Ode to My First Car by Robin Gow
It’s a few months before senior year and Claire Kemp, a closeted bisexual, is finally starting to admit she might be falling in love with her best friend, Sophia, who she’s known since they were four.
Trying to pay off the fine from the crash that totals Lars, her beloved car, Claire takes a job at the local nursing home up the street from her house. There she meets Lena, an eighty-eight-year-old lesbian woman who tells her stories about what it was like growing up gay in the 1950s and ’60s.
As Claire spends more time with Lena and grows more confident of her identity, another girl, Pen, comes into the picture, and Claire is caught between two loves–one familiar and well-worn, the other new and untested.
Where Echoes Die by Courtney Gould
Beck Birsching has been adrift since the death of her mother, a brilliant but troubled investigative reporter. She finds herself unable to stop herself from slipping into memories of happier days, clamoring for a time when things were normal. So when a mysterious letter in her mother’s handwriting arrives in the mail with the words Come and find me, pointing to a town called Backravel, Beck hopes that it may hold the answers.
But when Beck and her sister Riley arrive in Backravel, Arizona it’s clear that there’s something off about the town. There are no cars, no cemeteries, no churches. The town is a mix of dilapidated military structures and new, shiny buildings, all overseen by the town’s gleaming treatment center high on a plateau. No one seems to remember when they got there, and the only people who seem to know more than they’re letting on is the town’s enigmatic leader and his daughter, Avery.
As the sisters search for answers about their mother, Beck and Avery become more drawn together, and their unexpected connection brings up emotions Beck has buried since her mother’s death. Beck is desperate to hold onto the way things used to be, and when she starts losing herself in Backravel and its connection to her mother, will there be a way for Beck to pull herself out?
In her sophomore novel Courtney Gould draws readers into the haunting town of Backravel and explores grief, the weight of not letting go of the past, first love, and the bonds between sisters, mothers and daughters.
You’re Not Supposed to Die Tonight by Kalynn Bayron
Charity Curtis has the summer job of her dreams, playing the “final girl” at Camp Mirror Lake. Guests pay to be scared in this full-contact terror game, as Charity and her summer crew recreate scenes from a classic slasher film, Curse of Camp Mirror Lake. The more realistic the fear, the better for business.
But the last weekend of the season, Charity’s co-workers begin disappearing. And when one ends up dead, Charity’s role as the final girl suddenly becomes all too real. If Charity and her girlfriend Bezi hope to survive the night, they’ll need figure out what this killer is after. Is there is more to the story of Mirror Lake and its dangerous past than Charity ever suspected?
The Wicked Unseen by Gigi Griffis
To say sixteen-year-old Audre doesn’t fit in would be the understatement of the century. She’s a city kid who’s found herself in a rural town. The only girl at school who’d rather kiss a girl than a boy. Not to mention that the whole town believes there’s a secret Satanic cult conducting rituals in the nearby woods–and Audre is a born skeptic.
When the preacher’s daughter and Audre’s secret crush, Elle, goes missing on Halloween weekend, the town is quick to point fingers–in Audre’s direction. While they harass Audre’s family for being newcomers and nonbelievers, Audre realizes she might be the only person here who can find her friend.
The deeper she goes, though, the weirder it gets. What happened to Elle–and is the evil this town is hiding really what Audre thinks it is?
Does Love Always Win? by Diane Billas
Sam “Shorty” Daniels has a plan for her senior year, but her romantic life being a hot mess was not part of the agenda. Shorty quickly discovers she’s not attracted to her newest boyfriend and fellow marching band member Zack, despite her many hours of daydreaming of what it would be like to date him. Their previous flirting had been so intense that those feelings have to come back again, right?
When Shorty’s asked to show the snarky new girl around high school, Shorty’s instantly intrigued by Kristy’s wit, and they bond over their love of writing. They quickly become inseparable, and Shorty has a breakthrough moment realizing why none of her other relationships worked out.
Just as Shorty is about to break up with Zack, her bitter ex-boyfriend Bryan threatens to out her to the entire school and Shorty’s conservative parents. Will Shorty be able to overcome Bryan’s ridiculous blackmail scheme and get her dream girl?
Buy it: Amazon
Mage and the Endless Unknown by SJ Miller
Peek through the leaves, beyond the clouded mountains, and you will find a garden with a strange attendant and an even stranger purpose. A young mage, asleep in a meadow, wakes to delights and fanciful spells that open a door to unknown wonder. Then, they eagerly step through to find only horror and death. There is no swashbuckling adventure in store; this world means them cold and deadly harm, and they’ll need all their resilience, wit, and magic to push it back.
Gaze through fascinating silent windows into a terrifying dimension and follow the wordless Mage and their companions as they travel a shadowy fantastical land of monsters. Will they survive this endlessly curious mystery, or will the unforgiving darkness swallow them whole?
Buy it: Amazon
Old Enough by Haley Jakobson
Savannah “Sav” Henry is almost the person she wants to be, or at least she’s getting closer. It’s the second semester of her sophomore year. She’s finally come out as bisexual, is making friends with the other queers in her dorm, and has just about recovered from her disastrous first queer “situationship.” She is cautiously optimistic that her life is about to begin.
But when she learns that Izzie, her best friend from childhood, has gotten engaged, Sav faces a crisis of confidence. Things with Izzie haven’t been the same since what happened between Sav and Izzie’s older brother when they were sixteen. Now, with the wedding around the corner, Sav is forced to reckon with trauma she thought she could put behind her.
On top of it all, Sav can’t stop thinking about Wes from her Gender Studies class—sweet, funny Wes, with their long eyelashes and green backpack. There’s something different here—with Wes and with her new friends (who delight in teasing her about this face-burning crush); it feels, terrifyingly, like they might truly see her in a way no one has before.
The Spare Room by Andrea Bartz
Kelly Doyle’s new life in Philadelphia has turned into a nightmare: She’s friendless and jobless, and the lockdown has her trapped in a tiny apartment with the man she gave up everything for, who’s just called off their wedding. The only bright spot in her life is her newly rekindled friendship with her childhood friend, Sabrina—now a glamorous bestselling author with a handsome, high-powered husband.
When they offer Kelly an escape hatch, volunteering the spare room of their remote Virginia mansion, she jumps at the chance to run away from her old life. There, she finds she loves living with them…and, much to her surprise, that she’s falling for both her enchanting hosts. Even more shocking: They say they share Kelly’s feelings and want to open up their marriage for her.
At first, the arrangement is blissful. But as their relationship deepens, Kelly begins to notice the cracks. The stories about their romantic past keep changing, and the more details she uncovers, the more things don’t add up. It’s only a matter of time before Kelly discovers the terrifying truth: They’ve done all this before…and the last woman is missing. Cut off from the world and in way over her head, Kelly must risk everything to uncover the couple’s secrets—before she becomes their next guest to disappear.
Can’t Let Her Go by Kianna Alexander
Peaches Monroe and Jamie Hunt are core members of their Texas friend squad and have so much in common. They’re successful at their careers in personal care. They take Austin’s “Keep It Weird” vibe to heart, each leaning into their own unique talents and sense of style. And they’re both ready to go on to even bigger things. Is pushing past the boundaries of friendship into something deeper one of them? The red-hot fantasy is there…but so is real life.
Jamie’s college dreams will take her far from her hometown. She’s already road-tripping to possibilities from San Antonio to Houston. And Peaches has obligations of her own. Not only is she planning to expand her business, but she’s taking care of her family after her mother’s passing, leaving her overwhelmed and under pressure.
No matter how perfect Jamie and Peaches are for each other, is this the right time for romance? Finding their true selves comes first. Only then can they hope to pursue a future of lasting love—together.
The Shadow Cabinet by Juno Dawson
This is the sequel to Her Majesty’s Royal Coven
Niamh Kelly is dead. Her troubled twin, Ciara, now masquerades as the benevolent witch as Her Majesty’s Royal Coven prepares to crown her High Preistess.
Suffering from amnesia, Ciara can’t remember what she’s done–but if she wants to survive, she must fool Niamh’s adopted family and friends; the coven; and the murky Shadow Cabinet–a secret group of mundane civil servants who are already suspicious of witches. While she tries to rebuild her past, she realizes none of her past has forgotten her, including her former lover, renegade warlock Dabney Hale.
On the other end of the continent, Leonie Jackman is in search of Hale, rumored to be seeking a dark object of ultimate power somehow connected to the upper echelons of the British government. If the witches can’t figure out Hale’s machinations, and fast, all of witchkind will be in grave danger–along with the fate of all (wo)mankind.
The Infinite Miles by Hannah Fergesen
To save the future, she must return to the beginning
Three years after her best friend Peggy went missing, Harper Starling is lost. Lost in her dead-end job, lost in her grief. All she has are regrets and reruns of her favorite science fiction show, Infinite Voyage.
Then Peggy returns and demands to be taken to the Argonaut, the fictional main character of Infinite Voyage. But the Argonaut is just that … fictional. Until the TV hero himself appears and spirits Harper away from her former best friend. Traveling through time, he explains that Peggy used to travel with him but is now under the thrall of an alien enemy known as the Incarnate — one that has destroyed countless solar systems.
Then he leaves Harper in 1971.
Stranded in the past, Harper must find a way to end the Incarnate’s thrall … without the help of the Argonaut. But the cosmos are nothing like the technicolor stars of the TV show she loves, and if Harper can’t find it in herself to believe — in the Argonaut, in Peggy, and most of all, in herself — she’ll be the Incarnate’s next casualty, along with the rest of the universe.
Everything the Darkness Eats by Eric LaRocca
After a recent string of disappearances in a small Connecticut town, a grieving widower with a grim secret is drawn into a dangerous ritual of dark magic by a powerful and mysterious older gentleman named Heart Crowley. Meanwhile, a member of local law enforcement tasked with uncovering the culprit responsible for the bizarre disappearances soon begins to learn of a current of unbridled hatred simmering beneath the guise of the town’s idyllic community—a hatred that will eventually burst and forever change the lives of those who once found peace in the quiet town of Henley’s Edge.
Don’t Forget the Girl by Rebecca McKanna
We never remember the dead girls. We never forget the killers.
Twelve years ago, 18-year-old University of Iowa freshman Abby Hartmann disappeared. Now, Jon Allan Blue, the serial killer suspected of her murder, is about to be executed. Abby’s best friends, Bree and Chelsea, watch as Abby’s memory is unearthed and overshadowed by Blue and his flashier crimes. The friends, estranged in the wake of Abby’s disappearance, and suffering from years of unvoiced resentments, must reunite when a high-profile podcast dedicates its next season to Blue’s murders.
The Longest Summer by Alexandrine Ogundimu
Being queer in a small town? Bad. Your employer believing you stole ten thousand dollars? Worse.
Abboton, IN has kept hard-partying Victor Adewale in the closet for his entire life. So he makes a deal with his stern Nigerian father: Clean up his act, hold down a job, and the dad will pay for him to attend grad school in New York. Easy enough, until $10,000 goes missing from Victor’s Hot Topic-esque mall store under his watch, leaving him the prime suspect. Meanwhile, Victor’s secret ex-boyfriend Kyle sets him up with fellow mallrat Amory. A bisexual love triangle forms when it becomes clear Victor and Kyle aren’t over each other. But as Victor grows increasingly certain that Kyle is responsible for the theft, their relationship gets way more complicated. Desperate, Victor turns to his dangerous friend Henshaw, who offers shady alternative methods of getting the money he needs. But Henshaw’s got secrets of his own that might destroy them all.
Lucky Red by Claudia Cravens
It’s the spring of 1877 and sixteen-year-old Bridget is already disillusioned. She’s exhausted from caring for her ne’er-do-well alcoholic father, but when he’s killed by a snakebite as they cross the Kansas prairie, she knows she has only her wits to keep her alive. She arrives penniless in Dodge City, and, thanks to the allure of her bright red hair and country-girl beauty, is soon recruited to work at the Buffalo Queen, the only brothel in town run by women. Bridget takes to brothel life, appreciating the good food, good pay, and good friendships she forms with her fellow “sporting women.”
Then Spartan Lee, the legendary female gunfighter in the region, rides into town, and Bridget falls in love. Hard. Before long, though, a series of shocking double-crosses shatter the Buffalo Queen’s tenuous peace and safety. Desperate for vengeance and autonomy, Bridget resolves to claim her own destiny.
Mrs. S by K Patrick
In an elite English boarding school where the girls kiss the marble statue of the famous dead author who used to walk the halls, a butch antipodean outsider arrives to take up the antiquated role of “matron.” Within this landscape of immense privilege, where difference is met with hostility, the matron finds herself unsure of her role, her accent and her body.
That is until she meets Mrs. S, the headmaster’s wife, a woman who is her polar opposite—an assured, authoritative paragon of femininity. Over the course of a long, restless summer, their unspoken yearning blooms into an illicit affair of electric intensity. But, as the summer fades, a choice must be made.
Tar Hollow Trans: Essays ed. by Stacy Jane Grover
“I’ve lived a completely ordinary life, so much that I don’t know how to write a transgender or queer or Appalachian story, because I don’t feel like I’ve lived one. … Though, in searching for ways to write myself in my stories, maybe I can find power in this ordinariness.”
Raised in southeast Ohio, Stacy Jane Grover would not describe her upbringing as “Appalachian.” Appalachia existed farther afield―more rural, more country than the landscape of her hometown.
Grover returned to the places of her childhood to reconcile her identity and experience with the culture and the people who had raised her. She began to reflect on her memories and discovered that group identities like Appalachian and transgender are linked by more than just the stinging brand of social otherness.
In Tar Hollow Trans, Grover explores her transgender experience through common Appalachian cultural traditions. In “Dead Furrows,” a death vigil and funeral leads to an investigation of Appalachian funerary rituals and their failure to help Grover cope with the grief of being denied her transness. “Homeplace” threads family interactions with farm animals and Grover’s coming out journey, illuminating the disturbing parallels between the American Veterinary Association’s guidelines for ethical euthanasia and the World Professional Association for Transgender Health’s guidelines for transgender care.
Together, her essays write transgender experience into broader cultural narratives beyond transition and interrogate the failures of concepts such as memory, metaphor, heritage, and tradition. Tar Hollow Trans investigates the ways the labels of transgender and Appalachian have been created and understood and reckons with the ways the ever-becoming transgender self, like a stigmatized region, can find new spaces of growth.