The Hayley Kiyoko Book Tag

This tag was created by Mahana @thesapphicbiblio. I wasn’t tagged, but this was such a great idea that I had to do it. A post all about women who like women in books!

Girls Like Girls: your favorite sapphic read


The Gallery of Unfinished Girls by Lauren Karcz: one of my favorite books of all times, and my favorite book with a female main character who is in love with a girl. It’s a beautiful magical realism story about artist’s block, unhealthy perfectionism and being a teenager – which includes growing up and learning to move on. The main character is Mercedes Moreno, a bisexual Puerto Rican painter, and she’s one of the most complex and well-written main characters I’ve ever met in a standalone book.

Feelings: favorite sapphic couple


While “Marhiannon” is possibly the worst ship name ever, Marianne and Rhiannon from The Dark Beneath the Ice by Amelinda Bérubé are one of my favorite couples of this year, which is surprising from a book in which the romance isn’t even that important – it’s mostly about being mentally ill and wanting to disappear.
All my favorite books with sapphic main characters until this one were either romance-free or didn’t have romance as an endgame. I don’t know if it has to do with the fact that I’m aromantic or not, but I’m glad I finally found an all-time favorite with an endgame f/f romance.

Gravel to Tempo: Favorite Sapphic Protagonist


Ajewen Cheris from Ninefox Gambit by Yoon Ha Lee. Cheris is a very talented lesbian mathematician, a professional trouble magnet with the habit of being in the wrong place at the wrong time, and one of my favorite main characters ever. Seeing queer women in science (it doesn’t matter if it’s magical science as long as they’re framed as scientist and not witches*) always means a lot to me. This is my favorite book; it wasn’t my answer for the first question just because there’s no romance at all and no one in this book has romantic feelings for anyone, so to call the book “sapphic” could be misleading.

*not that I don’t like witches! Just not the same thing

Sleepover: favorite friends to lovers romance


Definitely Laila and Hannah from Final Draft by Riley Redgate. At the beginning of the book they’re unlikely friends, and they start to understand what they feel for each other during the novel. I loved their relationship dynamic – my problem with friend-to-lovers romances is that I usually find them very dull, but that didn’t happen here: Laila is an anxious girl with a great sense of humor, and Hannah is somewhat abrasive but also really great. The romance wasn’t the focus of this book – it’s a book about art and how the pursuit of art isn’t worth your sanity, mostly – but I loved it a lot anyway.
Also, Laila is a biracial Ecuadorian pansexual girl and Hannah is a Korean lesbian, so Final Draft is an f/f contemporary in which both girls aren’t white.

Wanna Be Missed: a book you need to reread


Girls Made of Snow and Glass by Melissa Bashardoust. I read it almost a year ago, loved it, and can’t wait to reread it, maybe this winter – it’s a slow-paced wintry retelling of Snow White, with an f/f romance between a princess and a surgeon, and main characters I loved.

Molecules: saddest character death


Vivi in The Meaning of Birds by Jaye Robin Brown. I may not have liked most of it, but it’s one of the books that handles the death of a sapphic character better. This is a story about a girl whose girlfriend has just died unexpectedly, and while I disliked most of the present storyline, I loved the parts about Jess and Vivi’s relationship, which made Vivi’s death feel even more sad. (It’s not a spoiler, it’s a non-linear novel and you know since the beginning.)

Let it Be: saddest break-up or separation


We Are Okay by Nina LaCour. The romantic relationship was only in the flashbacks in this book, and it was one more sad detail in a very sad-but-hopeful, beautiful book.

What I Need: A book you had high expectations for but was disappointed in


I have a lot of f/f answers for this one, and it makes me sad. I’m going to talk about the one I was expecting to like the most, but other f/f books that could fit are The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid, Far From You by Tess Sharpe and Barbary Station by R.E. Stearns.

The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet by Becky Chambers. I don’t get the hype, I really don’t. I thought I was going to love this, but between the preachy, unsubtle writing, the lack of worldbuilding, the terrible representation of sensory issues and… Sissix, I really didn’t like this.

Curious: your favorite angsty romance


Yên and Vu Côn from In the Vanishers’ Palace by Aliette de Bodard. What can be better than an f/f romance and a monster romance? An f/f monster romance! This book is a sapphic Beauty and the Beast retelling with an all-Vietnamese cast in which the beast is a shapeshifting dragon and I loved it. The romance isn’t really angsty (which I actually don’t like that much) because it’s a short book, but there’s some angst and it’s really well-written.

Mercy/Gatekeeper: Favorite sad book


I found Into the Drowning Deep by Mira Grant just as sad as it was scary. Yes, that’s generally what happens when lots of characters die. I loved it because it got the “the sea is scary” feeling perfectly, but the many sad scenes meant that it took me a lot to finish reading it.

Not related to the question, but Tory and Olivia from this book are one of my favorite f/f couples ever (they would probably be my favorite if it weren’t for Marhiannon) and I love both of them so much. A bisexual marine biologist and an autistic lesbian who is a camera operator. I miss them already.

Palm Dreams: a sapphic book you think deserves more hype?


All of them? All of them, f/f content is almost always underrated. A sapphic book I haven’t named yet in this post that deserves more hype is A Line in the Dark by Malinda Lo. I feel like Malinda Lo’s books never get the hype they deserve – even her most well-known novel, Ash (which I also really liked), isn’t one I hear about often – but this unusual slice-of-life/mystery mashup with an f/f/f love triangle deserves more love. It’s creepy and it’s about dysfunctional relationships and the characters are kind of terrible at times but I loved them all.

What are your favorite books with women who like women as main characters?

4 thoughts on “The Hayley Kiyoko Book Tag

  1. I’m reading in the Vanisher’s palace right now, and oh my god, you were so right, what a wonderful book, I’m loving it so much. Dark beneath the Ice was a solid read for me, but I didn’t love it as much as you, although I agree that Ron and Marianne were a wonderful couple. I really liked into the drowning deep too! I’m kind of scared that you didn’t like The Long Way to a small angry planet, because it’s been on my tbr for a while, and it’s one of those books I was pretty sure I was gonna love — I’ll be going into it with lowered expectations now, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, honestly — I’m just afraid I’ll be disappointed as well.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I think the main reason I didn’t like The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet is that it’s really not my kind of sci-fi. It’s a slow-paced slice-of-life story about a hopeful future, but to me it just felt… fake, like someone was screaming “think positive!!” between the lines. Many people didn’t feel this way, however – I usually see this book described as heartwarming – so I think that if you go into it with the right expectation (so, unlike me, don’t expect something like a fast-paced adventure in space…) you’re probably not going to hate it.
      And I’m glad you’re liking In the Vanisher’s Palace!


  2. I’m so excited to read The Gallery of Unfinished Girls and this reminds me that I really want to read A Line in the Dark as well. I love messy, unlikable characters. You’re right about all f/f books being so underhyped. That’s true for my favorites as well. Two I’d really love to see people talk about more are Marriage of a Thousand Lies, which is about a Sri Lankan lesbian woman in a marriage with a gay man, and The One Hundred Nights of Hero, which is a wonderful graphic novel inspired by 1001 Nights with an f/f couple as MC’s.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I had never heard of Marriage of a Thousand Lies before, and I know that’s a genre I never reach for, but I wasn’t even aware it existed. I wonder how many I’m missing in genres I actually read.
      And I hope you like The Gallery of Unfinished Girls!


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