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BOOK REVIEW: AND THE STARS WERE BURNING BRIGHTLY

Right from the get go, I know that this was going to be a tear-jerker of a read. I didn’t quite realise how dark it would get, and often while reading I found that I had a sick, anxious feeling in my stomach at the troubles these characters were facing. However, it was an excellent read and something incredibly important that I’m glad is being published. I’ve put my review under the read more tag so that you can take caution before reading.

Please note that And The Stars Were Burning Brightly contains chapters and themes that may be disturbing and/or triggering to some readers, including graphic scenes of suicide and intense abuse. This review will also cover these themes so please have caution when reading.

When fifteen-year-old Nathan discovers that his older brother Al has taken his own life, his whole world is torn apart.

Al was special. Al was talented. Al was full of passion and light…so why did he do it?

Convinced that his brother was in trouble, Nathan begins to retrace his footsteps. And along the way, he meets Megan. Al’s former classmate, who burns with the same fire and hope, who is determined to keep Al’s memory alive. But when Nathan learns the horrifying truth behind his brother’s suicide, one question remains – how do you survive, when you’re growing up in the age of social media?


Continue reading

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BOOK REVIEW: THE GOD GAME

Happy New Year everyone! I’m kicking off 2020 with a review of a brand new book, as I’ve been incredibly lucky to have been chosen for the blog tour! The GOD Game was a dark and twisty book, and had me gasping with shock at some points. I thoroughly enjoyed it, and it was certainly a wild book to start the year with.

Please note that The GOD Game contains some chapters and scenes that may be disturbing and/or triggering to some readers, including scenes of attempted suicide and abuse.

After receiving an invitation they can’t refuse, Charlie and his friends enter the G.O.D. Game. Tasks are delivered through their phones and high-tech glasses; when they accomplish a mission, the game rewards them. Charlie’s money problems could be over. Vanhi can erase the one bad grade on her college application. It’s all harmless fun at first.

Then the threatening messages start. Worship me. Obey me.

Mysterious packages show up at their homes. Shadowy figures start following them. Who else is playing, and how far will they go to win? As Charlie looks for a way out, he finds that ‘God’ is always watching. Only He will say when the game is done. And if you die in the game, you die for real.


This book is a masterful blend of all of the enticing virtual reality joys of Ready Player One mixed with the unnerving horrors of Black Mirror. The GOD Game is one of those books that has you on the edge of your seat no matter what, and will have you trying to think ahead of what the characters are doing too. A character would make a decision in the Game and I would be shaking my head at the page, knowing that the outcome of that decision could only mean bad news for the others.

The GOD Game focuses on five main characters: Charlie, Peter, Vanhi, Kenny and Alex. All have their flaws, and all have their own reasons for wanting to win the Game to give them everything they want. What starts as a tight-knit group that have flocked together from a mutual love of pranks and coding quickly splinters as the Game pits them against each other, pulling constantly at their self doubts and flaws. It was sad to watch the group disintegrate because you know while reading that it’s all the game destroying everything around them.

The further you get into the book, the further the characters spiral into the near brainwashing of the Game itself. Backstabbing occurs, friendships begin to fray, tensions are incredibly high. The author definitely has some real talent with making scenes tense at the perfect moment, but also brilliantly conveyed how much the Game was getting to them. Although the Game started out as all fun and games, it quickly made its presence as something dark, disturbing and destructive, and then was only a downward spiral from there. My heart was in my throat at times wondering how far it would go, how dark would it get, what more could it possibly inflict on these players?

Although slow to start, and with some of the characters a little grating at times (Vanhi’s description alone reads like the author is trying very hard to make us see she’s Not Like Other Girls), The GOD Game was a trippy yet gripping read, and I thoroughly enjoyed reading something so different from what I usually opt for. Also THAT ENDING?! It was like the dust had truly settled, only for a massive storm to come and whip it up into a frenzy again.

Verdict: A dark descent into gripping chaos, The GOD Game in fitting nature will act like a virus and will stick with you long after you close the book. 4/5.

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BOOK TAG: Bookish Christmas Squad

Ooh, it’s not long to go until Christmas, only a couple more days! To get even more into the Christmas spirit, I wanted to take part in this very festive book tag that Beth at BooksNest and Lauren at FictionTea made! I wasn’t tagged, but I wanted to do it as it seemed like a really fun idea.


Rules:

Thank the person who tagged you and link back to their post
Link to both creators’ blogs (booksnest.co.uk &.fictiontea.co.uk) in your post
Tag 5 others to take part
ENJOY THE TAG AND MERRY CHRISTMAS!

Questions

The Gift Giver
The Scrooge
The Tree Decorator
The Excitable Christmas Enthusiast
The Games Master
The One Who’s Been in their Pyjamas All Day
The One Who Dressed up as Santa


The Gift Giver – Nick Nelson, Heartstopper

Nick would be the kind of person that would agonise over every single gift to try and get it perfect and still find fault on Christmas Day! He’d also probably be the kind of person that would go overboard, finding little things as Christmas presents and then realising how much stuff he’s got once he starts wrapping…

The Scrooge – Kaliis, Aurora Rising

Kal seems to be the kind of person that would roll his eyes at everything or anything festive, and wouldn’t want to get involved at all. Christmas would most likely be too over the top for him…

The Tree Decorator – Jesper Fahey, Six of Crows

Jesper would make the Christmas tree and everything else surrounding it completely over-the-top festive and garish! Mismatched baubles, tons of tinsel, different coloured lights, the works! He’d probably wear Christmas themed clothes too with festive prints all over, or even a light up Christmas jumper…

The Excitable Christmas Enthusiast – Rhy Maresh, A Darker Shade of Magic

I think that Rhy would be the kind of person to start celebrating Christmas from November 1st, right after Halloween.  Christmas music, films, the works, and he wouldn’t shut up about it either!

The Games Master – Darlington, Ninth House

Darlington is the kind of person that would meticulously plan what games to plan, whilst also making sure that everyone plays by the rules. He’d probably also give everyone a history lesson on the game as well as random facts too.

The One Who’s Been in their Pyjamas All Day – Cardan Greenbriar, The Cruel Prince

Christmas would be the perfect opportunity for Cardan to lounge about doing absolutely nothing whilst being showered with gifts and not getting dressed at all. He’d probably also take the chance to get as drunk as he could on faerie wine and say ridiculously regrettable things. Wait. Just like any other day then…

The One Who Dressed Up As Santa – Ron Weasley, Harry Potter

I have a feeling that Ron would love being festive and would happily dress up as Santa in order to make sure that everyone has a smile on their faces at Christmas – as well as giving his friends and family a good laugh.


I haven’t tagged anyone, so if you see this and want to take part then I tag you! Make sure you follow the rules above, and have tons of fun making your own bookish Christmas Squad.

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BOOK LIST: 2020 Books I’m Excited For

2019 is nearly over, with 2020 is right around the corner! You know what that means…

NEW BOOKS!

I’ve made a list of all my anticipated reads for next year and there are some excellent titles coming out – I just hope I can remember to read them all!


The Gilded Ones

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Sixteen-year-old Deka lives in Otera, a deeply patriarchal ancient kingdom, where a woman’s worth is tied to her purity, and she must bleed to prove it. But when Deka bleeds gold – the colour of impurity, of a demon – she faces a consequence worse than death. She is saved by a mysterious woman who tells Deka of her true nature: she is an Alaki, a near-immortal with exceptional gifts. The stranger offers her a choice: fight for the Emperor, with others just like her, or be destroyed…

I’ve longed for more gritty YA fantasy with black main characters, and this just happened to pop up in my Twitter feed! Look at that COVER! It’s simply stunning, and it sounds like this book will be a thrilling and exciting ride. And even better, Usborne Books are sending out proofs and prioritising own voices authors, which makes me so happy!

Dangerous Remedy

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Camille, a revolutionary’s daughter, leads a band of outcasts – a runaway girl, a deserter, an aristocrat in hiding. As the Battalion des Mortes they cheat death, saving those about to meet a bloody end at the blade of Madame La Guillotine. But their latest rescue is not what she seems. The girl’s no aristocrat, but her dark and disturbing powers means both the Royalists and the Revolutionaries want her. But who and what is she?

This book had me at ‘band of outcasts’ – which you know I love! This sounds like a really intriguing book, a twist on historical fiction with a bit of fantasy and magic. It definitely sounds like something that I think I’d love, as well as it being full of LGBT+ themes!

Only Mostly Devastated

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When Ollie meets Will over the summer break, he thinks he’s found his Happily Ever After. But once summer’s ended, Will stops texting him back, and Ollie finds himself short of his fairy-tale ending. A family emergency sees Ollie uprooted and enrolled at a new school across the country – Will’s school – and Ollie finds that the sweet, affectionate and comfortably queer guy he knew from summer isn’t the same one attending Collinswood High. This Will is a class clown, a basketball jock and, well, a bit of a jerk. Ollie isn’t going to pine after a guy who isn’t ready for a relationship. But as school life repeatedly throws them together, from music class to the lunch table, Ollie finds his resolve weakening.

This has been marketed as Grease the musical, but gay, and I can’t WAIT! I adore Grease and have always wanted to see a more modern take on the story (although nothing will ever beat the original). To have an LGBT+ focused retelling is incredibly exciting, so I hope this will live up to my expectations!

And The Stars Were Burning Brightly

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When fifteen-year-old Nathan discovers that his older brother Al, has taken his own life, his whole world is torn apart. Convinced that his brother was in trouble, Nathan decides to retrace Al’s footsteps. As he does, he meets Megan, Al’s former classmate, who is as determined as Nathan to keep Al’s memory alive. Together they start seeking answers, but will either of them be able to handle the truth about Al’s death when they eventually discover what happened?

I just know that this is going to be a tearjerker of a book, but I also have a feeling that it’s going to be an important one too. I was very lucky to receive an early proof copy of this book and will be reading it before 2019 is out, so I’ll be able to read it and give a verdict very soon.

Empire of the Vampire

(COVER NOT FINAL)

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Twenty-seven years have passed since the last sunrise, and for almost three decades, the creatures of the night have walked the day without fear. Once, humanity fought bravely against the coldblood legions, but now, we exist only in a few scattered settlements—tiny sparks of light in a growing sea of darkness. Gabriel de León is the last of the Silversaints, a holy order dedicated to defending realm and church, now utterly destroyed. Imprisoned for the murder of the vampiric king, Gabriel is charged with telling the story of his life. His tale spans years, from his youth in the monastery of San Michel, to the forbidden love that spelled his undoing, and the betrayal that saw his order annihilated. Most importantly, Gabriel will tell of his discovery of the Grail—the legendary cup prophesied to bring an end to the eternal night.

This year was the first time I read anything by Jay Kristoff, so next year I’m hoping to read a whole lot more! This sounds like a brilliant, old-worldy vampire story, and I haven’t read one of those in a long time. If Nevernight is anything to go by, this book will be gritty, dark and very, very bloody!

Aurora Burning – Amie Kaufman & Jay Kristoff

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Our heroes are back . . . kind of.  First, the bad news: an ancient evil–you know, your standard consume-all-life-in-the-galaxy deal–is about to be unleashed. The good news? Squad 312 is standing by to save the day. They’ve just got to take care of a few small distractions first. Like the clan of gremps who’d like to rearrange their favorite faces. And the cadre of illegit GIA agents with creepy flowers where their eyes used to be, who’ll stop at nothing to get their hands on Auri. Then there’s Kal’s long-lost sister, who’s not exactly happy to see her baby brother, and has a Syldrathi army at her back. With half the known galaxy on their tails, Squad 312 has never felt so wanted.

Hello, hello, HELLO! I was thrilled and overjoyed when I saw the cover for Aurora Burning a little while ago, and I can’t wait to get back to the hijinks of Squad 312. It sounds like there’ll be a bigger focus on Kal this time, which is excellent as he was one of my favourite characters. I think this’ll be one of my favourites of 2020!

Afterlove – Tanya Byrne

(COVER NOT RELEASED)

The story follows 16-year-old Ash Persaud who is hit by a car on New Year’s Eve. Afterwards, Ash exists in the afterlife where she is one of three fierce girl-reapers who collect the souls of the city’s dead to be taken to await their fate. But Ash can’t forget her first love, Poppy Morgan, and she’s determined to see her again, dead or alive.

I’m so exciting for a brand new f/f story from a UKYA author! I really loved Tanya Byrne’s story in the PROUD anthology, so am really looking forward to reading this supernatural badass book with a little sprinkling of romance too.

Felix Ever After – Kacen Callender

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When transgender teen Felix decides to catfish a rival classmate for revenge, he unexpectedly begins to fall in love with his nemesis online, while also struggling with an anonymous troll sending transphobic messages.

I know we shouldn’t judge books by their covers, but this is cover is just utterly beautiful. The confident look on Felix’s face, the surgery scars, the bold colours and flowers – this cover just screams confidence. I’m really looking forward to reading this book, and hope the story is as wonderful as the cover.


So there you have it, the books in 2020 that I’m really looking forward to! I hope that when the end of 2020 comes round I can say that I’ve read them all – and hopefully loved them all too!

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BOOK BLOG TOUR: Love, Secret Santa Author Q&A

Hello everyone! Who else is feeling festive? I know I am!

Today, I’m incredibly lucky to be kicking off the Love, Secret Santa blog tour! Love, Secret Santa is the story of study-driven Angel who is also juggling the school charity fundraiser. Unfortunately, her fundraising partner is Caspar Johnson: handsome, creative and fun, but TOTALLY unreliable.

Thank goodness for her Secret Santa who keeps leaving her amazing presents, including an intriguing hand-made advent calendar! Angel is dying to find out who her secret admirer is . .

I’m thrilled to be featuring an interview with Love, Secret Santa author S.A. Domingo – it’s all very festive and fun! I hope you enjoy it!


 

Where did the idea for Love, Secret Santa come from?

I was really excited to write a festive romantic story for younger adults, as I’ve written adult romance, but love YA. I was also really keen to have a love story that featured young black characters, as I would have definitely liked to read a story like this as a young woman. So, bringing Angel and Caspar to life in Love, Secret Santa was a great opportunity to make that a reality!

There are so many different types of advent calendars around now, you can get candles, lipsticks and much more! What would be in your dream advent calendar?

Hah! Yes that’s definitely true. I’d say one with a surprise book per day, but given my shelves are already overflowing that might be a bad idea. But I’m hugely partial to a good hand cream and a good lip balm, so some combo of those would be good!

What is your favourite Christmas song?

Tough one – it would have to be something from Mariah Carey’s Christmas album (naturally), but not the obvious classic All I Want for Christmas Is You, though that is great. I think my favourite would have to be her rendition of Jesus, Oh What a Wonderful Child – even though I’m not religious, I can’t resist a gospel choir!

What would be your line up for a Christmas movie marathon?

Oooh, it would have to start with When Harry Met Sally which I watch every year, even though it only has one Christmassy bit. It’s a perfect film, funny and romantic. And with amazing screenplay by Norah Ephron! I also really like The Family Stone as it just has a great family Christmas feel (and again, romantic!).

Then I’d round off with This Christmas, a random Christmas film that I caught once and really enjoyed even though Chris Brown’s rendition of the eponymous song can’t hold a candle to the Donny Hathaway version!

Without giving away too many spoilers, what was your favourite scene to write?

I really loved working on the sequence at the end of the book that ends up in London… I don’t want to say too much, but even though I wasn’t writing the book in winter, it made me feel all romantic and Christmassy!

Can you talk us through a typical day of writing?

Well, it usually involves a lot of procrastination. There’s nothing like needed to actually get some words down on the page to suddenly ignite a need to do all the cleaning, tidying, online shopping, social media etc etc that you previously had neglected! But then I’ll knuckle down, usually at my desk in our second bedroom, set my app (Forest) that stops me going on my phone, and get a good couple of thousand words written!

Will we see more books from you in the future?

Absolutely! I’ve got a lot of book projects coming up, including another Young Adult romance with Hachette called Love On the Main Stage in Summer 2020, set during festival season! And I have another romance for adults due out next year, and an anthology of romantic fiction written by British women of colour due in early 2021. Look out for them!


Love, Secret Santa is out now! If you’re looking for a cosy, Christmassy romance to read this year, this is the one to go for!

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BOOK LIST: MY 2019 FAVOURITES

I’m back again with another roundup post! Although I only posted recently about some of my 2019 books, those were really just looking back on the ones I anticipated loving. This post will be all about my top favourite books of 2019, and a breakdown on why I loved them so much! I’m keeping this post SPOILER FREE, so don’t worry if you haven’t read any of them yet.


NINTH HOUSE by LEIGH BARDUGO

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Ninth House marks Leigh Bardugo’s first step into the world of adult publishing, and it was certainly a bold step. This book was one that kept me captured, eager to read more and once I finished it, I wanted to read it all over again. I’ve loved Bardugo’s writing for a long time but this book was truly a triumph for her style. As much as I love YA fantasy, there’s something about adult fantasy that really makes me excited to read. I can’t wait to see more adult fantasy books from her.

(Note that Ninth House contains scenes of violence, rape, drug abuse, and other potentially triggering content. Please take care when reading this book.)

KING OF SCARS by LEIGH BARDUGO

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Back to YA with Bardugo now, and settling back into the world of Ravka. King of Scars was something that I was so excited about, but also wary of – I didn’t love the Grishaverse trilogy as much as I love the Crows duology, so had to remember that this book would be more Grishaverse rooted. That worry went out of the door when I read this! With the return of fan favourite characters like Nikolai, Zoya, and Nina, this book reminded me of everything I love about Bardugo’s magic writing skills, along with the ability to throw readers completely with twists, surprises and cliffhangers!

THE QUEEN OF NOTHING by HOLLY BLACK

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Oh, Holly Black. You fae queen you. The Folk of the Air series was one that I unexpectedly adored when The Cruel Prince shocked me to the core when reading. Since then, I have absolutely loved every instalment of this trilogy, and the final book left me in a state of adoration as it was The Perfect Ending. Filled with the same amount of fae cunning, trickery, deception and thrills of the previous two, The Queen of Nothing won’t disappoint those hardcore fans! Now that I know how it ends, the series begs for a reread!

WAYWARD SON by RAINBOW ROWELL

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Carry On is one of my favourite books, and I’ve read it twice. I was so excited when Wayward Son announced, eager to see how the characters would be getting on after the ending of the first book. Wayward Son is definitely a tonal shift compared to the first book, but that’s the beauty of it. The characters are having to work on a lot after the end of the first book, and also having to deal with a very different set of situations. Relationships are pushed, boundaries reach breaking points, and there’s the underlying worry of whether things will ever be the same again. I loved this book A LOT okay??

LOOK BOTH WAYS by JASON REYNOLDS

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Time for something younger on the list with a middle grade book I adored! Look Both Ways is a collection of ten short stories, each focusing on a different child walking home from school. But, one of the best things about it is that all of the stories are intertwined together! It’s such a clever concept and really makes the stories feel more like a community. There are stories that will make you laugh, make you cry (make sure you have tissues for ‘The Low Cuts Strike Again’ and ‘Call Of Duty’), and make you feel hopeful in this wonderful book of friendship, family and feelings.

LOOK UP! by NATHAN BRYON & DAPO ADEOLA

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Going even younger now with a picture book! I don’t review books for younger children here on my blog but I couldn’t resist shouting from the rooftops about this adorable picture book. Look Up! Is about a young girl called Rocket who loves space and desperately wants her brother to look up to the sky and appreciate it as much as she does. The illustrations are utterly delightful and there are so many little things to pick up from looking at the art, and the story is so sweet and charming! Make it your go-to Christmas present this year for little readers!

AURORA RISING by AMIE KAUFMAN & JAY KRISTOFF

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I don’t usually read space books as I don’t usually find them as intriguing as fantasy reads, so reading and enjoying Aurora Rising was a surprise to me. With a group of misfit teenagers, a sarky main character, an amazing space elf whom I ADORE and tons of hijinks and schemes that would take a miracle to pull off, this book easily became a favourite and has made me excited with the fact that I enjoyed a space book – so hit me with recommendations!

THE BLACK FLAMINGO by DEAN ATTA

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You know when a book really makes you feel seen? That’s what happened when I read The Black Flamingo. With brilliant pieces on race and how invasive it feels to be questioned about your heritage, it was a book I loved instantly. Some of the verses are really moving, and Michael’s story of building confidence and self love is ultimately one that everyone should read!

I WISH YOU ALL THE BEST by MASON DEAVER

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This is a book that I knew would be a massively important one for nonbinary teenagers. I Wish You All The Best, although heartbreaking at times, is also an incredibly uplifting book about a nonbinary teenager. This is also an ownvoices book, with Mason Deaver being nonbinary themself. It’s also their first novel, and I can’t wait to read more from them!

REDWOOD & PONYTAIL by K.A. HOLT

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Although I’m not a huge fan of poetry, this was the second verse novel I read this year and adored it! Redwood & Ponytail is a story of first love and the strange feeling of not knowing who you truly are. This book was so clever too as sometimes the verses were incredibly similar, showing that the characters were thinking and feeling the same about a given situation. I wasn’t expecting to love this one as much as I did!

BIRTHDAY by MEREDITH RUSSO

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I loved Meredith Russo’s first book, and knew that I would love Birthday too. I really enjoy books that are written over a certain time frame, and with Birthday being written over the space of a few years I was thrilled to see how well this worked! It’s definitely a heartbreaking read at times – and caused me to shed a tear on the train – but is so clever, brilliant and a gripping read that it was hard not to love it.

(Note that Birthday includes scenes of transphobic bullying, self harm and attempted suicide. Please take care when reading this book.)

So there you have it – my favourite books of 2019! Do you see any of your favourite books on this? Or are there any on there that you disliked with a passion? I’d love to hear your thoughts on these books!

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BOOK LIST: A Beginners Guide to…YA LGBT+ Books

Books can be a source of comfort for many readers, but can also be a source of self discovery too. Often, readers will turn to books with LGBT+ representation to learn about themselves, their friends or their family members.  It’s reassuring for readers to see a character in a book that they can look to and say “they’re like me”.

LGBT+ representation is getting there in YA books, but there’s still a long way to go to make sure that everyone is represented as well as being represented fairly and correctly. On the blog today I’ve collected 10 books that I think are great starting points if you have yet to read any LGBT+ YA!


What does LGBT+ stand for?

LGBT+ stands for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender. The + is a shorter way of collecting the many other sexualities and gender identities, but usually includes Pansexual, Intersex, Queer, Asexual, Nonbinary and Gender Fluid, along with others. Some people use LGBT+ to mean ‘LGBT and other related communities’. It’s really up to you whichever abbreviation you want to use – some may feel more comfortable using LGBTQIAP, or others may prefer to use LGBT.


NOAH CAN’T EVEN

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Poor Noah Grimes just can’t catch a break. His dad disappeared years ago, his mum’s tribute act is appalling, and something isn’t right with Gran. Not to mention that school is utter HELL. Noah just wants to be normal, and hopes to achieve that by dating Sophie. But when best friend Harry kisses him at a party, Noah’s plans are derailed and everything in his head begins to crumble…

Noah Can’t Even is a book about first loves, new feelings and tons of awkward moments. It’s the perfect blend of a first relationship building up while also carefully and beautifully showing the fears and internal thoughts and worries that come with early understanding of your own sexuality.

RADIO SILENCE

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Frances is a study machine with one goal in mind – Cambridge university. Nothing will stand in her way, pushing aside friendships, secrets and her true self to dedicate herself to study. When she meets Aled, who is far more free spirited than her, she’s unafraid to be herself. When the trust between them breaks, Frances is caught between two people – the person she was and the person she’s always wanted to be. 

As well as dealing with university and struggling thoughts of the future, Radio Silence also weaves the characters sexualities into the book with care. Frances is bisexual, and this is mentioned often in the book when she talks about her first relationship. Aled, the books other main character, is gay, but also has a touching storyline throughout about his asexuality.

BIRTHDAY

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Eric and Morgan were born on the same day, at the same time, at the same place. Every year they spend their birthdays together, but as they get older they begin to drift apart. Eric is expected to get a football scholarship, but deep down he’s having second thoughts about the sport. Morgan feels utterly alone, wrestling with the difficult choice to live as her true self. As both of them struggle, will they be able to find a way to help each other?

Birthday was one of those rare books that made me cry in public! The story is told over six years, with each entry being focused on the teenagers birthdays, and this makes you really appreciate the character growth. Morgan’s transition journey is one that is moving and heart wrenching, but the book is peppered with moments of joy and light.

(Please be aware that Birthday does include scenes of transphobic bullying, self harm and attempted suicide)

HEARTSTOPPER

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Charlie and Nick attend the same school, but have never met until a new seating plan in English has them sitting together. They quickly become firm friends but as the friendship grows there are other feelings under the surface that are building. Charlie thinks he doesn’t have a chance, but life can always be surprising…

Heartstopper is one of those wholesome graphic novels that has happiness at its core. Charlie is openly gay and slowly falling for Nick, who is having his own thoughts about his sexuality. With scenes that will be recognisable to so many when having first thoughts about sexuality and self discovery, this book is perfect for first experiences. There is also a totally cute lesbian couple who pop up from time to time!

THE MISEDUCATION OF CAMERON POST

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When Cameron Post is caught making out with the high-school beauty queen, her aunt takes drastic measures to try and ‘correct’ her. Cameron is sent to God’s Promise, a gay conversion therapy camp, where she has to endure constant therapy attempts whilst trying to keep in touch with her true self – even if she’s not quite sure who that is…

Despite this book containing quite drastic scenes as the character is sent to conversion therapy, it is also one of the best books I’ve read. The first half of the book deals with Cameron discovering that she isn’t straight, and spends the other half with her adamantly refusing to let go of that part of her life. The Miseducation of Cameron Post is moving, touching, vividly descriptive and beautiful at times.

(Please be aware that The Miseducation of Cameron Post contains scenes of self harm and homophobia)

SIMON VS THE HOMO SAPIENS AGENDA

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Simon is sixteen and is trying to work out who he is. When an anonymous fellow student posts about coming out on the school secrets page, Simon reaches out and emails him. But when the emails between the two get into the wrong hands, Simon’s life becomes complicated very, very quickly…

This is a book loved by many, so it makes complete sense to include it on this list! Simon VS The Homo Sapiens Agenda – also known as Love, Simon – is a coming of age romance book that also deals with harassment and blackmail, as well as awkwardly sweet first love. The film version is one of the best book adaptations I’ve seen too, so it’s well worth a watch once you’ve read it!

CARRY ON

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Simon Snow is the Chosen One – it’s a pity that he’s the worst Chosen One the world has ever seen! Most of the time, Simon can’t even get his wand to work, his girlfriend dumped him, and there’s a monster destroying magic across the country – wearing Simon’s face! His roommate and nemesis Baz would be having a field day – if he’d even bothered to turn up to the last year of school…

Carry On is one of those books that I can’t get enough of – guilty pleasure at its finest! It’s got magic, vampires, dragons, and my favourite trope of all – enemies to lovers! Simon and Baz hate each other at the beginning of the book – well, at least they think they hate each other. Featuring oblivious boys and fiery first kisses, this is an enjoyable fantasy read!

I WISH YOU ALL THE BEST

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When Ben De Backer comes out to their parents as nonbinary, they’re thrown out of their house and forced to move in with their estranged older sister, Hannah. Struggling with an anxiety disorder compounded by their parents’ rejection, they try to keep a low profile in a new school. But Ben’s attempts to survive the last half of senior year unnoticed are thwarted when Nathan Allan, a funny and charismatic student, decides to take Ben under his wing. As Ben and Nathan’s friendship grows, their feelings for each other begin to change, and what started as a disastrous turn of events looks like it might just be a chance to start a happier new life.

This book is a triumphant explosion of feelings, and is sure to send chills through your body as you read as well as a few tears! The characters are beautifully written, and there are many chapters between Ben and their therapist as they discuss dysphoria, misgendering and anxiety. Plus, the blossoming relationship is so, so sweet.

OUT OF THE BLUE

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When angels start falling from the sky, it seems like the world is ending. Smashing down to earth at extraordinary speeds, wings bent, faces contorted, not a single one has survived. As the world goes wild for angels, Jaya’s father uproots the family to Edinburgh intent on catching one alive. But Jaya can’t stand this obsession and, still reeling from her mother’s recent death and the sudden disappearance of her ex-girlfriend, she’s determined to stay out of it. But things quickly change when an angel lands at Jaya’s feet – alive.

This book is an interesting mix of real life and fantasy, and deals with grief, upheaval, and overwhelming responsibilities. Jaya is grieving for both the death of her mother and the disappearance of her ex. Her mind is a jumble of confusion, sadness and self-hatred. She is carrying a lot of blame on her shoulders, and the novel deals with this so beautifully and subtly that it becomes clear that she is looking for support but doesn’t know where to turn. It’s a truly beautiful read.

TRANS MISSION: MY QUEST TO A BEARD

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Alex is an ordinary teenager: he likes pugs, donuts, retro video games and he sleeps with his socks on. He’s also transgender, and was born female. He’s been living as a male for the past few years and he has recently started his physical transition. In this book, Alex shares what it means to be in his shoes, as well as his personal advice to other trans teens. Above all, he will show you that every step in his transition is another step towards happiness. 

I’ve included a non-fiction book on this list too, as I think this one is a really important resource for trans teenagers. Alex’s book is a memoir of his journey to transition, but the book also includes really helpful resources and advice, as well as information that will help readers understand a lot about transition, whether they’re trans or not.

PROUD

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PROUD is an anthology filled with LGBT+ short stories and artwork, all by ownvoices authors and illustrators. There are stories to make you laugh, to make you cry, to feel hopeful, and to feel a rainbow of emotions. PROUD is a celebration of pride.

If you want a book with lots of stories in, look no further than PROUD. I don’t often read short stories, but this book was a delight to read and enjoy. There is truly something for everyone within the pages of this book, whether it’s one story that speaks volumes to you or a few of them making a difference to your day.

THE BLACK FLAMINGO

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This is not about being ready, it’s not even about being fierce or fearless, it’s about being free. Join Michael as he enters the world, with tiny feather eyelashes. Travel from school to college, where he discovers his flock, and comes to terms with his identity as a mixed-race gay teen. At university, take a seat in the audience and watch him find his wings as a drag artist, The Black Flamingo.

The Black Flamingo is a wonderful verse novel, and one that everyone should read to understand how identity shapes us. It is also a wonderful story of growth and acceptance, both of self acceptance and of the communities that support and uplift Michael throughout the book. A definite must read.


And there you go! A beginners guide to LGBT+ YA! These books are all either standalones or are the start of a series, so you’re able to just dive right in! Have I forgotten a book you think would make a perfect addition to this list? Let me know!