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!