Did I seriously make a full reading schedule for myself this month? YOU BETCHA. I had twenty books on my Pride TBR, and to read all of them would mean five books a week, which was, frankly, stupidly unfeasible, and I don’t know what I was thinking, except that I did not expect this to go quite so terribly. I don’t know what happened, y’all. I was so ready. I’d separated my books into really exciting groups, I was hyped about so many of these, and I even stacked them all next to my bed so I could watch myself slowly whittle away at the stack. And then, well.
I hated almost every single book I read? There were a lot of different reasons, as you’ll see below, and I did end up really liking two of the books (though neither of them were actually on my TBR), and there was another five-star that, looking back, probably should have been a four star, but I’m leaving it. After the sixth terrible book, I also 100% abandoned my TBR and went back to fantasy. I gave it one last shot with I Think I Love You, and it just flatlined my ability to have the willpower to keep trying, so while most of this was from my Pride TBR, a solid week of it was also not.
I also had a slight panic toward the end of the month? Everyone was doing the mid-year freakout tag, and I went looking to see what my favorite book of the year was only to discover that I didn’t have one? And that I don’t even really have a top ten that I could easily pick out of the 60 books that I’ve read so far? Granted, about a fourth of them were rereads, so those don’t count, and I’ve read a lot of sequels this year, which I also usually don’t count for my top ten, but yeah. I’m a little freaked out about this, as the tag suggests, and I’m done reading books I don’t like. I’m really going to work on DNFing, though I hope that I don’t have to.
Mini Book Reviews
🌈 LGBTQPIA+ characters
🔥 BIPOC authors
🌑 BIPOC characters
One Last Stop | Casey McQuiston 🌈🌑
Gosh, this was good. I’m not even totally sure what to say about it because it just blew my mind. There were so many amazing parts to it to love. The characters, as expected, were just phenomenal. McQuiston has such a way with creating characters that we’re going to hold onto forever and ever, that’ll creep up in the dead of night when we’re least expecting it, and suddenly shout, hi do you have a second to talk about our lord and savior auntie pez? It’s just astounding. Like, I knew, I KNEW–I mean, come on, from the character artwork alone, I freaking knew–that I was going to love Niko, but to this extent?? AND WES?! Don’t even talk to me about Myla, holy. I am just amazed. AMAZED. I don’t know why because it’s Casey McQuiston, so it all feels very duh of course you loved it, but wow. And that’s not even to start in on August & Jane, who were just everything. I don’t know where to start on them because although Niko is exactly the kind of character that I adore, August just completely stole the show for me. It was so powerful not only to see a chaos bi live and in action, but to see someone close to my age struggling through life, trying to find a family that didn’t make her want to tear her hair out, and wondering when the hell things were going to start making sense. August was so incredible because she felt so close to, I think, most of our experiences in our mid-twenties. McQuiston just nailed it on the head with August, which means that I’m pretty sure the entire world has just fallen in love with Book Girlfriend Jane Su because wowza. I never thought I’d find sex in a subway car beautiful? Speaking of plot via the Q, I loved the intricacies of this plot. It was so different than RWRB, but it almost required no suspension of disbelief because McQuiston interwove the science so directly with the characters and the story in ways that made sense and sounded hella plausible. Like, yeah, she’s got me convinced that this could totally happen. There were just layers and layers of this that I know I’m not fully going to grasp until I’ve read it a few more times, which I’m 1000000% going to do, and I don’t know why I’m sitting here a little shell-shocked after finishing because duh of course.
The Song of Achilles | Madeline Miller 🌈
I mean, duh? There was pretty much zero chance that I wasn’t going to wholeheartedly love this, particularly given that I’m writing in classical antiquity Greece right now, so while this is way too early chronologically for what I’m writing, it’s got a vibe that I am so loving right now. Even if I hadn’t been in that specific mindset, though, this would have just wrecked me. I’m definitely going to need to reread this several times so I can fully appreciate the wonder of it, and, when I do, I can’t be reading other books at the same time. I read about 100 pages of this and then put it down for several days, and I’d really just like to languidly read it over a week, slowly being consumed by it. Because wow, that is definitely what it feels like. I loved the style of writing in this, the vignettes drifting through a story that we all vaguely know, but that we forget is going to be tragic until the horror of it all finally starts unfolding. Getting to see Achilles & Patroclus’ entire relationship, from childhood friends to war-ending lovers was just phenomenal, too, and it was such a journey to witness. There is so much that I could say about this book, so many quotes that I could weep over, so many scenes that I’ll hold beloved against my heart for years to come. But, at the end, what feels most appropriate is just a quiet kind of awe.
Meet Cute Diary | Emery Lee 🌈🔥🌑
I love when I’m right! I was really not vibing the main love interest in this. He kept saying some seriously sketchy things, and his behavior was toxic as hell, and I was so ready to just not like this book at all, and then Devin got introduced. I was rooting hardcore for Noah & Devin to end up together, and this was almost a five star book because of them, but I just really hated the love interest for the first 75% of the book, and I could not keep this at five stars because of him. I loved how messy and chaotic and realistic this story was. While it is a really romantic and adorable book, there’s also a lot of drama that ensues that feels very appropriate for teenagers going through a lot of uncertainty when it concerns their own identities. Noah was such a wonderful MC, and he reminded me so much of a younger Felix Love, just crashing through the world, so wrapped up in his own problems, desperate for love and forgetting that love starts with the people already around you. This was just so good, so sweet, and the perfect summer read.
May the Best Man Win | Z.R. Ellor 🌈
I’ve seen so many people say it, but I feel like I have to reiterate it. This cover is so deceiving because it looks like it’s going to be really sweet and fluffy, but this is so damn angry in the best way possible. I want more queer rage! I am often so furious about the constant questioning of our mere existence and how difficult the world tries to make it to be queer and happy, and I loved seeing that reflected here. It felt so honest and real, and it elevated this book way above what it would have been otherwise. If this was just a fluffy Homecoming romance, I wouldn’t have liked it as much, but the rage at being dismissed, over and over again, simply for existing was just perfect. I appreciate what this book said so much, and while it did get a little too violent for me at times, it was superb. And um, hi! Autistic rep! I did not know that that was in this book, and it made me so freaking happy! There were just layers and layers to this, all of them so intricately woven into the larger story, and I would 100% read more with these characters. This, above all the other books I read this month, was what I was looking for. Yes, there’s miscommunication and shitty actions and terrible people, but there’s also hard conversations and consequences and acknowledging that people have been hurt. Almost every single book I read this month featured characters who were unlikeable purely because they got away with everything with just lighting fires in all their friends’ lives and then were celebrated like heroes at the end, but Jeremy & Lukas struggled, realized they were hurting people, and made freaking amends. They reaped the repercussions of their awful actions, and they really worked toward creating better relationships with the people in their lives, and they were just realistic characters. Brava, and I can’t wait for what Ellor writes next.
Darling | K. Ancrum 🌈🔥🌑
Yooooo, the plot twist on this, though! That was insane! I love how Ancrum described this, as a mirror to the original horror story that is JM Barrie’s Peter Pan. I’d never before considered how the original story is, truly, two halves of one whole–an adventure story to kids and a horror story to adults. This was a bit of both, and the way that Ancrum wove those two stories together was just phenomenal. I was getting full no thanks bye vibes every time Wendy was near Peter, and then that reveal about Peter at the end? HOLY. That was wild, and it was so well done, damn. The writing on this was a little lackluster, and I felt like it easily could have been longer by fleshing out some of the scenes with more description that would have given them more depth. The pace of this was breakneck, which was great, but it needed just a little padding. I think, in The Wicker King, that padding came in with the art, playlists, and overall structure of the book, but since this was a very straightforward written novel, I was looking for a little more. This was fantastic, though, and such a good addition to my Ancrum collection.
Lava Red Feather Blue | Molly Ringle 🌈🌑
This was nothing to write home about. The writing was very fanfiction.net when I was coming for AO3, and it just left a lot to be desired. The characters were fine, and while I didn’t dislike any of them, I didn’t have any strong feelings at all for them. The world building was pretty amazing, and I loved everything about the Fae & their realm. The magic system was cool, too, and there were some interesting twists to it that definitely set it above a lot of other urban fantasies. But the characters were just so meh, and the writing was so lackluster that I finished this purely because I was buddy reading it, and I’ll probably be unhauling it. It was just fine.
Some Girls Do | Jennifer Dugan 🌈
This was fine right up until it definitely wasn’t. Right from the beginning, I could tell it was going to be dumb, but cute. The writing was whatever, the characters were fairly flat, and the plot made me roll my eyes. But it was silly and fun, so I thought it’d be a quick three or four star read, nothing to write home about, but something to enjoy. And then, well. There are two big issues I had with this book. First: consent is discussed quite a bit in a positive light throughout, which would have been amazing if it wasn’t also consistently abused throughout the entirety of the characters’ relationship. One of them was constantly saying let me just show you how I feel and forcing herself on the other character, who was out loud saying that she didn’t want to be touched. And even though there’s some you can’t fix everything with your body dialogue, this is still nonconsensual, and it’s never actually addressed. The amount of times that one kissed the other only for the other to pull immediately away after saying they didn’t want that was–well, definitely not a good look, and it didn’t help the other half of the issues, either. Morgan was a complicated MC for me because while I wanted to root for her in being loud & proud, in fighting for her right to be out and happy, she also tried to forcefully out other people for the entire book. There was a real turning point when she said, “I’m never going to be the person that forces their partner to come out of the closet or gives them an ultimatum” while doing exactly both of those things. There’s a difference between being proudly out and demanding others do the same thing to “support you” even if it’s to the detriment of their own lives. Because honestly? Not only is Ruby kicked out of her house, but her relationship with her mom is ruined, and she ends up in a toxic relationship that forced her to come out or else. All of those things might have happened anyway, but she was rushed into doing it because Morgan refused to “lie” about their relationship–one of the only scenes I liked was when Danny said this wasn’t lying, it was protecting the person you loved–and wasn’t given the grace or the time to come out on her own terms. I did appreciate that a lot of people routinely called Morgan out on her awful behavior, but she also never really saw any consequences of that behavior? Danny makes her realize how terrible she’s been to Ruby and what a scary position she’s put her in, but even after she goes to Ruby to tell her that she was wrong, there’s still this I’m out and you’re not and that’s a problem vibe that keeps pushing Ruby to come out. Despite any tears that Morgan sheds, or any apologies that she gives, she still gets her way in the end, and she makes people feel bad for her along the way. Wow, you know, I was really feeling uncertain about the two star rating on this, but I’m solidly agreeing with it now. This was a pretty bummer way to start Pride.
The Darkness Outside Us | Eliot Schrefer 🌈🌑
WHY. JUST WHY. I am having the worst luck this month, and this ain’t it, either. This is partially my own fault, though, because I’m not a huge fan of scifi. I like science fiction (I know they’re the same, bare with me) when it comes to The Martian and Interstellar and Stowaway, but I’ve watched each Star Wars movie once, and that is enough for me. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a huge Doctor Who fan, but I’ve also wanted to rewatch it for years now and haven’t because I just can’t handle that much scifi. And this was a lot. I was starting to get suspicious about what was happening around the halfway mark, and then–tons of spoilers ahead–there’s fucking clones. I just can’t, y’all. I can’t do it. Especially because we have to watch the clones fall in love, but die, and then fall in love again, but die, and then just over and over until I was just so exhausted. However, even if there hadn’t been clones and I wasn’t going ughhhhhhhh every second, I’m not sure I would have liked this. The writing left a lot to be desired, and while there’s a certain amount of withholding information that works, this was the kind of withholding that mostly just left me confused and lost, and that’s not great for your reader. Overall, I’m sad I preordered this, and I’m all set with anything else this author writes.
Jay’s Gay Agenda | Jason June 🌈🌑
I was describing this book to my mom, and I said, “The MC says oh my god a lot, but instead of g-o-d, it’s g-a-w-d, and I feel like that describes perfectly why I don’t like it.” And yup, I’m standing by that. Having a MC who constantly says oh my gawd–and in his own damn head rather than aloud, which somehow makes it even worse–just sets the tone of the book so well, and it’s not for me, friends. The writing was just so juvenile, and, like, I know I was probably sex-obsessed at seventeen, but this much? Not a chance. This was just over the top, and while I am all for sex-positive stories, my goodness, if I have to read about a teenage boy’s boner for every damn page of another book, I’m going to stop reading. And honestly? Don’t even get me started on the cheating in this. Jay was a horrible person, and I can’t believe anyone forgave him, let alone Albert. The sheer amount of lying and cheating that Jay did, especially after Albert got really vulnerable and shared his fears with him? Fuck that noise. I know that this review makes no sense for having two stars, so I do have to say that the queer rep & friendships in this were amazing, it was just literally everything else that made me want to tear my hair out.
I Think I Love You | Auriane Desombre 🌈
(6/19-6/23) ★★ DNF @ 226 pages
The emotional manipulation in this book is out of control. These characters literally play with each other’s lives like they’re writing the script for each other rather than just trying to shoot short films together. The amount of times someone was like “let’s do this so they believe that” is just–wow. Why do any of these people have friends? And the amount of forgiving of or just ignoring some seriously toxic misogyny was wild. I don’t know which one I hated more–Matt with his devious plan to force Emma to like him and how furious he gets when she has to turn him down several times and he just keeps on, or Tom with screaming at his girlfriend at her work place to the point where she faints, and he’s just like “how could she do this to me! it’s her fault I had to yell at her!” And the only girl character on their side brushes it off after he mopes about it enough. It’s occurring to me as I write this review, too, that Tom’s entire reasoning for screaming at Kate is that she lied to him when a) their entire relationship is based on a lie, which Tom knows, and he’s participated in some heavy-handed lying in order to get Emma & Sophia together. This isn’t even an example of realistically messy characters. These six characters are pathological liars, many of which promote some hugely harmful abusive behaviors, and holy shit, there was so much hetero love in this, why! I really thought that maybe it was me, and I’m hating every YA contemporary right now because I’ve outgrown it, but nope, about half of the reviews on this are exactly how I feel! And yes, I did DNF it 75 pages from the end because I just literally did not care anymore, so that goes to show how much I’ve given up.
I haven’t had a TBR in so long! Immediately, as I was typing that, I realized how dumb it sounded given that I literally had a separate post for my June TBR, but honestly? It was twenty books long, which was unrealistic, and it didn’t feel like a TBR because I was just picking whatever I wanted out of that massive pile. I didn’t give myself a TBR for the two months prior, either, because I just wanted to be lowkey and catch up on some preorders before I dove into Pride with insanity. But, I miss having a TBR, and I do have some goals in mind for July, so here we are:
- Lightbringer by Claire Legrand
- These Violent Delights by Chloe Gong
- We are Not From Here by Jenny Sanchez Torres
- Nexus by Sasha Alsberg & Lindsay Cummings
- Ghosts of the Shadow Market by Cassandra Clare
I’ve been trying to read Lightbringer for about three months now? I’ve been in a huge fantasy mood lately, and since June was basically a wash, and I’m swearing off contemporary for a while, I’m back, baby! I’m also mostly done with my preorders–lol @ me still not reading A Sky Beyond the Storm–so I think I finally have time for some tomes. I’d like to finish up some series, too, so I feel less exhausted about starting new ones, which is why Nexus is on here. And then These Violent Delights, I meant to read last month, but didn’t quite have enough time, so I’d really like to read it as soon as possible. I’ve also been trying to read We are Not From Here for legit as long as I’ve owned it, which is probably creeping on over a year now. And uh? Do you like my dare you to NOT read QOA&D challenge by putting not the next Shadowhunters book I need to read, but the one after that? Ya girl has FOUR Clare books left, and I’m finishing them now, damn it.
Kat @ Novels & Waffles dropped a list of 57–yes, 57!!–books featuring food, and iykyk when it comes to me and food in books, so I was practically screaming my way through it.
CW & Skye @ The Quiet Pond also blessed us with a list of 35 AAPI middle grade, young adult, and adult books that are already out and are upcoming, and my Goodreads is bursting. They also dropped a FIVE incredible lists of LGBTQIAP+ recommendations, many of which I’ve either not read ye tor haven’t heard about, so I am very excited: lesbian, gay, trans/nonbinary/genderqueer, bi/pan, ace/aro/questioning.
What a month! Going into the month, I’d written one out of the four short stories that I had planned to post for Pride, but honestly, I kind of work better under pressure when it comes to short stories, so it ended up working out really well. All told, I wrote 10,057 words in total for June’s short stories.
But that’s not even the exciting part! I’ve finally gotten back into my groove, both with Andrew and with writing in general, so I got a lot done for his story. I’m surprisingly on track with where I want to be for the most part with his story, which is pretty badass, and I’ve gotten past the hardest part, which makes me even happier. The story starts off with Alexander the Great, and he’s forever the Great Love of Andrew’s Life, and it’s just a lot to live up to, you know? So writing that was pretty intimidating, and I kept going back and forth on how I wanted to write it. In the end, I think I wrote something that makes sense for both of their characters, and I’m really happy with it. For Alexander’s section, I ended up writing 21,728 words, which WOW. That’s about half of his story, which should be bonkers, but his was always meant to be one of the longest of the eight lovers, and the six following him will be fairly short. The eighth may end up as long as Alexander, if not a bit longer, but we’ll see. Don’t even get me started on Rafael, though, who I never count in this because he should have his own book entirely. But speaking of Rafael, he’s got chapters set in 2019 in between each of the lovers, and I got one of those done @ 1,845 words. I also decided to go full insane and start the second lover’s story, Philip V of Macedon, and though it’s not finished yet, I’m at 8,155 words for it.
In total, all that adds up to 41,785 words this month, which I’m really happy with! Holy shit, that’s almost like what I used to do. This is really exciting!
What I’ve Been Watching
Well, of course one of the first things I watched for Pride was season two of Feel Good, I mean DUH. This show has the perfect title ever because it truly just does make me feel so good while watching it. This season was so messy, too, but so well done. Mae & George are so close to falling apart at so many different parts, but they really held their own and, as the theme of the show, learned how to handle it. The line where George says, You may be barely handling it, but you ARE handling it, was just so beautiful. I love their chaotic relationship so much, and I’m so sad that this was only six episodes. Their arc over this season was perfect, and I can’t wait to see what comes next. LOL I’M FINE APPARENTLY IT WAS CANCELLED.
Erin & I technically started our Pride celebrations in February, but also in May, so while Love, Simon is by no means our first movie for the month, it is also the first queer movie we watched in June. And what a good start it was. We’ve watched a lot of slow movies with subtitles, which we’ve really enjoyed, but it’s also been a bit exhausting, and it was so nice to just cry because Simon’s dad is a big teddy bear, and I love him. This made me want to reread the book even more than I’ve been wanting to lately, and it was just so wonderful.
Erin isn’t great at watching scary movies over headphones (reasonable), so we usually save up a bunch to watch when we’re together. I think it’s hilarious, too, that we watched The Ritual considering that it was not what we had planned for this weekend at all, and I don’t even know why we started with it? We were originally going to watch The Hallow, which we’ll need to eventually, but I didn’t feel like buying it, and I’ve been eyeing The Ritual for a while, so we just went that route instead, and it was fantastic. It was scary right up until we saw the creature, which is how it always go, and then the lore was just really cool. I definitely had a hard time looking at the woods beyond her house after this without seeing things that go bump in the night, so it definitely scared me, but it was also pretty chill once the story moved out of the woods and into the Pagan-esque ritual sacrifice. And it wasn’t offensive toward Pagan traditions, either, which is always an unexpected success!
4th Man Out was fine. It kind of felt like queerbaiting inside a specifically advertised queer movie, so we were upset about that, but I also didn’t hate it? The ending made us angry, which then led to three horror movies in a row, but the rest of it was really cute. Getting to see four best friends go through the ups and downs of navigating one of them coming out is just adorable, and I was hardcore rooting for them to all come out on top. However, I can’t really ignore that ending because everything was setup perfectly for this to be a friends to lovers, and all signs were pointing that way, and then they just didn’t. In the weirdest “straight friend kisses the gay friend to show him that there’s no actual romance between them so that gay friend can say it was like kissing my brother” moment?? I hated it. It was even odder given that the MC was played by a gay actor, and you’d think he might’ve steered them away toward this very strange queerbaiting, but alas.
Lol @ us saying we were going to watch four queer movies while we were together, and then watching four horror movies instead. Apostle was really good! I’ve been wanting to watch it for a while, and despite seeing the trailer, I totally forgot that Michael Sheen was in it, so I was even happier. Perhaps the best part was when everything is falling apart at the end, and it’s just Michael Sheen’s character and the Beast left on the island, and I whispered, “And then they were gay.” Erin just cackled, and I think that explains our enjoyment of the movie pretty well. It was much the same as The Ritual, in which the lore was cool, everything was less scary once the reveal came, and we started looking for the potential queerness by the end.
Oh, The Rite. I’ve been trying to get Erin to watch this for AGES, but she wouldn’t believe me that it wasn’t that scary, so she wouldn’t watch it on headphones, and I would not be stopped while I was visiting! We were watching it, damn it! She ended up loving it, too–and admitting that it really isn’t that scary–and I loved it all over again. It’s so much more serious than most exorcism movies, and it really leans into the Catholicism in an excellent way that makes all of it that much more believable.
While looking for a scary movie to watch, we stumbled across the trailer for Ouija: Origin of Evil, which had a solid chunk of the Hill House cast in it, and the concept of “scam artists get legit possessed” sounded amazing, so we gave it a go. It was fine, though definitely my least favorite of the weekend. The first half was interesting, and the setup was great, but the second half sped by like a damn train wreck, and I was left feeling like I’d gotten whiplash trying to keep up. The plot was meh toward the end, and while the acting was good, it was just a lot all at once after a slow beginning.
After all the disappointing contemporaries that I read this month, I just truly could not make myself watch anymore Pride movies, so we kept on with the horror and rewatched As Above, So Below. This is the first time that Erin & I have ever watched a horror remotely as she gets really spooked by auditory things and doesn’t like to watch scary movies with headphones, but she’s seen it before and wanted to watch it again, even if it meant headphones. And, of course, it was still incredible. I was able to really focus on the Dante imagery that I was too excited to pay attention to the first two times. I somehow didn’t think I could love this more, and yet, I definitely do. This is probably because Scarlet is very similar to my character, Freddie, and the first two times we watched this, I was still in the middle of writing his story, but it’s been several months now, and I’ve got enough distance that Scarlet just brought me a whole other level of joy. Also, 10/10 need to write a character like George at some point. This movie is probably my favorite found footage horror film of all time, it’s definitely in my top ten movies in general, and I just love it to pieces.
June started off in truly the best possible way. I’M TEACHING AGAIN!
In January, Massachusetts brought the capacity limits down, and the rock gym had two options: either switch the yoga classes to 7PM or cancel them for now to leave room for the climbers. I work about eight minutes away from the gym, which means I’d have about two hours in between work and class. That’s not enough time to trek through 40 minutes of traffic to get home since I’d just have to turn around and come back, but we also weren’t comfortable with climbing at the gym back in January, so that meant that I said goodbye to my class for a bit. Luckily, though, my whole family and my friends were vaccinated in May, which means ya girl is back teaching! To take up the two hours, we top rope for a while, and then I head over to teach. There’s no weird two hour period where I have to sit in my car and try to find something to do since I couldn’t be inside the gym unless I was climbing, and I don’t feel anxious about being in the gym. And wow. WOW. I’ve been keeping myself mostly sane with practicing on my own and occasionally teaching two of my friends, but there is nothing quite like stepping onto the mat in front of eight students and just having the time of our lives.
It’s been amazing to be back, and I’m so happy.
We also did 108 sun salutations on the summer solstice, so that picture of my feet with crystals is how I kept track! I had five people for class, and we did it outside in the shade. The clear quartz are to count each of the individual sets of ten, and the bigger crystals are to track the eleven sets total. This is my third time teaching the 108s, fifth time doing them, and it’s so different every time, but out of this world magical every time, too.
It was also International Yoga Day on the 21st, and though I’ve got a lot of feelings about the last ten years of my practice, I’m writing a big post to talk about it, so I’ll just leave you a little teaser that that’s coming.
I also went up to visit Erin to celebrate Pride, which turned into an unexpected horrorfest and early summer solstice celebration, and it was honestly everything that we needed.
She recently rebuilt her deck, and it was lovely to spend each morning drinking my tea and reading my book out under the rising sun. It did get hot pretty quickly, so I retreated inside after about an hour, but I also managed to grab a sesh of yoga on the deck, and it was awesome. We had two of Erin’s friends over for a summer solstice celebration, and we sat outside for hours talking and laughing and eating all the cheese. It was a really wonderful weekend away, and I’m so glad that I finally got to go up there again.
It was honestly a pretty chill month. I did a lot of yoga, climbed a lot of rocks, flashed my first 5.8 overhang, went on vacation, put together 25 chairs at work, and snuggled my cats a whole lot.