published by: Dial Books

Format: ePub

Genre: YA/LGBT+

Release Date: August 28, 2018

Pre-Order/Order at: Publisher | Amazon

Reviewed by: Alex

What to Expect: A story about a boy and not just any boy. This is a boy who is an undesirable and, simultaneously, unapologetically himself. When he goes to Iran, a place people in his social circle consider his home but a country he has never been in, he meets his grandparents and a  boy named Sohrab, who teach him more about love than he has ever known. Chock full of reflections about being depressed, overweight, bi-racial, gay, and unfriended. I cried at least three times. I smiled more often than that. Darius the Great Is Not Okay is the lead contender for my fave YA book released in 2018.

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Queer YA Sports Romance Review: Running with Lions by Julian Winters

Running with Lions by Julian Winters

Published by: Duet, the YA imprint of Interlude Press

Format: ePub

Genre: YA/Sports Romance/LGBT+

Order at: Duet Books | Amazon

Reviewed by: Alex

What to Expect: A summer of about a football/soccer captain who doesn’t know he’s a captain falling in love with a star who has no idea he’s a star and the team comprised of friends who sometimes forget how to be friends but all of whom eventually figure it out. And did I mention footie? If you loved Simon but wanted more social awareness, this one’s for you.

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Historical YA review: And I Darken & Now I Rise by Kiersten White

And I Darken & Now I Rise (The Conqueror’s Saga #1 and #2) by Kiersten White

Published by: Penguin Random House

Format: Audiobook

Genre: Historical YA

Order at: Amazon

Reviewed by: Alex

What to Expect: What if Vlad the Impaler was actually a woman? What if a despot’s rise to power could be told sympathetically such that a reader could understand it? And maybe even root for said despot? This trilogy sets out with these questions in mind. People…the third and last book of the series, Bright We Burn, will be coming out in July. Read these and be ready for the conclusion of this dangerous and impeccably researched trilogy. Read More

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YA Fantasy Review: Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard #2: The Hammer of Thor by Rick Riordan

Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard #2: The Hammer of Thor by Rick Riordan

Published by: Disney Hyperion

Format: mobi

Genre: YA/Fantasy

Order at: Amazon | B&N

Reviewed by: Alex

What to Expect: Adventure? Check. Found family? Check. Falafel? Check. Diversity and complexity shared by retellings of Norse Mythology and the world that created it? Check, check, check!  Read More

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YA Review: Openly Straight and Honestly Ben by Bill Konigsberg

Openly Straight/Honestly Ben by Bill Konigsberg

Published by: Arthur A. Levine Books

Format: ePub

Genre: YA

Order at:

Openly Straight: Amazon

Honestly Ben: Amazon

Reviewed by: Alex

What to Expect: A duology about do-overs, labels, love, and seriously messing up. In that order. Featuring a once-and-future gay boy, an introverted jock-philosopher. In supporting roles, their friends, who range from tone-deaf cis-hets to a to one of the most endearing enbies I’ve met on the page. Read More

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Anthology Review: Teacher’s Pet, an anthology from Nine Star Press

Teacher’s Pet

Published by: Nine Star Press

Format: ePub

Genre: Romance

Order at: Amazon

Reviewed by: Alex

What to Expect: HEA’s from emerging writers, all exploring that forbidden attraction that occurs between the teacher, professor, tutor, or mentor. Several gems enclosed.

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Guest Post: All the Queer Love Stories by Pene Henson

All the queer love stories

I value queer love stories. I’m here for a femme geek tripping up the stairs when she first sees her hot neighbour. I’m here for a bright-eyed city socialite trapped in a snowbound cabin with a gloriously competent hermit girl. I’m here for a fireman catching his breath to exchange flirty banter with a clothing designer or Olympic diving rivals growing to respect and then love one another. I’m here for a charmer of a non-binary person reconnecting with a love they thought they’d lost. I’m here for a trans guy realising the love he considered unrequited is so very not.  

Like many queer folk with a soft spot for a love story, I grew up on straight romance.

Harry’s romantic New Year’s Eve speech to Sally in When Harry Met Sally is a lesson in knowing someone and loving all of them. The ball players of Love and Basketball share a fierce respect and growing understanding. When Monica tells Quincy “I’ve been in love with you since I was eleven, and the shit won’t go away,” we feel every part of her pain and hope. In You’ve Got Mail, Meg Ryan’s Kathleen says “I wanted it to be you. I wanted it to be you so badly.” And we wanted it too. Even though we knew it all along.

Jane Austen, my oldest favourite, understands the small details of love and respect. Emma’s Mr. Knightley has known Emma all her life and chokes out “If I loved you less, I might be able to talk about it more”; Captain Wentworth pens a desperately romantic and reverent letter to his long-ago love Anne in Persuasion.

There are thousands on thousands of moments of straight romance. The best of it becomes a benchmark for love in real life.

There’s value in having benchmarks. It’s important to believe that you’re worth the dazzling awe of new love. It’s a sheer joy to experience that stomach-flipping heart-pausing moment when all feelings are laid bare. Even the fluffiest romance can make a person happy, and when time’s been spent on character, when respect is given to reality, then that same fluffy romance can make the whole world better.

It’s not just the romancey side of romance (The kissing part my kid closes his ten-year-old eyes for). Love stories tend to be kind to their characters. The stories are full of tiny human observations about how people think and move and what they do when they’re happy or sad or successful or frustrated.  In them the ordinary becomes beautiful. Any dim view or grey room or commonplace person is suddenly bright and beautiful when a character is in love.  

But it’s tough, because most of these wonderful stories are heterosexual. You can’t just replace Billy Crystal with Cher in your imagination. You can’t just replace Sanaa Lathan with Anthony Mackie. (Though both those movies sound amazing). So many love stories are inherently not queer, and they give us queer folk the idea that we can’t ask for something that magical, or wonderful, or silly, or forever.

There’s sometimes this sense that queerness is just about sex. That queer romance is primarily about exploring sexuality and people’s fantasies. And sure, often that exploration is fabulous and important and for some people just plain hot. There’s value in sex.  

But I also want queer people to have touchstones for romance, to have all the huge sweet speeches, all the stomach twisting moments of new love. I want them to have the meet-cutes, the eyes-catching across a crowded room, the heart-flipping terrifying moments of falling head over heels for someone. I want the depth too, the rich characterisation and the big lives. I want the lonely hearts and the communities of queer folk laughing and living with one another. I want all the queer love stories. (I wish I could write all the queer love stories – But I’m going to have to leave the witty banter to other writers).  

Queer romance is about giving queer characters happiness, giving them a place in the everyday world, giving them communities and dreams, and giving them a happily ever after.

My hope is that queer people can see themselves reflected in that happiness.  That’s why I write queer love stories. They won’t change the world, except in all the ways they will.


About Pene Henson:

Pene Henson has gone from British boarding schools to New York City law firms. She now lives in Sydney, Australia, where she is an intellectual property lawyer and published poet who is deeply immersed in the local LGBTQIA community. She spends her spare time watching sports and gazing at the ocean with her wife and two unexpectedly exceptional sons. She received the Lambda Literary Award for Best Gay Romance for her first novelInto the Blue (Interlude Press, 2016) about surfers growing up on the North Shore of Oahu. Storm Season, about two women trapped in a remote Australian cabin, was published in 2017. She had a short story about WNBA players going home for Christmas in If The Fates Allow (Interlude Press, 2017) an anthology of queer holiday stories.

Connect with Pene: www.penehenson.com or @penehenson on twitter.

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A Note from Binge on Books

A Note from Binge on Books

Binge on Books in no way condones deceit or abuse now or ever.  In light of this, all material by the author known as Santino Hassell has been removed from the site. In addition, all reviews of this author’s work have also been removed.

Binge on Books is a site that actively tries to promote positivity in books and foster connections between readers. We truly hope the community can heal from these painful events, and have taken the steps we feel are necessary to facilitate this by removing influences from our site that we have learned have been divisive rather than unifying.

-Binge on Books

 

 

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