Did you know that the UK and USA have different history months? It’s both LGBT+ History Month (UK) and Black History Month (USA) in February. I wanted to make a list that incorporates both of these events, so it seems like the perfect time to talk about some LGBT+ books by Black Authors! These authors may or may not be LGBT+ themselves, and since everyone deserves to have privacy regarding their identity I didn’t want to require that as pre-requisite for being included.
Here in the UK, LGBT+ History Month takes place in February to coincide with a celebration of the end of Section 28. This was a law which made it illegal to ‘promote homosexuality’ and teach the ‘acceptability of homosexuality’ in schools. What this meant was that LGBT+ issues were illegal to speak about in schools, support groups were closed, teachers were fired, LGBT+ people were completely erased. This law ended in 2003, so this is very recent history!
Black History Month in the USA began as a week-long celebration between the birthdays of Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglas. This week was transformed into Black History Month by black educators and students at Kent State University, spreading to other academic institutions before becoming a recognised celebration.
On to the books!
Young Adult Fantasy
Pet is here to hunt a monster.
Are you brave enough to look?
There are no more monsters anymore, or so the children in the city of Lucille are taught. With doting parents and a best friend named Redemption, Jam has grown up with this lesson all her life. But when she meets Pet, a creature made of horns and colours and claws, who emerges from one of her mother’s paintings and a drop of Jam’s blood, she must reconsider what she’s been told. Pet has come to hunt a monster, and the shadow of something grim lurks in Redemption’s house. Jam must fight not only to protect her best friend, but also to uncover the truth, and the answer to the question — How do you save the world from monsters if no one will admit they exist?
In their riveting and timely young adult debut, acclaimed novelist Akwaeke Emezi asks difficult questions about what choices a young person can make when the adults around them are in denial.
I seem to put Pet on almost every recommendation post I write, it’s just that good. Akwaeke Emezi tackles incredibly difficult topics in this book. It shows you that creating a better world is an ongoing process, how harmful denying difficult truths is, that there are monsters in the world. I don’t know how such a small book packed in such a punch, but I don’t think I’ll ever be able to forget it. On top of that, Jem, the main character, is a transgender black girl with selective mutism and I love her.
Young Adult Dystopian Fantasy
It’s 200 years after Cinderella found her prince, but the fairy tale is over. Teen girls are now required to appear at the Annual Ball, where the men of the kingdom select wives based on a girl’s display of finery. If a suitable match is not found, the girls not chosen are never heard from again.
Sixteen-year-old Sophia would much rather marry Erin, her childhood best friend, than parade in front of suitors. At the ball, Sophia makes the desperate decision to flee, and finds herself hiding in Cinderella’s mausoleum. There, she meets Constance, the last known descendant of Cinderella and her step sisters. Together they vow to bring down the king once and for all–and in the process, they learn that there’s more to Cinderella’s story than they ever knew . . .
This fresh take on a classic story will make readers question the tales they’ve been told, and root for girls to break down the constructs of the world around them.
A reimagining of the Cinderella story featuring sapphic girls overthrowing the patriarchy! What more could you possibly want! This book was such a fun read, with a dark, cruel dystopian world, all of my favourite characters from the original fairytale, and an adorable romance. It’s a harsh, bleak world, but there’s also a lot of love and hope packed into this story.
Adult Contemporary Romance
She just wanted to claim her inheritance. What she got was a husband…
Xeni Everly-Wilkins has ten days to clean out her recently departed aunt’s massive colonial in Upstate New York. With the feud between her mom and her sisters still raging even in death, she knows this will be no easy task, but when the will is read Xeni quickly discovers the decades old drama between the former R&B singers is just the tip of the iceberg.
The Secrets, lies, and a crap ton of cash spilled on her lawyer’s conference room table all come with terms and conditions. Xeni must marry before she can claim the estate that will set her up for life and her aunt has just the groom in mind. The ruggedly handsome and deliciously thicc Scotsman who showed up at her aunt’s memorial, bagpipes at the ready.
When his dear friend and mentor Sable Everly passed away, Mason McInroy knew she would leave a sizable hole in his heart. He never imagined she’d leave him more than enough money to settle the debt that’s keeping him from returning home to Scotland. He also never imagined that Sable would use her dying breaths to play match-maker, trapping Mason and her beautiful niece in a marriage scheme that comes with more complications than either of them need.
With no choice but to say I do, the unlikely pair try to make the best of a messy situation. They had no plans to actually fall in love.
Marriage of convenience is always going to be a top tier trope! This book is the perfect combination of a loveable, light-hearted romance and those more emotional, heavy moments. It also features two bisexual characters! Yes, both Xeni and Mason are bi! Also, a plus-sized hero! Also, the sex scenes…
Adult Urban Fantasy
Five New Yorkers must come together in order to defend their city in the first book of a stunning new series by Hugo award-winning and NYT bestselling author N. K. Jemisin.
Every city has a soul. Some are as ancient as myths, and others are as new and destructive as children. New York City? She’s got five.
But every city also has a dark side. A roiling, ancient evil stirs beneath the earth, threatening to destroy the city and her five protectors unless they can come together and stop it once and for all.
I think it’s safe to say N.K. Jemisin is one of the best speculative fiction writers of our time. All of her work is absolutely brilliant, you should check it out if you haven’t already. One of my favourite aspects of The City We Became is how casually it ties in queerness. The representation in this book is amazing, and there’s so much of it. If cities growing into living creatures, eldritch monstrosities, and a mismatched, queer, BIPOC found-family interests you, read this book.
Young Adult Contemporary Romance
Liz Lighty has always believed she’s too black, too poor, too awkward to shine in her small, rich, prom-obsessed midwestern town. But it’s okay — Liz has a plan that will get her out of Campbell, Indiana, forever: attend the uber-elite Pennington College, play in their world-famous orchestra, and become a doctor.
But when the financial aid she was counting on unexpectedly falls through, Liz’s plans come crashing down . . . until she’s reminded of her school’s scholarship for prom king and queen. There’s nothing Liz wants to do less than endure a gauntlet of social media trolls, catty competitors, and humiliating public events, but despite her devastating fear of the spotlight she’s willing to do whatever it takes to get to Pennington.
The only thing that makes it halfway bearable is the new girl in school, Mack. She’s smart, funny, and just as much of an outsider as Liz. But Mack is also in the running for queen. Will falling for the competition keep Liz from her dreams . . . or make them come true?
You Should See Me In A Crown is a wonderful book, filled with both serious and light-hearted moments. It’s got an adorable romance, and the main character, Liz, is a black, anxious, sapphic girl who deserves all of the good things. If you want a fluffy, cute contemporary read, this one should be your go-to.
Young Adult Contemporary Fantasy
Sixteen-year-old Blythe is one of seven Guardians: magicians powerful enough to cause worldwide panic with a snap of their fingers. But Blythe spends her days pouring latte art at her family’s coffee shop, so why should she care about having apocalyptic abilities?
She’s given a reason when magician anarchists crash into said coffee shop and kidnap her family.
Heartbroken but determined, Blythe knows she can’t save them alone. A war is brewing between two magician governments and tensions are too high. So, she packs up her family’s bright yellow Volkswagen, puts on a playlist, and embarks on a road trip across the United States to enlist the help of six strangers whose abilities are unparalleled—the other Guardians.
Did I hear you want a book with no romance but bundles of friendship and found family? This one is for you! The main character, Blythe, is a black bisexual girl! Books with large casts often feel a bit messy, but when I say these characters are unique and well-developed I truly mean it. There’s so much diversity in this book and I am here for it. Roadtrips and friendship and magic!
Young Adult Sci-Fi
Can a girl who risks her life for books and an alien who loves forbidden pop music work together to save humanity?
Two years ago, a misunderstanding between the leaders of Earth and the invading Ilori resulted in the deaths of one-third of the world’s population.
Seventeen-year-old Janelle “Ellie” Baker survives in an Ilori-controlled center in New York City. Deemed dangerously volatile because of their initial reaction to the invasion, humanity’s emotional transgressions are now grounds for execution. All art, books and creative expression are illegal, but Ellie breaks the rules by keeping a secret library. When a book goes missing, Ellie is terrified that the Ilori will track it back to her and kill her.
Born in a lab, M0Rr1S (Morris) was raised to be emotionless. When he finds Ellie’s illegal library, he’s duty-bound to deliver her for execution. The trouble is, he finds himself drawn to human music and in desperate need of more. They’re both breaking the rules for love of art—and Ellie inspires the same feelings in him that music does.
Ellie’s—and humanity’s—fate rests in the hands of an alien she should fear. M0Rr1S has a lot of secrets, but also a potential solution—thousands of miles away. The two embark on a wild and dangerous road trip with a bag of books and their favorite albums, all the while making a story and a song of their own that just might save them both.
The Sound of Stars is a beautiful book with a plus-sized, black, biromantic, demisexual main character! We’ve got ace-spectrum representation here! The writing style is absolutely gorgeous and really highlights how character-focused and wonderful the story is. It deals with heavy themes such as colonialism, discrimination, and violence, but also manages to make me feel all soft and hopeful inside.
Adult Contemporary Romance
Makeda Hicks has lost her job and her girlfriend in one fell swoop. The last thing she’s in the mood for is to rehash the story of her grandmother’s infamous summer fling with a runaway prince from Ibarania, or the investigator from the World Federation of Monarchies tasked with searching for Ibarania’s missing heir.
Yet when Beznaria Chetchevaliere crashes into her life, the sleek and sexy investigator exudes exactly the kind of chaos that organized and efficient Makeda finds irresistible, even if Bez is determined to drag her into a world of royal duty Makeda wants nothing to do with.
When a threat to her grandmother’s livelihood pushes Makeda to agree to return to Ibarania, Bez takes her on a transatlantic adventure with a crew of lovable weirdos, a fake marriage, and one-bed hijinks on the high seas. When they finally make it to Ibarania, they realize there’s more at stake than just cash and crown, and Makeda must learn what it means to fight for what she desires and not what she feels bound to by duty.
Okay so I know this book isn’t actually out yet, but how perfect does it sound? A Queer Anastasia retelling! Alyssa Cole has written a sapphic book before, Once Ghosted, Twice Shy, but this is her first full-length one and I’m extremely hyped for it! It has so many tropes I love, and it comes out May 25th!
Adult Contemporary Romance
Danika Brown knows what she wants: professional success, academic renown, and an occasional roll in the hay to relieve all that career-driven tension. But romance? Been there, done that, burned the T-shirt. Romantic partners, whatever their gender, are a distraction at best and a drain at worst. So Dani asks the universe for the perfect friend-with-benefits—someone who knows the score and knows their way around the bedroom.
When brooding security guard Zafir Ansari rescues Dani from a workplace fire drill gone wrong, it’s an obvious sign: PhD student Dani and ex-rugby player Zaf are destined to sleep together. But before she can explain that fact, a video of the heroic rescue goes viral. Now half the internet is shipping #DrRugbae—and Zaf is begging Dani to play along. Turns out, his sports charity for kids could really use the publicity. Lying to help children? Who on earth would refuse?
Dani’s plan is simple: fake a relationship in public, seduce Zaf behind the scenes. The trouble is, grumpy Zaf’s secretly a hopeless romantic—and he’s determined to corrupt Dani’s stone-cold realism. Before long, he’s tackling her fears into the dirt. But the former sports star has issues of his own, and the walls around his heart are as thick as his… um, thighs.
Suddenly, the easy lay Dani dreamed of is more complex than her thesis. Has her wish backfired? Is her focus being tested? Or is the universe just waiting for her to take a hint?
The Brown Sisters series are my favourite romances, and the third and final book Act Your Age, Eve Brown is out next month! Dani Brown is a bisexual PhD student whose just a little bit emotionally constipated, mix that in with hopeless romantic, Muslim, security guard Zaf and you’ve got a wonderful combination. Fake dating galore! I recommend this series with my whole heart.
Young Adult Contemporary Sci-Fi
Ryann Bird dreams of traveling across the stars. But a career in space isn’t an option for a girl who lives in a trailer park on the wrong side of town. So Ryann becomes her circumstances and settles for acting out and skipping school to hang out with her delinquent friends.
One day she meets Alexandria: a furious loner who spurns Ryann’s offer of friendship. After a horrific accident leaves Alexandria with a broken arm, the two misfits are brought together despite themselves—and Ryann learns her secret: Alexandria’s mother is an astronaut who volunteered for a one-way trip to the edge of the solar system.
Every night without fail, Alexandria waits to catch radio signals from her mother. And it’s up to Ryann to lift her onto the roof day after day until the silence between them grows into friendship, and eventually something more . . .
The Weight of the Stars will be unlike anything you’ve ever read before. It has beautiful writing, wonderful friendships, a complex slow-burn romance, and sci-fi elements. This isn’t a fluffy story, it’s a story that will pack you full of emotions, a story that’ll make you cry. This book is messy and wonderful. I also adore that the main character is a butch lesbian because I love to see that wonderful butch rep.