So… June was a month and I’m so glad that it’s over! I was plagued by intense work stress and anxiety for the majority of the month and it greatly impacted my reading. I couldn’t focus on anything for extended periods of time unless it was more visual than text, so I ended up reading a lot of graphic novels. Which was fine, and I enjoyed the ones I read, but I missed out on two buddy reads that I planned to join and I barely scratched the surface of my pride month book list–even though the majority were still LGBTQ reads. In the end I read 21 books:
Of these reads, four were physical books, and the rest were Kindle books and e-ARCs. I’ve really slowed down with requesting ARCs and I’m so glad because with the month I had, I would’ve fallen even more behind and felt awful about it! There are a few that I still need to catch up on that I’ve been requested to read by the author, so I’m putting that as a priority in July! As for which one was my favorite book, I honestly can’t decide between The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah or Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens. Both books have been massively hyped and to me, they were worth ALL of it. Seriously, they were so good, and I’m sad that it took me so long to pick up The Nightingale because it did all the things to my feelings. I haven’t cried so hard reading a book in a long time and I’m a bit of a crier, friends!
With all the graphic novels I’ve read this month, I’ve surpassed my Goodreads goal of 90 books and I’m now sitting at 104. Although I know it’s not about the number of books I read, it’s still exciting to think that i’ve already read over 100 books and we’re only half-way through the year! I wonder how many I’ll end up reading this year?
I’ve written reviews for most of these so if you want to see what I thought of these books, you can follow the links below! That’s all for now though, folks. I hope everyone’s reading month was fab!
Goodreads: Autoboyography Genre: Young Adult Fiction, LGBTQ+, Contemporary, Romance
Three years ago, Tanner Scott’s family relocated from California to Utah, a move that nudged the bisexual teen temporarily back into the closet. Now, with one semester of high school to go, and no obstacles between him and out-of-state college freedom, Tanner plans to coast through his remaining classes and clear out of Utah. But when his best friend Autumn dares him to take Provo High’s prestigious Seminar—where honor roll students diligently toil to draft a book in a semester—Tanner can’t resist going against his better judgment and having a go, if only to prove to Autumn how silly the whole thing is. Writing a book in four months sounds simple. Four months is an eternity. It turns out, Tanner is only partly right: four months is a long time. After all, it takes only one second for him to notice Sebastian Brother, the Mormon prodigy who sold his own Seminar novel the year before and who now mentors the class. And it takes less than a month for Tanner to fall completely in love with him.
I’ve seen a lot about Autoboyography everywhere; it’s been mentioned as a favorite on many lists and has received a lot of praise. I’ve loved much of what Christina Lauren has written and this was no exception. Although I have to admit that I didn’t initially love it as much as I thought I would; perhaps because I didn’t connect to the characters as much at the start and I sometimes found their attitudes/actions frustrating (hello, Autumn!). But the more I think about the book now, the more I really appreciate Tanner’s and Sebastian’s story and realize just how much I enjoyed it.
“Oh, man,” Autumn mumbles from beside me. “His smile makes me stupid.” Her words are a dim echo of my own thoughts: His smile ruins me.
This is a coming-of-age love story, but it wasn’t all the butterflies, rainbows and good/easy things that normally feature in CLo’s novels, and that really made it more authentic and believable. Tanner is a bi-sexual high school senior who was out of the closet when his family lived in California, but had to “go back in” when they relocated to heavily Mormon Utah during his sophomore year. No one in town knows he’s queer, not even his best and closest friend Autumn, and it’s been easy to hide until Sebastian walks into his life. Tanner was easily my favorite character. He was immature at times and made some questionable (and typically high school) decisions, but he was also a cinnamon roll who has so much love to give. The support of his parents lent him an air of maturity and he understood consequences. By far my favorite part of the book was his parents and their support for him. Their completely transparent relationship with each other was so enviable and absolute #familygoals. It brought so much comfort and happiness to the story and clearly played a very big role in making Tanner who he is.
“I don’t actually care if you break my heart, Sebastian. I went into this knowing it could happen and I gave it to you anyway. But I don’t want you to break your own. You have so much space in your heart for your church, but does it have space for you?”
On the other hand we have Sebastian, who comes from and was raised in a hardcore LDS home. He struggles with his identity and thinks that by denying who he is, it’ll make him acceptable and different from other queer people. He loves and continues to turn to the faith that he was raised in, but he’s confused with how to reconcile that with what he feels for Tanner; especially when to him it feels completely right, even when everyone and everything he loves and knows tells him otherwise. As I was reading Sebastian’s struggles and vehement denials of being queer, my heart really broke for him. I want to say so much more, but I also don’t want to give any more away. I will say: read it!
I know there are probably many young teenagers/young adults and maybe even adults who struggle with reconciling their faith with how they identify, and it made me sad to think that we still live in a world where you can expect to be ostracized or abandoned if you choose to be yourself, no matter who that is. Although I can’t speak to the experiences in this book, I believe that CLo did a great job in researching and writing about such a sensitive and complex topic. I think a lot of people will really be able to connect with their stories, especially (maybe) Sebastians’ struggles of coming out, and they’ll find comfort in knowing they’re not alone; that others are struggling, scared and don’t know what to do because they don’t want to lose everything and everyone they love just because of who they are.
“But missing him every day for the rest of my life was still easier than the fight Sebastian had: to stuff himself inside a box every morning and tuck that box inside his heart and pray that his heart kept beating around the obstacle. Every day I could go to class as exactly the person I am, and meet new people, and come outside later for some fresh air and Frisbee. Every day I would be grateful that no one who matters to me questions whether I am too masculine, too feminine, too open, too closed. Every day I would be grateful for what I have, and that I can be who I am without judgment. So every day I would fight for Sebastian, and people in the same boat, who don’t have what I do, who struggle to find themselves in a world that tells them white and straight and narrow gets first pick in the schoolyard game of life.”
Christina Lauren does it again! They really know how to write stories that are not only enjoyable, but cover important issues and make you think and feel all the feels. I’m really glad that I finally read this.
Have you read Autoboyography? What did you think about it? Let me know in the comments and let’s have a little chat 🙂
For years, rumors of the “Marsh Girl” have haunted Barkley Cove, a quiet town on the North Carolina coast. She’s barefoot and wild; unfit for polite society. So in late 1969, when handsome Chase Andrews is found dead, the locals immediately suspect Kya Clark. But Kya is not what they say. Abandoned at age ten, she has survived on her own in the marsh that she calls home. A born naturalist with just one day of school, she takes life lessons from the land, learning from the false signals of fireflies the real way of this world. But while she could have lived in solitude forever, the time comes when she yearns to be touched and loved. Drawn to two young men from town, who are each intrigued by her wild beauty, Kya opens herself to a new and startling world–until the unthinkable happens.
Friends, I loved this book so much. I’m so glad that I finally read it because in my opinion, it is worth all the hype around it! I have to say though that I can understand those who said that they didn’t love it or DNF’d it. Even though I’m obviously not surprised that this book received so much praise because I really loved it, it’s not the typical “fast-paced” novel that normally receives so much love in the book sphere.
“Sometimes she heard night–sounds she didn’t know or jumped from lightning too close, but whenever she stumbled, it was the land who caught her. Until at last, at some unclaimed moment, the heart-pain seeped away like water into sand. Still there, but deep. Kya laid her hand upon the breathing, wet earth, and the marsh became her mother.”
Where the Crawdads Sing is a deeply atmospheric, coming-of-age love story/murder mystery set in the 50s-70s, in the marsh land along the North Carolina coast. Through Delia Owens’ writing, the richness of the marsh and its surroundings that teem with creatures big and small, in the water, on land and in the sky, fully come to life. The story is quite heavily descriptive and full of metaphoric prose about nature that it sometimes reads like a love letter to nature itself. As I mentioned above, I see why people would find it boring or just couldn’t get into it because the descriptive prose made it a slow read and often quite dense. When I started I also wasn’t sure whether I’d love it, but it honestly didn’t take too long for me to realize just how quickly I sped through the chapters and how much I was looking forward to picking it back up again when I had to put it down. Owen’s writing was so captivating and poetic.
The story follows Kya or “The Marsh Girl” as she’s known to the townspeople of Barkley Cove. Abandoned by her family at the age of 10, Kya is left to fend for herself in the small shack that was her family’s isolated marsh home. She relies on the marsh and the sea to provide her a means for survival, and spends as much time exploring the natural land and begins collecting feathers, shells, and other special artifacts. Over time, she meets a boy, who teaches her how to read and write, brings her biology books and poetry, explores the marsh with her, and shows her what it’s like to not be lonely, and to love. But when promises are broken, she closes off her heart and retreats to her isolation, although her desperation to be in another person’s company sends her straight into the arms of Barkley Cove’s darling, who is a notorious ladies’ man. Just as with the other disappointments in her life, things don’t turn out the way she’d hoped and years later, when this man is found dead, she finds herself the primary suspect in his murder trial.
“Please don’t talk to me about isolation. No one has to tell me how it changes a person. I have lived it. I am isolation,” Kya whispered with a slight edge.”
This book was beautiful and heartbreaking. Kya’s solitude and her loneliness was such a raw and desperate emotion that was deeply woven into her storyline. Her character was so pure, sweet and smart, and completely misunderstood. I cried, I laughed, I loved and I rooted for Kya to survive. To read of her abandonment by everyone who was supposed to love her, because they thought she was too wild or untamed for civilized society, was so heartrending; I often wanted to reach through the pages and scoop little Kya up to give her the love she needed. But her character’s strength and resilience was awe-inspiring. That she was able to make a life for herself and to overcome so many barriers in her way to find success made me love her character even more. Although Kya didn’t have many interactions with people, most of the characters who came into her life, especially Tate, Jumpin’, Mabel, and even Jodie, stole my heart just as much as she did. Even though some of them made pretty awful decisions when they were younger, they gave and showed her the love, respect and appreciation she deserved. I was thrilled when they proved they were there to stay in her life no matter what.
While the ending had a bit of a twist, I wasn’t really surprised by it (not necessarily in a bad way). I think I always felt that I knew the truth of what happened and that’s why it wasn’t shocking. Also, I don’t know how else I would’ve liked for this book to end, so I was quite satisfied with it. I loved how the title was woven into the storyline several times and kept coming back, and how the cover is a perfect representation of the book. I honestly would recommend this to everyone because I loved it so much, but I do know it won’t be everyone’s cup of tea. That said, I can’t wait to read more from Delia Owens and I can’t believe this was her debut! It’s absolutely stunning. Definitely a strong contender for my top read this year!
Have you read Where the Crawdads Sing? Did it live up to the hype for you? Let me know in the comments and let’s have a little chat 🙂
On October 16, 2013, 437 students, 52 teachers, and 24 additional staff from Bay Point Preparatory High School in suburban Milwaukee, WI vanished without a trace. Countless light years away, far outside the bounds of the charted universe, 513 people find themselves in the middle of an ancient, primordial wilderness. Where are they? Why are they there? The answers will prove stranger than anyone could possibly imagine.
I was feeling a little unwell on Monday and so I took a sick day and spent the whole day in bed reading. While I “should’ve” been reading the ARC for Mrs. Everything, I found myself looking at the graphic novels in my collection and randomly started The Woods, unsure of what I’d encounter but I was intrigued enough by the premise and the artwork. Next thing I know, it was late evening, I hadn’t left my bed all day, and I had come to the final episodes of the series. This graphic novel sucked me right in. It’s extremely weird, a lot more graphic than I thought, but really enjoyable sci-fi/fantasy/horror that I just couldn’t put it down. I’m not a big fan of horror but this one wasn’t so bad. Although the art work definitely accentuated the horrifying and gruesome aspects of the story. The art work wasn’t the type that I’m normally attracted to in graphic novels (i.e. modern, clean and sharp lines) but this rough style and coloring really suited the story. The colors and the drawing style really leant the comic a rough, dark air which was fitting with the plot, and it reminded me a lot of the work in earlier comics, especially the superhero ones. **Not that I’m an expert or anything**
The Woods begins 25 minutes after Bay Point has been transported to this alien moon thick with dense woodland, and we go back in time a bit to learn about the main characters in the story, and to find out what was happening prior to the school’s vanishing. From then on a lot happens right away and also the whole storyline moves very quickly. There is a mysterious alien triangle that captivates one of the students, terrifying bloodthirsty monsters start coming out of the woods, and a group of five students band together to journey into the woods and to find out where they are, how they got there and how they can get home.
The characters in this story were so diverse; there were many queer characters, from such a wide mix of race and socioeconomic backgrounds. I grew attached to so many of them along the way! I loved how well we got to know the main characters in the story. We get an insight into defining moments in their lives, including parts of their childhood, and because of that their character arcs were really rich. Although quite a few characters irritated me at the start of the story, Karen especially, I thought their character growth throughout the story was really well done and my perspectives on them really changed by the end. No doubt though, my favorites were Ben and (surprisingly) Calder! I love it when we see softer sides to seemingly indifferent or tough characters and these two wormed their way into my heart!
The worldbuilding of this highly bizarre alien planet was truly spectacular and I loved how there ended up being different towns that we discover along the way that were all so full of history–of the people who inhabited the towns and how long they’d been there–and it’s slowly revealed that pockets of people throughout the history of civilization have been magicked to this moon. I won’t lie–there is a lot that happens in this story that leaves you questioning what you’re reading and wondering whether it’s possible for a story to get even more bizarre than it already was in the beginning (spoiler: it’s possible). I also really can’t get into the specifics about what happens without giving the story away, but I was so invested in the characters and their story. While a part of me would’ve also been satisfied for them to just build new lives and stay on this moon, I was really happy with how the author brought everything together for a satisfying conclusion. But I kid you not when I say it’s really bizarre. 😂
Overall, I was really satisfied with this series and was surprised by how much I enjoyed it. I won’t say I recommend it to everyone because it definitely won’t be to (probably) the majority’s tastes, but if you’re up for highly weird, sci-fi/horror stories with lots of action, then I’d suggest giving it a try!
Have you read The Woods? Does it sound like something you’d be interested in? Also, do you have graphic novel recs? Let’s chat 🙂
Goodreads: Fence Genre: Graphic Novel, LGBTQ+, Young Adult, Sports, Manga
Nicholas Cox is determined to prove himself in the world of competitive fencing, and earn his place alongside fencing legends like the dad he never knew, but things get more complicated when he’s up against his golden-boy half-brother, as well as sullen fencing prodigy, Seiji Katayama.
Nicholas, the illegitimate son of a retired fencing champion, is a scrappy fencing wunderkind, and dreams of getting the chance and the training to actually compete. After getting accepted to the prodigious Kings Row private school, Nicholas is thrust into a cut-throat world, and finds himself facing not only his golden-boy half-brother, but the unbeatable, mysterious Seiji Katayama…
I stumbled upon this graphic novel as I was looking up what other LGBTQ books I could read for pride month. I’m so glad that I listened to my instinct to snatch up a copy on ComiXology because I really enjoyed this series! The characters are probably the most diverse group that I can remember coming across; like, actually. From everyone’s sexuality, their race/ethnicity, and their socio-economic backgrounds. I think this might be the most queer book I have read and I loved reading it!
In the first issue, we’re introduced to Nicholas and Seiji at the national fencing championships, where they face-off against each other in the first round. You learn a little about Nicholas’ backstory, why he wants to get into fencing, and why it’s important to him. In the next issue we’re introduced to the all boys boarding school where the subsequent episodes take place. We’re also introduced to many new faces who are part of the Kings Row fencing team, and others who trying out for it; everyone in the school seems to be low-key obsessed with fencing! The majority of the episodes focus on the try out rounds for the fencing team, where we get to know a bit more about the characters, with the main focus being on Nicholas’ struggle to succeed in the tryouts, make the team and ultimately, to beat Seiji. Of course there had to be a cliffhanger at the end of Issue #12, and I’m not sure when the next issue will be released, so here I am, not so patiently waiting for it!
I honestly loved so many of the characters; even the ones who are highly neurotic and have zero chill have somehow managed to grow on me (cough*tanner*cough). I only wished that there was more backstory shared about the characters. Everyone is *really* cute, have seemingly intriguing personalities, and we do get to see glimpses of a different side to them (families, softer sides) but I still wanted to know more about them. I especially love Bobby so I’d love to know more about him and also Seiji and Nicholas–although these are the characters we obviously know the most about so far. On that note, here are some cool graphic stats about the characters from the author’s Twitter.
Overall, I’m really excited for the next issue to come out. I want to know what happens after that cliffhanger! Who knew I’d ever be so interested in a comic about fencing? Also, why is everyone so good looking?! I’m so glad that I picked up this graphic novel 🙂
Have you read Fence? Do you have recs for other LGBTQ graphic novels for pride month? Or just any graphic novel recsin general?
Goodreads: What If It’s Us Genre: Young Adult Contemporary, LGBTQ+, Romance
Arthur is only in New York for the summer, but if Broadway has taught him anything, it’s that the universe can deliver a showstopping romance when you least expect it.
Ben thinks the universe needs to mind its business. If the universe had his back, he wouldn’t be on his way to the post office carrying a box of his ex-boyfriend’s things.
But when Arthur and Ben meet-cute at the post office, what exactly does the universe have in store for them?
Maybe nothing. After all, they get separated. Maybe everything. After all, they get reunited. But what if they can’t quite nail a first date… or a second first date… or a third? What if Arthur tries too hard to make it work… and Ben doesn’t try hard enough? What if life really isn’t like a Broadway play? But what if it is?
You know that happy bubbling feeling you get inside your chest after you finish reading a great book? How it feels like you could just burst with all the satisfying emotions that are trying to clamber its way up your throat and out your chest? No? Yes? Well, this book had me feeling this way when I finished it yesterday. Y’all, this book made me so happy! Becky Albertalli and Adam Silvera have delivered a wonderful contemporary YA romance about firsts, friendships and believing in yourself. This was a fast and fun read that had me constantly barking out with laughter throughout (this garnered me much unwanted attention from the public and I absolutely could not care)! Tbh, I think this is the first Silvera book I read that I didn’t cry over? It left me with all the great feels without any of the sadness! Basically, if you like Hamilton, Lin-Manuel Miranda, Broadway (Dear Evan Hansen etc.), Harry Potter, and Barack Obama, then you will like this book!
“I believe in love at first sight. Fate, the universe, all of it. But not how you’re thinking. I don’t mean it in the our souls were split and you’re my other half forever and ever sort of way. I just think you’re meant to meet some people. I think the universe nudges them into your path.”
When Arthur and Ben have a random moment of connection outside the post office one day, Ben is mailing a box of his ex’s belongings to him and Arthur is captivated by his beauty, so obviously, he follows him inside. Their meet-cute is slightly awkward (Arthur has no chill) and geekily adorable, and they’re getting along just fine, until a flash mob in the post-office pulls them apart without having exchanged names or numbers. Arthur is a big believer of the universe, so would it throw him and this beautiful boy together for no reason at all? He doesn’t believe it. So begins the story of one boy trying to find that boy from the post office in a city of over eight million inhabitants. No big deal when you think the universe is on your side, right?
Maybe their connection was improbable, slightly corny or a little cliché, but this story was just all kinds of awkward, and adorable and was an absolute delight to read! There were so many things I loved about it: the characters, their stories, the friendships, the NYC setting, and Arthur’s fantastic obsession about Hamilton, the greatest musical to have ever been written (don’t @ me). Also, all the mentions about Lin-Manuel Miranda. The last two made me love this book even more because when it comes to Hamilton and LMM, I am 1000% Arthur serious, and that’s serious.
“God, Arthur.” He kisses me. “Te quiero. Estoy enamorado. You don’t even know.” And I don’t speak a word of Spanish, but when I look at his face, I get it.”
Ben and Arthur were such great characters and I honestly loved how their relationship grew. Although things moved pretty quickly between them once the ball got rolling, especially considering that they only had the summer, it didn’t feel contrived to me. There were lots of awkward firsts and do-overs, but their connection, banter, and love felt completely natural and perfect in its imperfections. Arthur’s experience of being in a relationship for the first time was so relatable and I couldn’t help but recall my own first relationship experience! Albertalli and Silvera did a really great job in describing the rush of having a crush and the high of discovering first love, but also about the importance of having people in your life who you can trust, be yourself around, and be supported by. Although this was a romance, I really enjoyed the friendships between Arthur, Ben and their best friends, as it reminded me so much of my own high school friendships with my own ‘crew’. Even the drama that erupted between the friends seemed so typically high school, and it really had me chuckling when thinking back on my own experiences.
I liked how the authors also highlighted the struggles and vulnerabilities that teenagers can go through and/or feel during this period (with friends/peers, school etc.); where it feels like you have to know what you’ll be doing once HS ends, what college you want to attend, what major you want to do. Ben’s struggles with school, and his overall insecurity of not being good enough and not believing in himself were so real, and I felt his struggle on such a personal level. Figuring himself out and finding his worth and confidence in himself was a key aspect of his character’s growth.
“I just need more time with me, I think. To really believe in my worth without anyone’s help.”
I’m giving this book 4.5 stars because the hopeless romantic was crushed with that ending. Open-ended endings always leave me feeling a little dissatisfied, and this was definitely one of them… I mean, I can acknowledge that the ending was sensible… but I didn’t want sensible, I wanted ALL THE THINGS for all the characters, damnit!
I’m so glad that I picked this book up yesterday. I really enjoyed reading it, how much it made me feel and how far down memory lane it let me stroll! I’m so glad that this was my first LGBTQ+ read for pride month!
Have you read What If It’s Us? What did you think of Albertalli’s & Silvera’s collaboration? Let me know in the comments and let’s have a little chat 🙂
We’re well into our first week of June so this post is a little late, but I still thought I’d take the time to post my possibility pile for June, which is Pride month! As with many others in the book community, I’m hoping to read a lot more LGBTQIA+ reads this month in celebration. I actually had more diverse books about and written by LGBTQIA+ authors on my shelves (both physical and Kindle) than I initially thought. I’ve seen a lot of hype and heard a lot of praise for the majority of these books so I’m quite excited to dive in and finally tick them off my TBR list this month!
OK, is this list of 15 books entirely too ambitious?! Yes. Maybe. Ha! This isn’t even including the other non LGBTQIA+ books I want to read this month! But y’all, there are just SO MANY BOOKS and I’m not one to cut down any list, rather I’m known to add to them. Who knows, maybe I will be able to power through all of these books or a majority of them by the end of the month. Maybe I’ll retreat into my shell of complete introversion and embrace the increasingly dominant book-cave-dweller spirit in me to recover from all the work stress this month. It’s honestly looking more possible by the minute! But I digress, this list merely scratches the surface of the many amazing diverse books out there, many of which I know aren’t even on my radar yet. So I’m hoping you can give me some recommendations for more LGBTQIA+ books to read–your favorites, your most anticipated, even the ones you thought were just a bit of alright, but you think others might like more than you!
Have you read any of these? What are you reading for Pride month? Share your recommendations in the comments below and let’s chat 🙂