Pride Month book recommendations 🏳️‍🌈

Happy Pride Month to all of my fellow LGBTQ+ peeps! 🏳️‍🌈🏳️‍⚧️

Reading books with LGBTQ+ representation is so important to me. I read books written by LGBTQ+ authors or with LGBTQ+ characters all year round but during Pride Month it’s particularly important to uplift the voices and stories of LGBTQ+ people.

With that in mind, in today’s post I’m going to be sharing one book recommendation for each letter of the LGBTQ acronym. It’s going to include a mix of books so hopefully there’ll be something for everyone 😊


  • I haven’t read enough books about intersex and asexual characters/stories to make recommendations so haven’t included the I and A in this list separately. However, there are diverse voices represented under the Queer section of the recommendations including intersex and asexual/aromantic-spectrum voices.
  • Wherever possible I have tried to include books where the identity of the character(s) or author (for non-fiction) is canonically and explicitly stated.


The Price of Salt – Patricia Highsmith

The Price of Salt or Carol is one of the most well-known lesbian classics. Set in the 1950s, the story follows Therese, a young woman working in a department store who falls in love with Carol a soon-to-be divorcee in her 30s. This story explores social concepts of womanhood, how they clash with queerness and the impact this has on queer women like Therese and Carol. Therese and Carol are at different stages in their life and their meeting impacts them both very differently; whilst Therese is young and excited about discovering her attraction to women, Carol struggles with her pending divorce and the threat Therese poses to her gaining custody of her child. What I love most about this story is that it’s one of a rare handful of queer books that has a happy ending. 

G – Gay

The Black Flamingo – Dean Atta

Written in verse, this YA coming-of age tale follows Mike, a gay mixed-race teen growing up in London as he discovers his passion for drag. This book is absolutely stunning; from the writing style to the illustrations to the story and the themes it explores, it’s all a perfect recipe. It delves deep into the facets of Mike’s identity and the ways in which being multi-racial and black interacts with his queerness, and also the general impact it has on him to be part of multiple marginalised groups. But overall this is a story of inspiration, queer joy and pride. It’s about being true to yourself and taking the space you deserve in the world no matter what adversity you face, making it the perfect read for Pride Month.

B – Bisexual

In the Dream House – Carmen Maria Machado

Despite being commonly regarded as a lesbian book, Carmen Maria Machado identifies as bisexual. In this autobiography, she discusses her own experiences of domestic abuse at the hands of her ex-girlfriend integrating her personal story into the wider context of abuse in queer relationships. Research and data shows that bisexual women are more likely to experience domestic abuse than their straight or lesbian counterparts so this autobiography is very, very important in shining light on this. It’s unfortunate that Machado doesn’t use the word bisexual more frequently throughout the book but nonetheless, this is an own voices story from a bisexual woman that provides insight into an issue within the LGBTQ+ community that often isn’t spoken about.

T – Transgender

Felix Ever After – Kacen Callender

This YA novel follows Felix, a young trans man on his journey of self-discovery. It primarily focuses on Felix’s transition and the ongoing process of understanding and coming to terms with his gender identity but also focuses on other aspects of his life such as his education, relationships, family and experiences with bullying. Like The Black Flamingo, it delves into the hardship that goes with being part of multiple marginalised identities (black, trans and queer) and gives Felix space to explore and understand what these parts of himself mean to him and how that impacts where he fits into the world.

Q – Queer

We Can Do Better Than This – Amelia Abraham

Featuring 35 essays from a diverse range of queer voices, this anthology covers so much of what it is and means to be queer. From healthcare to legislation to relationships to pronouns to discrimination to pride to abuse to activism – it has it all. Everyone is represented here with essays from across the community and across the world. It’s an intersectional anthology that centres LGBTQ+ topics but allows the contributors to talk on their wider contexts in terms of culture, religion, race, class, age, disability and so much more. There’s something for everyone in this anthology.

There we have it, 5 book recommendations for Pride Month. To read more of my LGBTQ+ related content check out the LGBTQ tag here. What are some of your favourite LGBTQ+ books? Please share in the comments, I’m always on the hunt for more LGBTQ+ stories!

Here are some LGBTQ+ charities in the UK you can donate to this Pride Month:

This is not an extensive list. If you would like to donate, I would recommend doing your own research to find a charity that aligns with your ethics and does the work that you feel most passionately about.

Let’s continue to uplift queer voices and support queer businesses and individuals around the world not just during Pride Month but all year round.

Happy Pride 🏳️‍🌈 my lovelies and keep reading.


Summer Bird Blue – Book Review

✨ Spoiler Free ✨

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Author: Akemi Dawn Bowman
Genre: Contemporary
Publication year: 2018
Audience: 12+
Content warnings: Character death, loss of a loved one, grief/loss, car accident, abandonment by a parent (temporary), depression and violence.


Following the loss of her sister in a tragic accident, 17-year-old Rumi is sent to Hawaii to live with her aunt. She begins to pick up the pieces of her broken heart and heal, with the help of friends, old and new.

What I liked

  • Writing style
  • Emphasis on friendship and family
  • Diverse representation
  • Deep exploration of grief
  • The questioning sexuality storyline / aromantic and asexual representation

What I disliked

  • Under-developed characters
  • Lack of plot
  • Over emphasis on emotion/grief in places

Plot and Structure

The story follows Rumi as she deals with the loss of her best friend and younger sister, Lea. It’s not a particularly plot heavy book, it’s an intense look at grief and loss, and how we can begin to rebuild ourselves when our world has been completely shattered by the loss of someone that is fundamental to who we are and to our lives. It focuses mostly on Rumi’s emotions and healing process. Despite not having a strong plot, narratively, it was strong and had a clear focus. It felt like Akemi Dawn Bowman knew exactly what she wanted to achieve with this book and that every part of it was intentional.

It opens with the tragedy that sets the scene for the rest of the book. It’s mostly set in the present where Rumi is living in Hawaii with her estranged aunt and follows Rumi as she battles against the grief of losing her sister and her mother’s absence. Alongside that, we see the development of the relationships that she forms in Hawaii and how these people help her to heal. There are also flashbacks scattered throughout of Rumi’s life growing up with her family which help to flesh out Lea and the significance of the sister relationship that is at the heart of the story.

Writing Style

I really liked the writing style. Whilst this is clearly a YA book aimed at a younger audience, it had some beautiful metaphors and prose that conveyed the intensity of emotion present throughout. There were a lot of quotes I resonated with and found to be very meaningful. However, there were some metaphors that were a bit cringe and the writing was repetitive in places. The main weakness of the writing for me was that the emotion was emphasised too much. Grief is an overwhelming and all consuming emotion but the emotions were over-written and it bogged down the narrative too much. There needed to be more space from the raw emotions to enable the characters and other aspects of the story to breathe. The character development and plot was hindered in part because the grief was inescapable and constantly brought to the forefront. Nonetheless, I appreciated how Bowman was able to get to the crux of the intense emotions that teenagers often face and how lost in their own feelings and thoughts they can become. Rumi’s grief isn’t any ordinary grief; it’s heightened by her age and the lack of self that often happens to teenagers who are figuring out who they are.

And maybe that’s like life. You live for a moment—one single moment. And then you don’t matter. Because there are years of the past and years of the future, and we’re all simply one tiny blip in time—a surge of water waiting to leave our mark on the sand, only to have it washed away by the waves that come after us.

Characters and Relationships

I adored what Bowman did in terms of centring platonic relationships and how she really took the time to delve deep into Rumi’s inner-most thoughts and feelings. Rumi’s relationships with her sister, elderly neighbour, male friend, aunt and mother are the most important relationships in this book and it was so refreshing to read a contemporary YA that wasn’t focused on romance. As a character, Rumi was perhaps one of the most relatable characters I’ve read in a long time to the point that it felt like I was reading about my teenage self at points. Unfortunately, the other characters never felt fully realised to me and were rather one-dimensional. Their purpose was to serve Rumi’s development and journey in supporting her through her grief. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but just means that the wider cast of characters were lacking in any real depth or development.

The depiction of sibling relationships was one of my favourite aspects of this book. As the eldest sister myself, I could see how shaped Rumi was by being the eldest sister and how that informed the relationship she had with Lea. Throughout the book Lea is considered to be Rumi’s soul mate and the most important person in her life. Just like Disney’s Frozen this book subverts expectations that a young girl’s “one true love” is a romantic male love interest and instead portrays it as being sisterhood. I also loved reading about Rumi’s relationship with her friend Kai and seeing her battle against the blurred lines between friendship and romance, and how this impacted her exploration of her sexuality.

Generally, I loved the exploration of sexuality throughout and how Rumi’s character and her relationships were all tied up in a wider story of her exploring aromanticism and asexuality. It’s the first time I’ve read a fiction book that explores this so succinctly. It can be difficult to write storylines that involve questioning sexuality without it feeling forced, but in this case, Rumi’s questioning of her identity and sexuality fitted well with the wider story of loss. Losing Lea is what put Rumi in a real position to truly start exploring those parts of her that had always been there but that she had brushed under the carpet. I plan to do a separate post about the depiction of aromanticism and asexuality in the book soon, so keep your eyes peeled if you’re interested in hearing more of my thoughts on this 👀

Generally, the relationships were very sweet and drove the story forward well, but the characters (except for Rumi) lacked the necessary depth to enable me to connect to them on a deeper level. So whilst I enjoyed reading the character dynamics they weren’t as satisfying as they could’ve been. I think if Bowman had invested more time in developing the characters and less on the grief part of the story, it would’ve come together much better. Since the relationships were so pivotal in helping Rumi to begin to heal, it felt like they deserved more time and attention.

Concluding thoughts

Summer Bird Blue is a heart-wrenching and heartwarming story of loss and healing. It’s an ideal read for young readers as it explores so many of the painful things teenagers face such as unexpected death, identity crisis, abandonment by a parent, anger, having complicated feelings for friends and questioning your sexuality. The focus on platonic love and relationships is a breath of fresh air and the exploration of identity and sexuality an important conversation to be had in any YA book. Undoubtedly, the depiction of an aromantic asexual character is what will continue to draw readers to this book and is what shines most about it, but this book is so much more than that and is fully deserving of the credit it receives. It tackles such a hard and heavy subject with sensitivity and grace, balancing the hopelessness of death with the hope of healing.

I’d recommend Summer Bird Blue if:

You’re looking for a YA tale on the theme of grief that centres sisterhood, friendship and family and features an aromantic asexual main character.

Have you read Summer Bird Blue or are you planning to read it? Let me know in the comments!

Stay safe, my lovelies and keep reading.

Pride Month Wrap Up

At the end of May I shared my Pride Month TBR and I wanted to give an update on the books I read in June. So, I read five LGBTQIA+ books last month, four of which were from my TBR and one which was a birthday gift from a friend. Here are my summaries of the books and my thoughts on them all spoiler free .

In the Dream House

Carmen Maria Machado

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Genre: Nonfiction
Publication year: 2019

In the Dream House is the first book I read from my TBR and it blew me away. It was an emotional and hard-hitting read with the author Carmen Maria Machado, recounting her experience of being a domestic abuse victim in a same sex relationship. The writing style was unique and encapsulating, and Machado’s voice swept me away in the story of her life. It’s value in raising awareness of abuse in queer relationships cannot be understated and this is one I’d highly recommend for everyone, particularly those interested in LGBTQIA+ topics and rights. You can read my full review for In the Dream House here.

The Passion

Jeanette Winterson

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Genre: Historical Fiction
Publication year: 1987

Reading The Passion was a wonderful experience. I was swept away by Jeanette Winterson’s stunning prose, writing style and storytelling. Despite how short it is in length, I was invested and connected to the characters and story. Set in the Napoleonic Wars, it follows two characters – Henri and Villanelle – whose fates collide leading to an unlikely relationship and journey. The characterisation of Henri and Villanelle was incredible. Winterson was able to establish them so well within 150 pages that I came away feeling a deep affinity to both characters. Their dynamic was authentic, complex and emotional, and anchored the entire story.

It’s very steeped in metaphors, symbolism and thought-provoking prose, so I don’t think a book as complex as this can be fully comprehended or appreciated on one read. I plan to come back to it re-read it at a slower pace, taking the time to sit with the words and fully reflect on the language and meaning. I was so close to rounding this up to 5 stars, but it just lacked that full emotional gut punch that typically leads me to give a full rating. Nonetheless, I loved this book.

Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe

Fannie Flagg

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐

Genre: Historical Fiction
Publication year: 1987

Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe is the story of a small fictional town in Alabama called Whistle Stop. It primarily follows Mrs Threadgoode, an elderly lady in a reitrement home, and her daughter-in-law, Evelyn as they develop a close bond and Mrs Threadgoode shared the history of Whistle Stop and its residents. The story spans across decades, weaving together past and present with chapters alternating between the present with Mrs Threadgoode and Evelyn chatting in the retirement home, stories from the past from residents of Whistle Stop and articles from the Whistle Stop newsletter, “The Weems Weekly.”

Thematically, this book explored a lot of things that are of interest to me – family, community, identity, feminism, lesbianism, racism – but unfortunately, I found it difficult to connect to the story or the characters. I appreciated what Fannie Flagg was trying to achieve but it didn’t have the emotional weight it should’ve and was generally a rather underwhelming read as a result.

We Can Do Better Than This: 35 Voices on the Future of LGBTQ+ rights

Amelia Abraham (ed.)

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Genre: Nonfiction
Publication year: 2021

This book was bought for me by a friend as a birthday present and I devored it within two days. With a diverse range of voices from within the LGBTQIA+ community, this anthology of essays is wide-reaching and explored a variety of issues that queer communities are currently facing and have endured throughout history. It’s an intersectional approach to LGBTQIA+ rights with queerness being explored in the context of race, disability, faith, culture and legislation. As with all anthologies, there were some essays that I connected to and enjoyed more than others, but generally the quality was high.

It was a very emotional read and I cried multiple times, but it was also hopeful and empowering. Although there was a lot of representation, I did feel that there could’ve been improvements with this. There was a high proportion of essays written through the lens of being gay, trans and non-binary, but a clear absence of multisexual identities including bisexuals, pansexuals, omnisexuals and polysexuals. There was also only one chapter about asexuality and none about aromanticism. Although ths is a lesser known identity, there are plenty of asexual and/or aromantic public figures and activists that could’ve contributed to the anthology. Nonetheless, I appreciate that with 35 essays there’s limited time and space and overall, it did a brilliant job at capturing the core issues in LGBTQIA+ activism and the diversity of the community.

Ace: What Asexuality Reveals about Desire, Identity and the Meaning of Sex

Angela Chen

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐

Genre: Nonfiction
Publication year: 2020

This book was a fascinating and insightful read. It’s an journalistic perspective on asexuality within the context of Western society which is rooted in what she coins as “compulsory sexuality”. I wasn’t a big fan of the writing which felt clunky and jumped from one topic to another haphazardly, but Angela Chen opened up very important converations which apply to everyone regardless of sexual orientation. She uses asexuality to question the societal norms and expectations placed on people around sex and relationships, asking why sex is assumed to be such a focal point of all of our lives when for many people (asexual and non-asexual), sex simply isn’t a priority in our lives.

As a Chinese American, Chen adopted an intersectional perspective of asexuality looking at disability, race and religion and how those characteristics can interact with asexuality. She did a good job at capturing the diversity of the ace spectrum and debunking common myths surrounding asexuality. She also offered some food for thought and provided me with the opportunity to evaluate the ways in which socal norms and compulsory sexuality has impacted me as an asexual woman. However, it wasn’t a particularly mindblowing read since it felt like it was targeted more at non-asexuals as an introduction to the issues that asexuals can and do face. Having said that, asexuality is widely misunderstood, overlooked and stigmatised both in and out of the LGBTQIA+ community so to see books like this being published is essential for raising awareness and building momentum within the ace community.

Overall, I had a great experience reading these books and I’m looking forward to reading the other books that are on my Pride Month TBR but that I didn’t manage to get to in June.

Have you read any of these books or do you plan to? Let me know in the comments!

Stay safe, my lovelies and keep reading.

Pride Flag Book Tag 🏳️‍🌈

In celebration of Pride Month, today I’m going to be doing the Pride Flag Book Tag. This looks like such a creative, fun and colourful tag! I’m excited to do it and to share some of my favourite LGBTQIA+ books with you all that I may not have had the opportunity to speak about until now.

This tag was originally developed by Common Spence on YouTube.

Red – Life

A book with a spirited protagonist totally proud of who they are. Someone who gives you LIFE!

Black Flamingo – Dean Atta

Black Flamingo is a heart-warming story of pride and celebrating who you are. The protagonist Michael goes on a journey of self discovery and although he faces struggles along the way, he remains true to himself and isn’t afraid to stand up and be his most authentic self. His sense of identity and unwillingness to compromise himself based on the judgement or prejudice of others is inspiring.

Orange – Healing

A book that made you, as the reader, find a deeper meaning or catharsis in your own life.

Felix Ever After – Kacen Callender

Felix Ever After is a YA tale about a young trans guy called Felix. He questions his gender and sexuality throughout the story as he attempts to find the labels that best reflect his identity and to understand himself better. His process of exploring his identity and finding himself resonated with me on a personal level and helped me to better understand myself. This book will always be special to me because it was the key to finally opening me up to my own queerness.

Yellow – Sunshine

A book that fills you with so much joy it could brighten even your darkest day.

The Lady’s Guide to Celestial Mechanics – Olivia Waite

A wonderful, fluffy and romantic WLW story which gave me all the feels. The dynamic between the two main characters, Lucy and Catherine, is refreshing. Their relationship is honest, passionate and tender. I love that both women have their own dreams and insecurities and that they support and encourage each other to reach their dreams and overcome their insecurities. They develop hugely from meeting each other and reading their journey will never fail to warm my heart.

Green – Nature

A book that is set out of this world — a reality different to our own.

This is How You Lose the Time War – Amal El-Mohtar and Max Gladstone

I’ve spoken about this book at least twice in previous posts, but I will never stop talking about it, because it’s so AWESOME. This story is so other-worldly, from the language to the setting and the overall story. Readng this book is like falling into an abstract dream that you feel but cannot quite see or touch. It has the added bonus of a wonderful queer romance which takes the enemies to lovers trope and executes it with breathtaking results.

Blue – Peace

A book where one of the characters finds peace with a difficult truth.

The Passion – Jeanette Winterson

The Passion is a recent read for me but I fell in love with it. One of the main protagonist’s, Villanelle, is a queer young girl who goes on one hell of a journey. She has to come to terms with multiple difficult truths throughout regarding loss and the injustices of the world. Her resillience and determination is admirable and I deeply connected to her character and journey.

Purple – Spirit

A book that deals with LGBT+ themes and religion.

Under the Udala Trees – Chinelo Okparanta

Under the Udala Trees tells the harrowing and emotional experience of Ijeoma’s experience as a gay woman living in Nigeria. Throughout Ijeoma battles against the illegality of homosexually and the conflict between her mother’s Christian faith and her sexuality. It’s not an easy read, but an unforgettable and powerful story nonetheless.

I wanted to share some LGBTQIA+ charities you can donate to in the UK, if you would like to:

This is not an extensive list. If you would like to donate, I would recommend doing your own research to find a charity that aligns with your ethics and does the work that you feel most passionately about.

Happy Pride Month ❤️ 🧡 💛 💚 💙 💜

Stay safe, my lovelies and keep reading.

In the Dream House – Book Review

✨ Spoiler Free ✨

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Author: Carmen Maria Machado
Genre: Nonfiction/Memoir
Publication year: 2019
Audience: 18+
Content warnings: Domestic abuse, emotional abuse, physical abuse, body shaming, adult/minor relationship, homophobia, biphobia, explicit sexual references, PTSD, trauma.


In this abstract and surreal memoir, the author shares her experience of being in a long-term abusive lesbian relationship. Drawing on themes of domestic abuse, queerness and feminism, Machado seeks to raise awareness of abuse in queer relationships which is often excluded from domestic abuse discourse and activism.

What I liked

  • The audiobook narrated by Carmen Maria Machado
  • Writing style
  • Storytelling techniques
  • The themes that were explored

What I disliked

  • Nothing?


Structurally this memoir was bizarre, but it really worked for me. It wasn’t presented in a linear way or chronologically but instead in fragmented pieces, almost like a jigsaw. Machado briefly touched upon this fragmented structure in the book itself and I think it was genius. It was refreshing, unique and raw. Psychology has proven that scientifically memory is very unreliable – we forget events, details become distorted and the more often we recall a memory the less accurate it becomes. Choosing to structure the book this way felt authentic in a way few memoirs do because it was an acknowledgment that memory is unreliable and that some incidents of abuse have faded from Machado’s memory or that she cannot recall specific details. It worked because it enabled her to tell her story and stay focused on the central themes of the book without going through a play by play of her life from birth until the present day in a stagnant, stylistcally dry style as many memoirs do.


The primary theme of this memoir was the abuse Machado endured for years at the hands of her long-term girlfriend framed within the context of queerness and feminism. She included research on domestic abuse in queer relatonships between women accompanied by discussions about the ways in which perceptions of domestic abuse have been shaped by heteronormativity and gender (e.g. domestic abuse = hetreosexual relationship between cis man and cis woman with the man as the abuser and woman as the abused) and how this, unfortunately, often exludes queer relationships from the discourse and research. She did a brilliant job at demonstrating the ways in which the lack of education and awareness of LGBTQ+ topics blinded her (and many others) to the abuse she was experiencing at the time. Her assumption that men were the perpetrators of abuse meant that the possibility of abuse being present in a same gender relationship was unthinkable to her.

In the Dream House served as a metaphor for the illusion of the perfect happily ever after that a lesbian relationship represented for Machado and for many other queer women. Chapter by chapter and piece by piece, she dismantled the dream house, revealing the ugliness that lay within and shattering any preconceptions she may have had prior to entering into this relatonship. Her insight into this experience was fascinating and touched upon the abuse and harm that queer people can inflict other queer people. She pointed out that whilst the LGBTQ+ community exists to protect queer people, sometimes it does not always provide the safe spaces and relationships that are expected.

Writing Style

I adored Machado’s writing style. It was definitely more flowery than I’d typically expect from a memoir, but absolutely stunning. There was a lot of symbolism, metaphors and similies paired with a deeply emotive style. Her writing was eloquent, thought-provoking and sincere. The narrative voice was uniquely hers, which was undoubtedly elevated by the experience of reading the audiobook, and despite the shortness of the book, I felt close to Machado as though I knew and understood her. I also loved that there was a self-awareness throughout with the author explaining or justifying her writing process such as her choice of structure, the unreliability of memory and the effect of trauma throughout time.

I speak into the silence. I toss the stone of my story into a vast crevice; measure the emptiness by its small sound.

Concluding thoughts

In the Dream House was an emotional and harrowing tale of domestic abuse in a queer relationship. Although it wasn’t necessarily enjoyable to read because of the emotional impact of the content, the structure and writing style were uniquely brilliant and captured the essence of the author’s story honestly and authentically. It provides educational value in regards to abuse in the queer community and the necessity for more education on LGBTQ+ relationships. I gained a deeper insight into a topic I was quite unaware of and I deeply connected to Machado’s storytelling style which capture the complexity of the human experience, emotion and memory. Her story, thoughts and arguments were eloquently presented and had a profound impact on me as a reader. Overall, the message from In the Dream House highlights the importance of raising awareness of the complexity of domestic abuse and of including queer people’s voices in the research, discourse and activism.

I’d recommend In the Dream House if:

You’re looking for a unique, thought-provoking, emotional memoir from a queer woman that touches heavily on gender and sexuality, advocates for LGBTQ+ rights and raises awareness of abuse in queer relationships.

Have you read In the Dream House or are you planning to read it? Let me know in the comments!

P. S. This is my first new 5-star read of 2021! 🥳

Stay safe, my lovelies and keep reading.

Pride Month TBR

June is Pride Month 🏳️‍🌈 and every June I compile a TBR of LGBTQIA+ books. I don’t usually do TBR’s because I’m such a huge mood reader that I find them impossible to stick to, but Pride Month is the only exception. I love devoting a whole month to reading books about queer stories and voices. I won’t read every book on this TBR since there’s 17 books in total. I’ll simple pick what I fancy and add any I don’t finish to my ongoing TBR. I’m excited about all of the books on this TBR and can’t wait to read them. I’m particularly looking forward to reading own voices queer books.






Non Binary

Stay safe, my lovelies and keep reading.

Queerness and bisexuality: The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo – Book Analysis

Book analyses are essays which closely and critically examine specific characters, relationships, topics or themes in a book.


You can find a full spoiler-free review of The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo here.

Content warning: Discussions of biphobia, homophobia and sexual assault.

The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo (TSHOEH) has multiple queer characters including the main protagonist and title character, Evelyn Hugo, who is an openly bisexual woman. Evenlyn has multiple romantic and sexual relationships with men and one serious long-term relationship with Ceila, a lesbian, whom she considers to be the love of her life. Evelyn’s character and her identity as a bisexual woman is going to be the focus of this post.

Queer representation in books has vastly improved in recent years, but there’s still a long way to go. It’s practically impossible to accidentally stumble upon a book with queer characters; it’s something that readers usually have to actively look for. Finding representations of bisexuality can pose even more challenges due to the high levels of bi-erasure both in and out of the queer community and across all mediums. Despite bisexuals representing over half of the LGBT+ community, its an identity that continues to be misunderstood and erased. Therefore, the power of having an explictly bisexual character with Evelyn saying the words, “I am bisexual” cannot be understated. It provides validation for bisexual readers and the significance of representation – of seeing ourselves reflected in what we read – is huge.

I’m bisexual. Don’t ignore half of me so you can fit me into a box, Monique. Don’t do that.

As a straight woman, Taylor Jenkins Reid (TJR) cannot always capture the complexity and first-hand experience of what it means to be queer, but she generally pulls it off well. Evelyn’s internalised biphobia, struggle to accept and understand her queerness and fear of being outed is particularly striking.

Maybe if I’d spent my whole life fighting off feelings for women, then I might have had a template for it. But I didn’t. I was taught to like men, and I had found – albeit temporarily – love and lust with a man. The fact that I wanted to be around Ceila all the time, the fact that I cared enough that I valued her happiness over my own, the fact that I liked to think about that moment when she stood in front of me without her shirt on – now, you put those pieces together and you say, one plus one equals I’m in love with a woman. But back then, at least for me, I didn’t have that equation. And if you don’t even realize that there’s a formula to be working with, how the hell are you supposed to find the answer?

Evelyn’s struggle to understand her sexuality and her feelings towards Ceila is a direct consequence of her attraction to and relationships with men. When the world in which we live is so binaried, often the only choices we believe we have are gay or straight. Evelyn is initially unable to recognise that her feelings for Ceila go beyond friendship and even when she does, her intense internalised biphobia prevents her from truly being able to accept it. This manifests itself whenever she’s faced with the possibilty of being outed and Evelyn immediately goes on the defensive.

Even when Ceila is insistent that she and Evelyn should be open about their relationship and to hell with the consequences, Evelyn is adamant that they can’t go public. It’s a recurring argument for the couple with Ceila tiring of having to hide and Evelyn insisting it’s necessary for their safety. In fact, when Evelyn is almost outed by a Hollywood newspaper, she takes the drastic action of eloping with a rock-star who she doesn’t even know which has a hugely traumatic outcome.

We’d tell the truth about our lives, and they’d bury us. We could end up in prison or in a mental hospital. Do you get that? We could be committed. […] The world is ugly, and no one wants to give anyone the benefit of the doubt about anything. When we lose our work and our reputations, when we lose our friends, and, eventually, what money we have, we will be destitute.

Evelyn’s fear of being outed and the consequences of that are very real for her and always at the forefront of her mind. She’s not just afraid of losing Ceila, but their careers, their money and everything they have worked to build for themselves. This fear is informed by the endless battle Evelyn has with internalised homophobia and biphobia.

Homosexuals were misfits. And while I didn’t think that made them bad people – after all, I loved Harry like a brother – I wasn’t ready to be one of them.

On the one hand, Evelyn embraces her love for Ceila and insists that it’s right; that it’s the world that’s wrong for not understanding or accepting them, but internally she feels turmoil over her relationship with Ceila. She never seems able to put the pieces together to make it work and ultimately sabotages her relationship with Ceila. What I struggled with most with the way this is written is that Evelyn’s reasoning for wanting to hide her bisexuality and relationship with Ceila is framed by TJR as being because she was fame and money hungry.

Now that I don’t have her, and I have more money than I could ever use in ths lifetime, and my name is cemented in Hollywood history, and I know how hollow it is, I am kicking myself for every single second I chose it over loving her proudly.

This completely invalidates Evelyn’s very real and justified feelings about coming out publicly. She doesn’t want to lose her career or money, that’s obviously a factor, but it’s so much more than that. Evelyn is genuinely afraid of what might happen to her and Ceila if they come out. The scene that really highlighted this for me was her reaction to the Stonewall riots.

I started crying when I realized those men were willing to fight for a dream I had never even allowed myself to envision. A world where we could be ourselves, without fear and without shame. Those men were braver and more hopeful than I was. There were simply no other words for it.

I knew it was imperative that I hide, yet I did not believe I should have to. But accepting that something is true isn’t the same as thinking that it is just.

Evelyn doesn’t hide out of selfishness or a desire for money or to protect her Hollywood career, she hides out of fear and because she believes it’s necessary for her safety and the safety of the woman she loves. She feels that she must make certain sacrifices in her relationship with Ceila to live a life free of discrimination, hate and danger.

I was under no illusions about how much it has cost Ceila and me to be together and it was gong to continue to cost us more. It was like a tax on being happy. The world was going to take fifty percent of my happiness. But I could keep the other fifty percent.

The one aspect of bi-erasure and biphobia that is handled very well is that which Evelyn faces from Ceila. It’s the type of prejudice and discrimination that bisexual women sometimes face from gay women. Ceila, like society, believes that there is only gay and straight and she projects her own identity and feelings onto Evelyn, even when Evelyn makes it clear that she’s not gay.

I hated being called a lesbian. Not because I thought there was anything wrong with loving a woman, mind you. No, I’d come to terms with that a long time ago. But Ceila only saw things in black and white. She liked women and only women. I liked her. And so she often denied the rest of me. She liked to ignore the fact that I had truly loved Don Adler once. She liked to ignore the fact that I had made love to men and enjoyed it. She liked to ignore it until the very moment she decided to be threatened by it. That seemed to be her pattern. I was a lesbian when she loved me and a straight woman when she hated me.

For me, this quote really captures the complexity of the tension that sometimes exists between gay and bisexual women. Ceila deeply loves Evelyn, but resents her attraction and past relationships with men. As a gay woman, she cannot relate to or completely understand Evelyn’s ability to be with men as well as women. She projects lesbianism onto Evelyn because it makes her feel more safe and secure in their relationship. This speaks to a very common aspect of biphobia – the assumption that a bisexual woman in a relationship with a woman will always inevitably leave her for a man. Despite Evelyn reassuring Ceila that she loves her deeply and is committed to her completely, Ceila’s insecurities get the better of her on occasion. It’s not to say that Ceila doesn’t have reason to feel the way she does, since Evelyn continues to have affairs with men whilst they are together and in the time they are apart, which brings me nicely onto my next point.

Although many aspects of Evelyn’s sexuality are well-written, the portrayal of her as a sexual woman and her ongoing sexual relationships with men plays into the negative stereotypes associated with bisexuals. Evelyn is an attractive, sexy woman and from a young age she willingly uses sex to her advantage. Her choice to sleep with Mick Riva is one that she makes out of desperation to hide her true sexuality and relationship with Ceila but may unwillingly contribute to biphobic narratives. Generally, Evelyn’s persistent sexual relationships with men insinuate that even when she’s in love with a woman and in a committed relationship with her, she cannot resist the lure of a man. This feeds into biphobic rhetoric about infidelity, promiscuity and the overbearing “straightness” of bi women. This is addressed by TJR with the following quote from Evelyn:

There’s a difference between sexuality and sex. I used sex to get what I wanted. Sex is just an act. Sexuality is a sincere expression of desire and pleasure. That I always kept for Ceila. […] Being bisexual didn’t make me disloyal. One has nothing to do with the other. Nor did it mean Ceila could only fulfill half of my needs.

This demonstrates some awareness from TJR that she was perhaps contributing to biphobic rhetoric in her depiction of Evelyn’s sexuality, so it’s important that she addressed that. Nonetheless, Evelyn’s insistence in Chapter 46 that it’s her selfishness and desire for fame that negatively impacted her relationship with Ceila is only half of the story. It feels lke a very purposeful attempt by TJR to take a backwards step and deny the significance of the consequences of Evelyn’s struggles with her sexuality and queer identity on her relationship with Ceila. Evelyn admits that her downfall is using sex to get what she wanted even when she had other options at her disposal, but there’s no acknowledgement that a large part of why she continued to use sex in this way is because she couldn’t accept her bisexuality.

I broke Ceila’s heart because I spent half my time loving her and the other half hiding how much I loved her.

This quote is taps into the true reasons for Evelyn’s actions and the hurt she causes Ceila – it’s because she never truly allows herself to love Ceila unreservedly, proudly and without shame. She’s unable to reconcile her love for Ceila with her bisexuality and uses sex with men as a form of self harm. This beckons to a very important and very real issue that bisexual women face of being at higher risk of sexual abuse, assault and harassment than straight women. In this regard, Evelyn’s experiences of poverty, domestic abuse and sexual assault are representative of the tragic experiences bisexual women face.

Therefore, despite the depiction of bisexuality in TSHOEH being flawed and sometimes contributing to biphobic rhetoric, it captures the core of a lot of the struggles bisexual women may face. It tackles the risks of poverty, domestic abuse and sexual assault that bisexual women face at disproportionate rates compared to straight women and actively addresses biphobia and bi-erasure. Many queer women, myself included, can see pieces of themselves reflected in Evelyn and that is important for so many reasons. Like Evelyn, many bisexuals today still do not have the formula to understand their attractions and sexual identity. Binaries continue to dominate our society and our understandings of sexuality and reading a book like this and finding a character like Evelyn might just help other queer readers to understand and/or accept their identity and live freely and proudly in a way that Evelyn was unable to.

Stay safe, my lovelies and keep reading.

5 LGBTQIA+ book recommendations for LGBT History Month

In celebration of LGBT History Month (UK) 🏳️‍🌈, I wanted to share 5 LGBTQIA+ book recommendations. LBGT History Month is celebrated every February as a dedication to the abolishment of Section 28 in 2003. Section 28 prohibited the “promotion of homosexuality” and legalised discrimination against LGBTQIA+ individuals and groups. The fight for LGBT rights is ongoing and being both LGBT and an educational professional myself, LGBT-inclusive education in particular, is a cause that’s close to my heart. I’d urge everybody to read more about the cause and do anything you can to support it.

Under the Udala Trees by Chinelo Okparanta

Set in 1960s Nigeria amidst the civil war, Under the Udala Trees follows Ijeoma in this coming of age tale. Ijeoma struggles to navigate life as a gay woman in a country where same sex relationships are illegal and extreme violence is brought against anyone found to be engaging in homosexuality. This is a hard-hitting and emotional story which explores the conflict between being LGBT and true to yourself whilst also battling against discrimination and misunderstanding based on religious and societal beliefs and values.

Carmilla by J. Sheridan Le Fanu

Carmilla follows Laura and her father who welcome Carmilla into their lives after she has a carriage accident outside their home. Isolated and alone, Laura quickly strikes up an intimate relationship with Carmilla, until strange occurrences begin to take place leading Laura to question who and what Carmilla is. This novella is a fantastic exploration of lesbian eroticism and groundbreaking for the time in which it was written (1872). It’s the lesbian gothic story I never knew I needed.

Felix Ever After by Kacen Callender

Felix Ever After is a YA book which tells the story of a young trans man (FTM) as he fights against online transphobic attacks, navigates love and relationships and tries to get a place at an art college of his dreams. Although there’s some upsetting content, it’s primarily a story of identity, love and acceptance; of being true to who you are and accepting the love you deserve. This book is special to me because it helped me to be proud of who I am.

Girl, Woman, Other by Bernardine Evaristo

At this point I think this book has been spoken about in almost every bookish corner of the internet and for good reason. Girl, Woman, Other seamlessly weaves together the lives of twelve black female characters many of whom are queer. Each character feels authentic and fleshed out and so many hard-hitting topics are covered. It’s a truly breathtaking example of feminist fiction and few other books I’ve read have ever depicted female characters in such a vivid way.

The Lady’s Guide to Celestial Mechanics by Olivia Waite

This book rescued me from a slump over Christmas-time and I’m very grateful for that. It’s a WLM romance set in Regency England and one of the few romances that I’ve read that I truly enjoyed. Not only was the relationship between Lucy and Catherine very authentic and well-developed, but the social commentary was interesting. I loved that Olivia Waite created Lucy as a stereotypically un-feminine woman and Catherine a stereotypically feminine woman but completely shattered all of those stereotypes. It’s a tad steamy in places, which isn’t usually to my tastes, but the romance, tenderness and trust between the characters completely sold me on their relationship.

There we have my 5 LGBTQIA+ book recommendations in celebration of LGBT History Month 🏳️‍🌈. Have you ready any of these books or do you plan to read them? Let me know in the comments!

Stay safe, my lovelies and keep reading.

This is How You Lose the Time War – Book Review

✨ Spoiler Free ✨

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Genre: SciFi
Publication year: 2019
Audience: 16+
Content warnings: War, violence, animal killings and self-harm.


This is How You Lose the Time War follows Red and Blue, two agents on opposing sides of a time war. When they begin exchanging letters, a profound relationship develops between them which neither could’ve predicted taking them from enemies to lovers.

What I liked

  • Writing style
  • Relationship between Red and Blue
  • The letters
  • Plot
  • Its uniqueness

What I disliked

  • Ambiguous world building
  • Confusing structure (at times)
  • Use of flowery language

Plot and Structure

The plot primarily focused on the developing relationship between Red and Blue but had some elements of the time war scattered throughout. Initially, I was disorientated and struggled to follow the plot because I felt like I’d been dropped into the middle of a story and a universe that I knew nothing about. In terms of world-building, there was very little of what I’d consider the “traditional” world-building that I’m familiar with in other scifi and fantasy novels. Instead, everything was very abstract and ambigious. As the plot developed, it became more focused on the relationship between Red and Blue and less on the time war itself, which I preferred and found easier to follow.

Similar to the world-building the structure was abstract, jumping through time and space often with little explanation. However, the chapters did follow a general format, beginning with a description of where Red or Blue were and ending with a letter. I enjoyed the epistolary format and the letters were the highlight of each chapter for me. Not only did they propel the plot forward immeasurably, but they helped ground me in the world.

Writing Style

This book evoked such a strong reaction from me based on the writing alone. Initially, I really didn’t like it and found it pretentious but it slowly grew on me. It has a lyrical style with flowery language and purple prose. I think this is likely to be the main aspect of the book that could turn readers away, particularly those that don’t like classics since the style is more aligned with what I’d expect from a classic than a contemporary. I do think that the book requires a second reading to fully comprehend and appreciate the complexities of the language and writing style. Nonetheless, El-Mohtar and Gladstone were very intentional with what they wrote. The style fits perfectly within the world they crafted and although I struggled with it at first, I came to love it and the expression of emotion served the romance wonderfully.

“I love you. If you’ve come this far, that’s all I can say. I love you and I love you and I love you, on battlefields, in shadows, in fading ink, on cold ice splashed with the blood of seals. In the rings of trees. In the wreckage of a planet crumbling to space. In bubbling water. In bee stings and dragonfly wings, in stars. In the depths of lonely woods where I wandered in my youth, staring up—and even then you watched me. You slid back through my life, and I have known you since before I knew you.”

Characters and Relationships

Red and Blue are the main characters and their relationship is the focus throughout. This enabled lots of time and attention to be spent developing them as individuals and their relationship. I loved how the letters they exchanged were used to provide insight into their personalities, motivations, desires and fears. Their letters had a unique voice (helped by the fact that El-Mohtar wrote Blue’s letters and Gladstone wrote Red’s letters) and reading the letters anchored me to the characters, their relationship and the wider setting. Since this is a novella, more time could’ve been taken to develop the characters, but I appreciated what we were given considering the page count.

The relationship between Red and Blue might be one of my favourite fictional romances I’ve ever read. Although the enemies to lovers trope usually isn’t my cup of tea, the execution was so original that I couldn’t help but love it. The first letters they exchanged were borne of a vague curiosity and unconcious loneliness, but developed into deep and philosophical conversations about their identities, passions, war, the world and love. Their loneliness and isolation made them both feel detached and isolated, and despite being on opposing sides of a war, ironically the only constant in their life was each other. Their love story was dramatic and emotive; an epic star-crossed, enemies to lovers tale and I loved every second of it (I blame my recent newfound love for Shakespeare for this).

Concluding thoughts

This Is How You Lose the Time War is one of the most divisive books I’ve ever read. I have never changed my opinion on a book so dramatically from beginning to end. Around the 20% mark I was convinced I was going to DNF it, but by the end I was screaming with emotion (literally) and came away loving it. This book is proof that sometimes persevering to the end of a book is worth it. The story, world, writing style, characters and romance were all so unique that I wouldn’t be surprised if one day it’s considered a classic. There’s so much depth and meaning packed into such a short book which provides plenty for readers to dissect, analyse and reflect on. Although the writing style did create some issues for me at the beginning, I came to love it for the way that it immersed me into the abstract world and Red and Blue’s passionate love story. I have never and probably will never read another book like this and I admire what the authors did immensely. They capitalised on familiar tropes but put a different spin on them, creating their own unique story with a lot of heart and soul.

I’d recommend This is How You Lose the Time War if:

You’re looking for an utterly unique Killing Eve/Romeo and Juliet-esque star-crossed lovers tale set in an abstract fantastical, time-travelling universe with intentional and thoughtful prose.

Have you read This is How You Lose the Time War or are you planning to read it? Let me know in the comments!

Stay safe, my lovelies and keep reading.

The Death of Vivek Oji – Book Review

✨ Spoiler Free ✨

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Genre: Contemporary/Literary Fiction
Publication year: 2020
Audience: 18+
Content warnings: Major character death, death of a child, grief/loss, explicit sexual content, incest, homophobia and transphobia.


The Death of Vivek Oji begins with a mother discovering her son’s dead body on her front doorstep. In life Vivek was an elusive character and in death he is a mystery. Incorporating present day with flashbacks, Vivek’s loved one’s piece together the fragments of Vivek’s life in an attempt to understand who the real Vivek was and uncover the cause of his death.

What I liked

  • The writing style and use of language
  • Exploration of sexuality and gender identity
  • The cultural and historical depiction of 1990s Nigeria
  • The character dynamics
  • Narrators of the audiobook (Chukwudi Iwuji and Yetide Badaki)

What I disliked

  • How Vivek’s identity was used as a plot device
  • The predictable ending
  • Too many POV characters
  • The portrayal of incest
  • Vivek’s limited POV

Plot and Structure

I enjoyed the plot and the way in which the mystery of Vivek’s death was interwoven with an exploration of his life. Suspense was steadily built throughout, but for me, the ending did feel predictable and anti-climatic. I also found aspects of the plot distasteful in regards to the way that Vivek’s sexuality and gender identity was played with to create intrigue and mystery.

The structure followed the threads of multiple characters and wove them together into the tapestry of Vivek’s life. I liked this approach to unravelling the truth of Vivek’s death and getting to know him through the eyes of those closest to him. Unfortunately, I did find the structure jarring at times and it felt like the narrative was jumping around rather haphazardly.

Writing Style

Akwaeke Emezi’s writing style was one of my favourite aspects of the book. She has the most wonderful way of describing complex emotions; metaphors that so aptly conveyed loss and love. One of my favourites was the description of the fruit tree growing at the head of Vivek’s grave:

Did she look forward to the day when it would actually have star fruits hanging from its branches? Would she pick them and eat them as if she was absorbing him, bringing him back inside where he’d come from? It would be something like Holy Communion, I imagined, body and blood turned into yellow flesh and pale green skin, bursting with juice. Or maybe she would never touch the fruit—maybe no one would—and they would fall back to the ground to rot, to sink back into the soil, until the roots of the tree took them back and it would just continue like that, around and around. Or birds would show up and eat the fruit, then carry Vivek around, giving life to things even after he’d run out of it himself.

Characters and Relationships

The characters were flawed and their relationships nuanced and authentic. I appreciated that time was taken to provide each character with a personality and that none of them felt like cardboard cut-outs. Similarly, each relationship was nuanced whether between lovers, friends or relatives. Unfortunately, I did find the depiction of incest uncomfortable, mainly because I felt it was romanticised and wasn’t addressed within the text.

Sometimes I did feel lost amongst the characters and struggled to gauge who was who or how they were connected to each other (although I think this would’ve been less of an issue if I’d read the physical text along with the audiobook).

Of all the characters in the book, I connected with Vivek and his mother, Kavita the most. Vivek remained elusive throughout, but the vibrancy and intruige of his character paired with his tragic end drew me to him. I wish there’d been more of Vivek’s POV and the lack of his voice throughout the story is one of my biggest criticisms of the book. I deeply sympathised with Kavita. She was courageous and compassionate, and the love she had for her son knew no bounds. Her commitment to uncovering the truth and honouring Vivek touched my heart.

Finally, I have to mention how much I adored Chukwudi Iwuji and Yetide Badakithe’s narration of the audiobook. They brought the characters to life so vividly and conveyed the emotionality of the story beautifully.

Concluding thoughts

The Death of Vivek Oji has left me with mixed feelings. On the one hand, it was a beautifully written, powerful, heart-wrenching tale which hit on important themes around identity and what it means to be LGBTQIA+ in an unaccepting society bound by tradition and conservatism. The multi-culturalism provided fantastic representation and the characters were diverse and authentic. On the other hand, the structure was disorientating, there were too many characters and the ending was anti-climatic. Whilst I appreciate that having a wider cast of characters and telling Vivek’s story primarily from their perspective was an intentional choice from the author, the book would’ve been much more impactful to me if Vivek had had more of a voice within the story.

I’d recommend The Death of Vivek Oji if:

You’re interested in an emotionally heavy literary fiction novel with complex relationship dynamics and an exploration of sexuality and gender identity, particularly in the context of multi-cultural Nigeria.

There we have it – my first book review on this blog! 😊 I took a lot of time to think about the structure and format of my reviews by reflecting on the elements of a book that are most important to me when I’m deciding to pick up a book. I hope you like it and I’m looking forward to posting more reviews in the future.

Have you read The Death of Vivek Oji? If not, are you planning to read it? Let me know in the comments!

Stay safe, my lovelies and keep reading.