Hello, my lovely lemons! 🍋 I hope you’re ready to pick up where we left off last time, with this deep dive into every book with LGBTQIA+ representation I’ve ever read. Once again, strap in for the long haul because this is going to be big. It’s definitely the craziest idea I’ve ever had for a post. And looking at the size of my list I’m quite convinced there’s also going to be a Part Three… Pride Month may be over, but I’m seeing this thing through to the bitter end!
🍋 PART ONE 🍋
I’m doing this in chronological order of when I read these, because it’s the easiest way for my to scour my reading tracker. Also, it just makes sense? The rules for me including a book on this list are that the representation has to be a main character or important side character (somebody actually relevant), have some significance to the story (e.g. not just mentioned in passing once) and be shown/mentioned on page (an author tweeting “btw, X was actually gay” does not count). I’ve tried to point out the representation featured in each book, but in some cases it has been years since I read these, so apologies if I get anything wrong or miss something.
Red, White & Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston | I’m going to be 100% honest here and say I probably would’ve enjoyed this book more if it weren’t for the way I read it. The year was 2019, and you couldn’t move online for people telling you how much they loved this book, and how you just had to read it. So as is my tradition, I stuck the audiobook on while wrapping Christmas presents. This was at a time when I thought listening to audiobooks as fast as I possibly could was somehow the best way to consume them. So I listened to this book on 2.5x speed while half my attention was on sellotaping Christmas presents. I don’t remember much, but I do remember this being a fun, refreshing romance. And I’m very excited for the upcoming movie. Rating: 4 stars Representation: gay, bisexual, m/m romance, lgbtq+ side characters
We Used to be Friends by Amy Spalding | I got this book as an ARC because I enjoyed Spalding’s writing in The Summer of Jordi Perez and was fascinated by the idea of a story about a friendship breakup. It’s told in dual timelines from the perspective of each friend, one going backwards and one going forwards along the same timeline. Which is a cool concept, but I’m not sure it worked that well. In the end, I skimmed through the last half of this just so I could get the ARC review up. It was pretty average for me. Rating: 3 stars Representation: bisexual, lesbian, f/f romance
Poison Study by Maria V Snyder | This book should’ve actually come first on this list, but my reading tracker goes off the most recent reread date. I remember being so pleasantly surprised by the trans man representation in this, then even more so when I found out the book was originally published in 2005. This is one of my favourite books of all time, and I think it’s a really powerful story that touches on a lot of heavy issues while still having light and fun moments. The characters are so loveable. I’ve reread it many times, and I’m sure I will continue to do so. Rating: 5 stars Representation: trans male side character
Wilder Girls by Rory Power | This one was another ARC, but I actually devoured this whole thing and was really enthralled by the creepy body horror and claustrophobic vibes. It’s about the students of an all girl’s school on a island where a mysterious illness has befallen them all and is causing their bodies to mutate in increasingly disturbing ways. I don’t read many horror books, but this one definitely delivered. The romance is very fitting for the horror scenario – desperate and hungry and broken. Rating: 4 stars Representation: bisexual, lesbian, f/f relationship
Darkdawn by Jay Kristoff | This is the only book in the Nevernight Chronicle that I rated less than 5 stars. It was still a beautiful, bloody adventure, but I think when the standard of the previous books were so high, the final battle was always going to struggle to live up to expectations. This was still a satisfying conclusion to the series, and without spoiling too much a lovely sapphic happy ending. Rating: 4 stars Representation: bisexual, f/f relationship
The Priory of the Orange Tree by Samantha Shannon | This book is top notch fantasy and I’m not sure much will ever compare. For 700 pages I was happy to journey through this fantasy land, with magic and religion and ancient prophecies (and dragons). The delicate, slow burn sapphic romance is to die for. I felt like I was living in this book, and I enjoyed every second of the adventures it took me on. Rating: 5 stars Representation: bisexual, gay, queer, f/f romance
Ink and Bone by Rachel Caine | Have you ever wanted to read a story about a bunch of misfit teenage library apprentices in a steampunk dystopia transforming from classmates and rivals to found family, accompanied by their stern guard captain and grumpy teacher, who are essentially their adoptive gay dads? Do you want to read it now? Rachel Caine will forever be my favourite author, and everything she did with this series means so much to me. Knowing it was one of the last she worked on makes it so special, and I will never let these books go. Rating: 5 stars Representation: gay, m/m relationship
Paper and Fire by Rachel Caine | You can tell how much I love these books because I read them back to back. This one I finished in a single day. The kids are still getting into trouble, Wolfe and Santi are still the world’s best accidental gay dads, and they’re all just one big found family trying to change the world. Rating: 4 stars Representation: gay, m/m relationship
More Happy Than Not by Adam Silvera | I’m glad I left Silvera’s debut until last, because it’s my least favourite of his books. That by no means makes it bad, I just didn’t love it in the same way I loved History Is All You Left Me and They Both Die at the End. It still ripped my heart out and stomped on it. This is a messy story that handles a lot of difficult topics, including poverty, violence, suicide, homphobia, and the sometimes painful process of questioning your sexuality. There will be tears. Rating: 4 stars Representation: questioning, gay, bisexual, m/m relationship
Lumberjanes by Grace Ellis, ND Stevenson, Shannon Waters, & Brooklyn A. Allen | This is a very fun and funny graphic novel series about a group of girl scouts and all the misadventures they get into. It’s cute and queer and just a very wholesome quick read. Rating: 4 stars Representation: queer, f/f relationship
Not Your Sidekick by C.B. Lee | This book is ADORABLE. It has a wonderfully diverse cast of young people and a fun story about superheroes and villains. It’s just sweet and entertaining and has the most wonderful representation. I don’t tend to pick up Middle Grade novels but this one is definitely great for when you need a mood boost. Rating: 5 stars Representation: bisexual, lesbian, trans boy, f/f romance
The Disasters by M.K. England | This is a fun, queer space adventure. Now, I’m once again guilty of not being totally sure what happened in this book because I listened to the audiobook on a shocking 3x speed. Wouldn’t recommend doing that. I do recall it was pretty action packed and had a great central crew. Rating: 4 stars Representation: bisexual, trans girl, lgbtq+ side characters
Technically, You Started It by Lana Wood Johnson | I love this book. It’s a super fun romance story based around a simple misunderstanding, and told entirely through text messages. Haley is texting a boy named Martin – but he’s not the Martin she thinks he is. In fact, she’s texting the Martin she hates. As you get through the book, totally aware of this misunderstanding, the tension builds as you wait for Haley to realise what’s going on. This was the first book I ever read with demisexual representation and it meant so much to me. Rating: 5 stars Representation: demisexual, bisexual boy, m/f romance
The Brightsiders by Jen Wilde | This was the most gloriously queer book I’ve ever had the pleasure of reading. It follows a young rock band, and the drama their drummer goes through after she breaks up with her girlfriend and gets branded a tabloid trainwreck. It’s diverse, feminist, has discussions about gender, and is just an absolute romp. Rating: 4 stars Representation: bisexual girl, lesbian, genderqueer, pansexual, non-binary femme, queer side characters
Not Your Villain by C.B Lee | This is the second book in the Sidekick Squad and it follows trans boy Bells. I didn’t enjoy this quite as much as the first book, because it lacked a lot of the humour I loved, since the characters are in a more serious situation this time round. This is still a solid story with really good trans representation that fits super naturally into the story. Rating: 4 stars Representation: trans boy, bisexual girl, lesbian, asexual, aromantic
Loveless by Alice Oseman | Oh, this book. It meant so much to me, getting to hold the first mainstream book about an asexual aromantic protagonist in my hand. Reading about that same long, difficult journey I went through to discovering my asexuality. And knowing it was based on the author’s personal experience made it even more special. That aside, this was overall a really lovely queer story with lots of fun moments. Rating: 5 stars Representation: asexual, aromantic, lesbian, pansexual, queer side characters, f/f side relationship
Fence: Rivals by C.S. Pacat and Johanna the Mad | I waited what felt like an eternity for this graphic novel continuation of the Fence series. I adore it with all my heart and could not have been happier when my pre order finally came through. I devoured this beautiful, lovely, fun addition to the series, then read all of them again. I will never get tired of the light and friendly humour this series brings, along with incredible art and a sports plot that’s easy to root for. Rating: 5 stars Representation: gay, queer, m/m dating
Once Ghosted, Twice Shy by Alyssa Cole | I picked this novella up for two reasons. One was that a lot of my blogging friends who read romance highly recommend Alyssa Cole. The other was that I decided it was finally time to fight the internalised homophobia, stop being scared of myself, and pick up more stories about lesbians. Women loving women. Unapologetically. I’m in such a better place now, and I know pushing through that initial resistance and discomfort and choosing to read this book and the many similar things after it was a big part of helping me love myself. Rating: 4 stars Representation: lesbian, f/f relationship
The First Sister by Linden A. Lewis | This was my second favourite book of 2020. And I read a lot in 2020. It’s an incredible, gritty space adventure about a woman fighting to regain her agency, a soldier waking up to the crimes of his government, and a non-binary hero trying to end a space war. I’d recommend checking content warnings as this gets very dark, but it’s truly one of the most memorable and impactful books I’ve ever read. Rating: 5 stars Representation: bisexual, queer, non-binary
Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo | This was an enjoyable book with a fun heist plot, but I don’t think it’s the be-all and end-all diverse fantasy that half the book community proclaims it to be. Nevertheless, it’s definitely an enjoyable book, and it was fun to see the conclusion of so many character arcs and relationships. Rating: 4 stars Representation: gay, bisexual, m/m relationship
You Should See Me In a Crown by Leah Johnson | This was a sweet contemporary, but unfortunately as happens to me with most audiobooks I don’t really remember what happened in it. I do know that it had wonderful family dynamics, a determined protagonist, and an adorable romance. Rating: 4 stars Representation: lesbian/bisexual, sapphic, f/f romance
Cemetery Boys by Aiden Thomas | We’ve already had my second favourite book of 2020, now we’ve hit the one that took the top spot! I loved this book so much I literally started learning Spanish on Duolingo. It’s a beautiful book filled with loving descriptions of Latinx culture, the complicated family relationships trans teens often face, and accidentally summoning the wrong ghost and being stuck with him then falling in love. It’s beautiful. I couldn’t ask for anything more. Rating: 5 stars Representation: trans boy, gay, m/m romance
Cinderella is Dead by Kalynn Bayron | I’ll be honest here – I maybe, slightly mainly bought this book because the cover is BEAUTIFUL. Seriously gorgeous. Unfortunately I found the story to be pretty average. It felt like it was written for quite a young audience, and the themes and message the book portrayed were very oversimplified. It wasn’t a bad book, but it felt like it was trying to be young adult with the complexity of middle grade. Rating: 3 stars Representation: lesbian, gay, f/f romance
Famous in a Small Town by Emma Mills | This is a fun summer read if ever I saw one. It’s like an ideal Netflix teen movie, but in book form and just honestly wholesome and funny. While the main character and romance is straight, there are so many queer side characters who are written so well that it had to be included on this list. If you want a bubbly book about teen friendship and a fun summer (including a small town ice cream shop) you couldn’t do better than this book. Rating: 5 stars Representation: gay, bisexual/pansexual, queer, implied f/f romance between side characters
Cosmoknights by Hannah Templer | Hoo boy, this comic! It is beautiful, has the most amazing colouring I’ve ever seen (seriously the colour palettes are to die for) and just… butch lesbians. Yes. I don’t think I could describe this book any better than the cover text does, so I’ll just let that do the talking for me. “For this ragtag band of space gays , liberation means beating the patriarchy at its own game.” Rating: 4 stars Representation: lesbian, established f/f relationship, trans woman
Oh wow. Once again, that was a lot. And I hope you’re ready for more, because there’s officially going to be a PART THREE! This has been such a wild trip down memory lane, and it’s also shown me that this is how I write best about books! I could never do fancy, objective reviews that discuss story structure and world building and the themes of character’s journeys. But I can gush about how a book made me feel, talk about what I loved most, what I didn’t like, the parts of it that stuck with me. For every single one of these books (there’s been 50 so far) I can still remember something of what I loved about them. I can talk about what they made me think and feel. I’d take that over writing analytical reviews any day.
What are your favourite books with LGBTQIA+ representation? And if you enjoyed this huge and rambling post, please let me know! I adored writing it, and even if nobody reads it I would still be happy with it, but it was a big labour of love and I’d be so happy to know if you enjoyed it too!