Showing posts with label F/F. Show all posts
Showing posts with label F/F. Show all posts

Monday, 16 January 2017

#DisabilityDiaries2017 | Review! - Unspeakable by Abbie Rushton

Unspeakable title image

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Title: Unspeakable
Unspeakable book cover
Author: Abbie Rushton

Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, LGBTQ+ (M/F; F/F)

Amazon: UK - USA

A few starting notes:

If anyone with, or with first-hand experience of, selective mutism or OCD, has reviewed this book, please let me know - I'd love to leave a link to your review.

I'm not sure how I feel about this book.

There were parts of it I truly loved and parts which... I just wasn't comfortable with. There are a lot of problems with this book.

So prepare yourself nerdlets, we're gonna discuss some sh**.

(Seriously, if you need the loo or whatever, go now and come back, because once I've started I'm not stopping.)


Megan hasn't spoken in months. Because there are things people don't know - things about the day when everything changed, the day she stopped talking.

But then Jasmine started at school. Beautiful, bright, bubbly, Jasmine... and for the first time in a long while, Megan might just want to talk again.

Best bits:

I loved that Megan's problems aren't simple.

Too often, depictions of mental health problems are put down to textbook examples, and left there.

The truth is that everyone's problems affect them differently, and that sometimes conditions combine to have a joint effect on someone's life.

I also liked Jasmine - I've seen a lot of criticism of her character, but I liked her. Yes, she's pretty idealised. But she's also not perfect.

And, honestly, the hope that there are people like her in the world - people who will accept you as you are - is not a bad thing. If you're a queer teen, and/or a teen with mental health problems, that hope might just be a lifeline.

girl silhouette

I also thought the relationship between Megan and her mother was realistic and beautiful. They struggled a lot with how to relate to each other, but there's an amazing undercurrent of love between them.

And that part of Megan - written in bold, large, italics - which tells her she ruins everything, which she has to push past, push against, push through? Yes. I've been there. And it felt... real.

It's also exceptionally readable - the prose is skilled and involving throughout, and you really do want to know what happens.

There's just a lot of heart to this book, y'know? And that's great.

Not so great bits:

First things first, there's a lot of potentially distressing/difficult to deal with content, here:
  • grief
  • mental health problems
  • low self-esteem
  • anxiety
  • implied OCD
  • selective mutism
  • bullying
  • anonymous threats
  • guilt
  • violence
  • arson
  • animal cruelty/violence to animals
  • attempted suicide
  • homophobia
  • ableism
  • poverty
  • physical abuse from a parent
  • implied domestic abuse

There's also some swearing, drink-driving, and underage drinking (which you shouldn't do, in case you were wondering.)

I have problems with this book, nerdlets, both in terms of queer representation, and mental health representation.

Let's start with queer rep:

Megan, who is lesbian (although the word is never used, at least not as an identity rather than a slur, she has no attraction to men/boys,) goes on a date with a boy - Luke.

Now, it's entirely true that sometimes questioning lesbian teens go on dates with boys - BUT A NON-LESBIAN WOMAN WRITING THIS JUST FEELS FREAKING AWKWARD.

I don't know Abbie Rushton's orientation, but she mentions her male fiancée in the acknowledgements, so at the time of writing she didn't identify as lesbian.

The whole date felt a) forced and b) a gimmick - 'look! She's not attracted to him! Look at the lesbian!'

She also has Megan kiss Luke and enjoy it - again, if Rushton were lesbian and understood the issues at play here, then fine.

clasped hands

As it is? I don't think she understands enough to be writing these things in. #SorryNotSorry.

That whole plot-point just feels unnecessary and awkward.

Oh, and there's a male character who only exists for the homophobic bullies to pick on. We're not even told if he's actually queer, and we learn nothing about him as a person. #JustNo.

Now for the mental health rep.

This is disappointing, because there is good mental health rep here, but there's also poor mental health rep:

  • Megan's implied OCD is never addressed - we don't know if this is something she had prior to the traumatic event or not, and it just peters out as the story goes on.

  • [Luke's] mental health problems are both skirted over, and scapegoated. Everything's fine because we shoved [him] in a psych ward! The other crazy person did it! Not the 'good' crazy person. *Sighs*

  • Her psychologist acts like a douche. I don't mean just pushes her to explore her problems. I mean he intentionally upsets her. And somehow acting that out of line is ok, and he's some kind of saint in comparison to her 'out of order' response. The message this sends is... troubling.

  • Love cures mental health problems. Ugh. So sick of this. Love is not all you need guys, sorry.

  • Selective mutism is rarely a result of traumatic events*, and certainly the way in which Megan's mutism descends at the event, fully formed, and stays more-or-less stable until Jasmine shows up...? I have a limited knowledge of mutism, but this seems reductive and unrealistic to me. Please correct me if I'm mistaken; like I said, my knowledge of this is limited.

  • Sometimes the impression is given that Megan could speak if she wasn't trying to hide what actually happened. This isn't clear-cut, but is definitely something to keep an eye on. 👀

two girls sat on a bench

*where it is the result of traumatic events, it's usually a symptom of PTSD. PTSD is never mentioned in the book, and if this was the author's intent, then I don't feel it was put over clearly enough.


Do I know how to feel about this book now? Nope.

Look, part of me was just really connected to a queer girl with mental health problems... please don't judge me for that.

And parts of this were good. But the representation fell down on more than one front.

That's fine if everyone's going into this with eyes wide open... but there are so many misconceptions about mental health and being queer out there already, that it could do more harm than good.

Buy Now UKBuy Now USAGoodreads


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Thursday, 5 January 2017

Comics Wrap-Up - Bumper Catch-Up Edition!

Since Comics Wrap-Up took a break over Christmas, this week's edition is a catch-up of my comics reading and all related stuff in the last couple of weeks :)

Comics Wrap-Up title image

Film Trailers

Here's an extended Batman TV spot for you all :)

(This film looks hilarious!)

Single Issues

I read a butt-load of short and preview comics to help prop up my Goodreads challenge total, so I'll just give you my three top picks.

(Trust me, these three are the ones worth mentioning!)

Heart of a Corpse: An Undead Engagement #1 (UK - US) and Bloody Dreadful #1 (UK - US) are two comics by creator Justin Sane.

Heart of a Corpse cover Bloody Dreadful cover

Both are fairly interesting, creepily executed, tales of Victorian Gothic horror. Heart of a Corpse actually plays out like a silent movie in silhouette - and was really moody and cool. :)

I enjoyed both, and they def. came as a pleasant surprise.

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Loki: Agent of Asgard #1 (UK - US) is the start of the whole Loki-as-a-teen series.

Loki, Agent of Asgard cover

(Fangirling note:

Loki is one of the most difficult Marvel characters to define because s/he spends periods of time as a child, a teenager, a woman, a man, and two people. In honesty, I've probably missed something out.

Just trust me. In this period of time, Loki = reincarnated teenager. Thor = adult. That's as basic as it's gonna get, so let's leave it there.

You can't sweat the small stuff in comics. Your brain will explode. #TrueStory.)

This is the first part of Loki: Agent of Asgard Vol 1 (UK - US) and is pretty awesome. I really want to read the full volume soon for more sassy Loki awesomeness!


Over Christmas, I also read webcomic Princess Princess by Strangely Katie/Katie O'Neill

This is about two princesses who are faffing around a magical kingdom, challenging gender norms, and falling in love with each other.

One of the princesses is black - so there's a strong person of colour (PoC) lead too 😄

Princess Princess: Ever After (to give it it's fancy in-print title) is also available in printed format (UK - US.)

Princess Princess: Ever After cover

Other Stuff

Over on Women Write About Comics, Sergio Alexis wrote an awesome recommendation list of webcomics.

And just for the awesomeness of it all, all the comics they recommend are diverse!

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For anyone who doesn't know, 'Women in Refrigerators' or 'fridging' is a phrase that was invented by comics artist Gail Simone for unnecessary acts of violence against women in comic books - often used as a plot device to motivate the male hero.

The origin of the phrase was an infamous storyline where the Green Lantern finds his girlfriend murdered and stuffed in his fridge by a super-villain - apparently just to make him angry.

Valente's book plans to give a voice to fridged women - and it looks incredibly poignant, and undoubtedly awesome.

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Along with America Chavez, Marisol Rios De La Luz aka La Borinqueña, is an awesome step forward for Latinx superheroes.

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Thursday, 22 December 2016

Review Time! (Graphic Novel Edition!) - Red Sonja: The Falcon Throne

Red Sonja The Falcon Throne Title

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Title: Red Sonja: The Falcon Throne

Red Sonja The Falcon Throne book cover
Author: Marguerite Bennett

Contributors: Aneke, Marguerite Sauvage

Genre: Graphic Novel, Fantasy, High Fantasy, LGBTQ+ (M/F; F/F)

Amazon: UK - USA

A few starting notes:

I received a free digital review copy of this book via NetGalley. NetGalley provides review copies from publishers in exchange for fair and honest reviews.

Ahhhh, Red Sonja - the She-Devil with a Sword.

We come once again, my nerdlets, to the opportunity to review a Red Sonja book (which apparently, as a woman, is beyond my expertise; but it turns out girls can review comics. #TrueStory.)

And to see that this Sonja story had Marguerite Bennett at the helm?

I hardly dared get my hopes up at the prospect of Sonja being given the book she deserved... but I think my fervent prayers to the feminist gods were at least somewhat answered.

Strap in guys, 'cos I got some stuff to say.


Hyrkania's king is dying. Sonja believes the kingdom will be better off with someone who... well, basically, isn't her... in charge.

Instead of the She-Devil, someone else comes in to fill the power vacuum.

But will this new leader be a force for good? Or will the prejudices he stirs up become Hyrkania's shame?

Best bits:

WOW. Dudes, this was the Red Sonja book I've been waiting for.

Finally, Sonja is freed from the prospect of painful chainmail wedgies and having to make pathetic doe-eyes at Conan that make her fans (well, some of us,) want to barf.

Instead, we have a still-sexy she-warrior who gets to wear warmer (though still not especially protective) clothes into battle, and doesn't have to worry about rust in her most intimate areas!

(Does anyone else flinch at the idea of non-lined chainmail underwear? *shudder*)

The (in)famous chainmail bikini is the costume male creators and fans have chosen again and again for Sonja; essentially they want an overly-sexualised Barbarian Barbie.

But as Sonja makes very clear - NO-ONE owns her!

red-haired woman

There's also a clear political message throughout this book - hatred against people who are different to you goes against everything that makes us human.

Sonja is revolted by the clear bigotry and outright racism that creeps into Hyrkania, and even more revolted by the support this bigotry has from the people.

Instead of a strong female leader, they have a douchebag bigoted dude. Kind of timely, don't you think?

Sonja's bisexuality is not ignored here: too often, Sonja's character is manipulated to erase her queer aspects - she becomes de facto straight in so many of her books.

But with Marguerite Bennett at the helm, we have a queer woman making sure Sonja is given her dues.

There are also people of colour (PoC) characters with agency, and complexity, and lives of their own.

Not so great bits:

Ok, so, my main problem with this book is that it comes dangerously close to White Saviour territory.

For those who don't know, the White Saviour trope is where a white person comes along and rescues the PoC characters - the implication being that they couldn't possibly rescue themselves, and need a white person to come and do it for them (which ofc is utter sh**.)

This trope reinforces the ugly idea of white superiority, and places PoC in a position where they are never the hero, only the victim.

Here, the PoC characters are pretty much doing things for themselves, but the final save-the-day business is achieved by Sonja - the white heroine and symbol of inspiration.

sword stuck in the ground

It all plays out a lot more complexly than just white-girl-saves-PoCs, but... I'm not saying this necessarily goes over the line, but we can certainly see the line from here, y'know?

And even seeing the line is worrying guys. I don't want to be anywhere near that line.

Parts of the plotting in general are... confused? Maybe? It just feels a bit hectic and out-of-control in places in terms of plot.

Maybe this is a side-effect of trying to make the plot twisty and action-filled, when really, all that was needed was to follow the characters' lead.

There's a bunch of gore and violence pretty much everywhere, swearing, and some non-explicit sexual content.


We verge uncomfortably close to white saviour territory here (*squints suspiciously at book*) and that's not cool.

Aside from that, though, this is the Sonja book her (true) fans have been waiting for - she kicks butt, looks sexy, but never betrays her character or her dignity.

Bennett's Sonja is strong. Bennett's Sonja is my Sonja, finally brought to the page.

This book is a major step-forward for the character. I just hope it can be built on and improved in the future.

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Friday, 2 December 2016

Friday Fics Fix - Tis the Season

I actually really liked this week's fic (well... obviously... since I'm recommending it... but you know what I mean!)

Sometimes a fic comes along at just the right moment - I currently have an awful cold, and am freezing on top because the weather's decided to go from oh, it's a bit autumn-y to dear God are we living in an iceberg?! within a few days, so I really needed something short and sweet.

And that's what I have for you!

Now, frequent readers of this blog may have noticed that I have a thing for Sara Lance from CW/DC TV series Arrow and Legends of Tomorrow.

So, what could be better than fluffy F/F romance featuring her canon (official) relationship with the beautiful Nyssa Al-Ghul?


Yes, that's right. We have Christmas, we have F/F romance, we have fluff with no explicit scenes. You're welcome! :)

This week's fic is:

The Gift by DarkAliceLilith

Enjoy, and I'll be back with more fanfiction next week!

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Thursday, 24 November 2016

Comics Wrap-Up - Days Like This

Graphic Novels

This week, I read Julio's Day by Gilbert Hernandez (UK - US,) which I've wanted to read since I did my Latinx graphic novels post a little while back.

It was... well, it was freaking weird, in all honesty, but I still really enjoyed it.

There was more sex and gore in there than I was expecting though! Not that there was a lot - there wasn't - but still more than I expected. And some m/m-ness, which was unexpected but awesome.

Other Stuff

Not much else to share with you this week, but a few things:

I read this review of the superhero series Legends of Tomorrow by Jessica @ Rabid Reads.

Regular readers of DORA will remember that I adore Legends - not least because of the beautiful and awesome-sauce Sara Lance :)

(And she's canon queer!)

But Legends has a lot going for it - not just Sara. This is a show that really shouldn't work, and really does!


In other queer-girl-superhero-news, the amazing Marvel Latinx heroine, America Chavez, is getting her own comics title!

An #OwnVoices Latinx queer superhero! Sometimes guys, there is news which just makes your heart happy :)

I'll see you next week for more comics guys! Go be awesome!

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Wednesday, 16 November 2016

My Diverse Welsh Authors TBR

Okie dokes my dearest nerdlets - it's time to combine two of my obsessions, diverse authors and Welsh authors.

A lot of these actually came from a post on black Welsh authors I read the other day, which I will link to here.

So, I give you my modest TBR list of diverse Welsh authors:

Ash on a Young Man's Sleeve by Dannie Abse

Amazon: UK - US

This is a semi-autobiographical novel by Jewish Welsh author and poet Dannie Abse. If you've never read any of his poetry - go. Go and look it up. Read. READ NOW.

dat's love by Leonora Brito

Amazon: UK - US

This is a short-story collection by a black Cardiffian author, and looks pretty awesome.

Sugar & Slate by Charlotte Williams

Amazon: UK - US

This is an autobiography which explores the intersection of Welsh and Guyanese identities - which sounds pretty cool.

Telling Tales by Patience Agbabi

Amazon: UK - US

This is like a re-telling of The Canterbury Tales I think? So I'd probably better read the original first!

Asylum: Docu-Drama by Eric Ngalle Charles

Amazon: UK

This bills itself as a docu-drama(?) based on the true stories of asylum seekers in Wales.

Vicious by Bevin Magama

Amazon: UK - US

This is an autobiography of a Zimbabwean immigrant to Wales, and the tale of his time in the Zimbabwean military.

Proud by Gareth 'Alfie' Thomas

Amazon: UK - US

This is the autobiography of Welsh rugby star Gareth Thomas - the first professional sportsman in a team sport to come out as gay, national superstar, and nice local boy t'boot.

Fingersmith by Sarah Waters

Amazon: UK - US

I only realised recently that Sarah Waters is Welsh! And I really want to read this, and possibly some of her other books, because F/F historical fiction dammit!!!!

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