100-Character Breakdown: An action-packed sequel as excellent as book one, with two intricate gay heroes and a complex world.
Genre: Young adult, sci-fi, LGBTQ, dystopian
Publisher: Philomel Books/Speak (May 2014)
Guardian is the sequel to Proxy. Start by reading the review of the first book. Minor spoilers for Proxy ahead.
In Proxy’s action-packed sequel, Syd and Liam navigate a post-revolution world where an illness threatens to dismantle everything they’ve worked for. Alex London’s young adult novel Guardian begins months after book one in the Reconciliation’s now-techless society. Syd is known as “Yovel,” the hero who struck down the datastream. He feels trapped as a figurehead, constantly giving speeches but not given a voice in the new government. His role also makes him a target—the Machinists plan to eliminate him in hopes that his death will restart the datastream. It’s up to Liam, Syd’s bodyguard with one metal hand and a talent for killing, to protect him. But the Machinists are the least of their worries. An illness ravages the city, making people’s blood burn black. When Syd disapproves of the government’s response to the disease, he decides he has to stop it. Along with his friend Marie and Liam, Syd searches for a way to stop the disease before it can stop them. Continue reading →
100-Character Breakdown: A thriller sci-fi novel with a gay hero, intensely intricate characters, and a complex setting.
Genre: Young adult, sci-fi, LGBTQ, dystopian
Publisher: Philomel Books/Speak (June 2013)
After Knox Brindle kills someone in a car accident, Sydney Carton is sentenced to death for a crime he didn’t commit. Knox is a rich patron, and Syd is the indebted proxy who receives punishment in Knox’s place. In Alex London’s young adult novel Proxy, Mountain City is divided into the Upper City, filled with people living in luxury, and the Lower City, where people live in slums and struggle to repay their debts. Syd only has two years left before he is free of his debt, but Knox’s actions result in his death sentence. But before Syd’s sentence can be carried out, the proxy and his patron are on the run, rushing to escape the high-tech city and its system of debt. As they flee, they struggle with the complications of their relationship and the constant pursuit of Knox’s father, head of the city’s SecuriTech company. Continue reading →
100-Character Breakdown: A well-paced novel about a new friendship, filled with queer characters, depth, and a lot of heart.
Genre: Young adult, LGBTQ
Publisher: St. Martin’s Griffin (June 2016)
While Katie and Mark have spent an entire school year sitting next to each other in class, it isn’t until San Francisco’s Pride Week that they first talk. Nina LaCour and David Levithan’s novel You Know Me Well explores their relationship as they go from strangers to best friends. The school year is about to end. Katie, a painter, is about to graduate. She’s worried about college, she’s distancing herself from her friends, and when she is about to meet Violet, the girl she’s dreamt of meeting all year, she runs away. Mark, a baseball player, is struggling with his feelings for his best friend, Ryan, who is also gay. But unlike Mark, Ryan is in the closet. Before long, Katie and Mark will know each other better than their best friends ever did. Continue reading →
100-Character Breakdown: An engrossing memoir about a gay, Jewish boy in the ‘60s with vibrant characters and settings.
Genre: Memoir, LGBTQ, diverse lit
Publisher: Delphinium Books (August 9, 2016)
In One of These Things First, Steven Gaines reminisces his childhood in 1960’s Brooklyn, his time split between his Jewish family, the bra and girdle store his grandmother owns, and local cinema Culver Theater. His Brooklyn neighborhood is his world, but between struggles at home, the nervous habits he develops, and his worry over his homosexuality, he begins to feel out of place. His suicide attempt results in a doctor suggesting he go to a mental hospital. Thanks to inspiration from Marilyn Monroe and some money from his grandfather, he finds himself in the Payne Whitney Psychiatric Clinic in Manhattan. There he meets a young psychiatrist who claims he can cure his homosexuality.
Gaines provides a vivid and engrossing look at his past, using a blend of humorous and heartfelt moments to keep the reader enraptured in his story. This memoir is not just a portrait of Gaines himself, but of the street he grows up on and those who live there, his grandmother’s store and those who work there, and the Payne Whitney and those who occupy it. Each character and setting is full of depth, and Gaines writes them all with just enough detail to bring them to life. The memoir is candid and interesting from the start, but it truly takes off once Gaines begins his time at Payne Whitney, the “Ivy League of psychiatric hospitals.” The characters here range from a Broadway producer to Alessandra, the daughter of a British glue heiress and contessa of Piacenza. With vibrancy in every aspect—from the people to the settings to Gaines’ journey—this is a captivating memoir.
Get it on Amazon, or check out the author’s website.
Note: The author provided 100 Story Reviews with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
100-Character Breakdown: Dark, character-focused, nuanced — a YA historical fiction novel full of intrigue and complexity.
Genre: Young adult, historical fiction, diverse lit
Publisher: Delacorte Press (June 2016)
This exciting piece of 15th century historical fiction follows two siblings as they find themselves trapped deep in the Ottoman Empire. Kiersten White transforms history’s Vlad the Impaler into Lada Dragwyla, the daughter of the dragon; this provides an intricate look at the period’s gender roles. And I Darken follows Lada and her brother Radu the Handsome as they are removed from their home of Wallachia and kept in the Sultan’s palace in Edirne. They grow up there, bargaining chips to keep their father — prince of Wallachia — loyal. Lada is vicious where Radu is timid; Lada is stubborn where Radu is cunning. They struggle searching for their place in Edirne, but they both find themselves attached to Mehmed, third son of the sultan. Their relationships with Mehmed draw them to the empire’s dramatic political conflicts and conflict with each other. While Lada sees Radu and Mehmed as her only ties to the Ottoman Empire, Radu begins to connect with it in ways neither of the siblings expected. Continue reading →
100-Character Breakdown: A masterful start to a vibrant fantasy series with complex narrative. World building at its finest.
Genre: Fantasy, diverse lit
Publisher: DAW Books (September 2015)
A masterful start to a vibrant fantasy series, Twelve Kings in Sharakhai by Bradley P. Beaulieu is world building at its finest. The novel is primarily set deep in the Great Shangazi Desert city of Sharakhai, where Çeda dreams of slaying the twelve immortal kings that rule the city. She finds herself venturing outside of her home on Beht Zha’ir despite the Kings’ laws to stay inside. The night is just the beginning of her search to understand her own heritage and find a way to stop the Kings. She soon finds out there is much more happening behind the scenes in Sharakhai than she ever realized. Continue reading →
Last week we asked our followers why they read diverse books.
We wanted to know why diverse books are important to readers. We wanted to know why the world needs more diverse literature. Thanks to our followers, here are five good reasons to read diverse books.
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