Since I was feeling a little beat up about season 7 of Voltron, I decided to compile a list of books that have characters that are LGBTQIA+. Enjoy!

Representation is a big deal in the modern age. While some of these books might not necessarily be considered “modern” and a few others might not be conventionally LGBTQIA+, they all DO have representation of one form or another. In an age where people are becoming more accepting, it is imperative to introduce diverse characters to our younger generations and even older generations to show them that there is absolutely nothing wrong with accepting who you are and how to accept the people around you. In recent years, I have seen this improve tremendously and can’t wait to see how this improves even more in the future of print media, TV, and movies.

If there’s a book you love that isn’t listed below, or if you’re an author with LGBTQIA+ rep in your book, feel free to drop the title/link to your book down in the comments. I tried to keep this list to ones that I had read, but I slipped in a few that I haven’t gotten around to.

1. Carry On by Rainbow Rowell

2. Captive Prince by P.S. Pacat

3. Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller

3.5 The Iliad by Homer

4. Will Grayson, Will Grayson by John Green and David Levithan

5. Of Fire and Stars by Audrey Coulthurst

6. The Raven Cycle (series) by Maggie Stiefvater

120000207. Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Sáenz

8. Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard (series) by Rick Riordan

9. Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli

10. The Mortal Instruments (series) by Cassandra Clare

11. Let’s Talk About Love by Claire Kann

12. Contagion by Erin Bowman

13. None of the Above by I.W. Gregorio

14. Mask of Shadows by Linsey Miller

15. Been Here All Along by Sandy Hall

16. Queens of Geek by Jen Wilde

17. At the Edge of the Universe by Shaun David Hutchinson

18. Fence (graphic novel series) by P.S. Pacat

19. Every Day (series) by David Levithan


Meeting Madeline Miller!

I make it no secret that The Song of Achilles is my all time favourite book. After all, I have 6 different copies and am constantly purchasing more (I might have a problem)! So when I heard that Madeline Miller was going to be at Parnassus Books in Nashville, I knew there was nothing on Olympus or in the Underworld that could keep me from going.

For those of you poor souls that haven’t heard of The Song of Achilles, I have a gushing review. If you’re a classics fan, if you’ve read the Iliad, or even if you had that Percy Jackson phase, I 1000% recommend.

Her next book, Circe, is about the goddess with the same name. It’s a sort of retelling of The Odyssey from Circe’s perspective and gives insight into her life in a way that ancient mythology didn’t delve into. Now, I haven’t read The Odyssey in years and I barely remember Circe at all. In fact, the only reason I know her name is the role she played in Sea of Monsters by Rick Riordan. I look forward to hearing more about her character. From the excerpts I’ve read and from the answers that Madeline Miller gave during the event, I can’t wait to read about a badass goddess that uses witchcraft and turns men into pigs.

It came as a shock, but apparently, in Greek mythology, divine power and witchcraft are considered different. Whereas divine power is simple and straightforward, witchcraft is hands on and gritty.

I must have looked like the nerdiest person there. Not only did I sit in the first row (right next to V.E. Schwab who I could not for the life of me bring myself to talk to), I wore a sweatshirt that said ‘Patroclus’ right across the front and hugged my stack of assorted SoA copies. I’m positive that I had the most books out of everyone (5 as opposed to the 1-2 that most people had). By the time I reached the front of the signing line I stammered out how amazing The Song of Achilles was and that it changed my life. Madeline Miller is the nicest person ever, guys, because she commented on how she noticed my shirt in the crowd and instantly thought “I need to meet that girl!” My inner fangirl was screaming. How I wasn’t a sobbing mess is beyond me.

As if my swooning over her book wasn’t enough, I just had to hold up the line to ask questions. The #1 question that was swirling around my brain was “Why did you make Patroclus pacifistic when, in The Iliad, he’s seen as second to Achilles?” Patroclus is freaking badass and a crazy fighter, so seeing him so tame was different. In case you were wondering, my boy Pat made the second most kills in Homer’s story just behind Diomedes and ahead of Achilles. It takes Hector, some random dude, and freaking god Apollo to take him down! Her response was simply that she pulled the idea from Troilus and Cressida instead of Homer.

My #2 question was nitpicking and, in hindsight, not necessarily worth questioning, but I had to know. When Patroclus is scaling the walls of Troy, Apollo is depicted as being cold and aloof, which I totally understand as a god, but he was mentioned as having dark hair. In every painting I’ve see and every mention of him, he is almost always a blond. My thinking is; He’s the god of light and all, so why dark hair? Not surprisingly the answer was that Apollo has been vastly westernized and, therefore, given the Nordic features that we so commonly see. “I wanted to get away from that kind of ideology” is essentially what she said. She also mentioned that Achilles is mentioned as “fair haired”, but that the Greeks used colours differently. This can mean Achilles was blond, light brown, or even red (which might give insight as to his name ‘Pyrrha’ on Scyros). The ancient Greeks called blood purple, so interpretation is pretty open!

When I asked to take a picture she said “Of course! You’re wearing a Patroclus shirt!” and I don’t think any other phrase has made me smile that much. I felt a little weird about it, because no one else was talking so long and no one was really asking for pictures, but it was an amazing experience. To those of you that were stuck in line behind me, I am so sorry I talked for like 10 minutes. Madeline Miller is an awesome, unique individual. She really helped re-spark my love of Greek and Roman mythology (and my love of Patrochilles) and everyone needs to read her beautiful, lyrical books!

I love talking about signings, because no two are the same. Each author has their own way of explaining things and interacting with the audience. Some of them might be disappointing and some of them are fantastic. Meeting Madeline Miller was definitely the highlight of my year!

The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller – Review

Image result for the song of achilles
**Quotes based on the US paperback

“Name one hero who was happy…you can’t.” He was sitting up now, leaning forward.
“I can’t”
“I know. They never let you be famous and happy…I’ll tell you a secret.”
“Tell me.” I loved it when he was like this.
“I’m going to be the first.” He took my palm and held it to his. “Swear it.”
“Why me?”
“Because you’re the reason…” (pg. 104-105)

The Song of Achilles tells a twist of The Iliad from the perspective of Patroclus. It follows the life of Patroclus from being a young, simple prince and all the way through the Trojan War. It tells a heartbreaking tale of him meeting Achilles and the progression of their relationship from strangers to companions to something more. 
I latched onto this story from the very start. In my freshman year of high school, before I knew this book even existed, I wrote a retelling of The Iliad where Achilles and Patroclus were implied lovers, but never explicitly said so. When I heard of this book, I knew I had to read it. This story was beautifully tragic and wonderfully heartbreaking. In the beginning, Patroclus is so depressing (yet somehow humorous) that you can’t help but feel bad for him and the bad luck the Fates seemed to bestow on him. 

“She wants you to be a god,” I told him.
“I know.” (pg. 55)

Watching Achilles grow in his experiences from a perspective other than Homer’s is unexpected and something I welcome. Seeing him embrace Patroclus as a friend so readily was so heartwarming. 
Thetis. The wrath I felt for the minor goddess was not something I had anticipated. She clearly loved Achilles and the fact that she wanted him to become a god is something I had never looked at before. Heracles became one, so why shouldn’t he? Her disdain for Patroclus was gut-wrenching and left me tense with every interaction. By the end, I was almost completely over her character, but the last few pages left me feeling only grief for the goddess.

“There is no law that gods must be fair, Achilles,” Chiron said. “And perhaps it is the greater grief, after all, to be left on earth when another is gone. Do you think?” (pg. 84)

It was when the war came that I truly began to feel the full weight of this book. Anyone who has read The Iliad or read up a little on Greek stories/history knows there is only one way for this book to end. I saw a deep change in Achilles during the Trojan War. He was no longer the same innocent boy and he knew what the war would mean. Not only for himself, but for Patroclus. In the war, it is the first time Achilles feels the full weight of his mortality as realization sets in that he will not be a god.

Achilles was looking at me. “Your hair never quite lies flat here.” He touched my head, just behind my ear. “I don’t think I’ve ever told you how I like that.” (pg. 182)

Patroclus makes it clear to the reader that he has no intention of surviving the war or ever leaving Troy. He will do anything to keep Achilles alive and even goes as far as to keep him from killing Hector. It is a running theme during the war for Achilles to claim he has no reason to kill Hector. It is obvious that he is doing this not only to buy time from the Fates, but to remain with Patroclus for as long as possible. 
The time in war weighs heavily on Achilles and even starts to change who he is. His hubris begins to consume him as he realizes that the gods never promised how much or why he will have fame. Patroclus fears that people will remember him for the wrong things, the terrible things he does in war instead of the Achilles he knows and loves. There is even a time in which Patroclus considers suicide in a fit of rage to punish Achilles for his selfishness. 

I forced my voice to match his in lightness. “I’m sure you’re right. After all, Hector hasn’t done anything to you.”
He smiled then, as I had hoped he would. “Yes,” he said. “I’ve heard that.” (pg. 247)

This book was the most beautiful book I have ever read. I could read the story of Achilles and Patroclus and still cry at the end. That is how amazing this is. I could go as far to say that this is now my favourite book and that I play to read it many many more times in the future. The Song of Achilles truly makes you appreciate the time you have while on earth, however short it may be. 

Achilles makes a sound like choking. “There are no bargains between lions and men. I will kill you and eat you raw.” (pg. 344)


The Hidden Oracle by Rick Riordan – Review

26252859Title: The Hidden Oracle
Author: Rick Riordan
Series: The Trials of Apollo #1
Format: Hardback
Pages: 376
Rating: 3.5

Chiron galloped over. “Thank the gods!”
“You’re welcome,” I [Apollo] gasped, mostly out of habit. 

It took me forever to even pick up this book. I loved Percy Jackson and the Olympians series so much (it has to be in my top 5 series…ever). When Heroes of Olympus came out, I was up the freaking wall, because we were finally going to see more of the gang! Only to be disappointed after the first book was all new characters. Of course, that series progresses and I eventually fell in love with it as well. I thought it was over. Rick was writing his Norse series, I wrote my farewell to Percy Jackson, and I thought the story had ended.

Trails of Apollo. I saw the clips on YouTube about it and couldn’t wait to get my hands on it. I love Apollo. He’s probably one of my favourite Olympian gods, because he’s quirky and the way he never sees anything as his fault amuses me to no end. He reminds me of Narcissus, because he’s always talking about how everyone surely must love him and his beauty and his wit. For the first hundred pages or so, that is exactly what I got, but in human form! I understand that, as a human, Apollo would feel differently about some things or care about things he normally wouldn’t have as a god, but this is his third time as a mortal, surely if the first two times didn’t really change who he was, the third time around would be no different…so why does he get so weepy and sad about…everything!?

Meg…when we were introduced to her it left a sour taste in my mouth. I didn’t like Meg from the start and I still don’t. She gives off the “I’m so tough” vibe/act that authors sometimes give female characters to “appeal” to the female audience and I absolutely hate it. I’m not saying that girls can’t be tough or whatever, but you don’t need to stress it so much. Just let whatever happens happen.

For some reason, everyone at Camp Half-Blood seems really ready to make fun of Apollo or pick on him, which really doesn’t make sense to me. Even though he’s in mortal form, he might at some point be a god again and boy wouldn’t you look stupid if he came up and wiped that smile off your face. Which I am 100% convinced he would do once he was back in his godly status and ready to beat the ever living crap out of the people that wronged him.

And now, the entire reason I couldn’t bring myself to give this book four stars…LEO.

Yeah, that’s right, I can’t stand him. I find him such an unlikable Jason/Percy wannabe and he simply can’t be them because it is not his destiny to be as good as them. So, after I thought he died in HoO, you’re telling me I have to sit through 5 more books with him as the main character bringing little to the table and being annoying the entire time!? Awesome. Just freaking spectacular. All the snip-its I was seeing before this even came out was all about Percy and Apollo interacting and now you’re telling me that instead of my beautiful, awesome Percy paired up with turned-human Apollo fighting to save the world I get Leo and weepy Apollo with god-turned-human Calypso that probably won’t end up doing much? This should get interesting real fast.

*quietly* I just want more Percy….


The Colossus Rises by Peter Lerangis – Review

Title: The Colossus Rises
Author: Peter Lerangis
Series: Seven Wonders
Book: 1
Format: Hardback
Pages: 348
Rating: 3/5

16061340I had some high hopes for this book regardless of it being a Middle grade read. I try not to let things like that define how it makes the book feel. For example, Percy Jackson is a Middle grade book as well, but it doesn’t read like that, it actually has an interesting story with humour and violence and it could appeal to almost anyone. The Colossus Rises is a Middle grade book and reads like one as well.

I knew right from the beginning that I wasn’t going to fall in love with this book. The characters lack a certain something that makes them easy to connect to. Jack McKinley is the main character, he has a knack for coming up with complicated solutions to seemingly easy problems and he’s dying. Not that he knows this as first, he doesn’t find out until he’s taken to an institution that helps people just like him…all three of the others. Each of the other major characters, Aly, Marco, and Cass, are all given odd little quirks as well. Aly is a computer genius that can hack like a professional, Marco is an athletic star, and Cass is a mental genius with the ability to remember seemingly everything.

This book had such great potential, but even for a fantasy book it felt stretched a little thin. It throws odd scenarios with oddball names into a multitude of unlikely events that made my mind swirl a few times. While still maintaining a highly unique idea, it didn’t seem like it really focused on the fact that these kids are all dying which for some reason doesn’t phase any of them. That seems like a big deal to me, but clearly I’ve missed something more important than impending doom.


The Sword of Summer by Rick Riordan – Review

Title: The Sword of Summer
Author: Rick Riordan
Series: Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard
Book: 1
Copy: Hardback
Pages: 491
Rating: 4.5/5

15724396There’s a select few authors where I can say I love virtually every book I’ve read written by them. Rick Riordan is the god of writing.

Magnus Chase has a normal life. Well, if you consider living on the streets for two years because your mother was killed by a pack of wolves before your apartment burst into flames normal, anyway. His “normal” life is turned upside down when…spoiler alert…he gets killed by a fire giant! Shockingly, he wakes up and finds himself in Valhalla, the life afterlife of deserving warriors that die honourable deaths. However, Doomsday is around the corner and Magnus is the only person that can stop it. Will he succeed? Or will he fail and destroy himself in the process?

I love and will probably love every book from here on that Rick Riordan writes. The way he takes mythology and history, but puts a spin on it, making it interesting and entertaining is unlike any author I’ve ever read.  Not to mention the way he integrates all races, disabilities, and almost everything else in between. Because, yes, there is an Arab girl in this book and she is badass and amazing. Yes, there is a deaf person in this book, does that slow down the plot? Not at all. Rick Riordan’s humour also never ceases to make me smile. Magnus reminded me a lot of Percy with his sarcasm and little one-liners that we all so much, but it wasn’t too similar that it seemed like they were the same person. Can we talk about the little Annabeth cameos? Because those were great and I love them. Uncle Rick, I want a novella with the Magnus and Annabeth conversation at the end, please and thank you. Can’t wait for The Hammer of Thor!