First of all, I would like to thank everyone who participated in #PrideLibrary19!! We’ve had such a good time, and I hope you did too! Would you like for us to host a challenge like this again next year? In July, we’ll take a little break from challenges, but we are planning to host a summer challenge in August, so keep an eye out for that!
At the start of the month, I put 20 books on my TBR. And I should have been able to predict it, but I did NOT end up sticking to that TBR. I ended up reading only 8 of them, so I guess I have a lot of great reads ahead of me next month. Although you won’t see me making a TBR anytime soon either, I’m just too much of a mood reader.
I ended up reading 31 books total this month, most of which are LGBTQ+. It was a bit of a slower reading month for me, and I read a lot of graphic novels, because of some mental health issues. But I did really love most of the books I read!
Let’s get into my 4 and 5 star reads!! I didn’t include 4 and 5 star reads that don’t have LGBTQ+ rep, or rereads. But I try to review every book I read on Goodreads, so feel free to add me there!
Austin Chant – Peter Darling
This is a sort of reimagining/sequel to Peter Pan, and it’s so much fun! The idea of merging two of the original characters together makes so much sense, and it gives Peter a lot more depth and background as a main character.
The world building and magic system are described in this quiet, subtle way that I really loved. They’re sort of secondary to the characters being stuck in a struggle with who they are and what went wrong in their lives, and finding the way (back) to self acceptance and happiness.
I really loved the romance as well. Let’s face it, I’m pretty much a sucker for the enemies to lovers trope, and it was so well done here. Especially because it’s quite a slowburn, and I felt like the characterization was very consistent, even when both of the characters moved from a more villainous, blood thirsty stance to a more friendly and then loving one.
Rep: trans MC, gay love interest
CWs: violence, death of side characters, mentions of blood and wounds, misgendering and deadnaming (challenged)
Shaun David Hutchinson – Brave Face
You can read my review of Brave Face here!
Katie O’Neill – The Tea Dragon Festival
I was sent an eARC of this graphic novel through Netgalley, in exchange for my honest review.
Just because something comes easily to you, does not mean it has no value. You find it effortless because you love it, and that is why it is your gift.
After having absolutely adored The Tea Dragon Society, I didn’t know how quickly to request this companion graphic novel. And just like in The Tea Dragon Society, this was once again a breathtakingly beautiful graphic novel, full of seemingly effortless diversity.
This novel moved a little slower than its predecessor, and it was amazing to see more of a background unfold. In this story, we meet Hesekiel and Erik again, but at an earlier period in their lives, when they’ve only been together for a few years. The novel is centered around Erik’s family, however, and the peaceful, loving village they live in.
I just fell so completely in love with this story. There are were so many incredibly heartwarming, sweet aspects, and reading it felt like a warm hug.
Rep: multiple characters of colour, non-binary character, Deaf character & use of ASL.
Tehlor Kay Mejia – We Set the Dark on Fire
If we’re not all free, none of us are free.
I somehow didn’t have very high expectations of this book. Mainly, I think, because dystopians are always very hit or miss for me. But wow. I was drawn in right from the very first page, and I’m speechless because of how good this is.
This book is everything The Handmaid’s Tale was supposed to be. Such a timely dystopian, with lots of references to the real world, and a very insightful exploration of gender hierarchy and social class. There’s so much character development, as Dani struggles to choose between her own safety according to her parents wishes, or standing up for what is right. Ultimately, this novel shows how wrong it is to hide behind your own privilege when others suffer.
All of that already blew me away, but this is a very fun and suspenseful read as well! The ending had me on the edge of my seat, and I absolutely loved the romance. Please don’t hesitate to pick this up.
Rep: f/f romance, Latinx characters
CWs: misogyny, xenophobia, violent arrests and protests, fire & burns, guns, knives, hospitals.
Zack Smedley – Deposing Nathan
First of all, this book is so well written. I was drawn in right from the first page, and I was fully engaged in the story throughout the whole book. I would have read it in one sitting if I could have.
And it’s just such a good book as well. If you want to read about lovable characters who make good choices, you should probably skip this. But that’s what makes it interesting.
The author description says Zack Smedley’s goal is to write “gritty, morally complex narratives”, and that’s exactly what this is. Nathan is a main character with a lot of issues to deal with. His mum died a few years prior to the story and now he lives with his father and his abusive aunt. He has to learn how to reconcile his Catholic faith with his bisexuality. And he makes bad choices. He screws up a lot.
It would be very easy to hate him, and I think in a lot of books, I would have. And it’s really the biggest strength of this novel that I didn’t. Because it’s so easy to judge, and so human to make mistakes, even ones you can’t fix. There was so much character development in that sense, with Nate becoming more self aware and realizing he has to work on himself. I absolutely loved the ending, because, without wanting to give anything away, it fits exactly with what the characters need.
Nowhere in this story are things black and white. And what’s interesting is that, where most books try to wrap up everything nicely at the end, this book doesn’t try to do that at all. Instead, it fully embraces the idea that people are always a work in progress, and even more so if they have issues to deal with. The best message it sends is that you can’t expect others to fix your problems for you. You have to work through them alone. Of course, you can get support if needed, but at the end of the day, you’re the one who’s responsible for doing the work. You can’t put that on anyone else.
Rep: bisexual MC, bisexual love interest, side character with anxiety & explicit use of medication, black side character in a wheelchair
CWs: violence, stabbing, abuse, (internalized) biphobia, homophobia, homophobic slurs, cheating, parental death in the past, panic attack
Samantha Shannon – The Priory of the Orange Tree
Wow. Just… wow.
It took me quite a long time to read this book, because it took a lot out of my ability to focus. But it was so worth it!
I actually had to read the first 50 pages twice to make sense over everything, but once I got a grasp on the story and the world building, I really enjoyed this. It’s a rather slow read, but not because the story moves slowly (it’s actually surprisingly fast-paced for such a long novel!), but because every page held so much intricate detail.
There was so much going on all the time, and so many characters and so much political and religious intrigue, which made this book very interesting to read.
Also, it’s just so amazing to me that this is an epic fantasy by a female author, about a world that has zero homophobia and where the biggest romance is sapphic.
Despite that, no one could have prepared me for the fact that my favourite character would be a grumpy old man.
Rep: f/f romance, multiple (main) characters of colour, past m/m relationship, mentions of same-gender marriages
CWs: death of characters, torture, violence, blood, miscarriage, infertility, alcoholism, grief, depression
Brandy Colbert – Little & Lion
One of the first things I noticed upon starting this book, is how incredibly well written it is. I already wanted to highlight two sentences in the first chapter, and the writing style was just really amazing.
And so was the story itself. I loved the way the central themes were discussed: the main character thinks she’s probably bisexual and spends the book questioning her sexuality, and there are discussions on people’s common misconceptions about bisexuality. There are also discussions about mental illness, and both Suzette and her brother go through a lot of character development.
I have to say I wasn’t the hugest fan of the romance, as it felt a little scattered, since there’s references to Suzette’s former girlfriend at school, and at the start of the book, she has a crush on two people. So there isn’t a lot of space for the eventual romance to be developed, and that makes it a little hard to see the chemistry. But I did like that it was a biracial romance where neither of the characters were white! And the love interest was really lovely and supportive.
Rep: Black bisexual Jewish MC, side character with bipolar disorder, Deaf biracial side character, pansexual side character
CWs: hypomania, ableism, biphobia, homophobia, homophobic slurs, misogyny
K. Ancrum – The Wicker King
I’d describe this book as The Raven Boys meets The Foxhole Court (but without the sports). I really loved August and Jack, and I loved the depth this book had. I also really appreciated how, while the characters were really messed up and did not have the healthiest of relationships, it was always made very clear that this was something they were aware of and they needed to work on.
CWs: mental illness (depression, anxiety), hospitalization, hallucinations, drug dealing, pyromania, violence
Rep: bisexual MC, bisexual side character, Indian side character
Simon James Green – Alex in Wonderland
This is such a funny, refreshing summer read! I actually laughed out loud quite a few times. This book is all kinds of ridiculous, but in the best way possible.
Lilah Suzanne – Broken Records
I received an ebook of this novel through Netgalley, in exchange for my honest review.
Adult romance is a very tricky genre for me. This is entirely a me thing, because it just very quickly rubs me the wrong way. But I wanted to give this a try since I’ve enjoyed other books by this publisher, and it’s LGBTQ+. And I’m quite glad I did!
I was drawn into this book from the very first page, and I enjoyed it so much. It’s exactly what I would want from a romcom. It’s fast-paced and funny, and I especially liked how detailed the writing was. This made for a very atmospheric read. And the main character is just amazing, I loved him a lot.
I did think the book could have done with more communication between the main character and the love interest, because this was mostly left until the end, while I thought it was quite necessary earlier on in the story as well.
Rep: gay Japanese MC, bisexual love interest, f/f couple
CWs: graphic sex scenes, addiction, alcohol consumption, hospital visit, mention of a panic attack
Katie O’Neill – Princess Princess Ever After
This is short, but super sweet, and so empowering. I loved how the princesses saved each other, each in their own ways, and how they taught each other and gave each other space to be better people, together and apart. It was just a very cute, very healthy portrayal of a sapphic romance, and I really enjoyed it.
As a side note, it was made clear that one of the main characters is fat, but I didn’t think the on-page rep in the illustrations was that pronounced. Maybe it’s just me, but I wouldn’t have picked up on it if it wasn’t explicitly stated.
Rep: Black lesbian main character, fat lesbian main character, f/f romance, gay side character
CWs: fatphobia and ableism from the “villain”
Which LGBTQ+ books did you end up reading? Did you manage to read your TBR books, or did you end up picking up different books? And are you happy with your reading this month?