Hi everyone! I can’t believe we’re in February already! Last month sped by and unfortunately for a large chunk of the month I was in a reading slump. I also really didn’t get round to the majority of my January TBR, though I did read a couple of books that weren’t on there.
Stats wise, unsurprisingly contemporary and romance novels took the top spot again for my most read genre of the month! I read a grand total of 17 books which covered 4,422 pages. All but one of the books I read was written by a queer author or had queer main characters but only 5 of the 17 books were written by authors of colour. I only had two DNFs this month and one of them is what I call a ‘soft DNF’, in that I’ve put it down for now but I enjoyed it enough that I will probably pick it up again in the future!
First up are my novellas and short stories that I read this month, and all but one of them were ARCs! The first novella I read this month was an ARC of The Seep by Chana Porter. This was originally released in January 2020, but it was re-released through a UK publisher this month, and I was so excited to be approved for an ARC as I’ve had my eyes on this book for the longest time! The Seep follows Trina, a 50-year-old Indigenous Jewish trans woman living in a utopian society that arose from an alien invasion. One day, Trina’s wife Deeba tells Trina that she wants to start her life all over again as a baby, forgetting the life she has already lived. Trina is understandably hurt by this and wallows in her grief. But one day she meets a boy who has been sheltered from the outside world and Trina decides to go on a quest to save him from the Seep. I absolutely loved this one – it really captured the human experience so perfectly in so few pages and I loved the analysis that went into it. I loved all the queer rep throughout but my only gripe is that I wish the story of Trina and the boy were joined together, rather than two separate stories that you read one after the other.
Next up I read A Dowry of Blood, which I’d already preordered I was so excited to read it, so getting an ARC copy too was amazing! I have a full review up of this one already, but in summary it’s an amazing queer, poly gothic horror with vampires that delves into the workings of an abusive relationship with the main characters struggling to get out of it. It really is such an amazing, atmospheric novella and I highly recommend it! Then I picked up my preorder of When Tara Met Farah, an adorable sapphic new adult romance featuring two Brown girls that was just so fluffy and adorable and everything that I wanted while reading it. I don’t currently have a review up for this one, but if it’s something you’d like to see let me know and I’d be glad to! Finally, I read an ARC of Girl With a Pearl Earring, which is part of a series of queer short stories to be released over the next few months. The synopsis of this one sounded amazing – punk trans lesbians, art galleries and double lives – but really I felt nothing whilst reading it. In fact, so little actually happened in it that by just reading the synopsis you’d have the exact same amount of information from the story as I did having read the whole thing. I think that this was one of my biggest disappointments of the month, which is a shame, but I will most likely check out some of this author’s other works!
Surprisingly, I read multiple books in some of my least favourite genres this month, although, admittedly, they were all queer! One of my goals for 2021 is to read at least one non-fiction book a month, and this month’s pick was In Their Shoes by Jamie Windust – a memoir of the author’s life growing up nonbinary. Overall I enjoyed my time reading this, and I gave it four stars, but a lot of the advice given throughout I think would benefit someone who is just beginning their coming out journey, or parents of a queer teen, more than it did me. It’s a really important book but I just don’t think I’m the target demographic, despite being nonbinary myself! The second non-fiction book I picked up was also my first ever manga, and I really enjoyed it! My Lesbian Experience With Loneliness is another memoir following the main character as she deals with depression, the expectations of her family, struggling to find a job and, obviously, her lesbianism. I resonated with so much of this book and found myself in tears several times throughout. I highly recommend this manga though I really do recommend checking out the trigger warnings before diving in!
In general I’m not a poetry fan. In fact, I could count the amount of poets I enjoy on one hand. But I had some real luck with the poetry that I read in January this year! Right at the start of the month, I decided to treat myself to a collection of Sappho’s poetry, and decided to pick up If Not, Winter from Queer Lit bookshop. Despite having a giggle over a few of the fragments (celery was a real favourite) there were so many gorgeous lines that I had to bookmark and it was so great to read a (literally) sapphic classic! The second poetry collection I read is an ARC that is being released in March and that I cannot recommend enough that you preorder! Please Come Off-Book is an amazing poetry collection about being nonbinary and about being queer in general and so much of this resonated with me. Although I’m not a huge fan of the ‘modern poetry’ style in general, I think it really worked in this collection’s favour and I loved all the theatre references and metaphors.
Sadly, I am still very much in a fantasy slump and, unfortunately, it’s this genre that gave me the majority of my disappointments this month. Early in the month I picked up an e-ARC of Thor: Daughter of Asgard and I was so excited to read it – a sapphic Norse mythology retelling with polyamory and nonbinary main characters? Yes please! Sadly, this was my ‘soft DNF’ of the month, but I’ll hopefully pick it up again in the future because the story does really appeal to me and I enjoyed the characters, but it just wasn’t what I was in the mood for while reading it! I also picked up my first audiobook of the year which was Plain Bad Heroines by Emily M. Danforth. This was also our Sapphic Stories Bookclub adult pick of the month and one of my most anticipated books of the year! I have a full review up on the blog for this one already but in summary, this didn’t live up to my expectations. I love gothic horror so much but it left so much to be desired and ended extremely abruptly. It’s one of those books that I really think that I would benefit from a re-read of to fully appreciate it. Finally, the only through and through fantasy novel I read this month was another sapphic 2021 release that I was super excited about but sadly let me down – A Curse of Roses. I had heard so many amazing things about this one prior to picking it up, and I do think that it is an extremely important addition to YA fantasy, but there was so much lacking with regards to the characters’ personalities and the world building. Again, I have a full review up for this one if you want to know my full thoughts!
Finally we have my most read genre(s) – contemporary and romance! My first book of the year was We Are Okay by Nina LaCour, and it really was a great start to 2021! This was my fourth Nina LaCour book and by far the most melancholy of all the ones I’ve read so far. It follows Marin who is staying at her university residence over the holidays after recently losing her grandfather – the only family she had. It is a heartbreaking story of grief and lost love but it is so also so hopeful and it also made me cry at the end! My first Bold Strokes Books title of the year was perhaps my favourite book of January! The Clinch by Nicole Disney is a sapphic sports romance which is something I am a huge sucker for! It follows two MMA rivals and the sexual tension is unreal! This was my first book by this author but it definitely won’t be my last! It really deserves all the five star ratings that it’s getting! My next BSB title, though, wasn’t really my cup of tea. I’ve been wanting to read something by Kris Bryant for some time, and Scent sounded so cute – it’s a butch/femme romance and the love interest owns a family chocolatier shop – but I just couldn’t get past how uncomfortable the main character made me, so I DNF-ed it. I did enjoy the author’s writing style, though, so I will be on the look out for other books by her!
Our second Sapphic Stories Bookclub pick for January was The Henna Wars – another 2020 preorder that I just hadn’t got round to reading yet! I really enjoyed this one and gave it four stars. I wrote a whole review on it if you want to check that out, but I absolutely loved the representation and the discussions on cultural appropriation, but I did have a few little niggles that led to me docking a star (there’s more on that in my review if you want to know more!). Another sapphic ‘classic’ that I read this month was Annie on My Mind which I absolutely adored. It’s a really sweet YA contemporary about two girls falling in love for the first time in New York City and it was such a joy to read! It’s something that I wish I had read while growing up! The final book of this wrap up is one I can’t tell you too much about yet, and it’s Like Home by Louisa Onomé! I received an ARC of this one which was super exciting as it was one of my most anticipated 2021 releases and it did not disappoint! I wrote a review for BookBrowse that will be published soon and it was so great being able to work with them for it! I’m really proud of this review and I can’t wait to share it with you guys, but just know that I loved the book and it is such a valuable addition to YA contemporary, what with its discussions on gentrification and change – you really don’t want to miss out on this one when it’s released!
So that was my January wrap up! Overall I’m really happy with what I read, even though it wasn’t as much as I’d hoped! I’d love to know what you read in January and what your favourite book of the month was! I hope February is a great reading month for you all! Stay safe!