Pride Month Reading Wrap-Up 2020

Tuesday, June 30, 2020
June was pride month so I wanted to focus on LGBT+ books in June! I read ten books and seven of them were LGBT+ in someway. It wasn't my best reading month by far but I did really enjoy some of the books I read; however I did feel like a reading slump was about to start towards the end of the month. My favourite books from the month of June include: The Scottish Boy, Heartstopper (volume three) and Floriography. 

The Scottish Boy by Alex de Campi (564 pages) ★★★★ Historical Fiction (Gay)
The first book I started for my pride month TBR which was also my longer read as it was over 550 pages and it is a new release too. We follow Harry, a newly made lord, as he returns home after arriving late to a battle between his fellow Englishmen and the Scots. As well as his new title, he also acquires a wild Scottish prisoner, Iain, as his new squire. What follows is: training for tournaments, Harrys developing relationship with Iain, training for battle, jousts, court politics and the tense relations between the countries of England, Scotland and France.

I haven't read many books, if any, set in this time period of the mid-1300s and now I need to read more. I also haven't read any books that were as graphically sexual and explicit as this one! We switch between court politics, fighting, tournaments and the struggles of managing a manor to intense sex scenes between Harry and Iain, his feisty Scottish squire. This book is definitely not for those under 18!

Overall, there were so many aspects of this book that I loved from the time period, the setting, the jousts and the hate to love relationship between Harry and Iain but there was such a cloud of sadness around the book because of the politics around who Iain is and their relationship which is viewed, at this time in history, as illegal and a sin (something Harry struggles to deal with). I also found it quite predictable as I knew who Iain was from the beginning of the book whereas it is only 'revealed' towards the end when, I b believe, it is meant to be shocking. I did enjoy the book and it has made me want to read much more historical fiction but it definitely will not be for everyone!

*Yellow Jessamine by Caitlin Starling (131 pages) ★★★ (3.5) Horror (Lesbian)
The first book I finished in June was an LGBT horror novella from Netgalley, although the LGBT elements were extremely minimal and reserved until the conclusion of the book so I feel as though they were added in *potentially* just to tick the LGBT+ box unfortunately. We follow Evelyn, in mourning for her dead brothers and parents, as she tries to run her estate and survive in the paranoid and struggling city of Delphinium, when one of her supply ships docks bringing with it a mysterious plague.

I adored the setting of this book as well as the mysterious, paranoid and shady tone. I also loved the mystery surrounding not only this new plague but Evelyn herself who holds many deadly secrets including her knowledge of poisons. It was definitely an intriguing and very creepy story at times that I'd recommend if you like darker reads.

*Lore by Aaron Mahnke (300 pages) ★★★ 
The next book I'm reviewing is one that I've been reading off and on since the beginning of March...it's been a bit of a slog to get through, if I'm honest. Lore focuses on various myths, legends, monsters, paranormal creatures, 'sightings', case studies and the history of all kinds of supernatural topics and creatures. I've read a couple of books like this so a large portion of the information was familiar to me which spoiled my reading experience somewhat so I think I would only recommend this book if you haven't read or watched much on the topic otherwise it will be repetitive, as it was for me. I did like the illustrations and some of the information, in particular the lesser known myths and creatures, but it was just disappointing overall.

The Intoxicating Mr Lavelle by Neil Blackmore (320 pages) ★★★ Historical Fiction (Gay)
After reading The Gentleman's Guide to Vice and Virtue, I wanted to read more books involving 'the grand tour' which was a European gap year of sorts filled with culture, travelling and more than a little debauchery. Within The Intoxicating Mr Lavelle, we follow the Bowen brothers as they begin their grand tour of Europe after a lifetime of learning, restriction and instruction from their parents. The grand tour isn't what it seems with deceiving aristocrats, foreign culture, prejudice and the rather maddening Mr Lavelle. Benjamin Bowen falls hopelessly under the beguiling spell of Mr Lavelle and his secrets, revolutionary ideas and his rash disregard for the opinion of others. 

As I said, I hoped this book would have some likeness to The Gentleman's Guide to Vice and Virtue and it did in terms of the European travel and culture but sadly the humour was entirely void from this read and was instead replaced with tragic obsession, fractured relationships, family secrets, abuse, homophobia, self revelations and utter heartbreak. Why do so many novels involving gay characters have to be so utterly tragic! There were aspects of this book that I loved but it was such a melancholy read that even with some rays of hope and raw emotion, it left an emptiness and pulled me into a reading slump. Also as with a couple of books I read this month, it is not suitable for those under 18 or so because of the sexual content. I would recommend this read but it's one of those books you have to be in the right frame of mind to read and I will say that, as with The Scottish Boy, it won't be for everyone. 

Heartstopper Volume Two by Alice Oseman (320 pages) ★★★ Graphic Novel (Gay/Lesbian/Trans)
I almost fell into a reading slump within June but thankfully I found the next two books in the Heartstopper graphic novel series from Alice Oseman online for free (on her Tumblr, check out the link to read the first three graphic novels for free). I bought and read the first volume back in March and loved how incredibly sweet it was so I wanted to read the other two books so I was very happy I found them for free online - I'll probably buy the series in paperback soon to support the author. 

The second volume carries on from the first as we follow Nick and Charlie as they are navigating their new relationship and all of the ups and downs that come along with it. We also learn more about both Nick and Charlie as well as their friends. I liked this one as much as the first but it definitely wasn't as memorable, for me, as the first and third books in the series. Although I highly recommend it especially for teens. 

Heartstopper Volume Three by Alice Oseman (384 pages) ★★★ (3.5) Graphic Novel (Gay/Lesbian/Trans)
As with the first and second volumes, I loved this one too and I think it was my favourite of the three so far (I think the fourth volume is going to be released next year). I adore the art style in all three, the whole series is just so heart warningly cute and I particularly liked the setting of this read as they travel to Paris! I liked the trans representation in the book as well as showing the negatives LGBT individuals face. The author never seems to shy away from difficult but important topics and she always seems to be so respectful in terms of her language. There were trigger warnings in the online version on Tumblr and those include: eating disorders, difficult family relationships, coming out, self harm and bullying. I think this series is really important especially for teens (and adults alike) to show different kinds of relationships and the struggles individuals can face in terms of their sexuality as well as other mental health issues. I wish I'd had books and graphic novels like this growing up in the 90's and early 00's! 

Before You Say I Do by Clare Lydon (292 pages) ★★★ Romance (Lesbian) 
Moving onto a female/female contemporary romance which isn't my genre at all but it was a super quick and entertaining (if very predictable and cheesy) read. We follow bride-to-be Abby as she is introduced to her wedding PA and professional bridesmaid, paid for by her soon to be husband, Marcus. The two women become closer as they plan the final arrangements for the wedding and closer still during the hen party. It was definitely predictable and so cheesy at times but it was a quick, easy and entertaining read with a happy ending. 

The Lady's Guide to Celestial Mechanics by Olivia Waite (336 pages) ★★★ Historial Fiction Romance (Lesbian) 
Another historical fiction read but with a female/female romance and the struggles of women being viewed as scientific equals to men. We follow Lucy, assistant to her late father's scientific work and Countless Catherine St Day, widow to an eminent but volatile academic. They try to help each other in their work and become closer in the process. I haven't read anything else by this author and I didn't know what to expect but sadly this read was just a bit boring and very unmemorable for me unfortunately. 

A History Of Death in 17th Century England by Ben Norman (208 pages) ★★★
It wouldn't be a reading wrap-up from me without a book about disease, crime or death and my morbid pick for the month of June was an upcoming release that should be available at the end of the year. A History of Death in 17th Century England is fairly self explanatory as it explores various aspects of death, from funeral rites, illness and mortality rates to the role of religion, inheritance and much more. I found most of this book thoroughly fascinating, particularly the first half or so of the book and the views of illness, disease and death at this time in English history which is very different to our own distanced view of death and modern scientific explanations of disease. 

While I found the information interesting and much of it was new to me, I didn't like the structure of the book as even though it was separated into distinct chapters, the information within each chapter felt very 'cut and paste' rather than explained in-depth or fully examined. I did find the individual contemporary accounts fascinating but the book felt like a stitched together collection of quotes, in my opinion. I did enjoy this read (however much you can enjoy a book of this nature) and I would recommend it but I think the structure and presentation of the information could have been more reader friendly and fluid, in my opinion. 

*Floriography: An Illustrated Guide to the Victorian Language of Flowers by Jessica Roux (224 pages) ★★★★
The final non-fiction read I finished was one of the most beautifully illustrated non-fiction read I've read for a while! Floriography is as the title suggests is a gorgeously illustrated read focusing on plants and flowers and their relationship to the Victorian expression of emotion. I adored the illustrations and learning about what emotions and meanings the victorians ascribed to various plants and flowers as well as the origins of the plant names, history, uses and which flowers to pair with each other. I also liked the bouquet suggests at the end of the book. Overall, I think I'll buy a copy of this book when it is released as it is so beautifully illustrated and interesting. 

Have you read any of these books? 

11 comments

  1. I'm in a bit of a reading slump at the moment but hoping I can get through it soon as I have so many books waiting to be read. I don't think I've read any of these! x

    Tiffany x www.foodandotherloves.co.uk

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  2. Great list! I haven't read any of these and historical fiction isn't usually my favourite. I read Red, White & Royal Blue last year and really enjoyed it (contemporary romance). Floriography sounds like a beautiful one though!

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  3. These were some great mini reviews. I haven't read any of these but there are a few that I'd like to read in the future.

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  4. Great selection of books to have focused on during Pride month x

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  5. Ah, I have not even read one book this year! These sound like interesting reads. Thanks for sharing your reading list with us.

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  6. Great recommendations for Pride month!
    Em x

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  7. The book on plants in the Victorian era sounds so interesting, and not something I'd have thought to check out myself!

    Jasmine xx

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  8. The Scottish boy sounds like a great read.
    I’ve dropped off a bit with reading so must get back to it.

    https://littlemissmelanie.com/

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  9. I will have to check some of these out xx

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  10. Gonna add some of these to my reading list, I haven't read any of them xx

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  11. Great selection, I love that you tried to stick with the theme too. I haven't read any of these but there are a couple I like the sound of x

    Sophie
    www.glowsteady.co.uk

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Feel free to leave me a comment, I read all of them!

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