Queer Book Releases April 2021

This post was sourced and created by both @lisa-stapleton and @lee_lei_lp and contains referral links.

I want to say a quick thank you to my Discord server, The Swamp for encouraging myself, @lisa-stapleton, and @lee_lei_lp to do this monthly queer books list. I know there’s a million more out there, but I hope ours specifically adds a little something to your day.

Also! For the entire month of April we’re doing Camp NaNo challenges, sprints, and workshops in The Swamp! So drop in and say hi! We’d love to have you.

Zara Hossain Is Here by Sabina Khan

Releases on: April 6 – Sourced by @lee_lei_lp

young adult, slice of life, school life

Zara is a high school student struggling against dangerous Islamophobia and targeted bullying. Her journey is marked by difficult and important discussions around racism and white privilege, gun violence, and homophobia. While Zara’s bisexuality doesn’t cause strife in her family, she sees that it is an issue in the US. 

Side note: One review points out that the book has LGBT characters beyond the MC and her immediate circle, as well as trans inclusive feminism!

The Sky Blues by Robbie Couch

Releases on: April 6 – Sourced by @lee_lei_lp

young adult, slice of life, school life

Sky goes above and beyond, and completely out of character, by planning a huge, gay promposal for his crush. When his plans are maliciously leaked in a homophobia driven attack, Sky expects to be shunned by his small town. But now that he’s on their radar, they aren’t planning to let him down.

Malice by Heather Walter

Releases: April 13 – Sourced by @lee_lei_lp

new adult, fairy tale, fantasy

We all love a good fairy tale retelling. We all love a protag of ambiguous Good or Badness. We all love Disney princesses going sapphic. Need I say more?

Victories Greater than Death by Charlie Jane Anders

Releases: April 13 – Sourced by @lee_lei_lp

young adult, space opera

Most of us spend our teen years waiting for life to really begin, but Tina knows what’s in store for her. As the clone of a legendary space captain, she’s just waiting for the day that she is summoned to fulfill her destiny.

Leaving Isn’t the Hardest Thing Essays by Lauren Hough

Releases: April 13 – Sourced by @lisa-stapleton

In 2018, Hough’s eye-opening essay about the decade she spent as a cable guy in the suburbs of Washington D.C.—fixing phone, TV, and internet lines for “the American id in its underpants”—went viral. That piece is reprinted here, along with ten more staggering slices of autobiography, all of which reside in that sweet spot between devastating and irreverent. Though Hough has lived many lives—an airman, a cult survivor, a bartender—her brand of deadpan candidness is singular. 

A Crown So Cursed by L.L McKinney

Releases April 13 – Sourced by @desdemona-wren

In A Crown So Cursed, the third book in L.L. McKinney’s Nightmare-Verse series, Alice is called to save Wonderland from itself.

Alice is doing her best to recover from her last boss battle, but members of her crew start having these… dreams.

And they’re all the same dream: visions of a dark past—and an even darker future. It seems the evil in Wonderland may not be as defeated as they’d hoped.

When word spreads of an encroaching army of Nightmares unlike any ever seen, Alice finds she may have to step between the coming darkness and the mortal world once more.

But this time is different.

This time, the monsters aren’t waiting for her on the other side of the Veil.

They’re in her own back yard.

NOTE: This is the third book in an AMAZING series.

These Feathered Flames by Alexandra Overy

Releases: April 20 – Sourced by @lee_lei_lp

young adult, fantasy, folktales

A queer retelling of a Russian folktale featuring f/f enemies to lovers. Twin princesses born into destined roles, the time has come for each to find out what her power really means.

She Drives Me Crazy by Kelly Quindlen

Releases: April 20 – Sourced by @lee_lei_lp

young adult, school life

We’ve got your fake dating. We’ve got your sports sapphics. We’ve got your kitschy rom-com tropes. Word on the street* is that we’ve even got your one bed. I don’t think we can lose here.

*Goodreads reviews

Kate in Waiting by Becky Albertalli

Releases: April 20 – Sourced by @lee_lei_lp

young adult, school life

Theater geeks and BFFs Kate and Andy share everything, from car rides to crushes to codependent decision making. It all works out in perfect harmony until Matt shows up. When delicate feelings get involved, their friendship is tested.

Water I Wont Touch by Kayleb Rae Candrilli

Releases: April 20 – Sourced by @lisa-stapleton

Whiting Award winner Candrilli evokes the ever-changing topography of American landscapes—from Wildwood, New Jersey to the Grand Canyon—in order to tap into the beautiful fluidity of their own physical and metaphysical self: “the tide tells me/my body can morph/as many times as it needs.”

The Key to You And Me by Jaye Robin Brown

Releases: April 20 – Sourced by @lisa-stapleton

Piper Kitts is spending the summer living with her grandmother, training at the barn of a former Olympic horseback rider, and trying to get over her ex-girlfriend. Much to Piper’s dismay, her grandmother is making her face her fear of driving by taking lessons from a girl in town.

Kat Pearson has always suspected that she likes girls but fears her North Carolina town is too small to color outside the lines. But when Piper’s grandmother hires Kat to give her driving lessons, everything changes.

Piper’s not sure if she’s ready to let go of her ex. Kat’s navigating uncharted territory with her new crush. With the summer running out, will they be able to unlock a future together?

In Deeper Waters

In Deeper Waters by F.T Lukens

Releases: April 20 – Sourced by @lisa-stapleton

A young prince must rely on a mysterious stranger to save him when he is kidnapped during his coming-of-age tour in this swoony adventure that is The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue meets Pirates of the Caribbean.

Between Perfect and Real by Ray Stoeve

Releases: April 27 – Sourced by @lee_lei_lp

young adult

Currently out as a lesbian, Dean Foster knows that he is actually a trans guy. When he is cast as a “non-traditional” Romeo in the school play, he begins exploring ways to live his truth.

In Defense of Modern Cartoons

I’m working on a bunch of other blogs that’ll probably be more entertaining than this, but since someone from Twitter decided to argue with me that the updated art style in shows like She-Ra and Ducktales makes them “lose their magic” because of lazy character designs and worldbuilding, this is the blog you’re getting today. 

I wholeheartedly disagree with their statement. Honestly, after I watched Ducktales 2017, I went back to watch the original Ducktales from 1987 and I have to say, it doesn’t hold up. The animation is cheap and clunky, the writing is deeply misogynistic and racist, and the art leaves a lot to be desired. This is not to say the art is bad, I think the artwork from the original Ducktales is really good, but it really bugs me how they tend to rely on a lot of the same body type models with little to no diversity of shape.

I’ve noticed a lot of people tend to romanticize the “good ol’ days” where they pretend the cartoons they grew up with were the only good iteration of those stories just because they liked them as a kid.

While I’ll be the first person to defend any work of animation because I am so tired of people sleeping on the artistry of cartoons, I’ll also be the first to tell you your fave from “back in the day” ain’t that great. 

The first thing I noticed during my rewatch of Ducktales 1987 was that, unlike Ducktales 2017, it doesn’t bother giving you a backstory of why the boys are with Scrooge. Granted, I gave them that one, because the Ducktales 1987 series on Disney+ actually starts at episode 3 for some reason.

Now, some modern cartoons are like that too. If I take into account the sheer amount of animated shows I watch and enjoy, off the top of my head I can say Miraculous Tales of Ladybug and Chat Noir, Amphibia, DC’s Super Hero Girls, and Milo Murphy’s Law all adopt an out of order self-contained storytelling style akin to Ducktales 1987

The out of order storytelling doesn’t bug me all that much, what gets to me about Ducktales 1987—and this applies to the original She-Ra series as well—is how many of the characters lack Agency in comparison to their modern counterparts. 

More than that, the shows [Ducktales 1987 & She-Ra 1985] lack diversity and vision. Back in the “good ol’ days” as people are wont to call them, animation was less popular than it is now. We’ve come a long way in recent years with shows like Avatar the Last Airbender, The Legend of Korra, Adventure Time, and Gravity Falls paving the way for animators to explore this new age of animation. 

Going back to the original topic that sparked this rant, I’ll admit I can get pushy sometimes and be offended by people saying they won’t watch something due to the “art style”. I know it’s not always fair for me to be like that because ultimately it boils down to personal preference, but I’ve heard this argument a lot and I just want to get to the bottom of why y’all seem to hate western cartoon art styles so much and why the old art for these shows are so overwhelmingly preferred over the new ones. Is it nostalgia? Or is it something deeper? 

I’ve heard people refer to the more modern art styles for these shows as “dumbed down”, “caricaturized”, and “overly simplistic”. In recent years, this take has really started to grate on my nerves. Mostly because it feels like people are gatekeeping and demonizing really good stories because the—already overworked—animators didn’t sit down and draw everything in a hyper realistic art style and, instead, chose to use a style that would give them more variety in their models and designs. 

When people try to tell me the old art for She-Ra or Ducktales is better, I think they forget how basically every character was made off of the same model with little to no diversity in skin colour or body type. And if a character had a different model, they were more likely to be a victim of harmful stereotypes. 

I’m not going to sugar coat it, the cartoons you all love from the past are deeply racist and deeply sexist and it needs to be acknowledged. Peter Pan and Doctor Seuss are not the only properties to reinforce harmful stereotypes and I think we should continue to call out other properties that do the same thing. That way younger generations can be educated instead of being fed this romanticized drivel about people “not making them like they used to” that ignores the serious issue of inequality and harmful stereotypes portrayed in older media. 

With these remakes, the showrunners aimed to bring back the original magic of the shows for a newer generation and to also breathe new life into their old visionless storylines, actively remove harmful stereotypes, and include more diversity. 

In Ducktales, you see this with the updated versions of characters like Fenton Crackshell-Cabrerra and M’Ma Crackshell-Cabrerra, to include latinx representation and the updated designs of Mrs. Beakley and Webby Vanderquack to give them more agency and make them their own people that aren’t just there to further the development of Scrooge McDuck and “the boys”. 

More to the point, the changes they made to the personalities of Scrooge, Launchpad, Donald, Huey, Dewey, and Louie themselves, bolstering their designs and development and making them their own people just adds to the story and makes them feel like whole people instead of the flat, underdeveloped characters they were in the past. 

The canned villain of the week, minimalistic overarching plot of past animated properties has had its time and place. These types of stories were told because people assumed children couldn’t process or follow more complex storylines so every episode had to be its own thing with only the occasional call back to previous adventures. This is not the case, children need diversity and complexity in storytelling the same way adults do and modern animated properties understand this and are changing the way they tell stories for this reason. 

While She-Ra 1985 and Ducktales 1987 had a better grasp on plot and storytelling than something like Looney Tunes or Scooby Doo, they still lacked complexity and representation shown in the remakes. 

Yet y’all wanna sit there and act like the inclusion of different body types and different races to make the art more diverse and fun is robbing you of your archaic same-model art style from a hundred years ago. 

When, in reality, the artwork on these new shows is much more complex than it’s given credit for. Especially when it comes to fight scenes, adventure scenes, and body positivity. Too many of you see the flat colours and smooth lines and think ‘this is just dumbed down for the lazy, uncreative children of today’ and not that the style they’re drawing in is something unique and special that gives the artists room to create stories in a meaningful and beautifully animated way. 

These modern cartoons you’re avoiding for arbitrary reasons like “the atwork is too simplistic and cartoony compared to the original” have rich worldbuilding and realistic portrayals of interpersonal relationships. They break down difficult emotional issues to make it easier for children and adults to process and understand them. They’re full of hurt, heart, and love and I will defend them with my whole self because these storytellers deserve a voice and a platform to tell newer more inclusive stories. 

So, sit down, shut up, and listen

Queer Book Releases March 2021

I Think I Love You by Auriane Desombre

Released on: March 2nd

A YA contemporary RomCom about two girls who start as rivals but after a twist of events, end up falling for one another–at least they think so. A pitch perfect queer romance. Arch-nemeses Emma, a die-hard romantic, and more-practical minded Sophia find themselves competing against one another for a coveted first-prize trip to a film festival in Los Angeles . . . what happens if their rivalry turns into a romance? For fans of Becky Albertalli’s Leah on the Offbeat, full of laugh-out-loud humor and make-your-heart-melt moments.

Follow Your Arrow by Jessica Verdi

Released on: March 2nd

For fans of Becky Albertalli and Adam Silvera, this is a riveting and irresistible take on love, life, and identity — both online and off.

CeCe Ross is kind of a big deal. She and her girlfriend, Silvie, are social media influencers with zillions of fans and followers, known for their cute outfits and being #relationshipgoals.

So when Silvie breaks up with her, CeCe is devastated. She’s lost her first love, and now she can’t help but wonder if she’ll lose her followers as well.

Down Comes the Night by Allison Saft

Released on: March 2nd 

Love makes monsters of us all.

Allison Saft’s Down Comes the Night is a snow-drenched romantic fantasy that keeps you racing through the pages long into the night.

He saw the darkness in her magic. She saw the magic in his darkness.

Wren Southerland’s reckless use of magic has cost her everything: she’s been dismissed from the Queen’s Guard and separated from her best friend–the girl she loves. So when a letter arrives from a reclusive lord, asking Wren to come to his estate, Colwick Hall, to cure his servant from a mysterious illness, she seizes her chance to redeem herself.

In the Quick by Kate Hope Day

Released on: March 2nd

A young, ambitious female astronaut’s life is upended by a love affair that threatens the rescue of a lost crew. June is a brilliant but difficult girl with a gift for mechanical invention who leaves home to begin grueling astronaut training at the National Space Program. Six years later, she has gained a coveted post as an engineer on a space station–and a hard-won sense of belonging–but is haunted by the mystery of Inquiry, a revolutionary spacecraft powered by her beloved late uncle’s fuel cells. The spacecraft went missing when June was twelve years old, and while the rest of the world seems to have forgotten the crew, June alone has evidence that makes her believe they are still alive.

The Home I Find With You by [Skye Kilaen]

The Home I Find With You by Skye Kilaen

Released on: March 3rd 

A polyamorous romance about building a new life after the world falls apart. 

Perfect on Paper by Sophie Gonzales

Released on: March 9th 

In Sophie Gonzales’ Perfect on Paper, Leah on the Offbeat meets To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before: a bisexual girl who gives anonymous love advice to her classmates is hired by the hot guy to help him get his ex back.

Sweet & Bitter Magic by Adrienne Tooley

Released on: March 9th 

In this charming debut fantasy perfect for fans of Sorcery of Thorns and Girls of Paper and Fire, a witch cursed to never love meets a girl hiding her own dangerous magic, and the two strike a dangerous bargain to save their queendom.

Can’t Take That Away by Steven Salvatore

Released on: March 9th 

An empowering and emotional debut about a genderqueer teen who finds the courage to stand up and speak out for equality when they are discriminated against by their high school administration.

Fragile Remedy by Maria Ingrande Mora

Released on: March 9th 

Sixteen-year-old Nate is a GEM—a Genetically Engineered Medical Surrogate—created by Gathos City scientists as a cure for the elite from the fatal lung rot ravaging the population. As a child, Nate was smuggled out of the laboratory where he was held captive and taken into the Withers—a quarantined, lawless region. He manages to survive by becoming a Tinkerer, fixing broken tech in exchange for food or a safe place to sleep. When he meets Reed, a kind and fiercely protective boy who makes his heart race, and his misfit gang of scavengers, Nate finds the family he’s always longed for—even if he can’t risk telling them what he is. 

Black Girl, Call Home by Jasmine Mans

Released on: March 9th 

From spoken word poet Jasmine Mans comes an unforgettable poetry collection about race, feminism, and queer identity.

Tell Me My Name by Amy Reed

Released on: March 9th 

On wealthy Commodore Island, Fern is watching and waiting—for summer, for college, for her childhood best friend to decide he loves her. Then Ivy Avila lands on the island like a falling star. When Ivy shines on her, Fern feels seen. When they’re together, Fern has purpose. She glimpses the secrets Ivy hides behind her fame, her fortune, the lavish parties she throws at her great glass house, and understands that Ivy hurts in ways Fern can’t fathom. And soon, it’s clear Ivy wants someone Fern can help her get. But as the two pull closer, Fern’s cozy life on Commodore unravels: drought descends, fires burn, and a reckless night spins out of control. Everything Fern thought she understood—about her home, herself, the boy she loved, about Ivy Avila—twists and bends into something new. And Fern won’t emerge the same person she was.

The Mirror Season Anna-Marie McLemore

Releases: March 16th 

When two teens discover that they were both sexually assaulted at the same party, they develop a cautious friendship through her family’s possibly-magical pastelería, his secret forest of otherworldly trees, and the swallows returning to their hometown, in Anna-Marie McLemore’s The Mirror Season…

That Way Madness Lies / Shakespeare’s Most Notable Works Reimagined

Releases: March 16th 

West Side Story. 10 Things I Hate About You. Kiss Me, Kate. Contemporary audiences have always craved reimaginings of Shakespeare’s most beloved works. Now, some of today’s best writers for teens take on the Bard in these 15 whip-smart and original retellings!

Bruised by Tanya Boteju

Releases: March 23rd 

Whip It meets We Are Okay in this vibrant coming-of-age story, about a teen girl navigates first love, identity, and grief when she immerses herself in the colorful, brutal, beautiful world of roller derby—from the acclaimed author of Kings, Queens, and In-Betweens.

The Unbroken by C.L Clark

Releases: March 23rd 

In an epic fantasy unlike any other, two women clash in a world full of rebellion, espionage, and military might on the far outreaches of a crumbling desert empire.

She’s too Pretty to Burn by Wendy Heard

Releases: March 30th 

An electric romance set against a rebel art scene sparks lethal danger for two girls in She’s Too Pretty to Burn, an expertly plotted YA thriller by Wendy Heard.

Ducktales: 3 Theories on how the species of Duckburg evolved

I never set out to write academic essays. That’s not the sort of platform I thought I would have as a washed-up author in my 30s, but when I truly, genuinely love something, I start to pick it apart scientifically.

Recently, during my stay in a very nice facility for helping me with my bad brain, I was exposed to the wonders of Ducktales (2017) where Scrooge McDuck is voiced by David Motherfucking Tennant and Huey, Dewy, and Louie are voiced by Danny Pudi, Ben Scwartz, and Bobby Moynihan respectively. 

I’d been putting off watching this show for ages. It’s been out since 2017 and, as someone who adores cartoons, I should’ve been drawn to it immediately, but I largely ignored it. I think it’s because I was done with new Disney remakes. I’d been burned one too many times by their endless stream of lackluster reboots and money grubbing cartoons and I wasn’t willing to give a remake of a TV show that had shaped my formative years a chance. 

This was a massive mistake on my part. I watched five episodes while I was in the hospital then came out and finished the entire series in two days and now I’m rewatching it. Again.

One of the Hallmarks of my personality (besides rambling on forever) is using science (especially the theory of evolution) to make sense of fictional worlds. I did with Doctor Who, I’ve done it with several Marvel Comics, I did it with Wizards of Waverly Place. 

Now, I’m doing it with Ducktales. This all started with a conversation I had with my best friend, Lisa Stapleton on the basis of if the multiple species in the Ducktales universe (of which we’ve seen several) could cross-breed. Now, if any of you are giant genetics nerds like me, you know that most crossbreeding in animals produces either 1) unviable offspring or 2) sterile offspring. So, I was operating on the understanding that since we don’t see many interspecies relationships, that this would be the case in the Ducktales universe.

The various species seen in Ducktales

What if it wasn’t? What if, there are interspecies relationships where we see viable and non-sterile offspring? How would that shape the Ducktales universe? Given the vast scope of the universe and the multitude of species present, it’s likely there have been several interspecies relationships (As seen with Launchpad and the unnamed couples shown below) and some of those species may have tried to reproduce. 

It also stands to reason that with these species having similar body shapes, a bipedal walk or waddle, similar capacity for language, and opposable thumbs, they would have to be incredibly similar genetically, with only superficial and (some) reproductive differences (as we see with Della on laying eggs instead of giving live birth).

Before we can examine the potential of cross-species reproduction, we first have to understand how the species in Ducktales evolved to become the type of consciously sentient beings they are today.

I have three theories on how they could’ve evolved, based on my knowledge of evolution and three articles I read to try and make sense of my conclusions, which I will link below. 

Theory #1: The Common Ancestor Theory

Due to the consciously sentient species in Ducktales evolving to display the same or similar understanding of language, the same bipedal walk or waddle, the same capacity for problem solving, and similar bipedal with opposable thumb ape-like shapes there is (or has to be) a marked event in the evolution of species, where each species in the ducktales universe evolved from a similar ancestor (Aka a missing link, Lucy).

Theory #2: The Absence of Humanity Theory

Due to the fact that humans do not exist in this universe, save for the singular “Quack Pack” episode showcased in Ducktales season 3, animals in the ducktales universe adapted the same way homo sapiens did due to the same evolutionary pressure to populate the earth.

This secondary factor (ducks et al evolving to fill the homo sapien gap) seems less likely because according to Robin Dunbar, professor of Evolutionary Psychology at the University of Oxford (and several of their colleagues in this article on Gizmodo) it is highly likely that single species would rise to the top (in this case, ducks) and create a society consisting solely of consciously sentient ducks or, if they were feeling particularly merciful, a society of all avian species.

According to Robin Dunbar et al, because humans evolved to this level of intelligence, we’re preventing other species from evolving to conscious sentience alongside us by hunting them to extinction.

So, it stands to reason when we’re examining Ducktales and the duck/avian-centric storytelling, it’s likely they could’ve developed the same or similar need to destroy any species similar to them in adapting intelligence. Such as, but not limited to: Mammals, other avians, marsupials, reptiles, etc., but as mentioned above, this doesn’t seem to be the case. Based on the multiple species present in Ducktales. 

Theory #3: The Human Involvement Theory

This theory is based on the research of Steven M. Platek from Georgia Gwinnett College who cites domestication and training as a viable way to aid in the evolution of non-human species. 

In this theory, I expect humans could’ve played a massive part in the evolution of these species. Maybe in the future, humans domesticate animals to the point of understanding the concept language (like the pets you see on tiktok using the buttons) giving them the ability to communicate with us. 

Then those pets using buttons have children and since children tend to imitate their parents, they also learn to use the buttons to communicate with humans. Then those pets have children and so on. 

Perhaps they would eventually develop past the need to use buttons to communicate by mimicking the sounds the buttons produce. This could cause them to gain a very rudimentary grasp on the human language to express their wants and needs. 

Then perhaps, over time, this could cause these animals to develop a more complex understanding of themselves and the world. While most animals have an impressive grasp on the concepts of community, hierarchy, and use of tools, they lack the ability to understand conscious sentience and use human language. So, I theorize that as their brains develop human language through rewards and eventually mimicry, they would also begin to gain consciousness to a level bordering on human intelligence in bridging communication gaps as examined in this article on The Atlantic.

The same could go for humans domesticating apes and species with the ability to communicate via sign language. It’s already been proven that once apes and monkeys learn sign language, they teach others how to use it (especially their children) in order to communicate their wants and needs to humans.

So, what if over time these animals developed their understanding of human languages to the point of rudimentary communication (similar to parrots, starlings, and magpies). Then humans have a mass extinction event and die off. Leaving room for these animals to grow and adapt with the ability of creating their own society.

The languages between these animals could die off without humans to communicate with them, similar to how when you’ve learned a secondary language you can forget it over time with disuse. Or, the languages these animals used to communicate with humans would become essential in them communicating between different animal groups in order to create the complex society we see in Ducktales today.

This third theory, I believe could be argued as the correct theory. If nothing else than seen the in Timefoon episode of Ducktales (Season 2 Episode 21) when Huey observes Bubba the Caveduck and is surprised to see him being far more advanced than he should be. 

The episode writes it off as him being a part of the McDuck line and being advanced due to being “sharper than the sharpies” and all that jazz, but it’s very likely it could be due to Bubba being raised by a human society that had gone extinct. This would explain his understanding of their adapted language (human English) and his love of chilli dogs (humans tend to feed their pets all manner of unsavory things while training them).  

I understand that applying scientific concepts to cartoons tends to ruin the mystique or disprove the fantastical and magical elements involved in these properties, but it is my belief that applying scientific understandings to children’s TV shows can help us in creating stories of our own and uplifting STEM careers. 

All three of these theories may very well be wrong and the ducks et al in Duckburg could’ve been zapped by the intelligence ray as seen in Double-O-Duck in You Only Crash Twice (Season 3 Episode 3) and adapted the way (I assume) Gidget adapted the Rescue Rangers or they could just simply be, but by examining all parts of a story, we can draw our own conclusions and create our own fantastical worlds with a better understanding of how they’re built.

#1 glazed

i have a broken relationship with confection

the sugar that surrounds a piece of fried dough

forged beneath the heat of distant flame

you can watch

behind a pane of glass

face so close to the surface

your breath fogs the pane and

you see yourself there, reflected in the window

like some uninhibited beast

longing for the very vice that will undoubtedly

bring your demise.

i need to remember this is about me

but it feels so much more appropriate to distance myself

from the things i know hurt me

i tell myself,

it’s better this way

better if i shove everything down until i vomit up bits of glaze

parts of myself that refuse to stay hidden

those disgusting little bits of me that seek out my own destruction

through consumption.

Long Time No Talk

As many of you know, 2020 was a really difficult year. Like, it’s been nearly a year since I posted a new blog and I used to write a lot more on here about writing and writing tips and book reviews, but that just got to be too hard.

I read a lot of books last year, but I didn’t write any reviews. I didn’t really have the time to do that because I was so overwhelmed with everything going on and it’s hard to have the head space to do things when you feel so stressed all the time.

I changed a lot last year too. My priorities, my writing, my writing style, even my friend group changed. I grew in 2020 in a way I never thought I could again.

I’m a year older now and I’ve lived through a lot of bullshit.

My writing style and writing had a massive upgrade this year which, in the end, sort of frustrated me because I was working on several projects at once that I can no longer look at without cringing.

I’ve been fighting the change ever since. I keep trying to force myself to write the way I used to because it was so sarcastic and limited and carefree, but I keep delving deeper and creating stories where they don’t need to be.

I sort of stopped updating all of my fanfiction around June and deleted everything off of my AO3 account (much to the eternal annoyance of my fans) and I’ve slowly started reuploading it again, but it feels different. Like I’m constantly disappointed by my work.

So, blogging fell by the wayside. Most things fell by the wayside.

I haven’t really been active on social media. I created a discord server that’s kept me pretty busy and I completely stopped updating Rhinoverse. And maybe it’s because I spent the latter half of 2020 in a deep, deep depression, but it Feels BAD, man.

I don’t usually do New Year’s resolutions, but if 2020 taught me anything it’s that I need to do better and be better. I’ve spent 2017-2020 healing from the mess my life was in the past and trying to take stock of everything that’s wrong with me.

I want 2021 to be the year I finally own my problems and push forward regardless.

I know this blog has been pretty rambly, but I sort of had a lot to say after being gone for so long. I’ll follow this one up with a top 20 books of 2020 post. It won’t be as comprehensive as my last ones, but I don’t have the energy to write something long or detailed.

I’m sure the whole lot of you understand. Happy 2021. Be better.

Desdemona Wren’s Top 10 Books of 2019 (Let’s face it, 99% of these are gay)

Most of the books I read are either about queer life or by queer authors. So if they do include a romance, which I do generally like to see in stories because I love romantic subplots, the romance is usually queer or they’ve got a queer side romance.

From this list you’ll learn that I’m obsessed with coming of age stories and I read probably way too much YA, but since YA and NA are the genres I usually write for, that makes a lot of sense.

Below my ratings include both stars and rainbows. The stars are my general overall rating of the book (these will all be 5+ stars) and the rainbows are the overall queerness rating (rainbow ratings with a 3 and below only contain queer side romances and not a main romance ALSO rainbow ratings that include a purple heart have canon bisexual characters).

I also include one of my favorite quotes from the book and in lieu of a review, I’m just going to speak briefly about what each book meant to me. That way this blog doesn’t get too long. And if I’m being honest most of these books I never even reviewed because I’m about 40 book reviews behind.

So, without further ado, here is my top 10 reads of 2019 (they’re not all from 2019, I know, but shh).

10. This Time Will be Different by Mia Sugiura

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People talk about starting over after they’ve made a big mistake or a bad choice in life. But you can never really start over. You can’t fully reset. And I don’t think you should. There’s no point in dwelling on the past, but you can acknowledge it and try to make things better. Or try a new way, and know that this time will be different.

Description: Katsuyamas never quit—but seventeen-year-old CJ doesn’t even know where to start. She’s never lived up to her mom’s type A ambition, and she’s perfectly happy just helping her aunt, Hannah, at their family’s flower shop.

She doesn’t buy into Hannah’s romantic ideas about flowers and their hidden meanings, but when it comes to arranging the perfect bouquet, CJ discovers a knack she never knew she had. A skill she might even be proud of.

Then her mom decides to sell the shop—to the family who swindled CJ’s grandparents when thousands of Japanese Americans were sent to internment camps during WWII. Soon a rift threatens to splinter CJ’s family, friends, and their entire Northern California community; and for the first time, CJ has found something she wants to fight for.

Get your copy here, on Amazon.

What this book meant to me: The reason this book made it onto my list despite only have a queer side character is because the main character, CJ, struggles so much emotionally throughout the book and all of her mistakes and anger really made me identify with her. Also it’s set in San Jose and I’m a sucker for anything set in California.

9. Sadie by Courtney Summers

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“I can’t take another dead girl.”

Description: A missing girl on a journey of revenge. A Serial―like podcast following the clues she’s left behind. And an ending you won’t be able to stop talking about.

Sadie hasn’t had an easy life. Growing up on her own, she’s been raising her sister Mattie in an isolated small town, trying her best to provide a normal life and keep their heads above water.

But when Mattie is found dead, Sadie’s entire world crumbles. After a somewhat botched police investigation, Sadie is determined to bring her sister’s killer to justice and hits the road following a few meager clues to find him.

When West McCray―a radio personality working on a segment about small, forgotten towns in America―overhears Sadie’s story at a local gas station, he becomes obsessed with finding the missing girl. He starts his own podcast as he tracks Sadie’s journey, trying to figure out what happened, hoping to find her before it’s too late.

Courtney Summers has written the breakout book of her career. Sadie is propulsive and harrowing and will keep you riveted until the last page.

Get your copy here, on Amazon.

What this book meant to me: While there is bisexual representation in this book, the point of Sadie is not romance. The entire point of this book is that it’s literally just from start to finish incredible. It’s told from two differing points of view, one being a podcast, the other being the story Sadie herself tells. This resonated with me because I was a victim of childhood abuse and also sexual trauma. I spent most of this book openly weeping and every time they kept saying “I can’t take another dead girl” I got so scared and the ending literally just ripped my whole heart out.

8. With the Fire on High by Elizabeth Acevedo

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“And so at the age of four, I learned someone could cry from a happy memory.”

Description: With her daughter to care for and her abuela to help support, high school senior Emoni Santiago has to make the tough decisions, and do what must be done. The one place she can let her responsibilities go is in the kitchen, where she adds a little something magical to everything she cooks, turning her food into straight-up goodness. Still, she knows she doesn’t have enough time for her school’s new culinary arts class, doesn’t have the money for the class’s trip to Spain — and shouldn’t still be dreaming of someday working in a real kitchen. But even with all the rules she has for her life — and all the rules everyone expects her to play by — once Emoni starts cooking, her only real choice is to let her talent break free.

Get your copy here, on Amazon.

What this book meant to me: The reason I picked this up was in part, because of the gorgeous cover and also because it is so hard to find books with Black Puerto Rican rep. This story was so beautifully written and Emoni’s passion for cooking and for her daughter was so incredible to me. I just…I wanted a mom who would love me that much.

7. Like a Love Story by Abdi Nazemian

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“The most important four-letter word in our history will always be LOVE. That’s what we are fighting for. That’s who we are. Love is our legacy.”

Description: It’s 1989 in New York City, and for three teens, the world is changing.

Reza is an Iranian boy who has just moved to the city with his mother to live with his stepfather and stepbrother. He’s terrified that someone will guess the truth he can barely acknowledge about himself. Reza knows he’s gay, but all he knows of gay life are the media’s images of men dying of AIDS.

Judy is an aspiring fashion designer who worships her uncle Stephen, a gay man with AIDS who devotes his time to activism as a member of ACT UP. Judy has never imagined finding romance…until she falls for Reza and they start dating.

Art is Judy’s best friend, their school’s only out and proud teen. He’ll never be who his conservative parents want him to be, so he rebels by documenting the AIDS crisis through his photographs.

As Reza and Art grow closer, Reza struggles to find a way out of his deception that won’t break Judy’s heart–and destroy the most meaningful friendship he’s ever known.

Get your copy here, on Amazon.

What this book meant to me: How do I even begin to explain how much this book means to queer culture in America? I wept so openly while reading this book. There was so much about the AIDs crisis and the fear the queer community experienced during that time. Honestly this book was just heart-wrenching and so unbelievably important.

6. Reverie by Ryan La Sala

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“Just because something is imagined doesn’t mean it isn’t dangerous.”

“It’s just gay enough to work.”

Description: Inception meets The Magicians in the most imaginative YA debut of the year!

All Kane Montgomery knows for certain is that the police found him half-dead in the river. He can’t remember how he got there, what happened after, and why his life seems so different now. And it’s not just Kane who’s different, the world feels off, reality itself seems different.

As Kane pieces together clues, three almost-strangers claim to be his friends and the only people who can truly tell him what’s going on. But as he and the others are dragged into unimaginable worlds that materialize out of nowhere—the gym warps into a subterranean temple, a historical home nearby blooms into a Victorian romance rife with scandal and sorcery—Kane realizes that nothing in his life is an accident. And when a sinister force threatens to alter reality for good, they will have to do everything they can to stop it before it unravels everything they know.

This wildly imaginative debut explores what happens when the secret worlds that people hide within themselves come to light.

Get your copy here, on Amazon

What this book meant to me: Ryan La Sala basically owns my soul now. Everything about this book was poignant and just full of rich description. Honestly, this has got to be one of my favorite books I’ve ever read in my life. Which is why it’s on my list of top 10 from 2019. Hell, if I had to pick my top 10 of the decade, I’m pretty sure Reverie would make the cut. It is so rare I come across so richly woven queer-centric stories. I recommend this to everyone who loves good writing and questionable villains.

5. Leah on the Offbeat by Becky Albertalli

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“I can’t help it. I’m a Slytherin.”

And I’m the worst kind of Slytherin. I’m the kind who’s so stupidly in love with a Gryffindor, she can’t even function. I’m the Draco from some shitty Drarry fic that the author abandoned after four chapters.”

Description: Leah Burke—girl-band drummer, master of deadpan, and Simon Spier’s best friend from the award-winning Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda—takes center stage in this novel of first love and senior-year angst.

When it comes to drumming, Leah Burke is usually on beat—but real life isn’t always so rhythmic. An anomaly in her friend group, she’s the only child of a young, single mom, and her life is decidedly less privileged. She loves to draw but is too self-conscious to show it. And even though her mom knows she’s bisexual, she hasn’t mustered the courage to tell her friends—not even her openly gay BFF, Simon.

So Leah really doesn’t know what to do when her rock-solid friend group starts to fracture in unexpected ways. With prom and college on the horizon, tensions are running high. It’s hard for Leah to strike the right note while the people she loves are fighting—especially when she realizes she might love one of them more than she ever intended.

Get your copy here, on Amazon.

What this book meant to me: Leah’s experiences are so close to mine as a fat queer growing up in the deep south that this book has a special place in my heart. I love everything Becky Albertalli has ever written, honestly. Her stories are the kind of gay adventures I wish I’d been able to have growing up and Leah is my soulmate.

4. Slay by Brittney Morris

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“Je viens de la putain de toundra”

Description: By day, seventeen-year-old Kiera Johnson is an honors student, a math tutor, and one of the only Black kids at Jefferson Academy. But at home, she joins hundreds of thousands of Black gamers who duel worldwide as Nubian personas in the secret multiplayer online role-playing card game, SLAY. No one knows Kiera is the game developer, not her friends, her family, not even her boyfriend, Malcolm, who believes video games are partially responsible for the “downfall of the Black man.”

But when a teen in Kansas City is murdered over a dispute in the SLAY world, news of the game reaches mainstream media, and SLAY is labeled a racist, exclusionist, violent hub for thugs and criminals. Even worse, an anonymous troll infiltrates the game, threatening to sue Kiera for “anti-white discrimination.”

Driven to save the only world in which she can be herself, Kiera must preserve her secret identity and harness what it means to be unapologetically Black in a world intimidated by Blackness. But can she protect her game without losing herself in the process?

Get your copy here, on Amazon.

What this book meant to me: This book takes place in my hometown of Bellevue, WA and everything about it is incredible. I love the story of how Kiera is portrayed and how her creation of Slay gave people of color a place to be who they are in games. This book was very educational for me and it also spoke to a lot of what growing up in Bellevue is like. This book is so important, funny, and has a great story. I’m so glad I picked this up.

3. The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

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“The Hate U Give Little Infants Fucks Everybody.”

Description: Sixteen-year-old Starr Carter moves between two worlds: the poor neighborhood where she lives and the fancy suburban prep school she attends. The uneasy balance between these worlds is shattered when Starr witnesses the fatal shooting of her childhood best friend Khalil at the hands of a police officer. Khalil was unarmed.

Soon afterward, his death is a national headline. Some are calling him a thug, maybe even a drug dealer and a gangbanger. Protesters are taking to the streets in Khalil’s name. Some cops and the local drug lord try to intimidate Starr and her family. What everyone wants to know is: what really went down that night? And the only person alive who can answer that is Starr.

But what Starr does—or does not—say could upend her community. It could also endanger her life.

Get your copy here, on Amazon.

What this book meant to me: As soon as I finished reading this book I immediately went home and made my (now ex) boyfriend watch the movie with me. I cried from the very beginning of this book to the very end. It’s not technically a 2019 title, but since I didn’t read it until 2019, I’m putting it on this list. The struggles Starr and her family face throughout this novel completely gutted me and this book is just incredible. The way Angie Thomas tells this story through Starr’s eyes is breathtaking and the writing style stuck with me. It felt less like a book and more like living life through someone else’s eyes.

2. We Set the Dark on Fire by Tehlor Kay Mejia

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“If we’re not all free, none of us are free.”

Description: At the Medio School for Girls, distinguished young women are trained for one of two roles in their polarized society. Depending on her specialization, a graduate will one day run a husband’s household or raise his children, but both are promised a life of comfort and luxury, far from the frequent political uprisings of the lower class. Daniela Vargas is the school’s top student, but her bright future depends upon no one discovering her darkest secret—that her pedigree is a lie. Her parents sacrificed everything to obtain forged identification papers so Dani could rise above her station. Now that her marriage to an important politico’s son is fast approaching, she must keep the truth hidden or be sent back to the fringes of society, where famine and poverty rule supreme.

On her graduation night, Dani seems to be in the clear, despite the surprises that unfold. But nothing prepares her for all the difficult choices she must make, especially when she is asked to spy for a resistance group desperately fighting to bring equality to Medio. Will Dani cling to the privilege her parents fought to win for her, or to give up everything she’s strived for in pursuit of a free Medio—and a chance at a forbidden love?

Get your copy here, on Amazon.

What this book meant to me: This book was basically everything I wanted out of 2019. Women helping women and falling in love. The enemies/rivals to lovers thing that happened between Carmen and Dani really spoke to my soul and Tehlor Kay Mejia blew me out of the water with her storytelling and world-building. This is honestly one of my favorite books I’ve read in a long time. I cannot wait for the sequel to come out next month!

Honorable Mention: All the Things We Do in the Dark by Saundra Mitchell

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“Everybody else gets to leave a mark on me. Why can’t I leave my own?”

Description: There’s no such thing as a secret.

SOMETHING happened to Ava. The curving scar on her face is proof. But Ava would rather keep that something hidden—buried deep in her heart and her soul.

She has her best friend Syd, and she has her tattoos—a colorful quilt, like a security blanket, over her whole body—and now, suddenly, she has Hailey. Beautiful, sweet Hailey, who seems to like Ava as much as she likes her. And Ava isn’t letting anything get in the way of finally, finally seeking peace. But in the woods on the outskirts of town, the traces of someone else’s secrets lie frozen, awaiting Ava’s discovery—and what Ava finds threatens to topple the carefully-constructed wall of normalcy that she’s spent years building. Secrets leave scars. But when the secret in question is not your own—do you ignore the truth and walk away? Or do you uncover it from its shallow grave, and let it reopen old wounds—wounds that have finally begun to heal?

Get your copy here, on Amazon.

What this book meant to me: This book hurt me. The experiences of the main character, Ava, are so similar to my own that I experienced a lot of flashbacks to my life as a child and a victim of pedophilia and sexual assault. I understood her so well and the way these things make you feel and shape you into the person you become. This book resonated with me so much I still think about it even though it’s been almost a whole year since I read it. Remembering Jane still tugs at my heartstrings.

*Also this is a special case. I believe the MC, Ava is canonically bisexual, but I think Mitchell preferred not to “label her” which I think is a cop-out so I didn’t mark the MC as canon bi.

1. Red, White & Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston

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“History, huh? Bet we could make some.”

And way too many others to name, but there’s a twitter account that tweets quotes from this book and I’m obsessed with it.

Description: What happens when America’s First Son falls in love with the Prince of Wales?

When his mother became President, Alex Claremont-Diaz was promptly cast as the American equivalent of a young royal. Handsome, charismatic, genius—his image is pure millennial-marketing gold for the White House. There’s only one problem: Alex has a beef with the actual prince, Henry, across the pond. And when the tabloids get hold of a photo involving an Alex-Henry altercation, U.S./British relations take a turn for the worse.

Heads of family, state, and other handlers devise a plan for damage control: staging a truce between the two rivals. What at first begins as a fake, Instragramable friendship grows deeper, and more dangerous, than either Alex or Henry could have imagined. Soon Alex finds himself hurtling into a secret romance with a surprisingly unstuffy Henry that could derail the campaign and upend two nations and begs the question: Can love save the world after all? Where do we find the courage, and the power, to be the people we are meant to be? And how can we learn to let our true colors shine through? Casey McQuiston’s Red, White & Royal Blue proves: true love isn’t always diplomatic.

Get your copy here, on Amazon.

What this book meant to me: I know this might be a little cliche to all of you, but this book was so unbelievably important to me that nothing else could’ve been number one. I don’t usually read and enjoy M/M books, but I picked this one up on a whim after seeing it advertised everywhere. And honestly? I’m glad I did. Reading a book about someone figuring out they’re bisexual after years of thinking they were straight and then launching into a wholly forbidden relationship with a prince? Yes, please. I loved everything about this book. I loved the sarcastic writing style, the characters, Henry and Alex’s complete inability to process their feelings because they’re both total idiots, and all the girls being like “Wow you’re all idiots.” 2019 and 2020 is going to be the year of all the queer books and Red, White, & Royal Blue is driving the ship.

How I’ve changed: Over the Decade

Stayed single almost the whole year?
2009: No, been in a relationship for a year!
2019: Yup.

Were involved In something you’ll never forget?
2009: Dude yeah.
2019: Non, je ne regrette rien.

Tripped over a coffee table?
2009: Lol yes.
2019: Don’t have a coffee table.

Dyed your hair?
2009: Yes.
2019: No, actually.

Came close to losing your life?
2009: :/
2019: No.

Saw one of your favorite bands/artists live?
2009: No
2019: No.

2009/2019: FRIENDS & ENEMIES…

Did you meet any new friends this year?
2009: Sure!
2019: A few.

Did you hate anyone?
2009/2019: Yes.

Do you have any regrets when it comes to your friendships?
2009: NYes
2019: Non, je ne regrette rien.

Did you miss any friends?
2009: Yes
2019: No.

2018: YOUR BIRTHDAY…

Did you have a cake?
2009: No
2019: Nope, pie.

Did you have a party?
2009: No.
2019: No.

Did you get any presents?
2009: No.
2019: I did!

2009/2019: ALL ABOUT YOU…

Did you change at all this year?
2009: No
2019: I am literally a completely different person than I was.

Were you in school?
2009: No.
2019: No.

Did you own a car?
2009: No.
2019: Yes.

Did anyone close to you give birth?
2009: Yes!
2019: Again, yes.  

Did you go on any vacations?
2009: No
2019: Yes?

2009/2019: WRAP UP…

Was 2018 a good year?
2009: I think so.
2019: No? But also yes? It was just hard.

Do you think 2020 will top 2019?
We’ll see?

Do you think 2009 will top 2008?
Yes. And it did!

IN THE YEAR 2009/2019 I CONFESS THAT I…

Kissed in the snow?
2009: Naawww
2019: No.

Done something you’ve regretted?
2009: Yeaaa
2019: No.

Painted a picture?
2009: Lol sure.
2019: No.

Wrote a poem?
2009: Yes.
2019: Yes.

Ran a mile?
2009: No
2019: No, but I’ve walked several.

Visited a foreign country?
2009: No
2019: Does Canada count?

Cut in a line of waiting people?
2009: No.
2019: UHHH…Maybe at BART?

IN 2009/2019 I…

Broke a promise?
2009: Yes
2019: No.

Lied?
2009: Yes
2019: Yes.

Disappointed someone close?
2009: I’ve always been a disappointment to my parents!
2019: Sure have.

Had a secret?
2009/2019: Yes.

Pretended to be happy?
2009/2019: Yes.

Slept under the stars?
2009: Yes
2019: No

Kept your new year’s resolution?
2009/2019: I don’t make those.

Forgot your new year’s resolution?
2009/2019: Don’t make them.

Met someone who changed your life?
2009/2019: Yes.

Changed your outlook on life?
2009: No.
2019: Yeah.

Sat home all day doing nothing?
2009/2019: Yeah, for a little while, I think.

Learned something new about yourself?
2009/2019: Yup.

Met great people?
2009/2019: YEAH!

Kissed someone that means a lot to you?
2009/2019: No.

Stayed up till sunrise?
2009: Plenty of long nights.
2019: I actually haven’t.

Cried over the silliest thing?
2009: Yes.
2019: No, nothing worth crying over is ever silly.

Had friends who were drifting away from you?
2009/2019: Always.  It’s part of growing up.

Had a high cell phone bill?
2009/2019: Nah.

Spent most of your money on food?
2009: No
2019: Yeaaah.

Had a fist fight?
2009/2019: Nah.

Gotten sick?
2009/2019: Yeah.

Liked more than 5 people at the same time?
2009/2019: Big no.

Became closer with a lot of people?
2009: Yeah!
2019: Nah.

Song that reminds you of summer 2019?
Sucker – Jonas Brothers

Lost any friends this year?
2009: No
2019: I’d actually say they lost me.

When people say, “Honestly, I don’t think I’ve ever talked shit about anyone” do you think it’s possible?
2009/2019: No.

How do you feel about gay marriage?
2009: :/
2019: I’m gay. So. It’s gr8.

Give me a random lyric from the song you’re listening to:
2009: Not listening to anything.
2019: Calling calling calling me home.

Do you think you’re approachable?
2009/2019: Unfortunately yes.

Do you make sexual innuendos about everything?
2009/2019: Yes I am a child.

Does talking about sex make you uncomfortable?
2009: Nope!
2019: Only if the other person is being gross.

Who is the last person you texted?
2009: My boyfriend!
2019: My boss.

Song playing right now?
2009: No idea?
2019: I can’t really hear it? Something top 40 on the radio above my head.

My “Decade” in Music

Since I’ve only been using Google Play since 2017 and Spotify wants to act like it doesn’t know me, allow me to show you guys what I’ve been listening to for the past 3 years. Starting with 2017.

My Year in Music 2017

Most played Artists 2017

  1. Mae
  2. Mayday Parade
  3. Panic! At The Disco
  4. CHVRCHES
  5. Carly Rae Jepsen
  6. Demi Lovato
  7. Stephen Sondheim
  8. Jonas Brothers
  9. TV & MOVIE SOUNDTRAX
  10. Taylor Swift
  11. Kesha
  12. Purity Ring
  13. Britney Spears
  14. Halsey
  15. Crazy Ex-Girlfriend Cast
  16. LANY
  17. My Chemical Romance
  18. Melanie Martinez
  19. Lorde
  20. Imagine Dragons
  21. Ke$ha
  22. A Great Big World
  23. Rick Astley
  24. Alan Menken
  25. Kelly Clarkson
  26. Fall Out Boy
  27. All Time Low
  28. Bebe Rexha
  29. Ed Sheeran
  30. Relient K
  31. Selena Gomez
  32. Sam Smith
  33. L’Arc-en-Ciel
  34. Hey Violet
  35. AJR
  36. OneRepublic
  37. Skrillex
  38. Vertical Horizon
  39. One Direction
  40. L’Arc~en~Ciel
  41. Adele
  42. Rachel Bloom
  43. The Griswolds
  44. Transviolet
  45. Rebecca Black
  46. Sam Tinnesz
  47. Ariana Grande
  48. Daughter
  49. Phoebe Bridgers
  50. Astrid S

Most Played Songs 2017

  1. Demi Lovato – Sorry Not Sorry
  2. Mae – The Ocean
  3. CHVRCHES – The Mother We Share
  4. Demi Lovato – Tell Me You Love Me
  5. Kesha – Hunt You Down
  6. Demi Lovato – Sexy Dirty Love
  7. Jeff Williams & Casey Lee Williams – Time to Say Goodbye
  8. Demi Lovato – Games
  9. Melanie Martinez – Soap
  10. Rachel Bloom – Sex With A Stranger (Demo)
  11. A Fine Frenzy – Now Is The Start
  12. Sam Tinnesz – Wolves (feat. Silverberg)
  13. Mayday Parade – Call Me Hopeless, But Not Romantic
  14. Selena Gomez – Kill Em With Kindness
  15. Kelly Clarkson – Never Again
  16. Lorde – Writer In The Dark
  17. The Downtown Fiction – I Just Wanna Run
  18. CHVRCHES – Under The Tide (Single Version)
  19. Rick Astley – Let It Rain
  20. Carly Rae Jepsen – Call Me Maybe
  21. The Griswolds – Hate That I Don’t Hate You
  22. Taylor Swift – This Love
  23. Demi Lovato – Only Forever
  24. A Great Big World – Already Home
  25. Mae – Anything
  26. Krewella – Alive
  27. Eels – Fresh Feeling
  28. Ed Sheeran – Give Me Love
  29. Adele – Set Fire to the Rain
  30. Frederick Knight – I’ve Been Lonely For So Long
  31. CHVRCHES – High Enough To Carry You Over
  32. Taylor Swift – The Way I Loved You
  33. Demi Lovato – Cry Baby
  34. Demi Lovato – Lonely (feat. Lil Wayne)
  35. Demi Lovato – Hitchhiker
  36. Celeste Buckingham – Unpredictable
  37. Miley Cyrus – Malibu
  38. Transviolet – Don’t Put It On Me
  39. Lorde – Perfect Places
  40. Halsey – Is There Somewhere
  41. Scarlett Johansson – Set It All Free
  42. Purity Ring – Crawlersout
  43. Britney Spears – Womanizer
  44. Billie Eilish – hostage
  45. Gym Class Heroes – Cupid’s Chokehold / Breakfast In America (Radio Mix)
  46. John Legend – Love Me Now
  47. AJR – Weak
  48. Kesha – Bastards
  49. Chvrches – Recover
  50. Linkin Park – Bleed It Out

My Year in Music 2018

Most Played Artists 2018

  1. CxGf Cast ▲ 15
  2. Panic! At The Disco ▲ 1
  3. Mayday Parade ▼ 1
  4. Mae ▼ 3
  5. CHVRCHES ▼ 1
  6. Carly Rae Jepsen ▼ 1
  7. Taylor Swift ▲ 3
  8. Demi Lovato ▼ 2
  9. SOUNDTRAX
  10. Jonas Brothers ▼ 2
  11. Stephen Sondheim ▼ 4
  12. Purity Ring
  13. Halsey ▲ 1
  14. Sam Smith ▲ 18
  15. Kesha ▲ 6
  16. Panic! at the Disco
  17. Imagine Dragons ▲ 3
  18. Rachel Platten ▲ 7
  19. MCR ▼ 2
  20. LANY ▼ 4
  21. Lorde ▼ 2
  22. Britney Spears ▼ 9
  23. Bebe Rexha ▲ 5
  24. Kelly Clarkson ▲ 1
  25. Ke$ha ▼ 24
  26. Hey Violet ▲ 8
  27. Relient K ▲ 3
  28. Ed Sheeran ▲ 1
  29. All Time Low ▼ 2
  30. Angelspit
  31. Rick Astley ▼ 8
  32. Alan Menken ▼ 9
  33. A Great Big World ▼ 10
  34. Ella Vos
  35. Smooth Jazz All Stars
  36. Phoebe Bridgers ▲ 13
  37. Lana Del Rey
  38. Vertical Horizon
  39. Anna Kendrick
  40. OneRepublic ▼ 4
  41. Steven Universe
  42. Aly & AJ
  43. One Direction ▼ 4
  44. Fetty Wap
  45. DWNTWN
  46. Rebecca Black ▼ 1
  47. Ariana Grande
  48. Selena Gomez ▼ 17
  49. He Is We
  50. The Griswolds ▼ 7

Most Played Songs 2018

  1. Demi Lovato – Sorry Not Sorry
  2. Death Cab for Cutie – Soul Meets Body
  3. Taylor Swift – Wildest Dreams
  4. Taylor Swift – I Wish You Would
  5. Taylor Swift – All You Had To Do Was Stay
  6. Nicky Jam – El Amante
  7. Crazy Ex-Girlfriend Cast – It Was a Shit Show (feat. Santino Fontana)
  8. Taylor Swift – Welcome To New York
  9. Loren Allred – Never Enough (Reprise)
  10. Lana Del Rey – Dark Paradise
  11. Sam Smith – One Day At A Time
  12. Jonas Brothers – Pom Poms
  13. Bebe Rexha – That’s It (feat. Gucci Mane & 2 Chainz)
  14. Emily Blunt – Moments in the Woods
  15. Sleeping At Last – Total Eclipse of the Heart
  16. Sia – The Greatest (feat. Kendrick Lamar)
  17. Bebe Rexha – I Don’t Wanna Grow Up
  18. Alan Menken – The Ends Of The Earth
  19. Taylor Swift – This Love
  20. Rachel Platten – Loose Ends
  21. Halsey – Hold Me Down
  22. Lorde – Sober
  23. Phoebe Ryan – Forgetting All About You (feat. Blackbear)
  24. Rebecca Black – Heart Full of Scars
  25. Angelspit – I, Weapon
  26. Keri Hilson – Pretty Girl Rock
  27. Purity Ring – Obedear
  28. Demi Lovato – Lonely (feat. Lil Wayne)
  29. Bo Burnham – Repeat Stuff
  30. Carly Rae Jepsen, Owl City – Good Time
  31. Lorde – Homemade Dynamite
  32. Crazy Ex-Girlfriend Cast – Love Kernels (feat. Rachel Bloom)
  33. Hailee Steinfeld – Starving (feat. Zedd)
  34. Rachel Platten – Fight Song
  35. Mae – Night/Day
  36. Gym Class Heroes – The Fighter (feat. Ryan Tedder)
  37. Bridgit Mendler – My Song For You (from “Good Luck Charlie”)
  38. Rascal Flatts – Easy (feat. Natasha Bedingfield)
  39. Amy Adams – Happy Working Song (From “Enchanted”/Soundtrack Version)
  40. My Chemical Romance – Blood (Hidden Track)
  41. Transviolet – The Hamptons
  42. Bea Miller – yes girl
  43. Jenny & Tyler – Song For You
  44. Hey Violet – This Is Me Breaking Up With You
  45. Crazy Ex-Girlfriend Cast – I Love My Daughter (But Not In A Creepy Way) (feat. Pete Gardner)
  46. MIKA – Grace Kelly
  47. All Get Out – The Season
  48. CHVRCHES – Miracle
  49. Carly Rae Jepsen – Call Me Maybe
  50. Loren Allred – Never Enough

My Year in Music 2019

Most Played Artists 2019

  1. Panic! At The Disco ▲ 1
  2. Jonas Brothers ▲ 8
  3. Mayday Parade
  4. Taylor Swift ▲ 3
  5. CHVRCHES
  6. Hey Violet ▲ 20
  7. Halsey ▲ 6
  8. Mae ▼ 4
  9. Juice WRLD
  10. Carly Rae Jepsen ▼ 4
  11. Stephen Sondheim
  12. Sam Smith ▲ 2
  13. Ariana Grande ▲ 34
  14. Purity Ring ▼ 2
  15. Imagine Dragons ▼ 2
  16. SOUNDTRAX ▼ 7
  17. Doris Day
  18. Steven Universe ▲ 23
  19. MCR
  20. LANY
  21. Angelspit ▲ 9
  22. Janelle Monáe
  23. Britney Spears ▼ 1
  24. Alan Menken ▲ 8
  25. Rachel Platten ▼ 7
  26. Hayley Kiyoko
  27. Vertical Horizon ▲ 11
  28. Lorde
  29. Phoebe Bridgers ▲ 7
  30. All Time Low ▲ 1
  31. Rick Astley
  32. Post Malone
  33. Queen
  34. Blackway
  35. Nicki Minaj
  36. Lana Del Rey ▲ 1
  37. Duckwrth
  38. Bebe Rexha ▼ 15
  39. Kesha ▼ 24
  40. Jazz All Stars ▼ 5
  41. CxGf Cast ▼ 40
  42. A Great Big World ▼ 9
  43. Kelly Clarkson ▼ 19
  44. Ed Sheeran ▼ 16
  45. DNCE
  46. Ella Vos ▼ 12
  47. Alessia Cara
  48. Thutmose
  49. Lil Wayne
  50. Beau Young Prince

Most Played Artists 2019

  1. Panic! At The Disco – High Hopes
  2. Blackway – What’s Up Danger
  3. Duckwrth – Start a Riot
  4. Nicki Minaj – Familia (Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse) (feat. Bantu)
  5. Taylor Swift – New Romantics
  6. Panic! At The Disco – (Fuck A) Silver Lining
  7. Thutmose – Memories
  8. Beau Young Prince – Let Go
  9. Ski Mask The Slump God – Save The Day (feat. Coi Leray & LouGotCash)
  10. Juice WRLD – Hide (feat. Seezyn)
  11. Aminé – Invincible
  12. Panic! At The Disco – Hey Look Ma, I Made It
  13. Panic! At The Disco – The Overpass
  14. Panic! At The Disco – Roaring 20s
  15. Vince Staples – Home
  16. DJ Khalil – Elevate (feat. Denzel Curry, YBN Cordae, SwaVay & Trevor Rich)
  17. Lil Wayne – Scared of the Dark (feat. XXXTENTACION)
  18. Panic! At The Disco – Old Fashioned
  19. Panic! At The Disco – Say Amen (Saturday Night)
  20. Halsey – Colors
  21. Post Malone – Sunflower (Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse)
  22. Jaden Smith – Way Up
  23. Taylor Swift – You Are In Love
  24. Halsey – New Americana
  25. Panic! At The Disco – One Of The Drunks
  26. Panic! At The Disco – Dancing’s Not A Crime
  27. Panic! At The Disco – King Of The Clouds
  28. Jonas Brothers – Sucker
  29. Panic! At The Disco – Emperor’s New Clothes
  30. Panic! At The Disco – LA Devotee
  31. Jonas Brothers – Cool
  32. Panic! At The Disco – Impossible Year
  33. Panic! At The Disco – Victorious
  34. Snakehips – All My Friends (feat. Tinashe & Chance the Rapper)
  35. Panic! At The Disco – Golden Days
  36. Hey Violet – Break My Heart
  37. Panic! At The Disco – Hallelujah
  38. Panic! At The Disco – Dying In LA
  39. Jonas Brothers – Only Human
  40. Panic! At The Disco – Don’t Threaten Me With A Good Time
  41. Jonas Brothers – Every Single Time
  42. Jonas Brothers – Used To Be
  43. Jonas Brothers – I Believe
  44. Camila Cabello – Never Be the Same (Radio Edit)
  45. Panic! At The Disco – The Good, The Bad And The Dirty
  46. Panic! At The Disco – House Of Memories
  47. Jonas Brothers – Comeback
  48. Jonas Brothers – Happy When I’m Sad
  49. Jonas Brothers – Love Her
  50. Jonas Brothers – Don’t Throw it Away

5 Local Restaurants You Should Support Instead of Eating at Applebee’s, Episode 1: Petaluma, CA

Petaluma is the last stop in the Bay Area before it becomes wine country. Located in the scenic Sonoma county, it has tons of amazing food, wine, and, yes, even beer.

Lagunitas, one of California’s most famous beers, is headquartered here a stone’s throw from Penngrove, CA where wine country truly begins.

The rolling hills and fog make the view not only scenic, but a “must see”.

People come from all over the country to visit Napa, but they often sleep on Sonoma, CA which is arguably even better. And much closer to the coast.

Risibisi

From their website: RATED BEST RESTAURANT IN PETALUMA.

Risibisi Restaurant in downtown Petaluma serves healthy, fresh, Sonoma Italian cuisine featuring the finest local ingredients found in Sonoma County. We provide a memorable fine dining experience second to none, transporting you to the rustic elegance of an Italian Trattoria.

What locals have to say:

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

The food was excellent. The drinks were delicious. The service was impeccable. A perfect dinner. Definitely our new favorite restaurant in Petaluma!!

⭐⭐⭐

I have been to Risibisi many times. But my last visit was very disappointing. After being seated I had to go to the bar to get water after asking for it when we arrived and it never came. We did not get any butter or olive oil with the bread and had to ask for it.

My beet salad was just okay and the crispy duck salad was not good. Our main course was mediocre. The waiter must have noticed my displeasure at the end he brought Muscat and some doughnuts that had way too much cinnamon.

We came for my mom’s birthday. I mentioned that when we arrived. The waiter brought a candle on a plain plate with the check. I am sad about my dinning experience because I have had a great time at Risibisi before.

I probably won’t be rushing back soon.

My Review: Trying it out today. Will report back. Though it is VERY expensive. Expect to pay $20 for one here.

El Gallo Taqueria

From their website: Best food, good food.

What locals have to say:

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Fantastic food and amazing service. My friends had burritos and I had tacos and they were all equally good and they all came out at the same time. The speed at which they brought out the food was almost instantaneous!

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Delicious food from a family-run style restaurant I usually get the combination plates and have yet to be disappointed. Food here tastes real without any fillers. The have delicious chile rellenos that are made very well.

My review: This is my favorite place to eat in all of Petaluma. The food is good, reasonably priced, and the staff is friendly. Honestly this is one of “MUST EAT AT” places. Their pupusas are AMAZING. Their burritos, especially the chorizo one, are fantastic.

Gohan

From their website: Enjoyment is key , which clearly shows in our restaurant. We offers Orient cuisine with modern influences. Our chefs work with fresh seasonal, preferably local, products. All dishes are prepared in our own kitchen. We offer an excellent product at a fair price.

We are happy to serve you a typical Japanese rolls with fresh fish and vegetables, a fine glass of wine or one of the carefully prepared meals from our kitchen. Our friendly and guest-oriented service staff will make sure your every need is being taken care of.

What locals are saying:

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

This spot is worth a visit. They serve large portions for fair prices. Constantly well kept and with fantastic ambiance. Would recommend to others.

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

This place offers extraordinary service and tasty food. One of my favourite spots around town. The food came out rapidly and the rates are fair. Will definitely recommend this spot.

My review: Service has always been incredibly slow for me. Even though every time I’ve gone it’s been completely empty, but the food is really good. So I’d recommend it if you like sushi.

Fourth & Sea

From their website: First off, we have the best fish and chips in Sonoma County and maybe this side of London!

How do we know? People tell us!

But we’re more than just great fish and chips. Our fish tacos for example, are nothing short of addicting. We know; we’re addicted. Two flour tortillas, cheddar cheese melted in-between, filled with seasoned grilled fish, coleslaw, and mild salsa.

Really good, really big, really filling.

What locals have to say:

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Delicious food! Fish and fries were great. Clam chowder was amazing as well as the smothered hot dog. Its probably for the best that this establishment isn’t close to me or else I’d be eating out way too much! Dog friendly patio. Eat inside or out. Huge menu with home made ice cream for dessert.

⭐⭐⭐⭐

This place is a classic little spot in Petaluma. Great fish and chips, and monthly shake specials. Lots of other items on the menu as well if you’re with a group. Seating inside and out; great on a warm summer evening. Only downside is listening to the guy running the kitchen demean his employees constantly.

My review: Honestly? Great fish & chips for this area. There’s a place down south that I love a good deal more than here, but if I had to pick a place in North Bay it would 100% be Fourth & Sea.

El Roy’s Mexican Grill

From their website: Authentic Mexican Food Truck where the food ranges from burritos, tortas, tacos, platillos (specialty plates), sopes, gorditas, to mexican hot dogs.

What locals have to say:

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Y’all know El Roy’s is great, I’m not sure what more I can say. So good, always great service. Only thing missing is margaritas!

⭐⭐⭐⭐

We love the food at El Roy’s. My favorite is the shrimp tacos. The salsas are excellent. The problem with the place isn’t the food or service it’s the location. It’s too small and hasn’t got much parking.

My review: This food is so good! I didn’t really like the tortas, but everything else is *kisses fingers* fab.