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Enum & Valerie

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Enum & Valerie's books

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Harlem Shuffle (Paperback, 2021, Random House Large Print) 5 stars

To his customers and neighbours on 125th Street, Ray Carney is an upstanding salesman of …

Colson Whitehead really loves character design

5 stars

... and it's the best thing about the book. There's not really a classic tension arc. The book consists of three smaller stories, in different years, slightly interwoven. But the cool thing is not really the three major stories. It's how every single side character has some kind of backstory, smaller or larger, and Colson Whitehead tells you about all of them, sometimes leading to several nested layers of time in the narration. Those little ones are the stories that really make this book a great read.

Never Ever Getting Back Together (2022, St. Martin's Press) 5 stars

Revenge is a dish best served on live TV.

Eighteen-year-old Maya's cheating ex Jordy is …

Douchebag gets dumped

5 stars

Very entertaining romcom story where two absolutely gorgeous women get to dump their constantly lying douchebag ex on public television, while head-over-heals falling for each other. The book kept me up all night and didn't let me sleep. Another plus: The author invented a conlang for this (Chalonian). Minus: It's not used very much, and probably it's not designed out that well.

This Poison Heart (Paperback, 2021, BLOOMSBURY) 4 stars

To break an ancient curse she must let her power bloom.

Briseis has a gift. …

"If Lucian was your grandfather, what's your name?" I asked as we descended the stairs. "Lucifer," he said. "Say what?" Karter asked, way louder than was necessary. He stopped on the step. "You're joking, right?" "In case you couldn't tell, I'm not the joking type," the man said. "It's Lou's Funeral Parlor. My grandfather was a Lou, so was his father before him - Lewis, Louis, Lucian. In keeping with that tradition, I now carry the moniker."

This Poison Heart by 

This Poison Heart (Paperback, 2021, BLOOMSBURY) 4 stars

To break an ancient curse she must let her power bloom.

Briseis has a gift. …

Bri is so precious

4 stars

Queer black girl with two moms can do plant magic and poisons, falls in love with a beautiful 300-years old immortal while navigating her own insecurities about friendship and about her ancestors, while solving the riddle of her millenia-old family history tied deeply with Greek mythology and poison botanics? Yeah how to not love this.

One minus point for the scene where Alec can suddenly translate ancient greek from 400 BC on-the-fly but needs an "ancient phoneme table" for it. Honestly, if you have the skill to pull this off, you don't need a phoneme table. And if you need a phoneme table, you definitely don't have the skill to translate texts on-the-fly. (I'm just being pedantic here, it's a great read).

Just Your Local Bisexual Disaster (2022, Feiwel & Friends) 4 stars

In this voice-driven debut YA novel, Maggie Gonzales has to choose between three possible dates—her …

Very bisexual. Very amusing. Very cliché. I feel seen in my disastrosity.

What's disturbing though, is all the coercive mononormativity in the book. Not only is dating them all not seen as an option, but the protagonist is punished for having had feelings for three people in the first place, and agrees with it, talks herself into believing she didn't actually have the feelings, when it's clear she did. This is disappointing, specifically because other aspects of amatonormativity are deconstructed very well.

Afterlives (2021, Bloomsbury Publishing Plc) No rating

While he was still a little boy, Ilyas was stolen from his parents by the …

The book tells the life stories of a hand full of people in Eastern Africa (mostly what is now Tansania), stretched over more than 100 years. Their lives intertwine, it's written from different perspectives, and they're affected by world events in different ways. There's not really much tension in the story - but it's not boring either, it's a nice read. Though I found it a bit hard to imagine how old all the people were at any given time, because the book stretches over many decades. People are born, they age, have a life and eventually they die.

One Last Stop (Paperback, 2021, St. Martin's Griffin) 4 stars

For cynical twenty-three-year-old August, moving to New York City is supposed to prove her right: …

So fucking gay, and there was so much representation of so many kinds and examples of queerness and queer community and queer history. And I loved the writing, all the hilarious little details and comments, all these amazing misfit characters with their flaws that you just have to fall in love with - it's just very rewarding to read. Content warning for all the queermisic and racist violence in Subway Girl's previous life though.

There are some details though that I can't stop wondering about. First of all, how long is the distance between the subway station on the Q??? Judging from all the things that happen on the train between the stations, there must be several kilometers O.O Second, why on earth would anybody donate and give charity to a restaurant owner, who's never there and doesn't work, just to keep his profit running, and even make him the …

Wilder Girls (2020, Random House Children's Books) 3 stars

It's been eighteen months since the Raxter School for Girls was put under quarantine. Since …

I honestly kinda hated it, even though there's queer love. Apocalyptic szenario at a girls' school on an island, but instead of working together, everyone is just focused on themselves and their close friends. 90% of the people in this book could have survived if everyone had just been a good leftist and cared about one another. But no, it's this right-wing setting of "in the apocalypse, everyone's on their own".

Henna Wars (2021, Hachette Children's Group) 5 stars

When Dimple Met Rishi meets Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda in this rom com …

I loved it very much and recommend it to everyone who loves queer romances as a story on their own (it's the main plot). The setting is very similar to “Hani and Ishu's Guide to Fake Dating” by the same author (queer Bengali school girls living in Ireland going to a Catholic Girls' School, dealing with both racism and queermisia), but they're both independent books with absolutely wholesome stories. If you love Hani & Ishu, read the Henna Wars; if you love the Henna Wars, read Hani & Ishu :)