Matt's Picks

Non-Fiction

A witty, conversational, and clearly well-researched examination of ten women from Greek myth. Natalie Haynes explores how each of these ten women has been portrayed in the millennia since they were first written about and goes in depth into the misogyny present in each of their stories. A brilliant read, and one I had to force myself to put down!

 

Young Adult

Cemetery Boys - Aiden Thomas
Cemetery Boys is absolutely wonderful! With a super soft and adorable gay romance, fantastic trans masculine representation, and a core message of queer joy, this piece of spectacular queer latinx YA is well worth reading!

 

I Kissed Shara Wheeler - Casey McQuiston
A gay, academic-rivals-to-lovers story, complete with a scavenger hunt! A love letter to young queer people in schools and towns that don't accept them, this fierce and funny novel is all about finding love in unexpected places. A new release from the author of Red, White & Royal Blue and One Last Stop, this is a must-read for fans of those books!

Iron Widow - Xiran Jay Zhao
This book is incredible! A sci-fi mecha story mixed with Chinese mythology, with a dash of polyamorous romance thrown in too. This retelling of the story of China's only female emperor is brutal, powerful, and thrilling. Fair warning: this may be a YA book, but it certainly has some dark and potentially disturbing moments.

 

New Adult Fiction

Gideon The Ninth - Tamsyn Muir
Gideon The Ninth is absolutely worth all the hype it gets! A book about necromancers and their loyal warrior bodyguards exploring and ancient space palace full of dark experiments? Brilliant. With a very lovable main character, a wonderful sense of humour, and a heart-breakingly perfect ending, there's a lot to love about this book! Read it! It's so good!

A very sweet lesbian love story, with a classic hate-to-love dynamic. What starts out as a mutual dislike gradually evolves into a friendship, and then blossoms into love, after the two main characters form a pact to help each other. One of them has recently been broken up with, and wants to show her ex-girlfriend just how nice she can be, and the other has been pining after a girl from her class in high school for years and doesn't know how to make the first move. But as the two grow closer, they realise they only want each other. Adorable, sweet, and fun, this one is definitely worth picking up.

 

General Fiction

How High We Go In The Dark - Sequoia Nagamatsu
How High We Go In The Dark is pandemic fiction, but it is full of hope, humanity, and love. Told through a series of interconnected short stories, this brilliant book paints a stunning picture of the resilience of humanity in the aftermath of a global catastrophe. I really can't recommend this book enough!

 

Mishcief Acts - Zoe Gilbert
Zoe Gilbert's debut novel is a magical, enchanting, dark, and somewhat sexy tumble through time. Taken at face value, this is a book about the antlered forest spirit Herne the Hunter, and his misadventures as his home turf shrinks from a sprawling wood to a small park in London. But in truth, this is a study of the nature of myth and folklore and of the eternal magic, and raw power, of the natural world.

 

Nettle & Bone - T. Kingfisher
A unique and thoroughly enjoyable take on the classic fairy-tale "prince and princess" dynamic, Nettle & Bone is dark, magical, and enthralling. This time, the princess isn't going to marry the prince, she's going to kill him for hurting her two older sisters. And with a ragtag team consisting of a witch who speaks with the dead, a dog made of bones, a reluctant fairy godmother, a former knight, and a chicken possessed by a demon, she's not going alone. Original, funny, and powerful, this feminist take on classic fairy-tales is not one you want to miss!

 

Good Omens is hilarious. That's just a fact. The ever-wonderful Sir Terry Pratchett (GNU Terry Pratchett) and the brilliant Neil Gaiman combined their might to write one of the most outrageously funny books I've ever read. With Armageddon fast approaching, only the teamwork of a demon and an angel can persuade the antichrist to not, in fact, end the world.

 

Novellas

Upright Women Wanted - Sarah Gailey
A rebelliously queer Western novella, with all the traditional bells and whistles of a classic Western except this time it's not a lone wolf cowboy but a group of queer anti-fascist librarians who shoot the bad guys and ride the horses and kiss the pretty women!

 

A Psalm For The Wild-Built - Becky Chambers
I love everything Becky Chambers has written. I love her sci-fi Wayfarers series. I love her ethical space exploration novella To Be Taught, If Fortunate. And I really, deeply, love this book. A Psalm For The Wild-Built is a cosy, character-focussed, solarpunk novella centred around one important question: "what do people need". There's no external conflict in this book. The only conflict is internal, and it's profoundly written. Many of us know what it's like to feel like we lack purpose, or like what we're doing isn't the "right" thing to be doing, but with this delightful novella, Chambers reminds us "it is enough to exist in the world and marvel at it...you are allowed to just live"

 

Poetry

Deep Wheel Orcadia is truly unique: a sci-fi novel, written in verse in Orcadian Scots (with a side-by-side translation into English). Telling the story of the small community on the space station Deep Wheel Orcadia, Harry Josephine Giles touches on themes of identity, purpose, and family. While the Orcadian Scots is lyrical and, as the original language, fits the story best, the English translations are also fascinating with some words being translated into multiple words to get across the depth of meaning of each Orcadian word.

 

For Every One - Jason Reynolds
A letter in poem form written to everyone who has ever dreamed of more, this is a wonderful read. This brilliant poem-letter reminds the reader that you are not alone, and that dreams don't die until you let them. I found this worked best when read aloud, as it gains a rhythm that brings more power to the words. A good first read for someone who maybe isn't so sure about reading poetry but wants to give it a go!

 

Clouds Cannot Cover Us - Jay Hulme
The first collection of poetry by transgender poet Jay Hulme, this stunning collection of excellent poems is aimed at teenagers and young adults but is absolutely for anyone. These poems don't speak down to anyone, don't leave anyone out, and don't whitewash the harder parts of life. They speak to the combination of anger and hope that so many young people today feel about their futures. Hulme is a brilliant poet, and a unique and wonderful new voice, and I wouldn't hesitate to suggest this collection to anyone looking for new poetry to read!

These Great Athenians is a collection of poems telling the story of the Odyssey from the viewpoints of the female characters. With poems from the points of view of Penelope, Circe, Scylla, and more, this beautiful collection is definitely worth a read. A lyrical, magical, and fiercely feminist take on a classic myth, and with one of the prettiest covers I've seen, These Great Athenians is well worth your time.

 

Graphic Novels

Cosmoknights (Book One) - Hannah Templer
Cosmoknights is a fantastic neo-medieval sci-fi graphic novel about a band of space gays fighting the patriarchy and if that doesn't make you want to read it then I don't know what will! With stunning and colourful art, including some absolutely beautiful two page spread, this graphic novel is a treat to read!

 

Mooncakes - Suzanne Walker
Have you ever wanted a graphic novel about a witch who falls in love with her childhood best friend, who also happens to be a nonbinary werewolf being hunted down by a cult? It's a very specific niche, I know, but this is the graphic novel for you! It's super sweet, super soft, and super gay!

Heartstopper (Volume 1, Volume 2, Volume 3, Volume 4) - Alice Oseman
                                      
Heartstopper (now a Netflix series!) is a beautiful, sweet, gentle gay graphic novel. Telling the story of two boys who fall in love, Heartstopper is just so soft and nice that it makes the perfect comfort read. Although the later volumes deal with some serious mental health issues, these are handled with care and honesty by both the author and the characters. I cannot recommend Heartstopper enough! 
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