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!
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!
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!
Word Wonders posted a wonderful video about her most anticipated queer releases of 2020! She also posted on her blog with a big list of books with pansexual rep which I’m so happy to see because I only knew of one book that had pan rep when I was creating my posts this month, which is shockingly bad. More pan rep pleeeease!
Reads Rainbow created prompts from Gilbert Baker’s Pride flag and gave us lots of book recommendations for them!
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.
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:
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!
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, 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.
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…
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!
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…
“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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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?!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
“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 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.
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…
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.
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 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.
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.
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!
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…..
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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….
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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!
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.
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 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.
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…
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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 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 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.
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.
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”.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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!
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 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*
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.
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!
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.
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.
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 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!
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.
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!
Today’s post has probably been one of my favourites to write all month, because it is so full of BEAUTY. Yes, today I’m talking about all my favourite queer book covers. It took me so long to narrow this list down, I spent many hours frantically scrolling up and down through my Goodreads books trying to decide which are my favourites. So though I did narrow it down to these 20, I’m pretty sure if you asked me again in a week, I could give you another 20 I love just as much.
On this day of my favourite queer book covers, it makes sense to start with my favourite cover of 2020: Felix Ever After. This cover has so much power, I am in awe. The red and yellow is so bright and fresh, the top surgery scars showing is incredible to see, the way Felix is standing with such strength, I just love everything. If you haven’t read this book yet, you should really just go out and buy a copy now. Felix Ever After is about Felix, a Black, queer trans boy who catfishes his bully and ends up in a quasi-love triangle.
This cover is too pretty to burn too!! I adore everything about this, the colouring is gorgeous, the pink hair, the font, everything is just beautiful. And the fact that it isn’t releasing until March 2021 is devastating. She’s Too Pretty to Burn is a thriller inspired by The Picture of Dorian Gray, but with sapphic girls and lots of murder. And it pretty much promises to be one of my favourite books of 2021 with that pitch.
This gorgeous gothic novel is as beautiful inside as it is out! I have a special edition of this book with these incredible painted flowery edges to match that intricate cover. The Animals at Lockwood Manor is a sapphic gothic tale set during WW2, when the mammal collection from the Natural History Museum is evacuated to Lockwood Manor to escape the Blitz. It’s a creepy and haunting story, but with a brilliant romance as well!
Another book with such gorgeous colouring – the blue and pink trans flag background with those yellow flowers is just perfection. Plus, this book gets a special kudos for being my partner’s favourite cover on this list! All Boys Aren’t Blue is an essay collection from activist George M Johnson covering topics from gender identity to toxic masculinity to consent and Black joy.
Okay but like, the combination of skulls and flowers is just beautiful and this cover is both so pretty and so deadly. Which makes sense since this is a book about an expelled phD candidate who works with poisons and antidotes and the obsessive relationship with her mentor.
Looking at my bookshelves, I really need more green spine so I love that at least one of these covers is green! Coming in September this year is this stunning sapphic retelling combining Western and Chinese fairytales. This adult fantasy features Red Hiding Hood and Hou Yi the archer joining forces to stop deadly sunbirds from destroying their country.
If Felix Ever After is my favourite cover of 2020, then The Mermaid, the Witch, and the Sea comes a close second! That illustration is just so detailed, it’s even more gorgeous in person so I highly recommend you buy a copy! The Mermaid, the Witch, and the Sea is about a genderfluid pirate who falls in love with a kidnapped noblewoman. And then they run into a mermaid and a witch obviously.
Rory Power apparently gets the most brilliant covers. Her debut, Wilder Girls, was just as gorgeous as her second novel, Burn Our Bodies Down, which releases in just a few weeks on July 7. This is a twisty thriller about a mother and daughter. Margot doesn’t know anything about her past, it’s just her and her mother. But when she finds a photograph of a town, she goes to visit to find out more about her past but history has a way of repeating…..dun dun duuuuun.
How badass is this cover!! So fierce with the red and black. Zara Hossain is Here has been pushed back till March next year for release, but the wait will just make me want it more! It’s about bisexual, Muslim teen Zara, who has been waiting almost 9 years for her family’s green card to be approved but now a violent crime has put everything in jeopardy.
Just look at how beautiful this illustrated cover is! This scene feels so soft and personal. The Fascinators is a contemporary novel set in a world where everyone can use magic. But Sam lives in a town where magic is frowned upon. He needs the time he spends in his school magic club with friends’ James and Delia. But when he goes into senior year, everything starts falling apart and Sam needs to realise that there are some problems that magic can’t fix.
I can’t quite believe we are almost here, we have almost reached the pub date for the sequel to Darius the Great is Not Okay!!! Publishing August 25, this is the follow up to one of my all time favourite books. Darius is back in the US: he has a boyfriend, a place on the soccer team, and an internship lined up. But when his grandmothers visit, everything goes to pot and he’s no longer sure who he is, or what he wants. And he starts to think that maybe, he deserves better.
Yellow is my absolute favourite colour so there is no surprise to see this bright yellow cover on here!! I love the contrast between the soft sunshine yellow and the dark graphic skyline. By Any Means Necessary follows Torrey who, on his first day as a freshman, gets a call that his uncle’s bee farm has been foreclosed. Now he has to decide whether to save the farm, or escape the neighbourhood that’s slowly killing him.
I think there’s a clear orangey-pinky-golden-reddy-purpley theme with my favourite covers, so clearly I just love Autumn colouring on book covers. I love all the illustrated queer covers we’ve got in the past few years and this is one of my favourites! We Are Totally Normal follows Nandan and Dave, after they hook up after a party, which was never meant to happen, especially since Nandan was sure he was straight. This is a book that very much gets into the nitty gritty of questioning your sexuality, and how that can impact the relationships around you.
I think this post is pretty much just a competition with myself to see how many times I can use the words ‘beautiful’, ‘gorgeous’ and ‘stunning’. And this cover is all of these words!! It’s just so soft and pretty and that purple is perfection. The Stars and the Blackness Between Them is a sapphic love story between Audre, a Trinidadian teen who has been sent to America after being caught with her secret girlfriend, and Mabel, the girl who helps her navigate a US high school.
If that cover doesn’t make you want to read this, The Grief Keeper also just won a LAMBDA which should tell you how great this is! This is a book following two sisters trying to go to the US, but the only way they’ll get visas is if older sister, Marisol, takes part in an experimental study on PTSD treatment, where she will take the grief of others into her body.
Like a Love Story was one of my favourite books of 2019 and also has one of my favourite covers of 2019! It’s hard to appreciate the beauty of this cover on a screen, but the detail and intricacy of this illustration is so impressive in person. This is a book about friendship and love, set during the 1980s AIDS crisis and following three teens and the relationships they develop.
I Wish You All the Best was another one of my favourite books of 2019, and I love the cover so much it’s one of the few books that sits cover out on my bookshelves. I Wish You All the Best follows Ben, who just came out as nonbinary to their parents. Who then kicked them out. Now living with their sister, Ben has to start at a new school, where they meet Nathan. This is such a difficult and personal book, and it fills me with such pain and anger but it’s ultimately hopeful and such a beautiful book.
This cover is such a whirlwind of colour and detail and I think it will be one that looks super powerful in person. A Neon Darkness is the second novel in Shippen’s The Bright Sessions series, based on the popular podcast of the same name, which follows superheros in therapy. A Neon Darkness follows Robert, whose superpower can make others want what he wants. So when he wants a Frisbee back, his father walks off the roof to get it to him quicker. And when he wanted to be alone, his parents disappeared. Now he’s in LA, and has found others with powers like his. But when someone without magic discovers them, their family might be destroyed.
I love intricately detailed covers, and this one is gorgeous – even more so in person as it has lovely spot gloss and foil everywhere. I also have a special edition that comes with blood red painted edges so it’s even prettier! The Deathless Girls is a sapphic prequel to Dracula, retelling the story of Dracula’s brides.
And my final book, and how beautiful is it?!?! It’s so soft and pure and just feels so peaceful and calming. This is a brilliant found family wuxia fantasty novella, following a votary who joins a group of bandits to protect a sacred object.
Well, if you’re wondering what the final tally was, I used the word beautiful 8 times, gorgeous 7 times and stunning only twice! Which is actually a lot less than I anticipated so clearly I managed to use some other words as well. Do you have any favourite covers among this list? Let me know in the comments!
Goodreads blurb:When Dimple Met Rishi meets Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda in this rom com about two teen girls with rival henna businesses.
When Nishat comes out to her parents, they say she can be anyone she wants—as long as she isn’t herself. Because Muslim girls aren’t lesbians. Nishat doesn’t want to hide who she is, but she also doesn’t want to lose her relationship with her family. And her life only gets harder once a childhood friend walks back into her life.
Flávia is beautiful and charismatic and Nishat falls for her instantly. But when a school competition invites students to create their own businesses, both Flávia and Nishat choose to do henna, even though Flávia is appropriating Nishat’s culture. Amidst sabotage and school stress, their lives get more tangled—but Nishat can’t quite get rid of her crush on Flávia, and realizes there might be more to her than she realized.
To understand the vibe of The Henna Wars, just look at the cover. The feeling I feel looking at that cover is exactly the same as I felt reading this book. The Henna Wars is soft and beautiful, confusing and uncertain, it fills you with such a warm feeling. This is a book that very much was not written for me (a white queer), but one that I found so much sweetness and love in. And I really hope this book can reach those it was written for and provide them with hope.
The Henna Wars is told from Nishat’s perspective, a young Muslim lesbian who has just come out to her parents (who don’t take it well). At school, she starts a henna business for a competition, but her crush, Flávia, also starts a henna business for the competition. But there’s one big problem: Flávia is appropriating Nishat’s culture, and Nishat will therefore do anything to beat her.
One of the things I loved most about this book was the complicated portrayal of high school friendships and hierarchy. Nishat doesn’t have many friends, and those she does have are at times unsupportive and do not understand her. Along with the relationship between Nishat’s sister, Priti, has with her best friend, Ali, these friendship circles really showcase the speed at which school hierarchies and friends can change, which felt very realistic. Nishat’s relationship with her sister is definitely my favourite of the book. It was so nice to see such a strong sister bond, their love for each other so apparent amongst both the snark and the support.
The relationship between Flávia and Nishat is definitely very cute and sweet, particularly at the start prior to the souring of the relationship thanks to Flávia’s appropriation. I’ll admit, I did want to see Flávia and her henna business partner, Chyna, the school bully and gossipmonger, get taken down a peg or two more. I don’t really feel like either of them really got the issue with what they were doing. With Chyna, I can see that’s probably because she’s just a bit of a racist ass. But Flavia’s sudden ‘oh I do understand why this sucks’ didn’t feel like a particularly strong statement of understanding. I wanted her to actually feel ashamed and guilty for what she did, but she never really seems to get it. But I guess in life, the bad folks never really get what they deserve either.
The relationship Nishat has with her parents is definitely a difficult one to read. But it’s also very hopeful, and the fact that they were watching Ellen DeGeneres by the end of the book was just hilarious.
The other thing I just absolutely adored with this book is how resolutely NOT WHITE it is. The Henna Wars is so embedded in Bengali culture, from Nishat’s relationship with her parents and sister, to the way Nishat feels about her henna, to the food, to the wedding, to the party to celebrate Nishat’s Junior Cert results, it’s a fantastic world and creation and I loved finding out about Nishat’s culture.
All in all, I thought this was a really great debut. It’s a book which very much places importance on characters and their relationships. It’s so full of pride and joy at Bengali culture, and is a soft and sweet sapphic contemporary.
It’s Day 21 of Pride month and I am nowhere near my reading goal of beating last year’s 15 books read during June. However, what I have read so far has been amazing, plus one of the books was Priory which basically counts as three seperate books. Day 21 has also been pretty great as I went to the library and a bookshop for the first time in so many months and it was great to just pick up a book based only on the cover.
Today, we’re celebrating the asexual and aromantic folks among us and I’m talking about books which feature an ace and/or aro main character! I’m so happy there are so many fantasies on this list, it makes my heart so happy to see all these queernorm worlds being created. I hope you enjoy today’s list!
Beyond the Black Door has an asexual biromantic heroine and a dark and lush fantasy world to explore. In this book, Kamai is a soulwalker, someone who can walk through the souls of people whilst they sleep. In all the souls she walks, a black door follows her. And Kamai wants to know what’s behind it. So obviously, let’s open the ominious black door, what could possibly go wrong?! (Hint: a lot.)
Akemi Dawn Bowman is one of my favourite YA authors (and I’m very upset that with Covid my preorder of Harley in the Sky has still not arrived). With a questioning aroace MC, Rumi, who has been sent away to stay with her Aunt after the death of her sister, Summer Bird Blue is a book that will have you sobbing (as with all of Akemi Dawn Bowman’s books!)
Tarnished Are the Stars is a steampunk science fantasy with ownvoices asexual rep. In Tarnished Are the Stars, Anna is the Technician, an engineer who supplies black market medical technology thanks to the bans on tech set by the tyrannical Commissioner. Meanwhile Nathaniel, the Commissioner’s son, vows to find the Technician to earn his father’s respect. Full of adventure, alchemy, clockwork hearts and spies, this is such a fun book!
I am such a big fan of the switching lives trope (but sadly have not read enough to make this a section in my trope posts!) Emilie is a noblewoman who wants to be a physician. Annette longs to move beyond her humble life and be trained in magic. The two swap lives, but then their nation starts a war and they both must help the rebellion to unearth the truth about the war.
Let’s Talk About Love is a YA contemporary with Black, biromantic, asexual Alice who had her summer all planned until her girlfriend broke up with her when Alice told her she was asexual. Now she’s saying no to dating. But then she meets Takumi, and needs to decide whether to risk their friendship for a love which might not be returned. This is a cute, adorable book about friendship and acceptance.
Loveless is a recent release which I am so excited to read!! I fail the YA community by never having read an Alice Oseman book yet (I’m sorry!) but this one will likely be my first because it sounds great. This is a book about identity and self-acceptance as Georgia starts university and sets herself out to find romance. But when her plans cause havoc with her friends, she begins to question who she is and what she feels.
A super diverse YA fantasy with morally grey characters, ancient prophecies and a heist to take down a corrupt council kept in charge because of said ancient prophecies who have caused a decade of murder and rebellion? Yes please.
K.A Doore has some of the best book recommendations, they have never steered me wrong so it’s pretty awful that I still haven’t read their own books! The first two books in the Chronicles of Ghadid series can be read in any order, though The Perfect Assassin was released first. This book is all about a gay, asexual assassin called Amastan who realises he doesn’t want to kill anyone – so it’s a pretty good thing there is a ban on assassin contracts then. But then important people around the city started turning up murdered and Amastan is ordered to find the murderer so his family isn’t blamed.
Claudie Arseneault might be one of the most wellknown and prolific authors of asexual and aromantic characters so I had to include one of her books! City of Strife is the start to her most recent series, a political fantasy about friendship and found family. Arathiel has returned to his city, Isandor, after over 100 years elsewhere. He hides in the city, trying to find a new life but when his friend is accused of assassination he must come out of hiding to save him.
And we’re ending with a soft and fluffy romance between Black, demisexual, biromantic Selena and Persian June. And it has TWO CATS. June is a make-up artist, and despite her regular social media posts, she is very anxious inside. Selena helps calm her anxiety, and June’s two cats also love her. But to be with Selena, she needs to take a chance and step out from her safe zone. This such a cute and happy book with no angst around, which is something I definitely need right now!
Have you read any of these books? What’s your favourite book with ace or aro rep? Let me know in the comments!