Better late than never I guess…?
I am like 3 months late in this second part of my personalized book recommendations. It took me a bit of time to find all the books and put together this list, and honestly by now I think you all know how terrible I am at being punctual with part 2s of my posts (see: my blogiversary Q&As).
But my last installment of my personalized book recommendations is finally here, and I had so much fun creating this list! I’m repeating some prompts—I’m sure the more recommendations the better—since this one is open to any authors, and I’m really sorry that I skipped the ones that I couldn’t find any books for. But let me know if you’d be interested in more personalized recs like this in the future!!
Content warnings for the books I’ve read are at the end of this post for readability.
IMMORTAL WALKING AMONG HUMANS
Recommendation: There is a godlike figure wrapped in tragedy in Black Sun (who I love very much) and he disguises himself as a regular man on his journey to fulfill his destiny. This book sets up for so many exciting things to come regarding the wrath of gods against humans!
Upcoming release: The premise of the Venezuelan epic fantasy The Sun and the Void is that a young noblewoman and servant girl become vessels of ancient gods to save their nation, and that they’re gay. So basically, my new favorite book.
SLICE OF LIFE
Recommendation: I don’t really read slice of life books, but if the type of slice of life you’re looking for is a light, funny read that takes place in a girl’s last year of high school as she navigates friendships, family, and romance, pick up Foolish Hearts!
Also, if you want a slice of life webtoon, I loved Honey Lemon! It’s going to restart since it’s moving from Canvas to Originals, so maybe hold off on reading it for a bit (unless you want some instant serotonin).
RELUCTANT ALLIES TURNED FRIENDS
Recommendation: There’s so much to recommend Ace of Spades for, like its excellent plot twists and in-depth exploration of institutional racism. But it also perfectly fits the reluctant allies turned friends trope (and their eventual friendship is so sweet to see!).
Recommendation: If you want a thriller that will make you question everything you read paired with a whirlwind nighttime city adventure, has a lovable cast of characters you get attached to quickly, and is also a Peter Pan retelling, Darling will satisfy (and completely shock) you!!
Upcoming release: This release is so far out that it doesn’t have a cover and there’s barely any information on it, but Borderland is a “coming-of-age, YA eco-thriller about Indigenous land rights with sci-fi elements.” I don’t know about you but… that sounds Very Cool.
QUEER CONTEMPORARY (ROMANCE NOT MAIN PLOT)
Recommendation: The Real Ones will know how I much I love Girl Made of Stars. It’s a contemporary that follows a girl after her twin is accused of rape and she is forced to reconcile with that along with her past of sexual assault. It features a romance (with a genderqueer character) that definitely is not the main plot, and it is one of my favorite books of all time!
Upcoming release: One of my most anticipated 2022 releases is Ophelia After All, which features a girl navigating depression and questioning her sexuality after having a crush on a cute girl!! I don’t know specifics about the romance (if there’s even one?), but it seems like it definitely isn’t the main plot.
KNIGHT IN LOVE WITH ROYALTY
Recommendation: Technically, the knight in question in Heir’s Game is a duelist competing to be the prince’s bodyguard, but this was the closest I could get! This webcomic is so much fun to read (gays and swordfights are always a good combination), and I like the art style a lot too.
Recommendation: I read Beneath the Citadel years ago, and I still remember it well because of how much I enjoyed it and its characters. It’s a fantasy with a mix of everything: found family (of course) made up of rebels, prophecies, heists, and magic.
Upcoming release:I have two, totally opposite upcoming releases with found family! One is The Pledge, a YA slasher about a killer who targets frat boys and a gay hate to love romance, and another is Sophie Go’s Lonely Hearts Club, an adult contemporary about a matchmaker tasked with finding matches for 70-something Chinese bachelors.
Recommendation: You can’t say “magical realism” without me immediately recommending Anna-Marie McLemore! I’ve read almost all their books, but I’ll go with their most recent, The Mirror Season, which is a hauntingly beautiful book about two people recovering from sexual assault.
Upcoming release: Taking place during the 1956 Hungarian revolution, This Rebel Heart is a historical fiction novel with fabulist elements and queer representation!
Recommendation: I recently read Mornings in Jenin, and it broke me. It’s about four generations of a Palestinian family, from before the Nakba to present-ish day, and how they are forced to reconcile with being exiled from their own land. It is written so brilliantly, but it’s so hard to say positive things about it because it was just absolutely gutting to read.
Upcoming release: I am so excited for Valiant Ladies, which follows two Peruvian girls in the 17th century who, at night, become vigilantes and “pass their time fighting, gambling, and falling desperately in love with one another”!!!
MORALLY GREY GIRLS
Recommendation: I absolutely love The Girls I’ve Been when I read it earlier this year. Not only is it just a fantastic thriller with well-written pacing and dual timelines, but it also dives into trauma and the aftermath of abuse, all while starring a morally grey bi girl!
Upcoming release: I’ve already read (and loved) Iron Widow, and I can confirm that Zetian is an absolutely amazing character. She refuses to let anyone shame her for who she is or what she’s done, and she’s also ruthless and makes many morally questionable decisions.
QUEER FANTASY W/ STRONG FEMALE LEAD & FRIENDSHIP/FAMILY
Recommendation: The protagonist of Pet is is strong in that she is determined to find the “monster” someone has warned her of, and willing to go against her city’s beliefs. She is driven by her love for her best friend, and though they don’t completely listen to her, her parents are so loving (and especially supportive in her trans identity)!
Recommendation: Most of the books with POC on this list feature QPOC already, but a book I haven’t recommended as much is The Space Between Worlds! This sci-fi book (with a Black bisexual protagonist and a Japanese wlw love interest) is so excellently crafted, especially with its commentary on classism and power.
Upcoming release: I am so excited for Light from Uncommon Stars. I believe it features queer and trans Japanese and Vietnamese characters, written by a trans Japanese woman, and it’s about a deal with the devil but also found family and healing!
CONTEMPORARY ROMANCE BEST FRIENDS TO LOVERS
Recommendation: While it’s contemporary with a bit of magic, Miss Meteor is still mainly contemporary and gives you not one but two romances. Though the “best friend” label isn’t for the love interests and more for Lita and Chicky themselves, both Lita and Chicky’s romances are with super close friends!
Upcoming release: This trope is so hard to find, and the best I could do was Highly Suspicious, Unfairly Cute, which does feature best friends to lovers but is more… EX-best friends (to rivals) to lovers… I tried!!!
MY FAVORITE FANTASIES
Recommendation: As I’ve said so many times before, Raybearer is absolutely one of the best YA fantasies I’ve ever read, which is not something I say lightly as I continue to find several YA fantasies disappointing. It subverts tropes like the chosen one so brilliantly, and its portrayal of found family and platonic relationships is one of my favorites.
CLICK FOR CONTENT WARNINGS (books I’ve read)
Black Sun – murder, child abuse, violence, self-harm, scarification, drug use, suicide, depictions of blood
Foolish Hearts – N/A
Honey Lemon – past toxic relationship
Ace of Spades – murder, stalking, racism, homophobia, outing, violence, parental death, alcohol consumption, drug use, fire, car accident [more details]
Darling – murder (off page), violence, police violence, child neglect, grooming [more details]
Girl Made of Stars – rape, sexual assault, pedophilia, depictions of PTSD and trauma, anxiety/panic attacks
Heir’s Game – parental (physical) abuse, homophobia, violence, blood
Beneath the Citadel – murder, death, loss loved ones, torture, abuse, captivity, medical experimentation, depictions of grief/trauma
The Mirror Season – sexual assault, racism, homophobia
Mornings in Jenin – genocide, murder, death, massacres, violence, torture, mentions of rape, depictions of trauma
The Girls I’ve Been – physical abuse, psychological abuse, child sexual abuse (not explicit), parental abuse, domestic abuse, murder, violence, depictions of trauma, depictions of blood [more details]
Iron Widow – murder, femicide, misogyny, violence and abuse, suicide ideation, discussion and references to sexual assault, alcohol addiction, torture
Pet – child sexual abuse (not explicit)
The Space Between Worlds – murder, domestic abuse, violence
Miss Meteor – racism, xenophobia, lesbophobia (including lesbophobic slurs), fatphobia, transphobia, bullying
Raybearer – attempted murder, child neglect, violence, death of children
have you read any of these books? what were your thoughts? any of your own recommendations for these prompts?