So, I swear I’ve been possessed this entire month because nothing else explains the fact that after reading hardly any books this year, I read 18 books this month?! I’d like to think it’s a combination of the Reading Rush, Pride Book Club and pure boredom. I’m super proud of myself and am hoping this continues for the rest of the year. I’ve found some new favourites, did some crying and have almost wanted to throw some books through the window. But anyway, here is what I read this month –
Leah on the Offbeat
by Becky Albertalli
So I read this book for the Penguin Pride Book Club and seeing as I loved Becky’s, Upside of Unrequited, I thought I was gonna love this. I didn’t. I didn’t like the protagonist, Leah. I don’t mind an angry teenager (I was one) but when it’s just constant anger fired at everybody for no reason, it was just getting boring. I did not appreciate ‘that’ bisexual talk between her and Abby and the book had no apparent plot. So it wasn’t a good experience overall.
On the Come Up
by Angie Thomas
The reason I didn’t read this sooner despite even preordering it was because I was scared it wasn’t going to live up to The Hate U Give. And did it live up to the hype? Of course it bloody did. Angie Thomas just knows how to write familial relationships and the love and disfunction that comes with them. Bri was an amazing protagonist like Starr but the two are completely different. Not to mention how amazing the raps were. I’m just so happy younger black readers will have these amazing girls to look up to.
The Devouring Gray
by Christine Lynn Herman
This book is marketed as Stranger Things meets The Raven Cycle and although I have read TRC, I’ve only seen a few episodes of Stranger Things. However, this book is basically Stranger Things but with different characters and a magic system. There is a ‘parallel’ world with a monster in it who sneaks into the real world, kills somebody, then jogs back off. However, I did love the magic system and although I wasn’t the biggest fan of all the characters, I did love Isaac. Of course I love the brooding, troubled one. Will I pick up the sequel? Maybe.
Other Words for Smoke
by Sarah Maria Griffin
So I’ve been meaning to read this book for a while and have felt Becky’s silent judging all the way from England but I finally did it! This follows a set of twins, a magical house set in Ireland plus a talking owl and cat. The book feels a bit like magic realism which is a genre I struggle with but I really appreciate Sarah using magic and metaphor as a symbol of Ireland’s struggles. Although I didn’t love this book as much as I wanted to, it was still an enjoyable read.
by Brittney Morris
So I posted a spoiler-free review of this book here but it’s safe to say that I loved it. Although this book wasn’t written for me, I can still appreciate an amazing story with amazing representation and characters. Being a gamer, I have to say that I was like a kid in a sweet shop with this book. I got so invested with the fictional game and it’s clear how much thought Brittney put into the world-building. I’m so excited to see what she writes next!
The Fickle Mermaid
by Sophie Bowns
You can find a mini-review and author interview of this poetry book here but to sum it up, this is a self-published narrative poem of a Little Mermaid retelling. Poetry for me is very hit or miss but I can still appreciate when a lot of thought and time has been put into something. I liked the use narrative rather than splitting the poems up like the average collection and it was interesting to see a modern spin on a fairytale.
by Juno Dawson
This is an anthology of poems, stories and art from LGBTQ+ creators all compiled by the amazing Juno Dawson. This is a book you can pick up and read a few stories from every now and again or you can do what I did, and get obsessed from the start and read it in one sitting. My favourites were definitely The Phoenix’s Fault by Cynthia So, Almost Certain by Tanya Byrne and Love Poems to the City by Moïra Fowley-Doyle. Plus, my girl Alice Oseman has some art in there…
On Being Different
by Merle Miller
This was another book I read for the Pride Book Club and I’m so glad this is one of the books included as I hadn’t heard of it before. This book was originally published in 1971 just two years after the Stonewall Riots. Merle released it in New Yorks Time Magazine in response to a homophobic article. Despite the changes in the air, this was still a huge step in publishing and thanks to Merle, a lot of people found comfort. A short but powerful read.
by Alice Oseman
I did originally read this book a few years back before I slapped the demisexual label on myself but I always knew it was something about the conversation that spoke to me. This is one of the rare YA books that has both a demisexual character, and the word is used on page. I love everything about this story and the world Alice Oseman has created and I know I’ll pick it back up again in a few years.
The Storm Crow
by Kalyn Josephson
Huge thank you to Lauren for sending me over an ARC of this. I read it in around an hour so safe to say I was obsessed. Like many fantasies with a lot of world-building, it took me a while to get into the story and the magic system but once I did, I was hooked. Do I now want a giant magical crow? Yes please. There is a love triangle but before you all groan, it is solved quite quickly (at least in this novel!) I’m so excited to read the sequel. Plus, look at that cover *heart eyes*
The Poet X
by Elizabeth Acevedo
This is a book written entirely in prose which did frighten me at first but I am converted and want more books written like this. Xiomara loves slam poetry and each page is dedicated to one of her poems detailing her struggle with losing touch with her religion, battling with her mother and keeping secrets from her twin. This book is very hard-hitting and extremely powerful. I hear that Elizabeth Acevedo also writes slam poetry and her passion is clear. I read this in one sitting and I’m desperate for more of her work.
Girls of Paper and Fire
by Natasha Ngan
I have been meaning to read this book since November last year when Becky kindly gifted me the hardback for my birthday. However, I just haven’t been able to get into fantasy. I am extremely annoyed with myself. This is not only an amazing fantasy with an amazing world and magic system, but it also features the most beautiful F/F romance. This book deals with sexual assault so please be wary of that if you choose to read it. There’s an amazing cast of female characters and so much diversity. Give me the sequel now!
Spare and Found Parts
by Sarah Maria Griffin
Another book I’ve been meaning to read since it came out and I finally did it. As much as I loved Nell and of course, Io and the post-apocalyptic world with clockwork hearts and biomechanical arms, this book just took me too long to get into. However as always, Sarah’s writing is beautiful and flows effortlessly but something was missing for me.
Simon vs. the Homosapiens Agenda
by Becky Albertalli
Cue the unfollows. Ok, so I didn’t like this book and I wish I could pick Simon and Blue out of it and put them somewhere else. There was no plot that I could see other than finding out the true identity of Blue, this book featured Leah who was still angry and kicking off at everything in this book and there were certain lines/moments I didn’t agree with. There is an ableist word used that I didn’t expect and a line about the fact that girls apparently have an easier time coming out. So other than the cuteness between Simon and Blue, I didn’t enjoy this one. I’m sorry.
by Kat Cho
Who wanted mythology? Me. Who wanted a diverse fantasy? Me. Did I get it? Yep! This book explores the world of Korean mythology against a Seoul background which is something I unfortunately knew nothing about. Gu Miyoung is a Gumiho, a nine-tailed fox and she must ‘feed’ on people’s gi/energy in order to stay alive. Throw in a romance (a bit Insta-love at times,) a strict and complicated mother and a world of Korean creatures and you have an addictive story. I wish the story dealt more with the mythology aspect over the romance and that the story didn’t jump around so much in time but other than that, I really enjoyed it.
Water Shall Refuse Them
by Lucie McKnight Hardy
I was lucky enough to hear a small reading of this book when Lucie came to Waterstones Swansea and the thriller set during the 1976 heatwave in rural Wales immediately had me interested. However, as much as it pains me to say, I did not like this book. You’ll probably guess from the trigger warnings of child abuse and animal abuse (a lot of animal abuse/death.) It just made me uncomfortable and I felt a lot of it was unnecessary. Wouldn’t recommend this one.
The Girl with the Red Balloon
by Katherine Locke
*Screams for ten years* Ok this is definitely a new favourite and I want to hate myself for not reading it sooner. This is a historical fiction with a time-travel/fantasy aspect that tells the story of Ellie, who travels back in time to 1988 East Berlin. There she meets a secret society of Runners, people who use magic red balloons to help people escape over the Wall. There is a beautiful romance, beautiful friendships and hope created in such a heartbreaking and difficult world. I love how Katherine intertwined real history with fantasy and created a diverse world. The ending made me sob. Just so you know.
On a Sunbeam
by Tillie Walden
This is a chunky graphic novel for fans of one of my favourite books of all time, The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet. This follows the story of Mia, the newest member of a space crew whose job it is to rebuild old buildings around space. The timeline switches between her space adventures with an all-female, very diverse crew and the events leading up to it when she attends a boarding school and falls in love with Grace before she disappears. The art style was beautiful and despite being over 500 pages, I read it in just under an hour and fell in love with it.
And breathe! How many books did you read this month?
Let me know in the comments!