June Wrap-up

In June, I hosted #PrideLibrary21 with my friends, and I dedicated the month to reading exclusively queer books (with a few exceptions! I ended up reading 46 books, and I had a really fun reading month!

In this post, I’ll share my Goodreads reviews of my 4 and 5 star reads of the month. Want to keep track of my reading in more detail? Feel free to add me on Goodreads!

Jenn Burke – Not Dead Yet

I always think paranormal romance isn’t my thing, and maybe this is another amazing exception to the rule, or maybe I’m just plain wrong. Because I absolutely adored this. It was funny, the characters were amazing, the plot was a super intriguing murder mystery, what’s not to love?

I also read the rest of this series, but I didn’t really review them. They were all 5 star reads, though!

C.B. Lee – Seven Tears at High Tide

This is one of the fluffiest and sweetest books I’ve ever read, and it was such a comforting read!

A.M. Strickland – In the Ravenous Dark

I absolutely loved Beyond the Black Door by A.M. Strickland, and after reading this one, I think it’s safe to say I’ve found a new favourite author. This one was again so good, and so queer. I often have a hard time getting into fantasy, but this one was so accessible and had me crying in the prologue. I absolutely loved Rovan as a main character, and her dynamic with the other characters, which often made it a really funny read as well.

S.T. Gibson – A Dowry of Blood

I now completely understand why my timeline has been so obsessed with this book. This is exactly what I want from a vampire novel: gothic, villainous, achingly beautiful.

I read this in one sitting and that’s mainly because of the writing, which is gorgeous without ever getting dense and didn’t trade beauty for accessibility. This showed a lot of skill from a writing perspective.

E.H. Timms – Holding Onto Day

I didn’t review this novella, but I really enjoyed it.

Courtney Gould – The Dead and the Dark

I’m not a huge thriller reader, mainly because thrillers tend to bore me as they usually don’t make me feel emotionally invested – I often end up finding the characters too flat.

This one, I could not put down, and that’s mainly because I was so invested in Logan and her family. This was a really atmospheric, well written book, but what mainly made it stand out to me was the complicated family dynamic between Logan and her dads. This even ended up making me cry.

Sarah Graley – Kim Reaper, Vol. 1: Grim Beginnings

I didn’t review this, but I really enjoyed this graphic novel and definitely want to read the sequel! I especially really liked the art style.

E.H. Timms – Birthday Landscapes

Another really enjoyable novella!

Alison Cochrun – The Charm Offensive

I requested this kind of on a whim, thinking it might be entertaining, but it exceeded all of my expectations. It’s 100% a new favourite and one of my favourite reads of the year so far. I think it’s safe to say this is one of the most exciting romcom releases of the year, so get on this!!

The book is compared to RWRB and One to Watch, and normally I’m pretty skeptical of comp titles, but it’s exactly right here and perfectly describes the vibe of the book.

I went into this not knowing much, and I was blown away by the mental health rep – Charlie has OCD, anxiety and a panic disorder, and Dev has depression, and it was amazing to see the way they bonded together, learning to understand each other and comforting each other.

At the start of the book, Charlie doesn’t yet know he’s queer, and he goes through the book questioning but also not really wanting to pick a label since he has so many already. He ends up identifying as gay though, and there’s also a lot of discussion of him maybe being on the asexual spectrum, which, as an asexual person, I think was done so well and with so much nuance.

Aside from all the representation, I also just found this an incredibly fun romcom and I absolutely adored the romance. It made me feel so incredibly invested, there was so much yearning and so much angst, but at the same time there were a lot of comforting moments, and I just absolutely adored it.

Hannah Moskowitz – Sick Kids in Love

I didn’t review this book, but I absolutely adored it! Definitely a new favourite YA contemporary.

Mike Curato – Flamer

This graphic novel almost reads like a memoir, it’s so personal. It hit me really hard, the way this Filipino gay boy in the 90s was struggling with homophobic bullying and feeling unable to accept himself. And it hits me even harder that this story is still needed for so many readers, almost 30 years later.

Penny Aimes – For the Love of April French

I’m not a very big reader of kinky romance, and I’ll admit I mostly picked up this one for the trans rep, but wow, did I love this. It’s overall a very fluffy book and I loved April and Dennis so much!

As a trans woman, April feels like she does not deserve to be loved, so she keeps Dennis at a distance. Dennis, on his part, is in it for the long haul, and he does the most to give her the space and time she needs while working on himself to be the best boyfriend he could be. He’s patient without being pushy (April doesn’t even know he’s doing it), and I loved their relationship so much.

Britta Lundin – Like Other Girls

There’s a lot to love about this, especially if you’re a fan of character growth. It’s an honest, nuanced exploration of internalized misogyny from the perspective of a teen butch lesbian, who’s grappling with what gender identity means to her and how she can be butch but still respect and appreciate femininity in others.

It’s also a great addition to the existing range of queer sports books, especially because there’s such a big focus on sports in the book as opposed to more romance-driven stories. Which is not to say there isn’t a romance, but it doesn’t take the front seat.

In terms of the romance, I would have liked to see more acknowledgment of the intersection of the love interest’s queer Asian identity, which is mentioned but never addressed in a meaningful way. I especially didn’t like the way the main character, a white girl, saw her as her nemesis before, literally calling her arrogant and aggressive when she was clearly neither. This felt racist to me (although keep in mind I’m a white person so my opinion doesn’t hold much weight).

I would also have liked to see more of a resolution in terms of the main character’s mother, who’s very unsupportive and queerphobic, but I also realize that sometimes it just is that way and isn’t ever going to change.

One thing I really liked is that, where most queer YA set in a rural environment has a main character who really wants to get away, this book has a main character who realizes she loves where she lives and she wants this place to make a space for her.

Schuyler Bailar – Obie Is Man Enough

This was a fairly hard book to read as a trans person and I would urge you to look up the trigger warnings and make sure you’re in the right mindset before you go in. But because the book is so full of support – Obie deals with transphobic bullying, but he’s surrounded from all sides by supportive family and teachers – I found it a really well-balanced book regardless.

I feel like this book achieves a commendably good balance between being empowering for trans readers and being educational for cis readers. Cis kids reading this will learn a lot from Obie’s experiences and his feelings about them, but the book never prioritizes that over the well being and empowerment of trans readers (like books with trans main characters from cis authors tend to do).

CWs: transphobia, bullying, outing (bully outs the MC to someone), transphobic and homophobic slurs, deadnaming, misgendering, death of a grandparent, discussions of traumatic war experiences from a Korean grandparent, slutshaming.

Isaac Fitzsimons – The Passing Playbook

More of this, please!! Queer sports books are my kryptonite, and this was a particularly good one. It reminded me of Julian Winters’ books with how soft it was, and I so loved reading a YA contemporary with a trans MC that wasn’t centered around transphobia, or at least not mainly. I think this is one of those books I’ll enjoy even more on a reread, but this was already really great! Special shoutout to the way the autistic brother was written, because authors tend to rely heavily on stereotypes and write harmful rep, but this was done really well!

Rivers Solomon – Sorrowland

I’m a reader who tends to stay in my comfort zone quite a lot, but I’ll be the first to admit that stepping out of it once in a while is so worthwile. Sorrowland is a combination of a lot of elements I don’t typically enjoy, but it was such a valuable reading experience. I thought it might take me a while to read this, but I could absolutely not put it down. I think that’s largely because I tend to expect a book of this genre to be quite heavy, and parts of it definitely were, but this also felt like a really hopeful book, and there’s a lot of love between Vern and her children.

Alyssa Cole – How to Find a Princess

This was probably my favourite Alyssa Cole book so far, and that’s saying a lot!

Tami Charles – Muted

I didn’t review this verse novel, but it was absolutely stunning and very impactful.

Gary Lonesborough – The Boy From the Mish

I just practically inhaled this book, loved it so much! I’m going to need everyone to read this

Lucy Powrie – Bookishly Ever After

This was by far my favourite book in the series! It was so charming and it had a surprise (for me!) autistic love interest! I loved the rep so much!!

Ry Herman – Love Bites

This is a very weird little book, and I really liked it!

Anna-Marie McLemore – The Mirror Season

While I consider A-M McLemore to be one of my favourite authors, I actually didn’t click with their previous two releases and I’ve been so sad about that. But luckily, I really loved this one again!

Angeline Boulley – Firekeeper’s Daughter

“We don’t forget our lost ones.”

This was so much at once: a thriller/mystery, contemporary fiction (or would this be considered historical, since it’s set during the early 00s? I feel old!), a romance… And it did all of it so incredibly well. I’m honestly in awe of how good this was, how it encapsulated so much in such an in depth and nuanced way without it ever feeling like too much. If I had to tell you to read one book this year, I would tell you to read this one!

Greg Howard – Middle School’s a Drag

Laugh-out-loud funny and irresistably charming!

C.L. Clark – The Unbroken

This one is hard to review for me, because objectively, this is an absolutely stunning, brilliantly plotted and very intriguing fantasy tome. And I did really appreciate all of those aspects – I thought this was a really good book. But this book is also exact proof of why I often struggle reading fantasy, no matter how much I love it. I found the writing and all the politics quite dense and hard to process, which took a lot out of me while reading. I think I’ll have to reread this eventually to fully appreciate it, and I do think I’ll want to read the sequel!

Destiny Soria – Beneath the Citadel

This was just extremely entertaining to read! Would highly recommend if you like heist books with a fun cast of characters.

Alisha Rai – First Comes Like

I didn’t review this, but I’ve really enjoyed this series.

TJ Klune – How to Be a Normal Person

I didn’t review this either, but I just love TJ Klune’s books

What was your favourite read this month?

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