Review: Welcome to the New World

Title: Welcome to the New World
Author: Jake Halpern, Michael Sloan (illustrator)
Genre: Graphic Novel, Nonfiction
Publisher: Henry Holt & Co.
Source: Publisher
Format: Paperback
Release Date: September 8, 2020
Rating: ★★★★★

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Goodreads Synopsis:

Now in a full-length book, the New York Times Pulitzer Prize–winning graphic story of a refugee family who fled the civil war in Syria to make a new life in America

After escaping a Syrian prison, Ibrahim Aldabaan and his family fled the country to seek protection in America. Among the few refugees to receive visas, they finally landed in JFK airport on November 8, 2016, Election Day. The family had reached a safe harbor, but woke up to the world of Donald Trump and a Muslim ban that would sever them from the grandmother, brothers, sisters, and cousins stranded in exile in Jordan.

Welcome to the New World tells the Aldabaans’ story. Resettled in Connecticut with little English, few friends, and even less money, the family of seven strive to create something like home. As a blur of language classes, job-training programs, and the fearsome first days of high school (with hijab) give way to normalcy, the Aldabaans are lulled into a sense of security. A white van cruising slowly past the house prompts some unease, which erupts into full terror when the family receives a death threat and is forced to flee and start all over yet again. The America in which the Aldabaans must make their way is by turns kind and ignorant, generous and cruel, uplifting and heartbreaking.

Delivered with warmth and intimacy, Jake Halpern and Michael Sloan’s Welcome to the New World is a wholly original view of the immigrant experience, revealing not only the trials and successes of one family but showing the spirit of a town and a country, for good and bad.

Review:

In November of 2016, the Aldabaan family moved to the United States from Syria as refugees. They didn’t speak English and had to leave many family members in Syria. The family had to adjust to life in America, including finding jobs, navigating the school system, and seeking protection in their new home, despite death threats and an oppressive political system.

This was an incredible graphic novel. It is based on a real family who moved to the U.S. as refugees from Syria. Though many of my childhood friends immigrated or were from families who immigrated from other countries, I wasn’t familiar with this process. I can’t imagine what it would be like to feel so unsafe in your home that you have to move to a new country that you’ve never been to. I recognize that I have this privilege, and this book opened my eyes to the Syrian refugee experience.

Some parts of this story were devastating. The Aldabaan family left a dangerous situation in their home country, but they didn’t arrive to a safe situation in America. The children faced bullies at school. The parents struggled to find work that would support their family of seven. They were constantly worried about the way immigrants were treated by the new government. They even received a terrifying death threat at one point, for no other reason than being refugees. These were some very upsetting events that I’m so sorry they had to go through.

This is an incredibly powerful and informative graphic novel! I highly recommend it.

Thank you Henry Holt and Co for providing a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

What to read next:

Homes: A Refugee Story by Abu Bakr al Rabeeah with Winnie Yeung

Have you read Welcome to the New World? What did you think of it?

Review: Nevertheless, She Wore It: 50 Iconic Fashion Moments

Title: Nevertheless, She Wore It: 50 Iconic Fashion Moments
Author: Ann Shen
Genre: Nonfiction
Publisher: Chronicle Books
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
Format: Ebook
Release Date: September 1, 2020
Rating: ★★★★★

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Goodreads Synopsis:

Illustrator and author Ann Shen shares her striking study of history’s most iconic styles, and the women who changed the world while wearing them. From the revolutionary bikini to the presidential pantsuits, this book explores 50 fashions through bold paintings and insightful anecdotes that empower readers to make their own fashion statements.The book demonstrates the power of fashion as a political and cultural tool for making change.

Review:

This book has 50 different fashion statements with illustrations of each outfit. It features specific outfits and trends throughout history that made political and cultural statements.

There were many iconic outfits that made history. Princess Diana’s revenge dress made a statement about her new place in life on the day that Prince Charles admitted to adultery. Serena Williams made a statement with her black catsuit, which she wore for medical reasons but was then banned because the officials thought it was inappropriate. These are just a couple of the iconic outfits in this book.

There were also some fashion trends that were revolutionary. Jeans are a part of everyday life now, but women had to fight for the right to wear them. Hairstyles are also used to make fashion statements, such as the Afro, which defied the white standards put on black people, and the Bob, which defied the feminine look of long hair. It’s amazing how these small changes can make such an historical impact.

This is a great book about fashion and feminism.

Thank you Chronicle Books for providing a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

What to read next:

Legendary Ladies: 50 Goddesses to Empower and Inspire You by Ann Shen

Bad Girls Throughout History: 100 Remarkable Women Who Changed the World by Ann Shen

Have you read Nevertheless, She Wore It? What did you think of it?

Review: Body Talk: 37 Voices Explore Our Radical Anatomy

Title: Body Talk: 37 Voices Explore Our Radical Anatomy
Author: Kelly Jensen (editor)
Genre: Non-Fiction, Anthology
Publisher: Algonquin Young Readers
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
Format: Ebook
Release Date: August 18, 2020
Rating: ★★★★

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Goodreads Synopsis:

It’s time to bare it all about bodies!

We all experience the world in a body, but we don’t usually take the time to explore what it really means to have and live within one. Just as every person has a unique personality, every person has a unique body, and every body tells its own story. 

In Body Talk, thirty-seven writers, models, actors, musicians, and artists share essays, lists, comics, and illustrations—about everything from size and shape to scoliosis, from eating disorders to cancer, from sexuality and gender identity to the use of makeup as armor. Together, they contribute a broad variety of perspectives on what it’s like to live in their particular bodies—and how their bodies have helped to inform who they are and how they move through the world.

Come on in, turn the pages, and join the celebration of our diverse, miraculous, beautiful bodies! 

Review:

In this anthology, 37 writers talk about different body issues. Some of these pieces of writing were universal, like reproductive health, while others were about specific disabilities.

This book was informative and enjoyable. I’m quite squeamish and don’t typically like reading medical texts, so some of these essays were difficult to get through. However, I learned a lot about muscular diseases and scoliosis, which was referenced in a number of pieces.

Between the articles were some FAQ. These included things like the use of the word “fat,” and how to use identity first language when talking about disabilities. That means you say “a disabled person” rather than “a person with a disability.”

These pieces were written by a variety of different writers. They were celebrities, young adult authors, and doctors. It was great to see these first hand accounts of body issues, as well as the medical science to back it up. Some of the pieces were previously published elsewhere. They were good pieces of writing, but I’m not sure why they were included with original works.

This was a really great book for everyone to read!

Thank you Algonquin Books for providing a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

What to read next:

[Don’t] Call Me Crazy: 33 Voices Start the Conversation About Mental Health by Kelly Jensen (editor)

The (Other) F Word: A Celebration of the Fat and Fierce by Angie Manfredi (editor)

About the author:

Kelly Jensen is a former librarian and current editor at Book Riot and her own popular book blog, Stacked. She’s the editor of two highly-acclaimed YA anthologies, Here We Are: Feminism For The Real World and (Don’t) Call Me Crazy: 33 Voices Start The Conversation About Mental Health. Her writing has been featured in Bust MagazineFortuneBustle, and more. When not working with words, she teaches yoga, hangs out with a motley crew of pets, and enjoys all of the black licorice no one else wants. Follow her on Instagram @heykellyjensen and her website kellybjensen.com.

Have you read Body Talk: 37 Voices Explore Our Radical Anatomy? What did you think of it?

Review: Terry Fox and Me

Title: Terry Fox and Me
Author: Mary Beth Leatherdale and Milan Pavlović
Genre: Children’s, Nonfiction, Picture Book
Publisher: Tundra Books
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
Format: Ebook
Release Date: August 4, 2020
Rating: ★★★★★

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Goodreads Synopsis:

Celebrating the 40th anniversary of the Terry Fox Marathon of Hope, this picture book biography tells the story of a friendship defined by strength and love.

Before Terry Fox become a national hero and icon, he was just a regular kid. But even then, his characteristic strength, determination and loyalty were apparent and were the foundation for his friendship with Doug. The two first met at basketball tryouts in grammar school. Terry was the smallest – and worst – basketball player on the court. But that didn’t stop him. With Doug’s help, Terry practiced and practiced until he earned a spot on the team. As they grew up, the best friends supported each other, challenged each other, helped each other become better athletes and better people. Doug was by Terry’s side every step of the way: when Terry received a diagnosis of cancer in his leg, when he was learning to walk – then run – with a prosthetic leg and while he was training for the race of his life, his Marathon of Hope.

Written from Doug’s perspective, this story shows that Terry Fox’s legacy goes beyond the physical and individual accomplishments of a disabled athlete and honors the true value of friendship.

Review:

When the new boy, Terry, wants to befriend Doug after he didn’t do well at basketball tryouts, Doug is reluctant to hang out with him. Doug quickly learns that Terry is willing to work hard to get better at the sport. Terry becomes a great basketball player and athlete, though he won’t run cross-country with Doug. Everything changes when Terry is diagnosed with cancer and has 80% of his leg amputated. Suddenly Terry is motivated to start running, creating the Marathon of Hope to raise money for cancer research. His best friend Doug stays by his side the whole time.

Terry Fox is a Canadian icon and hero. Every year, Canadians across the country participate in the Terry Fox Run in September. The run that Terry started in 1980 is honored every year with donations to cancer research. Unfortunately, Terry had to stop his run halfway through his cross country marathon. He started in St. John’s, Newfoundland and ended in Thunder Bay, Ontario. He passed away the following year though his memory lives on today.

I wasn’t familiar with Doug’s story before reading this book. He was a wonderful friend to Terry, who encouraged him throughout his recovery and training.

This is a great story for children because it teaches about the power of friendship. It could also teach young children who Terry Fox was and why he is such an important historical figure that we continue to honour today.

I loved this Canadian story!

Thank you Penguin Random House Canada for providing a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

What to read next:

Terry Fox: A Story of Hope by Maxine Trottier

Have you read Terry Fox and Me? What did you think of it?

Review: Betty and Veronica: The Leading Ladies of Riverdale

Title: Betty and Veronica: The Leading Ladies of Riverdale
Author: Tim Hanley
Genre: Comics, Nonfiction
Publisher: Rowman and Littlefield
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
Format: Ebook
Release Date: July 15, 2020
Rating: ★★★★★

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Goodreads Synopsis:

An action-packed comedy about a fake family that includes a spy, an assassin and a telepath!

Master spy Twilight is the best at what he does when it comes to going undercover on dangerous missions in the name of a better world. But when he receives the ultimate impossible assignment—get married and have a kid—he may finally be in over his head! Not one to depend on others, Twilight has his work cut out for him procuring both a wife and a child for his mission to infiltrate an elite private school. What he doesn’t know is that the wife he’s chosen is an assassin and the child he’s adopted is a telepath!

Review:

Betty and Veronica were created as feuding girlfriends of Archie, in Archie Comics. They have gone through many changes during the decades they have been around. This book tells the evolution of Betty and Veronica, from when they were created in the 1940s to their television adaptation in 2020.

I’ve read Archie Comics for as long as I can remember. I always loved reading about Betty and Veronica. I hadn’t really thought about how sexist the characters were, but after reading about their history, I realize how problematic they were.

One of the major problems with Betty and Veronica was that their stories were written by men. They were sexualized by old men, though they were meant to appeal to young female readers. They were even originally drawn with the same face and body, but different hairstyles, unlike the boys who each had distant facial features. Now, with the tv show Riverdale, there are female writers and creators on the show, so they are finally written by women.

There were so many interesting stories in this book. There was a period during the 1970s when Archie and the gang were written by a religious writer, who made the characters preach the Bible to readers. There were also many tv and movie adaptations that didn’t end up happening. Despite a sometimes controversial history, Archie and his friends have survived for almost 80 years.

This book is a must-read for fans of Betty and Veronica!

Thank you Rowman and Littlefield for providing a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

What to read next:

Wonder Woman Unbound: The Curious History of the World’s Most Famous Heroine by Tim Hanley

The Many Lives of Catwoman: The Felonious History of a Feline Fatale by Tim Hanley

Have you read Betty and Veronica: The Leading Ladies of Riverdale? What did you think of it?

Review: Elizabeth I: The Making of a Queen

Title: Elizabeth I: The Making of a Queen
Author: Laura Brennan
Genre: Nonfiction, Biography
Publisher: Pen and Sword
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
Format: Ebook
Release Date: April 30, 2020
Rating: ★★★

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Goodreads Synopsis:

Elizabeth I is arguably one of the greatest monarchs and women of English history. Against an uncertain political and religious backdrop of post-reformation Europe she ruled at the conception of social modernization, living in the shadow of the infamy of her parents reputations and striving to prove herself an equal to the monarchs who had gone before her.

This book seeks to explore some of the key events of her life both before and after she ascended to the English throne in late 1558. By looking at the history of these selected events, as well as investigating the influence of various people in her life, this book sets out to explain Elizabeth’s decisions, both as a queen and as a woman.

Amongst the events examined are the death of her mother, the role and fates of her subsequent stepmothers, the fate of Lady Jane Grey and the subsequent behavior and reign of her half sister Mary Tudor, along with the death of Amy Dudley, the return of Mary Queen of Scots to Scotland, the Papal Bull and the Spanish Amanda.

Review:

This book talks about important events that shaped Queen Elizabeth I’s life. These include the marriages of her father, Henry VIII, her feud with Mary Queen of Scots, and her battle with King Philip I of Spain.

I was disappointed that this book showed things that happened around Elizabeth, rather than her actual life. The book is supposed to be about events that shaped her life, but there was not much reference to Elizabeth’s actual life. The explanations of how these events affected Elizabeth’s life were quite short compared to the long descriptions of what happened. Almost the entire first half of the book was about Henry VIII and his wives. He was Elizabeth’s father so he greatly shaped her life, but she didn’t live with him at that time, so she wasn’t actually present for most of the book.

There was also a lot of the author’s opinion in the book, rather than just stating the facts. There were many parts where she talked down to the reader. For example, she said that people used paintings to see what other people looked like because they didn’t have cameras. If you’re reading this book about Tudor England, it’s presumed that you know they didn’t have cameras hundreds of years ago. She didn’t need to talk down to the reader to explain things like that.

This was a disappointing book that talked about events that happened during the life of Elizabeth I, but not her actual life.

Thank you Pen and Sword for providing a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

What to read next:

The Virgin’s Lover by Philippa Gregory

Mary Queen of Scots: The True Life of Mary Stuart by John Guy

Have you read Elizabeth I: The Making of a Queen? What did you think of it?

Review: See Me: Becoming Your Authentic Self

Title: See Me: Becoming Your Authentic Self
Author: Hailey Rodgers
Genre: Nonfiction, Self-Help
Publisher: New Degree Press
Source: Author
Format: Ebook
Release Date: December 2, 2019
Rating: ★★★

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Goodreads Synopsis:

A study by Collage Group found that the number one trait that young adults value in living an ideal life is happiness. So why is it that so many young adults identify themselves as unsatisfied or unhappy with their lives? There is a misconception that in order to be happy you must first be successful. In fact, the opposite is true: you must be happy first in order to be successful. This raises the question: How do I become happy? The answer: Discover your authentic self. 

See Me is about the importance of living authentically as a young adult. While young adults tend to talk about authenticity, it can actually be the hardest time in your life to feel confident in yourself. This book is a tool to help you stay true to who you are amidst the pressure to conform to societal norms. It aims to inspire young adults through guiding principles and the incredible stories of others who comprehend the value non-conformity and consistently work to live an authentic life. 

Review:

In See Me, Hailey Rodgers gives tips on how to live a happy life and be successful. The book is divided into thirty different principles. Each principle includes an example from someone’s actual life experience, either Hailey’s or someone else. Each chapter also ends with a recap of what important points to take away from the principle and how to apply it to your life.

This book is targeted towards young adult readers. Many of the examples are about people graduating high school or in university or college. This book is about figuring out your place in life, so it makes sense that it is aimed toward readers who are starting their adult lives.

There were some sensitive subjects addressed in this book, such as abuse. I don’t think these examples always pertained to the subject. There were also some generalizations that I don’t think everyone could relate to. For example, one chapter talks about doing what you want that will make you happy, rather than following what your guardians and elders tell you. She says they will be happy for you even if you don’t do what they want you to do. I think this is an idealistic way to view things. Many people don’t have the luxury of choosing to do what they love by going against the wishes of their guardians.

This is a really good book about learning to find your happiness for young adults.

Thank you Hailey Rodgers for providing a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

What to read next:

You Are Awesome: How to Navigate Change, Wrestle with Failure, and Live an Intentional Life by Neil Pasricha

Have you read See Me: Becoming Your Authentic Self? What did you think of it?

Review: Work it, Girl: Become a Leader Like Michelle Obama

Title: Work it, Girl: Become a Leader Like Michelle Obama
Author: Caroline Moss, Sinem Erkas (illustrator)
Genre: Children’s, Nonfiction, Biography
Publisher: Frances Lincoln Children’s Books
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
Format: Ebook
Release Date: March 3, 2020
Rating: ★★★★★

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Goodreads Synopsis:

In this imaginatively illustrated book from the Work It, Girl series, discover how Michelle became an inspirational leader, FLOTUS, lawyer, author, and role model in this true story of her life. Then, learn 10 key lessons from her work you can apply to your own life.

Michelle Obama grew up on the South Side of Chicago in a little bungalow with a close-knit family. She loved going to school, and she knew that, one day, she would use her voice to empower other young girls, just like her. Young Michelle was a brilliant student and wonderful daughter. With hard work and talent, she propelled herself into the universities of Princeton and Harvard. She qualified as a lawyer and life was going smoothly…Then she met a guy named Barack.

Work It, Girl is an empowering series of biographies featuring modern women in the world of work, from designers and musicians to CEOs and scientists. Each of these vibrantly illustrated books tells the story of a remarkable woman in 10 chapters that highlight transformative moments in her life, following the ups and downs that she faced on her road to success. At the end, 10 key lessons show what you can learn from these moments, and self-reflection questions help you apply these lessons to your own life. Brightly colored photo illustrations of 3-D cut paper artwork featuring inspiring quotes from these amazing women bring their stories to vivid life. Learn how to work it as you lay the foundations for your own successful career. 

Review:

This children’s book is about Michelle Obama’s life. The first half of the book covers her childhood and young adult life. She was very focused on school and continued to follow her dream of going to Princeton, even when her school councilors said she wouldn’t get in. In the second half of the book, Michelle meets Barack Obama and they raise their family.

I didn’t know anything about Michelle Obama’s childhood, so it was interesting to learn about her. She is even more inspiring after hearing that she was discouraged from following her dreams, but succeeded anyway. This book has made me want to read her memoir, Becoming.

The books in this series are beautifully illustrated. The graphics look like cut out pieces of paper, layered to make pictures. That technique makes the pages look textured. The illustrations are brightly covered, which is uplifting.

I really enjoyed this book!

Thank you Frances Lincoln Children’s Books for providing a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

What to read next:

Work it, Girl: Blast Off Into Space Like Mae Jemison

Work it, Girl: Run the Show Like CEO Oprah Winfrey

Other Books in the Series:

Have you read Become a Leader Like Michelle Obama? What did you think of it?

Review: Lady in Waiting: My Extraordinary Life in the Shadow of the Crown

Title: Lady in Waiting: My Extraordinary Life in the Shadow of the Crown
Author: Anne Glenconner
Genre: Nonfiction, Memoir
Publisher: Hachette Books
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
Format: Ebook
Release Date: March 24, 2020
Rating: ★★★★★

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Goodreads Synopsis:

An extraordinary memoir of drama, tragedy, and royal secrets by Anne Glenconner–a close member of the royal circle and lady-in-waiting to Princess Margaret. As seen on Netflix’s The Crown. Anne Glenconner has been at the center of the royal circle from childhood, when she met and befriended the future Queen Elizabeth II and her sister, the Princess Margaret. Though the firstborn child of the 5th Earl of Leicester, who controlled one of the largest estates in England, as a daughter she was deemed “the greatest disappointment” and unable to inherit. Since then she has needed all her resilience to survive the vipers of court life with her sense of humor intact. 

A unique witness to landmark moments in royal history, Maid of Honor at Queen Elizabeth’s coronation, and a lady in waiting to Princess Margaret until her death in 2002, Anne’s life has encompassed extraordinary drama and tragedy. In Lady in Waiting, she will share many intimate royal stories from her time as Princess Margaret’s closest confidante as well as her own battle for survival: her broken-off first engagement on the basis of her “mad blood”; her 54-year marriage to the volatile, unfaithful Colin Tennant, Lord Glenconner, who left his fortune to a former servant; the death in adulthood of two of her sons; a third son she nursed back from a six-month coma following a horrific motorcycle accident. Through it all, Anne has carried on, traveling the world with the royal family, including visiting the White House, and developing the Caribbean island of Mustique as a safe harbor for the rich and famous-hosting Mick Jagger, David Bowie, Raquel Welch, and many other politicians, aristocrats, and celebrities. 

Review:

This is a memoir written by one of Princess Margaret’s ladies in waiting.

Anne Glenconner has had a fascinating life. She talked a little about her relationship with Princess Margaret and the royal family, but I found her own biography so interesting. Some of the stories were funny, such as how when they were children, Anne and her sister planned how they would kill Hitler themselves if he invaded England. There were also tragedies, like the deaths of two of her children.

Anne was also connected with many famous people. Her husband developed the Caribbean island Mustique, which is still a popular destination for celebrities and royals.

The stories about Princess Margaret were great. Anne gave an inside look at who she was in private. There was a lot more to the book than just Princess Margaret’s life, but there were some interesting anecdotes about her.

This is a great book for readers who are interested in the royal family.

Thank you Hachette Books for providing a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

What to read next:

The Other Windsor Girl: A Novel of Princess Margaret, Royal Rebel by Georgie Black

The Other Side of the Coin: The Queen, the Dresser and the Wardrobe by Angela Kelly

Have you read Lady in Waiting? What did you think of it?

Review: Queer Heroes: Meet 53 LGBTQ Heroes From Past and Present!

Title: Queer Heroes: Meet 53 LGBTQ Heroes From Past and Present!
Author: Arabelle Sicardi, Sarah Tanat-Jones (illustrator)
Genre: Nonfiction, LGBTQ
Publisher: Wide Eyed Editions
Source: Publisher
Format: Ebook
Release Date: September 17, 2019
Rating: ★★★★

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Goodreads Synopsis:

This beautiful, bold book celebrates the achievements of LGBT people through history and from around the world. It features full-color portraits of a diverse selection of 52 inspirational role models accompanied by short biographies that focus on their incredible successes, from Freddie Mercury’s contribution to music to Leonardo da Vinci’s Mona Lisa. Published to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Uprising, this title will show children that anything is possible. 

Review:

This book is a great collection of inspiring queer people.

All of the people featured in this book are queer. Some are gay or lesbians, while others are bisexual or transgender. I knew that a few of the people were queer, such as Alan Turing. There were some people that I didn’t know identified as queer, such as Virginia Woolf. Most of the people in this book I had never heard of, so I learned a lot about queer activists.

Many of the people featured in this book are from countries where being gay is illegal. These people had to defy their governments, and sometimes even family, to fight for the right to express their own identity. They had to be incredibly strong to stay true to their beliefs, despite what their family and country said.

I loved the art in this book. All of the images are done in vibrant colours which give a positive feeling to these stories, which did not always have a happy endings.

I really enjoyed this book!

Thanks Wide Eyed Editions for providing a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

What to read next:

A Quick and Easy Guide to Queer and Trans Identities by Mady G., J.R. Zuckerberg

Grease Bats by Archie Bongiovanni

Have you read Queer Heroes? What did you think of it?