Hello everybody! Today, I have some more pride month-themed reviews to share with you, and there are actually quite a few. Onto the post!
A Brush With Love by Mazey Eddings
While this is an m/f romance, Mazey Eddings is bi and I was in need of some romcom goodness so decided to pick this up. It’s about two student dentists, Harper and Dan, who fall in love despite Harper’s insistence that they can only be friends given the fact she’s about to graduate and move away. As is standard in a romance, Harper and Dan’s relationship is the focal point of the story and it is an absolute delight- their meet cute is adorable, they have so many cute and comedic moments together (my fave is when he meets her cat!) and then also the chemistry is just undeniably off the charts. I also loved the strong and supportive friendship groups in here, the anxiety/emotional abuse rep, and of course loved finding out more about dentistry because I’m always down to learn new stuff (although some of it absolutely freaked me out, I won’t lie to you!). Overall, this was just a tremendous amount of fun and I’ll definitely be picking up Lizzie Blake’s Best Mistake (which I assume is about the same Lizzie who’s Harper’s friend in this book, who I loved).
Keep Dancing, Lizzie Chu by Maisie Chan (recieved from the publisher in exchange for my honest review)
I was reading this so I could write questions for my interview with Maisie (coming soon to a blog near you!) and it has some gorgeous incidental rep as one of the main characters has two dads, which is why it’s in this post. So first up, I think incidental rep such as this is super important because it normalises a different kind of family and hopefully leads to children becoming more empathetic and inclusive. It follows a young carer named Lizzie, whose grandmother has recently died, who is now looking after her grandfather as he hasn’t been himself lately. She wants to help Wai Gong get back to his old self, so decides a trip to the Tower Ballroom in Blackpool (which is special to him because of his past and also his present day love of Strictly Come Dancing) is the best thing she can do for him, despite the logistical challenges of organising it. Lizzie is such a wonderful, kind character and I adored her straight away, her friends/their families were so supportive and understanding of her situation, and I loved the people they meet along the way on their road trip. All the Strictly references made my heart happy, and I just think Maisie Chan blends humour and slight heartbreak so well in this book. And yes, I did cry at the end if you’re wondering!
If This Gets Out by Sophie Gonzales and Cale Dietrich
I’m a huge fan of Sophie Gonzales, so I’ll pick up anything she writes and after this, I think Cale Dietrich is hugely talented as well and would definitely read more from him too. It’s a dual narrative story of Zach and Rueben, who are part of the world’s biggest boy band Saturday, and their story of falling in love with each other and navigating coming out to pretty much the whole world. Both characters are so likeable and easy to empathise with, and I just became so invested in both them together and as individuals. I was also a big fan of the other two boys in Saturday, Angel and Jon, and if Sophie and Cale were open to it I’d love to see spinoffs and maybe get to see their eventual love stories because I want to see more of them for sure! I love books about musicians (and fame in general, to be honest) so I obviously loved that setting and vibe, and I think this does a really good job of balancing the amazing side of it and the damaging side of the industry. It’s also worth noting that this does cover some pretty serious issues, that are all handled well, but if you love Sophie’s romcoms, there is lots of comedy here to enjoy alongside the darker themes and scenes.
All That’s Left in the World by Erik J. Brown (recieved from the publisher in exchange for my honest review)
I buddy read this with Sophie (@missbslibrary on insta!), and I’m glad I did because this isn’t a genre I typically gravitate towards (no shade to post apocalyptic stuff, I’m just a wuss) but I’m glad I gave it a chance as there were a lot of things in this I really liked. It’s about two boys who come together as some of the few survivors of a dangerous superflu that wiped out most of America, and fall in love while trying to stay alive. The romance was for sure my favourite thing in here the motif of Andrewh telling Jamie the plot of films was super cute, and I loved how strong they were as a couple. Supporting characters Cara and Henri also deserve special mentions, for being badass and amazing in completely different ways, and I think the worldbuilding feels so real and terrifying that it creates such a tense atmosphere in places; I was absolutely on the edge of my seat while reading and I was never quite sure what action was coming next. I recently read an interview with the author where he mentioned his next book is YA contemporary romance, so I have a strong suspicion that it will absolutely be my vibe!
The Whispers by Greg Howard
This has been on my TBR for the longest time and I always thought I’d love it, so I’m slightly disappointed to report that it was just a bit of a let down in the end. It’s the story of a boy named Riley whose mum has gone missing, and he starts hearing the Whispers, mythical creatures he’s grown up hearing stories about. On the plus side for this book, I did genuinely really like and empathise with Riley; he’s going through some really rough stuff and seemed very much in need of a hug. I also liked the concept of the Whispers and was dying to know more about them the whole book. However, there were also things I didn’t like. The writing just felt… a bit off in places and it was kind of a strange tone/pace, and I don’t want to give spoilers but I thought the ending was just very middle of the road and something that’s been done so many times before. Not the worst book I’ve ever read, to be clear, but I also wouldn’t especially recommend it or be in a hurry to read more from this author.
Double Booked by Lily Lindon
As we’ve already established, I love books about bands, so this book about a woman realising she’s bisexual and beginning a double life when she joins a lesbian band, causing problems with her teaching career and long term boyfriend, joined my TBR as soon as I saw someone mention it on Instagram. Georgina (aka Gina, aka George) is such a brilliantly complex main character; she is really grappling with her identity and trying to work out where she fits and who she loves, as well as this change in her life forcing her to finally work through her grief over her dad’s death. Her friendship with Soph is so deep and beautiful, and I loved how Georgina’s relationships with her pupils and the other members of Phase changed her. This is such a funny, quirky read and the chemistry between my ship (I’m not telling you who they are…) was just the best. I can’t wait to read more from Lily Lindon in the future!
Delilah Green Doesn’t Care by Ashley Herring Blake
I’ve been seeing this everywhere since it came out and I knew I had to pick it up, so finally getting to it during pride month just felt right. It’s about a photographer named Delilah who has to go back to her small hometown to work at her estranged stepsister Astrid’s wedding, and her love story with Claire, who just so happens to be one of Astrid’s besties. This book is honestly so funny, like top tier humour, there are scenes and dialogue that literally had me CACKLING (the lake!!!). Delilah is so spiky and sassy that she’s a joy to read about, Claire is so devoted to her kid and just a lovely person, I really felt for Astrid and Iris is phenomenonal comic relief in the rare moments where things were tense. The romance was steamy but also super cute, an excellent slow burn, and I think anyone who enjoys a good romcom needs to read this one. Roll on the sequels, including one about Astrid due out in November aka my birthday month, tysm for the present in advance Ashley!!
I Kissed Shara Wheeler by Casey McQuiston (recieved from the publisher in exchange for my honest review)
Okay, so this is not a criticism in ANY WAY, please do not take it as such, but in my opinion this isn’t a romcom; I’d describe it as more contemporary/mystery YA with a romantic subplot or three, and I kind of wish I’d known that going in which is why I’ve put it in my review to tell you. It follows a girl named Chloe, who is one of three people kissed by Shara Wheeler on prom night, before she vanishes and leaves behind a trail of clues for Chloe and the two boys she kissed (Rory and Smith!). The mystery element was straight out of like an 80s/90s teen movie, except the romance bits are queer, so as you can imagine I was all about it and utterly hooked the whole way through. The characters are all so three dimensional and unique, and I felt like I got to know every single member of the ensemble equally, and loved them all (yes, even Shara, by the end). There is also commentary on the homophobia/transphobia present in Christian communities , and I loved seeing the characters in here protest against the way their school treats the LGBTQ+ students. Casey McQuiston is quickly becoming an autoread author for me, I definitely need to get to One Last Stop soon because this was such a joyful, fun read!
The Secrets of the Stormforest by L.D Lapinski
This is another one I read with Sophie, and it’s the third and final book in the Strangeworlds Travel Agency trilogy. It follows Flick, Jonathan, Avery and a few other companions trying to save the multiverse from the sinister Seren, magical beings who prolong their lives by stealing magic. Flick has to make so many hard choices in here and it just made me adore her even more as a protagonist because she really was so selfless in her defense of her friends and the multiverse, despite the risk it causes to her. The li baby gay relationship between her and Avery was such a highlight too, and I obviously love Jonathan and his banter with both girls a whole lot. I obviously can’t tell you whose it is, but there is a death in here that absolutely wrecked me and made me cry cause it was such an emotional scene, and I definitely think this was the best book in the series because the stakes are so high and I was just so worried about basically every single character ALL THE TIME. I haven’t heard anything about what’s next from L.D Lapinski, but I’ll definitely be picking it up once it exists.
Nate Plus One by Kevin Van Whye
I was a big fan of Date Me, Bryson Keller back in 2020, so as soon as I heard about this I immediately bought a copy. It’s about singer-songwriter Nate, who has a massive crush on his best friend Jai, and after Jai’s band loses their lead singer, Nate steps in to help them win a prestigious Battle of the Bands contest. In return for this, Jai agrees to go with Nate to his cousin’s lavish wedding in South Africa, which his ex boyfriend also has an invite to. Again, I love stuff about music and so the focus on songwriting here was a big plus point for me, as was the general band dynamic we see in some parts of the book. I also loved the South African setting and learning more about the culture and history of the country, as well as seeing Nate connect with his deceased dad’s side of the family that he doesn’t really know very well, especially his grandmother. Nate and Jai are absolutely precious together, and overall this was just such a wholesome, lovely read. I’m already looking forward to my next dose of Kevin Van Whye goodness!
The Last Firefox by Lee Newbery
I’ve followed Lee on socials pretty much since my blog started, so I was thrilled for him when his debut was announced and I’ve been so excited to read it since March. It’s about a boy named Charlie, who is given Cadno the firefox from another world to protect for a few days, and his attempts to find his inner fire and bravery so he can do a good job, and also stand up to his bullies/protect his future younger sibling, who his dads are in the process of adopting during the book. So, of course, huge points for the rep of same sex parents who are so loving and wonderful and parental figures who were just so great, Charlie is a sweetheart and I just wanted to hug him the whole way through, and his friends Lippy and Roo were simultaneously hilarious and supportive. The messages in this are so important and wonderful, and I was obviously a sucker for how cute Charlie and Cadno’s bond was. All in all, this is just such an adorable, enjoyable book and I definitely want to read more from Lee!
Thank you so much for reading! Which LGBTQ+ books have you read this Pride Month? Do you have any thoughts on the ones I’ve included in this post? I’d love to have a chat with you in the comments!