A Quick & Easy Guide to They/Them Pronouns (Archie Bongiovanni; Tristan Jimerson)

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I received an e-book copy in exchange for an honest review.


Goodreads Link

A cute and useful guide.

TL;DR – A whistlestop tour of They/Them pronouns and their use

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Ragdoll Rating: 4.5/5 Buttons

Recommended For: Everyone. Seriously, everyone needs to know about this stuff.

About the Book…

This book provides a very fast, bare-bones look at the usage of they/them pronouns and language. Lots of people (including me) use these gender-neutral pronouns, and it can be massively frustrating when people are either ignorant of gender-neutral language and pronouns, or worse, just refuse to use them. This book aims to remedy this by making they/them pronouns simple and easy to use.

What I thought…

I really liked this book, not just because it’s a subject close to my heart, but because it was really well executed. The book contains several pages of easy-to-use diagrams and tables to help make the concepts introduced as simple as humanly possible.

The book covers a lot of important areas, such as; How to use they/them pronouns, Miscellaneous gender-neutral language, WHY you should use gender-neutral language and so on. The content is presented by the authors in comic form, a non-binary hunkbabe, Archie, and a cis man, Tristan. Archie, who uses they/them pronouns allows the reader a real-life look at misgendering, and how it feels to not have your pronouns respected, while Tristan provides a look from the perspective of someone still learning about pronouns and non-binary folk. Tristan even admits at one stage to learning something new as the result of a mistake he made while writing the book, which I thought was a really good thing to include.

The book also briefly mentions other gender-neutral pronouns and demonstrates their use.

Final Thoughts…

This book breaks down a subject which a lot of people consider to be ‘too difficult to bother with’ into bite-size chunks, and demonstrates that gender-neutral language and pronouns are actually not that hard. Buy this book, give it to your friends. ❤

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Please Note: I received a copy of this book via netgalley in exchange for an honest review. The opinions contained within are my own and have not been influenced by any external entity!

Book Review: A Quick & Easy Guide to Queer & Trans Identities (Mady G)

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I received an e-book copy in exchange for an honest review.


Goodreads Link | Author Website

The book I wish I’d had a decade ago.

TL;DR – A cute, fun tour through the world of queerness

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Ragdoll Rating: 5/5 Buttons

Recommended For: Everyone. Especially anybody questions or recently out.

About the Book…

This book is very brief, but very informative tour through the world of identities, labels and relationships. The comics focus on the wisdom of a snail, who teaches a bunch of snail buddies about all the beautiful humans.

The book is broken into sections, each dealing with a different aspect of the queer experience. Each chapter is ended with a little summary comic featuring an adorable set of creatures known as Sproutlings.

What I thought…

As I said above, I wish I had had this book a decade or more ago. Transitioning was the result of years of questioning my sexuality and gender identity, and the whole period was a very difficult time. I still – 5+ years later – struggle with some aspects, and this book would have helped me a great deal.

Obviously I can’t speak for every queer person, but I personally feel that the content of this book is brilliant. It’s really inclusive, covering a wider variety of topics (albeit very briefly in some cases).

The book starts by discussing sexual orientation, and (correctly) declares it to be distinct from gender identity. Then there is a section on gender identity itself, including non-binary identities and the differences between identity and expression. It’s a really good chapter. Then we have a section on asexuality, something I find is often ignored in by a lot of people. The book finishes itself off with sections of advice, covering healthy relationships and coming out. Mady G makes great efforts to point out the fluid nature of identity, talks a lot about spectrums and how labels and concepts can differ from person to person. I think it’s really well done, and you can definitely tell it’s been written by someone with experience of what they are writing about.

I also love the illustrations, courtesy of J.R. Zuckerberg. I admit I’m slightly biased in this regard. If you want me to love anything, make it cute and I’m basically sold – and this book is CUTE. I love the Sproutlings, they are all my best friends and I want to live in their cute little forest. But ignoring my obvious bias, the illustrations are really lovely, they make what can feel like a difficult subject feel easier.

Finally, I want to mention the very last pages. Tucked away at the end of this book are a series of little activities – I assume aimed at the younger audience. Their inclusion is a really nice touch. The activities include, among other things, a section to write a letter to your younger self (something I know a lot of queer folk have found really helpful) and an invitation to design your own Sproutling. I just thought that was really cool.

Final Thoughts…

If I ever get hold of a time machine, I’m sending this book back to my teenage self. This is definitely a must read for anybody who needs a gentle guide into our big queer world.

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Please Note: I received a copy of this book via netgalley in exchange for an honest review. The opinions contained within are my own and have not been influenced by any external entity!

Drawn to Sex: The Basics (Erika Moen)

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I received an e-book copy in exchange for an honest review.


Goodreads Link | Author Website

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Ragdoll Rating: 5/5 Buttons

Recommended For: Everybody and anybody, whether you’ve never had sex or you do it all the time.

About the Book…

Drawn to Sex: The Basics is a brief (but extensive) look into the world of Sex Education. Wise and clever advise on a whole host of important topics is presented with a wonderful array of cute illustrations.

The book is broken up into four sections; Sex the Concept, Doin’ it Safely, Doin’ it With Yourself, and, Doin’ It with Other People. The first section starts with what sex is, consent and so on, and the following sections build from that starting point.

This would be an ideal starting point for getting a deeper understanding of the world of sex.

What I thought…

My first impression of this book came from the introduction, and it caused me to do something I haven’t actually bothered doing so far in the reviewing career. I made a list of positives and negatives! The trigger for this was literally the first line of the book, which read:

“Hello my Dearest Perverts!”

Now, this phrase appears several times in the book, and is only ever used as a term of endearment. Perhaps it is also intended as a way of reclaiming the word, to help put some distance between the ideas that sex is perverted, and that perverts are bad, therefore sex is bad. Whatever the reason, it unsettled me a little…actually quite a lot.

Fortunately, on reading the rest of the book, I completely abandoned the list because there was nothing to properly dislike.

There are so many things to like about this book. I’ll briefly break down the book, then talk about some extras I loved. Obviously am not an expert on sex education (or sex generally) in any sense of the word, so I can’t I just have to assume that the information in this book is factually correct. Having said that, I learned just a ridiculous amount by reading it.

Section 1, Sex the Concept, starts by taking a look at what sex actually is, the various forms of sexual acts, consent and sex positivity. It also tries to advise the reader on how to answer the question Am I ready to have sex? It’s a really interesting chapter, and I was really pleased to see how reassuring the whole thing was. It is made absolutely clear that sex is good, if that’s something you want, and that it’s totally valid and normal if you don’t want sex now, or ever! It also talks about how being sex-positive doesn’t mean you have to be crazy in to kinks fetishes, and the finer points of what constitutes consent.

Section 2, Doin’ it Safely, is all about protection, barriers and contraception. We get a little bit of information about STI’s and the importance of getting tested regularly, including some details about what sort of things testing actually involves. Then it moves on to contraception, starting with condoms. This is probably the best condom related information I’ve read, especially considered the nightmare we were given in school (and if you’ve never heard of the Johnny Condom song, then think yourself lucky…). We also get taught about internal condoms – note, internal, not female, this book is super good at not using gendered terms for things, it’s really trans inclusive which I love. We also get told about things like dental dams and finger cots. Then we get loads of information about forms of birth control, all of which have a list of positives, negatives and some side effects, which I thought was a really good idea. To round off this section there is a chapter on sexting, which I assume is put in the Safely section because it points out that there is always a chance that a sexy pic will be seen by someone other than its intended recipient (and it gives ways to lessen the chance it gets linked back to you), a warning about the legal implications of sexting while under age, and a bit about not how consent extends to pictures as well. Actually the way consent and not sharing other peoples nudes was brought up was really nice to see and well put.

Section 3, Doin’ it with Yourself, is all about healthy exploration of your body, your likes and dislikes and masturbation. This chapter talks about fantasies and how they are normal and healthy, and examining them can help you understand your needs better. But it also talks about how not everything in your head is an actual desire you need to act on, and it says in a non-judgemental way that you can and should find help if you find yourself worried about fantasies. It was a good chapter. Then it talks a bit about the Sexual Response cycle, which I had never heard of but which is basically about how there is more to sex than the orgasm. This section concludes with some advice on masturbation for people with vulvas and people with penises (note that again, there was careful use of inclusive language. This section involves tips on exploring your body, diagrams – both external and internal – of the sexual organs, and a brief look at how sex toys can help with self pleasure.

Section 4, Doin’ it with Others, is all about how sex works with other people. This section takes a look what I suppose are the main forms of sexual contact with others. It breaks down what is involved, how to do it safely,  what to do if things go wrong and all sorts of other good stuff. It includes more diagrams and cartoons, tips and advice and even covers things such as safe and sensible threesomes!

So that’s the content covered, now on to the extra bits I liked.

First off,  is the cartoons throughout. The visual representation of content makes it so easy to absorb and remember. It doesn’t feel cold or clinical or judgemental, it is warm and friendly and  reassuring. The characters featured are really diverse, different races, genders and sexualities. It also includes characters in wheelchairs and with other disabilities, which is something I have not seen in…well in anything if I’m honest. The language in the book is also really carefully selected. I’ve already mentioned how it is trans inclusive, but the book also reminds you from time to time that it’s OK to not want sex, or have a low sex drive.

Ideas such as safe sex, consent and ‘sex should feel good for all involved’ are brought in throughout the book. Each section builds on what came before, providing what I feel is a really well-rounded and detailed look at the subject. Sources are provided whenever statistics are used and wherever the author feels there is more to be said, but not enough space, the reader is provided with websites to look at for further information.

One word of warning, the language in this book is not clinical or…professional seems like the wrong word…it uses a lot of slang words as well as technical terms. As such, this book contains a lot of instances of ‘swear words’, and also cartoons of people engaged in various sexual positions. So this is probably more of a teen+ book…

Final Thoughts…

This book is excellent. I learned a huge amount from this book – I’m not likely to need it, but it’s good to be informed. The comic style of presentation means that this is a book you can easily read in a day and would find it easy to come back to if you needed a reminder. It’s excellent. Read it, give it to your teens and your buddies and your partners. Get informed, bub!

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Please Note: I received a copy of this book via netgalley in exchange for an honest review. The opinions contained within are my own and have not been influenced by any external entity!

Professionals Choice: Conversations With Friends (Sally Rooney)

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Goodreads Link

This book was recommended to my by a bookseller (whose name I stupidly forget to take down) at my local bookshop (Toppings, Ely). This is what she had to say about it:

  • Sally Rooney has a wonderful understanding of the way people work.
  • This book is just an excellent look at how millennial life can be lived.
  • Everybody should be reading her.

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Rating: 5/5 Buttons

About the book…

Conversations With Friends is a snapshot of the lives of Frances, her best friend (and former partner) Bobbi, and their new, married friends Nick and Melissa. When Frances finds herself kissing Nick at a party, the pair begin a complicated affair and set in motion a chain of events that could lead to bliss, or heartbreak. Conversations… is a beautiful look into the world of queer and non-monogamous relationships.

Trigger Warnings: This book contains references to sex, self harm, alcoholism, mental and physical health problems. I think that’s everything.

What I thought…

The first thing to say is the Conversations With Friends is not the kind of book that I would usually read.

The second thing to say is that from now on, it definitely IS the kind of thing I’m going to read.

I’ll start with what drew me to the book. The honest answer is, I really don’t know. I had a stack of recommendations in front of me and something about this unassuming yellow paperback, that is nothing like anything else I’ve ever read just called out to me and I took it home. It might have been a subconscious yearning to read about queer relationships, but I really don’t know.

The story itself is all about the characters, Frances, Bobbi, Nick and Melissa. Frances in particular is amazing. Frances is hard to love at times, but easy to root for. I found her so relatable in so many ways. Her struggle to handle intimate attachments was so natural and believable. In her darkest moments, Frances looks back at old conversations with Bobbi, just to prove to herself that if everything else fails, once upon a time she had meant a lot to somebody. She struggles with self harm and body issues. Her romantic entanglements leave her confused and desperate to figure out her place in the world in relation to everyone else. I found it impossible not to see bits of myself in Frances, good and bad, and it made me feel a little less alone. The other characters just as well rounded and thought out.

The story in itself was engaging, I read the whole book in three sittings, and oh boy was it emotional. Rooney takes you effortlessly through a whole host of emotional states as the story progresses, and it’s so easy to feel what the characters are feeling, even if you haven’t experienced it yourself. I often found myself just wishing Frances could see the good in her darkest moments, but I knew that she couldn’t, and it was heartbreaking.

Finally, a note about adult content. It wasn’t until I had started reading this book that I suddenly realised that a book about adult relationships could very well have sexual content, which I’m really not that interested in. So I was worried about that. This book does have sexual content, but it isn’t explicit, or at least not gratuitous. It’s sex mentions and a small amount of detail, not pages and pages of smut.

Final Thoughts…

I’m super pleased that my first Professional’s Choice pick was such a rousing success. I would recommend this book to anybody who wants a beautiful story about life and love and sorrow. It is beautifully written, wonderfully engaging and a really super read.

I will definitely be picking up Normal People (Sally Rooney) next time I’m at the bookshop.

Personal: My First Pride

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Thanks for the Rainbow laces Stonewall 😀

Today was a good day.

If you read my bio (which you can find here: About Me…) then you will know that I fall firmly into the LGBTQIA+ camp. I’m trans / non-binary, and either a-sexual or pan-sexual, and either a-romantic or pan-romantic (it’s hard to tell when you share your head with other entities). I’ve been out and proud for over 5 years now, and I’ve never been to pride.

“Why not Holly?” I hear nobody asking! It’s because when I think pride, I think London. That honking great parade with quintillions of people, lots of noise and the big parade through the city. It’s like the worst possible combination of things for me. Also, I didn’t really see the point. Sure I’m queer, and it’s nice to be around other queers, but apart from my friends, I wouldn’t know anybody and I can hang with my friends without the crowds.

But this year, they did pride in Ely (which is 10 minutes down the road from me). They’ve never done it before, and Ely is pretty small, and my bestest buddy was going to be there anyway so I thought I’d go and see what it was like.

IT WAS GREAT.

I figured it would probably just be like any other Saturday fair that we have all the time, just something for ‘the family’ to do, and it was, BUT it was more.

The first thing I noticed was the amount of people walking around wearing pride flags like capes. This was awesome, but then it’s pride, people wear rainbows. Then I noticed it wasn’t just rainbows. There were trans flags, ace flags, pan, bi, all kinds of flags. There were queers EVERYWHERE! It was beautiful.

Ely is out in the sticks. There is nothing around, nothing to do. It’s really, REALLY easy to imagine that you are literally the only queer around. But suddenly there was loads of us, and we were all thinking the same thing:

I AM NOT ALONE!

I walked behind a pair of young people briefly, and one of them said, “Nobody told me what this would be like. I think I’m gonna cry!” This person had just seen me and my buddy walking around with pride flag capes, and they were clutching a little rainbow flag like it was the most important thing in the world, and I knew EXACTLY how that felt, because I felt it too.

It was just wonderful to see a celebration of queer folk in our out-of-the-way neck of the woods. People were happy and having fun, and you could feel how much it meant to the queer folk who were there. You could feel how important it was for each of them to realise just how not-alone they actually are.

Thanks Pride in Ely, can’t wait for next year!

Book Review: Lies We Tell Ourselves (Robin Talley)


Goodreads Link | Author Website

“A stunning novel about love, race and finding the truth..”

TL;DR – A book about integration and the struggles POC faced in the late 1950’s. A very good read although I’m not so sure about the romantic angle.

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RAGDOLL RATING: 4/5 BUTTONS

Why I read it…

I read this book because it was recommended to me by a very good friend. Her judgement in books is (usually) on point, so I agreed to read it.

The Story…

This book is set in Virginia 1959 at the peak of the fight for civil rights. Sarah Dunbar has been picked to be part of a group of ten black students to be sent to Jefferson High School, a previously all-white institution. She is such a strong character and through it all, her, her sister Ruth and their friends stick together. Her and her peers are subjected to days of constant abuse from the white students and teachers (except the music teacher Mr. Lewis).

One of these white students is Linda Hairston, daughter of one of the town’s biggest segregationists. All her life she has been taught that the races should be kept separate and, until she meets Sarah, she almost believes this. When Linda and her best friend Judy are forced to work on a French project with Sarah, the reader begins to see the cracks and doubts Linda has about her and her father’s views. Over the course of the book, we see Linda drifting away from the segregationists and closer to Sarah. They fall in love and at the end of the book, they go off to college together for a fresh start.

What I liked…

I loved all the strong, beautiful and brave characters created in this book. All of them: the secondary characters like Chuck, Ennis, and Ruth; the main characters like Sarah, all of them. They really show great courage.                                                                                                                                                                          Ruth is Sarah’s 15 year old sister. She is treated as though she needs the most protection, but in reality, she shows some of the greatest spirit and resilience in the book. I love how this book really makes you feel and understand what it’s like to live with a mark, to be different, to be ashamed of who you really are, not just people from a different race but for LGBTQIA+ people too. I think if more people read and wrote books like this, books that give people this understanding, the world could be a much better place than it is now. The power and fire behind the messages of this book are morals that everyone should have to learn.

I also really liked seeing both Linda developing as character as well. At the start, she was not likeable at all. But as the book progresses, you see that in no way is this her fault. Growing up in a society like the one she lives in with an aggressive father who is the voice of the towns segregationists cannot be easy and by the end, her having such courage amid all the evil she’d been brought up to believe in was very honourable indeed.

What I disliked…

While I do like the development of the characters and completely support the friendship between Linda and Sarah, I do not see any reason for Sarah to have loved Linda. I completely understand why Linda could fall in love with the beautiful, strong character that Sarah is, but I don’t agree with how quickly those feelings are requited. I feel like their should’ve been much more time. I mean, by the end of the book they had only known each other for about 6 months, half of which were spent having arguments, debates or avoiding each other. In my opinion the friendship was already a huge step between the two girls and the relationship between them just came on too quickly.

Final thoughts…

I very much enjoyed this book and recommend it to anyone interested in historical fiction, equality, civil rights or just a very good read.

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Please note: I am in no way affiliated with the author or publishers. I borrowed this books from the library for my own reasons. The opinions contained within are my own and have not been influenced by any external entity!