Deposing Nathan by Zack Smedley: Such an original premise, I was hooked from the very first pages. Nat and Cam have ended up on opposite sides of a table where a deposition is happening. There’s been violence between them and it’s time to unravel what happened.
Favorite bits: This is one of the most unique books I’ve read in a very long time. These characters are written so remarkably that I couldn’t help feeling like I knew them… as though I’d been allowed a window to their minds.
The prose is sparing and yet beautiful. There are some lovely moments captured from the early days of friendship and the intensity of growing emotion. This story made me angry, and it made me cry and I would read it again in a heartbeat. There are twists, things that hurt because you just don’t see them coming. And it’s real… it’s very real. This is young people being amazing and flawed and broken and perfectly imperfect.
The Fever King by Victoria Lee: I fell in love with this book almost immediately. It has a fresh take on magic… a virus that kills most people it infects will give others the ability to wield magic. Lee’s characters are diverse and fully fleshed out. The author creates a bleak future world that is peppered with flawed but beautiful souls struggling to find their way.
Favorite bits: Even though people are endowed with the ability to wield magic, Lee has built a world in which that magic is based on underlying scientific knowledge. If you don’t understand the principles behind physics, you aren’t able to make objects move. I loved it! it was unique and interesting and woven skillfully throughout the story.
Noam is a flawed and complex character. Like so many of us, he is trying to do what he thinks is right and getting caught up in the complexities of life. His relationship with Dara is the kind that makes my heartache when I’m reading about it. I’m glad there is a forthcoming sequel or I might have to hunt the author down and beg for details about what happened to these two!!!
And the sequel? I can’t wait for you all to read it!
Lock & West by Alexander C. Eberhart: This book is remarkable. It’s painful to read, beautiful, frustrating and frightening. This book is complicated. Lock & West both have their issues, they are flawed humans and have more than the usual challenges in their lives. When they meet, home-schooled Lock and out-and-proud West connect. Then they have a sexual encounter at a party that seems to initiate a lot of changes. Things in both of their lives begin to unravel and force them apart again and again. There is a lot of emotional upheaval in this story, a lot of pain but it is beautifully written.
Favorite bits: The relationship between these two men left a mark on my heart. They were both lost and trying to find each other, and missing by a mile and… repeat. But it wasn’t overdone, it was perfect. This book is really well-written and it brings a lot of heavy issues to light. I can’t wait to see what else Eberhart comes up with.
The Past And Other Things That Should Stay Buried by Shaun David Hutchinson: Wow! This book! Shaun David Hutchinson is one of my favorite authors. If you’ve read any of his other books (We Are The Ants, At THe Edge of the Universe, The Apocalypse of Elena Mendoza). This book is about friendship and self-discovery and all the ugly, difficult road bumps that crop up on our path. The story also sheds light on the way we categorize each other, how we can be different people when in the company of different friends.
Favorite bits: This beautiful story is about friendships. It’s about love. It’s about living your life the way you need to live it. It’s something that everyone should read, and I don’t care what age you are. Hutchinson has a way of capturing emotions that makes me slam the book down and yell, “YES! that’s exactly it!”
We Are Lost And Found by Helene Dunbar: I loved this book and I think it’s about time that there was a book about the beginning of the HIV/AIDS crisis for a younger generation.
Favorite bits: Michael is a great character! There is so much going on in his life. His father is homophobic and abusive, his mother is distant, his brother has been thrown out of the house for being gay. Michael is gay and terrified to have sex because of the looming threat of HIV/AIDS. But when he meets Gabriel, he falls for him and finds himself trying to sort out what risk is worth taking.
Dunbar has received some flack for writing this book from the perspective of a young gay man. I don’t have a problem with that. I feel like this story has been a long time coming and if a gay man wants to write another version then I will read that too. This story is special though. I felt a lot while I was reading it. It brought back a lot of memories and feelings and I thank Dunbar for that.
Brave Face by Shaun David Hutchinson: This book was a remarkable journey. It was one of those books that I left a trail through … turned down corners at places that contained perfect descriptions, thoughts I know I will want to go back to.
Favorite bits: Not only is this book beautifully written, but it is also honest and candid in a way that many memoirs don’t quite manage. I wish I had been able to read a book like “Brave” when I was a teenager but I’m thankful that so many young people now have the option. This book is funny, charming, sad, heartbreaking and hopeful all at the same time.
There are trigger warnings included at the front of the book and there’s an additional warning located before a particularly challenging chapter. Thank you, Simon Pulse and Shaun Hutchinson for including those.
The Falls of Wyona by David Brendan Hopes: This book felt like many things to me. The story is one long, campfire tale… or an epic poem of old. It’s beautiful and sad and bears witness to times we shouldn’t be quick to dismiss or forget.
Favorite bits: Arden, Vince, and Tilden are inseparable as young men. About the time Arden realizes Vince is his best friend, Glen arrives on the scene. Vince is immediately drawn to Glen in a way that Arden doesn’t really understand. He accepts the new closeness, even when he’s a little envious or feels left out. I loved the way that Arden and Tilden simply accepted the bond between Vince and Glen. I loved the friendship of these four boys, their honesty, their confusion, and their missteps.
Even though some of the lives in this tale end with tragedy, the story is full of love and joy.
Last Bus To Everland by Sophie Cameron: This book is achingly bittersweet and I loved it. Young Brody is living a difficult life in Edinburgh until the night he meets up with a young man wearing wings on his back. Nico takes Brody to a magical place behind a disappearing door. It’s a perfect world where they can be whomever they want to be without judgment.
Don’t be mistaken, this book is much more than a re-telling of Peter Pan’s story. This is about figuring out your own worth and the choices we all have to make when we are young.
Favorite bits: I really enjoyed the way Brody blossomed once he went into Everland. The more he discovered in the new adventure-land, the more he discovered about himself.
Boy Meets Hamster by Birdie Milano: This was so much fun! This book is laugh-out-loud amusing, sweet and has some really great messages. What if you’re so busy pretending to be someone you’re not that you miss out on the person who would have liked you for who you really are?
Dylan is a bit clumsy, doesn’t always make the best decisions but he loves his little brother and his best friend.
His crush on the cute neighbor kid at the campground is adorable. And he gets into some hilarious situations while trying to figure out his life. There’s a brawl at a karaoke party that might be one of the funniest things I have ever read! Loved it!!
Favorite bits: Dylan! Everything about this character is great, fun and authentic.
Space Between: Explorations of Love, Sex and Fluidity by Nico Tortorella: Tortorella weaves together their internal dialogue with the exterior events in a way that enables the reader to see a glimpse of what their life has been like. Their life has been complex but full of profound learnings, some of which have a high cost.
This book is a great look into life with someone who is gender fluid and the challenges and thoughts and victories they may face.
Favorite bits: Very authentic, genuine and educational at the same time.
Iron & Velvet by Alexis Hall: Queer, marvelous, dangerous and hilarious! This is a perfect beginning to a PI series!
Favorite bits: No one writes funnier books than Alexis Hall. Nothing will ever be funnier than a really pissed off unicorn (And you’ll have to read the book to find out about that one. Kate Kane is a part-fae, kick-ass, bit-of-a-disaster, lesbian private investigatory. If that’s not enough to interest you, Kate has a vampire ex-boyfriend who stalks her (and watches her sleep), an assistant who may be reconstituted marble, a love-interest who is both witty and debauched (and also kick-ass), and a murder case to solve. The case is going to be a challenge that is the supernatural-bitey-attacky kind!
Testaments by Margaret Atwood: The sequel… sort of … to A Handmaid’s Tale.
Favorite bits: I waited a long time for this one and I wasn’t disappointed. Only Margaret Atwood could come back to a story after so much time had passed and write something equally as good, if not better than the original. I loved the way the narrator’s voices were so different and how the ongoing themes of the book were resolved and woven together in the end.
If you have a chance and like audiobooks, I would recommend the audiobook version! It’s read by some of the actors from the TV series with an appearance by Margaret Atwood.
Earnest Ink by Alex Hall: Queer, futuristic, magical, trans character! This is ultimately a mystery with a great cast of characters and a twist of magic!
Favorite bits: I loved this story and all it’s world-building. This book was great! This is a pretty dark world. NYC appears to be walled off and things aren’t what they once were. There are Closed Circuit cameras everywhere, there’s a curfew and enforcement officers are posted on every corner. In Hall’s world, there are people who have magical skills. Some of them can heal people, some can manipulate energy, Hemingway can bring his tattoo art to life… and the East River Ripper appears to be able to magically drain the life out of his/her victims. Sometimes, people’s magics can be combined.
This whole story worked for me and I’m hopeful for a sequel!
Heartsong by T.J. Klune: This is one of the best series of books I’ve ever had the pleasure of reading. A werewolf pack with human allies and their own magician.
Favorite Bits: You will never persuade me that there is a better series of books about werewolves. Heartsong is the most recent installment of Klune’s Green Creek Series. These books are emotional and funny and about a million other things I’ll never be able to describe adequately. If you’d told me years ago that my favorite series of books would be about a werewolf pack I would have told you that you were bonkers. Not now.
Enter the Aardvark by Jessica Anthony This is political satire at its finest! It’s darkly humous, sad and witty.
It’s remarkably original… I have never read anything like it and that makes me incredibly happy. Anthony has written parallel journeys for two different men… different times… the only common witness is the stuffed aardvark. The book is about choices, feelings – or lack of feelings, posturing and making the right decisions at the right time. It’s also about a variety of losses and the way that people deal with loss.
This is a clever, unique, entertaining and rewarding read. I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend this to anyone with a sense of adventure when it comes to fiction! There aren’t enough books like this in the world!