#LGBTQMonth 2021: Announcement!

Hello everyone!

So as you can see from the title of this post, it is almost that time of year again… #LGBTQMonth! I cannot believe this is the third year already, but I’m so excited to bring you all another month of bookish LGBTQ fun!

As usual there will be some amazing author interviews (the line up is BEYOND exciting, I cannot wait to share it with you all!) I will be hosting a readathon (more below) for the entire month, as well as bringing you reviews and recommendations of some of my favourite queer reads and the return of Queer Quiz too! And of course there will be some special giveaways too, so keep an eye out for them!

I will be posting a full schedule towards the end of the month, but for now I wanted to share with you all the prompts for the readathon, which will be taking place from June 1st – 30th! As always, you are welcome to double or even triple up on prompts if you hope to read less books, but here are the prompts!


Here are the prompts for the readathon! Later in the month I’ll be sharing a post with my TBR this, and I hope you will all share yours with me if you’re taking part!


Debut Book

Simple, choose a debut LGBTQ book!

Been on your TBR for too long

Choose a book that has been sitting on your TBR for far too long

QPOC Author

Choose a book that has been written by a queer author of colour!

Set in the 20th Century

Choose a book that takes place between the years 1900 and 2000!

Free Choice

You can choose whatever book you like, as long as it’s LGBTQ!

Set Outside the UK/US

Choose a book that takes place in a country that isn’t the UK or the US!

Bisexual Rep

Choose a book that has bisexual representation!

Pink Cover

Choose a book that has pink on its cover, however much!

A Book You Think You Will Love

Choose a book that you have a feeling you will love!


That’s all for now, guys, and I’d love to know if you plan on taking part in #LGBTQMonth! Comment below or tweet using the hashtag if you’ve already decided on a TBR!

I’ll have more information closer to the time, but for now, June is looking to be an exciting month ahead!

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#LGBTQMonth: The Wrap-Up!

Hi everyone!

No, that’s not the sound of crying because #LGBTQMonth is over… I don’t know what you’re talking about *scoffs*

ANYWAY, today I have the final post for this year’s #LGBTQMonth and it’s a bittersweet moment. I’ve had such a good month of LGBTQ fun and I hope you’ve all been enjoying it too!

This month I managed to read a whooping 16 books this month!! I’m so happy! I read all of the books I planned for my TBR this month, along with two extras (including my most anticipated release of 2020!)


June Wrap-Up

Burn by Patrick Ness 

Camp by LC Rosen

Wonderland by Juno Dawson

Date Me, Bryson Keller by Kevin van Whye

The Henna Wars by Adiba Jaigirdar

Loveless by Alice Oseman

Full Disclosure by Camryn Garrett

Read with Pride by Lucy Powrie

Noah Can’t Even by Simon James Green

Hideous Beauty by William Hussey

We Are Young by Cat Clarke

Red White & Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston

Pet by Akwaeke Emezi

Skylarks by Karen Gregory

Wilder Girls by Rory Power

The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue by Mackenzi Lee


Author Interviews

I also had a host of lovely authors featured on my blog this month for #LGBTQMonth! It was such an honour to be able to share all their amazing wisdom with you all. In case you missed out on any, I’m also going to link their interviews below!

Adiba Jaigirdar          Alice Oseman

Dean Atta           Robin Stevens

William Hussey            Sophie Cameron

Simon James Green        LC Rosen

Helen Corcoran         Lucy Powrie


I had so much fun this month and I wanna thank you all for taking part! June truly flew by but I had a blast and a great reading and pride month despite the world’s circumstances!

I’m already counting down the days until another fantastic #LGBTQMonth next year!

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Review: Hideous Beauty by William Hussey

hideous beauty

Hideous Beauty

by William Hussey

YA Mystery, Contemporary, LGBTQ

Goodreads | Amazon | Book Depository


When Dylan and Ellis’s secret relationship is exposed on social media, Dylan is forced to come out. To Dylan’s surprise they are met with support and congratulations, and an amazing reception at their highschool dance. Perhaps people aren’t as narrow-minded as he thought?

But Dylan’s happiness is short-lived. Ellis suddenly becomes angry, withdrawn, and as they drive home from the dance, he loses control of the car, sending it plunging into Hunter’s Lake. Barely conscious, Dylan is pulled free of the wreck, while Ellis is left to drown.

Grief-stricken, Dylan vows to discover what happened to Ellis that night and piece together the last months of his boyfriend’s life – and realises just how little he knew about the boy he loved.


Oh my God—this book!!! This was one of the books I was most excited about being published this year and it completely lived up to all my expectations!

With a cover so beautiful, Hideous Beauty follows the story of Dylan and Ellis, boyfriends who are smitten in love. Then one fatal night, they’re involved in a tragic car accident and Dylan’s world is turned upside down and he vows to find out what happened to Ellis before his untimely death.

The writing in this was just stunning. It seemed every word carried so much weight and it’s clear that Hussey has a way with words, to be able to wrap them up so delicately with raw emotion and feeling. Dylan was an amazing character as a gay man myself, I truly resonated with him and his story. My favourite part about this book was the false acceptance from everyone around Dylan when he managed to come out – something I want to see explored in a lot more YA novels.

Coming out is awful, and I think we’re all raised to believe there is 2 reactions – 1, endless support, or 2, ridiculous hate and disappointment. But I loved seeing reactions that slotted somewhere in the middle. Like, “oh you’re gay…hmm, okay…let’s just never talk about it again.”

The plot of the book was so clever. I have to admit, I did somehow bizarrely manage to guess the big plot twist, but then there was another plot twist I didn’t see coming for miles! This book really hooks you in and doesn’t let you go. Dazzling, hypnotising and a complete emotional rollercoaster.

This was an easy 5 star rating for me, and I think it’s perfect for fans of Adam Silvera and E. Lockhart! Also lots of references to George Ezra that made me smile!


5 star

Review: Full Disclosure by Camryn Garrett

full disclosure

Full Disclosure

by Camryn Garrett

YA Contemporary, Romance

Goodreads | Amazon | Book Depository


Simone Garcia-Hampton is starting over at a new school, and this time things will be different. She’s making real friends, making a name for herself as student director of Rent, and making a play for Miles, the guy who makes her melt every time he walks into a room. The last thing she wants is for word to get out that she’s HIV-positive, because last time . . . well, last time things got ugly.

Keeping her viral load under control is easy, but keeping her diagnosis under wraps is not so simple. As Simone and Miles start going out for real–shy kisses escalating into much more–she feels an uneasiness that goes beyond butterflies. She knows she has to tell him that she’s positive, especially if sex is a possibility, but she’s terrified of how he’ll react! And then she finds an anonymous note in her locker: I know you have HIV. You have until Thanksgiving to stop hanging out with Miles. Or everyone else will know too.

Simone’s first instinct is to protect her secret at all costs, but as she gains a deeper understanding of the prejudice and fear in her community, she begins to wonder if the only way to rise above is to face the haters head-on…


I strayed a bit from my TBR for #LGBTQMonth and picked up this book, and I’m so glad I did!

Because of the hype I’d seen about Camryn Garrett’s debut, I wanted to check it out and see what the fuss was all about. It brings us into the life of musical-obsessed (same, girl), HIV positive Simone who is trying to journey through high school keeping her status a secret from everyone around her. When she starts falling for a boy and he falls for her back, she starts to realise that her secret is going to be a lot harder to keep hidden, especially when a note lands in her locker about her HIV status and things go from bad to chaos…

I absolutely loved this! The writing in this was so enjoyable and just really strong. The character of Simone was brilliant, and I loved how open and sex positive she was. That was so refreshing to see in a YA novel. I also loved all the humour in the book, and even the side characters like Simone’s gay dads or her two best friends were so great to read. The characters in this book really shone through and I think they were Garrett’s strength.

I also loved all the important discussions throughout this book about sexuality and the state of HIV positive people in our society today. This was an immensely important book to read, but on top of that, it was a heartwarming love story too. Can’t recommend this enough. My only fault is that I wish it were longer! Also ain’t that cover just stunning?


4 star

#LGBTQMonth Author Interview: Alice Oseman!

Hi everyone!

Welcome back to another author interview! I can’t continue with this post until I remind everyone how important all our efforts our right now and how they should be directed to the Black Lives Matter movement first and foremost! Please keep educating yourself, signing petitions, sharing links, donating if you can and doing anything at all to help the cause! It’s so important to make noise right now, especially for Black trans lives that have been shockingly ignored by the media. Here is a link to a list of petitions that have not yet reached their goals and need your help!

Today I literally couldn’t be more excited! The incredible Alice Oseman has returned to #LGBTQMonth for another interview and I’m so honoured to have her on my blog! If you don’t already know, Alice Oseman is the author of Radio Silence, I Was Born For This and the adorable Heartstopper graphic novel series. Her upcoming fourth novel Loveless is coming out in July and the more recentwhich you can order from Book Depository here!


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

alice oseman

Alice Oseman is an author/illustrator and was born in 1994 in Kent, England. She has written four YA contemporary novels about teenage disasters: SOLITAIRE, RADIO SILENCE, I WAS BORN FOR THIS, and upcoming LOVELESS. She is also the creator of LGBTQ+ YA romance webcomic HEARTSTOPPER, which is now published in physical form by Hachette Children’s Books.

Alice’s first novel SOLITAIRE was published when she was nineteen. Her YA novels have been nominated for the YA Book Prize, the Inky Awards, and the Goodreads Choice Award, and HEARTSTOPPER has been optioned for TV. She can usually be found staring aimlessly at computer screens, questioning the meaninglessness of existence, or doing anything and everything to avoid getting an office job.


ABOUT LOVELESS

loveless

It was all sinking in. I’d never had a crush on anyone. No boys, no girls, not a single person I had ever met. What did that mean?

Georgia has never been in love, never kissed anyone, never even had a crush – but as a fanfic-obsessed romantic she’s sure she’ll find her person one day.

As she starts university with her best friends, Pip and Jason, in a whole new town far from home, Georgia’s ready to find romance, and with her outgoing roommate on her side and a place in the Shakespeare Society, her ‘teenage dream’ is in sight.

But when her romance plan wreaks havoc amongst her friends, Georgia ends up in her own comedy of errors, and she starts to question why love seems so easy for other people but not for her. With new terms thrown at her – asexual, aromantic – Georgia is more uncertain about her feelings than ever.

Is she destined to remain loveless? Or has she been looking for the wrong thing all along?


THE INTERVIEW

Hi Alice! I’m so happy to have you back for LGBTQMonth this month, you’r one of my favourite authors! For those who don’t know/have been living under a rock, could you quickly introduce yourself?

Happy to be here! I’m Alice Oseman, the author of four YA novels – Solitaire, Radio Silence, I Was Born for This, and Loveless – and the creator of webcomic/graphic novel series Heartstopper!

You’re a massive champion of diversity in YA, especially queer rep! Is this important to you?

Absolutely. The world is diverse, and everyone deserves to see themselves authentically in fiction, but marginalised authors and stories still often receive far less support and attention than their peers with straight privilege, or cis privilege, or white privilege, or able-bodied privilege, etc. This is why it’s so important not only to read and write diversely, but also to boost marginalised authors.

I completely agree! Now, Nick and Charlie have quickly stolen the hearts of many people in the amazing Heartstopper series. What was it about this couple out of the rest of your characters that made you dedicate an entire series to?


Nick and Charlie first began as secondary characters in my first novel, Solitaire. In that story, Nick and Charlie are a strong, loving couple, but we don’t learn much about their relationship beyond that – how they met, how they got together, and what their relationship is like outside of Tori’s pessimistic narrative. I soon realised that there was a whole other story there, and I was desperate to tell it somehow – I couldn’t stop thinking about them! And so Heartstopper was born!

Amazing! What I love most about you as an author is that you don’t shy away from showing the whole process of being a writer, including all the ups and downs along the way. What would you say are the highs and lows of being a writer?


Gosh, that’s a hard question! There are so many highs… and so many lows. One of the highs is definitely when you get to see your book typeset – aka, when it’s been formatted to look like the final book. That’s when it really starts to feel real for me! One of the lows for me is dealing with plot issues. I’m generally terrible at plot and I have to spend so much time planning my stories before I start!

You got your first novel published when you were seventeen! What was the journey from draft to publication like for you?

I wrote Solitaire for fun! It was a relaxing, enjoyable hobby for me after school and during the weekends and holidays. I knew I wanted to be an author, but I didn’t have any particular aspirations for that book until I’d written most of it – it was at that point that I thought, okay, maybe this book has a shot! So I started Googling how people became authors and found out about literary agents and the traditional submission process. I did exactly that and I was very, very fortunate to hear back from an agent who had been looking for a book like mine. From there, we worked on the book for several months before my agent took it to editors. And I was lucky that there were some editors who were interested!

That’s wonderful! There are definitely a lot of budding writers reading this too – what’s the best piece of advice you can give to them?


Write the book you want to read! Don’t worry about trends or getting published – just focus on crafting a story that you personally adore. That love and passion will shine through in your writing and you’ll write a better story because of it.

What are some of your favourite queer reads/authors that you want to shout about?

As a webcomic artist/graphic novelist, I have to shout out my favourite comic creator of all time, @marsoids. Mars is the creator of queer supernatural romance webcomic Long Exposure, which is about a bully and a nerd who develop superpowers… and start falling in love in the process. It’s probably my favourite webcomic ever! Mars is also currently preparing to launch a new webcomic Ride or Die, a queer supernatural romance centred around drag racing, which I am very excited for. You can read Long Exposure here: https://longexposurecomic.com/, and physical editions of the comics are available to purchase online!

Wowww, that sounds incredible! I must check it out! I’m also so interested in the process for Heartstopper! Could you talk to us about the routine/process and how you get the story and illustrations from your head to the screen/page?


I start by planning! I have the whole story of Heartstopper planned very roughly, and then I plan in more detail chapter-by-chapter. I then write it as a script, trying to stay a few scenes ahead of where I’m drawing. And then comes the drawing! I aim to draw one page per day, usually averaging around twenty-five pages per month. I start by sketching out the page very roughly, then go over with the black lines, and then the shading.

If you could change one thing about your childhood/being a teenager that would make you a better writer – what would it be?

Read less classics. Read more YA.

And finally, the MUCH anticipated Loveless is out next month!! I know alongside me there are many people looking forward to this novel – what can we expect other than another masterpiece?

I’m SO glad you’re excited! Expect an aromantic asexual protagonist figuring out her identity, two wlw main characters fighting for directorship of a Shakespeare Society, the crumbly, cold world of Durham University, a song on a rowing boat, a fancy ball, a battle on a bouncy castle, and several metaphorical uses of Scooby-Doo.


Thank you so much for being part of #LGBTQMonth, Alice! We were delighted to have you and want to thank you for your amazing queer representation across all your work!

Loveless is set to be published July 9th and I urge you all to go pre-order it—from your local indie bookstore if they have it, or anywhere else you can!

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Review: The Henna Wars by Adiba Jaigirdar

the henna wars

The Henna Wars

by Adiba Jaigirdar

YA Romance, Contemporary, LGBTQ

Goodreads | Amazon | Book Depository


When Dimple Met Rishi meets Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda in this rom com about two teen girls with rival henna businesses.

When Nishat comes out to her parents, they say she can be anyone she wants—as long as she isn’t herself. Because Muslim girls aren’t lesbians. Nishat doesn’t want to hide who she is, but she also doesn’t want to lose her relationship with her family. And her life only gets harder once a childhood friend walks back into her life.

Flávia is beautiful and charismatic and Nishat falls for her instantly. But when a school competition invites students to create their own businesses, both Flávia and Nishat choose to do henna, even though Flávia is appropriating Nishat’s culture. Amidst sabotage and school stress, their lives get more tangled—but Nishat can’t quite get rid of her crush on Flávia, and realizes there might be more to her than she realized.


With a cover this stunning and a premise so hooking, did the inside of Adiba Jaigirdar’s debut live up to my expectations?

Short answer: YES!

The Henna Wars follows the blossoming romance of Nishat and Flávia – two different girls with two different rival henna businesses as part of a school project. As the stakes get higher with money as a prize for the best business, both girls are determined to make sure they win – but they have to also address the growing feelings that are increasing between them both.

It was so refreshing first of all to read a book set in Dublin. As we followed the story from start to finish, it was so lovely to be able to recognise the different places that our characters visited because I’ve been there numerous times myself. The book’s description was so strong too that it made it so easy to visualise these characters and the setting and it made the book as a whole quite vivid.

I also loved the way Jaigirdar wrote Nishat. She really captured the teen voice and all that comes with growing up – the confusion, frustration, built-up emotion. It felt exactly like being in a teenage girl’s head. The romance between our two main characters was so lovely and sweet too that it’s almost impossible not to root for them from the beginning.

And although this book’s tone is generally cheery, I loved that Jaigirdar didn’t shy away from the harsh realities many teenagers face, like bullying and coming out to a set of parents that aren’t as accepting as you’d like them to be. I really felt Nishat’s struggle and empathised with her so much.

This is truly a wonderful debut from Adiba Jaigirdar, perfect for fans of Becky Albertalli and Sandhya Menon.


4 star

#LGBTQMonth Author Interview: Sophie Cameron!

Hi everyone!

Welcome back to another author interview! I can’t continue with this post until I remind everyone how important all our efforts our right now and how they should be directed to the Black Lives Matter movement first and foremost! Please keep educating yourself, signing petitions, sharing links, donating if you can and doing anything at all to help the cause! It’s so important to make noise right now, especially for Black trans lives that have been shockingly ignored by the media. Here is a link to a list of petitions that have not yet reached their goals and need your help!

Today we have the fabulous Sophie Cameron for an interview, author of Out of the Blue and the more recent, Last Bus to Everlandwhich you can order from Book Depository here!


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

sophie

Hi! I’m Sophie, an author of young adult fiction. I’m originally from the Scottish Highlands, spent around 10 years in Edinburgh, and now live in Barcelona with my wife.

Some of my all-time favourite books include Phillip Pullman’s His Dark Materials, Naive. Super by Erlend Loe, A Tale for the Time Being by Ruth Ozeki, How to be Both by Ali Smith, The Sun is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon, The Book of Strange New Things by Michel Faber, The House of the Spirits by Isabel Allende, and More Than This by Patrick Ness.

When I’m not reading or writing, I’m usually studying foreign languages or watching inordinate amounts of TV. Other stuff I like includes: cats, tea, Duolingo, Eurovision, Céline Dion, taiyaki, postcards, Catalan pop music, sudoku, arepas, cheese.


ABOUT LAST BUS TO EVERLAND

everland

Brody Fair feels like nobody gets him: not his overworked parents, not his genius older brother, and definitely not the girls in the projects set on making his life miserable. Then he meets Nico, an art student who takes Brody to Everland, a “knock-off Narnia” that opens its door at 11:21pm each Thursday for Nico and his band of present-day misfits and miscreants.

Here Brody finds his tribe and a weekly respite from a world where he feels out of place. But when the doors to Everland begin to disappear, Brody is forced to make a decision: He can say goodbye to Everland and to Nico, or stay there and risk never seeing his family again.


THE INTERVIEW

Hi Sophie! What was your journey to publication for Out of the Blue like? Was it tougher or easier than you anticipated?

I was actually extremely lucky on my road to publication. I entered a SCBWI competition and was one of twelve authors featured in their Undiscovered Voices anthology, which is sent to agents and editors every two years. My agent contacted me through that, so I’ve never had to query, and Out of the Blue was my first book to go on submission. I’ve had quite a few publishing setbacks since then though, so it hasn’t all been plain sailing!

Wow, that sounds great! Not the setbacks, obviously, haha! As a queer author yourself, what is the importance to you for having queer representation?

I didn’t see many queer people in media when I was younger and I think it negatively affected the way I viewed LGBTQ+ lives and relationships, and also the way I saw myself. My books are my own small contribution to counteracting that and hopefully making things a little better for young readers nowadays. There’s still a long way to go, especially where intersectionality is concerned, but I love that we’re now in a place where we can have characters who are incidentally gay or bi or trans or any other identity without it being the sole focus of the story.

Yes, so true!! And speaking of representation, Last Bus to Everland includes a diverse set of characters of all different ethnicities. Is this important to you? Why?

Definitely – Everland can be accessed from multiple portals all over the planet, so it made sense to include characters from all around the globe. More generally, I think it’s important that literature is inclusive and shows the world as it is, with characters from a variety of backgrounds. 

Absolutely! Who are some of your favourite queer characters of all time?

The ones that first come to mind from YA are Teeth from Teeth by Hannah Moskowitz and Michael from The Black Flamingo by Dean Atta – both great books. I also love Lucy Diamond, the lesbian international supervillain from the film D.E.B.S.

Did you always want to be a writer when you were young or could your career have gone a completely different way?

I decided I wanted to be a writer when I was about six, so it’s always been top of my list. I studied French and Comparative Literature and would also have liked to be a literary translator. (I translate sales and business copy in my day job, so I guess that’s sort of close?!)

Nico and Brody are two lovely and complex characters, but ultimately quite different. Do you find capturing a narrative voice in a novel difficult or easy?

I don’t usually have too much problem capturing a narrative voice. That’s probably one of the aspects of writing that comes more easily to me, though recently I’ve been working on a dual-narrative novel and differentiating between the two MCs is definitely quite tricky. It’s given me a lot of admiration for authors who can write from multiple perspectives.

There are many LGBTQ books coming out this year – what ones are you most excited for?

Tough question as there are so many, but I think The Henna Wars by Adiba Jaigirdar is top of my list. I’ve also been hearing great things about You Should See Me in a Crown by Leah Johnson.

Yes! Two great books! What’s one of the accomplishments of your career that you’re most proud of?

Honestly, I’m probably still most proud of actually finishing my books! I wrote for years and years before actually managing to stick to something and finish it. That’s still the biggest challenge for me now – I have too many ideas and it’s so tempting to let myself get carried away by new, shiny projects.

I’m sure there are many aspiring authors reading this – what’s your best piece of advice you can give them?

I went to a writing workshop with Juno Dawson around 5 years ago, before I was published, and she advised us to think of ourselves as writers: not “aspiring writers” or anything like that, but writers. That really stuck with me, as it’s what made me take my writing much more seriously and helped me finally complete my first manuscript.

That’s great advice! And finally, what do you have planned next? Are you working on anything for the future?

I had twins a couple of months ago so right now I’m mostly juggling two newborns and trying to find time to sleep! But I’m also working on a couple of new YA novels that I’m very excited about. I really hope I’ll be able to share them with readers sometime soon!


Thank you so much for being part of #LGBTQMonth, Sophie! We were delighted to have you and look forward to what you release next!

Last Bus to Everland was published last year and I urge you all to go order it—from your local indie bookstore if they have it, or anywhere else you can!

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#QueerRecs: Top 5 QPOC Books!

Hi everyone!

Welcome back to another round of #QueerRecs! First and foremost, I’m leaving a link here like always to a list of petitions that have still not reached their goal. Now, more than ever, is the time to support the #BlackLivesMatter movement!

Today we have my Top 5 QPOC books — either with a queer main character of colour, or written by a queer author of colour. Onto the post!


full disclosureFull Disclosure by Camryn Garrett

This was a recent read for me, but I absolutely loved it. When I was thinking about this list, this was an instant must. Following the story of HIV positive teenager Simone, it was one of the most refreshing coming-of-age YA novels that I’ve read for a long time. With great characters and full of heart and emotion, this debut is incredible! And so great to see a book so sex positive for a change!

 

 


clap when you landClap When You Land by Elizabeth Acevedo

This is a stunning verse novel about two sisters who share the same dad but don’t know until the day his plane crashes and he tragically passes away. It’s so rich with gorgeous poetry, raw and beautiful emotion and a heartwarming wlw relationship at its centre. Elizabeth Acevedo is also the author of With The Fire On High and The Poet X and her books are just wonderful!

 


THE BLACK FLMAINGOThe Black Flamingo by Dean Atta

Ahhhh, I could scream about this book forever!! Another verse novel, this follows the coming-of-age story of Michael as he grows up as gay, mixed race in the UK and turns to drag to express his true, free self. An incredible novel with so much heart and hope and truth. It’s beautiful and will make you feel so many things all at once.

 

 


the henna warsThe Henna Wars by Adiba Jaigirdar

This was a heartwarming, swoonworthy debut from Adiba Jaigirdar. Set in Dublin, it follows the romance between Nishat and Flávia who have both set up rival henna businesses. It’s funny, relatable but at the heart of the book there is so much important emotion and stories explored. Really stunning writing too and I can’t wait to see what Adiba Jaigirdar does next!

 

 


YSSMIACYou Should See Me in a Crown by Leah Johnson

I’m cheating a little bit for this last one because I haven’t actually read it yet, but it’s definitely one I’m going to put on my TBR for next month because it sounds so amazing and I’ve only heard good things!!

 

 

 


And that’s my final #QueerRecs for the month done! Have you read any of these books? Let me know in the comments below!

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ARC Review: Loveless by Alice Oseman

loveless

Loveless

by Alice Oseman

YA Contemporary

Goodreads | Amazon | Book Depository


It was all sinking in. I’d never had a crush on anyone. No boys, no girls, not a single person I had ever met. What did that mean?

Georgia has never been in love, never kissed anyone, never even had a crush – but as a fanfic-obsessed romantic she’s sure she’ll find her person one day.

As she starts university with her best friends, Pip and Jason, in a whole new town far from home, Georgia’s ready to find romance, and with her outgoing roommate on her side and a place in the Shakespeare Society, her ‘teenage dream’ is in sight.

But when her romance plan wreaks havoc amongst her friends, Georgia ends up in her own comedy of errors, and she starts to question why love seems so easy for other people but not for her. With new terms thrown at her – asexual, aromantic – Georgia is more uncertain about her feelings than ever.

Is she destined to remain loveless? Or has she been looking for the wrong thing all along?


Thank you to the publisher and Netgalley for providing me with a digital ARC in exchange for an honest review!

I mean—AHHHHHHH!!! LITERALLY WHAT?! If you know me even a tiny bit you’ll know Loveless was my most anticipated book of this year and I cannot fathom how lucky and grateful I am to have been able to read this masterpiece a month early!!

I had high hopes for Loveless and it did not let me down at all. With her fourth YA novel, Oseman introduces us to the character of Georgia Warr, a girl who’s about to start university and wondering why she feels so different than everyone around her. As she meets new people in Durham university, she begins to realise that maybe she is different from everyone else—and that maybe that’s not a bad thing.

Ever since it was announced, I was excited. There is not enough aro/ace rep in YA today and I was so happy to hear that Loveless was going to be all about Georgia’s journey in discovering her identity. Another whipsmart, hilarious book from Oseman, she again delivers us with the most complex and diverse cast of characters who are all so easy to love and root for. Pip, Georgia, Rooney, Sunil and Jason are all characters I felt so emotionally invested in even after a few pages.

The story itself is so compelling and the setting was almost as alive as Oseman’s characters themselves. I truly felt like I was there with the way she wrote their surroundings. Loveless is a book overflowing with emotion and confusion and truly cements Oseman as a YA writer who understands teenagers and can write about them perfectly.

Loveless was thoroughly enjoyable, so much so that I could barely put it down. Coming out next month, July 9th, this is an impressive addition to the Oseman universe. I simply cannot recommend this enough and can’t wait to marvel at the joy Georgia’s story is going to bring to so many people. An exceptional, exciting novel.


5 star

#LGBTQMonth Author Interview: William Hussey!

Hi everybody!

Welcome back to another author interview! I can’t continue with this post until I remind everyone how important all our efforts our right now and how they should be directed to the Black Lives Matter movement first and foremost! Please keep educating yourself, signing petitions, sharing links, donating if you can and doing anything at all to help the cause! It’s so important to make noise right now, especially for Black trans lives that have been shockingly ignored by the media. Here is a link to a list of petitions that have not yet reached their goals and need your help!

Today we have the wonderful William Hussey for an interview, author of the recently released Hideous Beauty—which you can order from Book Depository here!


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

will

 

William Hussey is an award-winning author of books for children and Young Adults. As a gay man and a visiting author, he has spoken to hundreds of LGBTQ+ students worldwide. Hearing their stories of modern intolerance, prejudice and the tragic consequences this has can lead to inspired him to write Hideous Beauty.

 

 


ABOUT HIDEOUS BEAUTY

hideous beauty

When Dylan and Ellis’s secret relationship is exposed on social media, Dylan is forced to come out. To Dylan’s surprise they are met with support and congratulations, and an amazing reception at their highschool dance. Perhaps people aren’t as narrow-minded as he thought?

But Dylan’s happiness is short-lived. Ellis suddenly becomes angry, withdrawn, and as they drive home from the dance, he loses control of the car, sending it plunging into Hunter’s Lake. Barely conscious, Dylan is pulled free of the wreck, while Ellis is left to drown.

Grief-stricken, Dylan vows to discover what happened to Ellis that night and piece together the last months of his boyfriend’s life – and realises just how little he knew about the boy he loved.


THE INTERVIEW

Hi William! Congrats on the publication of Hideous Beauty last month. Now this isn’t your first novel – but what makes it different to everything else you’ve written?

Thank you so much for having me!

Well, Hideous Beauty is my first LGBTQ love story/mystery. All my previous books have been very plot-driven YA/Middle Grade supernatural adventures with little of the story devoted to the main character’s sexuality or gender identity. I had always wanted to write a book like this but, when I first started in the industry a decade ago, very few such books were being published.

It was while I was taking a hiatus from writing to care for my late Mum that an avalanche of wonderful queer teen books started to hit the shelves. Authors like Becky Albertalli, Adam Silvera, John Green and others showed me that publishing was now welcoming the kind of intimate book I wanted to write.

In Hideous Beauty we have what I hope is a very heart-warming, swoony love story wrapped up in a proper twisty, turny mystery. So it is plot-driven in a sense, but the issues I wanted to address – identity, secrets, grief, insincere acceptance of LGBTQ people, and the redeeming power of first love – are at the centre of the narrative.

 

I’m currently reading it and loving it! Grief plays a big part in this novel. Were there any scenes in particular you were writing that you really felt for your characters? Any scenes you found difficult to write?

I cried a LOT while writing this book. I still cry when reading certain sections of it. I wrote Hideous Beauty in the immediate months after losing my Mum to lung cancer and sepsis. I had cared for her during her last illness and the grief was terrible. It was still raw when I was creating Dylan and his reaction to the death of the person he loved most in the world. In fact, the book really was part of the grieving process for me. It helped me understand the trauma I was going through. In the end, I came to the conclusion Dylan does towards the epilogue of the book – that all we can do is move on, carrying our loved ones with us as best we can, honouring them by living the way they believed we could.

One moment in the book absolutely comes from real life. I went to see my Mum in the funeral home and I touched her hand while she lay in her coffin. In the book there is a scene just like this. Dylan describes the coldness of that touch as like nothing on earth. It’s the coldness not of earth or stone or wind but of all the moments that could have been and now can’t ever be. I wept and wept writing that scene. I think it’s the most truthful thing I’ve ever written.

But as painful as these moments are in real life – as painful as they are to write – they inform us who we are. They scar us, leave us hurting, but hopefully they also make us gentler and more empathetic people. What I experienced losing my Mum? I don’t know. I poured it into Hideous Beauty and I’m happy to say it does seem to connect with people.

 

That is such a lovely way to think. LGBTQ representation is so important, especially in YA fiction. As a queer author yourself, do you feel like it’s your responsibility to tell queer stories?

Absolutely. Representation is crucial in children’s literature. I only wish there had been such books when I was a very confused and unhappy teenager. It might have saved me years of needless heartache and self-loathing. I grew up in a rural part of the UK and under the shadow of Section 28: teachers couldn’t tell me that being gay was OK even if they wanted to. The only gay people I saw were stereotypes in sitcoms, caricatures to be ridiculed. Everything I experienced in my life told me it was at best undesirable to be gay, probably even dangerous.

And yes, things have moved on, but not everywhere. I think some people in big cities have the idea that pretty much all our battles have been won and that therefore LGBTQ people should shut up about our rights. But let me tell you, queer teens in rural Britain face just the same prejudice and threats they have always faced. Most of the UK isn’t like London and Manchester and Brighton. Most of it is still actively hostile to gay people. It’s horrible to say, but there it is.

And so representation in books and films and art generally is just as crucial as it’s always been, especially for kids who live in isolated, homophobic environments. Seeing ourselves reflected in literature can still, in fact, save lives.

 

Absolutely! Wise words! Speaking of LGBTQ rep, what are some of your favourite queer characters in any books or TV/films?

Oh goodness, this could be a very long list, so I’ll try to contain myself to a couple of examples. Firstly, in terms of TV, I love how Drag Race has become such a huge hit with queer and straight audiences alike. Can you even imagine such a thing a decade ago?!

From a British perspective, I also have to give massive respect to Russell T Davies. Those wonderful characters in QUEER AS FOLK hit at just the right time for me – they opened my eyes to a world I wanted to be a part of and did it in a way with humour and compassion. He was also doggedly determined in introducing queer characters during his tenure as showrunner on DOCTOR WHO. I think we’ll look back in a few decades and realise just how important that representation was for a whole generation.

 

More recently, I love how Simon Spier has very quietly become an icon for kids. I hate the word ‘normalise’, I’m sure there’s a better way to phrase it, but writers like Becky Albertalli have created literary spaces where people can widen their horizons with characters like Simon. Similarly, Simon James Green has done the same thing with his Noah Grimes books and with Alex in ALEX IN WONDERLAND.

 

When I was a confused teenager, I was also given a battered copy of Armistead Maupin’s TALES OF THE CITY. Just like with QUEER AS FOLK, those magical characters of Anna Madrigal and Mouse and all the others at 28 Barbary Lane spoke very deeply to me. In fact, I hate to think what might have become of me if I hadn’t encountered characters and books like these.

 

Yes!! Russell T Davies is incredible. If you had to do something different as a child or a teenager to make you into a better writer today, what would it be?

Read more. I mean, I was a pretty voracious reader anyway, but the more you read, the better writer you become. I’m sure I could have stolen a few more moments here and there to squeeze in just one more book!

 

How long does it take you to write a novel usually? What’s your process like?

 It usually takes about 6-9 months to fully complete a manuscript. The process starts with a ‘What if…’ idea or a character that pops into my head and demands to be written about. Then, once I’ve done enough research, I sit down and hammer out the first draft as quickly as I can. Honestly, family and friends don’t see much of me for about six weeks. I write it fast and furious! I think if you can get that energy and pace in the first draft, it will always stay there, no matter how many edits come later. I don’t revise at all as I go, I just set the story down, rough and ready.

Then I put it in a drawer for about a month and get on with some other writing. When I go back, I can see clearly all the things wrong with it and I start redrafting. I probably redraft six or seven times, then polish, then send it to my fab editor Stephanie King at Usborne. Then I wait nervously for Steph’s verdict! This usually comes in a very detailed letter, which I cut up into sections and stick to the wall so I can get an overview. I usually get a little grumpy before finally admitting after about an hour that Steph is 100% right about everything and that she’s a genius. I then start redrafting again… and again… and again!

 

Do you find music helps you write or is it more of a distraction?

I love listening to music when I’m thinking about the book. Certain scenes can be brought to life in my head by the right music. But once I start writing, I need silence. I even wear earplugs so I don’t get distracted. You see, I try to be as absorbed as much as possible in the world of the story, which has its own sights and sounds and textures, and so anything outside that bubble is really unwelcome.

 

How did publishing your first novel change your process as a writer?

 

You’re always learning as a writer. About yourself, about your skill set, and about the industry. In terms of my writing itself, I guess I became more efficient. I learned not to spend days drafting and redrafting that opening line or worrying about that tricky plot point in the middle and just push on through to the end. No one needs to see – or SHOULD see – your sloppy first draft, so don’t worry about such things as you go. Once you’re finished, you will have a much better perspective on what works and what doesn’t rather than trying to tinker with things partway through.

 

I’m sure there are many aspiring authors reading this – what’s your best piece of advice you can give them?

 

Read read read read read read READ! Anything and everything. I can’t count the number of times someone has said to me: I could write a book! Then you ask them who their favourite author is and they look at you blankly and say: Oh, I’m not much of a reader! Well, sorry, but you can’t be a writer unless you’re a reader. It’s impossible. Writing isn’t some mysterious arcane craft – anyone can do it. All the skills you’ll ever need are there, waiting between the covers of books. But there is no shortcut – to learn your craft you must study it.

 

I would also advise new writers to grow a thick skin and to be open to constructive criticism. I know it hurts when someone rips your work to shreds, but very often the critic – especially if they’re an editor or agent – knows what they’re talking about.

 

That’s great advice! And finally, what do you have planned next? Are you working on anything for the future?

 

I’ve just finished my next LGBTQ YA love story/thriller for Usborne. It’s out next summer and I can’t really tell you much about it, unfortunately. There is a teaser at the end of Hideous Beauty, however, so that I can share:

‘Imagine a world where it is illegal to be gay’

Intrigued?!


Thank you so much for being part of #LGBTQMonth, William! We were delighted to have you!

Hideous Beauty was published last month and I urge you all to go order it—from your local indie bookstore if they have it, or anywhere else!

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