Book review: The First Sister by Linden A Lewis

Title: The First Sister by Linden A Lewis

Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton

Publication date: 4 August 2020

Genre: Adult | Science fiction | SPACE WARS

Page extent: 352 pages


Goodreads blurb: First Sister has no name and no voice. As a priestess of the Sisterhood, she travels the stars alongside the soldiers of Earth and Mars—the same ones who own the rights to her body and soul. When her former captain abandons her, First Sister’s hopes for freedom are dashed when she is forced to stay on her ship with no friends, no power, and a new captain—Saito Ren—whom she knows nothing about. She is commanded to spy on Captain Ren by the Sisterhood, but soon discovers that working for the war effort is so much harder to do when you’re falling in love.

Lito val Lucius climbed his way out of the slums to become an elite soldier of Venus, but was defeated in combat by none other than Saito Ren, resulting in the disappearance of his partner, Hiro. When Lito learns that Hiro is both alive and a traitor to the cause, he now has a shot at redemption: track down and kill his former partner. But when he discovers recordings that Hiro secretly made, Lito’s own allegiances are put to the test. Ultimately, he must decide between following orders and following his heart.

Phheewww I’m on a roll of incredible sci-fi right now, and The First Sister was no exception. This is a dark and epic tale of war across the solar system, following three main protagonists on opposite sides of the war as they try to fight for control over their own bodies.

The First Sister is a story of bodily autonomy, or rather, the story of what happens when bodily autonomy is removed, when people have no control over what happens to them and what happens when they fight back. We follow three individuals on opposite sides of the war:

  • First Sister: a priestess of the Sisterhood serving on the Juno, a warship. As a priestess, she is there to provide distraction to the soldiers, be that hearing their confessions or providing them with sex to prevent distraction whilst they do their duties. Her voice was taken from her as a child, to prevent her ever spilling the secrets of the captain of her ship. When the Juno gets a new Captain, war hero Saito Ren, First Sister is asked to gain her trust and spy on her for the Sisterhood, who thinks she is a traitor.
  • Lito sol Lucius: on the opposite side of the war from First Sister is Lito, a duelist who has recently recovered from wounds gained in the fall of Ceres, and for which he is blamed. He is ordered to return to Ceres, kill the Mother, the head of the Sisterhood, and kill his traitorous ex-partner, Hiro, who assisted in the fall of Ceres.
  • Hiro: for Hiro’s POV, we get short clips from a recorded message they sent to Lito, explaining how they betrayed their Empire. For as they explain at the start of the recording, they are most definitely guilty and they betrayed the Icaari.

These three each follow very different, exciting plots that all combine in one last final showdown on Ceres. Whilst each of these POVs were interesting on their own, I was particularly in love with that of First Sister. There is something so incredibly powerful about this POV from a person who cannot speak, so dialogue instantly becomes not a tool that the author can use. And I just loved the more introspective nature of First Sisters POV that therefore happened. Forced into the Sisterhood, her POV provides lots of insight into this religious powerhouse and the dark insides of the religion. So seeing her grow to become a person who gains control over her body after all these years in service to the awful Sisterhood was so powerful.

I did love her POV a lot more than Lito’s. I thought his a little detached and I found it more difficult to get attached to him as a character, which is why this book didn’t get a full 5 stars. But then comparing that to Hiro, who despite having the smallest part, just small extracts from their recordings, got so much personality through. I loved them. The way the Icaari have destroyed Hiro’s bodily autonomy is truly horrific, it’s so shocking and so disgusting and I was blown away when we first read what has happened to them. This is a world with such horrors in it, where a few powerful individuals hold the power and control over millions, where the lives of the many are used and discarded as a tool for the few powerful people. But it’s also a story about those who refuse to be used, who refuse to let the powerful discard them like nothing, and what happens when those few individuals decide to fight back. And it’s spectacular.

As a short side note, Lewis is another author going onto my list of authors who write epic battle scenes. This is something I struggle with as a writer so I’m always hugely impressed when authors can do it so well. These battles were so fun and filled with really badass technology, and this lightened the load of a book discussing some really dark issues surrounding bodily autonomy.

The world was just as diverse as I’d hoped, pretty much everyone is queer. Between nonbinary Hiro, Saito Ren and First Sister’s relationship, we’re full of diverse queer characters. I really loved the soft slow development of the relationship between Ren and First Sister. I just love SFF books that also have brilliantly queer romances that impact the story, so this was just perfect.

Also kudos to Lewis because there were so many twists at the end and I guessed NONE OF THEM. It was such a moment of shock and disbelief and omg OF COURSE this all makes sense I love it?!?

It’s hard to talk too much about this book without giving spoilers, so all I’ll say is I really liked this one. There’s a lot going on, and a lot of difficult issues being discussed, but this is paired with lots of epic battles and some very cool tech, so it pretty much combines the best two things about SciFi!

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


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: Favourite queer book covers

Hi everyone,

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.

Felix Ever After by Kacen Callender

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.

She’s Too Pretty to Burn by Wendy Heard

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.

The Animals at Lockwood Manor by Jane Healey

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!

All Boys Aren’t Blue by George M Johnson

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.

Hex by Rebecca Dinerstein Knight

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.

Burning Roses by S.L Huang

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.

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

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.

Burn Our Bodies Down by Rory Power

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.

Zara Hossain is Here by Sabina Khan

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.

The Fascinators by Andrew Eliopulos

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.

Darius the Great Deserves Better by Adib Khorram

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.

By Any Means Necessary by Candice Montgomery

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.

We are Totally Normal by Rahul Kanakia

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.

The Stars and the Blackness Between Them by Junauda Petrus

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.

The Grief Keeper by Alexandra Villasante

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 by Abdi Nazemian

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 by Mason Deaver

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.

A Neon Darkness by Lauren Shipped

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.

The Deathless Girls by Kiran Millwood Hargrave

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.

The Order of Pure Moon Reflected in Water by Zen Cho

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!

30 Days of Pride: Asexual and aromantic books

Hi everyone,

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 by A.M Strickland

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.)

Summer Bird Blue by Akemi Dawn Bowman

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 by Rosiee Thor

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!

Belle Révolte by Linsey Miller

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 by Claire Kann

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 by Alice Oseman

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.

Beneath the Citadel by Destiny Soria

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.

The Perfect Assassin by K.A Doore

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.

City of Strife by Claudie Arseneault

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.

Soft on Soft by Mina Waheed

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!

30 Days of Pride: Books by Black authors

Hi everyone,

If you’ve yet to move your arse in support of Black Lives Matter, first of all, why the hell not? Please use your voices and platforms to sign and share petitions, share a Tweet, talk to your family, give money, educate yourself by reading books, articles, podcasts, protest if you’re able to. We should be doing this all year round: let’s keep this passion and fire going!

One way we can do this is to support Black books and authors. There are so many brilliant books and I want to see everyone reading and supporting their voices. As it’s Pride too, here are a few of my favourites (or most anticipated) books by Black, queer authors if you’re looking for authors to support. I’ve also added a few of my favourite non-queer books at the end of this post as well, we need to be supporting all Black authors and there’s some really brilliant books that aren’t getting the love they deserve.

All Boys Aren’t Blue by George M Johnson

If you haven’t already been won over by that stunning cover, this is a “memoir manifesto” essay collection from activist George M. Johnson about his childhood and college years, covering topics from gender to toxic masculinity to family and consent.

The City We Became by N.K. Jemisin

If you missed my review of this book yesterday, you missed me pretty much screaming in awe at this book because it is STUNNING. What if cities have souls? And they can come alive? Well New York can, and there’s a soul for each borough. This book is so creative, so unique, and expertly entwines New York fantasy with an examination of the societal structures upholding white supremacy.

King and the Dragonflies by Kacen Callender

Kacen Callender is an absolute genius, they can write so well in so many different genres (shout out to Felix Ever After in particular which is on my TBR for this month!) King and the Dragonflies is a middle grade magical realism novel about a boy who’s brother died, and now his best friend, Sandy, is missing. But when Kingston finds his best friend hiding in a tent at the bottom of his garden, the two boys begin an adventure to help Sandy escape his abusive family.

The Wicker King by K.Ancrum

K. Ancrum is one of my auto-buy authors, and whilst she only has two books published so far, the books she has in the pipeline sound amazing! The Wicker King is her debut, about a teen with degenerative hallucinatory disorder with visions that take the form of a fantasy world, and his best friend who will do anything to help him.

The Stars and the Blackness Between Them by Junauda Petrus

The Stars and the Blackness Between Them is a beautiful and poetic f/f contemporary novel, about Trinidadian Audre, who is sent to America when her mother catches her with her secret girlfriend, the pastor’s daughter; and Mabel, who takes Audre under her wing and helps her navigate a US high school.

Real Life by Brandon Taylor

This book is on my TBR for this month, and I can’t wait to read it – it’s on so many ‘most anticipated books of the year’ lists. Real Life is a literary fiction novel about Wallace, a queer, Black, Southern biochemistry student and his experiences studying at a very white Midwestern university.

The Death of Vivek Oji by Akwaeke Emezi

Akwaeke Emezi is such a diversely talented author, bringing us both adult literary fiction as in The Death of Vivek Oji, alongside middle grade fantasy (which you can read a bit more about later in this list!) The Death of Vivek Oji releases in August, and it’s one of my most anticipated books of the year. It promises a book about family and friendship and how the loss of Vivek affected them, in Emezi’s usual powerful prose.

Full Disclosure by Camryn Garrett

Full Disclosure is a fun and sex-positive YA contemporary, following Simone, a Black teen with HIV as she moves to a new school after being bullied at her old one over her HIV status. But at her new school, when she grows close to Miles, she starts receiving threats that if she doesn’t stop hanging out with Miles, her HIV status will be revealed. This book has one of the funniest scenes in YA and tons of musical theatre references! Which makes this book rock even more.

Cinderella is Dead by Kalynn Bayron

Another of my most anticipated books of the year, Cinderella is Dead releases on July 7! Set 200 years after Cinderella, every year there is a ball where girls are paraded around so men can choose a wife. The girls dissappear if they aren’t chosen. So Sophia decides to run away, and hides in Cinderella’s masoleum where she meets a descendant of Cinderella herself, and the two fight to take down the kingdom.

The Black Flamingo by Dean Atta

The Black Flamingo is an absolutely gorgeous YA coming-of-age story in verse. It follows Michael, a biracical, gay teen, from his childhood to his time at university as he finds himself through drag, and his journey to come to term with his identity.

The Sounds of Stars by Alechia Dow

The Sounds of Stars is a YA science fiction novel about an alien invasion. Aliens, called the Illori, invaded Earth to save the planet from human destruction, killing one third of the population in the process. Now, music, books and other forms of human expression are banned. When Ellie is caught with her secret library by an Illori called Morris, the two must team up to save Earth.

You Should See Me in a Crown by Leah Johnson

This brilliant book just realised yesterday so help out this debut in its first week by buying a copy! You Should See Me In A Crown is about Liz, a Black, poor teen who wants to escape Campbell, Indiana. When her financial aid falls through, she joins in the race for prom queen in order to win a scholarship but then finds herself falling in love with the competition.

Pet by Akwaeke Emezi

Akwaeke Emezi is the only author with two books on this list, and that’s because they are both brilliant but also these books are so different I wanted to feature them both. Pet is a middle grade fantasy, set in a town that doesn’t have monsters anymore, at least that’s what Jam’s always been taught. But then one of her mother’s paintings come to live, with a creature called Pet walking out of it. He says monsters still exist and he’s here to hunt them down. But he also says the monster is at her best friend Redemption’s house, and Jam must reconsider everything she’s been taught, including if she can even trust the adults anymore. This book is just spectacular, so relevant and full of prose that gave me chills the whole way through.

By Any Means Necessary by Candice Montgomery

This is another of my favourite covers because the yellow is amazing. Also this is about a bee farm which is so cool! By Any Means Necessary follows Torrey, who on the day he becomes a college freshman, gets a call that might need him to drop out before he’s even started: the bee farm left to him by his uncle has been foreclosed on. He is torn in two between getting his degree and leaving the neighbourhood, with fighting to stop his uncle’s legacy from being destroyed.

Clap When You Land by Elizabeth Acevedo

Elizabeth Acevedo is known for her lyrical and poetic prose and verse novels. I’ve so far only read her second novel, With the Fire on High, but Clap When You Land just released last month and I’m sure it will be just as good! This book is a verse novel following two sisters who only find out about each other after the death of their father.

I also wanted to celebrate some of my favourite non-queer books by Black authors too. We should be celebrating all Black voices all year around, so here’s a few books I wanted to highlight which I think are amazing!!

And the Stars Were Burning Brightly by Danielle Jawando

This UKYA novel is one I’m very sad to see not getting more hype, it has less than 250 ratings on Goodreads which is an outrage because it is an incredibly beautiful, poignant and personal exploration of grief and suicide. And The Stars Were Burning Brightly follows Nathan as he tries to understand why his brother committed suicide.

Not So Pure and Simple by Lamar Giles

Another book with shockingly low adds on Goodreads, come on people! This is a book exploring and confronting toxic masculinity in teens, and follows Del as he tries to get his dream girl, who he’s had a crush on since kindergarten.

Black Girl Unlimited by Echo Brown

Black Girl Unlimited is unlike other books: part memoir, part magical realism, it follows Echo’s lifestory from her childhood to adulthood. It’s a confronting book, exploring Echo’s trauma and survival, and dealing with the intersections of racism and sexism.

Slay by Brittney Morris

This is a book for all the gamers out there! Slay follows 17-year old Keira who secretly developed a game to provide a safe space for Black gamers. But when a gamer is killed over a dispute in the game, Slay is suddenly all over the news, being described as an exclusionist, racist place for criminals, and someone threatens to sue Kiera over it. Kiera needs to find a way to both protect her game and her identity and fight off the online trolls.

Who Put This Song On by Morgan Parker

Parker describes this book as a fictionalised memoir about her teenage years. Morgan is in therapy, and she knows why: she’s often being the only Black girl in a room, she’s bullied for her “weird” clothing, and she’s been crying all summer. This is a book about Morgan exploring what being Black means to her, full of honest and authentic discussions of depression and anxiety.

If you’ve reached the end of this post, you have to buy a book by a Black author. Go do it now! It’s so exciting to see so many of these books sold out at book retailers here in Australia! Let’s keep this up the whole year round.

And if you haven’t yet donated, maybe think about doing that as well? You can find lots of places to donate to, as well as other resources and information, at the following link:

Book review: The Electric Heir by Victoria Lee

Title: The Electric Heir by Victoria Lee

Publisher: Skyscape

Publication date: 17 March 2020

Genre: Science fantasy

Page extent: 480 pages


Goodreads blurb: In the sequel to The Fever King, Noam Álvaro seeks to end tyranny before he becomes a tyrant himself.

Six months after Noam Álvaro helped overthrow the despotic government of Carolinia, the Atlantians have gained citizenship, and Lehrer is chancellor. But despite Lehrer’s image as a progressive humanitarian leader, Noam has finally remembered the truth that Lehrer forced him to forget—that Lehrer is responsible for the deadly magic infection that ravaged Carolinia.

Now that Noam remembers the full extent of Lehrer’s crimes, he’s determined to use his influence with Lehrer to bring him down for good. If Lehrer realizes Noam has evaded his control—and that Noam is plotting against him—Noam’s dead. So he must keep playing the role of Lehrer’s protégé until he can steal enough vaccine to stop the virus.

Meanwhile Dara Shirazi returns to Carolinia, his magic stripped by the same vaccine that saved his life. But Dara’s attempts to ally himself with Noam prove that their methods for defeating Lehrer are violently misaligned. Dara fears Noam has only gotten himself more deeply entangled in Lehrer’s web. Sooner or later, playing double agent might cost Noam his life. 

Before beginning this review, please note that Victoria Lee has a large list of content warnings for this novel – it is darker than The Fever King so please take note before reading (you can find the list here).

It was like Dara had been shot but hadn’t realised yet, was bleeding out.

Me reading this book

It has been almost four months since I first read The Electric Heir, as I was somehow the luckiest person ever and managed to snag a NetGalley ARC. If you’ve read other posts on this blog, you may have realised The Fever King is my favourite book in the world, and was most definitely my favourite read of 2019. It was always going to be hard to follow up what was one of the most impactful, resonant and utterly captivating novels I’ve ever read. And yet somehow, The Electric Heir stands up to the mantel of its predecessor and manages to be just as entrancing and magnificent as I ever dreamed it could be. 

Following from where The Fever King leaves off, we now get both Noam and Dara’s POVs and isn’t that just a joy to behold!! Dara, fine purveyor of pineapple pizzas and goats, is coming back to Carolinia, with one goal: assassinate Calix Leher. Noam meanwhile is determined to build a better society for refugees, even if that means he’ll need to take down another government. 

Where The Fever King addresses the immediacy of trauma, The Electric Heir brings a further edge to the discussions and implications of trauma: what happens after? Through both Noam and Dara’s POV, we see the different ways trauma and abuse can impact victims. We see the different behaviours that follow, the different thoughts and opinions, the different forms abuse can take. We see the subtle, mental manipulations crossing paths with the outright physical abuse. But we also see, from start to finish, a book of survival. And that makes The Electric Heir one of the most powerful books I’ve read.  

I am just completely in awe of Victoria Lee. 

The pacing of this novel is phenomenal. It is tense and action packed but filled with the emotional moments that feel like a knife to the chest in between. This is an extremely hard book to review, because much like The Fever King, all I want to say is THIS IS INCREDIBLE. Even sitting here, writing this review, my heart is pounding as I race to the end, and that is exactly the feeling I had reading The Electric Heir. It is everything I wanted, dreamt of and couldn’t even imagine I needed for the sequel, and end, to this destroying duology. 

Book review: Only Mostly Devastated by Sophie Gonzales

Title: Only Mostly Devastated by Sophie Gonzales

Publisher: Wednesday Books

Publication date: 3 March 2020

Genre: Contemporary | Young Adult | Romance

Page extent: 288 pages


Goodreads blurb: SIMON VS. THE HOMO SAPIENS AGENDA meets CLUELESS in this boy-meets-boy spin on Grease.

Summer love…gone so fast.

Ollie and Will were meant to be a summer fling—casual, fun, and done. But when Ollie’s aunt’s health takes a turn for the worse and his family decides to stay in North Carolina to take care of her, Ollie lets himself hope this fling can grow to something more. Dreams that are crushed when he sees Will at a school party and finds that the sweet and affectionate (and comfortably queer) guy he knew from summer isn’t the same one attending Collinswood High.

Will is more than a little shocked to see Ollie the evening of that first day of school. While his summer was spent being very much himself, back at school he’s simply known as one of the varsity basketball guys. Now Will is faced with the biggest challenge of his life: follow his heart and risk his friendships, or stay firmly in the closet and lose what he loves most.

Thank you to the publisher and NetGalley for providing me with an eARC in exchange for an honest review.

All I have to say is HOLY F*CK, THIS IS EVERYTHING. 

Only Mostly Devastated is an incredibly brilliant, all consuming, 90s rom-com film in book form and it is amazing. Described as Simon vs the Homosapiens meets Clueless, by way of Grease, I can say with 100% confidence it is definitely that. This is a brilliantly fun, contemporary romance with reminiscent ties to all my favourite rom-com films of the 90s. In other words: this is my childhood and it’s super gay.

I fell in love with this book from the very first page:

It was late afternoon, on the very last Wednesday of August, when I realised Disney had been lying to me for quite some time about Happily Ever Afters.

The protagonist, Ollie, has been ghosted by the person he had been hooking up with over Summer. And now, instead of returning to his home and friends in California, his family will be staying in North Carolina to help out with his Aunt’s family, as his Aunt has cancer. Uprooted, and to top it all, late to his very first day of school, he probably doesn’t quite expect to see the very person he’s been hooking up with all summer at his school. But of course, this is a book reinvigorating the 90s romcom genre and so of course that’s exactly what happens. The only problem is that Ollie’s Prince Charming isn’t out at school. And thus pretends he has nothing to do with Ollie at all. What follows is a rapid whirlwind of teen romance, showcasing the trials of love and the fear and anxiety that comes with owning up to who you are. 

The writing style is utterly to die for. Ollie’s voice is exceptionally strong, he is snarky, sarcastic and completely hilarious. It felt like taking a walk through my own brain. I loved him so much.

I loved how overly dramatic he was (“after finding an appropriately melancholy playlist on Spotify”).

I loved his hidden throwbacks to the books’ comps (“I’d end up pining over him, all hopelessly devoted and hurt”).

I loved the hilarious honesty in admission of his own flaws (“It totally went against my personal philosophy of overanalysing everything and only taking risks when there was a 5 percent or less chance of failure”.) I mean, what a mood.

But most of all, I adore Ollie’s strong viewpoint on the most important issues impacting us all: “A sweaty red skittle is worth three green skittles.” A truer line has never been spoken.

The romance was a slow burn, angst filled, and yet somehow totally and utterly joyful mess of love. The book discusses themes around coming out and the difficulties of doing so. It also does so well at picturing the struggles of those on both sides: of the pain and hurt of those needing to stay hidden, who feel ashamed their partner doesn’t want to be seen with them; but also the fear and terror of those not yet out, of their panic at upending their lives and not knowing how to do it. 

Only Mostly Devastated is beautifully queer at its core. Alongside Ollie and Will are a host of characters, queer and not, who make this book the dazzling queer masterpiece it is. From the testosterone filled jock standing up for his bisexual crush, to Lara’s coming to terms and acceptance of her sexuality, this book is just heaven. I personally admired Lara’s struggles, and the discussions of the validity of bisexuality. Lara keeps herself, hidden behind this incredibly tough exterior, but as she opens up, you see how vulnerable and loyal she really is. She is an absolute gem of a character and I need to embody her sassiness way more in my day to day life. 

Alongside the romance, is the heartbreaking story of cancer and the impact it can have on entire families. It speaks of the strength of those fighting the disease, and the strength their families have to continue on and it was so emotional – please do take note if this is something that might particularly affect you, as these scenes do get incredibly emotional. 

All in all, I found Only Mostly Devastated to be the queer romcom I needed in my youth. It makes me think of all my favourite movies as a teen from Grease, to 10 Things I Hate About You. The writing style is fantastically deadpan and sarcastic and there were so many moments to laugh at, I absolutely loved this one!

Top 5 Tuesday: Reasons I Rate a Book 5 Stars

Top 5 Tuesday is created and run by Shanah at Bionic Book Worm. You can join the fun by checking out the topics for the month here.

Hi everyone,

This week I’m coming to you from:

  • The middle of a work conference…
  • Which I was forced to go to during the middle of manuscript deadline hell….
  • And where there is a strict “no exceptions” to the evening social rule…
  • So if we want to get any of our work done (because of course the deadline doesn’t change even if you pull us out of the office for a week!!), we have to stay up until the early hours to do so….

So life is great right now. So great.

Okay rant over. Let’s get onto to celebrating why I rate books 5 stars! You know, I’ve never actually considered what makes me rate 5 stars in huge detail, outside of thinking about the one specific book I’m reviewing. I’m not even sure if there are recurring elements – I think to rate 5 stars, pretty much every part of the book needs to be incredible right? So I decided to go through all my 5 star reads of 2019, and go down a very statistical direction to identify the common themes and elements between those books. This is what I got.

It’s gay

Yup. No surprises here. If a book has LGBTQIA+ characters, I am on the squee express and will love that book. For some stats, 71% of my 2019 five star reads were queer! And that makes me so happy. I love reading books about people like me, so it is no surprise that most of my 5 star reads are loudly, proudly queer. Bring on the 2020 gays.

My 5 star examples:

A morally grey protagonist/villain

Give me our morally grey protagonists and villains. I love characters that do bad things for good reasons. I love when authors play with the idea of good and evil, when I don’t know who I’m supposed to be supporting, when there’s no clear idea of who is good and who is evil. God I love it so much. Give me morally grey every day.

My 5 star examples:

Excellent mental health rep

Much like queer books, seeing characters cope with mental health, in both real life-settings or fantasy worlds, just makes my heart hurt because I’m seeing people like me. It can be hopeful, which for obvious reasons, is fantastic to read as way of finding hope myself. But even if it is hopeless, it makes you feel seen and understood as a reader, and for a second, you can feel less alone because there’s someone out there who feels like you do.

My 5 star examples:

Nails the ending

So many of my 4 star books last year were fantastic….until the ending. Nailing the ending is such a difficult part of writing, and it has such an impact on my ultimate enjoyment of the book. I want an ending that is as brutually emotional as every page before it has been. I want knowledge and understanding of what’s happened. I don’t need all the ends tied up, but I want to feel something on the last pages. You can shock me, hurt me, thrill me. But the ending should make me feel something.

My 5 star examples:

Breaks my heart

So almost 50% of my 5 star reads of 2019 broke my heart. I don’t necessarily mean they made me cry – I’m a difficult reader to make actually cry, though I do tear up a lot. I like books that make me have a visceral emotional reaction, and let’s be honest, that kind of reaction usually comes when a book is stabbing you in the heart and ripping you open. I want to feel my chest physically hurt because I can’t believe what’s happening on the page. I need to be so emotionally invested in the characters, that what happens to them hurts me as much as possible. That’s definitely worth 5 stars.

My 5 star examples:

So to conclude, basically I want a queer, depressed, murder muffin to make me cry. Which does actually sum up several of the books I’m very excited for this year, so I clearly definitely have a 5 Star Type.

2020 TBR: Queer books (Part 3)

Hi everyone,

YES OKAY I NEED THREE PARTS TO GET ALL THESE QUEER BOOKS ANNOUNCED. So blessed we are for the year that is 2020. And all I can think, is there are some I haven’t even included in these lists because they’ll go in my other lists…like sequels! And more retellings! And just! so! many! queer! books! Here is another 27 for you to feast your eyes and hearts upon!


Wranglestone – Darren Charlton 

Quick summary: Gay zombies 

Genres: Science fiction

Release date: February 6

Goodreads blurb: Winter was the only season every Lake-Lander feared…

In a post-apocalyptic America, a community survives in a national park, surrounded by water that keeps the Dead at bay. But when winter comes, there’s nothing to stop them from crossing the ice.

Then homebody Peter puts the camp in danger by naively allowing a stranger to come ashore and he’s forced to leave the community of Wranglestone. Now he must help rancher Cooper, the boy he’s always watched from afar, herd the Dead from their shores before the lake freezes over.

But as love blossoms, a dark discovery reveals the sanctuary’s secret past. One that forces the pair to question everything they’ve ever known.

An action-packed and thought-provoking debut, for fans of Patrick Ness, Marcus Sedgwick, DREAD NATION and The Walking Dead.

Finna – Nina Cipri

Quick summary: Be gay, do multiverse time travel 

Genres: Science fiction, adult 

Release date: February 25 

Goodreads blurb: When an elderly customer at a big box furniture store slips through a portal to another dimension, it’s up to two minimum-wage employees to track her across the multiverse and protect their company’s bottom line. Multi-dimensional swashbuckling would be hard enough, but our two unfortunate souls broke up a week ago.

Can friendship blossom from the ashes of a relationship? In infinite dimensions, all things are possible.

A Pale Light in the Black – K.B Wagers

Quick summary: Military competition to see who’s the best at boarding ships and other space military things 

Genres: Military science fiction 

Release date: March 3

Goodreads blurb: The book centers on the rivalry between military branches, which plays out through the Boarding Games—a competition pitting service members against each other to see just who is best in events like tactical problem is solving, piloting, fencing and martial arts, and, of course, boarding actions. And while other military science fiction features the exploration and defense of far-flung reaches of space, the Neo-G protects the area closer to home—a force we could very well see in our own lifetime. Made up of a band of retired veterans and raw recruits with sub-par equipment and the scorn of the military establishment, the NEO-G are the ultimate underdogs.

The first book in the NEO-G series comes out in hardcover in Spring 2020 from Harper Voyager, starting with A Pale Light in the Black. There are currently two books planned in the series, with the option to continue.

Look – Zan Romanoff

Quick summary: Accidentally comes out after a video is unintentionally released, coming of age story 

Genres: Contemporary, young adult

Release date: March 31 

Goodreads blurb: Things Lulu Shapiro’s 10,000 Flash followers don’t know about her:

* That the video of her with another girl was never supposed to go public.

* That Owen definitely wasn’t supposed to break up with her because of it.

* That behind the carefully crafted selfies and scenes Lulu projects onto people’s screens, her life feels like a terrible, uncertain mess.

Then Lulu meets Cass. Cass isn’t interested in looking at Lulu’s life, only in living in it. And The Hotel–a gorgeous space with an intriguing, Old Hollywood history and a trust-fund kid to restore it–seems like the perfect, secret place for them to get to know each other. But just because Lulu has stepped out of the spotlight doesn’t mean it’ll stop following her every move.

It’s a story about what you present vs. who you really are, about real intimacy and manufactured intimacy and the blurring of that line. It’s a deceptively glamorous, feminist, emotionally complex, utterly compelling, queer coming-of-age novel about falling in love and taking ownership of your own self–your whole self–in the age of social media.

King and the Dragonflies – Kacen Callender

Quick summary: might be one of the first MGs I will read in a veeery long time. In the death of his brother, Kingston tries to understand who he is. 

Genres: Contemporary, mystery, fantasy, middle grade

Release date: April 7 

Goodreads blurb: In a small but turbulent Louisiana town, one boy’s grief takes him beyond the bayous of his backyard, to learn that there is no right way to be yourself.

Twelve-year-old Kingston James is sure his brother Khalid has turned into a dragonfly. When Khalid unexpectedly passed away, he shed what was his first skin for another to live down by the bayou in their small Louisiana town. Khalid still visits in dreams, and King must keep these secrets to himself as he watches grief transform his family.

It would be easier if King could talk with his best friend, Sandy Sanders. But just days before he died, Khalid told King to end their friendship, after overhearing a secret about Sandy-that he thinks he might be gay. “You don’t want anyone to think you’re gay too, do you?”

But when Sandy goes missing, sparking a town-wide search, and King finds his former best friend hiding in a tent in his backyard, he agrees to help Sandy escape from his abusive father, and the two begin an adventure as they build their own private paradise down by the bayou and among the dragonflies. As King’s friendship with Sandy is reignited, he’s forced to confront questions about himself and the reality of his brother’s death.

The Thing About Jellyfish meets The Stars Beneath Our Feet in this story about loss, grief, and finding the courage to discover one’s identity, from the author of Hurricane Child.

Elysium Girls – Kate Pentecost

Quick summary: I saw ‘scrap metal horses’ and immediately added

Genres: Fantasy, young adult 

Release date: April 14

Goodreads blurb: In this sweeping Dust Bowl-inspired fantasy, a ten-year game between Life and Death pits the walled Oklahoma city of Elysium-including a girl gang of witches and a demon who longs for humanity-against the supernatural in order to judge mankind.

When Sal is named Successor to Mother Morevna, a powerful witch and leader of Elysium, she jumps at the chance to prove herself to the town. Ever since she was a kid, Sal has been plagued by false visions of rain, and though people think she’s a liar, she knows she’s a leader. Even the arrival of enigmatic outsider Asa-a human-obsessed demon in disguise-doesn’t shake her confidence in her ability. Until a terrible mistake results in both Sal and Asa’s exile into the Desert of Dust and Steel.

Face-to-face with a brutal, unforgiving landscape, Sal and Asa join a gang of girls headed by another Elysium exile-and young witch herself-Olivia Rosales. In order to atone for their mistake, they create a cavalry of magic powered, scrap metal horses to save Elysium from the coming apocalypse. But Sal, Asa, and Olivia must do more than simply tip the scales in Elysium’s favor-only by reinventing the rules can they beat the Life and Death at their own game.

Stay Gold – Tobly McSmith

Quick summary: Trans boy love story, falling in love with a cheerleader 

Genres: Contemporary, romance 

Release date: May 5

Goodreads blurb: Debut author Tobly McSmith delivers a coming-of-age teen love story about a transgender boy who’s going stealth at his new Texas high school and a cisgender girl who is drawn to him, even as she’s counting down the days until graduation. Perfect for fans of David Levithan, Becky Albertalli, and Jenny Han.

Pony just wants to fly under the radar during senior year. Tired from all the attention he got at his old school after coming out as transgender, he’s looking for a fresh start at Hillcrest High. But it’s hard to live your best life when the threat of exposure lurks down every hallway and in every bathroom.

Georgia is beginning to think there’s more to life than cheerleading. She plans on keeping a low profile until graduation…which is why she promised herself that dating was officially a no-go this year.

Then, on the very first day of school, the new guy and the cheerleader lock eyes. How is Pony supposed to stay stealth when he wants to get close to a girl like Georgia? How is Georgia supposed to keep her promise when sparks start flying with a boy like Pony?

Funny and poignant, clear-eyed and hopeful, Stay Gold is a story about finding love—and finding yourself.

Date me, Bryson Keller – Kevin van Whye 

Quick summary: Arrogant jock boy dared to date the first person who asks every Monday morning, doesn’t count on falling in love 

Genres: Contemporary, romance 

Release date: May 19

Goodreads blurb: What If It’s Us meets To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before in this upbeat and heartfelt boy-meets-boy romance that feels like a modern twist on a ’90s rom-com!

Everyone knows about the dare: Each week, Bryson Keller must date someone new–the first person to ask him out on Monday morning. Few think Bryson can do it. He may be the king of Fairvale Academy, but he’s never really dated before.

Until a boy asks him out, and everything changes.

Kai Sheridan didn’t expect Bryson to say yes. So when Bryson agrees to secretly go out with him, Kai is thrown for a loop. But as the days go by, he discovers there’s more to Bryson beneath the surface, and dating him begins to feel less like an act and more like the real thing. Kai knows how the story of a gay boy liking someone straight ends. With his heart on the line, he’s awkwardly trying to navigate senior year at school, at home, and in the closet, all while grappling with the fact that this “relationship” will last only five days. After all, Bryson Keller is popular, good-looking, and straight . . . right?

Kevin van Whye delivers an uplifting and poignant coming-out love story that will have readers rooting for these two teens to share their hearts with the world–and with each other.

Camp – Lev A.C Rosen 

Quick summary: Comedic commentary on toxic masculinity within the queer community 

Genres: Contemporary, humour, young adult 

Release date: May 26

Goodreads blurb: From the author of the acclaimed Jack of Hearts (and other parts) comes a sweet and sharp screwball comedy that critiques the culture of toxic masculinity within the queer community.

Sixteen-year-old Randy Kapplehoff loves spending the summer at Camp Outland, a camp for queer teens. It’s where he met his best friends. It’s where he takes to the stage in the big musical. And it’s where he fell for Hudson Aaronson-Lim – who’s only into straight-acting guys and barely knows not-at-all-straight-acting Randy even exists.

This year, though, it’s going to be different. Randy has reinvented himself as ‘Del’ – buff, masculine, and on the market. Even if it means giving up show tunes, nail polish, and his unicorn bedsheets, he’s determined to get Hudson to fall for him.

But as he and Hudson grow closer, Randy has to ask himself how much is he willing to change for love. And is it really love anyway, if Hudson doesn’t know who he truly is?

The Ship We Built – Lexie Bean 

Quick summary: Learning how to stand up for yourself, this sounds utterly heartbreaking 

Genres: Contemporary, middle grade 

Release date: May 26 

Goodreads blurb: “Sometimes I have trouble filling out tests when the name part feels like a test too. . . . When I write letters, I love that you have to read all of my thoughts and stories before I say any name at all. You have to make it to the very end to know.

Rowan has too many secrets to write down in the pages of a diary. And if he did, he wouldn’t want anyone he knows to discover them. He understands who he is and what he likes, but it’s not safe for others to know. Now, the kids at school say he’s too different to spend time with. He’s not the “right kind” of girl, and he’s not the “right kind” of boy. His mom ignores him. And at night, his dad hurts him in ways he’s not ready to talk about yet.

But Rowan discovers another way to share his secrets: letters. Letters he attaches to balloons and releases into the universe, hoping someone new will read them and understand. But when he befriends a classmate who knows what it’s like to be lonely and scared, even at home, Rowan realizes that there might already be a person he can trust right by his side.

Tender and wise, The Ship We Built is about the bravery it takes to stand up for yourself–even to those you love–and the power of finding someone who treasures you for everything you are.

Hideous Beauty – William Hussey

Quick summary: Boyfriend killed in car crash, now have to unravel the mystery of his life as secrets come to light…

Genres: Contemporary, mystery/thriller

Release date: May 28

Goodreads blurb: When Dylan and Ellis’s secret relationship is exposed on social media, Dylan is forced to come out. To Dylan’s surprise they are met with support and congratulations, and an amazing reception at their highschool dance. Perhaps people aren’t as narrow-minded as he thought?

But Dylan’s happiness is short-lived. Ellis suddenly becomes angry, withdrawn, and as they drive home from the dance, he loses control of the car, sending it plunging into Hunter’s Lake. Barely conscious, Dylan is pulled free of the wreck, while Ellis is left to drown.

Grief-stricken, Dylan vows to discover what happened to Ellis that night and piece together the last months of his boyfriend’s life – and realises just how little he knew about the boy he loved.

If We Were Us – K.L Walther

Quick summary: queer love….square?!

Genres: Contemporary

Release date: June 1

Goodreads blurb: Everyone at the prestigious Bexley School believes that Sage Morgan and Charlie Carmichael are meant to be….that it’s just a matter of time until they realize that they are actually in love.

When Luke Morrissey shows up on the Bexley campus his presence immediately shakes things up. Charlie and Luke are drawn to each other the moment they meet, giving Sage the opportunity to steal away to spend time with Charlie’s twin brother, Nick.

But Charlie is afraid of what others will think if he accepts that he has much more than a friendship with Luke. And Sage fears that things with Nick are getting too serious too quickly. The duo will need to rely on each other and their lifelong friendship to figure things out with the boys they love.

Six Angry Girls – Adrienne Kisner 

Quick summary: Feminist novel set within mock trial teams, with a side of knitting

Genres: Contemporary, young adult

Release date: June 2 

Goodreads blurb: A story of mock trial, feminism, and the inherent power found in a pair of knitting needles.

Raina Petree is crushing her senior year, until her boyfriend dumps her, the drama club (basically) dumps her, the college of her dreams slips away, and her arch-nemesis triumphs.

Things aren’t much better for Millie Goodwin. Her father treats her like a servant, and the all-boy Mock Trial team votes her out, even after she spent the last three years helping to build its success.

But then, an advice columnist unexpectedly helps Raina find new purpose in a pair of knitting needles and a politically active local yarn store. This leads to an unlikely meeting in the girls’ bathroom, where Raina inspires Millie to start a rival team. The two join together and recruit four other angry girls to not only take on Mock Trial, but to smash the patriarchy in the process.

Where We Go from Here – Lucas Rocha

Quick summary: Shining the light on HIV, set in Brazil

Genres: Contemporary

Release date: June 2

Goodreads blurb: Ian has just been diagnosed with HIV.

Victor, to his great relief, has tested negative.

Henrique has been living with HIV for the past three years.

When Victor finds himself getting tested for HIV for the first time, he can’t help but question his entire relationship with Henrique, the guy he has — had — been dating. See, Henrique didn’t disclose his positive HIV status to Victor until after they had sex, and even though Henrique insisted on using every possible precaution, Victor is livid.

That’s when Victor meets Ian, a guy who’s also getting tested for HIV. But Ian’s test comes back positive, and his world is about to change forever. Though Victor is loath to think about Henrique, he offers to put the two of them in touch, hoping that perhaps Henrique can help Ian navigate his new life. In the process, the lives of Ian, Victor, and Henrique will become intertwined in a story of friendship, love, and self-acceptance.

Set in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, this utterly engrossing debut by Brazilian author Lucas Rocha calls back to Alex Sanchez’s Rainbow Boys series, bringing attention to how far we’ve come with HIV, while shining a harsh light on just how far we have yet to go. 

The Care and Feeding of Waspish Widows – Olivia Waite

Quick summary: Beekeeper falling in love 

Genres: Historical romance 

Release date: June 9

Goodreads blurb: In this historical f/f romance you’ll find: 

• a grumpy widowed engraver working far too hard to keep her print-shop going until her son is old enough to take over

• a middle-aged lady beekeeper who goes striding about in trousers and loves bucolic poetry

• a Queen on trial in Parliament and the press

• luxuriant English gardens with extremely naughty statues

• satirical ballads about tight pants

• …and more than you probably ever wanted to know about early 19th century beekeeping!

Afterlove – Tanya Byrne

Quick summary: Afterlife story, girl-reapers not grim-reapers, collecting souls

Genres: Fantasy, young adult 

Release date: July

Goodreads blurb: The story follows 16-year-old Ash Persaud who is hit by a car on New Year’s Eve. Afterwards, Ash exists in the afterlife where she is one of three fierce girl-reapers who collect the souls of the city’s dead to be taken to await their fate. But Ash can’t forget her first love, Poppy Morgan, and she’s determined to see her again, dead or alive.

The Summer of Everything – Julian Winters 

Quick summary: Geek culture, comics, 90s alt rock and working in a bookshop 

Genres: Contemporary

Release date: August

Goodreads blurb: Comic book geek Wesley Hudson excels at two things: slacking off at his job and pining after his best friend, Nico. Advice from his friends, ‘90s alt-rock songs, and online dating articles aren’t helping much with his secret crush. And his dream job at Once Upon a Page, the local used bookstore, is threatened when a coffeeshop franchise wants to buy the property. To top it off, his annoying brother needs wedding planning advice. When all three problems converge, Wes comes face-to-face with the one thing he’s been avoiding—adulthood.

Now, confronted with reality, can Wes balance saving the bookstore and his strained sibling relationship? Can he win the heart of his crush, too?

Full Moon in Leo – Brooklyn Ray 

Quick summary: Yule romance between an ex-convict and witch! 

Genres: Contemporary romance, Adult 

Release date: October 

Goodreads blurb: A Yule-set romance in which a recently released ex-convict seeks the safety and solitude of his aunt’s small town, only to find himself unexpectedly charmed by the owner of the local apothecary—a handsome witch determined to show him both the joys of the holiday season and the magic in the mundane.

Master of One – Jaida Jones and Danielle Bennett

Quick summary: Thief accompanies evil sorcerer to kidnap a fae prince and then falls in love with said prince 

Genres: Fantasy, young adult 

Release date: November 17 

Goodreads blurb: Alice Jerman at HarperTeen has bought Danielle Bennett (l.) and Jaida Jones’s YA fantasy, Master of One. When a common thief finds himself on the wrong side of the law, his punishment is to join an evil sorcerer on a perilous journey to uncover a lost fae relic. The relic turns out to be a fae himself—a distractingly handsome, annoyingly perfect, ancient fae prince. Together they must save the world from the evil sorcerer, while trying not to fall in love with each other. Publication is set for fall 2020

Ruinsong – Julia Ember 

Quick summary: Phantom of the Opera retelling!! Music magic! Possible enemies to lovers? Rival factions need to unite a country? 

Genres: Fantasy, romance 

Release date: November 24 

Goodreads blurb: Revolution or silence?

In a world where magic is sung, a powerful mage named Cadence is forced to use her power to torture her country’s disgraced nobility at her ruthless queen’s bidding.

But when Cadence is reunited with her childhood friend, a noblewoman with ties to the underground rebellion, she must make a choice: take a stand to free her country from a tyrant — or follow in her queen’s footsteps and become a monster herself.

In this dark and lush LGBTQ+ romantic fantasy, two young women from rival factions must work together to reunite their country as they wrestle with their feelings for each other.

Jake in the Box – Ryan Douglass

Quick summary: Get Out inspired horror about spirit of school shooter trying to possess a kid to finish the job 

Genres: Horror, young adult

Release date: Fall 2020

Goodreads blurb: Stacey Barney at Putnam has bought HuffPost writer Ryan Douglass’s YA debut, Jake in the Box, a Get Out-inspired horror story about one of the only black kids at an elite suburban Atlanta prep school who is being haunted by the ghost of a school shooter. Publication is planned for fall 2020; Rena Rossner at the Deborah Harris Agency brokered the deal for world rights.

Until You Came Back – Jay Coles

Quick summary: Sportsmance + all the feels with a complicated mother/son relationship 

Genres: Contemporary, romance 

Release date: Winter 

Goodreads blurb: Little, Brown has acquired Until You Came Back, a contemporary YA novel by Jay Coles. The book is about a teen whose world is turned upside down when he develops feelings for a new recruit on his basketball team at the same time that the mother who abandoned him eight years earlier returns home. Publication is planned for winter 2020.

Elatsoe – Darcie Little Badger

Quick summary: Ace MC, indigenous ancestral magic, tracking down murderer 

Genres: Fantasy, mystery, young adult 

Release date: Unknown

Goodreads blurb: Elatsoe is a ghostly YA set in a contemporary America shaped by the ancestral magics and knowledge of its Indigenous and immigrant peoples. When Elatsoe’s beloved older cousin dies under mysterious circumstances, Elatsoe must track down his murderer in a town none too willing to give up its dark secrets. The book will be illustrated by Rovina Cai, illustrator of And the Ocean Was Our Sky.

The Passing Playbook – Isaac Fitzsimmons

Quick summary: Another sportsmance! Trans kid falling in love with Christian teammate. And told they can’t play soccor due to the F on his birth certificate!

Genres: Contemporary, romance 

Release date: Unknown

Goodreads blurb: Ellen Cormier at Dial has acquired, at auction, debut author Isaac Fitzsimons’s The Passing Playbook, and an untitled second project. The #OwnVoices YA contemporary novel features a queer, biracial, transgender protagonist fighting for his rights and falling in love for the first time on the soccer field. When Spencer is benched due to the “F” on his birth certificate, he has to make a choice: cheer from the sidelines or fight the ruling even though it would mean coming out to everyone, including the conservative Christian teammate he’s falling for. Publication is set for summer 2020; Jordan Hamessley at New Leaf Literary negotiated the deal for North American rights.

Ghost Dragon – David R Slayton 

Quick summary: Gay dragons 

Genres: Fantasy 

Release date: Unknown 

Goodreads blurb: An apprentice mage must solve the murder of his seditious master at the hands of the impossible–a ghost dragon–while uncovering secrets that will force him to choose between the magical empire of his people and the mundane province of the boy he loves.

Burning Roses – S.L Huang

Quick summary: Mix of western and Chinese folklore, fairytale, old women kicking ass

Genres: Fantasy, young adult 

Release date: Unknown 

Goodreads blurb: When Rosa (aka Red Riding Hood) and Hou Yi the Archer join forces to stop the deadly sunbirds from ravaging the countryside, their quest will take the two women, now blessed and burdened with the hindsight of middle age, into a reckoning of sacrifices made and mistakes mourned, of choices and family and the quest for immortality.

Burning Roses, a gorgeous fairy tale of love and family, of demons and lost gods, arrives in 2020.

How it All Blew Up – Arvin Ahmadi

Quick summary: Social commentary on immigration policy after interrogation on journey back home 

Genres: Contemporary

Release date: Unknown 

Goodreads blurb: The story of a gay, Muslim, Iranian-American teenager named Amir, How It All Blew Up opens with Amir declaring that he is not a terrorist, but is gay, as he, his immigrant parents, and his younger sister are separated and then interrogated by U.S. Customs officers upon their arrival at JFK Airport from a trip abroad to Rome.


Pheewwwww – we got there! Now of course, these are just some of the amazing range of queer books coming in 2020, but these three posts are filled with the books I am incredibly excited for. I know there is absolutely no way I will ever be able to read all of these, but I can dream!

I hope everyone is having an amazing holiday period – see you at the next post where I’ll be looking at the fantasy releases coming in 2020….and it be chonky!!

Paws out,
Rach + Draco

2020 TBR: Queer books (Part 2)

Hi everyone,

It is now Part 2 of my ‘you seriously need to add all these amazing queer books to your TBR’ posts. Another 25 to celebrate, still more to come. I am rapidly running out of time to create these posts before I go on holiday, so fingers crossed I manage to get them all done in time… For now, I hope you find some books to read next year with Part 2 of 2020 Queer books to look out for!


We Used to be Friends – Amy Spalding

Quick summary: Two best friends growing apart

Genres: Contemporary, young adult

Release date: January 7

Goodreads blurb: Two best friends grow up—and grow apart—in this innovative contemporary YA novel

Told in dual timelines—half of the chapters moving forward in time and half moving backward—We Used to Be Friends explores the most traumatic breakup of all: that of childhood besties. At the start of their senior year in high school, James (a girl with a boy’s name) and Kat are inseparable, but by graduation, they’re no longer friends. James prepares to head off to college as she reflects on the dissolution of her friendship with Kat while, in alternating chapters, Kat thinks about being newly in love with her first girlfriend and having a future that feels wide open. Over the course of senior year, Kat wants nothing more than James to continue to be her steady rock, as James worries that everything she believes about love and her future is a lie when her high-school sweetheart parents announce they’re getting a divorce. Funny, honest, and full of heart, We Used to Be Friends tells of the pains of growing up and growing apart.

Spellhacker – M.K England

Quick summary: Fantasy heist, capitalism, magic as plague

Genres: Fantasy, young adult

Release date: January 21

Goodreads blurb: From the author of The Disasters, this genre-bending YA fantasy heist story is perfect for fans of Marie Lu and Amie Kaufman.

In Kyrkarta, magic—known as maz—was once a freely available natural resource. Then an earthquake released a magical plague, killing thousands and opening the door for a greedy corporation to make maz a commodity that’s tightly controlled—and, of course, outrageously expensive.

Which is why Diz and her three best friends run a highly lucrative, highly illegal maz siphoning gig on the side. Their next job is supposed to be their last heist ever.

But when their plan turns up a powerful new strain of maz that (literally) blows up in their faces, they’re driven to unravel a conspiracy at the very center of the spellplague—and possibly save the world.

No pressure. 

The Seep – Chana Porter

Quick summary: Dreams can become reality, what happens when you’re left behind?

Genres: Science fiction, adult

Release date: January 21

Goodreads blurb: A blend of searing social commentary and speculative fiction, Chana Porter’s fresh, pointed debut is perfect for fans of Jeff VanderMeer and Carmen Maria Machado.

Trina Goldberg-Oneka is a fifty-year-old trans woman whose life is irreversibly altered in the wake of a gentle—but nonetheless world-changing—invasion by an alien entity called The Seep. Through The Seep, everything is connected. Capitalism falls, hierarchies and barriers are broken down; if something can be imagined, it is possible.

Trina and her wife, Deeba, live blissfully under The Seep’s utopian influence—until Deeba begins to imagine what it might be like to be reborn as a baby, which will give her the chance at an even better life. Using Seeptech to make this dream a reality, Deeba moves on to a new existence, leaving Trina devastated.

Heartbroken and deep into an alcoholic binge, Trina follows a lost boy she encounters, embarking on an unexpected quest. In her attempt to save him from The Seep, she will confront not only one of its most avid devotees, but the terrifying void that Deeba has left behind. A strange new elegy of love and loss, The Seep explores grief, alienation, and the ache of moving on.

The Circus Rose – Betsy Cornwell

Quick summary: Snow White and Red Rose retelling!!

Genres: Fantasy, young adult

Release date: January 21

Goodreads blurb: From a  New York Times  bestselling author, a queer retelling of “Snow White and Rose Red” in which teenage twins battle evil religious extremists to save their loves and their circus family. YA fantasy perfect for fans of Leigh Bardugo, Mackenzi Lee, and Laini Taylor.

Twins Rosie and Ivory have grown up at their ringmaster mother’s knee, and after years on the road, they’re returning to Port End, the closest place to home they know. Yet something has changed in the bustling city: fundamentalist flyers paper the walls and preachers fill the squares, warning of shadows falling over the land. The circus prepares a triumphant homecoming show, full of lights and spectacle that could chase away even the darkest shadow. But during Rosie’s tightrope act, disaster strikes.

In this lush, sensuous novel interwoven with themes of social justice and found family, it’s up to Ivory and her magician love—with the help of a dancing bear—to track down an evil priest and save their circus family before it’s too late.

When We Were Magic – Sarah Gailey

Quick summary: More queer witches, accidental magic

Genres: Fantasy, young adult

Release date: March 3

Goodreads blurb: A sly, witchy dark comedy about four teens whose magic goes wildly awry from Magic for Liars author Sarah Gailey, who Chuck Wendig calls an “author to watch.”

Keeping your magic a secret is hard. Being in love with your best friend is harder.

Alexis has always been able to rely on two things: her best friends, and the magic powers they all share. Their secret is what brought them together, and their love for each other is unshakeable—even when that love is complicated. Complicated by problems like jealousy, or insecurity, or lust. Or love.

That unshakeable, complicated love is one of the only things that doesn’t change on prom night.

When accidental magic goes sideways and a boy winds up dead, Alexis and her friends come together to try to right a terrible wrong. Their first attempt fails—and their second attempt fails even harder. Left with the remains of their failed spells and more consequences than anyone could have predicted, each of them must find a way to live with their part of the story.

The House in the Cerulean Sea – T.J Klune

Quick summary: Caretakers of magical youth, orphanages, the antichrist….

Genres: Fantasy, romance, adult (I think?)

Release date: March 17

Goodreads blurb: A magical island. A dangerous task. A burning secret.

Linus Baker leads a quiet, solitary life. At forty, he lives in a tiny house with a devious cat and his old records. As a Case Worker at the Department in Charge Of Magical Youth, he spends his days overseeing the well-being of children in government-sanctioned orphanages.

When Linus is unexpectedly summoned by Extremely Upper Management he’s given a curious and highly classified assignment: travel to Marsyas Island Orphanage, where six dangerous children reside: a gnome, a sprite, a wyvern, an unidentifiable green blob, a were-Pomeranian, and the Antichrist. Linus must set aside his fears and determine whether or not they’re likely to bring about the end of days.

But the children aren’t the only secret the island keeps. Their caretaker is the charming and enigmatic Arthur Parnassus, who will do anything to keep his wards safe. As Arthur and Linus grow closer, long-held secrets are exposed, and Linus must make a choice: destroy a home or watch the world burn.

An enchanting story, masterfully told, The House in the Cerulean Sea is about the profound experience of discovering an unlikely family in an unexpected place—and realizing that family is yours.

We Were Promised Spotlights – Lindsay Sproul

Quick summary: Homecoming queen secretly in love with her best friend

Genres: Contemporary, young adult

Release date: March 26

Goodreads blurb: The Miseducation of Cameron Post meets Everything Leads to You in this queer young adult novel.

Taylor Garland’s good looks have earned her the admiration of everyone in her small town. She’s homecoming queen, the life of every party, and she’s on every boy’s most-wanted list.

People think Taylor is living the dream, and assume she’ll stay in town and have kids with the homecoming king–maybe even be a dental hygienist if she’s super ambitious. But Taylor is actually desperate to leave home, and she hates the smell of dentists’ offices. Also? She’s completely in love with her best friend, Susan.

Senior year is almost over, and everything seems perfect. Now Taylor just has to figure out how to throw it all away.

Lindsay Sproul’s debut is full of compelling introspection and painfully honest commentary on what it’s like to be harnessed to a destiny you never wanted.

Music from Another World – Robin Talley

Quick summary: Set in the 70s during the height of anti-gay fervour in America, two girls trying to be who they want, bonding over punk music

Genres: Historical fiction, young adult

Release date: March 31

Goodreads blurb: It’s summer 1977 and closeted lesbian Tammy Larson can’t be herself anywhere. Not at her strict Christian high school, not at her conservative Orange County church and certainly not at home, where her ultrareligious aunt relentlessly organizes antigay political campaigns. Tammy’s only outlet is writing secret letters in her diary to gay civil rights activist Harvey Milk…until she’s matched with a real-life pen pal who changes everything.

Sharon Hawkins bonds with Tammy over punk music and carefully shared secrets, and soon their letters become the one place she can be honest. The rest of her life in San Francisco is full of lies. The kind she tells for others—like helping her gay brother hide the truth from their mom—and the kind she tells herself. But as antigay fervor in America reaches a frightening new pitch, Sharon and Tammy must rely on their long-distance friendship to discover their deeply personal truths, what they’ll stand for…and who they’ll rise against.

A master of award-winning queer historical fiction, New York Times bestselling author Robin Talley once again brings to life with heart and vivid detail an emotionally captivating story about the lives of two teen girls living in an age when just being yourself was an incredible act of bravery. 

The Stone of Sorrow – Brooke Carter

Quick summary: Icelandic fantasy, evil witch, Valkyrie and elves, runecasting competition

Genres: Fantasy, young adult

Release date: April 7

Goodreads blurb: In a land of myth and ice, seventeen-year-old Runa Unnursdóttir is not the runecaster her clan has been hoping for. She spends her days daydreaming of sailing away and exploring the world instead of studying the runes and learning her spells. The villagers consider her odd, in looks and in manner. She’s nothing like her talented sister, Sýr, keeper of the sacred moonstone that ensures the village’s continued survival. But when a rival clan led by an evil witch raids the village and kidnaps her sister, Runa is forced to act. With a fallen Valkyrie by her side, and the help of a gorgeous half-elf Runa is not quite sure she can trust, the apprentice must travel to the site of an ancient runecasting competition to try to win back the magical gem. But the journey will not be easy; the three unlikely companions encounter malevolent and supernatural creatures at every turn. Somehow, Runa must summon the courage and strength to face her destiny, a destiny she never wanted. Or die trying.

Loveless – Alice Oseman

Quick summary: ACE PROTAGONIST, coming of age, journey to self-acceptance

Genres: Contemporary, young adult

Release date: April 30

Goodreads blurb: The fourth novel from the phenomenally talented Alice Oseman – one of the most authentic and talked-about voices in contemporary YA.

Georgia feels loveless – in the romantic sense, anyway. She’s eighteen, never been in a relationship, or even had a crush on a single person in her whole life. She thinks she’s an anomaly, people call her weird, and she feels a little broken. But she still adores romance – weddings, fan fiction, and happily ever afters. She knows she’ll find her person one day … right?

After a disastrous summer, Georgia is now at university, hundreds of miles from home. She is more determined than ever to find love – and her annoying roommate, Rooney, is a bit of a love expert, so perhaps she can help.

But maybe Georgia just doesn’t feel that way about guys. Or girls. Or anyone at all. Maybe that’s okay. Maybe she can find happiness without falling in love. And maybe Rooney is a little more loveless than she first appears.

LOVELESS is a journey of identity, self-acceptance, and finding out how many different types of love there really are. And that no one is really loveless after all.

The Extraordinaries – T.J Klune

Quick summary: Fanfic + fandom community, superheros

Genres: Fantasy

Release date: May 5

Goodreads blurb: Some people are extraordinary. Some are just extra.

Nick Bell? Not extraordinary. But being the most popular fanfiction writer in the Extraordinaries fandom is a superpower, right?

After a chance encounter with Shadow Star, Nova City’s mightiest hero (and Nick’s biggest crush), Nick sets out to make himself extraordinary. And he’ll do it with or without the reluctant help of Seth Gray, Nick’s best friend (and maybe the love of his life).

When You Get the Chance – Tom Ryan and Robin Stevenson

Quick summary: Canadian road trip novel

Genres: Contemporary, young adult

Release date: May 5

Goodreads blurb: When You Get The Chance is the “super queer, super Canadian, road-trip-to-Toronto-Pride YA novel,” as described by Ryan, and is scheduled to be published by Running Press Kids in the spring of 2020.

The novel follows “cousins Mark [from the East coast of Canada, written by Ryan] and Talia [from the West coast of Canada, written by Stevenson] on a road trip to Pride in Toronto as they search for love and adventure and uncover family secrets along the way.”

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

Quick summary: “Magic and mayhem on board a pirate ship”

Genres: Fantasy, young adult

Release date: May 5

Goodreads blurb: A desperate orphan turned pirate and a rebellious imperial daughter find a connection on the high seas in a rich, riveting fantasy set in a world divided by colonialism and threaded with magic.

Aboard the pirate ship Dove, Flora the girl takes on the identity of Florian the man to earn the respect and protection of the crew. For Flora, former starving urchin, the brutal life of a pirate is about survival: don’t trust, don’t stick out, and don’t feel. But on this voyage, as the pirates prepare to sell their unsuspecting passengers into slavery, Flora is drawn to the Lady Evelyn Hasegawa, who is en route to a dreaded arranged marriage with her own casket in tow. Flora doesn’t expect to be taken under Evelyn’s wing, and Evelyn doesn’t expect to find such a deep bond with the pirate Florian.

Soon the unlikely pair set in motion a wild escape that will free a captured mermaid (coveted for her blood, which causes men to have visions and lose memories) and involve the mysterious Pirate Supreme, an opportunistic witch, and the all-encompassing Sea itself. Deftly entwining swashbuckling action and Asian folklore in a land dominated by an imperial class, Maggie Tokuda-Hall’s inventive debut novel conjures a diverse cast of characters seeking mastery over their fates while searching for answers to big questions about identity, equality, and love. 

The Scapegraces – Hannah Abigail Clarke

Quick summary: Witches, covens, bonds of female friendship, subvertion of the mean girl trope!!

Genres: Fantasy, young adult

Release date: May 12

Goodreads blurb: An outcast teenage lesbian witch finds her coven hidden amongst the popular girls in her school, and performs some seriously badass magic in the process.

Skulking near the bottom of West High’s social pyramid, Sideways Pike lurks under the bleachers doing magic tricks for Coke bottles. As a witch, lesbian, and lifelong outsider, she’s had a hard time making friends. But when the three most popular girls pay her $40 to cast a spell at their Halloween party, Sideways gets swept into a new clique. The unholy trinity are dangerous angels, sugar-coated rattlesnakes, and now–unbelievably–Sideways’ best friends.

Together, the four bond to form a ferocious and powerful coven. They plan parties, cast curses on dudebros, try to find Sideways a girlfriend, and elude the fundamentalist witch hunters hellbent stealing their magic. But for Sideways, the hardest part is the whole ‘having friends’ thing. Who knew that balancing human interaction with supernatural peril could be so complicated?

Rich with the urgency of feral youth, The Scapegracers explores growing up and complex female friendship with all the rage of a teenage girl. It subverts the trope of competitive mean girls and instead portrays a mercilessly supportive clique of diverse and vivid characters. It is an atmospheric, voice-driven novel of the occult, and the first of a three-book series.

Felix Ever After – Kacen Callender

Quick summary: One of my most anticipated reads for 2020!! Trans teen falling in love and discovering their identity. Check out that fucking cover!!

Genres: Contemporary, young adult

Release date: May 12

Goodreads blurb: From Stonewall and Lambda Award–winning author Kacen Callender comes a revelatory YA novel about a transgender teen grappling with identity and self-discovery while falling in love for the first time.

Felix Love has never been in love—and, yes, he’s painfully aware of the irony. He desperately wants to know what it’s like and why it seems so easy for everyone but him to find someone. What’s worse is that, even though he is proud of his identity, Felix also secretly fears that he’s one marginalization too many—Black, queer, and transgender—to ever get his own happily-ever-after.

When an anonymous student begins sending him transphobic messages—after publicly posting Felix’s deadname alongside images of him before he transitioned—Felix comes up with a plan for revenge. What he didn’t count on: his catfish scenario landing him in a quasi–love triangle….

But as he navigates his complicated feelings, Felix begins a journey of questioning and self-discovery that helps redefine his most important relationship: how he feels about himself.

Felix Ever After is an honest and layered story about identity, falling in love, and recognizing the love you deserve. 

The Summer of Impossibilities – Rachael Allen

Quick summary: Group of girls forced to spend the summer together: two fall in love with each other!!

Genres: Contemporary

Release date: May 12

Goodreads blurb: Skyler, Ellie, Scarlett and Amelia Grace are forced to spend the summer at the lake house where their moms became best friends.

One can’t wait. One would rather gnaw off her own arm than hang out with a bunch of strangers just so their moms can drink too much wine and sing Journey two o’clock in the morning. Two are sisters. Three are currently feuding with their mothers.

One almost sets her crush on fire with a flaming marshmallow. Two steal the boat for a midnight joyride that goes horribly, awkwardly wrong. All of them are hiding something.

One falls in love with a boy she thought she despised. Two fall in love with each other. None of them are the same at the end of the summer. 

I Kissed Alice – Alice Birch

Quick summary: Enemies-to-lovers f/f romcom in the fanfic community

Genres: Contemporary, romance

Release date: May 26

Goodreads blurb: For fans of Simon vs. The Homo Sapiens Agenda and FangirlI Kissed Alice is a romantic comedy about enemies, lovers, and everything in between.

Rhodes and Iliana couldn’t be more different, but that’s not why they hate each other.

Hyper-gifted artist Rhodes has always excelled at Alabama’s Conservatory of the Arts despite a secret bout of creator’s block, while transfer student Iliana tries to outshine everyone with her intense, competitive work ethic. Since only one of them can get the coveted Capstone scholarship, the competition between them is fierce.

They both escape the pressure on a fanfic site where they are unknowingly collaborating on a graphic novel. And despite being worst enemies in real life, their anonymous online identities I-Kissed-Alice and Curious-in-Cheshire are starting to like each other…a lot. When the truth comes out, will they destroy each other’s future?

The Friend Scheme – Cale Dietrich

Quick summary: Son of a criminal who doesn’t want to be a criminal, falling in loooooove

Genres: Thriller, romance, young adult

Release date: May 26

Goodreads blurb: Part thriller, part romance, The Friend Scheme is another twisty #ownvoices YA novel from Cale Dietrich, author of The Love Interest.

High schooler Matt’s father is rich, powerful, and seemingly untouchable—a criminal with high hopes that his son will follow in his footsteps. Matt’s older brother Luke seems poised to do just that, with a bevy of hot girls in tow. But Matt has other ambitions—and attractions.

And attraction sometimes doesn’t allow for good judgement. Matt wouldn’t have guessed that when he makes a new friend, one who is also carrying a secret. The boys’ connection turns romantic, a first for both. Now Matt must decide if he can ever do the impossible and come clean about who he really is, and who he is meant to love. 

The Falling in Love Montage – Ciara Smyth

Quick summary: Binding agreement to have a romance only for a summer….what could possibly go wrong?!

Genres: Contemporary, romance

Release date: June 9

Goodreads blurb: Saoirse doesn’t believe in love at first sight or happy endings. If they were real, her mother would still be able to remember her name and not in a care home with early onset dementia. A condition that Saoirse may one day turn out to have inherited. So she’s not looking for a relationship. She doesn’t see the point in igniting any romantic sparks if she’s bound to burn out.

But after a chance encounter at an end-of-term house party, Saoirse is about to break her own rules. For a girl with one blue freckle, an irresistible sense of mischief, and a passion for rom-coms.

Unbothered by Saoirse’s no-relationships rulebook, Ruby proposes a loophole: They don’t need true love to have one summer of fun, complete with every cliché, rom-com montage-worthy date they can dream up—and a binding agreement to end their romance come fall. It would be the perfect plan, if they weren’t forgetting one thing about the Falling in Love Montage: when it’s over, the characters actually fall in love… for real.

I’ll Be the One – Lyla Lee

Quick summary: K-Pop sapphic romance, competition looking for next K-Pop star

Genres: Contemporary, young adult

Release date: June 16

Goodreads blurb: The world of K-Pop has never met a star like this. Debut author Lyla Lee delivers a deliciously fun, thoughtful rom-com celebrating confidence and body positivity—perfect for fans of Jenny Han and Julie Murphy.

Skye Shin has heard it all. Fat girls shouldn’t dance. Wear bright colors. Shouldn’t call attention to themselves. But Skye dreams of joining the glittering world of K-Pop, and to do that, she’s about to break all the rules that society, the media, and even her own mother, have set for girls like her.

She’ll challenge thousands of other performers in an internationally televised competition looking for the next K-pop star, and she’ll do it better than anyone else.

When Skye nails her audition, she’s immediately swept into a whirlwind of countless practices, shocking performances, and the drama that comes with reality TV. What she doesn’t count on are the highly fat-phobic beauty standards of the Korean pop entertainment industry, her sudden media fame and scrutiny, or the sparks that soon fly with her fellow competitor, Henry Cho.

But Skye has her sights on becoming the world’s first plus-sized K-pop star, and that means winning the competition—without losing herself. 

The State of Us – Shaun David Hutchinson

Quick summary: Kinda makes me think of a YA Red, White & Royal Blue? Sons of two presedential candidates falling in love.

Genres: Contemporary, romance

Release date: July 21

Goodreads blurb: David Linker at HarperCollins has bought We Are the Ants author Shaun David Hutchinson‘s The State of Us, the story of Dean and Dre—the 16-year-old sons of the Republican and Democratic candidates for President of the United States—who fall in love on the sidelines of their parents’ presidential campaigns. The book is planned for summer 2020; Katie Shea Boutillier at Donald Maass Literary Agency brokered the deal for world rights. 

Ghost Wood Song – Erica Waters

Quick summary: Ghosts and magic fiddles and murder

Genres: Fantasy, mystery, young adult

Release date: July 21

Goodreads blurb: Shady Grove is her father’s daughter, through and through. She inherited his riotous, curly hair, his devotion to bluegrass, and his ability to call ghosts from the grave with his fiddle.

That cursed instrument drowned with him, though, when his car went off the road, taking with it the whispering ghosts, nightmares, and the grief and obsession that forced her daddy to play.

But Shady’s brother was just accused of murder, and so she has a choice to make: unearth the fiddle that sang her father to the grave and speak to the dead to clear her brother’s name, or watch the only family she has left splinter to pieces.

The ghosts have secrets to keep, but Shady will make those old bones sing.

Who I Was With Her – Nita Tyndall

Quick summary: Closet bi teen who’s girlfriend dies and she can’t talk to anyone about it

Genres: Contemporary, young adult

Release date: September 15

Goodreads blurb: In which a closeted bisexual teen girl loses her secret girlfriend in a car accident, and finds herself mourning the loss of a person and relationship no one around her knew existed, completely unable to talk about it with anyone.

The Ghosts We Keep – Mason Deaver

Quick summary: Dealing with grief and PTSD in the wake of the death of their twin, non binary MC

Genres: Contemporary

Release date: I don’t know….does anyone know?!

Goodreads blurb: “THE GHOST WE KEEP is the story of Liam Cooper who is a non-binary kid still trying to figure things out. So they’re still in the closet, but mostly because that’s where they’re most comfortable right now. They have a crush on their best friend Joel, and they’re desperately hoping that something will come of it and they’re trying to get the nerve to ask Joel out.

Things come crashing to a halt when Liam’s twin brother is killed in a tragic accident. Suddenly Liam sees their brother’s face in the mirror, and they have to contend with being half of a whole. The book is about grief, rejection, fear, dealing with PTSD. It comes from my own experience of losing my father in 2017 (in the exact way Liam loses their brother).

The book is dark, I’m not going to lie it may be difficult for a lot of readers. Liam goes through a lot, they deal with their own gender, losing the person they love the most, rejection from people around them. There is a scene (so far at least who knows what edits may do) where Liam considers taking their own life.

These are things both I and my mother experience after my father was killed. And this is my way of getting through that.” — From the author

A Miracle of Roses – Diana Pinguicha

Quick summary: Retelling of the Portugese miracle of roses

Genres: Fantasy, young adult

Release date: December

Goodreads blurb: Diana Pinguicha’s A MIRACLE OF ROSES, pitched as an f/f #ownvoices retelling of the Portugese miracle of the same name, where the Princess of Aragon enters a bargain with an Enchanted Moura so she can reverse her gift that turns all the food she touches into flowers, to Lydia Sharp at Entangled Teen, by Travis Pennington at The Knight Agency.


Annnnnnd that’s it for part 2! I still have so many to share with you and so little time to create these posts before the new year… I really should’ve started earlier. When this post goes out, I will be in Vietnam and very much enjoying having a short break, eating lots of incredible foods! I have two days to write all these posts before I fly. Will I suceed?? I guess we’ll find out…

Are you looking forward to reading any of these books?

Paws out,
Rach + Draco