Jordan reviews Nevada by Imogen Binnie


If there is anything we need more of, it is trans* literature, or pretty much any books falling under that such umbrella term. But as the years go on we start to see more and more. Even so, books like Nevada or Luna, are still quite literally a rare treat, because I can actually count on my fingers and toes how many fiction books have trans* characters as a protagonist, or main character focus. And some of those were self-published.

Because of this rare treat experience, it didn’t matter what people said about it, I had to get around to reading Nevada by Imogen Binnie. It is not the first fiction book with a trans* main character, but it is the first to not only receive a bunch of hype around it. And better yet it tells the story of a trans-girl who actually dates other girls, which is actually a first, fictionally anyway.

But enough about the theory. Nevada focuses on the story of Maria and her search to find herself, sort of. And despite the fact that the opening of the novel goes through a real time situation of lesbian bed death, it doesn’t stay with clichés like that. In fact it works to break down a lot of the television identity that many trans* people get, including showing Maria struggling with that issue.

However, with the breakdown we do get a writing style that some people may hate, and others (lovers of fairy tales) will likely enjoy. The style is a lot like someone standing in the room with you and telling you a story verbally. I could honestly see Imogen actually talking like the writing in the book, which infused a bit of herself in the work. In normal cases of fiction, I’d say that’s not a good thing. But when you have a fictional work that could possibly be akin to what Jeanette Winterson did with Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit, by infusing a bit of personal experiences and fiction, you get something that is touching and personal to people.

Of course, with a story about a person finding themselves, you can imagine there isn’t exactly an ending to this. The ending in fact was the weakest, mostly because there wasn’t one. You’re reading through it and you turn the page to get to the next chapter and it’s done. I would normally say that it wasn’t finished at that point, but it is a literary novel, which seriously never have an ending. In fact I’m almost sure one of the possible definitions of literary novel is: Protagonist doesn’t overcome the challenge they were trying to face, or doesn’t find what they were searching for.

But that is a personal issue for me with literary novels. I like to have endings, especially when they aren’t happily ever after. Still, there are some gems in this book that is worth it for anyone. In fact, this book is definitely one of those books that makes you think about things you might not have. About life, relationships, gender, sexuality.

The biggest strength for this book though, were the characters. There wasn’t just Maria who had been on hormones for four years. There was Steph who has a pretty queer femme identity going on, and Kieran who goes with male pronouns but isn’t necessarily male or female, and later in the book we also get James who is one of those budding individuals who wants to do traditionally female things but doesn’t want to suffer the consequences, and a whole collection of other minor characters who are as diverse as a rainbow unicorn.

You really get a mix of different kinds of people, which made it feel so much like this could have been something that happened in your town. It was these diverse and real life characters that actually make the book enjoyable and something you could connect with and take away from it. That and some of the random humor, or my personal favorite were the monologues about how trans* people aren’t sex addicts, but are internet addicts. But isn’t everyone an internet addict these days? Who doesn’t like a space where you can be yourself. There’s somewhere for everyone to be themselves on the internet.

Overall, I do think this book is a worthwhile read for everyone. Those who are trans*, questioning queers, straight as a pen, doesn’t really matter, you’ll all find something you can connect with or relate to or even just get a new perspective on something that you probably didn’t really know about.

No matter what, it is one of those literary novels that gets you thinking. But hopefully, because of this book, I want to see more trans* and lesbian/queer trans-girl books!


Carol reviews The Real Folktale Blues, Book 1 of Beyond Ever After by Random Jordan


The Real Folktale Blues, Book 1 of Beyond Ever After by Random Jordan

Publisher: Create Space Independent Publishing Platform

Genre: Fiction, Fantasy

Overview from Amazon:

Gnidori has not always been a bounty hunter; in fact her first job was as a simple delivery girl wearing her trademark hooded red cloak. However, after her choice surrender of her former position as a Faerie Godmother, she was left with a young girl she had very nearly married to Prince Charming, and an entirely new life filled with simple quietness. That is, after she sealed away her magical talents. Why was her magic sealed away? Well, as she would put it: nothing is ever simple when magic is involved. Years with her magic stripped from her, and Gnidori is drawn into a plot spurred on by Prince Charming once more. She finds herself seeking the Big Bad Wolf, who has returned from death and comes to realize there is more to what is going on than she was told. Before long she encounters a tower fuming yellow smoke and a baby fox born from a human heart. But that’s only the beginning. Can Gnidori survive pirates, faeries, dragons, mirror spirits, time spells, gnomes; and even the most sinister of all: Bluebeard’s Tower? And all without access to her magic?… or maybe she does have it? Beyond Ever After is a series following the chronicles of Red Riding Hood with countless other Faerie and Folktale characters long after or even before their happily ever after. This is not a faerie tale retelling; it asks the great question: What happens beyond the happily ever after?

Review: 4 1/2 out of 5 stars

It’s been a long time since I have found myself smiling through an entire book but that is exactly what I found myself doing while reading this one.  This is the debut book from Random Jordan and she weaves an interesting tale full of childhood fairytale characters.  Now don’t run off thinking this is a children’s book or even a fairytale.  The reader is introduced to the person behind the legend and it’s fairly clear that the legend is not the person.  Rather a small aspect of that person.  In some ways it reminded me of the labels we tend to affix to people and how that label becomes the defining characteristic for that person, whether it’s accurate of not.

The story itself is fairly complex and introduces the reader through a variety of characters while Gnidori is trying to determine who has stolen her cloak and seems intent on killing her.  There are a couple of places in the story that get a bit confusing because there is an element of time travel.  However, I found that it was cleared up fairly quickly.  I’ll be interested to see what happens next for Gnidori, Ash, Etti and the rest of the crew.  Overall I found this story intriguing and fun to read.