In April, I ended up reading a total of 36 books, mainly thanks for my #NetgalleyLibrary readathon. This is my new record of most books read in a month this year. I’m finally a few books ahead on my Goodreads challenge because of this.
This was also one of my most successful months in that I read a lot of new favourites!
In this post, I’ll share my Goodreads reviews of my 4 and 5 star reads of February. Want to keep track of my reading in more detail? Feel free to add me on Goodreads!
Bethany Rutter – No Big Deal
This was quite hard to read at times, but it was also really good. Hard to read, because it deals quite heavily with fatphobia. Really good, because it always always challenges that, and the main character had a great way of addressing it. I loved her tone of voice.
I also think this is a book that shows how much we need different kinds of books with fat rep, because I would die for something that’s literally just fat positive, and I don’t think I’ve ever gotten to read that. That’s not this book’s fault – it’s an important book and I’m glad it exists. But it does show how we need so much more fat rep.
CWs: fatphobia, diet talk, cheating
Xan West – Nine of Swords, Reversed
This was my third Xan West book within the span of a month, and I think it’s safe to say I’ve found a new favourite author. I adore how they create safe spaces within the world of their books. Even if that means, like here, that difficult topics need to be discussed. Because this is, at the same time, the heaviest book I’ve read by them so far.
Heavy, because there was a fair amount of angst. But mostly because it dealt with a lot of internalized shit: internalized ableism, internalized gender stuff, assumptions about what other people think and want. I loved seeing this play out and getting so many thoughtful, self aware discussions about disability, gender, and the importance of communication in a relationship.
Celine Frohn, ed. – Unspeakable: A Queer Gothic Anthology
I was sent an eARC of this anthology by the editor, in exchange for my honest review.
Rating anthologies is always sort of impossible, because you’ll adore some stories and won’t really mesh with others. I’m giving this 4 stars though, because overall, this was a really great read. I loved the gothic vibe, which came through in many different ways. And I loved how queer it was, and diversely so. A lot of queer anthologies generally feature a select few identities, but this didn’t just have gay, lesbian and bi rep, it also had trans, non-binary, asexual and pansexual rep! I especially loved how much sapphic goodness there was.
L.C. Rosen – Camp
Review to come soon!!
But just… please preorder this, it’s one of the queerest things I’ve ever read and it’s truly amazing.
Robin Talley – Music From Another World
Since Pulp was one of my favourite books of 2019, I started this audiobook as soon as I could. And wow. She just did it again.
This was hard to read at times, because it deals with a lot of homophobia, but it’s also such an important read. There’s something so very special about reading about LGBTQ+ history.
The characters were incredibly loveable as well, and I loved how all of them has a really different experience being queer.
I’m not in the mood to write a long review, but I couldn’t recommend this enough!
Rep: lesbian MC, questioning bisexual MC, gay side character
R.F. Kuang – The Dragon Republic
I didn’t review this, but god, I love this series so much, it absolutely blows me away.
Kate Weston – Diary of a Confused Feminist
As a teenager, I was a big fan of the Georgia Nicolson books. I thought they were absolutely hilarious. This book reminded me a lot of those – because of its style, and because of the diary entries. At the same time, it’s a very welcome modernized update, that deals with feminism and mental health in a light-hearted, open manner.
Speaking of mental health, I had no idea this book would have anxiety and depression representation, and I thought it was handled very well. It was amazing to see such supportive parents, and to see positive therapy sessions in a YA book.
I think this is a really great book for a younger YA audience.
Rep: MC with anxiety and depression, Black side character, gay side character
CWs: depression, panic attacks, bullying, menstruation
Cory McCarthy & Amy Rose Capetta – Sword in the Stars
I have this problem where often, when I love the first book in a series, I’ll end up sorely disappointed in the second book. This often makes me very hesitant to pick up any sequels. But because I loved Once & Future, I did really want to read the sequel.
And I’m so glad I did, because this book was at least as fun as the first one. I love how queer and diverse a cast this duology has, and I loved the way it showed that history was a lot more diverse than we’re taught.
Where Once & Future is mostly a sci-fi reimaging on the King Arthur stories, Sword in the Stars is an interesting mix of historical fantasy and sci-fi. I thought this genre mix was very well done.
One thing I missed in the first book was seeing the character’s personalities fleshed out enough. I was glad to see that this was done more in depth in the sequel, and the book packed more of an emotional punch than the first book did, at least for me.
All in all, this was a really great end to a super fun duology.
Kit Rosewater – The Derby Daredevils: Kenzie Kickstarts a Team
This is one of the cutest middlegrades I’ve read in a while. It’s a fast, fun read but it was poignant at times too, and it’s just really adorable.
Rep: sapphic MC with a trans dad, side characters of colour
Taylor Brooke – Curved Horizon
I just love these dumbasses so much.
Ngozi Ukazu – Check, Please! Book 2: Sticks & Scones
I didn’t review this but this is one of my absolute favourite comics and I can’t believe it’s ended.
Kacen Callender – Felix Ever After
First off, this cover is so beautiful, and knowing the book is about an artist who starts making self portraits, it really hits differently.
This is such a special book, and it really resonated with me. There was a lot of transphobia, but there was also a lot of hope and a lot of self exploration, which was amazing to read. I expected this book to be about a trans guy, but I didn’t know he would also be questioning his gender identity and figuring out where he falls on the non-binary spectrum.
Without a doubt, this is one of the most important YA releases of the year.
Rep: bisexual trans questioning demiguy Black MC, queer Black Bengali love interest, Afrolatinx side character, queer side characters & side characters of colour
CWs: racism, homophobia, (internalized) transphobia, absent parent, weed
Hannah Moskowitz – Sugar Summer
If you’re reading this book, you are legally obligated to listen to the Dirty Dancing soundtrack. You’ll have the time of your life 😉
Recently, I read a retelling of Grease, and I thought to myself: “I wish there was a retelling of Dirty Dancing.” Because I loved the Grease retelling (Only Mostly Devastated), and I didn’t even like that movie very much (sorry!), but Dirty Dancing is one of my favourite movies ever and I’ve seen it many times.
Just yesterday, I learned that this retelling actually just came out, and that is was a lesbian retelling! The only reasonable thing I could do was buy the ebook straight away and dive right in.
This book was such a treat to read. It was everything I wished for and more. It was a pretty close retelling, just with a modern update and some twists, and it had the same vibe as the movie.
Rep: Jewish lesbian MC, Latinx lesbian love interest, trans side character
Talia Hibbert – A Girl Like Her
After having loved Get a Life, Chloe Brown, A Girl Like Her was only my second Talia Hibbert book, but that won’t be the case for long – I definitely have more of her books on my immediate TBR. I have a feeling she might just become one of my favourite romance authors.
A Girl Like Her reminded me of Chloe Brown in some ways, mostly when it comes to the vibe of the book. Which is good, because I loved this about both books! It also has a largely similar dynamic between the main characters. I do feel like Chloe Brown as a book was maybe a little more fleshed out, but I still really enjoyed A Girl Like Her and I especially loved the fluffier aspects.
I was also very happy to see an autistic main character in a romance novel, which was also the main reason I picked up this book when I did. I read this book for Autism Acceptance Month and I’m so glad I did. I loved how Ruth was unapologetically herself.
CWs: mention of domestic abuse, ableism, harassment
Alechia Dow – The Sound of Stars
Bring back YA sci-fi challenge 2020! I know, I know, there is some sci-fi out there, but it’s not a lot, and this book made me realize once again how sad that is. It reminded me of the “golden age” of YA dystopian in the best way possible, and of course the best part is that this book is actually diverse.
I love how much this book dealt with people’s need for art and expression, especially in desperate times.
CWs: colonization, execution, violence, blood, alcoholism
Talia Hibbert – Take a Hint, Dani Brown
My full review will be up soon!
Maxfield Sparrow, ed. – Spectrums: Autistic Transgender People in Their Own Words
As an autistic non-binary person, this non-fiction anthology is one of the most empowering and affirming things I’ve ever read. It’s such a diverse collection of voices, people of very different backgrounds and with very different life stories and identities. It truly shows how both being autistic and being trans/non-binary are different experiences for everyone. It was also amazing to see a lot of somewhat older people being included in this, since a lot of people make the assumption that these identities are somehow new.
One thing I found lacking is the writing style. Of course everyone wrote their own contributions and because of that, not every story was as readable. On the plus side, I did think this also enhanced my reading experience at times, because the stories didn’t feel polished and that made them feel very real.
Supriya Kelkar – American As Paneer Pie
This was a very culturally rich, very loveable read, which was full of puns! It was great to see the main character’s growth in learning to speak up and stand up for herself.
I’ve read a fair few middlegrades that deal with racism, but I’m not sure I’ve ever read any that really delve into it, and the layers of it, like this book did. The main character is Indian-American, and the book shows her day-to-day reality in a lot of different ways. She deals with microaggressions and bullying at school, and she feels like she can’t be openly proud of her heritage and stand up for herself without facing even more racist bullying. The book also deals with colorism and internalized prejudices, and the way the main character views her new friend who only just moved to the US from India. It did all this in a very accessible way, and with a lot of heart. It’s impossible not to love Lekha and her family – I’m honestly always here for great family relationships in books.
CWs: hate crimes, racism, colorism, bullying
Rory Power – Burn Our Bodies Down
Rory Power is such an exceptional writer. This book was absolutely beautiful right from the very first page. I’m honestly in awe of her writing style.
This was such an intriguing read. It was quiet and sort of slow, but even though it wasn’t necessarily fast-paced, I could hardly put it down. All I wanted was to figure out this family mystery. It was all so quietly unsettling, and while I’m not normally a thriller/mystery fan, I think I’ve found my exact brand of them.
CWs: (attempted) murder, body horror, gore, corpses, fire
Alysia Constantine, ed. – Short Stuff
My full review will be up soon!
Brandy Colbert – The Voting Booth
I’m absolutely loving the recent trend of politics in YA, which is due to 2020 being an election year in the US. I’ve already read The State of Us and Yes No Maybe So, and if you’re, like me, interested in these types of books, I would say that The Voting Booth is pretty much required reading as well.
The Voting Booth reminded me a lot of The Sun Is Also a Star as well, since it also all happens in one day. This makes the book perfect to read in one sitting, and I found it a very fast and engaging read.
I think this book will appeal to a large audience. It handles subjects like racial injustice and gun violence, and the privilege of being able to opt out of activism because things don’t have a direct impact on your life. And while all of this feels poignant and relevant, the book still manages to stay light and mostly fluffy, which I think is no small feat.
CWs: gun violence, past death of a sibling, racism
Zoraida Córdova – Incendiary
Will this be the book that cures my fantasy slump?
I’ve been having a really bad fantasy slump lately, and I’m so sad about it, because fantasy used to be my favourite genre. Starting this though, I was drawn in right away. It always helps a lot, I think, when the book starts in the middle of the action, and that’s definitely what happens here.
The writing style is absolutely exceptional as well. I thought this was so well written. And the book really took me by surprise a couple of times. There were twists that made me do a double take, and there was a twist that made me cry that I absolutely did not see coming. I just want a sequel now!
CWs: poisoning, burning, suicide, murder, descriptions of wounds and stitches
How many books did you end up reading in April? What was your favourite read of the month?