Danika reviews The Future is Disabled by Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha

the cover of The Future Is Disabled

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Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha is the author of two of my favourite books: Bodymap, a collection of poetry; and Care Work, a collection of essays about disability justice. So it’s no surprise that I loved their new essay collection about disability justice during the pandemic and in the future.

This book is written for a queer, BIPOC, neurodivergent, disabled audience, which is also the focus of disability justice. Not only does Piepzna-Samarasinha discuss their experiences as a queer femme disabled person of colour, but in this collection, she also writes about recently realizing they’re autistic and how that interweaves through those experiences.

The title of this collection is a reference to Alice Wong’s “Crip Oracle” (I just read Wong’s memoir, Year of the Tiger, and I also highly recommend it). The book explains that disabled people have been denied visions of the future. Not just the sci-fi future, but imaginings of adulthood, old age, and future possibilities. At the same time, we’re living through pandemics of COVID-19, racism, and a climate crisis that have become a mass-disabling event. With Long Covid and other consequences of these pandemics, it’s a real possibility that disabled people will be the majority in the near future, especially with more people embracing the labels of disabled and neurodivergent. Piepzna-Samarasinha asks, “Have we ever imagined this not just as a cautionary tale or scary story, but as a dream?”

These essays, written from 2020 to 2022, discuss what the pandemic has been like for disabled people. They talk about how many friends and role models in disability justice have died in such a short time span, and the grief they are holding. In one passage, an ICU nurse friend explained that she appreciated spending time with someone else who had been through a death Covid. Not a boredom Covid or an art Covid or a productivity Covid.

Piepzna-Samarasinha talks about ICU-genics, about disabled people keeping each other alive through the pandemic through networks of support and information. In one memorable passage, an organization recommended creating a one-pager about your life to hang around your neck when going into the hospital to try to convince doctors your life is worth saving. It would have a flattering picture of yourself and a few words about what you love about your life.

These essays also argue that disabled ways of thinking and working are crucial in addressing the enormous problems we have right now. Mutual aid saw new prominence during the pandemic, but some of the organizations that popped up in that time missed the mark and could learn from the disability justice groups that have been doing it for much longer.

Piepzna-Samarasinha isn’t afraid to wade into the real, messy process of creating care networks and working towards disability justice. They talk about the difficult questions and the problems that come up, as well as the variety of ways care and disability justice can look. She says that disabled community isn’t something you find, it’s something you build.

I took so many notes while reading this that I could keep spouting off bullet points of what I think is powerful and essential from The Future is Disabled, but it would be a very long review and would not be as good as just reading it. I always get so much out of Piepzna-Samarasinha’s books, and I’m looking forward to rereading it to get even more.

This book both faces the deadly ableism of the world we live in head on while also imagining a hopeful future, one partly made up of already existing spaces, like disability justice art performances.

I can’t recommend this book highly enough. Every book I’ve read about disability justice has expanded my mind and made me see new possibilities for the world and the way I live in it, and I know I’ve only scraped the surface of the wisdom and collective knowledge of this movement.

Sponsored Post: Massive Sapphic Book Sale!

An image of two women, one with her head resting on the other's lap while reading. The text is I Heart Lesfic's Sapphic Fiction 99 Cent Sale, February 11-15

Right now, there are over 75 sapphic books to choose from during the 99-cent Sapphic Ebook Sale at I Heart Lesfic, ranging from romance and rom-coms to science fiction and fantasy. How did this wondrous thing come to be? 

Well, the world was a different place a few years back, and we’re not talking about how no one had even heard of a KN95 mask, let alone contemplated buying them in different colors to match their outfits. Sapphic fiction—or what the cool kids were calling Lesfic, (okay, maybe not the actual cool kids, but that was what many were calling it)—was really taking off from its niche-publisher and fan fiction roots, especially as more authors discovered the exciting possibility of indie publishing.

Unfortunately, many traditional avenues were shut to these up-and-coming authors. A lot of the big book advertisers didn’t accept LGBTQ+ content at all. Many places that did, skewed heavily toward gay male romance. Reviews were hard to come by, especially without the backing of a publisher. And don’t get us started on how many bare-chested men graced the covers of books that had been mis-categorized as lesbian fiction on the Amazon bestseller charts.

It was out of this environment that TB Markinson came up with the idea for I Heart Lesfic in 2017, hoping to create a place for all sapphic fiction where the virtual doors wouldn’t slam in an author’s face because they didn’t know a secret handshake or belong to a special club. 2022 marks five years since IHL launched, and the website’s views, visitors, mailing list, and social media followers all keep growing. 

One of the best things about IHL is that all sapphic authors are welcome to join, and it doesn’t cost authors or readers a penny. This is why we’ve become one of the largest gatherings of both independent and traditionally published sapphic authors on the planet. Coming together like this drastically improves visibility for all authors, whether new to the business or seasoned pros. And it means readers get the chance to find the stories they crave in the rich diversity that makes up the modern sapphic fiction landscape without gatekeepers blocking their way.

Curious to check it out for yourself? Hop over to the 99-cent Sapphic Ebook Sale and find your next favorite read! Also, when it seems like doors keep getting slammed in your face, don’t give up. Keep fighting to be seen. Everyone has a voice and should be able to use it. If you are an author or reader of sapphic fiction and haven’t signed up for IHL’s newsletter, click here and become part of an incredible community where we raise everyone up.   

This is a sponsored post from I Heart Lesfic. For more information, check out the Lesbrary’s advertisement options.

Sponsored Post: Massive Sapphic Book Sale!

An image of two women, one with her head resting on the other's lap while reading. The text is I Heart Lesfic's Sapphic Fiction 99 Cent Sale, February 11-15

Right now, there are over 75 sapphic books to choose from during the 99-cent Sapphic Ebook Sale at I Heart Lesfic, ranging from romance and rom-coms to science fiction and fantasy. How did this wondrous thing come to be? 

Well, the world was a different place a few years back, and we’re not talking about how no one had even heard of a KN95 mask, let alone contemplated buying them in different colors to match their outfits. Sapphic fiction—or what the cool kids were calling Lesfic, (okay, maybe not the actual cool kids, but that was what many were calling it)—was really taking off from its niche-publisher and fan fiction roots, especially as more authors discovered the exciting possibility of indie publishing.

Unfortunately, many traditional avenues were shut to these up-and-coming authors. A lot of the big book advertisers didn’t accept LGBTQ+ content at all. Many places that did, skewed heavily toward gay male romance. Reviews were hard to come by, especially without the backing of a publisher. And don’t get us started on how many bare-chested men graced the covers of books that had been mis-categorized as lesbian fiction on the Amazon bestseller charts.

It was out of this environment that TB Markinson came up with the idea for I Heart Lesfic in 2017, hoping to create a place for all sapphic fiction where the virtual doors wouldn’t slam in an author’s face because they didn’t know a secret handshake or belong to a special club. 2022 marks five years since IHL launched, and the website’s views, visitors, mailing list, and social media followers all keep growing. 

One of the best things about IHL is that all sapphic authors are welcome to join, and it doesn’t cost authors or readers a penny. This is why we’ve become one of the largest gatherings of both independent and traditionally published sapphic authors on the planet. Coming together like this drastically improves visibility for all authors, whether new to the business or seasoned pros. And it means readers get the chance to find the stories they crave in the rich diversity that makes up the modern sapphic fiction landscape without gatekeepers blocking their way.

Curious to check it out for yourself? Hop over to the 99-cent Sapphic Ebook Sale and find your next favorite read! Also, when it seems like doors keep getting slammed in your face, don’t give up. Keep fighting to be seen. Everyone has a voice and should be able to use it. If you are an author or reader of sapphic fiction and haven’t signed up for IHL’s newsletter, click here and become part of an incredible community where we raise everyone up.   

Lesbrary Links: 2022 Queer Books By Black Authors, the LGBTQ Books Banned in Schools, and More

a collage of the covers listed below with the text Lesbrary LInks: Bi & Lesbian Lit News & Reviews

I follow hundreds of queer book blogs to scout out the best sapphic book news and reviews! Many of them get posted on Tumblr and Twitter as I discover them, but my favourites get saved for these link compilations. Here are some of the posts I’ve found interesting in the last few weeks.

the cover of The Black Veins
the cover of D'Vaughn and Kriss Plan a Wedding
the cover of Off the Record
the cover of Not Good for Maidens
Kenzie Kickstarts a Team by Kit Rosewater

For Black History Month and every other month of the year, LGBTQ Reads posted a long list of the queer books by Black authors out right now as well as some to preorder, with links to previous years.

Here are 18 LGBTQ+ Books That Are Banned In Schools in 2022.

A parent who tried to get LGBTQ books banned from schools for “sexual content” is facing several counts of child molestation.

Check out these Queer Retellings Coming Out in 2022.

Read these books about queer women in sports in honor of National Girls and Women In Sports Day!

In the Great Green Room cover
Letters from Tove by Tove Jansson
the cover of The Color Purple by Alice Walker
the cover of Codename Villanelle
The Secret Diaries of Miss Anne Lister cover

Margaret Wise Brown, author of Goodnight Moon, was a queer woman who lead a fascinating life, and I highly recommend checking out this New Yorker biography of her.

This is the queer love story at the heart of Moomins and the important lessons they still teach us today.

Taraji P. Henson is staring as Shug Avery in new movie adaptation of the musical (based on the book) The Color Purple.

Here’s a new trailer for season 4 of Killing Eve, based on the Villanelle series.

And here’s a first look at season 2 of Gentleman Jack.

Michelle Tea wrote about how to read tarot cards at NPR. She has also published a book called Modern Tarot: Connecting with Your Higher Self Through the Wisdom of the Card.

Getting Clean with Stevie Green by Swan Huntley was reviewed at Autostraddle.

This post has the covers linked to their Amazon pages. If you click through and buy something, I might get a small referral fee. For even more links, check out the Lesbrary’s Twitter! We’re also on FacebookGoodreadsYoutube and Tumblr.

Support the Lesbrary on Patreon at $2 or more a month and be entered to win a queer women book every month, plus $10 and up patrons get guaranteed books throughout the year!

The Lesbrary Is Looking for More Reviewers!

Graphic reading "The Lesbrary is looking for more reviewers!"

Do you love reading queer women books? Feel like talking about them at least once a month? Want to be buried in an insurmountable pile of free bi & lesbian ebooks? Join the Lesbrary!

I am looking for more reviewers at the Lesbrary! You just have to commit to one review a month of any queer women book and in return you get forwarded all of the sapphic ebooks sent to us for possible review. You also get access to the Lesbrary Edelweiss and Netgalley accounts, where you can request not-yet-released queer titles.

I’m looking particularly for more reviewers of color, disabled reviewers, and trans reviewers, but anyone who regularly reads bi & lesbian books is welcome!

If you’re interested in joining the Lesbrary, send me an email at danikaellis at gmail with an example of a book review you’ve written. (It doesn’t have to have been published/posted anywhere before.) We’d love to have you on board!

Lesbrary Links: LGBTQ AAPI Books, Police & Pride Reads, and Queer Elders in Comics

I follow hundreds of queer book blogs to scout out the best sapphic book news and reviews! Many of them get posted on Tumblr and Twitter as I discover them, but my favourites get saved for these link compilations. Here are some of the posts I’ve found interesting in the last few weeks.

Juliet Takes a Breath Graphic Novel by Gabby Rivera
Ace of Spades cover
The Jasmine Throne by Tasha Suri
The Chosen and the Beautiful by Nghi Vo
Small Beauty cover

I wrote about Goodreads Charles last year on Book Riot, and since then, there has been no change in how marginalized authors on Goodreads are targeted with 1 star reviews.

Netflix needs more queer content. Here are some LGBTQ books they should adapt.

Not sure which books to read for Pride? Take this quiz! Preorder Queer Books Out In June! And as June approaches, this is more necessary than ever: An Essential Reading List on Police and Pride.

Read these queer memoirs when you feel alone.

Read these 5 Contemporary Novels Featuring Queer Parents.

Last Night at the Telegraph Club by Malinda Lo
Zara Hossain Is Here by Sabina Khan cover
Gearbreakers cover
Shadow Life cover
It Goes Like This cover

May was AAPI Heritage Month! Here are some Asian American queer books you should read–any time of year. Here are 60 queer adult books by Asian authors.

Take this quiz to decide which sapphic fantasy you should read next! Here are some queer standalone fantasy books.

Here are some books with pansexual main characters!

What job would you have in a lesbian romance novel? Take this quiz to find out!

Laura Sackton wrote about the power of seeing older queer role models: The Power of Portals: Seeing My Own Future in Graphic Novels About Queer Elders.

These Marvel comics have good LGBT representation. Still not sure which queer superhero to read? Design your own

At Okazu, Erica Friedman explored the tropes of early yuri and what yuri looks like now in a new video: Yuri: How it Began – How It’s Going.

Carmilla by J. Sheridan Le Fanu,
The Secret to Superhuman Strength by Alison Bechdel
In the Great Green Room cover
One Last Stop by Casey McQuiston
I'm in Love with the Villainess cover

I hope you already know about the lesbian vampire book that predates Dracula. If not, here’s some info. I recommend reading the edition edited by Carmen Maria Machado!

Alison Bechdel discussed her new graphic memoir about her lifelong obsession with exercise, The Secret to Superhuman Strength, at Time, The Washington Post, Autostraddle, and Vulture.

Did you know that Goodnight Moon was originally a love letter to another woman? It’s true! Here are 11 Facts About Margaret Wise Brown, Author of GOODNIGHT MOON.

Casey McQuiston talked about their new sapphic timeslip subway romance, One Last Stop (which I loved!), at Time, Insider, and Goodreads.

This post has the covers linked to their Amazon pages. If you click through and buy something, I might get a small referral fee. For even more links, check out the Lesbrary’s Twitter! We’re also on FacebookGoodreadsYoutube and Tumblr.

Support the Lesbrary on Patreon at $2 or more a month and be entered to win a queer women book every month! $10 and up patrons get guaranteed books throughout the year!

Shira Glassman reviews Wrong Number, Right Woman by Jae

Wrong Number, Right Woman by Jae

I’d read and enjoyed some fanfic pieces that use the trope of “romance that blossoms when a friendship starts after a wrong-number text responds to the sender,” including a cute “no powers” alternate-universe short with Steve and Bucky, so I was excited to hear that beloved lesfic author Jae had written a whole novel on this premise. Hers sounded even cooler than the other ones I’d read, because she also tossed in the trope of one of them being a “I thought I was straight until now!” So I was excited to read Wrong Number, Right Woman, and the book happily obliged my expectations.

Jae took full advantage of what I find most appealing about the wrong-number-text trope, namely, that without any of the weight of the other layers of human interaction–if you already know someone from work or because they’re a friend of a friend–you are starting from a completely blank slate. You’ve both been reduced to nothing beyond the content of your communication, the output of your brain, and that leads to an interesting type of correspondence. In some cases, you may not even know what the other looks like. Eliza, the “I thought I was straight, so what am I doing in this Jae novel?” character, thinks the other heroine Denny is a man at first, and you can tell there’s chemistry right off the bat. In other words, their souls already click through words before anything like “what you look like” or the social weight of newfound queerness shows up 15 minutes late with Starbucks.

This will be a good book, by the way, for those looking for a fluffy comfort read. Both heroines are charming with no sharp edges, Eliza works literally the coziest job I have ever read in one of these books (she works for an indie company that makes homemade BIRD TOYS, y’all), and both of them have close, affectionate relationships with family and friends. This is also a good book for those looking for representation for women who haven’t decided whether bi or lesbian fits them better. She has, in a lot of ways, the ideal coming out experience, with accepting and supportive family–except for one weird page with one sister, but it makes sense in context–and a trans lesbian bestie at her side. If this is something you want to witness, you will find it here. (Also, I relate ever so much to Eliza’s reaction to Denny’s breasts. Thank you for that. We can never get enough of women’s desire for other women presented as wholesome.)

I also liked the detail that, while Denny is not in touch with her parents, it’s because they kicked out her little sister for being pregnant 12 years ago, not because Denny likes girls. (However, that may be triggering for other readers, so I’m mentioning it up front. I also want to reassure other readers, with other triggers, that pregnancy is not a trope in this book. The “baby” is now a tween, having grown up raised by her mother and aunt, and there’s a moment you think the mom is pregnant again, but she’s not.) In any case, it was reassuring to me, because while queer conflict with parents is a very important theme and I am not at all advocating that it disappear from literature, it’s nice to be able to pick up something fluffy, too.

Denny and Eliza’s undeniable chemistry radiates off the page even when they’re just trying to get to know each other as friends without any other expectations on the table. They already feel like they’re dating when they meet up for the first time to go to the fair, which both of them notice, even though at this point both of them still think that Eliza is straight. It is so meant to be. And that, in my opinion, is what makes a romance novel worth reading–does the author make you want the characters to get together? Jae has succeeded. Their connection is magnetic, and very, very cute.

Shira Glassman is the author of fluffy contemporary and fantasy f/f fiction, including the superhero/damsel-in-distress romance Cinnamon Blade: Knife in Shining Armor which, like the book in this review, also features a love interest who isn’t sure whether she’s bi or lesbian.

February Wrap Up: All the Queer Books I Read Last Month!

All the books I read in February! Thank you to Rock n Roll Heretic for sponsoring this video.

Preorder links for Rock n Roll Heretic:

Sapphic books mentioned:

Meagan Kimberly reviews Not Your Sidekick by CB Lee

Not Your Sidekick by CB Lee audiobook cover

Jess Tran comes from superhero parents and has an older sister with powers, but she did not inherit this gene. She decides to find her own way in a world of metahumans and superpowers and ends up at an internship working for The Mischiefs, her parents’ and the city of Andover’s nemeses. However, everything is not what it seems in the world of superpowers, heroes, and villains. With the help of her crush Abby and her friends, Jess sets out to find and reveal the truth.

One of the more refreshing aspects of the story is how Lee handles Jess’ coming out. It’s casually stated when she tells a brief story of a flashback to English class during her earlier high school years. From there, it’s simply a part of who she is and not a narrative point in which the plot revolves around.

The story deals a lot with being exceptional, and it’s weaved deftly within the world-building. In a world where metahumans were created by X29 after the Disasters, it’s easy to see why Jess feels inadequate, especially compared to her superhero parents and sister. Even though her younger brother doesn’t exhibit metahuman powers either, he’s also a child prodigy. Jess finding a way to know her value without exceptional traits makes her a protagonist to root for.

Lee’s world-building gets woven throughout the plot, which readers can appreciate. However, there are often more questions than answers to many of the details she brings up. Through Jess’s point of view, we learn about World War III, the Disasters, the creation of the North American Collective, and other similar governments around the world. But aside from a history book lesson, the reader doesn’t learn much.

An argument can be made though that this is done on purpose because it’s coming from Jess. She only knows what they’ve taught her in school, and up until now, she hadn’t questioned what she was taught. As she unfurls as a character and starts to realize the world she’s been fed is a lie, that’s when she questions the Collective, the hero/villain dichotomy, and her place in it all.

The blossoming romance between Abby and Jess is absolutely adorable. Everything from the squishy feelings of a crush to the first kiss to their comfortable jokes together creates a realistic and loveable relationship growth. There’s a scene in particular when Abby sleeps over and the tension is so well written.

Overall, a lot of plot points were obvious to the reader, though not obvious to Jess. But even so, it was a lot of fun to read. And the way it ends leaves the readers wanting more of the world, which is good because it’s the first in a series.

Danika reviews The Heiress: The Revelations of Anne de Bourgh by Molly Greeley

The Heiress by Molly Greeley

I’m not a big Pride and Prejudice fan, but for some reason, I’m drawn to P&P retellings–especially queer ones. The Heiress is a Pride and Prejudice novel: not exactly a retelling, a prequel, or a sequel, it fills in the story from one of the minor characters of the book: Anne de Bourgh. In case you forgot, Anne is Mr. Darcy’s original fiancee, and Catherine de Bourgh’s sickly daughter. In the original book, Anne doesn’t leave a strong impression. This novel gives her centre stage, and makes her a compelling and empathetic character.

Anne was a fussy baby, and she was prescribed laudanum drops to quiet her. She continued to be lethargic and delicate, and when she missed her drops, she had horrible reactions (shaking, sweating, sensory hallucinations, etc), so she stayed on these drops her whole childhood. Essentially, Anne has been drugged on opium her entire life. Any time they try to stop, she goes into withdrawal, which they interpret as her sickness getting worse. This leaves her, understandably. listless and easily overwhelmed. She’s never known anything other than this, though: at no point in her life has she been able to be clear-headed and sober for more than an hour or so at a time.

You might remember the character of her mother better. She is controlling and has very strong opinions, not allowing Anne to do anything that might strain her, like learning to play an instrument or reading novels. She is more like an object in her own life: she is often ignored or pitied by guests, and even in her twenties, her mother treats her like a small child. She mostly just watches the people around her. Although she has no agency in her day-to-day life, she is the heiress of their estate, which is extremely rare: she doesn’t have to marry to keep the land.

She loves the house and grounds–and she feels like it loves her back. She can hear it whisper to her after she’s had her drops. But she also lives under the shadow of the estate that will one day be hers. She feels incapable of managing it: she can’t even manage a conversation.

One of the only people who treats her like a human being is her governess, who tries to tell her that she is capable of more. She attempts to warn Anne about the medicine, but Anne doesn’t want to hear it, and her governess knows that pushing too hard will leave her without a job. Anne gets a crush on her, naturally, but the governess leaves and is replaced by a bland woman who acts as a puppet of her mother.

Eventually, Anne begins to internalize what the governess told her, and she realizes that the drops that she has been depending on may be the cause, not the cure, for how she feels. Impulsively, aware that her life is in danger, she dumps her medicine and flees to her cousin’s house in London, one of the few people who has ever treated her like a person. There, Anne tries to learn how to be independent, and how to fit in.

This is also where the book turns into a lesbian historical romance! It’s exactly the kind of excruciating historical lesbian slow burn you love to see. As Anne tries to fit into London society, she becomes fast friends with a woman who is a little too loud and boisterous for Victorians, but Anne can’t pull herself away from her. Eliza introduces her to novels and takes her shopping for fashionable clothing. Soon, they are spending almost all of their time together.

This is a book that fits together with Pride and Prejudice, but could also completely stand on its own. Without the references, it would still be a fascinating look at a woman who lived most of her life in a haze and the struggles of coming out of it. The last half of this book is also a beautiful, absorbing F/F romance. It manages to be both a Victorian historical novel and feature a drug addict lesbian main character with no apparent clash between those ideas!

I highly recommend this for fans of historical fiction, whether or not you are a Pride and Prejudice fan.