Hi everyone, I hope your doing well! Today I’m here with my (a couple of days later than I had previously anticipated) March Wrap Up! I had a pretty good reading month in March, though I did have quite a few DNFs. I read a good amount of fantasy books which I’m really happy about because I’ve been struggling to really get into fantasy over the past year, and I read two new favourites! Without any further ado, let’s get into the stats!
So, compared to last March where I think I read three books in total, I managed to read a ridiculous 24 books, though that does include DNFs, and 6,874 pages! Of those 24 books, seven were physical books, sixteen were e-books, and one I read switching between the e-book and the audiobook! The vast majority of the books I read were ARCs (only 6 weren’t) and all bar three of the books were 2021 releases. Twenty-three of the books that I read featured queer main characters or were written by queer authors (or at least those that I am aware are openly queer), and ten of the books were written by authors of colour. Though I did read quite a bit of fantasy, my most read genre this month was, once again, contemporary and romance! When will I get to change that bit of the graphic!! My average rating for the month was pretty high at 3.8/5 stars!
Starting off on a wee bit of a low note so that I can get them done and out of the way, are my DNFs of the month. First was one of my non-fiction reads of the month – Gay Bar: Why We Went Out by Jeremy Atherton Lin. I’ve really been enjoying queer non-fiction recently and I’m really interested in the phenomenon of the gay bar, so I was really looking forward to this one, but the book felt like I was reading about the author having sex in public with a couple of facts sprinkled throughout for good measure. Furthermore, the author frequently came across as very pretentious (and at times a bit creepy, especially when he talks about not being able to follow the ‘rules’ of not being lecherous in a club), particularly when talking about young queer people today and their identities and safe spaces – it often sounded a lot like the right-wing ‘snowflake’ rhetoric that I’m sure we’re all familiar with. There also was not a lot of nuance and the author rarely spoke about trans people and people of colour and their experiences with gay clubs. A DNF that I was so sad about, but that I’ll pick up again in the future, is A Dark and Hollow Star by Ashley Shuttleworth. This sounded right up my street – queer fae coming together to fight a common enemy, plus it’s urban fantasy – but I just found it unbelievably info-dumpy with very little plot and I had no idea what was going on at all!
My third DNF of the month was Luckmonkey by Alysia Constantine – adult literary fiction following a queer, trans punk band who break into homes and businesses, stealing items and replacing them with something else. I was really intrigued by the synopsis and the queer found family aspect but it really felt off to me. There is constant misgendering of one of the main characters that is both on purpose and by someone who’s meant to be part of their found family, as well as some heavy-handed (at best) writing of characters of colour, and judging by other people’s reviews of this book, I’m not the only one who felt this way. Finally, my biggest disappointment of 2021 so far is Bruised by Tanya Boteju. I won’t go into real depth for this one because I already have a full review up, but I was so excited for sapphic roller derby, but ended up with a main character that I absolutely hated and what I felt was a not great representation of self-harm.
In March, as someone who really doesn’t get on all that well with poetry, I read quite a bit of it! Near the start of the month I picked up Embodied – a poetry anthology in graphic novel format. It’s a collection of poetry by people of marginalised genders all about their bodies and their experiences therein. I thought the graphic novel format was really innovative and a great way to introduce more people into poetry (though at times it didn’t lend itself to how easily the poems can be understood), and the illustrations were gorgeous. There were some poems in here I really resonated with, and others I didn’t as a white person and someone who has never been pregnant. I do recommend this to both poetry lovers and graphic novel lovers alike! My second non-fiction read of the month was by far better than the first. Black Boy Out of Time by Hari Ziyad is a gorgeous memoir that is perfect for those who enjoyed George M. Johnson’s memoir, discussing the author’s life growing up queer and Black in a multi-faith household. I highly recommend this book to everyone, though I would definitely suggest checking out the trigger warnings first as it is not an easy read. Finally, a poetry collection that I absolutely adored was Grace Lau’s debut collection, The Language We Were Never Taught to Speak. Lau tackles a complex array of subjects including race, religion, queerness, immigration and capitalism with such power and a clever use of the poem’s structure. Though I am not an avid reader of poetry, and I have spent many years searching for some that resonates with me, this was an absolute joy to read and a collection that I will definitely be returning to years in the future!
The very first book I picked up in March was one that I was highly anticipating – Skye Kilaen’s third book, The Home I Find With You. This is a dystopian m/m/f polyamorous romance novel that is unbelievably atmospheric and I absolutely loved it! Skye Kilaen is yet to let me down with one of her books and I loved the hopeful community feel of the novel, despite the remains of the second American civil war lingering in the background. Another book I read right at the start of the month was Matchlight by Anastazia Dymen – a debut new adult Roman-inspired fantasy. This was such a fun first instalment to a fantasy series that I’m really excited about! It’s extremely queer and has really great worldbuilding that I think fans of Priory of the Orange Tree and An Ember in the Ashes will really love! I also really enjoyed the main character, Ashes, and seeing how she was adored by so many women!
Last year I read A Dead Djinn in Cairo by P. Djèlí Clark and absolutely loved it, and I finally got round to picking up the sequel novella, The Haunting of Tram Car 015. This is a sort of companion novella, as it follows a different set of characters to the first, but I loved the continuation of the world building and seeing the characters we already know and love popping up! P. Djèlí Clark’s writing is so phenomenal and I can’t wait to pick up the next instalment in this series! Finally, a book that I haven’t been able to stop thinking about after I put it down is Black Sun by Rebecca Roanhorse. This is a stunning high fantasy novel that is inspired by the Indigenous cultures of the Americas. This is another very queer book and I think it is the first book I’ve read with a character that uses neopronouns, so I was really excited by that! We follow four points of view in the book, all with their own distinct voices, my favourites being Serapio and Xiala, and I already want to re-read it!
I really enjoyed all of the YA contemporary I read this month, though I do have reviews up already for two of the three of them, so I won’t talk your ears off about them too much! First up is As Far As You’ll Take Me by Phil Stamper which follows Marty as he moves to London to start his new life being openly gay and hoping to make it as a musician. Once again, Phil Stamper’s anxiety rep is so great and I really think his writing has improved from his debut novel. I really loved the complex and morally-grey characters and the plot kept me on my toes! My review goes into my full thoughts on the book and there’s a mini interview with the author, too! My second graphic novel of the month was the lovely Cheer Up: Love and Pompoms by Crystal Frasier and Val Wise. This books is an adorable and fluffy sapphic graphic novel with a Latina trans main character that will definitely hit you right in the feelings! The friendships and romantic relationships in this graphic novel were so sweet and there were some tough topics, such as transphobia and fatphobia, tackled too. I love queer graphic novels about sports teams and this was no exception – it’s definitely one ot look out for when it’s released in August! Finally, I read I Think I Love You by Auriane Desombre – a sapphic rivals/enemies-to-lovers book set during a film festival competition! Though I’m not a huge fan of enemies-to-lovers, I actually really enjoyed this, and the plot was really fun too! My review goes into much more depth, but I’m really excited to see what Auriane Desombre writes in the future!
In March I, very characteristically, read quite a bit of adult romance, so much that I had to split it into two seperate graphics! Starting off, I read a new all time favourite book – Honey Girl by Morgan Rogers. Let me tell you, this book deserves all the hype it gets! I spent the whole time reading it sobbing – and that’s not an exaggeration – because of how much I resonated with the main character, and it has such a lovely sapphic romance, too! This is another one I have a full review of, so definitely check it out if you’re interested in this book! Then I started my Bold Strokes Books romance novels of the month! Love’s Truth by C.A. Popovich drew me in as one of the main characters grew up in a cult, and the PTSD and anxiety rep was really great and I enjoyed the inclusion of a therapy dog! However, the book was extremely repetitive and only the last 25% or so had anything exciting it it. Plus, the relationship wasn’t my favourite as boundaries were crossed that shouldn’t have been and it felt a bit insta-lovey. Sadly, this just wasn’t my favourite! Love’s Falling Star by B.D. Grayson, on the other hand, was a delight to read! I love sapphic romance novels that revolve around singers, musicians and celebrities, and this follows a closeted world-famous country singer as she falls for a girl who tells her to be quiet when she’s writing music in a library! This was a really quick, fun read and I really enjoyed the romance! It was such a sweet read and one that I’d definitely recommend if you’re looking to get into adult romance!
Surprisingly, for someone who reads quite a lot of romance novels, Ice Queen by Gun Brooke is the first sapphic romance I’ve ever read featuring an ice queen character! I thoroughly enjoyed this book and the slow burn romance was the perfect match for the plot! The sexual tension between the two main characters was palpable and overall this was just a great, classic sapphic romance! Lead Me Home by Shannon O’Brien is a really interesting university romance, in that it is between a new professor and a woman who works in the university café, as opposed to a teacher/student relationship that you’d normally see in these kinds of books. This was such a funny and sweet romance and I was so glad to see that the main conflict in the book wasn’t between the two main characters themselves. Shannon O’Brien’s prose is so witty and I absolutely flew through this book! My only issues were that the sex scenes didn’t feel all that natural in how they fitted into the plot, and I wasn’t a huge fan of the last quarter of the book due to the change in tone. Otherwise, I really enjoyed this and will definitely be picking up this author’s future releases!
Spellbound by Ophelia Silk is a lovely sapphic romance between a young woman who is desperate to not have to marry a man she doesn’t love, and the feared witch in the forest on the outskirts of her town. I really enjoyed this – Ophelia Silk’s writing is so whimsical and beautiful and her worldbuilding was amazing! I loved how the two main characters were opposites in the way they act and the values that they hold dear, and they really complimented each other in this sense. I wasn’t a huge fan of the conflict at the end and its resolve felt a tad rushed, but otherwise this was a fantastic read that I highly recommend! Finally, the last book I read in the month of March was The Noble and the Nightingale by Barbara Ann Wright. This is another fantasy romance between an ambassador and an ex-spy living as a musician, or as they’re called in this wold, a Nightingale. The queer representation in this book was really great, and the worldbuilding was so unique and well-developed, but I didn’t really enjoy the romance at all. It was so instalove-y and the strong attraction, and love, that they had for one another just appeared out of no-where. I also wasn’t a fan of some of the language used (‘libido’ was used more times than I can count and I hate the word ‘rump’!) but otherwise this was a lot of fun and I will be checking out the rest of the series!
This final part of the wrap up is a bit of a mish mash of books that didn’t really fit into any of the other genres in this post! First up is Transcendent Kingdom by Yaa Gyasi. This is my first book by Gyasi and it definitely won’t be my last! This is, at times, a tough read that goes into the main characters feelings of grief and disconnect from the church, as well as her strained relationships with her family and the aftermath of her brother’s overdose. I really enjoyed Gyasi’s writing and I didn’t want to put this book down. It’s definitely not a plot heavy book, so keep that in mind if this one intrigues you, but it’s really a must read! Firekeeper’s Daughter by Angeline Boulley is an amazing debut YA thriller that draws on the author’s own Ojibwe culture! I have a review coming up soon for BookBrowse if you want to know my full thoughts, but otherwise, just know that this is a fantastic read and I highly recommend both the physical/e-book and the audiobook! It’s one of the best thrillers I’ve ever read! Finally, the Sapphic Stories Bookclub book that I picked up this month was Last Night at the Telegraph Club by Malinda Lo, and this is the second new favourite book that I read this month! This was my first foray into Malinda Lo’s writing and I fell in love with the book straight away! I don’t read a lot of historical fiction, but this book really made me want to remedy that! Again, so I don’t bore you to tears with a rambly discussion on this book, I have a full review up, but just know that this book made me cry for hours after I put it down!
So that was my March wrap up! If you’ve read any of these books I’d love to know what you thought of them! Also, let me know what your favourite book(s) you read in March were! As always, stay safe!