Matt's Picks

Pandora's Jar - Natalie Haynes

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!

 

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!

 

One Last Stop - Casey McQuiston

A wonderful time-travelling lesbian rom-com. It's funny, it's emotional, it's brilliant. I cannot express enough how much I loved this book. The romance between August and Jane, who meet on a train, is incredibly compelling. And when August and Jane realise that Jane is stuck on the train, and displaced in time from the 1970s, it is wonderful to watch August's friend group rally around her and help find a solution. One Last Stop is Casey McQuiston's best book, in my opinion, so if you've enjoyed their other books (Red, White & Royal Blue and I Kissed Shara Wheeler) then you'll almost certainly enjoy this!

 

The King Is Dead - Benjamin Dean

This book is incredible! It's a royal mystery, full of scandal and drama, centred around a young Black man who becomes king after his father dies. Already unpopular with certain members of the general public for being a young Black man, James also has a secret: he's gay. And when scandalous stories start to leak from the palace about his sexuality, he finds himself thrown in the deep end of being King.

 

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!

 

She Gets The Girl - Rachael Lippincott and Alyson Derrick

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.

 

She Who Became The Sun - Shelley Parker-Chan

She Who Became The Sun is a queer, feminist, historical fantasy novel set in ancient China. It's full of raw emotion, cunning betrayals, and ambition. This book is an incredible read, about a young girl who sets out to claim her dead brother's foretold greatness by pretending to be him. It's also got a very cool cover!

 

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!

 

Good Omens - Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman

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.
  

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"

 

Deep Wheel Orcadia - Harry Josephine Giles

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.

 

These Great Athenians - Valentine Carter

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.

 

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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