Today is Read a Book day, where everyone should spend the day reading books! I know that’s what I’m going to do — I’m planning on reading as much of my ARC of The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue as possible. What are you planning on reading?
But to celebrate, I thought it would be fun if I asked my friends to recommend one of their favourite books or a recent read they loved, and they obliged me! A million thanks to my friends for helping with this post … especially because I gave them such short notice 😅.
So here are my lovely friends’ book recommendations!
Silvia recommends Depart, Depart! by Sim Kern
Silvia says: Depart, Depart! is a cli-fi novella about a Jewish trans man who becomes a refugee after a massive climate disaster hits Houston. The lines between climate dystopia and contemporary fiction are so blurred here that it’s impossible to not feel a sense of discomfort about it, and yet, despite the too-real, too-close-to-home constant sense of climate emergency, the novella doesn’t leave you without hope for a future that we can shape ourselves with our (chosen, queer) family. Even without sharing Noah’s specific identities, this book packs a punch for any queer person, and it does a great job at emphasizing how different marginalizations intersect.
When an unprecedented hurricane devastates the city of Houston, Noah Mishner finds shelter in the Dallas Mavericks’ basketball arena. Though he finds community among other queer refugees, Noah fears his trans and Jewish identities put him at risk with certain capital-T Texans. His fears take form when he starts seeing visions of his great-grandfather Abe, who fled Nazi Germany as a boy. As the climate crisis intensifies and conditions in the shelter deteriorate, Abe’s ghost grows more powerful. Ultimately, Noah must decide whether he can trust his ancestor - and whether he’s willing to sacrifice his identity and community in order to survive.
Depart, Depart! grapples with intersections of social justice and climate change, asking readers to consider how they’ll react when the world changes in an instant. Who will we turn to? What will we take with us, and what will we have to leave behind? In our rapidly changing world, these are questions we grapple with. Focusing on finding and supporting community after disaster, Depart, Depart! is a story for these uncertain times.
Steffy recommends An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir
Steffy says: An Ember in the Ashes is one of those books that holds a special place in my heart. Not only do I adore the two main characters, Elias and Laia, but the book itself is heart wrenching. Based in an unforgiving world with one of the most horrible villains I have ever come across, An Ember in the Ashes has incredibly high stakes and every time I read it I am truly captivated by the world Sabaa Tahir has created.
Laia is a slave. Elias is a soldier. Neither is free.
Under the Martial Empire, defiance is met with death. Those who do not vow their blood and bodies to the Emperor risk the execution of their loved ones and the destruction of all they hold dear.
It is in this brutal world, inspired by ancient Rome, that Laia lives with her grandparents and older brother. The family ekes out an existence in the Empire’s impoverished backstreets. They do not challenge the Empire. They’ve seen what happens to those who do.
But when Laia’s brother is arrested for treason, Laia is forced to make a decision. In exchange for help from rebels who promise to rescue her brother, she will risk her life to spy for them from within the Empire’s greatest military academy.
There, Laia meets Elias, the school’s finest soldier—and secretly, its most unwilling. Elias wants only to be free of the tyranny he’s being trained to enforce. He and Laia will soon realize that their destinies are intertwined—and that their choices will change the fate of the Empire itself.
Ash recommends The Amberlough Dossier by Lara Elena Donnelley
Ash says: There’s so many books I could recommend that deserves so much love, that’s it’s kind of hard to choose just one to focus on. But for the sake of the picking one (well one series) I’m going to say The Amberlough Dossier by Lara Elena Donnelly. Comprised of three books — Amberlough, Amnesty, Armistice – it’s a 1930’s jazz age inspired political spy thriller. It follows the three MCs Cyril DePaul, Aristide Makricosta and Cordelia Lehane during a fascist uprising in Gedda. It’s decadent, queer and so so good. Donnelly’s writing is amazing and these characters – all their sharp edges included – worm their way into your heart. It’s not always sunshine and rainbows for our trio and your heart will break but Donnelly makes it worth every moment of pain with this story.
Welcome to Amberlough City, the illustrious but corrupt cosmopolitan beacon of Gedda. The radical One State Party—nicknamed the Ospies—is gaining popular support to unite Gedda’s four municipal governments under an ironclad, socially conservative vision.
Not everyone agrees with the Ospies’ philosophy, including master spy Cyril DePaul and his lover Aristide Makricosta, smuggler and emcee at the popular Bumble Bee Cabaret. When Cyril’s cover is blown on a mission, however, he must become a turncoat in exchange for his life. Returning to Amberlough under the Ospies’ watchful eye, Cyril enters a complex game of deception. One of his concerns is safeguarding Aristide, who refuses to let anyone—the crooked city police or the homophobic Ospies—dictate his life.
Enter streetwise Cordelia Lehane, top dancer at the Bee and Aristide’s runner, who could be the key to Cyril’s plans—if she can be trusted. As the twinkling lights of nightclub marquees yield to the rising flames of a fascist revolution, these three will struggle to survive using whatever means—and people—necessary. Including each other.
You can find Ash on her blog @WildHeartReads or on her Goodreads! Ash is great at recommending fantasy books, so if you’re looking for a new fantasy read, make sure you follow her!
Sakhile recommends Noah Can’t Even by Simon James Green
Sakhile says: I’ve read this book three times and each time it has had me in tears laughing. It’s a funny little book about a boy whose life is turned upside down when his best friend admits his love for him. It’s hilarious and doesn’t take itself seriously, full of mad antics and embarrassing situations it’s the perfect book for when you’re looking for a laugh.
Poor Noah Grimes!
His dad disappeared years ago, his mother’s Beyonce tribute act is an unacceptable embarrassment, and his beloved gran isn’t herself anymore. He only has one friend, Harry, and school is…Well, it’s pure HELL.
Why can’t Noah be normal, like everyone else at school? Maybe if he struck up a romantic relationship with someone – maybe Sophie, who is perfect and lovely – he’d be seen in a different light?
But Noah’s plans for romance are derailed when Harry kisses him at a party. That’s when things go from bad to
worse utter chaos.
You can find Sakhile on her blog @SakhileWhispers or on Goodreads! Sakhile has amazing book recommendations for ya books that focus on mental health. I’ve found so many new favourites because of her, make sure you follow!
Laura recommends Silver Silence by Nalini Singh
Laura says: Because bears! Silver Silence is the first book in Psy-Changeling Trinity but is also a direct continuation of the original Psy-Changeling series. Silver Mercant is the leader of the Emergency Network and has contacts in all the factions of the world, including Valentin Nikolaev, the Alpha of the Bears in Russia. This book is just so funny because bears have a tendency to accidentally break things because the world is not designed for bears. I also really love the romance between Silence and Valentin because the way Valentin shakes up Silver’s world is just a fun ride!
Control. Precision. Family. These are the principles that drive Silver Mercant. At a time when the fledgling Trinity Accord seeks to unite a divided world, with Silver playing a crucial role as director of a worldwide emergency response network, wildness and chaos are the last things she needs in her life. But that’s exactly what Valentin Nikolaev, alpha of the StoneWater bears, brings with him.
Valentin has never met a more fascinating woman. Though Silver is ruled by Silence–her mind clear of all emotion–Valentin senses a whisper of fire around her. That’s what keeps him climbing apartment buildings to be near her. But when a shadow assassin almost succeeds in poisoning Silver, the stakes become deadly serious…and Silver finds herself in the heart of a powerful bear clan.
Her would-be assassin has no idea what their poison has unleashed…
Laura talks about books on their Goodreads! They have the best indie recommendations and often discuss books I’ve never even heard of before! Follow them!
Rae recommends The Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides
Rae says: This was my first read of 2020 and while this year as a whole has been trash, it’s been a pretty good reading year. This was a five star read for me so hopefully you’ll enjoy it as much as I did. You’re in for a fun ride I promise!!
Alicia Berenson’s life is seemingly perfect. A famous painter married to an in-demand fashion photographer, she lives in a grand house with big windows overlooking a park in one of London’s most desirable areas. One evening her husband Gabriel returns home late from a fashion shoot, and Alicia shoots him five times in the face, and then never speaks another word.
Alicia’s refusal to talk, or give any kind of explanation, turns a domestic tragedy into something far grander, a mystery that captures the public imagination and casts Alicia into notoriety. The price of her art skyrockets, and she, the silent patient, is hidden away from the tabloids and spotlight at the Grove, a secure forensic unit in North London.
Theo Faber is a criminal psychotherapist who has waited a long time for the opportunity to work with Alicia. His determination to get her to talk and unravel the mystery of why she shot her husband takes him down a twisting path into his own motivations—a search for the truth that threatens to consume him…
Rae talks about books on her YouTube channel and blog @BookmarkChronicles. She reads a wide range of books, loves discussing intersectional feminism, and also has a bookstagram with her friend Tay, called Wine by the Book!
Beth recommends Kingdom of Souls by Rena Barron
Beth says: Kingdom of Souls by Rena Barron is the first book in an African inspired YA fantasy series, following Arrah as she searches for the cities missing children, begins to trade years of her life in return for the powerful magic of her bloodline that has previously evaded her, and gets caught in a war between the powerful Orisha gods and the Demon King. If you’ve ever wanted a darker YA fantasy, you’ll love Kingdom of Souls; featuring many immoral characters, twisted and complex family dynamics, the CREEPIEST demon child of all creepy demon children (with demon zombie friends!) and small POV snippets from the Orisha gods. Rena’s writing is so gorgeous, and the world is so complex and fully fleshed out. The beginning is slow whilst the author establishes the world, but once it gets going you won’t be able to put it down!
Born into a family of powerful witchdoctors, Arrah yearns for magic of her own. But each year she fails to call forth her ancestral powers, while her ambitious mother watches with growing disapproval.
There’s only one thing Arrah hasn’t tried, a deadly last resort: trading years of her own life for scraps of magic. Until the Kingdom’s children begin to disappear, and Arrah is desperate to find the culprit.
She uncovers something worse. The long-imprisoned Demon King is stirring. And if he rises, his hunger for souls will bring the world to its knees… unless Arrah pays the price for the magic to stop him.
Beth talks about books on her Goodreads account! Beth’s recommendations are always on point and I’ve loved every book she’s told me to read. Make sure you follow her!
Shan recommends Heartbreak Boys by Simon James Green
Shan says: I’d love to recommend Heartbreak Boys by Simon James Green. Mainly because the world is a pain right now and the book is super cute and it really helped me forget that for a while. It’s very funny and a gay YA rom/com that’s actually that. There’s a little angst in the beginning but not much and Jack and Nate are so adorable!!
Faking the best summer ever is a lot harder than it looks…
At the start of summer, Jack and Nate find themselves dumped as their respective exes, Dylan and Tariq, start up a new relationship together. Not only that, their exes start posting pics on social media, showing the whole world how fabulous their new life together is!
Jack and Nate are reeling. Not to be outdone, they decide to create their own ‘highlights reel’ and show their exes that they’re having an even better time.
But between the depressing motorway service station motels, damp campsites, and an ultimate showdown with the exes, something epic really is happening: Jack and Nate are learning to get over their heartache and open themselves up to new possibilities for love.
Gabs recommends Hurricane Season by Nicole Melleby
Gabs says: I love this book because it feels just like a giant warm hug. The family that Fig (my precious little lesbian), her dad (who is struggling with his music and a bipolar disorder) and Mark (the new next-door neighbour who Fig worries is going to be a problem) build for themselves is just so dear to me. It’s a story about love and art and healing and being vulnerable and honest and it express all this in such a hearwarming way, even though it deals with quite difficult topics.
Fig, a sixth grader, wants more than anything to see the world as her father does. The once-renowned pianist, who hasn’t composed a song in years and has unpredictable good and bad days, is something of a mystery to Fig. Though she’s a science and math nerd, she tries taking an art class just to be closer to him, to experience life the way an artist does. But then Fig’s dad shows up at school, disoriented and desperately searching for Fig. Not only has the class not brought Fig closer to understanding him, it has brought social services to their door.
Diving into books about Van Gogh to understand the madness of artists, calling on her best friend for advice, and turning to a new neighbor for support, Fig continues to try everything she can think of to understand her father, to save him from himself, and to find space in her life to discover who she is even as the walls are falling down around her.
Gabs talks about books over on their Goodreads! They have great book recs, especially when it comes to sapphic books, so make sure you follow them!
Glitter recommends Off Plan by May Archer
Glitter says: If you’re looking for a feel good read and enjoy reading MM books, Off Plan by May Archer is one you should definitely check out. It’s full of endearing characters, an eccentric community, a tropical setting and an abundance of humor and banter (and who doesn’t love that?). Off Plan had me laughing right from the beginning and the first encounter between the characters is utterly priceless. The romance between the two leads is so very warm and sweet, developing naturally as the story progressed. What I absolutely love most about this book, is that it is so funny! All the other secondary characters are so charming, you can’t help but love them as well! This book left me feeling light and happy and I can’t wait for the next installment of this series!
I came to Whispering Key for a job. That was all. To show the world Mason Bloom could be more than a small-town doctor living a medium-sized life.
Private doctor on a swanky island with a posh resort? Check.
But from the moment I set foot on this island, nothing went according to plan.
I didn’t expect to find the resort falling apart.
I didn’t expect the people here to be so charming and crazy and welcoming and real. I didn’t expect legends about shipwrecks and buried treasure.
And I definitely didn’t expect Fenn Reardon, the island’s incredibly attractive, incredibly infuriating, incredibly male resident tour guide, to become the one person I can’t live without.
Thirty-five’s a bit late for me to realize I’m not straight, though, right? And I have big dreams that won’t fit on Whispering Key, anyway—dreams that do not include tying myself to a tiny island stuck in the past or to a man who refuses to think about the future.
My head’s telling me I have to leave Whispering Key…
My heart’s telling me there might be treasure on this island after all.