May Wrap-up

May has once again been a really productive reading month for me. I ended up reading 39 books in total! In this post, I’ll share my reviews for my 4 and 5 star reads of the month 🙂

Initially, I started out with a symbolic Goodreads goal set to 1 book, to not feel any pressure to stay on track towards a reading goal. But since I’ve already read so many books, I’ve now upped it to 365 books, just like my goal for 2018. That should be doable, as I’m already ahead of schedule to reach that goal. If my reading keeps going as well as it is now, I might even up my goal towards 400 books!

Caleb Roehrig – Last Seen Leaving

After reading and loving Death Prefers Blondes, I really wanted to read Caleb Roehrig’s other books as well. I started with this one, and I really enjoyed it! Hopefully I’ll be able to pick up White Rabbit soon.

While this is a very different book in a lot of ways, I do love how much character depth there was again. I’m not always the biggest fan of the thriller genre because plotdriven books tend to lack character development and that’s my personal preference, but this is definitely a book I’d reread, because it offered a lot more than just an engaging plot!

Rep: gay MC, gay Muslim love interest, Japanese side character, black side character

CWs: rape, sexual assault/harrassment, pedophilia, sexism/misogyny, classism, homophobia, murder, violence, graphic descriptions of blood and wounds

Archie Bongiovanni – Grease Rats

I was sent an eARC of this book through Netgalley, in exchange for my honest review.

I just don’t think any knuckle tattoo will beat ‘BOOK CLUB’

This is such a funny comic bind-up! It consists of mini-comics surrounding best friends and roommates Scout and Andy and their queer friends. Aside from it being hilarious, it doesn’t shy away from serious topics and feelings. I really enjoyed it, as it was a quick and light read for the most part, but also very validating. I loved how it was centered mostly around friendship and not romance, and the characters were entirely different from each other.

CWs: homophobia, transphobia, misgendering

Ashley Herring Blake – The Mighty Heart of Sunny St James

I absolutely loved Ivy Aberdeen’s Letter to the World, and, even though there are many differences, this book definitely has a similar atmosphere and shares a central theme of questioning your sexuality.

While Ivy Aberdeen really hit home for me, Sunny St. James didn’t feel as close to me. But I still really loved this book, and Sunny as a main character. I only wish some plotlines would have gotten resolved a little more, because the story didn’t feel quite finished to me.

Rep: f/f romance, brown side characters

CWs: heart transplant, surgery, alcoholism/addiction, absent parent, gossiping/bullying, homophobia, racism

Marjane Satrapi – Persepolis

I just noticed I actually didn’t write a Goodreads review for this graphic novel. I guess it’s because it left me with mixed feelings. It is, of course, a very important novel, and I really appreciated that aspect of it. But there were also parts of the story that didn’t sit quite right with me, and I can’t really put them into words. I fully realize this doesn’t make much sense though, and I absolutely think it’s worth the read!

Amanda Foody – King of Fools

While I really enjoyed Ace of Shades, my main issue with it was that I felt it lacked character depth. Lucky for me, King of Fools turned out to be a beast of a novel at 600 pages, and there was a lot of depth and development!! I had such a great time reading this!

Aside from getting to know the main characters better, the plot is also even more high stakes, but somehow it’s more believable at the same time. Levi leading a gang took a lot for my suspension of disbelief in book 1, but it starts to make a lot more sense here.

Bonus points for the girl gang, omg!

S.A. Chakraborty – The Kingdom of Copper

I don’t even know how to review this, because all I can say is: I love this series so much! If you haven’t yet, please pick it up!!

Victoria Schwab – The Archived

I don’t think I could ever read any of Victoria Schwab’s books and not like it. Her writing style is truly so beautiful, and it amazes me how every single one of her books is different from anything I’ve ever read before.

I really loved the mysterious atmosphere in this book. It sort of reminded me of the Library episodes in Doctor Who! It was really slow paced, but in the best way, and there were some twists and turns I did not see coming.

I’m so glad I managed to find a beautiful hardback of this novel, and I will hopefully be able to get it signed later this year!!

CWs: grief, death of a sibling, murder, violence

Victoria Schwab – The Unbound

Honestly, I’ll just read everything Victoria Schwab writes from now on.

I will say, I loved The Archived even more. Mainly because it’s more of a finished story – I wouldn’t say there’s necessarily a cliffhanger here, but the story isn’t quite wrapped up either, and I just really want more!! So to know that’s unlikely to happen is pretty sad. I also had a few minor issues with this book, about some situations I’d have liked to see addressed more. (I know, that’s very vague, I want to avoid spoilers!)

CWs: trauma, self harm, involuntary drug use (her mother puts something in her drink without consent to put her to sleep), violence, blood

Casey McQuiston – Red, White & Royal Blue

As a queer person who’s still trying to figure out (aspects of) her identity, this book meant so much to me.

With every LGBTQ+ book I read, I feel like I’m a little closer to understanding who I am and what it means to be queer. This book achieved that especially, because it’s so clearly rooted in the LGBTQ+ history. I especially loved the emails Alex and Henry exchange.

On top of that, I’ve never read about a main character questioning their sexuality in their 20s in a way so similar to my own experience. I will honestly admit, this had me in tears reading it, because it made me feel so seen.

Aside from this representation, this book has a lot of seemingly effortless diversity. It basically shows the political climate you can only wish was reality, which makes it a hopeful read. And it’s a hilarious read as well. Overall, this book had me laughing and crying and loving these characters so fucking much.

While reading the book, I actually listened to the Spotify playlist the author made to match the characters, and this really added to my enjoyment! I especially love Alex’s playlist 🙂

Rep: bisexual Mexican character, gay love interest, Mexican side characters, bisexual side character, Black side character, gay side character, trans queer side character, pansexual side character

CWs: homophobia, grief, public outing, racism, sexual abuse, alcohol use

Terry Blas – Hotel Dare

I was sent an eARC of this book through Netgalley, in exchange for my honest review.

We all come from different worlds, but as long as there’s people who love you where you’re at, you’ll always be fine.

This is such a fun, diverse, heartwarming read about found/chosen family. The story is inspired by Aztec mythology, and the art work is beautiful. I absolutely loved the characters, and even though it took me some time to figure out the story, I ended up really enjoying that as well.

S.J. Goslee – How (Not) to Ask a Boy to Prom

Can this just be a movie already? This would truly make for a perfectly fun, heartwarming romcom! I love the fake dating trope, and it was especially amazing here because both boys are so dense, and really don’t seem to realise how flimsy their reasons for “fake” dating are. I won’t give anything else away but this was really cute, okay?

Rep: gay MC, bi love interest, characters of colour, f/f couple, LGBTQ+ characters

CWs: panic attack, homophobia, bullying, violence, alcohol use

Mason Deaver – I Wish You All the Best

You know that feeling when your most anticipated reads actually live up to your mile-high expectations? This happened to me with Red, White & Royal Blue earlier (read it!), and now it happened again with I Wish You All the Best.

This is such an emotional, deeply important story. And I will just state right now: I would do anything to protect Ben. They’ve instantly become one of my favourite main characters. Usually, main characters are these really loveable, agreeable people, because readers need to be able to root for them, I guess? But I was rooting for Ben especially because they weren’t. They had so many issues to deal with and to process, and it was amazing to see them grow as a character. I especially appreciated the on-page therapy rep!

I would actually love to read a sequel for this, where Ben learns to grow even more and we follow them living their best enby life!

Rep: non-binary MC, Black bisexual love interest, Black side character, Asian side character, non-binary pansexual Muslim side character

CWs: transphobia, dysphoria, misgendering, parental abuse, anxiety, depression, panic attacks

Claire Kann – Let’s Talk About Love

I loved rereading this, especially because it made me realize how much I’ve grown in realizing what being asexual means to me. My own experience is vastly different from Alice’s, but I still really appreciate this book, and I loved reading it again.

Rep: Black biromantic asexual MC, Japanese love interest

CWs: aphobia, racism, alcohol use

C.S. Pacat – Fence, Vol. 1 & 2

I really love these comics! The art is beautiful, and the dialogues are so well-written. I wouldn’t have expected to love a comic that’s so focussed on sports so much, but I’m completely invested already. I honestly can’t wait for volume 3 to be released!

Nina LaCour – Hold Still

I’m honestly blown away by this book. The way it describes Caitlin’s day to day life at school while dealing with the loss of her best friend is so impactful in a really quiet way. The divide in seasons really adds to that, because it shows Caitlin’s growth as a character and how she goes through the process of grieving Ingrid. And the same goes for Ingrid’s journal entries, which help Caitlin realize that you can never truly know everything about someone – at least not if they’re not willing to share it with you. Combined with Nina LaCour’s truly beautiful writing style, this is maybe one of the best books I’ve read that deals with mental illness, suicide, and grief.

One thing I especially love about Nina LaCour’s books is how art and creativity are always a large part of them. Here, Ingrid and Caitlin were/are both photographers, and I absolutely loved the way their art was described. In this novel, art (both Ingrid’s and her own) really helps Caitlin realize she’s not the only one dealing with grief and it’s something she can share with others.

Rep: lesbian side character, f/f romance

CWs: (graphic descriptions of) suicide, (graphic descriptions of) self harm, depression, grief

Carly Usdin – The Avant-Guards, Vol. 1

I was sent an eARC of this book through Netgalley, in exchange for my honest review.

Weirdly, seeing as I’m not a sports fan, I’ve been loving (graphic) novels about sports lately! This one, which is about a girls’ college basketball team (full of queer girls!), was once again really fun. I absolutely adored the art work and colour use. So often, a graphic novel will either read quite rushed or it’ll feel like nothing really happened yet in volume 1. This one had great pacing, and there was already quite a lot of character development.

If I’d have to compare, I’d say this is a combination of Fence and Giant Days, and I would definitely recommend picking it up!

Rep: this graphic novel has multiple (main) wlw characters of colour, as well as a non-binary side character.

CWs: anxiety, mentions of panic attacks.

C.B. Lee – Not Your Backup

I got to read an eARC of the next book in the Sidekick Squad series as well. You can read my review here!

Karol Ruth Silverstein – Cursed

This is such a refreshing read! It’s one of the first books I’ve read with a main character who has chronic pain, where it’s actually a central topic of the book. And seeing as the rep for this is own voices, I really appreciated that.

While I don’t have a chronic illness myself, the title “cursed” – being used by the MC to describe her chronically ill body – seems a little iffy. But I did love seeing a disabled character portrayed in a way that’s not stereotypical and in a way that centers her as a person, and not as an inspiration or someone to pity for others. She gets to be angry, and she gets to resent how she feels and what she’s unable to do.

I guess it’s no big deal to them. It’s obviously not suddenly going to be a main topic of conversation […]. Thank God. But at the same time, I feel a tinge of disappointment, like maybe I want them to care a little. But do I?

Aspects of the book were very relatable for me, because being autistic, I have some similar experiences. Of course you never want people to make a huge deal about it and treat you differently once they find out, but on the other hand… it also sort of stings when they brush it off like it’s nothing. And that happens all the time. You tell someone you’re autistic (and I imagine it’s the same with a lot of disabilities and chronic illnesses) and maybe you give an example of what you struggle with, and then they’ll immediately project it onto themselves and say something like “oh yeah, I get that too!” Which is probably meant to be supportive and accepting, but it feels a lot more like erasure and dismissal.

I also loved some of the on-page discussions, like about how medical professionals aren’t always best equipped to deal with chronic pain, and how it should be okay to try to find a doctor who’s a good match for you.

Before picking up this book, I actually didn’t expect to enjoy it a lot, but I did want to give it a shot. And I’m so pleasantly surprised! There’s a lot of character development as well, and not just in the main character, but in her parents as well.

Rep: chronic illness/chronic pain

CWs: (internalized) ableism, bullying, cancer, hospitals, mention of panic attacks

Brynne Rebele-Henry – Orpheus Girl

I was sent an eARC of this book through Edelweiss, in exchange for my honest review. I posted my review earlier this week, so you can read it here!

Sara Barnard – Fierce Fragile Hearts

Recovering isn’t about fresh starts, or new beginnings. It’s about the constant as well as the change. You build a foundation in layers, and that’s what makes it strong. Maybe sometimes it means taking a step back, but that doesn’t have to be a bad thing. Sometimes you have to take a step back to get a better view of where you’re going.

I will never be better, because better is not a thing. I will always just be me, and maybe that’s OK. Maybe that’s even great.

This book took my heart and broke it into a million pieces, only to take those pieces and break them again. The ending pieced them back together though, so it’s fine!

I had to take it very slow reading this book, because it hit really close to home in several ways. I read 50 pages a day at most and it still really affected me. But Suzanne was my favourite character in Beautiful Broken Things, and I love her even more now. This book had me crying so many times, and I’ll thank it for it. It was wonderful to see Suzanne’s character development, learning how strong she actually is and gaining some real emotional maturity. I won’t spoil the book, obviously, but I will say the ending was extremely satisfying as I felt it was the only healthy resolution for her.

I just absolutely loved the friendships in this book. In this book, Suze discovers that she actually does have a real support system. Her existing relationships strengthen, and she makes new friends as well. Suzanne’s friendship with her elderly neighbour Dilys is especially wonderful, and I really loved Kel and Matt too. It was amazing to read about Suzanne learning that she deserves to be loved and to let people care about her.

Ultimately, I love how flawed all of the characters are. Even the smallest side characters have true flaws that make them human.

Rep: bisexual side character, aroace elderly side character

CWs: parental abuse (both physical and emotional), mentions of attempted suicide, depresssion, trauma, loneliness, hospitals, death, slutshaming

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