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5 Books to read for LGBT History Month.

It’s LGBT+ History Month here in the UK, so I thought I’d share five books (although there is many more you could read and I hope you do) that talk about the history of the queer community. Some are non-fiction, some are historical, some are just wonderful queer books.

It’s so important to remember the history of the queer community, it can stark reminder of how bad things were, how far we’ve come. And we must remember every part of the community, gay, sapphic, bisexual, trans, questioning, aro, ace and non-binary. We are all part of the same community and we must celebrate it all. We can’t forget 2020, was the worst year for trans violence, especially for trans people of colour.

These books shed some light on queer lives.

So lets talk about the books shall we?

The Prophets by Robert Jones, Jr. This has become one of my favourite books of all time. It’s so beautifully written, it’s literally stunning. It’s so moving. It’s the story of two black enslaved men, who are in love. I’ve never read this before. It’s showing that queer people and queer love existed in this time, because of course they did. You can check out my full review here.

Swimming In The Dark by Tomasz Jedrowski. This is one of those unforgettable novels that is quiet and understated but will have such an impact on you. It’s set in the 1980s Poland, and is the love story between two men in a time when it’s unacceptable. It’s thought provoking and moving. I can’t recommend this one to you enough. You can check out my full review here.

Fighting Proud The Untold Story of the Gay Men Who Served In Two World Wars by Stephen Bourne. This book says it all in the title. It details the lives and stories of gay men fighting in the war. It gives them a voice, full of facts. Such a super interesting read.

The Black Flamingo by Dean Atta. I will always recommend this book. It’s brilliant. It’s one of the most beautifully written books I’ve ever had the pleasure of reading. It’s sent in our time, but it just perfectly captures the journey towards self acceptance and that’s definitely an important thing to read during lgbtq+ history month.

Lie With Me by Philippe Benson. One of my favourite novels that I couldn’t not mention. Set in France in the 1980s in the middle of the AIDs epidemic, this a story of two boys falling in love when acceptance wouldn’t be granted. It’s so beautifully written, so heartfelt. You can check out my full review here.

I have only chosen to feature five books, which I also know focus on m/m stories but this mainly what I read. But here’s some more recommendations of books that share the queer experience in brilliant ways. All The Young Men by Ruth Corker Burks, You Should See Me In A Crown by Leah Johnson, Felix Ever After by Kacen Callender, The Henna Wars by Adiba Jaigirdar, On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous by Ocean Vuong, Real Life by Brandon Taylor, Camp by L.C.Rosen, Girl, Woman, Other by Bernadine Evaristo and All Boys Aren’t Blue by George Johnson.

This month is a time to reflect on how far the queer community has come, of course not all other the world as being queer is still illegal to be gay in 72 countries, this still shows how far we’ve still got to go.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this post. And you enjoy some of these. Let me know if there’s any queer books you think I should be reading for this month.

Until the next review

Jthbooks

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Top 10 Books of the year.

Well my friends 2020 is finally over. Finally. Shall we all breath a collective sigh of relief. It’s been a tough year hasn’t it? But I always try and look at the positive side of things, and being in a nearly 4 month long lockodown I have managed to read more books than ever before. I had a lot of time on my hands.

Throughout this year I had books. Books that let me discover new worlds while I was stuck inside. Books let m meet new characters while I was stuck inside. They’ve been a gift to me. Of course my reading had dips when I just couldn’t manage to pick up a book.

I’ve read some brilliant books this year. Absolutely brilliant. I’ve loved them. There’s been new found favourites, books that surprised me, books with writing that has moved me. There’s definitely an eclectic selection of books here which I love. There’s some young adult books, queer books, literary fiction.

So shall we talk about these books? Just to clarify they are in no particular order.

1) The Prophets by Robert Jones Jr

I knew I was going to love this book, but I didn’t know I’d love it this much. It’s a masterpiece. It’s genius. It’s the book I’ll recommend to everyone. The writing is stunning beautiful. It’s sublime. I’m already planning on rereading this one next year. It’s truly a work of art. It’s out on January 5th. You can read my full review here.

2) The Black Flamingo by Dean Atta

Everyone was recommending this to me and I’m so glad I read it. It pulled me out of a reading slump and it changed my life. It had me crying through at its sheer beauty and honesty. It’s a Young Adult book but I think it should be required reading for everyone. What a message. I love this book so much.

3) How The One-Armed Sister Sweeps Her House by Cherie Jones

This one took me by surprise. I didn’t expect to love it as much as I did. Cherie creates such real characters that stay with you. It’s the book I was talking to all my friends about at work. It had me gripped from start to finish. It’s truly a wonderful piece of fiction. I won’t forget these characters or the book for a long time. What a brilliant debut. I’m on the blog tour for this one, so look out for my review on January 17th.

4) Camp by L. C. Rosen

I adore this book. It’s the book I needed as a teenager, i still needed as a 28 year old. It’s got brilliant representation and it shows you all kinds of queer is valid and worthy and i think that kind of representation is important. Of course its funny, romantic and a brilliant story. You can check out my full review here.

5) Raybearer by Jordan Ifueko

This fantasy book stole my heart. I loved the characters, the story and the African inspired world Jordan has created. It’s so much fun, its got a brilliant message of Black Girl magic and its so captivating. I want more. I’m basically just spending my time waiting for the sequel to come out. You can check out my full review here.

6) The Invisible Life Of Addie LaRue by V. E. Schwartz

I’m sure this is going to be on a lot of people’s lists this year and its got a firm place on mine. It’s just a brilliant, moving book that is so original and enthralling. Addie and Henry just take up a place in your heart. And what an original concept. I can’t wait to read more from Schwab as this was my first book from them. You can read my full review here.

7) Girl In The Walls by A. J. Gnuse

This is not my usual type of book but I absolutely loved it. What an original premise. It’s so clever and the author makes it so believable. It had me on the edge of my seat, and my heart was pounding and I just had to know how it would end. Surprisingly emotional also. I really loved this book. It’s out in March and I can’t recommend it enough.

8) Felix Ever After by Kacen Callender

I just think this book is so important. Once again showing how important representation is. Of course its entertaining and you’ll enjoy the characters but this book at its core has something to say. It’s just brilliant. You can check out my full review here.

9) Kingdom Tide by Rye Curtis

Now, I didn’t expect this book to be on the list but as I came to write this blog post I realised I couldn’t stop thinking about this book. Then I realised I’d been thinking about it all year. I remember the brilliant writing and the characters and the powerful connections between. And that to me is a sign of a great book. I read this back in January. You can check out my full review here.

10) Rainbow Milk by Paul Mendez.

I read this early on in the year and just knew it would make it on the list. I loved every page. It has so much to say on queerness and race in the uk. It’s so captivating and beautifully written and I’d love more people to read this one. It’s stunning. I’ll look forward to whatever Paul writes next. You can check out my full review here.

So there we have it. My top 10 books of the year. And what a crazy year its been. But I’m so thankful to these books for letting me escape inside them and keeping me sane.

Have you read any of these? Or do you plan to? Let me know in the comments.

Until the next review

Jthbooks

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Top 10 Queer books of 2020

Has this been the year I’ve read the most queer books I’ve ever read? Yes, yes it has. Does that make creating a top ten list very hard? Yes. Yes it does. Am I still going to do it? Yes. Yes I am.

2020 has been the year I’ve really expanded my queer reading. As a white gay man, I was mainly reading stories by white gay authors about white boys falling in love. But I’m pleased to say my queer reading has really diversified this year. I’ve read more queer books by black authors, more sapphic books, some queer fantasy, some books by trans and non binary authors. Books like these will only get published if we support them.

So lets talk about the queer books shall we? (These are in no particular order)

1) The Prophets by Robert Jones Jr. This is the most incredible book. It’s the queer historical fiction book I’ve been waiting for. It’s heartbreaking, its life affirming, its got the purest and the most intimate love story I’ve read in a long time. It’s a love story between two black slaves, its never been dove before and it needed to be. It gives a voice to queer history.

2) The Black Flamingo by Dean Atta. This book is phenomenal. It had me in an absolute flood of tears. It is so beautifully written. It just captures all those feeling of being a young gay person and feeling lost. It truly is brilliant. I think this book should be required reading for everyone. And it’s got some beautiful poetry in too.

3) Camp by L. C. Rosen. I adore this book. It’s the first book I read that tackled toxic masculinity. It was the first time I read a book that saw femme guys as the love interest and I think its so incredibly powerful. It’s the book I wish I had when I was younger. It’s also incredibly fun and entertaining. It’s also got a wonderful love story.

4) Felix Ever After by Kacen Callender. This book is so powerful. It’s the kind of book that will capture your heart and educate you at the same time and to me that great fiction for you. It follows are trans big who is the main character, who is the love interest and that kind of representation is so important. I know this book has helped so many people. Please read this one if you haven’t.

5) Hideous Beauty by William Hussey. This is an incredibly addictive and thrilling young adult book. I read it in one night. I’ve never done that before. I just couldn’t put it down. It’s got a mystery you just want to know the answer to and a sweet lovely. I’m looking forward to Williams next book. You can check out my full review here.

6) You Should See Me In A Crown by Leah Johnson. This is a brilliant young adult contemporary novel that celebrates black girl magic and the first time falling in love. The romance between the two girls is so adorable and charming, but this book as has an important message. You fly through it and be left wanting to read more from this author. You can check out my full review here.

7) All Of My Friends Are Rich by Michael Sarais. This book is wild and sexy and provocative but underneath it all it has a really important message about mental health and the pressures we all face, and I think the author highlights these all so well. It’s an honest and emotional account that had me crying by the end of this book. You can read my full review here.

8) Boy Queen by George Lester. This is such a wonderful book about finding yourself and finding the courage it takes to do what you want. In this book again, we see a femme boy at the centre of the story and I love it. This kind of representation matters. All there’s some fantastic drag featured in this book that is so much fun. You can check out my full review and an interview with George here.

9) Rainbow Milk by Paul Mendez. I read this one at the beginning of the year and its stuck with me. It’s a beautiful and heartbreaking look at growing black and queer in Britain. It’s written beautifully and will stay with you. I’m looking forward to what Paul writes next.

Swimming In The Dark by Tomasz Jedrowski. Another book I read earlier in the year that has stayed with me. It’s such a beautiful, intimate love story between two me in Poland. It’s got a goodbye that’ll make you cry. It’s such a beauty of a book. You can read my full review here.

Until the next review

Jthbooks

author, blog, book blog, book blogger, book bloggers, book review, books, gay, historical fiction, lgbt, queer, review, thriller, Uncategorised, ya, young adult

5 Books to read in 2021

With 2020 coming to an end (I know we all can’t wait right?) I figured it’s time to start talking about some books that are coming out next year. You can never be to prepared can you?

I’ve been lucky enough to be sent some proof copies for next year and in today’s blog post I’m going to talk about some of the ones I’ve loved. I will be doing a post about ones I haven’t read yet but I still want you to know about.

So let’s talk about the books shall we?

First up we have The Prophets by Robert Jones jr from Quercus Books and this out on January 5th. This book is probably my most anticipated book of 2021 and I consider myself very lucky to Have an early copy. I can’t tell you how incredible this book is. It’s outstanding. It’s firmly a new favourite of mine. I’m going to have to read it again just to fully take everything in. The writing is absolutely stunning. STUNNING. This available for preorder now and it’s out January 5th. I urge you to pick this one up.

Synopsis: Isaiah was Samuel’s and Samuel was Isaiah’s. That was they way it was since to beginning, and they way it was to be until the end. In the barn they tended to the animals, but also to each other, transforming the hollowed-out shed into a space of human refuge, a source of intimacy and hope in a world ruled by vicious masters. But when an older man – a fellow slave – seeks to gain favour by preaching the masters gospel on the plantation, the enslaved begin to turn on their own. Isaiah and Samuel’s love, which was once so simple, is now seen as sinful and a clear danger to the plantation’s harmony.

The next one is How The One-Armed Sister Sweeps Her House by Cherie Jones. This one is out January 21st from Headline Books. I didn’t know what to expect when I picked this one but I absolutely adored it. It is so engrossing. The characters are so beautifully crafted. And the ending is such a page turner. It’s truly a brilliant debut. Its out January 21st.

Synopsis: In Baxter’s Beach, Barbados, Lala’s grandmother Wilma tells the story of the one-armed sister, a cautionary tale about what happens to girls who disobey their mothers. For Wilma, its the story of a wilful adventurer, who ignores the warnings of those around her, and suffers as a result. When Layla grows up, she sees it offers hope – of life after losing a baby in the most terrible of circumstances and marrying the wrong man. And Mira Whalen? It’s about keeping alive, trying to make sense of the fact that her husband has been murdered, and she didn’t get the chance to tell him that she loved him after all.

Open Water by Caleb Azumah Nelson from Viking Books UK out February 4th. This is a short novel but it packs a punch. The writing is absolutely phenomenal. Phenomenal. It’s such an intimate look into the life of a young black man in the UK. It writing like this that makes the book unforgettable. Out February 4th.

Synopsis: Two young people meet at a pub in South East London. Both are Black British, both won scholarships to private schools where they struggled to belong, both now are artists – he a photographer, she a dancer – trying to make their mark in a city that both celebrates and rejects them. Tentatively, tenderly, they fall in love. But two people who seem destined to be together can still be torn apart by fear and violence.

Then we have Girl In The Walls by A. J. Gnuse from 4thestate and it’s out March 4th. This is a book I can’t stop thinking about. It went above and beyond my expectations. And at times I was genuinely scared. It’s got that kind of ending where you’ll be turning those pages as fast as you can. My heart was genuinely pounding. It’s that’s good. Out March 4th.

Synopsis: Elise knows every inch of the house. She knows which boards will creak. She knows where the gaps are in the Walls. She knows which parts can take her in, hide her away. It’s home, after all. The home her parents made for her. And home is where you stay, no matter what. Eddie is a teenager now, almost a grown-up. He must no longer believe in the girl he sometimes sees from the corner of his eye. He needs her to disappear. But when his fierce older brother senses her, too, they are faced with the question of how to get rid of someone they aren’t sure even exists. And, if they cast her out, what other threats might they invite into their home?

Lastly is The Four Winds by Kristin Hannah. I finished this just last night and I loved every page. It’s an epic tale with brilliant characters that really capture your heart. If you loved The Nightingale then you’ll love this one. And yes I can confirm you’ll be weeping at the end. I definitely was.

Synopsis: Texas, 1934. Elsa Martinelli has finally found the life she’d yearned for: a family, a home and a farm on the Great Plains. But when drought threatens all that she and her community hold dear, Elsa’s world is shattered to the winds. One of the darkest periods of the Great Depression, the Dust Bowl era, has arrived with a vengeance. Farmers are fighting to keep their land and their livelihoods as the crops are failing, the water is drying up, and dust threatens to bury them all. Fearful of the future, when Elsa wakes to find her husband has fled, she is forced to make the most agonising decision of her life. Fight for the land she loves or take her beloved children, Lorena and Ant, west to California in search of a better life.

So there you have it, five books that are coming out early next year. And they are all brilliant. I loved every single one, each in there own way. I can’t recommend them enough to you.

Are any of these books on your tbr? Have you been intrigued by any? Comment and let me know.

Until the next review

Jthbooks

author, blog, book blog, book blogger, book bloggers, book review, books, gay, historical fiction, lgbt, queer, review, Uncategorised, ya

Book Review: The Prophets by Robert Jones jr

Title: The Prophets

Author: Robert Jones Jr

Length: 400 pages

Publisher: Quercus Books

Synopsis: Isaiah was Samuel’s and Samuel was Isaiah’s. That was they way it was since to beginning, and they way it was to be until the end. In the barn they tended to the animals, but also to each other, transforming the hollowed-out shed into a space of human refuge, a source of intimacy and hope in a world ruled by vicious masters. But when an older man – a fellow slave – seeks to gain favour by preaching the masters gospel on the plantation, the enslaved begin to turn on their own. Isaiah and Samuel’s love, which was once so simple, is now seen as sinful and a clear danger to the plantation’s harmony.

I’m going to start this review and say that this is probably the best book I’ve ever read. It is simply outstanding. I’m also going to say that this is the hardest review I’ve ever had to write because I know I’ll never do the book justice.

There are so many elements in this book that just hit you in your soul. The writing is so sharp it gets to the core of you. The characterisation is phenomenal. It all just comes together to make a brilliant book.

And let me say this, in literature, we often read about Queer movement or Queer Historical figures but in The Prophets Robert Jones jr has given a voice to Queer Love. In a historical period were queer love has never been considered. Two black slaves choosing each other and love is so powerful to read. I’ve never read Queer Love in this period of history. And by doing this Roberts given queer people of this time a voice.

The romance between Samuel and Isiah is so tender, yet constricted. You can feel the characters, especially Samuel, be afraid to fully give into the relationship because of the ramifications it will have, not only for what will happen to them from their masters point of view, but what would happen if they admit it to themselves. But you also can tell that they need each other, they wouldn’t survive without each other. And somehow Robert conveys all so poignantly and so powerfully. He makes their love feel so deep. It feels like you’re reading about true love, I know that sounds silly to say, but It doesn’t always work in books but in The Prophets it feels real. It’s achingly beautiful. It captures you. It feels so intimate and special, but it feels grand and opening. It’s one of the best love stories I’ve ever read.

There are so brilliant characters in The Prophets, like Maggie, Adam, Sarah and Essie. Here’s what I thought was genius and such a smart, brilliant choice by Robert is that you learn about all these characters through their connection to Samuel and Isiah and their love story. I love how it connected them all. I love how Robert has put Queer love at the centre of the novel. It gives the love such a power. It makes the whole book feel like magic to me. I haven’t felt like this about a book since Girl, Woman, Other. It’s got the same feel to me.

Now of course this book is set in America before the Civil War and its set on a Plantation. So at times it’s hard to read. It’s harrowing and brutal. But Robert handles it with honesty. There’s also some chapters that show White people capturing and enslaving Black people and bringing them over on the ships. They are short chapters but they are so enraging and engrossing. They are incredibly powerful. It just shows what a masterful writer Robert Jones is.

I’m not going to say much about the ending, but all I’ll say is that it broke me. It absolutely broke me. I was crying so loudly my sister came into my room to ask if I was okay. And I’m not even embarrassed about that fact. Robert builds so much momentum and atmosphere. Utter brilliance.

Roberts writing is so breathtaking that he conveys all this without ever really saying it. It is absolutely phenomenal. It’s the kind of book I’ll reread, and I never reread, and I’ll find more meaningful beautiful prose. I can’t tell you how many times I cried because of the honesty and the rawness of the writing, especially about the love between Samuel and Isiah. It’s majestic. All queer love stories will need to live up to this one for me now.

I think it’s pretty obvious that I’d recommend this one. It’s one of the best books I’ve ever read. I think it’ll be award winning. I’m gonna say Booker 2021 now. Please read this book. You won’t regret it. I know I’ll be rereading it.

Thank you so much to Quercus for my copy of this book in return for an honest, unbiased review. It’s out January 5th. It’s available for preorder now. I’ve preordered mine and it’s a signed copy and I’m so excited!!

Until the next review

JTH