Esmé J

Esmé has been slinging radical books at Firestorm since 2019. They wear multiple hats including communications, social media marketing, and offsite sales coordination. She is a whodunit fiend continuously on the search for a confounding murder mystery that doesn't align itself with the cops.

Esme's Staff Picks

Showing 1 - 12 of 31 items

Chapter by chapter, Gordon challenges the roots of anti-fat rhetoric with her signature mixture of clearheaded reasoning and deep compassion. Bad science doesn't stand a chance as Gordon eviscerates flawed studies and baseless "common sense" that have become foundational to mainstream conversations around fatness. 

Content Warnings: Discussions of fatphobia, systemic racism, & disordered eating

Patricia Wants To Cuddle juxtaposes campy cryptid horror against the backdrop of a dating competition show. It is a combination so unexpected yet SO delicious you'll never watch The Bachelor the same way again! 

Content Warnings: Disappearances, gore, death, car crash, gun violence

Legally classified as property of "The Company," Murderbot has hacked its own governor module to pursue the freedom to ignore bad orders and binge every serial drama it can download. Armed with razor-sharp sarcasm – and literally gun arms – Murderbot is the reluctant nonbinary, asexual, it/its hero we didn't know we needed. It is grumpy, socially inept, and utterly heartwarming as it learns what it means to see itself as a person 🥹

This is the kind of book series that introduces you to a motley crew of characters who soon begin to feel like real-life friends. You will celebrate their wins, and mourn their losses. You will wish you too could traverse wormholes on a sentient spaceship with a serious attitude problem.

Content Warnings: action movie level violence, slavery and indentured servitude, a fuck ton of f-bombs!

A YA graphic novel in the tradition of some of our favorite radical sci-fi storytellers. Two non-binary teens from very different worlds meet amidst a drawn-out war, becoming intergalactic pen pals and devoted friends. Through their messages we learn about the players in this conflict: a powerful empire, a relentless resistance army, and an egalitarian society of humans and AI on the run. Blue Delliquanti breathes life into a very queer cast of characters who must find the courage to question their directives and create new paths towards freedom. It is beautifully illustrated, heartwarming, and unapologetically anti-authoritarian. Dear publishers, these are the revolutionary stories we want to read. More of this!!!

Content Warnings: war, non-lethal injuries, hunger, death of parents (not depicted)

A beautiful collection of nature essays that wears its tender, nerdy heart on its sleeve! This exploration of deep sea life and mixed-race queerness is perfect for lovers of Why Fish Don't Exist, Undrowned, and The Brilliant Abyss.

Content Warnings: sexual violence, domestic violence, eating disorders, animal death

As with O'Neill's other works, the setting of The Moth Keeper is richly imagined — from the snug, lamplit world of the night-village to the dazzling merriment of the day-village, and all the purple-pink skies dividing them. I felt comforted by O'Neill's vision of queer, communal living, where relationships are deeply rooted in care and support. I also appreciated that even in the dreamy absence of our familiar structures of harm, characters must still grapple with very real struggles such as loneliness and the search for belonging. A cozy read to set your imagination free!

I haven't met a Helen Oyeyemi book that I didn't love, a trend that continues with this gothic novel. Oyeyemi’s signature playfulness creates a uniquely unsettling tone as she guides the reader through layers of horror hiding in plain sight in Dover, England.

White is for Witching is a haunted house story, a loose retelling of the infamous lesbian vampire novel, “Carmilla," and a sharp exploration of the nationalism and white-supremacy that seep through generations of white women, hungry for the blood of the "other."

Content Warnings: Disordered eating (pica), xenophobia

What makes this queer fairy tale collection stand out over other "feminist" retellings I've read is that Gillman is not interested in royal ladies shattering the “glass ceiling” of the castle. Their focus is on the villagers and outcasts, flat out rejecting the logic of monarchs. Rather than sanitizing a fundamentally dark genre, Gillman leans in, exploring the sinister forces of homo/transphobia, and the monstrous power of queer love, through remixed and original parables with gorgeous colored pencil illustrations. I cannot recommend this collection more highly as a gift for a child in your life, even if that is just your own inner child. I know mine needed every one of these queer happily ever afters!

Content Warnings: Implied violence, perilous situations that might be scary for young readers.

I was instantly charmed by this wryly funny vampire novel/ mature trans romance. For a character who is technically already dead, the protagonist—a melancholy vampire and archivist named Sol—jumps to life on the page. With evocative characterizations (we know that Sol sounds like Steve Buscemi and looks like Clea Duvall in "But I'm a Cheerleader") and thoughtful world-building, Isaac Fellman immerses us into the underground and refreshingly subdued life of a vampire. 

Content Warnings: Grief, chronic illness, gender dysphoria, sex, rough sex, blood, blood transfusions.

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Based on a song by clipping that imagines an underwater people descended from the pregnant Africans who were forced overboard during the middle passage, this novella expands on the song with remarkable complexity and richness. The Deep is a stunning interpretation of collective memory and generational trauma. It is a story that lingers like the sharp taste of sea water long after you have put it down.

Content Warnings: Violence against enslaved peoples, drowning, sharks, trauma

Set in 1960s Harlem, this noir thriller follows a furniture salesman wrestling with his commitment to remaining on the straight and narrow, while his path is increasingly filled with twists and disreputable turns. The narration is full of shrewd observations about a city that is crooked to its core, introducing us to a cast of deliciously unsavory characters. I loved the subtle humor -- witty repartee between characters and a protagonist who can't help but wax poetic on the value of a sofa or dining room set, even in the most dire circumstances. Big bonus for a crime novel: no copaganda to be found!

Content Warnings: gun violence, addiction, overdose, mentions of police brutality

Helen Oyeyemi isn't for everyone, but if she is for you, congratulations because you are correct. Peaces follows an eccentric couple and their pet mongoose on a fever-dream of a train ride through the English countryside during which they encounter mysterious figures from their past. At times it has the feel of an old fashioned train mystery that has warped into a wacky romp of absurdity. At others it is an insightful meditation on relationships - the people who stay in our lives as well as those who cease to be real as they fade into the stories we tell ourselves about  them. The casual queerness throughout is the cherry on top that will likely cement Peaces as my book of the year. Have you read it? If so let's talk!

Content Warnings: Some cartoonish violence, house fire