Happy PRIDE everyone.. !!!! I hope in an ever changing world, all my friends from the LGBTQIAP+ community are able to find their own corner of happiness and are able to be themselves without fear. But even if you are unable to, I hope you are living as safely as you possibly can. I myself have never talked about my asexuality with anyone irl but I do feel comfortable sharing my feelings about it sometimes with my dearest blogger friends. And alongwith celebrating my acceptance of my own identity, I wanted to talk about some of the amazing queer* books I’ve read in the past 12 months (or since the last Pride Month).
*I’ve tried to include mostly books by queer authors but there are also a few where I’ve included some of my favorite books with queer representation, irrespective of the identity of the author.
🌈 Japanese American gay author.
Apparently I’ve only read one nonfiction book by a queer author in the past year, but I have to say it is not the point of this memoir. This graphic novel is the author’s story of his childhood living in a Japanese Internment camp in the US and how those experiences shaped his life. I think he only mentions in passing that he is gay, but I still wanted to spotlight this one because it is an important book to read about one of the horrible acts committed by the government against it’s own people due to xenophobia.
🌈 Chinese American lesbian mc.
The Verifiers is truly a mix of genres – a young Asian women’s struggle with coming out as lesbian to her mother, the ever changing mores of online dating in a highly technological world and the effects of it on data privacy, and also a murder/suicide mystery. It’s really a very intriguing and thought provoking book, while also being quite fun.
🌈Asian American Transgender author. Asian American transgender mc, f/f relationship between two other Asian-coded mcs.
Light from Uncommon Stars is one of my most favorite books of 2021 and there was no way it wasn’t gonna be on this list. Featuring three women who are all struggling with their own issues, dealing with demons and intergalactic wars, this story may have it’s painful moments, but it is also full of joy and hope and the beauty of finding your own family in this world who will accept you for who you are. Here, you can find a coming of age story of a young transgender woman and the developing relationship between two women from very different backgrounds who never expected to find love.
🌈mostly sapphic characters, side f/f couple.
This series is what I call full of sassy sapphics. You’ve got everything you can ask for in A Spindle Splintered and A Mirror Mended – multiverse, fractured fairytales come to life, a sassy main character who can’t help but save fairytale heroines wanting to get out of their tragic fates, her charming best friend who gets her own f/f fairytale romance, and lots of hilarious banter that’ll have you in splits.
🌈Black Queer author. Black bisexual mc, sapphic love interest, Black f/f side couple.
I read This Poison Heart during a train journey and was so impressed that I finished it before my journey was over. Featuring lesbian moms and their bisexual daughter, what we get here is almost a gothic fantasy with a manor befitting the subgenre, plant magic which feels very vivid and unique, characters who are fascinating and memorable, and backstory that blends history and mythology perfectly to give us a thrilling novel. I’m so excited for the sequel releasing next week.
🌈Chinese-Canadian Nonbinary author. Ethnic minority Chinese American gay mc.
One of my recent favorites, Zachary Ying and the Dragon Emperor is a super fun middle grade adventure novel, especially if you are a fan of Percy Jackson style books. This book was a seamless blend of Chinese history, mythology, VR gaming, chases and heists, and just so much drama, and I thoroughly enjoyed every bit of it. And not only does our main character have to handle the responsibility of handling the First Emperor of China possessing his gaming lenses, he also has to control the crush he seems to be developing on his new found emperor possessed friend/quest companion. It’s a very funny book despite all the dangers the characters encounter, and I just had a gala time reading it.
🌈Asian-Australian Genderqueer author. Genderqueer AFAB mc, lesbian love interest, gay mc, bisexual love interest.
My top favorite of 2021, I’m so excited to reread She Who Became the Sun this month along with the Fantasy Hive. And just as the premise implies, this is a genderqueer reimagining of the rise of the Ming dynasty, full of exquisite prose, morally grey compelling characters, lots and lots of yearning, and so much exploration of what gender and fluidity means in a highly patriarchal society.
🌈Asian American gray aro ace author. Chinese sapphic mc, Vietnamese sapphic mc, m/m side couple.
A Treasure Island remix it may be, but A Clash of Steel is also a coming of age story of two young women who want to prove themselves, while having an adventure together. This book has some very memorable and gorgeous descriptions, a very cool on the sea setting, a backdrop of pirate legends, and commentary on the perils of empire. I had such a fun time reading it and I feel it’s a perfect recommendation for YA readers.
🌈m/m main couple, m/m side couple.
I’ve not read too many Chinese danmei novels, but Golden Stage is definitely a favorite. It has all the best things going for it – friends to enemies to lovers, political arranged marriage, very sweet romance, separation and yearning, and just lots and lots of communication. This is one of those novels which I felt had the best combination of romance and politics, with two main characters who are very easy to love. It’s official English translation is getting published this year as Golden Terrace and I can’t wait to get it in my hands.
🌈Chinese transgender mc, Chinese gay mc, Korean gay mc.
Our Violent Ends is a superb sequel/finale to These Violent Delights and I loved the various romances within the story as well as the backdrop of the Chinese civil war, along with some horrible monsters to hunt. This duology is jam packed with excellent characters, is so full of angst, is very fast paced and hard to put down, and has a very vibrant setting that feels alive.
🌈Bisexual author. Bisexual mcs, m/f/f/m polyamorous relationship.
A retelling of Dracula’s Brides, A Dowry of Blood is an absolutely unforgettable tale of love and power, and the strength of bonds formed during adversity. This is one of those books whose gorgeous prose will linger in your mind for a long time. I would highly recommend the audiobook because the narration only adds to the beauty of this tale.
🌈sapphic side characters.
Travelers Along the Way has a very classic adventure tale feel which captures the spirit of the story of Robin Hood while giving us a fascinating backdrop like the cities around Jerusalem during the 12th century Crusades. The story might feel a little simplistic because many things come easy to our mc, but her journey along with an awesome group of friends is a lot of fun and I was able to finish this very quickly.
🌈Indian ace mc.
I just finished reading Kaikeyi a few days ago and it’s definitely vying to be one of my top favorites of this year. It feels like the author took great care in crafting every single word of this book because the prose here is absolutely stunning, and the main character is a formidable woman who uses both magic and her wits to build relationships, gain power and make changes in society so that she is able to help as many people as she can.
🌈Black ace mc.
I probably love Raybearer slightly more than Redemptor but this sequel is also equally compelling and I loved following the main character on her journey to the underworld and her conviction to save as many people as possible. This series would always be at the top of my list if I was recommending something with the found family trope as well as one of my most favorite audiobooks.
🌈 SEAsian Queer author. Asian coded f/f and m/m side couples.
Jade Fire Gold is a debut which I had lot of fun reading because I found to be like an entertaining combo of YA fantasies which I’m used to reading and Chinese palace dramas, full of political intrigue. The characters are all pretty interesting, especially all the queer side characters, and the adventure was just my kind of good time.
🌈Demisexual author. Demisexual mc, f/f side couple.
Little Thieves was a fun, entertaining, and very emotionally engaging dark fairytale retelling with a protagonist who keeps making questionable decisions but you badly want her to succeed, and an unexpected group of supporting characters who help her on the way. And now that it is not a standalone, I’m excited to see what more shenanighans will be in sequel which apparently features an unexpected cult.
🌈Indian gay mc, Indian sapphic side characters.
The Ivory Key is a solid desi fantasy where so much of it felt very relatable to me, the sibling relationships in this are very well fleshed out, and there is so much excitement in the storyline with lots of revelations, secret societies, quests, puzzle solving, betrayals and more.
🌈 French-Vietnamese Queer author. Vietnamese bisexual mc, gay mc.
I can’t even say much about this book and the series without going on a tangent. Of Charms, Ghosts and Grievances is the newest installment in the universe of Dominion of the Fallen and the second novella featuring one of my most favorite couples Thuan and Asmodeus – one is a stabby husband, other is a sweet cinnamon roll, they may have their many differences but when it comes to protecting the kids in their care, they are unstoppable. This was a delightful novella and I hope the author writes many more stories featuring them.
An Arthurian retelling but written is a very unique style, the prose in Spear is gorgeous, the historical setting feels very realistic, and the characters are at once both real and mythical. I was especially very impressed with the detailed research the author did to keep this retelling both grounded as well as modernize it with more female and queer characters.
🌈f/f main couple.
Another favorite book of mine from this year, Legends and Lattes is what you need if you are down or need a break from all the intense SFF books. It’s wholesome and sweet and a lovely slice of life novel, which will make you very hungry and bring a smile to your face. The sapphic romance is not a major subplot but it’s there, very perfectly interwoven within the larger narrative of friendship and community.
🌈 Queer author. Pansexual mc, bisexual mc, gay mc.
The sequel to the Hell’s Library series, The Archive of the Forgotten is all about the forgotten books and characters and their pain, and how it’s so similar to what happens to people, and it’s also about our main characters denying and finally realizing how much they all mean to each other. It’s full of banter as well as contemplation, with some very interesting new settings. I can’t wait to read the finale soon.. hopefully.
🌈Agender and nonbinary mcs.
I can’t even tell you what exactly A Psalm for the Wild-Built was about now because my memory is bad but I know that it felt like it was written especially for me, when I read it last year. The whole contemplation about the purpose of life was very relatable to me. Just an excellent novella and I’m eagerly awaiting the release of the sequel.
🌈Chinese American Nonbinary author. Nonbinary characters.
Another novella where I don’t remember much but In the Watchful City has a story within the story kind of narrative device which I loved. Rooted in Asian history and culture, the author deeply explores themes of grief and oppression and trauma, and how they affect us, sometimes even without us knowing that we are experiencing the effects and I thought it was a very profound and thought provoking story, if a little confusing because I dont know much about the biocyberpunk genre.
🌈Chinese Canadian Nonbinary author. Bisexual mcs, m/f/m polyamorous triad.
Iron Widow is one of the most memorable YA books I’ve read in recent times. Set in a sci-fi world with aliens and mechas, but inspired by Chinese history, this book is the manifestation of female rage and shows what a woman can do when she decides that she has had enough with the extremely patriarchal and misogynistic society she lives in. Just read this book and I bet it will blow your mind.
🌈Queer author. Lesbian and non binary mcs, f/f main couple.
Persephone Station has mercenaries, greedy corporation with a sociopathic leader, exploitation of indigenous communities and excellent action sequences, but what you remember is the group of women and non binary folks who make for a memorable found family and the bonds that they share with each other is the highlight of the book.
🌈Nonbinary queer author. Pansexual nonbinary mc, gay ace mc, bisexual mc.
The First Sister and The Second Rebel are another couple of favorites from last year with their very expansive world building with hints of The Handmaid’s Tale, characters who are each struggling with their own issues but they still work their hardest to try to topple the corrupt governments and end the tortures that people from different species are being subjected to. These are not easy reads, and the second one especially broke my heart repeatedly but it was all so worth it.
🌈Aroace author. Aroace mc.
Very gaming focused like Ready Player One, Firebreak is a dystopian sci-fi with a very strong anti-capitalist message, the importance of deep platonic relationships and how even one person’s decision to fight back can lead to significant changes in the system.
🌈 Queer author. Sapphic characters.
Our Lady of Endless Worlds series has nuns in space who inadvertently become the catalyst behind a revolution against the government/Church but ultimately it’s a tale of finding one’s identity and purpose when you find yourself lost from everything you knew, and how powerful the bonds of sisterhood can be in times of adversity.
🌈 Ace mc, autistic bisexual mc, genderfluid characters
Nophek Gloss and Azura Ghost are probably the most sciency sci-fi books I’ve ever read and I was so scared that things would go over my head – and they did, but the writing is just so immersive that I got completely lost in it very quickly and the found family of mostly queer characters is hard not to fall in love with. It’s explosive and mind blowing and very very thrilling, and I have very high expectations for Ethera Grave but I am also very sure the author will surpass my expectations with the finale.
And just to round out this post, these are some of the recent and upcoming Queer books I am very excited to read….
Wow… this took me a couple of days to write. But I had so much fun compiling this list of my favorite queer books from the past year and I hope you find some of your favorites here as well, and add some exciting ones to your TBR. And if you have some similar recommendations, or have written your own Pride recs post, do share with me in the comments below… There are so many books here whose sequels I’m eagerly awaiting and I can’t wait to read them all…