Mid Year Freakout book tag!

Hi everyone,

It’s time for one of my favourite posts of the year: the mid year freakout book tag! Where we talk about our reading so far, our favourites and our….not so favourites, as well as what we’re looking forward to for the rest of the year. Thank you so much to Laura @ The Book Corps for tagging me!

1. Best book you read so far in 2020

So obviously I couldn’t choose just one (duh) so I have two very different books that I couldn’t choose between because they are just too different.

Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia

This book released 6 days ago and I still haven’t got my delivery notification which is making me really sad. I just want to see how beautiful this cover is in person! Mexican Gothic is a fucked up gothic horror that just about killed me. It follows Noemí after she recieves a letter from her cousin saying her husband is trying to kill her. Noemí travels to the distant High Place, an old, musty mansion in the mountains to find out what’s going on. And trust me, there is some fucked up shit going on.

Felix Ever After by Kacen Callender

I read this book last month and it absolutely blew me away. I knew it was going to be good, but I didn’t realise it would be quite this incredible. The way Felix Ever After talks about questioning your identity, the way it validated everything I feel was just amazing. Felix Ever After is a YA contemporary following trans demiboy Felix when he decides to catfish his bully for revenge.

2. Best sequel you’ve read so far in 2020

I haven’t read many sequels so far this year, but the three I did read were all so so epic and amazing and continued some of my favourite adult fantasy series: Jade War by Fonda Lee, The Kingdom of Copper by S.A Chakraborty and The Dragon Republic by R.F Kuang. But if I had to choose my favourite of these, I think The Dragon Republic wins! That book absolutely blew me away and killed me in all the best ways. The Poppy War was so epic and then this was just as epic and possibly even a little more so?!?! Either way, I’m absolutely dying to read the last book in each of these trilogies.

3. New releases you haven’t read yet but want to

Ummmmmmmm SO MANY. I feel like I’m very behind on new releases because I keep getting distracted by books from the library so I think I might need to stop getting library books for the next few months so I can just focus on my physical TBR. Here are a few new releases I’m most excited to read!

4. Most anticipated releases for the second half of the year

I’ll have a post coming in a few weeks with my top 10 releases for the second half of the year (if I ever manage to actually narrow it down to 10 books). But if I had to pick just one….

Believe me, no one is more shocked than me that I didn’t pick an adult fantasy.

5. Biggest disappointment

I’ve had several books this year that have really disappointed me, but I chose these four as these were the ones I was most excited for and thus the disappointment was greatest. These are all queer YA fantasies that everyone seemed to rave about. This might be more down to me on the outs with YA fantasy rather than these books, but as epic and brilliant as I think the concepts behind each of these books were (they all sounded so amazing?!), I thought the writing was really bad in all of these.

6. Biggest surprise

The Library of the Unwritten is definitely my biggest surprise of the year. I hadn’t heard much about this book before I picked it up at the library, so I went in thinking I’d probably get a decent adult fantasy but nothing hugely special. And fuck me, I was so wrong. This book is incredible?! Not only did it have the first on page pansexual rep I’ve ever read (and the fact it was a fierce librarian from hell was so validating), it’s also one of the most fun filled fantasies I’ve ever read. It was so full of snark and sass and made for one of the most enjoyable reading experiences I’ve had all year.

7. Favourite new author

I’ve found several authors this year whose books absolutely blew me away and I’m going to be following everything they write: A.K Larkwood (of The Unspoken Name) and A.J Hackwith (of The Library of the Unwritten) are two who come straight to mind. But I think for this question I have to say the author whose first book I read at the end of December last year, and 6 months later I’ve now read several others and have many more lined up: T.J Klune! I read Wolfsong in December, and have followed it up with his Tor releases this year The House in the Cerulean Sea and The Extraordinaries, but I have many more of his backlist to make my way through!

8. Newest fictional crush

I mean it’s not exactly ‘new’, but since I read The Dragon Republic this year, I’m counting it! Rin from R.F Kuang’s The Poppy War series is just such an incredible, badass, morally grey mess and I love her.

9. Newest favourite character

Okay so I when I started writing this post, I wasn’t going to mention any books coming out in the later half of this year so I could focus on ones I actually read in the first half of the year, but then I reached this question and I’m sorry but I can’t help it so you’re getting a book releasing in August that I finished about 8 hours ago because THIS BOOK. My newest favourite character is Cara from The Space Between Worlds. God, I don’t even know how to put into words how amazing she is, and how she completely wrecked me. This scifi better fucking get the praise it deserves when it releases because it is so bloody good.

10. A book that made you cry

I mean, technically this is also a book that releases in the second half of the year, but at least I actually read this one in the first half. I don’t think Klune fans will be at all surprised to see one of his books for this question. Klune writes in a way that literally has me laughing on one page and then sobbing the next and The Extraordinaries was no different. It’s a book about a boy who wants to be a superhero and will do anything to make himself extraordinary.

11. A book that made you happy

And to prove exactly what I just said, here’s another Klune book in the section that made me happy! You could honestly just switch these two books back and forth, because they are both so happy and joyful but also made me sob. The House in the Cerulean Sea really exemplifies the found family trope and follows Linus, a caseworker for magical youth, who is sent to audit a faraway orphanage where very powerful magical children stay.

12. The most beautiful book you’ve bought so far this year

The Animals at Lockwood Manor by Jane Healey is absolutely gorgeous. Not only does it have that intricately detailed cover, but I also snagged a special edition of this book with stunning endpapers and sprayed edges and it is just so beautiful.

13. What books do you need to read by the end of the year?

So, so, so many. The ones I’ve chosen to highlight here are ones I’m either:

a) particularly excited for but know it’s going to be highly painful and thus am scared to read (The Empire of Gold)

b) books that I’ve had on my TBR for aaaaages but have finally picked up a copy of (The Secret History and Empire of Sand)

c) books that have been on my physical TBR for over a year (my bad, I’m so sorry The Surprising Power of a Good Dumpling & The Candle in the Flame, but this is your year!)

And that’s my year so far! I’m hope you’re having a good reading year. Anyone who wants to do this tag, consider yourself tagged!

July TBR and Pop Culture Readathon!

Hi everyone,

We are halfway through the longest year in existence. After a terrible reading month in June, I decided to do a couple of things to whizz up my reading this month.

  1. I asked my partner to look through all the books on my TBR and pick 5 for me to read this month. This was so much fun: he enjoyed himself, less decision fatigue for me, it’s a win win! So much so, we decided do this again in a couple of months because it was great.
  2. Secondly, I decided to join in with the Pop Culture readathon! This readathon looks pretty much the most fun ever. This round is looking at 90s films, there’s bingo boards and lots and lots of nostalgic prompts to get me enthusiastic about reading.

So today I’m going to take you through my fucking excellent TBR for this month. Because seriously, looking at my bingo board with all the covers laid out, I am so excited to get started!

Let’s make my Not A Reader partner pick books for me to read based on their covers

Since he’s an absolute legend, he even wrote me a mini essay on his process, narrowing it down to a top 10, and why he picked the final five!

Method

Look at all unread books, pick a rough set based on their covers. From that set, thin the herd again based on covers, down to 10. (I did also base it on general first impressions as opposed to covers alone.) Finally, read the blurbs of the final 10 and make the choice from there!

The top 10

Docile by K.M Sparza: This one I cheated a little with. I didn’t base it on the cover, I based it on the fact that I know the plot synopsis for this book and it sounds really interesting. I’m into post-apocalyptic-the-future-is-shit stories.

Late to the Party by Kelly Quindlen: Very yellow (I imagine you also like it because it’s yellow). I like the art style of the people, as well as the yellow and the boldness of the title.

The Mermaid, the Witch, and the Sea by Maggie Tokuda-Hall: The ship caught my eye at first, but the more I look at the cover, the more I find. The people on the deck, the mermaid in the water, the big face below the surface, the face in the sky to the top left of the ship (in that order).

Let’s Call it a Doomsday by Katie Henry – Very yellow, again. The weirdness of the can caught my eye, as well as the yellow. On top of that, as I said, I’m into doomsday-ish stuff so it ticks all the boxes for first impressions.

The Surprising Power of a Good Dumpling by Wai Chim: Dumplings. I really think that’s all I was going for here? We both love dumplings, what could be better?

These Witches Don’t Burn by Isabel Sterling: I really like the deep purple background of the cover. On top of that, the cards give me board games vibes. Finally, the “hot ex” on the cover has the dark, unstable look that I have a bit of a penchant for.

Slay by Brittney Morris: Again, the purple colours got me. I really like the spot gloss for its visual and also for the fact that it’s clearly meant to hint at some kinda techy/cybery/computery thing and that’s my jam.

The Watchmaker of Filigree Street by Natasha Pulley: The gold and the lime green go really well on top of the black. I also really like the ‘lil octopus and the fact that the shape of the watch is cut out. This was a purely visual one.

The Dark Tide by Alicia Jasinska: Again, shiny gold and black cover got me. The first thing I thought of when I saw the phases of the moon was that they were planets and that therefore this was a space-y book. However, from looking at it now, and reconsidering the title, I reckon it’s instead a nautical theme. Still a good cover though.

The Spy with the Red Balloon by Katherine Locke: I like spy stuff. The phrase “nuclear arms race” drew me in and now I’m looking again, the combination of magic and the cold war setting (I’m assuming?) sounds really interesting.

And the winners were….

Docile by K.M Sparza: This sounds super dark and really interesting. I enjoy stories about dark possible futures that are perhaps not so far off our current trajectory.

The Mermaid, the Witch, and the Sea by Maggie Tokuda-Hall: Pirates are good fun and I know you like pirates. I’m hoping for you that there are lots of people dressed in naval outfits.

These Witches Don’t Burn by Isabel Sterling: AS I SUSPECTED from the cover, the hot ex is very my type given that she’s also a witch. The idea of a real witch catering to Wiccans and tourists who’ve come for witch-trial history is amusing and who can resist a “deadly Blood Witch”.

Slay by Brittney Morris: This one sounds awesome. It’s a hidden video game world that starts to crash into reality when someone gets murdered – then people try to destroy the video game world! And the MC is a software developer! Very cool.

The Dark Tide by Alicia Jasinska: The regular demand of a sacrifice to the sea makes for a dark, dystopian world where people are willing to kill “for the greater good”. That’s always a good starting point for me. Then there’s the MC getting involved with the queen to save her BF and then falling in love with the queen! Good fun.

Pop Culture Readathon

So if you haven’t heard about this readathon, I totally encourage you to look at their twitter (@PopCReadathon), they have a ton of info and it’s all SO COOL.

To summarise, this round is based on 90s films. There are four bingo boards created, with a prompt in each square linked to a 90s film. The boards are all themed around: Teen Dreams, Thrill Rides, Family Affairs and The Adult Table. You can try to get bingo (four in a row) on any board, all boards, try complete the boards, pretty much whatever you like! So obviously I chose the Thrill Rides board because it has the biconic film The Mummy, aka one of my favourite ever films.

So I took the five books Gavin picked for me and matched them to prompts on my Thrill Ride bingo board. I then also picked a book for all the other prompts because it got me this pretty image (even though I know there’s no chance I’ll read them all!) So here’s my final TBR for the month! There’s a few I have where the link between the prompt is perhaps a little tenuous, or based on guesswork from me, but I’m so excited to read all these books! I think this one of my most exciting TBRs in several months.

Prompts

Nancy Downs – book with a power hungry character: Docile by K.M Sparza

Jurassic Park – book set on an island/coast/body of water: The Mermaid, the Witch and the Sea by Maggie Tokuda-Hall

“What’s your favourite scary movie?” – read a book by one of your favourite authors: The Lightning-Struck Heart by T.J Klune

The Faculty – read a dark academia book: Ninth House by Leigh Bardugo

I Know What You Did Last Summer – read a 2019 release: These Witches Don’t Burn by Isabel Sterling

“Everybody’s a suspect” – read a mystery or thriller: My Lovely Wife by Samantha Downing

Buffy the Vampire Slayer – chosen one trope: Unconquerable Sun by Kate Elliot

Calling the Corners – read a book with one of the four elements: The Dark Tide by Alicia Jasinska

“It’s just a bunch of hocus pocus” – read a book that includes magic: Where Dreams Descend by Janella Angeles

“Light as a feather, stiff as a board” – book with a creepy or haunted feel: Silver in the Woods by Emily Tesh

Candyman – book with supernatural creatures: The Black Tides of Heaven by JY Yang

Scream 2 – read a book in your second favourite genre: The Space Between Worlds by Micaiah Johnson

Sidney Prescott – book with a badass main character: Slay by Brittney Morris

The Mummy – book with the undead: The Bone Shard Daughter by Andrea Stewart

Blair Witch Project – book with a black or white cover: Hurricane Season by Fernanda Melchor

Practical Magic – book that involves a curse: The Scapegracers by Hannah Abigail Clarke

So that’s my TBR for this month! Is anyone else doing the Pop Culture readathon (or any other readathons!) this month?

Book review: Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno Garcia

Title: Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno Garcia

Publisher: Del Rey

Publication date: 30 June 2020

Genre: Adult | Horror | Gothic

Page extent: 352 pages

Rating:

Goodreads blurb: An isolated mansion. A chillingly charismatic artistocrat. And a brave socialite drawn to expose their treacherous secrets. . . .

From the author of Gods of Jade and Shadow comes “a terrifying twist on classic gothic horror” (Kirkus Reviews) set in glamorous 1950s Mexico—“fans of classic novels like Jane Eyre and Rebecca are in for a suspenseful treat” (PopSugar).

After receiving a frantic letter from her newly-wed cousin begging for someone to save her from a mysterious doom, Noemí Taboada heads to High Place, a distant house in the Mexican countryside. She’s not sure what she will find—her cousin’s husband, a handsome Englishman, is a stranger, and Noemí knows little about the region.

Noemí is also an unlikely rescuer: She’s a glamorous debutante, and her chic gowns and perfect red lipstick are more suited for cocktail parties than amateur sleuthing. But she’s also tough and smart, with an indomitable will, and she is not afraid: Not of her cousin’s new husband, who is both menacing and alluring; not of his father, the ancient patriarch who seems to be fascinated by Noemí; and not even of the house itself, which begins to invade Noemi’s dreams with visions of blood and doom.

Her only ally in this inhospitable abode is the family’s youngest son. Shy and gentle, he seems to want to help Noemí, but might also be hiding dark knowledge of his family’s past. For there are many secrets behind the walls of High Place. The family’s once colossal wealth and faded mining empire kept them from prying eyes, but as Noemí digs deeper she unearths stories of violence and madness.

And Noemí, mesmerized by the terrifying yet seductive world of High Place, may soon find it impossible to ever leave this enigmatic house behind. 

Mexican Gothic is the kind of book that will haunt you for years to come. It’s the kind of book that will make you yearn for a feeling like that again. It is dark, it is twisted and it is so entralling and bewitching that it is hard to put into words. It’s the book I will spend all year thrusting desperately into people’s hands while screaming READ IT. It’s a book I wish I could read for the first time again, because the horror and shock and awe was captivating.

So what’s it all about? Noemí receives a frantic and odd letter from her cousin, Catalina, full of frantic pleas to help her as she thinks her husband is trying to poison her. In a bid to find out exactly what the fuck is going on Noemí travels to High Place, the mysterious mansion where Catalina now lives with her husband and his odd, dysfunctional family. In this damp and mould covered house, Noemí is met with fierce disapproval and downright hatred from all except one, Francis, who she enlists in her attempts to work out what’s going on.

And boy, it’s a fucking ride. This book is so delightfully twisted and creepy. At first glance, this evokes the feelings of classic gothic novels: the fog, the house, the wilderness encroaching on the humanity and living. But Moreno-Garcia has brought an entirely modern twist to the genre, blending elements of the supernatural with science and academia, creating a book that is both a love story to classic gothic and embraces modern dark academia. In daylight, it is a gothic mystery, but at night, through Noemí’s disturbing and dark dreams, we see the other side of this novel. Moreno-Garcia’s language is stunningly horrific and distburbing – at many points it makes you sick to the stomach, and you dare not turn your eyes away from the page so desperate to see what the everloving fuck is happening.

And let’s talk about Noemí herself! Some books you read just the first few pages and know it’s going to be bloody excellent. Mexican Gothic was one of those for me. And it’s usually down to the ease and strength of the character voice. Noemí really shone in this novel. Her voice was so clear and immediately engrossing: she is both capable and independent, flirty and kind. And we see this strong, capable woman descend into horrors across the book and it is the strength of Noemí’s voice at the start which makes me care so much for her and be so passionate and mad as this house destroys such a wonderful character.

The other characters we meet are:

  • Virgil: the new husband to Noemí’s cousin, cold and calculating and cruel, with a vicious grasp on Noemí, able to spark deep rage and passion in her
  • Florence: an Aunt who runs the household, even more unfeeling than Virgil, strict beyond measure and deeply unkind
  • Howard: the patriarch of the family, slowly dying and around whom all revolve in this household
  • Catalina: Noemí’s cousin who frantically wrote a letter to save herself, and seems constantly seesawing between peaceful and well, and utterly mad
  • Francis: the one individual in the house who dares to be kind to Noemí, sweet and unsure but ruled with an iron fist by Howard, Florence, and Virgil.

These characters revolve around each other in an uneasy fashion, lies around every corner and horrors hiding in the dark, mould invested mansion of High Place. Mexican Gothic is a twisted, fucked up book that will surprise you at every turn. It combines all my favourite elements of gothic suspense but brings the genre into the modern age with glimpses of horror and dark academia. It is the book I am going to gift to pretty much everyone I know because I adored this so much. It gave me disturbing dreams, my heart raced as I read, and I never wanted to stop reading it.

30 Days of Pride: Wrap up

Hi everyone,

We’re finally here. Day 30. Let’s be honest, this June has been pretty fucked. And it feels like it’s lasted 6 years. Looking back over the past month, I really haven’t had the best reading month at all. My sleep has been a disaster and so I’ve stuggled with concentrating whilst reading and reached nowhere near my goal of 15 books. I hope your months have been more sucessful!

What I did manage to do (however unconsciously), is read 8 books that all have matching coloured covers?! How the fuck I managed this beautiful array of yellow, oranges and pinks completely by accident and without noticing before now, I’ll never know. But as a result, you get some happy Autumnal book covers to look at today!

Books read

This month, I managed to read 8 books in total. My favourite book of the month was definitely Felix Ever After by Kacen Callender which absolutely blew me away and I already want to reread!

The Priory of the Orange Tree by Samantha Shannon

Felix Ever After by Kacen Callender

Real Life by Brandon Taylor

The Henna Wars by Adiba Jaigirdar

In the Dream House by Carmen Maria Machado

The Gravity of Us by Phil Stamper

Juliet Takes a Breath by Gabby Rivera

Sissy: A Coming of Gender Story by Jacob Tobia

Blog posts

I still can’t quite believe I actually managed to post every day. I’m so exhausted and I’m going to have soooo much free time in July. If you missed any, here’s a full run down of what happened on my blog this month!

Reviews

Recommendation lists

Genres
Identities
Tropes

Misc

Community

I wanted to finish by shouting out some incredible creators and the great work they’ve created during Pride month this year. Prepare to add EVEN MORE books your TBR!

Finally, as we move into the second half of the year, I hope you all are continuing to support Black authors in the coming months as you have done this month, that you continue to educate yourself on racism, and that you are looking into ways you can support Black people in your local community.

Whilst you’re here, please do also take a few minutes out of your day to sign petitions and donate some money if you are able. It takes two seconds to sign a petition, there’s no excuse. And so you don’t even have to Google right now to find out where to go:

  • The Black Lives Matter carrd is your go to resource for information on petitions to sign and places to donate. It’s updated regularly with new information.
  • The Australian BLM database has petitions for local issues
  • There’s a fantastic database if you’re interested in learning more about prison abolition and the need for this
  • If you want to be an ally, you can start by putting in the effort! This resource has a full out SCHEDULE you can follow over a month to educate yourself on racism and how to be an ally. There’s different schedules depending on how much time you can spend a day on this, and it starts at just 10 minutes a day so again, there’s really no excuse!

And to my fellow Aussies, if you’re looking for places to donate to locally, here are some people and charities you can support:

30 Days of Pride: Top queer releases still to come in 2020

Hi everyone,

My second last post of Pride! I still can’t quite believe I actually managed to post every day… I’m going to have so much free time once this is over and I’m back to usual posting. For my penultimate 30 Days of Pride post, following from yesterday’s top queer books of 2020 so far, it’s time to look at what is still to come in 2020! I keep a journal with lists of new releases, and there seems to be a lot less books coming in the second half of 2020 than the first half? I’m scared I’m missing lots of good releases! But do not fear, I still have plenty of books to talk about in this post, so prepare your TBRs: here’s the 36 queer books I’m looking out for in the second half of 2020!

Cinderella is Dead by Kalynn Bayron

Release date: 7 July

I’m such a fan of retellings and I’m sure this one will be no different! Set 200 years after the death of Cinderella, teens now appear at an annual ball where the boys choose their wives based on their beauty and finery. If a girl is not chosen, they are never heard of again. Sophia would much rather marry her best friend than any boy, and so she runs away and hides in Cinderella’s mausoleum where she meets the last descendent of Cinderella herself. The two team up to bring down the King once and for all.

Burn Our Bodies Down by Rory Power

Release date: 7 July

Burn Our Bodies Down, from the author of the hugely popular Wilder Girls, is a horrory, mystery, thrillery genre bending book following Margot, who has lived alone with her mother as long as she can remember and is forbidden from asking about her family. When Margot finds a clue leading back to her other family, she runs away and returns to her mother’s hometown to find out about her history.

Girl, Serpent, Thorn by Melissa Bashardoust

Release date: 7 July

So I was lucky enough to get an ARC of this title and all I can say is YOU ARE IN FOR A TREAT! I’ll have a full review of this one coming on release day, so here’s just a little teaser: imagine monster girlfriends, a bisexual love triangle, descent to villainy, and a princess who is poisonous to the touch…

The Extraordinaries by T.J Klune

Release date: 14 July

This is another book I was so lucky to get an ARC for, and as with Girl, Serpent, Thorn, THIS IS AMAZING AND YOU ARE IN FOR SUCH A TREAT. Klune is making his YA debut with his take on the superhero genre. The Extraordinaries follows Nick, a fanfiction writer obsessed with real life superheros Shadow Star and PyroStorm. After a chance encounter with Shadow Star, Nick vows to become extraordinary himself, with or without the help of his best friend, Seth, who just so happens to have gotten really cute over the summer… With ownvoices ADHD rep as well, this is so cute and so fun, and I’ll have a full review coming on release day!

I Kissed Alice by Anna Birch

Release date: 28 July

Enemies to lovers FANFIC romance?!?! Are you kidding me?! Please I need it now. Two girls are locked in a fierce competition to win a prestigious art scholarship at their school. They each escape using fanfic, where they are unknowingly collaborating on a graphic novel. And their fanfic aliases are really beginning to fall for each other. But, obviously, the truth will out…

Seven Devils by Laura Lam

Release date: 4 August

“Feminist space opera following seven resistance fighters” sign me the fuck up. Eris and Cloelia have been assigned a new mission to infilitrate a star ship that is carrying deadly cargo and bring back information to the Resistance. But the fact they hate each other might make the mission a bit difficult. When they find the ship, they also find three fugitives who carry knowledge about the corrupt empire. They must all work together to bring the empire to its knees.

The First Sister by Linden A Lewis

Release date: 4 August

Blessed is the adult scifi in August, because here’s space opera number two! It’s described as “The Handmaid’s Tale but in space” and just?!? That pitch?!?! I’m so excited. This has spaceships and spies, a secret Sisterhood, and a soldier hunting down his traitorous former partner.

The Space Between Worlds by Micaiah Johnson

Release date: 4 August

August queer sci fi NUMBER THREE?!?! Why is August so spacey? But I love it and I am here to get my queer ass in space. The Space Between Worlds is a take on the multiverse. In this world, multiverse travel is possible, but you can’t travel to other worlds if your counterpart is still alive. Which makes Cara great for multiverse travel, as 372 of her other selves are dead. But Cara is plunged into trouble when one of her 8 remaining selves is killed in mysterious circumstances that will impact the entire multiverse.

Elatsoe by Darcie Little Badger

Release date: 25 August

If asexual, Lipan Apache ownvoices doesn’t already get your excitement up, also imagine an America that’s just a little stranger than the current one. In this world, America has been shaped by the magic, monsters and legends of its people, both Indigenous and not. Elatsoe can raise the ghosts of dead animals, a magic that has been passed down through generations of her Lipan Apache family. When her cousin is murdered in a town that doesn’t want people investigating, Elatsoe vows to protect her family and reveal the town for what it truly is.

Darius the Great Deserves Better by Adib Khorram

Release date: 25 August

LESS THAN 2 MONTHS UNTIL DARIUS #2!!! I don’t think I’ve ever been this excited for a contemporary book before, it’s like I’m a changed reader!! This is the sequel to Darius the Great is Not Okay which was one of my favourite books of 2019 (and is also one of my favourite books ever). This sequel follows Darius who has returned to the US, has a boyfriend, an internship at his favourite tea shop, and is finally getting on with his dad. But everything changes when his grandmothers come to town and now he has to rethink everything.

Cemetery Boys by Aiden Thomas

Release date: 1 September

If I had to bet money, I would bet that this book is going to be the most talked about queer release of the rest of the year. And that’s because I’m pretty sure it’s going to be amazing. Cemetery Boys follows trans boy Yadriel, who summons a ghost to prove he is a real brujo. But he accidentally summoned the wrong ghost, Julian, the school’s resident bad boy. Julian wants Yadriel to help tie up some lose ends after his death and of course the longer Julian sticks around, the less Yadriel wants him to go.

Yellow Jessamine by Caitlin Starling

Release date: 5 September

Caitlin Starling is the author of one of my favourite horror books, and one of my favourite reads of 2019, The Luminous Dead, so it comes as no surprise that I am so excited for this novella coming out in September. This follows a shipping magnate, Evelyn, when one of her ships brings a mysterious sickness to town that causes obsessive behaviour and eventually a catatonic state: and all those infected seem to be obsessed with her. Evelyn must find out why the sickness is focused on her and how to stop it before it destroys everything she’s worked for.

The Final Child by Fran Dorricott

Release date: 8 September

I haven’t read any of Dorricott’s other work, but I’ve heard so many great things which makes me even more excited for The Final Child! Erin and her brother were the last kids to be kidnapped by serial killer The Father, who only ever took pairs of siblings. Whilst Erin managed to escape, her brother was never seen again. 18 years later, Erin meets Harriet, whose cousins were The Father’s first victims. Harriet is writing a book and wants to interview Erin. Erin wants nothing to do with her, but when she starts receiving sinister gifts and her house is broken into, Erin begins to feel she’s being watched and that maybe The Father never really disappeared… How terrifying does this sound?!

Bestiary by K-Ming Chang

Release date: 8 September

Bestiary looks to be an absolutely explosive literary fiction novel debut from K-Ming Chang. It is a story following three generations of Taiwanese American women who are each haunted by myths and legends from their home country.

The Bone Shard Daughter by Andrea Stewart

Release date: 10 September

Okay okay okay but how incredible does this sound: magic controlled by BONE SHARDS?! An established lesbian relationship?! Magical animal companions?! The emperor has ruled for decades, with his magic powering the magical animal constructs which keep order. But now his rule is failing and revolution is sweeping the nation. Lin, his daughter, is trapped inside the palace with a father who refuses to name her his heir. So she vows to gain mastery over bone shard magic to prove to him her worth. But the revolution has reached the palace gates… This genuinely might be the fantasy release I’m most excited about in the second half of 2020?!

Crosshairs by Catherine Hernandez

Release date: 15 September

Well this cover is so outstandingly beautiful, I adore it. This is a very queer dystopian novel about a near future where a queer Black drag performer teams up with his allies to take down an oppressive regime which is rounding up everyone considered “Other” into camps.

Each of Us a Desert by Mark Oshiro

Release date: 15 September

Oshiro is bringing a fantasy YA novel in verse with Each of Us a Desert, which follows Xochital, who is destined to wander the desert forever with only the stars and lines of poetry which have been magically strewn across the desert as her companions. When she is joined by the daughter of the town’s murderous mayor, the two must survive the terrors that come after dark before they can be together.

Who I Was With Her by Nita Tyndall

Release date: 15 September

This sounds like it’s going to be one of the most heartbreaking books of the year, following Corinne, a closeted bi girl who has to hide her grief when her secret girlfriend is killed. The only person she can turn to is Maggie’s ex, Elissa. Who I Was With Her will explore the messiness of grief as Maggie begins to have feelings for the last person she ever should.

Legendborn by Tracy Deonn

Release date: 15 September

Covers are fierce in the second half of the year!! Legendborn is a super queer King Arthur reimagining, and follows Bree who is invited to a special program for bright students at the local university. And then accidentally sees a magical demon attack on her very first day. She is drawn into a secret society who claim they are the descendents of King Arthur. But Bree suspects they had something to do with her mother’s death and she must decide whether to work with them to save the world from a magical war or to take them down from the inside.

A World Between by Emily Hashimoto

Release date: 15 September

This is described as a “sapphic romance for millenials” so obviously, I want to read it. A World Between follows college students Eleanor and Leena who meet in an elevator and have a whirlwind romance. Years later, they bump into each other in San Francisco and find themsevles drawn back to each other.

How it All Blew Up by Arvin Ahmadi

Release date: 22 September

How it All Blew Up follows Amir, a teen who ran away to Rome when he faced bullies, blackmail and a failed relationship. But now he needs to explain all that to a US Customs Agent when he’s trying to get back into the country.

The Lights of Prague by Nicole Jarvis

Release date: 22 September

Not much gets me more excited than a book with bisexuals and vampires, hence The Lights of Prague is probably one of my most anticipated books of the next few months! Set in Prague, this follows two POVs: one, a vampire hunter who is being stalked by the White Lady, a ghost who haunts Prague castle; and two, a widowed, noble vampire Lady trying to find her way in a human world.

Miss Meteor by Anna-Marie McLemore and Tehlor Kay Mejia

Release date: 22 September

Two YA icons are teaming up for this one, Anna-Marie McLemore, the lyrical genius of Dark and Deepest Red and When the Moon Was Ours, and Tehlor Kay Mejia, the legend between sapphic YA dystopia We Set the Dark on Fire! This magical realism novel follows a girl made of stardust who enters into the beauty pageant, Miss Meteor, a beauty pageant all about sharing yourself and loving the parts of you no one else understands.

Burning Roses by S.L Huang

Release date: 29 September

Give me all the non-Western retellings please! Burning Roses combines Chinese and Western folklore with this retelling of Little Red Riding Hood and Hou Yi the Archer, who must join forces to stop sunbirds from destroying the countryside.

The Archive of the Forgotten by A.J. Hackwith

Release date: 6 October

Watch me vibrate with excitement for this book!!! The Library of the Unwritten is one of my favourite fantasy novels and I am sure I will love the sequel just as much. The Archive of the Forgotten continues Claire, Brevity and Hero’s story in the library of unwritten manscripts as a strange ink begins to leak from the books.

Beyond the Ruby Veil by Mara Fitzgerald

Release date: 13 October

So if The Bone Shard Daughter is my most anticipated adult fantasy, then this might be my most anticipated YA fantasy. Beyond the Ruby Veil follows chaos lesbian Emanuela after she kills the only person in her two who can create water and now has to find a way to save everyone before the entire town dies of thirst.

This is All Your Fault by Aminah Mae Safi

Release date: 13 October

I read Aminah Mae Safi’s Tell Me How You Really Feel earlier this year and it was so so good therefore I can’t wait for This is All Your Fault! This book follows three young women across one day as they try to save the indie bookshop they work at.

The Lady Upstairs by Halley Sutton

Release date: 17 November

This feminist noir thriller follows Jo, a woman who spends her time blackmailing the most terrible, lecherous Hollywood men. When one of her targets is murdered, Jo ends up with the police, and her mysterious boss The Lady Upstairs, on her back and must take on her biggest con yet to get out of the mess.

Phoenix Extravagent by Yoon Ha Lee

Release date: 20 October

“Dragons. Art. Revolution.” Ummmmmmmmmm YES PLEASE. Phoenix Extravagant follows painter Jebi after they are recruited by the Ministry of Armour to paint the mystical sigils that animate the automaton army. But when Jebi discovers the source of the magical paint and the crimes of the government, they can no longer stay out of politics. So they steal a dragon. FUCK YES.

The Thirty Names of Night by Zeyn Joukhadar

Release date: 3 November

The Thirty Names of Night is my most anticipated literary fiction of the entire year. It was originally due to be released in May but has been pushed back to November thanks to the cornovirus. The Thirty Names of Night follows three generations of Syrian Americans and the mysterious bird that binds them all together. It follows a trans boy who is his grandmothers sole caretaker after the death of his mother. He finds the journal of a Syrian American artist, Laila Z, who reveals the history of queer and trans people within his community and discovers she is tied to his mother and grandmother in ways he couldn’t expect.

Master of One by Jaida Jones and Danielle Bennett

Release date: 10 November

This sounds like a very fun, very queer fae fantasy! Rags is a thief. But when he’s caught by the Queensguard, he is forced to find an ancient fae relic for the royal sorceror. But turns out the relic is an ancient fae prince. Who just so happens to be distractingly handsome…

The Factory Witches of Lowell by C.S Maelrich

Release date: 10 November

A historical fantasy about witches on strike? Yes yes yes! In The Factory Witches of Lowell, women are faced with awful working conditions in the cotton mills. So when their rent is raised, they decide to go on strike. Judith had been on strike before, and saw that strike fold and she is definitely not going to let that happen here. So it’s a good thing her best friend has the gift of witchcraft and can ensure no one leaves the picket line.

Written in the Stars by Alexandria Bellefleur

Release date: November 10

A sapphic Pride and Prejudice romcom? Between a media astrologer and an actuary? *insert screech of excitement here* Darcy is desperate to stop her brother from ever playing matchmaker again after a disastrous date. So she lies and says everything went great. Meanwhile, Elle, Darcy’s brother’s new business partner, is very confused when Darcy’s brother talks about how happy he is they hit it off. Darcy begs Elle to play along with the lie and the two begin their fake dating plan to get both their families off their backs. But obv, feelings ensue….

Ruinsong by Julia Ember

Release date: 24 November

Ruinsong is the sapphic Phantom of the Opera retelling you’ve always dreamed of. In this world of music magic, Cadence has been forced to use her voice to torture nobles at the queen’s bidding. But when she is reunited with a childhood friend who has ties to the rebellion, Cadence must decide whether to stand up and fight or to become a monster herself.

The Love Curse of Melody McIntyre by Robin Talley

Release date: 1 December

I can’t believe I still haven’t read a Robin Talley book. Perhaps this will finally be the one! (Highly likely as this one is all about musical theatre and I am a theatre geek.) This queer romcom follows Melody, her high school’s stage manager extraordinaire. But in the past, every time she’s fallen for someone during a school performance, both the romance and the show have ended in complete disaster. So Melody swears off any romance for the school’s next performance of Les Mis. But of course she didn’t count on rising star Odie to audition.

A Curse of Roses by Diana Pinguicha

Release date: 1 December

And finally the last one! And what a gorgeous cover we’re ending on! A Curse of Roses is a sapphic retelling of a Portugese myth about a woman who turns any food she touches into flowers. Princess Yzabel is on the verge of starving, much like the rest of Portugal. She wants to reverse her curse so she can turn flowers into food, and knows Fataya, an Enchanted Moura, could do so, but she has magical binds on her power. She can be set free with a kiss but to do so, Yzabel would be committing treason as she’s betrothed to the King.

All I can is WOW, we are in for so many incredible books over the next few months and the fact I have neither the time nor the money to read them all is heartbreaking. What queer release are you most looking forward to over the next six months? Let me know in the comments below!

30 Days of Pride: My top queer releases of 2020 so far

Hi everyone,

We’re halfway through 2020 and suffice to say: it’s been a year so far. So today I wanted to look back and celebrate 22 fabulous queer releases we’ve had so far! The first batch are my personal favourite queer reads released in 2020, that I’ve actually managed to read. The second batch are some of the books I haven’t had a chance to read yet and thus are sitting on my shelves staring at me forlornly, but I’m sure they will be immediate favourites when I do finally read them! In my defence, I expected to read many of them this month and then had a pretty awful reading month soo…..

My personal favourites

The Electric Heir by Victoria Lee

Let’s start with the only sequel on this list, and the ending to one of my favourite series of all time, The Electric Heir. This ends the duology that started with The Fever King, my favourite book. If you haven’t yet read these, all I can say is WHAT ARE YOU DOING WITH YOUR LIFE?! But seriously, I am in awe of Victoria Lee’s work: science fantasy dystopia, overcoming trauma and survival, everyone is queer, overthrowing evil regimes, this series literally has everything you could possibly want and it’s just so fucking good.

Felix Ever After by Kacen Callender

This is definitely up there as one of my favourite books I’ve read all year. I went in expecting it to be amazing, and I was still blown away by how good it really is. Felix Ever After follows queer, trans, Black teen Felix as he catfishes his bully to get revenge and ends up in a quasi-love triangle. What really makes this book special is the brilliant exploration of gender and sexuality. The questioning journey Felix goes on to discover who he is is just so brilliant, so personal, and I felt so so seen.

Only Mostly Devastated by Sophie Gonzales

I’m not a huge romance reader, but I was absolutely blown away by this hilarious romcom from Sophie Gonzales. This is a queer Grease retelling, and it had such a 90s/early 00’s romcom feel – I totally got the Grease, Clueless and 10 Things I Hate About You vibes which is probably why I loved it so much because I ADORE 90s romcoms. The main character Ollie is so funny, so snarky and so self-deprecating, I love him, and this book was just so much fun.

The Unspoken Name by A.K Larkwood

The Unspoken Name is an epic, expansive, sapphic portal fantasy with lesbian orcs, necromancers, powerful gods, backstabbing, wizards, flying ships, it sounds like a lot. But A.K Larkwood brings this new world together so fantastically. It’s a slowpaced, character driven fantasy, about powerful wizards who want the power of gods and an orc woman who was supposed to be sacrificed to her god but instead chose to escape.

The Henna Wars by Adiba Jaigirdar

This book is just as soft, hesitant, uncertain, beautiful as this book cover is. The accuracy with which this cover captures the essence of this book is unreal. This is a brilliant contemporary YA romance about two girls, Nishat and Flávia, who set up rival henna businesses for a school project, but Flávia is appropriating Nishat’s culture.

Real Life by Brandon Taylor

Literary fiction isn’t a genre I read much of, and it’s a genre I’m extremely hard to please in because I find it is often overwrought and pretentious. But Real Life is none of these things; it’s literary fiction at its best. Real Life follows Wallace, a queer Black man studying at a very white Midwestern university as he contemplates his life after an encounter with a friend he thought was straight. It’s a difficult and emotional read that explores the way racism occurs in both workplace settings as well in small friendship groups.

The Mercies by Kiran Millwood Hargrave

The Mercies is Kiran Millwood Hargrave’s adult debut and what a fucking debut! The Mercies is inspired by the real life Vardø storm, a storm in the 1600s which wiped out the men in a small fishing village in Norway. The women are left to their own independence until a witch hunter is appointed as commissioner. The Mercies explores friendship and the insidious way evil can destroy relationships, and it has a fantastic sapphic relationship that is quite possibly one of my favourites I’ve ever read.

The City We Became by N.K Jemisin

It’s no surprise that N.K Jemisin is one of my favourite authors, she writes one of my favourites series, The Broken Earth trilogy, and The City We Became is the start of her newest series! In this book, the city of New York is waking up. Six individuals wake up and find themselves with the soul of a borough inside them, and they must fight off an evil Enemy that threatens to destroy the city and everyone in it. I adored this book so much. The way Jemisin uses fantasy to parallel real world racism and trauma is outstanding, her imagination and ideas are just so exceptional and I would like to read book 2 immediately please.

The House in the Cerulean Sea by T.J Klune

I’m a fairly new Klune fan (I only read my first of his in December 2019), but I have adored all three of his books so far, and I have several more on my Kindle waiting to be read. The House in the Cerulean Sea is an adult fantasy following Linus, a caseworker in the department of magical youth. Linus travels to a far off orphanage to audit them, and finds the family he’s always dreamed of in the six particularly powerful magical children and their guardian, Arthur. This book exemplifies the found family trope, it is so touching and much like every other Klune book, had me crying on one page and laughing on the next.

You Should See Me in a Crown by Leah Johnson

Whilst I haven’t quite finished the audiobook yet (because I am the worst with audiobooks and need to replay sections whenever I get distracted), what I have heard has been amazing!!! This book is funny, it’s cute, and boy does it shine a light for this Scot living in Australia on the ridiculousness that is American high school proms. When the financial aid Liz has been counting on falls through, she joins the race for Prom Queen, as the winner also gets a scholarship. But then she falls in love with her competition. The audiobook narrator is so so good, but I’m probably going to pick up a hard copy of this as well because it has been so much fun!

Dangerous Remedy by Kat Dunn

French Revolution? Check. Bisexual disasters? Check. Bi love triangle? Check. Heist? Check. Science and fantasy? Check. This book was released in eBook in May but the hardback was postponed until August 6 this year. And you should really order yourself up a pre-order because this book is one of my favourite YA fantasies of 2020. This was just the most fun, this rag tag team are SUCH DISASTERS and SO GAY and I loved all of them. Nothing, I repeat, nothing beats French Revolution queer disasters saving people from the guillotine.

The Animals at Lockwood Manor by Jane Healey

I originally rated this book four stars but I haven’t been able to stop thinking about it so I’m very close to raising it up. Cause this shit is good. It completely rejuvenated my love for gothic literature as a genre and is the reason I’ve picked up so many books over the past few months. This gothic tale is set during WW2, and follows Hetty as she accompanies the Natural History Museum’s mammal collection to Lockwood Manor to stay safe during the war. But at Lockwood Manor, she encounters the irascible Lord Lockwood, she is entranced by his daughter, Lucy, and then the mammals start going missing and Hetty isn’t sure if there’s a thief or something darker at play….

Still to read

All the Boys Aren’t Blue by George M Johnson

Having fallen in love with memoirs after reading In the Dream House, I immediately purchased several more, of which All Boys Aren’t Blue was one. This is a series of essays from activist George M Johnson covering topics from toxic masculinity, to consent, to Black joy.

The Mermaid, the Witch, and the Sea by Maggie Tokuda-Hall

This gorgeous book is one of my most anticipated books of the year and I can’t believe it’s been a month since my copy arrived and I still haven’t read it. The Mermaid, The Witch, and the Sea features a genderfluid pirate who falls in love with one of the noblewomen held prisoner on the ship.

We Unleash the Merciless Storm by Tehlor Kay Mejia

The sequel to one of my favourite YA sapphic fantasy novels, We Set the Dark on Fire, We Unleash the Merciless Storm follows in Carmen’s POV as Dani and Carmen continue to try to take down the oppressive regime in control of Medio.

When We Were Magic by Sarah Gailey

Sapphic witch books are winning in 2020 and When We Were Magic is just one of these books! This follows a coven of witches after they accidentally kill a boy with their magic and then their attempts to fix it go even worse.

Witches of Ash and Ruin by E. Latimer

And here’s another book about sapphic witches, this one with black magic and Celtic mythology! Dayna is a witch struggling to cope with her somatic OCD and her absent mother. But when a new coven known for their history with black magic comes to town and a local witch ends up dead, Dayna must team up with the new coven to hunt down the dangerous serial killer.

Loveless by Alice Oseman

I’m ashamed I still haven’t read any Alice Oseman but this one is likely to be the first! It follows Georgia as she starts university and sets out on a new plan to find romance. When it ends in disaster for her friends and new terms like asexual and aromantic are thrown at her, she starts to wonder if she’s looking for the wrong thing.

The Prettiest Star by Carter Sickels

Another literary fiction novel that is almost certain to have me in tears is The Prettiest Star, a book set during the AIDS crisis. It follows Brian as he returns from New York to his small hometown and his unaccepting family to die.

The Boy in the Red Dress by Kristen Lambert

A historical fiction YA novel that’s compared to Miss Fisher’s Murder Mystery? Hell yes! The Boy in the Red Dress follows Millie as she tries to clear her best friend’s name afte he’s accused of murder. With a bi love triangle, a drag artist accused of murder, and Prohibition era history, this sounds like a wonderful murder mystery!

Where We Go From Here by Lucas Rocha

This translated YA novel is set in Brazil and follows three young men whose lives become entwined in the face of HIV, and explores found family coming together in the face of stigma and prejudice.

You Exist Too Much by Zaina Arafat

You Exist Too Much is another literary fiction novel, this one following a Palestinian-American woman caught between her cultural, religious and sexual identities.

And there you have it, 22 of my favourite queer releases of 2020 so far! What’s your favourite queer release of the year so far? Let me know in the comments! And check back in tomorrow where I’ll be talking about queer releases that are still to come in 2020!

30 Days of Pride: Contemporary YA

Hi everyone,

I can’t believe there’s only four days left of Pride month and that I’ve actually managed to post every day…. I’ve spoken a lot over the past month about fantasy and science fiction because that is by far the genre I read most. But last year, I also fell in love with YA contemporary, thanks in part to two incredible books which introduced me to the genre (Darius the Great is Not Okay and Deposing Nathan). Thanks to these two books, I was introduced to this whole new genre that I’ve found so much fun to explore! So today’s post is all about some of my favourite YA contemporaries and some of the ones I hope to read during the rest of 2020.

Darius the Great is Not Okay by Adib Khorram

It’s no secret that this is one of my favourite books of all time, thanks in part to how personally I connected with Darius. This book follows Darius, a teen living with depression, as he visits his grandparents in Iran one summer. It’s a book about depression and losing people to depression through ways other than suicide, it’s about family and friendship, and is just such a beautiful story, it had me sobbing, I love it so fucking much.

Anger is a Gift by Mark Oshiro

Anger is a Gift is a heavy and very difficult read, and follows Moss after his father was killed by a police officer. Six years later, Moss has been left with horrific anxiety and panic attacks. But he’s sick of the way his school is treating him and his classmates like criminals, so they decide to fight back.

Late to the Party by Kelly Quindlen

Today’s list has so many yellow covers and I’m very here for it. Late to the Party is a recent 2020 release about Codi, a teen who’s not exactly the most adventurous, having never been to a party and would rather spend time with her two best friends inside watching Netflix. But when she decides to crash a party and catches one of the popular kids, Ricky, kissing another boy, an unexpected friendship is formed. Ricky introduces Codi to a new wild summer, as well as a cute girl called Lydia. But Codi doesn’t tell her best friends anything…

By Any Means Necessary by Candice Montgomery

Yellow cover number 2!! And this one even comes with bees. By Any Means Necessary is about the impact of gentrification, class and cultural identity. It follows Torrey who, on his first day as a college freshman, gets a call that his uncle’s bee farm has been foreclosed. Torrey has to decide whether to save his uncle’s farm or to escape the neighbourhood that’s slowly killing him.

All the Things We Never Said by Yasmin Rahman

Beware a very heavy content warning for suicide in this one folks. All the Things We Never Said is a very difficult read, following three teens who sign up to MementoMori, an online service that matches you up with others wanting to commit suicide, and plans your death for you. Mehreen, a depressed, anxious, Muslim teen; Cara, a lesbian wheelchair user; and Olivia, sexually abused by her mother’s boyfriend, are matched with each other and MemontoMori starts giving them tasks to prepare. But the three girls bond with one another, and as they get closer to the day of their deaths, they begin to want out of the pact. But MemontoMori won’t let them stop. As I said, do not read this book if you are not in the headspace to handle the content. It’s a very dark book, but one about the power of friendship and the strength of survival.

Camp by L.C Rosen

I still haven’t read L.C Rosen’s first YA (Jack of Hearts (and Other Parts)), but I’ve heard so many good things but L.C Rosen’s sex-positive, funny writing that I really need to get onto both Jack of Hearts and his newest, Camp. Camp is a comedy critiquing toxic masculinity in the queer community, and follows Randy, a queer teen who tries to ‘man’ himself up to get his crush to fall for him.

The Gravity of Us by Phil Stamper

A book I finished only last weekend, The Gravity of Us is a sweet contemporary romance set in a world still enthralled by the space race, with NASA preparing for an expedition to Mars. Cal’s father is on the team of astronauts for the mission, and so his family must uproot their lives to move to Texas. But in Texas, Cal begins to fall for fellow astronaut son, Leon, and the longer he stays there, the more it seems like there are secrets being kept from the astronauts and Cal must find a way to reveal them without hurting those he loves.

Look by Zan Romanoff

Look feels like such a current book! God, I feel like that statement makes me sound so old, pretending to know what’s current with the kids… It follows social media influencer, Lulu, after a video of her making out with another girl is accidentally posted and her boyfriend breaks up with her as a result. Look is a coming-of-age story for the social media world, full of commentary on presentation versus who you really are.

We Are Okay by Nina LaCour

A beautiful book about grief, We Are Okay follows Marin who hasn’t spoken to anyone from her old life since she moved to university. But her best friend, Mabel, has had enough and is coming to visit. This is such a soft, touching book about friendship, loneliness, complicated queer relationships, and coping with grief.

Juliet Takes a Breath by Gabby Rivera

I just picked this book up from my library and I’m very excited to give it a go, not least because of how cool this bright yellow cover is. Juliet Takes a Breath follows Puerto Rican Juliet as she spends a Summer interning with her favourite feminist author and coming out, to herself and her family. And an update at the time of scheduling: I have read this now! I’ll have a full book review coming in July, but this had such a great voice and managed to make a book that could be very preachy, not preachy at all.

Are any of your contemporary favourites on this list? Let me know your favourites in the comments! As this is a pretty new genre to me, I am certain I will have missed A TON.

30 Days of Pride: Memoirs

Hi everyone,

I really haven’t been a big memoir or nonfiction reader in the past (like….really not at all), and it’s something I want to remedy in 2020! Whilst the first half of the year I’ve completely failed at that goal (I’ve read a grand total of 1 and that was two weeks ago), I’m going to be making a big effort to fix this over the next 6 months. So I thought I’d give a shout out to some of the queer memoirs and biographies that I’m aiming to read in the next few months!

In the Dream House by Carmen Maria Machado

In the Dream House is the memoir I’ve read, and I just read it a few weeks ago! I am in awe of Carmen Maria Machado and the strength it must have taken to live through this, but also to relive it when she wrote this book. In the Dream House is a memoir about living through an abusive queer relationship. It is so powerful, every single sentence has been written so carefully. I was absolutely blown away.

All Boys Aren’t Blue by George M. Johnson

This was a very recent purchase so I haven’t quite had time to read it yet, but I’m so excited to! This is a collection of essays by LGBTQIA+ activist George M Johnson. All Boys Aren’t Blue covers topics such as gender identity, toxic masculinity, family and Black joy.

Tomboyland by Melissa Faliveno

Releasing on August 1, Tomboyland is an essay collection about gender and identity in the American Midwest, following Melissa’s journey through life and questions gender, queerness and class, and how our upbringing impacts these.

When They Call You a Terrorist by Patrisse Khan-Cullors and Asha Bandele

Patrisse Khan-Cullors is one of the founders of the Black Lives Matter movement. This is her memoir, about her life growing up as a queer Black woman in America, and the hashtag that birthed the BLM movement.

We Have Always Been Here by Samira Habib

We Have Always Been Here is a queer Muslim memoir. Samira Habib tells of her childhood in Pakistan as an Ahmadi Muslim, a small sect that faces threats from Islamic extremists who believe them to be blasphemous. She talks of her move to Canada, the bullies and racism she faced there, and her journey exploring sexuality, faith and love.

The Trauma Cleaner by Sarah Krasnostein

The only biography on this list, The Trauma Cleaner is a book about the life of Sandra Pankhurst, a trans woman, drag queen, sex worker and founder of a trauma cleaning business, who faced a lifetime of transphopbia and hate but fought through to create a business that would help people at their worst.

How We Fight For Our Lives by Saeed Jones

From award-winning poet Saeed Jones, this is a coming-of-age memoir about a gay, Black, Southern man. How We Fight For Our Lives is both a love letter to Jones’ mother and an examination of race and queerness in the US.

Sissy: a Coming of Gender Story by Jacob Tobia

I just picked up a copy of this at my local library and can’t wait to jump in! (Update at time of scheduling: okay I’ve actually jumped into this and so far it’s so good, and is very confronting in the way it reveals the horrific impact of enforcing gender norms on young kids). This looks like it will be both amusing as well as a blueprint for transinclusive feminism. It’s described as a memoir about growing up wondering if “you’re (a) a boy, (b) a girl, (c) something in between, or (d) all of the above”.

Sister Outsider by Audre Lorde

Sister Outsider is a collection of speeches and essays from Black lesbian poet and feminist writer Audre Lorde. This collection examines class, racism, sexism, homophobia, and ageism.

Gender Queer by Maia Kobabe

And last but very much not least is the only graphic novel on this list, Gender Queer by Maia Kobabe. I won’t lie, I was highly intrigued over this graphic novel from one sentence in the blurb “bonding with friends over erotic gay fanfiction”. I’m already sold. But if you need to know more, this autobiography started as a way to help Maia come out to eir family as nonbinary and asexual, and is a guide to the meaning of gender identity and how to think about it.

I hope you’ve found a few books to add to your TBRs! Do you need memoirs often? If you have any recommendations, do let me know in the comments as I’m keen to read a lot more!

30 Days of Pride: The Gravity of Us by Phil Stamper

Title: The Gravity of Us by Phil Stamper

Publisher: Bloomsbury YA

Publication date: 4 February 2020

Genre: Young Adult | Contemporary | Romance

Page extent: 314 pages

Rating:

Goodreads blurb: As a successful social media journalist with half a million followers, seventeen-year-old Cal is used to sharing his life online. But when his pilot father is selected for a highly publicized NASA mission to Mars, Cal and his family relocate from Brooklyn to Houston and are thrust into a media circus.

Amidst the chaos, Cal meets sensitive and mysterious Leon, another “Astrokid,” and finds himself falling head over heels—fast. As the frenzy around the mission grows, so does their connection. But when secrets about the program are uncovered, Cal must find a way to reveal the truth without hurting the people who have become most important to him.

Expertly capturing the thrill of first love and the self-doubt all teens feel, debut author Phil Stamper is a new talent to watch.

The Gravity of Us is YA for space nerds. It was a fun and enjoyable read but lacked substance for me. It felt very familiar to K.Ancrum’s The Weight of the Stars, with just a bit more focus on the space science and a little less focus on the excellent character development. Which is probably why I thought The Weight of the Stars did gay space YA better.

The Gravity of Us follows teen journalist Cal as his family is uprooted from his home in Brooklyn to Texas, after his dad gets a job as the last astronaut on a mission to Mars. But when they get there, Cal’s journalism reveals unhappy truths about the project, and he needs to find a way to tell his family without hurting them.

The Gravity of Us very much hearkened back to the 60s era space race. The energy and passion in the book brought that era into a modern day setting, with new reality TV show ShootingStars following the drama in the astronauts lives. This felt so realistic and I could 100% imagine exactly this book happening if we ever did start a mission to go to Mars. I liked the emphasis on the fakeness of reality shows, it felt like a (lighter) version of Unreal, a show I absolutely adore for the way it utterly takes down reality shows like The Bachelor. It also started a journey to exploring the reasons behind space travel, thanks to the focus on the less central employees (i.e. not the astronauts) at NASA and their reasonings for joining the program. But I wish it had gone deeper. There’s a few vague ‘but what if this could change the future for the better’ lines but nothing that goes beyond surface level arguments for space travel, which I think would have made this more interesting.

There is also both anxiety and depression rep in this book, which is really great to see. However, both of these felt a little surface level 101 representation. Leon was sad. Cal’s mum didn’t like parties because she’s anxious. And….that was about the entirety of their mental health rep. Cal’s anxiety was better handled, it felt more fleshed out and delves deeper into the real impacts of living with anxiety, such as the way Cal always feels the needs to fix things, to want to be seen as a normal family etc. I wanted the secondary characters to be more fleshed out. Which leads to my main issue with the book: everything felt very surface level, except for Cal himself. It felt like the Cal show. I appreciated The Gravity of Us shows Cal fucking up multiple times, and him trying to change and realising his mistakes. But I couldn’t quite forgive the time he spent trying to change Leon. The way Cal handled Leon’s depression just felt….yeah not good. I don’t know how to put it into words. It felt like he didn’t understand (and didn’t really try to understand) how Leon’s depression appears. Cal spent a lot of time thinking about his mum’s anxiety, and about situations that would make her uncomfortable (the aforementioned parties), which is great to see a kid taking that kind of care with their parents! But why didn’t he do that with Leon as well? It made Leon’s depression seem less important, and less life-impacting, than anxiety.

But despite my issues with the book, as this isn’t a particularly deep book, my problems with it are therefore not particularly deep either. It was fun and cute, the romance was sweet, it was cool reading about a modern day space age and I liked the focus on the scientists and their passion in this book. I feel like most of my issues probably stem from the fact I went it knowing this had a very similar pitch to The Weight of the Stars and subconciously thinking I would get something similar. And K.Ancrum is particularly brilliant at writing difficult, sometimes dark, and deep discussions into her work so I think I expected a bit more of that, rather than all cute, sweet romance. But that’s my fault!

If you’re looking for a fun, light gay romance, or looking for a contemporary book with a bit of a space geek edge, then I totally recommend this book to you! If you’re looking for particularly deep discussions about space exploration or detailed mental health representation, this isn’t for you. But it does cute romance well.

30 Days of Pride: The rise of the queer novella

Hi everyone,

Happy Day 24 of Pride! Today I’m talking about a type of book I’ve only very recently started reading (just this year!) but have been overwhelmed with the brilliance of writing we’re seeing: the queer novella.

Novellas (generally books under 200 pages) are short, quick reads that I really feel are becoming more common and visible in the mainstream. Which is great, especially when so many of them are incredible, diverse books that kick as big a punch as books 500 pages long do. And what’s more, whilst I couldn’t tell you the name of a single cishet novella, I am hearing about a ton of queer novellas! They really seem to be leading the charge in this new wave of publishing, so here’s a few of my favourites and some I haven’t read yet but which sound pretty fucking epic. And because there’s so many, the list is longer than the 10 I’ve tried to keep the rest of this months posts at, for which I am not even the tiniest bit sorry for how this may affect your TBR. And I apologise to any contemporary fans – every single one of these is spec fic. I’m sorry, I have a type when it comes to books clearly.

The Seep by Chana Porter

If you want a kickass trans woman who stomps about in big black boots and leather, then this is the book for you! This is a weird and wonderful science fiction novella about an alien invasion. The alien seeps in through the water supply and into the human brain. In The Seep, everything and everyone is connected: so capitalism breaks down, barriers are thrown away. Anything is possible, as long as you can imagine it. Trina and her wife, Deeba, have been living under The Seep, until Deeba wishes to be reborn as a baby. And of course, The Seep can grant her that wish. This is a very odd, surreal book, that combines both deep social commentary on issues like bodily autonomy, capitalism, death and grief, alongside a humourous and punky writing style.

The Deep by Rivers Solomon

Rivers Solomon is an absolute pioneer of speculative fiction and their novella The Deep is no different to their novels. This is a book about the water-breathing descendants of African slave women who were thrown overboard, called wajinru, who have built their own society in the ocean waters. In order to cope with the trauma of their past, one wajinru, a historian, holds the memories of their history so the others do not have to. Yetu is given the honour of being historian, but the role is destroying her and so she runs away to the surface, leaving the other wajinru trapped remembering all the memories that have burdened Yetu for years. This is a novella about intergenerational trauma and a community who come together to survive that trauma, and about Yetu, a young woman trying to find out who she is outside of her community. It’s a powerful and moving novella that brings hope to those suffering from a dark and traumatic past.

Upright Women Wanted by Sarah Gailey

The first of the Sarah Gailey novellas on this list, Upright Women Wanted is set in a Western style dystopia, full of queer librarian spies killing fascists. It’s a story of found family and rebellion. Esther is a stowaway who has snuck into the back of a librarian’s wagon in the hopes of escaping her town, where her girlfriend has just been executed for treason. But when she travels with the librarians, she realises not everything she’s been told about them is quite true. The whole ‘distributing illegal material and killing fascists across America’ thing was a bit of a surprise. This is an absolute bundle of fun, I adored it and am absolutely dying for more books set in this unvierse. Each and every one of the characters is a DELIGHT, though I particularly loved Cye, a rough and tumble nonbinary librarian who’s tasked with watching over Esther to make sure she doesn’t get up to any mischief whilst they travel across the US. It’s action packed, has a wonderful slowburn romance and is just so fucking cool.

River of Teeth by Sarah Gailey

If Upright Women Wanted didn’t convince you that Sarah Gailey writes epic Western-style speculative fiction, then maybe River of Teeth will! River of Teeth is a historical fantasy that imagines what would happen if the US government decided to import and raise hippos in the South in the early 20th century. In hindsight, this was a terrible plan because now they’ve had to hire a group of hippo ranchers to deal with all the feral hippos killing people. The fact that is based on an actual idea the US government had is even better.

Finna by Nino Cipri

Trying to beat “queer librarian spies” for most awesome pitch is Finna, a book where two queer IKEA employees are ordered into the multiverse by their capitalist overlords to hunt down a missing customer. Oh, and these two employees just broke up a week ago so this is going to be an absolute riot of fun for them both. Not. This is such a bundle of fun, all the different IKEAs are so creative (my personal favourite being the one where you have to pay in blood). It’s a humorous take down of capitalism wrapped up in a fun queer adventure with two individuals who don’t want to be anywhere near each other in the normal world, let alone in several murderous parallel universe IKEAs. A sequel to this novella has already been announced and I am ecstatic!

This is How You Lose the Time War by Amal el-Mohtar and Max Gladstone

One of the most talked about books of 2019, This is How You Lose the Time War is an epic sapphic time travel war story about two agents on opposite sides of the time war who start corresponding through letters to each other. At first, it begins as humourous, battlefield taunts, but develops into an intense and personal relationship that will change the direction of the very war they fight.

The Empress of Salt and Fortune by Nghi Vo

This novella combines so many elements which I love: period drama check! Asian inspired check! A take on an Atwood story check! Talking animals check! Angry empress check! Nonbinary main character check! Does that not sound incredible? The Empress of Salt and Fortune is powerfully told in just 112 pages. Chih, a cleric documenting a coup, meets an elderly woman, called Rabbit, who narrates to him the story of the Empress In-Yo, to whom Rabbit was a personal handmaiden. Combining the feminist powerhouse writing seen in the comparison to Atwood, with high fantasy and a harsh critique of monarchy, The Empress of Salt and Fortune is not to be missed!

The Monster of Elendhaven by Jennifer Giesbrecht

Dark and gorey, this is a novella full of murder and revenge! The city of Elendhaven has been wracked with a plague, industry has vacated the town, and they have been forgotten and left to die. But the monsters of Elendhaven want their revenge. This is a bloody gothic horror about a magician who loves murder and monsters and yes, that does sound brilliant.

Silver in the Woods by Emily Tesh

Silver in the Woods is the first in a novella duology about Greenhollow, about a mysterious and not-quite-normal man called Tobias who lives near the woods. When he falls in love with the handsome stranger, Henry, who moves there, Tobias must reckon with secrets about the forest and himself. Lyrical and fairytale-esque, this is the start of a lush debut which continutes in….*drum roll*

Drowned Country by Emily Tesh

In this follow up to Silver in the Woods, Tobias’ mother is calling for him and so he and Henry must journey to Rothport, a town where the ancient forest that used to be there was drowned by the sea. Along with some monsters and a missing girl, this continues a beautiful, unique and mythical world.

The Order of Pure Moon Reflected in Water by Zen Cho

This gorgeous novella just published yesterday and I was so excited to read it (and not just because of that stunning cover). This is a found family wuxia fantasy about a nun who joins a group of bandits, with a focus on identity and spirituality and with a nonbinary lead, yas!

Yellow Jessamine by Caitlin Starling

I hope you’re ready for this incredible novella coming from the author who brought us one of my favourite horror novels, The Luminous Dead. A reviewer on Goodreads described this as if Mexican Gothic, which is pretty much my favourite book of the year so far (and so fucked up, it’s amazing), had a baby with The Monster of Elendhaven, so gorey murdery monster goodness. Thus, this sounds incredible. It’s coming out in September, and follows a shipping magnate, who has a ship where the crew is coming down with a mysterious illness – one that causes obsessive behaviour and then catatonic stupor, and it all seems to be focused on her. She escapes to her family’s estate, but the sick are coming for her and she needs to work out how this illness is connected to her before it destorys everything she’s built.

To Be Taught If Fortunate by Becky Chambers

Sci-fi extraordinaire Becky Chambers of the Wayfarers series has now released this fantastic novella, not set in the series, but still a very fun space romp. In To Be Taught If Fortunate, instead of humans terraforming planets to be suitable to them, they terraform their bodies, changing them to be suited to each new environment. Adriane is an explorer, she goes to sleep during the travel between planets and wakes up changed. It also has a whole cast of queer characters, including trans, ace, bi/pan and poly rep.

A Glimmer of Silver by Juliet Kemp

This novella is described as what happens after first contact: when the humans have colonised a far away planet, what happens next? On this world, Ocean is alive. If Ocean talks to you before you turn 16, you become a communicator. Jennery does not want to be a communicator, xe wants to be a musician. But Ocean is angry about the humans colonising the planet and Jennery must decide whether to listen or not.

The Ascent to Godhood by JY Yang

The is the fourth installment of the Tensorate novella series, but this one features a sapphic villain romance which is just amazing. It follows the series villain, and a courtesan she had a relationship with. So read the first three to get this, or just give this one a go!

Every Heart a Doorway by Seanan McGuire

I haven’t actually read any of Seann McGuire’s very popular Wayward Children series but I’ve read her work as Mira Grant and adore it so I’m pretty confident these will be just as brilliant when I finally get around to reading them. These are set at a home for wayward children, who sometimes disappear in a magical land and come back changed.

The Four Profound Weaves by R.B Lemberg

This book is publishing in September this year and I am very excited to have an ARC for it. This is a trans epic fantasy, set in a world with very strict gender roles and a man who has changed between them and struggles to embody the masculinity required of his new role after years performing the life of a woman.

Thank you Tor.com for your help in pushing novella publishing into the queerest realms possible. I’ve been really enjoying reading lots of novellas, but I do admit, I often fall in love with the world so much I want full books set there! Do you prefer to read novellas or novels? Do you have any favourite queer novellas I didn’t feature on this list? Let me know in the comments!