We here at LGBTQReads are big Kosoko Jackson fans, in case you hadn’t noticed, so what better way to close out the month than with one more cover reveal from our featured author? Yes, that’s right, we get another glorious m/m Romance from Kosoko Jackson this year! A Dash of Salt and Pepper releases December 6th from Berkley, and here’s the story of this foodie age-gap rom-com:
Sometimes two cooks in the kitchen are better than one in this swoony romantic comedy from the author of I’m So (Not) Over You.
Xavier Gorman is doing less than stellar. He just got dumped, was passed over for a prestigious fellowship, and to top it all off he’s right back home in Harpers Cove, Maine (population: 9,000). The last thing he wants to do is to work as a sous-chef in the kitchen of the hip new restaurant in town, The Wharf. Especially since the hot, single-father chef who owns it can’t delegate to save his life.
Logan O’Hare doesn’t understand Xavier or why every word out of his mouth is dipped in sarcasm. Unfortunately, he has no choice but to hire him—he needs more help in the kitchen and his tween daughter, Anne, can only mince so many onions. It might be a recipe for disaster, but Logan doesn’t have many options besides Xavier.
Stuck between a stove and a hot place, Logan and Xavier discover an unexpected connection. But when the heat between them threatens to top the Scoville scale, they’ll have to decide if they can make their relationship work or if life has seasoned them too differently.
And here’s the delicious cover, illustrated by Adriana Bellet!
Preorder links are still to come, but you can add it on Goodreads!
Kosoko Jackson is a digital media specialist, focusing on digital storytelling, email, social and SMS marketing, and a freelance political journalist. Occasionally, his personal essays and short stories have been featured on Medium, Thought Catalog, The Advocate, and some literary magazines. When not writing YA novels that champion holistic representation of black queer youth across genres, he can be found obsessing over movies, drinking his (umpteenth) London Fog, or spending far too much time on Twitter.
“Under the Gaydar” features books you might not realize have queer content but do! And definitely belong on your radar.
This edition is dedication to YA with trans and/or nonbinary main characters, with the aim of helping readers find books that explore gender identity and can more safely be read in unsafe spaces. Please note that most of these have some potentially triggering content, including transphobia and abuse, so I do encourage reading reviews, if that’s helpful to you. (And please do read the notes below as well.)
When the Moon Was Ours by Anna-Marie McLemore – This absolutely lovely m/f romance steeped in magical realism includes trans boy Sam as one half of the couple.
Pet by Akwaeke Emezi – This was a Backlist Book of the Month on the site in 2021, so you can read a lot more about it here. For the sake of this post, I’ll just mention that the protagonist is a trans girl and that’s not in the copy.
I Was Born for Thisby Alice Oseman – Note: this is only under the gaydar with the British copy; the copy on the version coming out in the US in October 2022 does state that Jimmy is trans. You can get the UK version via Book Depository, Waterstones, or Blackwell’s.
The Mermaid, the Witch, and the Sea by Maggie Tokuda-Hall – Note: This blurb can be read as Sapphic, so do read it carefully and consider your environment, but there’s no visible nod to the fact that the main character is either genderfluid or bigender.
Even if We Break by Marieke Nijkamp – In this gaming-themed thriller, there are five POVs, one of which belongs to a trans boy and another of which belongs to a nonbinary kid. The copy is 100% thriller-centric with no descriptions of the POVs to be found. (You can also find hidden nonbinary rep in one of the three POVs of Nijkamp’s newest YA thriller,At the End of Everything.)
For a books with gender questioning as a non-central element, check out This is How We Fly by Anna Meriano. (This is also true of And They Lived… by Steven Salvatore, though obviously that book is not under the gaydar. Feels like I should mention it, though, in case this is a thing someone is looking for where it’s not mentioned on the cover.)
Non-queer-specific anthologies are also great resources for hidden trans and/or nonbinary rep. You can find trans stories in:
Haley Jakobson‘s OLD ENOUGH, a coming-of-age novel about a bisexual college sophomore who is reveling in the joy of discovering and being embraced by a queer community—and nursing a face-burning crush on someone in her gender and sexuality class—while grappling with the tumultuous history between her and her childhood best friend and the promises they made to each other long before they realized how hard it would be to keep them, pitched as for fans of ONE LAST STOP and QUEENIE, to Pilar Garcia-Brown at Dutton, by Ayla Zuraw-Friedland at Frances Goldin Literary Agency (world).
In honor of Aromantic Spectrum Awareness Week, I’m thrilled to have Emily Victoria on the site today with a guest post entitled The New Love Equation: Writing Books With a Lot of Love, and Not a Lot of Romance. Emily’s the author of This Golden Flame and the upcoming Silver in the Mist (coming November 1, 2022 from Inkyard Press), both of which are standalone YA fantasies with aroace protags. Before we get to the post, here’s a little more on the upcoming book:
Eight years ago, everything changed for Devlin: Her country was attacked. Her father was killed. And her mother became the Royal Spymistress, retreating into her position away from everyone… even her daughter.
Joining the spy ranks herself, Dev sees her mother only when receiving assignments. She wants more, but she understands the peril their country, Aris, is in. The malevolent magic force of The Mists is swallowing Aris’s edges, their country is vulnerable to another attack from their wealthier neighbor, and the magic casters who protect them from both are burning out.
Dev has known strength and survival her whole life, but with a dangerous new assignment of infiltrating the royal court of their neighbor country Cerena to steal the magic they need, she learns that not all that glitters is weak. And not all stories are true.
It will surprise no one when I say that young adult books as a whole are full of romance. This makes sense. After all, the teen years are a time of exploring new romantic relationships and feelings. However, for me, an aroace teen who wasn’t really interested in any of that who became an aroace writer who still wasn’t interested in any of that, all of the emphasis on romance made it seem as if my stories would never find a place on that young adult shelf at the bookstore.
Reading about couples like Bella and Edward, Tris and Four, or Katniss and Peeta instilled in me the early lesson that no matter how much action, magic, or space exploration were in between the covers of a book, a central romance was still an absolute must for a young adult story.
So, I decided that I too would write a romance. I had written other things I hadn’t ever experienced or even seen, like dragons, or magic, or people getting all stabby with knives, so why not romance too? I managed to sign with my agent with a book that had a central romance. Although it didn’t sell, we even had positive feedback from some editors.
And yet something wasn’t right.
When I dreamed of being a published author, a large part of that was being able to write the stories that I needed when I was young, in order to understand myself and my place in the world. And what was worse, by writing a book with a central romance, I felt like I was playing into the larger societal narrative that romantic relationships were always stronger, more heartfelt, and more important than any other relationships, whether that be platonic or even familial.
Unfortunately, I think this idea does hold true for society. I can’t count how many times I’ve come across an amazing friendship depicted in a book, movie, or TV show that was well-written, complex, and full of feeling, only for someone to come along and say it would be better if the two characters were just making out. Different in an equally good way, sure, but better?
Now, don’t get me wrong. Books with romance are important. This is especially true now that we’re finally seeing shelf space for more diverse romances, including queer romances. It is so vital for queer teens to see their own relationships and identities portrayed in books (and all media), and I hope that we see more and more of these. Even I, an aroace individual, enjoy a good romance. But I also know that family relationships and friendships define the teen years too.
So, when the book that originally went out on submission failed to sell, I made a decision: I wasn’t going to force my characters into a romance. I wanted my stories to highlight friendship and family as the primary relational forces. For the first time in my life, I wrote a character just like me, Karis, who was determined to find the brother she had lost. I paired her with my cinnamon roll automaton, Alix, in my debut novel, This Golden Flame. And though there is a romance between two of the secondary characters in Flame, the relationship between Alix and Karis is a friendship; one that has its complexities, its ups and downs, and one that goes horribly wrong and has to be worked at to be fixed.
(And since I’ve had messages from aro folks who were originally concerned Karis would be forced into a relationship or that her male best friend Dane would try to impose romantic feelings on her, let me assure you: Karis is 100% romance-free in the book)
In my next book, Silver in the Mist, there is no romance whatsoever. Only a spy, who has to decide if she’s willing to risk her whole world for a friend who begins to mean everything to her.
These are the stories I needed when I was a teen. Stories that showed that the family relationships and friendships that were core to my life were just as valid as any romantic relationship. That as first a teen girl and then as a woman, I could be complete without a romantic partner. And I’m so grateful to this industry that has allowed me to write that.
My books don’t have romance. But they have so much love.
And I hope you feel that from them too.
Emily Victoria is a Canadian prairie girl who writes young adult science fiction and fantasy. When not word-smithing, she likes walking her over-excitable dog, drinking far too much tea, and crocheting things she no longer has the space to store. Her librarian degree has allowed her to work at a library and take home far too many books.
Happy Aromantic Spectrum Awareness Week! Running from February 21st-27th, this week we’re celebrating aromantic rep, so check out these titles! (Representation is included/highlighted with each title, where I know it.) As usual, all links are affiliate and earn a percentage of income for the site, so please use them if you can!
Please note this roundup only features titles that were not previously featured [with covers] in other Aro Awareness Week Roundups, so make sure you check these posts for more!
With only a drop of flare, one can light the night sky with fireworks . . . or burn a building to the ground — and seventeen-year-old Ingrid Ellis wants her fair share.
Ingrid doesn’t have a family fortune, monetary or magical, but at least she has a plan: Rise to the top on the arm of Linden Holt, heir to a hefty political legacy and the largest fortune of flare in all of Candesce. Her only obstacle is Linden’s father who refuses to acknowledge her.
So when Senator Holt announces his run for president, Ingrid uses the situation to her advantage. She strikes a deal to spy on the senator’s opposition in exchange for his approval and the status she so desperately craves. But the longer Ingrid wears two masks, the more she questions where her true allegiances lie.
Will she stand with the Holts, or will she forge her own path?
I’m so excited to have Michelle Mohrweis on the site today to reveal the cover of her upcoming bi and aro/ace MG debut, The Trouble with Robots, which releases from Peachtree on September 6th! Here’s the story:
Evelyn strives for excellence. Allie couldn’t care less. Together,
these polar opposites must work together if they have any hope
of saving their school’s robotics program.
Eighth-graders Evelyn and Allie are in trouble. Evelyn’s constant
need for perfection has blown some fuses among her robotics
teammates, and she’s worried nobody’s taking the upcoming
competition seriously. Allie is new to school, and she’s had a history
of short-circuiting on teachers and other kids.
So when Allie is assigned to the robotics team as a last resort, all
Evelyn can see is just another wrench in the works! But as Allie
confronts a past stricken with grief and learns to open up, the gears
click into place as she discovers that Evelyn’s teammates have a lot
to offer—if only Evelyn allowed them to participate in a role that plays to their strengths.
Can Evelyn learn to let go and listen to what Allie has to say? Or will
their spot in the competition go up in smoke along with their school’s robotics program and Allie’s only chance at redemption?
An excellent pick for STEAM enthusiasts, this earnestly told narrative features a dual point of view and casually explores Autistic and LGBTQ+ identities.
And here’s the ridiculously cute cover, with art by Kris Mukai, design by Maria Fazio, and art direction by Adela Pons!
If you asked me three years ago what I wanted to write, I never imagined I’d say middle grade contemporary. I loved reading it, but my writing heart was locked in fantasy. Then COVID hit. I found myself stuck inside my house and missing my students so badly. I was aimless and lost, so I started writing. The Trouble With Robots poured out of me, this story full of queer robotics kids and silly pranks and everything I missed about my own robotics classes.
The Trouble With Robots is a book about friendship, about learning how to make things work and giving others a chance. It’s about the chaotic fun of robotics tournaments and the little moments with your friends that make each day a delight. It’s a book about grief and how those viewed as “trouble” kids often have so much more going on than anyone realizes. It’s also a very personal book to me. Evelyn is autistic like myself, and it’s a story where queer autistic girls can see themselves having their adventures and leading a team.
Michelle Mohrweis is a middle school robotics and engineering teacher and a moderator at the Tucson Festival of Books. When not writing, she can be found launching paper rockets down the middle of her street. She lives with her husband and two dogs in Arizona. The Trouble with Robots is Michelle’s debut novel. Follow her on Twitter @Mohrweis_Writes and visit her on the web at http://www.michellemohrweis.com.
Today on the site I’m delighted to welcome Maggie Horne to reveal the cover of her Middle Grade debut, Hazel Hill is Gonna Win This One, which releases from Clarion Books on October 18, 2022! Here’s the story:
In this funny, feminist, and queer middle grade debut, seventh-grader Hazel Hill is too busy for friends. No, really. She needs to focus on winning the school-wide speech competition over her nemesis, the popular and smart Ella Quinn, after last year’s embarrassing Hyperbole/Hyperbowl mishap that cost her first place. But when Hazel discovers Ella is being harassed by golden boy Tyler Harris, she has to choose between winning and doing the right thing. No one would believe that a nice boy like Tyler would harass and intimidate a nice girl like Ella, but Hazel knows the truth—and she’s determined to prove it.
And here’s the absolutely adorable cover, illustrated by Luna Valentine and designed by Marcie Lawrence and Samira Iravani!
Maggie Horne is a writer and editor who grew up near Toronto, Canada. She studied at Oxford Brookes University, where she obtained both a BA in Publishing Media and a wife, which was a pretty good deal. She now lives outside of Ottawa with her family. Her writing has been featured in Catapult and on Medium’s Mental Health and LGBTQ pages. Hazel Hill Is Gonna Win This One is her first novel. Website: maggiehorne.comTwitter: @MaggieHasHornes