I’ll be co-hosting Femathon in March; come join in! This might be the only recommendations post I’ll be making where I’ve actually read every single book on the list … LoL yay? I’m also giggling right now because “Sissy That Walk” by RuPaul started playing on the radio as I’m writing this post.
Definitely check the content warnings for this one before picking it up because it features rape. This book also features identity exploration and mental health. If you like audiobooks, it’s narrated by the author – which is pretty neat. You may notice this non-binary author pop up again in another one of my recommendation posts, because I’ve really been enjoying their writing. Freshwater by Akwaeke Emezi could also be used in Fem Positive, BIPOC Rep, Platonic Fem Relationship, and Fems Fight Back.
An extraordinary debut novel, Freshwater explores the surreal experience of having a fractured self. It centers around a young Nigerian woman, Ada, who develops separate selves within her as a result of being born “with one foot on the other side.” Unsettling, heartwrenching, dark, and powerful, Freshwater is a sharp evocation of a rare way of experiencing the world, one that illuminates how we all construct our identities.– Goodreads Book Blurb
Ada begins her life in the south of Nigeria as a troubled baby and a source of deep concern to her family. Her parents, Saul and Saachi, successfully prayed her into existence, but as she grows into a volatile and splintered child, it becomes clear that something went terribly awry. When Ada comes of age and moves to America for college, the group of selves within her grows in power and agency. A traumatic assault leads to a crystallization of her alternate selves: Asụghara and Saint Vincent. As Ada fades into the background of her own mind and these selves–now protective, now hedonistic–move into control, Ada’s life spirals in a dark and dangerous direction.
Narrated by the various selves within Ada and based in the author’s realities, Freshwater dazzles with ferocious energy and serpentine grace, heralding the arrival of a fierce new literary voice.
I first read this YA book in 2019 and made a video about it; I still love the cover art and distinctly remember the story beats in Wilder Girls by Rory Power. Think SciFi/Magical Realism meets Dystopian at a boarding school with some queer girls. Also, whoever started the rumor that this is a feminist twist on Lord of the Flies is very wrong. This is a queer horror/thriller that stars female protagonists. The only thing it has remotely in common with Lord of the Flies is that there are boats and people on an island. This could also count in Fem Positive and Fems Fight Back.
It’s been eighteen months since the Raxter School for Girls was put under quarantine. Since the Tox hit and pulled Hetty’s life out from under her.– Goodreads Book Blurb
It started slow. First the teachers died one by one. Then it began to infect the students, turning their bodies strange and foreign. Now, cut off from the rest of the world and left to fend for themselves on their island home, the girls don’t dare wander outside the school’s fence, where the Tox has made the woods wild and dangerous. They wait for the cure they were promised as the Tox seeps into everything.
But when Byatt goes missing, Hetty will do anything to find her, even if it means breaking quarantine and braving the horrors that lie beyond the fence. And when she does, Hetty learns that there’s more to their story, to their life at Raxter, than she could have ever thought true.
So I kinda made a whole video review about The Priory of the Orange Tree by Samantha Shannon … I personally didn’t enjoy it much, but if you liked Christopher Paolini’s The Inheritance Cycle (Eragon et al) you’ll probably like this epic fantasy. This could also count in Fem Positive and Fems Fight Back.
A world divided. A queendom without an heir. An ancient enemy awakens.– Goodreads Book Blurb
The House of Berethnet has ruled Inys for a thousand years. Still unwed, Queen Sabran the Ninth must conceive a daughter to protect her realm from destruction – but assassins are getting closer to her door.
Ead Duryan is an outsider at court. Though she has risen to the position of lady-in-waiting, she is loyal to a hidden society of mages. Ead keeps a watchful eye on Sabran, secretly protecting her with forbidden magic.
Across the dark sea, Tané has trained to be a dragonrider since she was a child, but is forced to make a choice that could see her life unravel.
Meanwhile, the divided East and West refuse to parley, and forces of chaos are rising from their sleep.
So Across the Green Grass Fields by Seanan McGuire is actually the 6th (and presumably final book?) in her Wayward Children’s Series, but it is marketed as a standalone, and I would agree. If you want a middle grade story about a trans girl being transported to a world with centaurs and unicorns then you need to pick up this book. My only complaint about this series is I wish they weren’t novellas. This could also count in Fem Positive and Fems Fight Back.
“Welcome to the Hooflands. We’re happy to have you, even if you being here means something’s coming.”
Regan loves, and is loved, though her school-friend situation has become complicated, of late.
When she suddenly finds herself thrust through a doorway that asks her to “Be Sure” before swallowing her whole, Regan must learn to live in a world filled with centaurs, kelpies, and other magical equines―a world that expects its human visitors to step up and be heroes.
But after embracing her time with the herd, Regan discovers that not all forms of heroism are equal, and not all quests are as they seem…– Goodreads Book Blurb
I think The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet by Becky Chambers is one of the first books I picked up after my 10 year reading hiatus and I’M SO GLAD I DID. In fact I might re-read it this year. The audiobook is fabulous. If you’re looking for a light-hearted space opera about found-family. you need to read this. This could also count in Fem Positive and Fems Fight Back.
Rosemary Harper doesn’t expect much when she joins the crew of the aging Wayfarer. While the patched-up ship has seen better days, it offers her a bed, a chance to explore the far-off corners of the galaxy, and most importantly, some distance from her past. An introspective young woman who learned early to keep to herself, she’s never met anyone remotely like the ship’s diverse crew, including Sissix, the exotic reptilian pilot, chatty engineers Kizzy and Jenks who keep the ship running, and Ashby, their noble captain.– Goodreads Book Blurb
Life aboard the Wayfarer is chaotic and crazy—exactly what Rosemary wants. It’s also about to get extremely dangerous when the crew is offered the job of a lifetime. Tunneling wormholes through space to a distant planet is definitely lucrative and will keep them comfortable for years. But risking her life wasn’t part of the plan. In the far reaches of deep space, the tiny Wayfarer crew will confront a host of unexpected mishaps and thrilling adventures that force them to depend on each other. To survive, Rosemary’s got to learn how to rely on this assortment of oddballs—an experience that teaches her about love and trust, and that having a family isn’t necessarily the worst thing in the universe.
I talked about the second book in the Kyoshi duology in my 2020 favorites video. If you’re not acquainted with Avatar the Last Airbender The Rise of Kyoshi does a great job of introducing the world of the Avatar. If you’re already familiar, this is a great lore expansion on the series. This could also count in Fem Positive and Fems Fight Back.
F. C. Yee’s The Rise of Kyoshi delves into the story of Kyoshi, the Earth Kingdom–born Avatar. The longest-living Avatar in this beloved world’s history, Kyoshi established the brave and respected Kyoshi Warriors, but also founded the secretive Dai Li, which led to the corruption, decline, and fall of her own nation. The first of two novels based on Kyoshi, The Rise of Kyoshi maps her journey from a girl of humble origins to the merciless pursuer of justice who is still feared and admired centuries after she became the Avatar.– Goodreads Book Blurb
I just need to say that I NEED a sequel to this book that follows Liz to college. You Should See Me in a Crown is a fun YA Contemporary followins Liz on her quest to win the title of Prom Queen which comes with a scholarship. This could also count in Fem Positive, BIPOC Rep, and Fems Fight Back. (and possibly Disability/Neurodiversity since it also features sickle cell anemia representation)
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.– Goodreads Book Blurb
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?
The book blurb for These Witches Don’t Burn by Isabel Sterling is gloriously accurate at setting the stage for what to expect in this YA Fantasy. If you get attached to characters you might want to keep a handkerchief around. This could also count in Fem Positive, Platonic Fem Relationship, and Fems Fight Back.
Hannah’s a witch, but not the kind you’re thinking of. She’s the real deal, an Elemental with the power to control fire, earth, water, and air. But even though she lives in Salem, Massachusetts, her magic is a secret she has to keep to herself. If she’s ever caught using it in front of a Reg (read: non-witch), she could lose it. For good. So, Hannah spends most of her time avoiding her ex-girlfriend (and fellow Elemental Witch) Veronica, hanging out with her best friend, and working at the Fly by Night Cauldron selling candles and crystals to tourists, goths, and local Wiccans.– Goodreads Book Blurb
But dealing with her ex is the least of Hannah’s concerns when a terrifying blood ritual interrupts the end-of-school-year bonfire. Evidence of dark magic begins to appear all over Salem, and Hannah’s sure it’s the work of a deadly Blood Witch. The issue is, her coven is less than convinced, forcing Hannah to team up with the last person she wants to see: Veronica.
While the pair attempt to smoke out the Blood Witch at a house party, Hannah meets Morgan, a cute new ballerina in town. But trying to date amid a supernatural crisis is easier said than done, and Hannah will have to test the limits of her power if she’s going to save her coven and get the girl, especially when the attacks on Salem’s witches become deadlier by the day.
Waiting on a Bright Moon is the first book/novella I’ve read by J.Y. Yang who is known for their Tensorate series which I now have sitting on my digital TBR. I can’t really tell you much more than the book blurb without spoiling it since it is only a 41 page story, so if you’re looking for a short book to fill out your roster and/or more non-binary voices then check this out. It could also count in Fem Positive, BIPOC Rep, and Fems Fight Back.
Xin is an ansible, using her song magic to connect the originworld of the Imperial Authority and its far-flung colonies— a role that is forced upon magically-gifted women “of a certain closeness”. When a dead body comes through her portal at a time of growing rebellion, Xin is drawn deep into a station-wide conspiracy along with Ouyang Suqing, one of the station’s mysterious, high-ranking starmages.– Goodreads Book Blurb
You want a cute, magical YA graphic novel? Pick up Mooncakes by Suzanne Walker and Wendy Xu. I’m not aware of this story getting a sequel/series, but I really want that to be a thing. This could also count in Fem Positive and Platonic Fem Relationship.
A story of love and demons, family and witchcraft.– Goodreads Book Blurb
Nova Huang knows more about magic than your average teen witch. She works at her grandmothers’ bookshop, where she helps them loan out spell books and investigate any supernatural occurrences in their New England town.
One fateful night, she follows reports of a white wolf into the woods, and she comes across the unexpected: her childhood crush, Tam Lang, battling a horse demon in the woods. As a werewolf, Tam has been wandering from place to place for years, unable to call any town home.
Pursued by dark forces eager to claim the magic of wolves and out of options, Tam turns to Nova for help. Their latent feelings are rekindled against the backdrop of witchcraft, untested magic, occult rituals, and family ties both new and old in this enchanting tale of self-discovery.
So I originally found out about this series because someone recommended it to me since Natasha Ngan is an author with Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome who writes YA Fantasy. Girls of Paper and Fire was just ok~ to me. I’m more of a story first, romance second type of reader usually, and this series in the reverse of that. But, hey, maybe you’ll like it more than me? Check the content warnings before you get into it though. This could also count as Fems Fight Back.
Each year, eight beautiful girls are chosen as Paper Girls to serve the king. It’s the highest honor they could hope for…and the most demeaning. This year, there’s a ninth. And instead of paper, she’s made of fire.– Goodreads Book Blurb
In this richly developed fantasy, Lei is a member of the Paper caste, the lowest and most persecuted class of people in Ikhara. She lives in a remote village with her father, where the decade-old trauma of watching her mother snatched by royal guards for an unknown fate still haunts her. Now, the guards are back and this time it’s Lei they’re after — the girl with the golden eyes whose rumored beauty has piqued the king’s interest.
Over weeks of training in the opulent but oppressive palace, Lei and eight other girls learns the skills and charm that befit a king’s consort. There, she does the unthinkable — she falls in love. Her forbidden romance becomes enmeshed with an explosive plot that threatens her world’s entire way of life. Lei, still the wide-eyed country girl at heart, must decide how far she’s willing to go for justice and revenge.
Sometimes I just want to read something with lots of Fey stuff and equal parts college teen angst – that’s a good chunk of what The Black Witch Chronicles by Laurie Forest is. There is a lot of social commentary in this series regarding religion, government, queer rights, racism (in a Fey setting), and possibly more that I’m forgetting to list off. I’ve currently read all of the series that is out at the time of this being written (February 2021), so I don’t distinctly remember which books discuss which topics – so just join me in reading the whole thing? This could also count in Fem Positivity and Fems Fight back.
A new Black Witch will rise…her powers vast beyond imagining.– Goodreads Book Blurb
Elloren Gardner is the granddaughter of the last prophesied Black Witch, Carnissa Gardner, who drove back the enemy forces and saved the Gardnerian people during the Realm War. But while she is the absolute spitting image of her famous grandmother, Elloren is utterly devoid of power in a society that prizes magical ability above all else.
When she is granted the opportunity to pursue her lifelong dream of becoming an apothecary, Elloren joins her brothers at the prestigious Verpax University to embrace a destiny of her own, free from the shadow of her grandmother’s legacy. But she soon realizes that the university, which admits all manner of people—including the fire-wielding, winged Icarals, the sworn enemies of all Gardnerians—is a treacherous place for the granddaughter of the Black Witch.
As evil looms on the horizon and the pressure to live up to her heritage builds, everything Elloren thought she knew will be challenged and torn away. Her best hope of survival may be among the most unlikely band of rebels…if only she can find the courage to trust those she’s been taught to fear.
Tell me all of you LGBTQIA+ recommendations! Have you read any of the books on this list?