Fave Five: Queer Autistic Rep, Round 2

For the first round of queer autistic MCs, click here.

Their Troublesome Crush by Xan West (contemp romance)

An Unkindness of Ghosts by Rivers Solomon (sci-fi)

Blood-Bound by Kaelan Rhywiol (fantasy)

No Man of Woman Born by Ana Mardoll (fantasy)

Uncomfortable Labels: My Life as a Gay Autistic Trans Woman by Laura Kate Dale (memoir)

Bonus: In short fiction, check out “A Curse, a Kindness” by Corinne Duyvis in Unbroken!

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How My Hometown Became My Novel’s Setting: a Guest Post by I Knew Him Author Abigail de Niverville

In his senior year of high school, Julian has one goal: be invisible. All he wants is to study hard, play basketball, and pretend he’s straight for one more year. Then, he can run away to university and finally tell the world he’s bisexual. And by “the world,” he means everyone but his mom and best friend. That’s two conversations he never wants to have.

When he’s talked into auditioning for the school’s production of Hamlet, Julian fears that veering off course will lead to assumptions he’s not ready to face. Despite that, he can’t help but feel a connection to this play. His absent father haunts him like a ghost, his ex is being difficult, and he’s overthinking everything. It’s driving him crazy.

The decision to audition leads Julian on an entirely different path. He’s cast as Hamlet, and the boy playing Horatio is unlike anyone Julian has met before. Mysterious and flirtatious, Sky draws Julian in, even though he fears his feelings at the same time. As the two grow closer, Julian begins to let out the secrets he’s never told—the ones that have paralyzed him for years. But what will he do if Sky feels the same way?

Buy it: Books2Read | Amazon | B&N

I didn’t start writing my debut novel I Knew Him with the intention of setting it in a somewhat fictionalized version of my hometown. Riverview, New Brunswick wasn’t a particularly special or memorable place, and growing up I often dreamed of leaving. But as the story developed, I realized how badly I needed to root it there.

I penned the first draft when I was fifteen years old, in 2009. Back then, Canadian content was different than it was now, and the feelings Canadians had about CanCon were different too. I remember being assigned to read a Canadian novel or read a classic novel as part of an English assignment. A lot of people in my class picked to read a classic because, “Canadian books suck.”

In general, that sentiment was prevalent across all Canadian content, from music to TV to books. Canadian content was bad, and we shouldn’t engage in it. But I never really shared that sentiment. There were a lot of Canadian things I enjoyed, and in my teen years, I sought them out. I was trying so hard to understand myself, to find places I was represented. And while there was a lot I didn’t understand, one thing I was certain of was being Canadian. I searched high and low for content that spoke to me, with varying degrees of success.

A lot of the Canadian YA novels I read in high school were barely identifiable as Canadian. Most of the time, the only way I knew something was Canadian was the little maple leaf sticker my local library stuck to book spines. Some of these novels even took place in the states. It was so disheartening to open a book with that little maple leaf sticker only to find it was set somewhere like New England.

When I began to rework the draft for I Knew Him, I realized my setting needed more details. Deciding to follow the age-old advice to “write what you know,” I started adding things I was familiar with, like the pool in the high school, and the river facing town. Soon, the existence of French and English schools found its way in there, and even the beat-up cars people would sell on front lawns made an appearance. I slowly realized that the non-specific setting I was writing about was actually Riverview, so what was stopping me from setting the story there?

Grounding all those little details into a real place felt good, and I hoped that maybe a reader in Eastern Canada would pick up this story, discover its setting, and feel seen. While I don’t live in Riverview anymore, I wanted to write about the place I knew. I wanted to write the story I never got to read in high school, and I wanted it to happen in the place I’d needed it. Even though Riverview could be anywhere, for much of my life it was my whole world. And maybe I needed to acknowledge that.

Now more than ever, I notice Canadians taking more pride in the media produced by Canadians. I read book reviews where someone says “wow! It’s set in Canada! I love that!” I see tweets gushing about the latest episode of Schitt’s Creek or Anne with an E. I’m not sure why that is exactly, but I’m glad for it. I want to see more Canadian stories, I want to see places I know in the media I consume. I want to be part of it. We are such a large country with so much richness, so many settings, and so many stories waiting to be told.

***

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Photo by: Barbara Safran de Niverville

Abigail de Niverville is an author and composer based in Toronto, Ontario. Originally from New Brunswick, Canada, she’s often inspired by the places she frequented there and the experiences she lived. She holds an M.Mus from the University of Toronto and is currently working on new music, as well as new works of fiction.

 

 

 

Exclusive Trailer Reveal: Keep This to Yourself by Tom Ryan (+ Preorder Giveaway Details!)

I’m so excited to welcome Tom Ryan to the site today to reveal the trailer of Keep This to Yourself, a totally twisted gay YA thriller publishing by Albert Whitman on May 21, 2019! If you love books that keep you guessing all the way til’ the end, enjoy having your mind completely blown by this debut. Here are the details:

It’s been a year since the Catalog Killer terrorized the sleepy seaside town of Camera Cove, killing four people before disappearing without a trace.

Like everyone else in town, eighteen-year-old Mac Bell is trying to put that horrible summer behind him—easier said than done since Mac’s best friend Connor was the murderer’s final victim. But when he finds a cryptic message from Connor, he’s drawn back into the search for the killer—who might not have been a random drifter after all. Now nobody—friends, neighbors, or even the sexy stranger with his own connection to the case—is beyond suspicion. Sensing that someone is following his every move, Mac struggles to come to terms with his true feelings towards Connor while scrambling to uncover the truth.

Preorder: Amazon | Amazon Canada| Indiebound | Barnes and Noble | Indigo/ Chapters 

And now, I’ll give Tom the floor so he can reveal the trailer and share all about his awesome preorder giveaway!

***

I’m so excited to be here to reveal the book trailer for Keep This to Yourself, along with some exciting details about the pre-order giveaway that we’ve had in the works for the past couple of months. Thank you so much to LGBTQ Reads for giving me the space to scream about this!

Keep This to Yourself has a new release date of May 21st, just over a month away. I’ve been so happy with the early reviews, which included my very first star, from Kirkus! They called Keep This to Yourself “breathtakingly chilling…eerie and wholly immersive…A tightly plotted mystery.”

Pre-order

Anyone who pre-orders by May 20th (US/Canada) will receive a swag package which includes a KTTY bookmark, signed bookplate, and a “Welcome to Camera Cove” postcard. www.keepthistoyourselfbook.com

For weeks I’ve also been teasing details of an extra-special pre-order gift, and I’m thrilled to finally announce details of that today!

First, some background: when I was young I was obsessed with mysteries, from the complete sets of Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew that kept me occupied during an extended stay in the children’s wing of my local hospital, to the Agatha Christie classics that I’d inhale during long, lazy summer afternoons.

As a teen, my interests shifted to thrillers; I made my way through the unbearably creepy Lois Duncan mysteries that were stocked in my small town school library, and then moved on to campy, gruesome R.L. Stine and Christopher Pike novels, filled with morally compromised, neon-clad teenagers who invariably found themselves up against unspeakable evils.

Today I still love mysteries and thrillers of all sorts, but when I finally sat down to write one of my own, it was the breathlessly earnest, deliriously creepy teenage thrillers that I’d loved in my youth that were at the front of my mind – with one big difference. In the 80s and 90s, there were no queer teens in the pages of the books that I read, but these days, thankfully, that’s no longer the case. In many ways, Keep This to Yourself is a tip of the hat to the trashy teen thrillers of my high school days, with an LGBTQ twist.

As I discussed marketing plans with the team at Albert Whitman, those garish, saturated, beautiful covers from my youth came back to me, and I had an idea: would it be possible to commission an artist to illustrate a scene from Keep This to Yourself through a vintage lens, an illustration that would pay homage to the classics of the genre, while re-imagining and re-envisioning them to include LGBTQ representation?

To my delight, Albert Whitman loved the idea, and asked me to come up with a list of artists who might fit the bill. I did some digging, and asked twitter for recommendations, and I quickly settled on a fantastic short-list. I’m here to tell you, there is immeasurable queer talent in the world, but at the end of the day one artist was always at the very top of my list…

I am SO thrilled to announce that the absolutely incredible comics artist and illustrator Cat Staggs is creating an original illustration based on a scene from Keep This to Yourself, in the style of the great YA thrillers from the 70s, 80s and 90s. Cat’s vintage aesthetic, the projects that she chooses to work on, and above all her raw talent, genuinely dazzled me from the minute I discovered her work. I’m still pinching myself that she agreed to work on this project. You can explore Cat’s amazing talent at her website: www.catstaggs.com

We’ll be revealing Cat’s artwork very early in May. For those who are interested in pre-ordering, you can find details, including buy links and forms to fill out if you’ve either pre-ordered, or requested a your local library, here: www.keepthistoyourselfbook.com

I’m so excited to reveal Cat’s work in a few weeks. In the meantime, here’s the official book trailer for Keep This to Yourself!

***

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Tom Ryan is the author of several books for young readers. He has been nominated for the White Pine Award, the Stellar Award and the Hackmatack Award, and two of his books were Junior Library Guild selections. Two of his young adult novels, Way to Go and Tag Along, were chosen for the ALA Rainbow List, in 2013 and 2014. He was a 2017 Lambda Literary Fellow in Young Adult Fiction. Tom, his husband and their dog currently divide their time between Ontario and Nova Scotia.

 

Exclusive Cover Reveal: Silenci by R.M. Sayan

Silenci cover

In Abadosos, nobody speaks of the werewolves—in fact, nobody speaks at all.

Joaquím is attacked by a werewolf on a full moon in which he foolishly forgets to take shelter. But he lives to see the light of day, mostly unscathed.

Nursed back to health with the help of his friend Zarif and his cousin Remei, he lives on unknowing whether he was bitten or not. But the curse of the lycanthrope proves to be more complex than it appears, and Joaquím begins to doubt not only himself, but those close to him and everything he knows about his hometown. The pressure and paranoia cloud his way, and nobody seems to have answers to his questions.

After all, in Abadosos, nobody speaks.

And here’s the cover, designed by Kirby Crow!

Silenci cover

SILENCI comes out May 1, 2019 from Less Than Three Press. Pre-order now!

And now, an excerpt from chapter 6 of SILENCI: 

The day of the full moon slid in between the villagers of Abadosos and not a word was uttered about it. That was, after all, how Joaquím had gotten into this mess in the first place. All day trading bread and meat for firewood and not a word had been exchanged.

That day, Joaquím felt like he finally recovered his head’s integrity and went into the woods to chop lumber. The strain on his muscles pushed the suffocating feeling of solitude to the back of his concerns, but as he ruffled his hair, he felt that pinch on the back of his head. The wound had closed and the gut dissolved, but he still had business to settle.

He persisted with his day until he returned with a stack of lumber to match his output before the incident. Guillem traded him a basket of bread and Nura a set of teas to help with headaches; the rest gave only suspicious looks and rude refusals. He returned the provisions to Remei’s house and, with his skin crawling from anxiety and his cheeks aching from so many fake smiles, headed for Zarif’s.

Joaquím did not expect to feel this guilty after abandoning him without a word; was that not how things were done in Abadosos? Had he already become attached? Was it too late for him?

When he knocked on Zarif’s door, the sky had already turned the color of the peaches across the lake. It opened by a crack, and a black mane nearly blocked the peeking eye. Zarif’s eyes had always been large, but they became positively round when they landed on Joaquím. “Did you forget again?” he murmured.

“Not this time,” he replied, trying to hide his misplaced smugness. “But we’ve time.”

Joaquím nudged the door open and entered, much to Zarif’s unease. The moor stepped aside and closed the trapdoor that led down to the shelter with his foot. He ran a hand through his hair and refused to meet his eyes, as if he didn’t know which of the many things fluttering inside his head to address first. “I… thought you didn’t want to see me.”

The statement sank into Joaquím’s conscience like a dagger on flesh. “I was taking care of myself and you,” he said, hiding his remorse with a careless smile. “Consider it returning the favor.”

“I don’t understand.” Zarif’s gaze lowered to look at his side. “What is that for?”

Joaquím followed his gaze. He had his axe in hand. “It’s for you.” He held it up with both hands and closed the distance between himself and Zarif, offering it up to him. “If I turn tonight, I…” He took a deep breath and swallowed his guilt. “I want you to kill me.”

R. M. Sayan is a writer, sometimes illustrator, amateur photographer, avid tabletop gamer, studious filmmaker, tattoo aficionado, and a constant work in progress. Often referred to as just ‘Robb’, they can often be found ranting about assorted fandoms on twitter, swooning over their beautiful partner, and being overdramatic. They like to dabble in many genres, from historical fiction to urban fantasy, from dystopian sci-fi to weird west, but always sneaking queerness somewhere in there.

Exclusive Cover Reveal: Team Phison Forever by Chasia Lloyd!

Hey, remember when we did this cover reveal for Team Phison? Well, we’re bringing things full circle here by revealing the cover of its sequel, Team Phison Forever, which releases on May 15! Here’s the sequel’s story:

Tyson Falls is ready to get married. After being disowned by his parents, his adorably grumpy boyfriend has made cautiously optimistic Tyson embrace the concept of family again. Armed with a ring and the newest video game, Tyson has plans for the nerdiest proposal.

Life throws a wrench in Tyson’s plans when he meets someone online during a multiplayer match. Someone that makes him rethink if he’s ready to start a family—the half-sister he never knew he had.

With the harsh reminder of how messy families can be, Tyson plunges headfirst into despair. Phil doesn’t deserve to be dragged into such a terrible bond. As Tyson wades through trauma and tries to push away the concept of family, he keeps turning to the man he loves most—the person who challenges him to redefine family.

And here’s the cover, featuring Phil and Tyson as drawn by the incredible Shelbie Copas!

(Image: a cartoon-style drawing of a gay couple, one of whom is sitting on the floor playing video games, and the other of whom is resting an arm on his head and watching. Both are wearing Santa hats.)

How freaking cute?? And you can preorder it now!

Amazon | Gumroad

Chace Verity (she/they) is publishing queer as heck stories with a strong romantic focus, although friendships and found families are important too. Chace prefers to write fantasy but dabbles in contemporary and historical fiction as well. An American citizen & Canadian permanent resident, Chace will probably never be able to call a gallon of milk a “four-liter.”

 

New Release Spotlight: Once & Future by Amy Rose Capetta and Cori McCarthy

I really couldn’t not feature a book that’s a genderbent King Arthur legend with a queer female Arthur (aka Ari) in an f/f romance, a gay teenaged Merlin, a nonbinary Lamorak who uses they/them pronouns, and so on and so forth, by two of the best names queer YA has to offer. (Full disclosure but really it’s more like bragging: I did moderate their NYC launch, and it was fabulous.) This book is wildly fun and inclusive and I’m so excited it’s the first in a series. Get thee to it!

Once & Future by Amy Rose Capetta and Cori McCarthy (26th)

Once & Future (Once & Future, #1)I’ve been chased my whole life. As an illegal immigrant in the territory controlled by the tyrannical Mercer corporation, I’ve always had to hide who I am. Until I found Excalibur.

Now I’m done hiding.

My name is Ari Helix. I have a magic sword, a cranky wizard, and a revolution to start.

When Ari crash-lands on Old Earth and pulls a magic sword from its ancient resting place, she is revealed to be the newest reincarnation of King Arthur. Then she meets Merlin, who has aged backward over the centuries into a teenager, and together they must break the curse that keeps Arthur coming back. Their quest? Defeat the cruel, oppressive government and bring peace and equality to all humankind.

No pressure.

Buy it: B&N | Amazon | Books of Wonder (signed)

Exclusive Cover + Excerpt Reveal: Their Troublesome Crush by Xan West!

Today on the site we’re revealing yet another super cute cover by Xan West, this one for Their Troublesome Crush, the contemporary polyam trans m/cis f Romance novella that kicks off the Kink & Showtunes series with its release on April 16, 2019! Here’s the blurb:

In this queer polyamorous m/f romance novella, two metamours realize they have crushes on each other while planning their shared partner’s birthday party together. Ernest, a Jewish autistic demiromantic queer fat trans man submissive, and Nora, a Jewish disabled queer fat femme cis woman switch, have to contend with an age gap, a desire not to mess up their lovely polyamorous dynamic as metamours, the fact that Ernest has never been attracted to a cis person before, and the reality that they are romantically attracted to each other, all while planning their dominant’s birthday party and trying to do a really good job.

Content Warnings are here: https://xanwest.wordpress.com/their-troublesome-crush/

And here’s the cover, illustrated by Hannah Aroni!

(An illustrated cover featuring a fat brunette cane-using woman in a cupcake-printed dress holding hands with a fat redheaded trans man in jeans and an open plaid shirt in front of a bakery display case full of cupcakes.)

Preorder: Gumroad | Amazon

But wait, there’s more! Behold, an excerpt!

Ernest had the best idea for Daddy’s birthday and he couldn’t wait to share it with Nora. When would she get here? He was so excited that his hands were fluttery, and he was bouncing a little. They were going to throw Gideon an amazing birthday party, and Gideon was going to ruffle his hair and call him a good boy, and cup Nora’s cheek and give her that sweet smile he had just for her, and he would tell them both they did a good job. There was nothing better than doing a good job.

Ernest was getting ahead of himself, he knew, but he couldn’t help it. He always got giddy at the beginning of tasks; this was their first joint task doing service for Gideon as metamours, and that was exciting, and Ernest was rather bouncy in general, anyway. Luckily, Nora was more grounded and moved slowly and deliberately, so they would balance each other out, he thought. Ernest had this image in his head, of himself tugging on Daddy’s hand, racing forward, unruly short red curls going every which way, and Nora holding Gideon’s other hand, moving slow and steady, gazing up at him like he hung the moon, her tight dark curls framing her face in a somewhat controlled cloud. Maybe there was a song in that, he thought, the two rhythms dancing around the melody, balancing it. His fingers moved on his thighs, building the rhythms, as his head started to fill with the melody. Then these two women sat right next to him, talking loudly about the bat mitzvah they were planning, and he lost the song altogether. He should have sat in the corner.

Ernest moved to the corner table, which was quieter, thankfully, but he couldn’t get the song back, so he sketched out the idea in his notebook and turned his attention back to the party planning. There were a ton of cupcake shops in NYC, but Nora favored this one on the Lower East Side; they were meeting there so Ernest could try them out. He still wasn’t sure cupcakes were the right choice. They would be perfect for his own birthday, but perhaps Gideon would want something more dignified. He had his eye on a pie shop in Brooklyn. But it made sense to at least try the cupcakes, didn’t it? How could he resist a chance to try cupcakes?

Maybe they should get a half dozen and sample. It would give him a chance to take leftovers home and see what Daddy thought. But he knew Nora was diabetic and that made it thorny to fill the table with cupcakes. What if it was a mean thing to do, since she probably could only have a few bites? At least, that was what she generally did with desserts, when they had gotten them in the past. They always shared so she could have a taste but not mess up her blood sugar. But maybe it wasn’t right for him to not ask just because she was diabetic? He didn’t want to act like he was in charge of her food choices. He thought it through, considering it from a few angles, trying to figure out what would be the most considerate and the least intrusive and the most respectful of her autonomy, his brain filling with these spiraling thoughts that contradicted each other, until he remembered what Jax had said to him once: “People think they are being so caring when they comment on what you eat, when you’re a fat diabetic. They don’t see the way our food choices are constantly scrutinized and judged, the way we’re so often blamed for having diabetes, how we have unhelpful non-consensual help pushed on us all the time. What I really need is to be left alone…unless I ask for information or help.”

Well, that cleared things up. He would do the sampler thing and try a few flavors, and let her do what made sense for her. Ernest got enough shit from the world as a mid-sized fat not-really-passing-most-of-the-time trans guy, for eating sweets in public…it seemed likely that as a larger fat diabetic femme cis woman, she got a whole lot more. He definitely didn’t want to add to that. Once he connected those ideas, a whole bunch more slotted into place, as he thought about unhelpful non-consensual help, and all the ways it messed things up, about the ways that kind of help interacted with ableism and fat oppression and misogyny. He started mapping it out in his notebook, connecting the dots for himself. Writing it, mapping it, helped make it stick when there was a gap in a pattern like this, like it was reinforcing a piece of the puzzle that had been missing but was now in place. He didn’t want to lose this piece again.

Ernest traced the pattern he’d drawn in his notebook, and felt his brain ready itself for a leap to another connection, just as he heard his name being said in a husky musical voice that held tones of humor, like perhaps she’d already said it a few times and he’d missed that. So he looked up, and Nora was there, taking off her adorable raincoat, which was bright pink and had white polka dots. She was wearing purple tights and a short black dress. Her dress had cupcakes on it! Nora managed to look both powerful and cute at the same time; it was something about how her clothes suited her pear-shaped fatness perfectly, and something about how she held herself. Her face was flushed, she was smiling, and her chin-length dark brown hair was all wild frizzy curls today. So was his own hair, come to think of it. He actually had a curl in the center of his fucking forehead, which of course put his mother’s voice in his head, exactly where he did not want her. He dug his nails into his thigh to try to get rid of her and focus on the present.

“You were in your own world,” she said.

He ducked his head. “Um, yeah. I do that.”

“I do it too, when I’m writing. My world is a pretty good place to spend time in.”

He smiled. His world was pretty great too. “I know what you mean. My world is a lot better than most places in NYC. Maybe you could tell me about your world sometime?”

“You want to hear about the world I’m writing, the novel I’m working on?”

“Yes, please,” he said firmly. He definitely wanted to hear about that.

“Hmm. That rates a please, does it?”

Ernest blinked, trying to figure out what she meant. Was he not supposed to say please? Was he not supposed to want to hear about her world? He didn’t know what to say, so he just nodded.

She was still standing over the table, though she’d draped her raincoat over her chair, and moved closer to him, so it wasn’t that she was going to leave. Was he supposed to be standing too? She made him nervous, looking down at him, standing so close. His heart was racing. Why did he like being around her so much if she made him nervous like this?

“Come on,” Nora said, and her hand appeared. He was supposed to take it, he knew. But they hadn’t ever touched, so it was a shock to be suddenly faced with it. Did he want to take her hand? After a moment the answer came: yes. So he stood up, and took it. She tugged him over to the display case of all the cupcakes, and then stood next to him, reaching over his body to point out her favorite flavors, closer than she had ever stood before. It made him a bit dizzy, but not in a scary way. It was like being filled with bubbles; he was unsteady, almost floating, definitely not firmly planted on the ground.

He dug his boots into the floor, not wanting to fall, as her voice filled him up, talking about why she loved these particular flavors. The scent of sugar and butter was so strong in this part of the shop. But that wasn’t all he smelled. Her raincoat had a hood but he didn’t think she’d been wearing it, because her hair, which was so close it had brushed his face, smelled like rain. He closed his eyes for a moment and breathed in, concentrating on the smell of rain. He’d always loved the rain, would stand outside in it every chance he got, savoring the sensation of it on his skin. There was nothing like spinning in the rain. He’d tried spinning in the shower but it wasn’t the same. “Singin’ in the Rain” came into his head, and he hummed it, knowing that he couldn’t sing, not in a bakery, even though he wanted to. Humming would have to do.

Xan West is the nom de plume of Corey Alexander, an autistic queer fat Jewish genderqueer writer and community activist with multiple disabilities who spends a lot of time on Twitter.

Xan’s erotica has been published widely, including in the Best S/M Erotica series, the Best Gay Erotica series, and the Best Lesbian Erotica series. Xan’s story “First Time Since”, won honorable mention for the 2008 National Leather Association John Preston Short Fiction Award. Their collection of queer kink erotica, Show Yourself to Me, is out from Go Deeper Press.

After over 15 years of writing and publishing queer kink erotica short stories, Xan has begun to also write longer form queer kink romance. Their recent work still centers kinky, trans and non-binary, fat, disabled, queer trauma survivors. It leans more towards centering Jewish characters, ace and aro spec characters, autistic characters, and polyamorous networks. Xan has been working on a queer kinky polyamorous romance novel, Shocking Violet, for the last four years, and hopes to finish a draft very soon! You can find details and excerpts on their website, and sign up for their newsletter to get updates.

New Releases: April 2019

Maiden & Princess by Daniel Haack & Isabel Galupo/ill. Becca Human (2nd)

Once in a faraway kingdom, a strong, brave maiden is invited to attend the prince’s royal ball, but she’s not as excited to go as everyone else. After her mother convinces her to make an appearance, she makes a huge impression on everyone present, from the villagers to the king and queen, but she ends up finding true love in a most surprising place.

Buy it: Amazon | B&N | The Ripped Bodice

The Luminous Dead by Caitlin Starling (2nd)

36117102A thrilling, atmospheric debut with the intensive drive of The Martian and Gravity and the creeping dread of Annihilation, in which a caver on a foreign planet finds herself on a terrifying psychological and emotional journey for survival.

When Gyre Price lied her way into this expedition, she thought she’d be mapping mineral deposits, and that her biggest problems would be cave collapses and gear malfunctions. She also thought that the fat paycheck—enough to get her off-planet and on the trail of her mother—meant she’d get a skilled surface team, monitoring her suit and environment, keeping her safe. Keeping her sane.

Instead, she got Em.

Em sees nothing wrong with controlling Gyre’s body with drugs or withholding critical information to “ensure the smooth operation” of her expedition. Em knows all about Gyre’s falsified credentials, and has no qualms using them as a leash—and a lash. And Em has secrets, too . . .

As Gyre descends, little inconsistencies—missing supplies, unexpected changes in the route, and, worst of all, shifts in Em’s motivations—drive her out of her depths. Lost and disoriented, Gyre finds her sense of control giving way to paranoia and anger. On her own in this mysterious, deadly place, surrounded by darkness and the unknown, Gyre must overcome more than just the dangerous terrain and the Tunneler which calls underground its home if she wants to make it out alive—she must confront the ghosts in her own head.

But how come she can’t shake the feeling she’s being followed?

Buy it: Amazon | B&N

The Devouring Gray by Christine Lynn Herman (2nd)

36535913On the edge of town a beast haunts the woods, trapped in the Gray, its bonds loosening…

Uprooted from the city, Violet Saunders doesn’t have much hope of fitting in at her new school in Four Paths, a town almost buried in the woodlands of rural New York. The fact that she’s descended from one of the town’s founders doesn’t help much, either—her new neighbours treat her with distant respect, and something very like fear. When she meets Justin, May, Isaac, and Harper, all children of founder families, and sees the otherworldly destruction they can wreak, she starts to wonder if the townsfolk are right to be afraid.

When bodies start to appear in the woods, the locals become downright hostile. Can the teenagers solve the mystery of Four Paths, and their own part in it, before another calamity strikes?

Buy it: Amazon | B&N 

The Princess and the Fangirl by Ashley Poston (2nd)

39725622The Prince and the Pauper gets a modern makeover in this adorable, witty, and heartwarming young adult novel set in the Geekerella universe by national bestselling author Ashley Poston.

Imogen Lovelace is an ordinary fangirl on an impossible mission: save her favorite character, Princess Amara, from being killed off from her favorite franchise, Starfield. The problem is, Jessica Stone—the actress who plays Princess Amara—wants nothing more than to leave the intense scrutiny of the fandom behind. If this year’s ExcelsiCon isn’t her last, she’ll consider her career derailed.

When a case of mistaken identity throws look-a-likes Imogen and Jess together, they quickly become enemies. But when the script for the Starfield sequel leaks, and all signs point to Jess, she and Imogen must trade places to find the person responsible. That’s easier said than done when the girls step into each other’s shoes and discover new romantic possibilities, as well as the other side of intense fandom. As these “princesses” race to find the script-leaker, they must rescue themselves from their own expectations, and redefine what it means to live happily ever after.

Buy it: Amazon | B&N

A Lover’s Mercy by Fiona Zedde (3rd)

Mai Redstone prowls Atlanta as its hero, Mercy, trying to save people from themselves and each other. With her newly discovered, stronger powers, she acts as if she’s invincible. To those who know her though, she’s as delicate as a cobra lily.

Xóchitl is the complete opposite. Violence comes naturally to her. Hard-hearted and thick-skinned, the softest thing about her is her love for Mai. As part of an elite law-enforcement team in the secret Meta community, Xóchitl hunts and punishes anyone who dares to break their rules.

But when Mai is in danger from her own powerful family, Xóchitl’s soft underbelly is exposed. How can she protect Mai when she can’t even tell allies from enemies? For the first time in her life, Xóchitl feels as threatened as the vulnerable humans Mai protects.
Xóchitl is used to being the strongest one in the room, but when she suddenly isn’t, will she allow herself to surrender to her lover’s mercy?

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The Meaning of Birds by Jaye Robin Brown (16th)

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Before, Jessica has always struggled with anger issues, but come sophomore year that all changes when Vivi crashes into her life. As their relationship blossoms, Vivi not only helps Jess deal with her pain, she also encourages her to embrace her talent as an artist. And for the first time, it feels like the future is filled with possibilities. After In the midst of senior year, Jess’s perfect world is erased when Vivi suddenly passes away. Reeling from the devastating loss, Jess pushes everyone away, and throws out her plans to go to art school. Because art is Vivi and Vivi is gone forever.

Desperate for an escape, Jess gets consumed in her work-study program, letting all of her dreams die. Until she makes an unexpected new friend who shows her a new way to channel her anger, passion, and creativity. Although Jess may never draw again, if she can find a way to heal and room in her heart, she just might be able to forge a new path for herself without Vivi.

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Starworld by Audrey Coulthurst and Paula Garner (16th)

31681158Sam Jones and Zoe Miller have one thing in common: they both want an escape from reality. Loner Sam flies under the radar at school and walks on eggshells at home to manage her mom’s obsessive-compulsive disorder, wondering how she can ever leave to pursue her dream of studying aerospace engineering. Popular, people-pleasing Zoe puts up walls so no one can see her true self: the girl who was abandoned as an infant, whose adoptive mother has cancer, and whose disabled brother is being sent away to live in a facility. When an unexpected encounter results in the girls’ exchanging phone numbers, they forge a connection through text messages that expands into a private universe they call Starworld. In Starworld, they find hilarious adventures, kindness and understanding, and the magic of being seen for who they really are. But when Sam’s feelings for Zoe turn into something more, will the universe they’ve built survive the inevitable explosion?

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Their Troublesome Crush by Xan West (16th)

In this queer polyamorous m/f romance novella, two metamours realize they have crushes on each other while planning their shared partner’s birthday party together. 

Ernest, a Jewish autistic demiromantic queer fat trans man submissive, and Nora, a Jewish disabled queer fat femme cis woman switch, have to contend with an age gap, a desire not to mess up their lovely polyamorous dynamic as metamours, the fact that Ernest has never been attracted to a cis person before, and the reality that they are romantically attracted to each other, all while planning their dominant’s birthday party and trying to do a really good job.

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Not the Marrying Kind by Jae (17th)

Not the Marrying KindSmall-town florist Ashley Gaines loves her little flower shop and putting together the perfect bouquets for weddings and other happy occasions. Her own love life, however, is far from blossoming. Ash has decided that staying in the closet is safer than risking her heart again.

Local bakery owner Sasha Peterson hasn’t had much luck mixing it up with romance either. Besides, she’s too busy whipping up delicious treats to have time for a relationship.

But when their town’s first lesbian wedding forces them to work together, Ashley and Sasha discover they have more in common than they imagined.

During food fights, cake tastings, and slow waltzes, they begin to see each other in a new light. Soon Ashley has to admit to herself that Sasha is tempting more than just her sweet tooth.

What else is on the menu in this delicious lesbian romance? Find out in this second book in the Fair Oaks series by award-winning author Jae. It’s featuring new main characters and can be read as a standalone.

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How Not to Ask a Boy to Prom by S.J. Goslee (23rd)

37534629Nolan Grant is sixteen, gay, and (definitely) still a virgin. He’s never had a boyfriend, or even been kissed. It’s not like Penn Valley is brimming with prospects. And when his big sister stages an elaborate “prom-posal” so Nolan can ask out his not-so-secret crush, Nolan freezes. He’s saved from further embarrassment by bad boy Bern, who, for his own reasons, offers to fake-date Nolan.

Nolan thinks it’s the perfect way to get Daphne off his back and spend the rest of the year drawing narwhals, tending to plants, and avoiding whatever died under his bed a few weeks ago. What he doesn’t think about is Bern’s ex-girlfriend, who seriously wants to kill him.

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A Quick and Easy Guide to Queer & Trans Identities by Mady G. and J.R. Zuckerberg (23rd)

40538740In this quick and easy guide to queer and trans identities, cartoonists Mady G and JR Zuckerberg guide you through the basics of the LGBT+ world! Covering essential topics like sexuality, gender identity, coming out, and navigating relationships, this guide explains the spectrum of human experience through informative comics, interviews, worksheets, and imaginative examples. A great starting point for anyone curious about queer and trans life, and helpful for those already on their own journeys!

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Amnesty by Lara Elena Donnelly (23rd)

This is the third book in the Amberlough Dossiers series.

The revolution has come and gone, with Amberlough City striving to rebuild itself from the ashes. The Ospies have been ousted, and the very face of the nation has been changed in the process.

Now, a rising politician is determined to bring Amberlough’s traitors to justice.

Including double agent Cyril DePaul.

Everyone believes Cyril deserves to suffer for his crimes… except an old lover and an estranged sister. Soon, they become entangled in another web of high-stakes politics, underground crime, and personal deceit. Only the most extreme actions can save them from the iron reach of the law, before it is too late.

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Hot Dog Girl by Jennifer Dugan (30th)

35843729Elouise (Lou) Parker is determined to have the absolute best, most impossibly epic summer of her life. There are just a few things standing in her way:

* She’s landed a job at Magic Castle Playland . . . as a giant dancing hot dog.
* Her crush, the dreamy Diving Pirate Nick, already has a girlfriend, who is literally the Princess of the park. But Lou’s never liked anyone, guy or otherwise, this much before, and now she wants a chance at her own happily ever after.
* Her best friend, Seeley, the carousel operator, who’s always been up for anything, suddenly isn’t when it comes to Lou’s quest to set her up with the perfect girl or Lou’s scheme to get close to Nick.
* And it turns out that this will be their last summer at Magic Castle Playland–ever–unless she can find a way to stop it from closing.

Jennifer Dugan’s sparkling debut coming-of-age queer romance stars a princess, a pirate, a hot dog, and a carousel operator who find love–and themselves–in unexpected people and unforgettable places.

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Mama’s Boy by Dustin Lance Black (30th)

40915201From the Academy Award-winning screenwriter and political activist, a candid, vivid, powerfully resonant memoir about growing up as a gay Mormon in Texas that is, as well, a moving tribute to the mother who taught him about surviving against all odds

Dustin Lance Black wrote the Oscar-winning screenplay for Milkand helped overturn California’s anti-gay marriage Proposition 8, but as an LGBTQ+ activist he has unlikely origins. Raised in a military, Mormon household outside San Antonio, Texas, Black always found inspiration in his plucky, determined mother. Having contracted polio as a small girl, she endured leg braces and iron lungs, and was repeatedly told that she could never have children or live a normal life. Defying expectations, she raised Black and his two brothers, built a career, escaped two abusive husbands, and eventually moved the family to a new life in Northern California. While Black struggled to come to terms with his sexuality–something antithetical to his mother’s religious views–she remained his source of strength and his guiding light. Later, she would stand by his side when he helped bring the historic gay marriage case to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Mama’s Boy is a stirring celebration of the connections between mother and son, Red states and Blue, and the spirit of optimism and perseverance that can create positive change in the world.

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Belly Up by Eva Darrows (30th)

When 16 year old Serendipity Rodriguez attends a house party to celebrate the end of sophomore year, she has no intention of getting drunk and hooking up with a guy she’s just met, let alone getting pregnant. To make matters worse, she has no way of contacting the father and she and her mother are about to move to a new town and in with her grandmother.

It’s hard enough to start your junior year as the new kid in school, but at 5-months pregnant it’s even harder. So when Sara meets Leaf, who asks her out and doesn’t seem to care that she’s pregnant, she finds herself falling.

Juggling the realities of a pregnancy with school and a new relationship are hard enough, but when Jack, the father of her baby, turns back up, Sara’s life goes from complicated to a complete mess. With the help of her overbearing mother and grandmother, Sara will learn to navigate life’s challenges and be ready for anything, as she prepares for the birth of her baby.

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