Tag: heard

Shannon reviews She’s Too Pretty To Burn by Wendy Heard – The Lesbrary

She's Too Pretty to Burn by Wendy Heard

She's Too Pretty to Burn by Wendy Heard

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As the weather begins to warm up here in the midwest, I find myself in serious need of books set during the warm summer months. There’s something so magical about long days spent in the sunshine, even if the characters’ daily activities aren’t ones I’d recommend. Books set in the summer just have a certain kind of hypnotic feel, and it’s exactly that feeling I was searching for when I picked up She’s Too Pretty To Burn, the latest novel by Wendy Heard. It’s a young adult thriller with charismatic characters and a swoony romance, and I devoured it in a single sitting.

Veronica is a photographer living in San Diego with her mother. When we first meet her, she’s pretty bored with life, hanging out at a party she’s not enjoying and just wishing for something exciting to happen. She loves photography, but even it isn’t providing her enough mental stimulation to fight off her feelings of boredom.

Then, she meets Mick, a complicated and beautiful young woman who seems to speak right to Veronica’s soul. The reader knows pretty early on that Mick is a troubled character, but Veronica doesn’t pick up on this for quite some time. She just knows that she’s captivated by Mick, and she becomes a little bit obsessed with photographing her, even though Mick herself hates having her picture taken.

Mick’s home life isn’t the greatest, so spending time with Veronica serves as a sort of escape for her. The two begin spending all their free time together, and it’s not long before Veronica introduces her to her good friend Nico, an activist with a passion for performance art. He’s a couple of years older than Mick and Veronica, definitely more worldly than them, and he has a plan he thinks will shake up the city in some necessary ways.

At first, Nico’s plan seems harmless enough, but as time passes and Mick falls deeper under his spell, things take a dangerous turn. Veronica, desperate to make it big as a photographer, doesn’t notice the danger Mick and Nico are putting themselves in right away. Will she figure things out in time to stop something catastrophic from happening, something with the power to affect the trajectories of all their lives?

She’s Too Pretty To Burn is pretty dark, definitely not a good fit for those looking for a story on the sweeter side of the young adult spectrum. Their are some blurred lines when it comes to consent here, and readers who are triggered by discussion of abuse might want to do additional research before picking this up.

The characters aren’t all good or all bad. Instead, they exist in that big gray area that makes them super relatable but also difficult to categorize. It’s hard for me to choose a favorite, since each is incredibly well-drawn. They all make bad decisions at times, but then, that’s a regular part of being a human being, and something I definitely want in my fiction. Perfect, cookie-cutter people aren’t all that interesting to read about.

I enjoyed watching the relationship between Mick and Veronica blossom. The author does a phenomenal job showing how complex love is, especially for teenagers who are working hard to figure their lives out. Certain scenes between the two are poignant and beautiful, while others serve to amp up the tension of the overall story.

If you’re looking for a fast-paced novel that’s dark and twisty and filled with characters who remind you of people you’d meet in the real world, you could do far worse than She’s Too Pretty To Burn. It’s probably not a book that will appeal to every reader, but it landed firmly in my wheelhouse and I’m so glad I gave it a try.

All the LGBT characters you’ve probably never heard of

Star Wars: All the LGBT characters you've probably never heard of

PinkNews runs down the LGBT+ characters featured in the Star Wars universe including Doctor Chelli Lona Aphra and her romantic-slash-partner, Magna Tolvan, (L) and General Admiral Rae Sloane (R). (Marvel Comics/Doctor Aphra #16/Star Wars)

It is the day that all Star Wars nerds revere – May the 4th/”May The Force” – and it’s time to explore the LGBT+ representation in one of the biggest pieces of pop culture in living history.

The road to more meaningful LGBT+ representation has been a long one for Star Wars, but in recent years, the hit sci-fi series has upped its game. Star Wars has expanded to more than just movies. There are Star Wars novels, comic books, video games and TV series that discuss the expanded universe at length. Within the expanded universe, Star Wars has highlighted characters of various sexualities and gender identities, creating new opportunities for LGBT+ fans to see themselves represented within the series.

This year Star Wars has said it would celebrate Pride month by letting gay and trans artists “pay homage to some of the LGBT+ characters inhabiting a galaxy far, far away” in a special line of comic book covers.

So now it is time for PinkNews to highlight some of the queer characters across the Star Wars universe that even some of the most hardcore fans may have never heard of.

The first canonically LGBT+ character was a lesbian

Delian Mors became the first LGBT+ character in the official Star Wars canon when she was introduced in Paul S Kemp’s 2015 novel Lords of the Sith. Mors, who is a human female, served as a Moff – a rank held by Sector Governors of the First Galactic Empire – in the years after the end of the Clone Wars. If you need a rough timetable, the book is set after the Revenge of the Sith movie but before the Rebels TV series.

Mors is an Imperial (a “bad” guy), and she had a wife, Murra, who was killed in an accident. She wasn’t a major character in the novel, but Big Shiny Robot described her as a woman who “has made some very serious mistakes” but is an “incredibly capable leader”. She spends most of the novel “working hard to prevent absolute failure”.

Sinjir Rath Velus is the first major hero in a Star Wars story to be gay

Author Chuck Wendig introduced the first gay main character into the Star Wars universe in the Imperial turncoat Sinjir Rath Velus. Wendig’s novel Star Wars: Aftermath takes place after the second Death Star has been destroyed, Darth Vader dies and the Rebel Alliance forms into the New Republic. Velus is a human male and former officer of the Galactic Empire, but he abandoned his post after the second Death Star was destroyed.

He eventually joins the New Republic and goes on a mission to hunt Imperial war criminals. In the novels, he even formed a romantic relationship with freelance New Republic slicer Conder Kyl.

The novel also introduced two background characters who are gay. One of the novel’s main heroes, Norra Wexley, eventually returns to her home planet of Akiva and reunites with her sister, Esmelle. Esmelle and her wife, Shirene, raised Norra’s son, Temmin, while Norra was fighting with the Rebels.

Doctor Chelli Aphra had the first actually visible LGBT+ kiss in the Disney Star Wars canon

Chelli Lona Aphra is a female, human archaeologist who was recruited by Darth Vader, but she eventually fell out of favour with the iconic character and faked her death. She lived under the alias Joystick Chevron when she eventually met her on-and-off-again adversary slash romantic partner, Magna Tolvan. Tolvan is an Imperial agent, and she developed a complicated relationship with the rogue archaeologist during their shared exploits.

In Marvel’s Doctor Aphra #16, Aphra and Tolvan passionately kiss in what they believe to be their last minutes. The two survive, but their romance doesn’t end happily as Aphra has to alter Tolvan’s memories to protect her from Darth Vader.

Doctor Chelli Lona Aphra Magna Tolvan
Doctor Chelli Lona Aphra and Magna Tolvan passionately kiss in what they believe to be their last minutes. (Marvel/ Doctor Aphra #16)

Aphra has also had multiple relationships across the Star Wars franchise. In a rundown of Star Wars best-hidden romances, CBR romantically linked Aphra to her “old girlfriend from college”, Doctor Eustacia Okka, and Sana Starros, a character who claimed to be married to Han Solo (though he denied it). Aphra’s comic book series even picked up a GLAAD Award in 2020 for the best “outstanding comic book”.

Star Wars introduced its first trans non-binary Jedi this year

On Trans Day of Visibility (31 March), Star Wars announced it would feature Terec and Ceret on its June issue of Star Wars: The High Republic. The non-binary Jedi are bond-twins who have a linked consciousness, and they made their first appearance in issue two of The High Republic. The series takes place around 200 years before The Phantom Menace in a time when the Jedi are “in their prime”.

It wasn’t until this year that the official Star Wars Instagram announced the pair were trans and non-binary. The account added: “We support trans lives and we are passionate and committed to broadening our representation in a galaxy far far away.”

Grand Admiral Rae Sloane is not only a badass villain but also an openly bisexual, Black woman.

Rae Sloane is a Black, human female who climbed the ranks of the Grand Empire to eventually become Grand Admiral. She was eventually mentored by Armitage Hux, who was played by Domhnall Gleeson in the most recent Star Wars movies. Even though Sloane doesn’t appear in the movies, she has a mighty presence in the Star Wars novels.

She was first introduced in John Jackson Miller’s 2014 novel A New Dawn and was later featured in Wendig’s already pretty queer Aftermath trilogy. In one of Wendig’s novels Empire’s End, Sloane tells Wexley that she’s never had “a husband or a wife die in my hands”, acknowledging her non-heterosexual relationships.