All posts by Dahlia Adler

Fave Five: Queer College-Set YA

By Any Means Necessary by Candice Montgomery (Bks)

We Are Okay by Nina LaCour (Bks)

Let’s Talk About Love by Claire Kann (Bks)

The Black Flamingo by Dean Atta (Bks)

Every Body Looking by Candice Iloh (Bks)

Bonus: Coming August 3, 2021 is Fresh by Margot Wood (Bks), and in 2022, Icebreaker by A.L. Graziadei (Bks) and Right Where I Left You by Julian Winters

*{Bks) = Bookshop affiliate links. A percentage of each purchase earns money for the site.

Exclusive Cover Reveal: Three Seeking Stars by Avi Silver

Today on the site, we’re welcoming Avi Silver to reveal the cover of their second novel, YA fantasy Three Seeking Stars! This sequel to Two Dark Moons releases July 13th, 2021 through The Shale Project and  includes an established F/NB pairing that is slowly becoming an M/F/NB polyamorous relationship, and has ace, aro, bisexual, and neurodivergent rep! Here’s the story:

Sohmeng Minhal is going to fix the world.

With her home still in jeopardy, she doesn’t have much choice. What she does have is Ahnschen, an endearing prince of the dangerous empire that is disrupting the sãoni migration route. If she can convince Hei to trust him long enough to safely return him to his people, Sohmeng might just have a chance of restoring balance to Eiji. That is, until an unexpected piece of her past emerges from the jungle and challenges everything she is trying to achieve.

Now, the future of Eiji rests in Ahn’s hands—but does he have the courage to face the harm inflicted by his people? Determined to do right by the beloved friend who died on his sword, it will take a lot of unlearning to prove to Eiji—and to Hei—that he can, in fact, be good.

In the second chapter of the Sãoni Cycle, Sohmeng, Hei, and Ahn must reconcile their places in the human and natural worlds, all while navigating their complicated feelings about one another.

And here’s the striking cover, designed by Haley Rose!

Preorder: Amazon | Bakka Phoenix | Kobo

Avi Silver is a speculative author (Two Dark Moons, 2019; Three Seeking Stars, 2021), editor (Augur Magazine), and poet. Find their short fiction in Common Bonds: An Aromantic Speculative Anthology, and their poetry forthcoming in Uncanny Magazine. In 2018, they co-founded The Shale Project, an award-winning indie arts collective, and have not stopped worldbuilding since. For more information, visit mxavisilver.com. For lizard pictures, follow them on Twitter @thescreambean.

Exclusive Excerpt Reveal: Queen of All by Anya Josephs

Today on the site, we’re revealing an excerpt from the upcoming Queen of All by Anya Josephs, an #ownvoices YA fantasy with a plus-size lesbian protagonist releasing from Zenith Press on June 8th. Here’s the story:

Jena lives on her family’s struggling farm and in her beautiful friend Sisi’s shadow. She’s not interested in Sisi’s plans to uncover the Kingdom’s darkest secrets: the suppression of magic, and the crown prince’s systemic murder of those who practice it.

Jena only wants to keep a secret of her own—her changing feelings for Sisi. Yet when a letter arrives summoning Sisi to the royal Midwinter Ball, Jena has no choice but to follow her into a new world of mystery and danger.

Sisi falls into a perilous romance with the very crown prince she despises. Desperate to save her, Jena searches for answers in the halls of the palace and in the ancient texts of its library.

She discovers that the chance to save her friend, and their world, lies in her own ability to bring the magic back and embrace her own power.

And here’s the excerpt!

The most beautiful girl in any of the Four Corners of the Earth kicks me awake in the middle of the night.

Through my half-open eyes and by the light of the moon, I can see her perfectly sculpted face looming over mine. Her ruby-red lips, so entrancing that a passing bard once wrote a lengthy ode in their honor, blow hot air directly up my nose. The bard, for obvious reasons, did not mention the stench of her morning breath. As she begins to wake up, I cough, try to turn over, and fumble for our shared blanket with the intention of pulling it over my head and going back to sleep. It’s gone.

As I reluctantly blink my way awake, our bedroom comes into focus: the white-washed walls, the low rafters, the ladder down into the main room, the trunk where we keep our clothes, and then Sisi, grinning triumphantly, holding the blanket over her head.

“What do you want?”

“And good morning to you too, my beloved cousin,” she says, her dark-rose cheeks dimpling in an extremely winsome fashion. Most people can’t stay mad at beautiful Sisi for long. Luckily, I’ve had plenty of practice. I was still only a baby when Sisi and her brother came to live here, so for fourteen years, she and I have been making each other, and driving each other, mad.

“No, you see, morning happens after the nighttime. Which is what we’re having now. Nighttime. Morning is later.”

“Well technically, it’s after midnight. Thus, good morning.” She smiles at me again.

“And before dawn. Thus, good night.” I make another futile grab for the blanket, but Sisi has a good six inches of height on me and is quicker than I am even when I’m not drowsy from sleep. Defeated, I slump back against the frame of our bed. “Come on, you didn’t just wake me up in the middle of the night so that we could debate the finer points of timekeeping. Are you up to something? You already know I won’t want to be a part of it.”

“Listen.” She points down at the floor of our bedroom. Because we sleep up in the attic, I can just barely hear a low rumble of voices through the floorboards, coming from the main room below. “What are they doing awake at this hour? There must be something interesting going on.” Question and answer, all in one. As usual, I seem to be altogether unnecessary in this conversation Sisi is having with herself.

“Yes. I’m sure the price of grain has gone up fifteen milar a tonne, or something.”

“You have no spirit of adventure,” Sisi accuses.

“Another of my many faults.”

“Fine, then I’ll go by myself, and I shan’t tell you what I find.”

“Have fun. Do try not to get caught,” I advise.

She turns to face me fully, batting her long, dark eyelashes at me. It’s a trick that would certainly work on any of her many admirers among the local boys, but I’m immune to that kind of flattery. “Please, Jena? Sweet cousin, my dearest friend, it’ll be ever so much better if you just come with me.”

“Come where? Down the stairs? It’s not much of a valiant quest, even if I were inclined to be your brave companion.” After a moment’s thought, I add, “And I’m reasonably sure that I’m your only friend.”

But Sisi has no trouble continuing her conversation with herself, with or without input from me. “I’m sure you saw that carriage coming up the drive today?”

“No, it was a horse-drawn carriage!” Now, that’s a decent bit of news, I must admit. People around here use pushcarts, or occasionally mules and donkeys. Horses are unofficially reserved for the Numbered, as anyone without noble blood is unlikely to be able to afford their feed and upkeep. I carefully arrange my expression so Sisi won’t see that she’s caught my interest, but she continues on unabated. “Anyway, Aunt Mae might have said that, but I know for a fact that wasn’t the potter’s lad.”

“So Daren’s finally got himself fired, and the potter’s found someone new. I don’t see why that’s such a big deal.” The potter’s apprentice is famous around town for his clumsiness, and it would be no surprise to anyone if someone more suited to such a delicate profession replaced him. Daren is a good-hearted lad, as Aunt Mae always says, and he does works hard, but he likely breaks more pots carrying them in from the kiln than he sells in one piece. This is especially true when he delivers jugs for the cider press on our farm, since his infatuation with Sisi makes him nervous. Of course, everyone fancies Sisi—he’s not alone in that, just a little more hopeless than most.

“It wasn’t anyone from the potter’s. Nor anyone else from Leasane. It was a man around your father’s age. Better dressed, though, in some sort of gold-and-purple uniform. He gave Uncle Prinn a sheet of paper. I couldn’t quite see what was on it, but it was stamped with a golden seal and I’m sure it’s the Sign of the Three Powers itself. So, I can only assume that your father has been given a message from the Royal Court in the Capital. How often do you think a messenger from the King’s own home rides across half the Earth to seek out an apple farmer? And what could be in such a message?” She looks about ready to faint as she finishes her speech, her cheeks flushed with the effort of having so much to say so quickly.

I have to concede that this is indeed a good point—but I have a few good points of my own to make. “Sounds too good to be true. Which means it probably is. Perhaps this messenger just wanted a cup of cider and directions back to the High Road. If it was anything more than that, we’ll hear about it soon enough. In the meantime, why not go to bed? Or at least lie here and speculate so as to spare ourselves the inevitable results of snooping into what’s none of our business: we sneak out, we get caught, we get beaten, we get sent right back where we started no better off but for sore backsides.”

“You are becoming frightfully dull lately. Ever since that incident on market day—”

“Which was all your fault, I might add, though it was me who took all the blame. Here’s an idea, Jena, let’s not do our chores today! Oh, let’s steal the apple cart and ride it into town! It’ll be fun! We’ll meet boys! We’ll buy candies at the market! We won’t get caught! And when we do get caught, I certainly won’t run away home and pretend never to have left my sewing and not say a word when Jena’s getting thrashed for it!”

“Bruises heal. Unsatisfied curiosity never does.”

“I don’t know, I’m still a little sore—” To be honest, my feelings were hurt worse than my backside. Aunt Mae is strict, but she’d never thrash us so hard that bruises dealt out a week prior would still hurt. What stings isn’t the beating, now, as Sisi points out, healed and mostly forgotten. It’s the fact that I’d gotten one, and Sisi hadn’t. As usual, I get stuck taking all of the blame and the pain with Sisi getting away scot-free, since she’s too pretty and charming for anyone but me to stay angry with.

“A half hour, that’s all. Won’t you give your poor dear cousin, near to you as a sister, your closest kin in affection if not in blood, a half-hour’s worth of your rest, when I would wake a thousand night’s watching for you…”

I roll my eyes, but I must confess, even just to myself, that I do quite want to know what’s going on down in the kitchen. As usual, Sisi is, infuriatingly, right. “Just half an hour?”

“Thirty minutes, to the instant, she promises, smiling with all the innocence she can muster.

“Shake on it, you scoundrel. I can’t trust you.”

She spits in her hand and offers it to me, and I take it. Sometimes I think Sisi would not have made a very good Lady of a Numbered House, even if her brother had not left the Numbered for his unsuitable marriage with my cousin Merri. Sisi and I shake, and then she yanks me out of the bed by our joined hands.

Buy it: Amazon

Exclusive Cover Reveal: Once Stolen by D.N. Bryn

Today on the site we’re revealing the cover of D.N. Bryn’s Once Stolen, the followup to Our Bloody Pearl, releasing July 27, 2021! Here’s the story:

Ignit rocks fuel the jungle, from the colonists’ fan boats to the livelihoods of the native swamp warriors.

Ignits also fuel the mer-snake Cacao—fuel him with an irresistible desire to filch the glowing stones.

When Cacao botches a theft from a notorious ignit cartel, his chaotic escape leaves him chained to their prisoner: a self-proclaimed hero with a hidden stash of ignits so large, Cacao would never need to steal again. He’s determined to get his hands on it, even if that means guiding her through the mist-laden swamps he’s exiled from, tracked by scheming poachers and a desperate cartel leader.

But the selfish and the self-righteous can only flee together for so long before something snaps…

Return to Our Bloody Pearl’s steampunk-inspired world of merfolk in this fun, fast-paced adventure with a hate-to-love romance, a boat-load of sass, and even more heart.

And here’s the ominous cover, designed by Laya Rose!

Want a little taste of the book? Here’s a brief excerpt!

“How do you know this stuff?” Thais asks.
With a shrug, I lie out along the deck, my tail still twisted up in the driver’s seat. I tug my ignit out of my necklace to rub it before I sign, “I like rocks.”

The gentle lap of the peaceful Murk water vibrates against the side of the boat, small animals romping through the trees around us. Thais stares at me, her expression a crinkled mess. Then her chest shudders violently.

I bolt upright, half-annoyed and—well, fully annoyed, and not the least bit worried that the poison in her veins might be giving her some kind of spasm again. “It’s true. I just like rocks, okay.”
“No—I—” She keeps quaking, and it finally hits me that the vibration might be laughter. “I think it’s funny. You say you just like rocks while wearing a rock necklace, playing with a rock, traveling through the Murk to get more rocks. Your entire life revolves around rocks. Of course you would know so much about ignits.”

“Fuck off, boat shit,” I grumble. “I can love rocks if I want to.”
“I think it’s nice, Cacao.” She brushes her wiry curls back, tucking her feet beneath her legs. “You have something that means a lot to you. Most people go their entire lives and never find a passion like that.” Her hands lower, and she raps out a rhythm against the center seating block. She repeats it three times before her words finally sink in.

“You’re the only one who feels that way.”

Thais pokes me in the shoulder. “Hey now, I never said I approved of your actions. It’s nice—good—that you love something. It’s not nice that your love hurts other people.”

I roll my eyes. “That’s called greed.”

Her cheeks puff out and she shakes her head. “Fungus brain.”

“Yeah, yeah,” I grumble.

Preorder Once Stolen: Amazon | B&N

Danny Bryn is a queer, disabled, non-binary speculative fiction author of the liberal Jesus-freak variety. When not writing, they conduct infectious disease surveillance in their hometown of San Diego, where they enjoy basking in the Santa Ana winds, hiking the brush-heavy slopes, and eating too many tacos. Once Stolen is their second book in the These Treacherous Tides universe.

 

Authors in Conversation: When You Get the Chance Coauthors Tom Ryan and Robin Stevenson

Today on the site, I’m excited to have both brains behind the exciting upcoming Toronto Pride-centric YA, When You Get the Chance, coming May 4th from Running Press! Here’s a little more about the book:

As kids, Mark and his cousin Talia spent many happy summers together at the family cottage in Ontario, but a fight between their parents put an end to the annual event. Living on opposite coasts—Mark in Halifax and Talia in Victoria—they haven’t seen each other in years. When their grandfather dies unexpectedly, Mark and Talia find themselves reunited at the cottage once again, cleaning it out while the family decides what to do with it.

Mark and Talia are both queer, but they soon realize that’s about all they have in common, other than the fact that they’d both prefer to be in Toronto. Talia is desperate to see her high school sweetheart Erin, who’s barely been in touch since leaving to spend the summer working at a coffee shop in the Gay Village. Mark, on the other hand, is just looking for some fun, and Toronto Pride seems like the perfect place to find it.

When a series of complications throws everything up in the air, Mark and Talia—with Mark’s little sister Paige in tow—decide to hit the road for Toronto. With a bit of luck, and some help from a series of unexpected new friends, they might just make it to the big city and find what they’re looking for. That is, if they can figure out how to start seeing things through each other’s eyes.

Preorder: Bookshop | Amazon | IndieBound

And here are Tom Ryan and Robin Stevenson!

Tom: It’s been almost five years since I woke up to a text from you that said something like “hey Tom, I just had an idea: we should write a big queer Canadian YA novel together!” Obviously I was totally into it, and before long we were brainstorming and sending chapters back and forth. Do you remember what prompted you to reach out in the first place?

Robin: I missed you! You had moved two thousand miles away, and I missed hanging out and talking about writing. Plus I’d just written a non-fiction book about Pride, so I was out in schools and talking with young people, and realizing just how much queer kids and teens wanted to see their lives reflected in the books they were reading. It was really impulsive though- like I had the idea and sent the text about three seconds later!

Tom: One of the things I love most about When You Get the Chance is that the premise of the story grew from the situation we were in when we wrote it. I was on the east coast, you were on the west coast, and we both wished we could meet up somewhere in the middle to hang out. It was basically a no-brainer to echo that in the plot, bringing cousins Talia (your character, from B.C.) and Mark (my character, from Nova Scotia) together for a family funeral in Toronto. Once we had that framework established, I really felt like the rest of the story came together quite naturally – did you feel the same way?

Robin: Yeah, very much so. I think part of that came from the fact that we both think and care deeply about some of the same things: family, friendship, queer community and history, connections and sharing of ideas between older and younger people, the way our communities and language and identities continue to evolve. Once the characters came to life and the story started taking shape, it became clear that those themes were all woven into the book. I know we both have had opportunities to meet with lots of LGBTQ+ youth because of our previous books… Do you feel like those experiences and conversations influenced this story?

Tom: Absolutely. Like you, I’ve had a lot of opportunities to speak with LGBTQ+ youth groups, GSA’s, etc… and one of the things that I’ve been most struck by is how queer and gender non-conforming teens are able to hang out together in big groups, which would have been completely unimaginable when I was in high school. There’s a long – and proud! – tradition of coming out narratives in LGBTQ+ YA, and I will dig in my heels to defend those stories, because they’re really important, but the reality is that more and more they don’t reflect queer teens’ broader experiences. I will never forget visiting a large group of queer teens in Vancouver during Canadian Children’s Book Week, and during the Q&A one teen made a comment about how much they wanted to see more books that show lots of queer kids hanging out together, because that reflected their reality a lot more than a solitary queer teen in a world full of straight people. I described WYGTC and explained that it was on sub, and hopefully someone would pick it up. The group was so excited about it, and in the cab on my way back to my hotel, Eric called to say we had an offer! That was a definite high point in my career.

Robin: I remember that! I was actually at a cabin in the woods when I got the call…in the middle of a week of school visits as part of a book festival. In fact, the way we celebrated the news over the phone, from different parts of the country, fit right in with the way we wrote the book. And now, because of the pandemic, that will also be the way we’re launching it. We had originally hoped to be at Pride events together, in person, this summer- but it seems like those will have to be virtual events. Still, while parades can be canceled, pride itself cannot! Since Pride is a big part of our book, do you want to share something about your experiences at Pride?

Tom: I’ve lived in several different cities across Canada, which means I’ve been lucky enough to experience a bunch of different iterations of Pride. Each of them has developed its own traditions over time, but some aspects of Pride are universal, like the way the culture of a city or town transforms for just a short while into something much more vibrant and queer. At its heart, Pride is about community, and getting caught up in the energy created by so many people who are joyfully celebrating the right to be their truest selves is magical, every single time. What about you, Robin? Any particular Pride moments stand out?

Robin: I’ve been to Pride events in lots of different places too- from the Chicago Dyke March to the small and super friendly Pride celebrations on Salt Spring Island. Toronto Pride will always be special to me, because that is where my very first Pride events were, when I was still in my teens. And of course, I love going to Pride here in Victoria, with my family and community. My kid was just a month old at his first Pride march!  In the last few years, I have been really lucky to celebrate with people who are attending their first Pride events, and that has brought me a whole new appreciation for how beautiful and brave and necessary it is. And of course, I love some of the other Pride events in my town as well- especially the Big Gay Dog Walk, which is exactly what it sounds like- lots of queer people meeting up to walk our dogs together!

Tom: I’ve really enjoyed doing this interview, because it played out exactly the same way the book did! I kicked it off and sent it over to you, and we went back and forth until we reached a natural end. On that note, I’m going to pass it back to you for the final word, but first I want to say that everything about this process has been a total pleasure. I value your friendship so much, and getting an opportunity to share this experience together has been a total treat! I can’t wait until we can finally meet again in person – at a Pride event obviously – and share a long overdue hug to celebrate WYGTC!

Robin: Oh, I CANNOT WAIT to celebrate this book with you in person! You are absolutely one of my favorite people and while I wish we lived closer, I am so grateful that we haven’t let the distance come between us. And I was thinking the same thing about this interview—it’s been so much like writing the book together! Condensed and sped up, and with less plot twists– but really fun! I’d write something with you anytime. Just saying…

When You Get the Chance releases May 4th, 2021 from Running Press Kids!

Fave Five: Queer Muslim YA

How it All Blew Up by Arvin Ahmadi

The Henna Wars and Hani and Ishu’s Guide to Fake Dating by Adiba Jaigirdar

The Love and Lies of Rukhsana Ali and Zara Hossain is Here by Sabina Khan

Tell Me How You Really Feel by Aminah Mae Safi

If You Could Be Mine and Tell Me Again How a Crush Should Feel by Sara Farizan

Authors in Conversation: Andrew Maraniss and Phil Bildner

Last week, we had an excerpt of Singled Out, and I promised its author, Andrew Maraniss, would return. Now he’s back, and he’s joined by Phil Bildner, author of the Lambda finalist Middle Grade novel, A High Five for Glenn Burke! Since they’ve written an intro in addition to their conversation, I’m just gonna let them take it away!

Authors Phil Bildner and Andrew Maraniss have both written books for young readers involving Glenn Burke, the first openly gay Major League Baseball player and the inventor of the high five. Burke played for the Los Angeles Dodgers and Oakland A’s in the late 1970s but was driven from the game due to the homophobia of officials with both organizations. Bildner’s middle grade novel, A HIGH FIVE FOR GLENN BURKE, tells the story of a gay sixth grade boy who prepares a school presentation on Burke. Maraniss has written a biography of Burke for teens and adults, SINGLED OUT. Bildner and Maraniss spoke with each other for LGBTQ Reads about their shared interests in baseball, books, and Burke. 

Andrew Maraniss: You’re a Mets fan. Why the Mets over the Yankees, and how do Mets fans perceive themselves and their team in contrast to the Yankees and their fans?

Phil Bildner: Well, my dad grew up in Flatbush and was a Brooklyn Dodgers fan. He used to tell me stories about Pee Wee Reese, Duke Snider, and Jackie Robinson and how he would go to Elsie Day Games at old Ebbets Field. So there was no way I was going to be a Yankees fan. The team from the Bronx was the evil empire. I grew up on Long Island and could drive to Shea Stadium or take the Long Island Railroad to Woodside and change to the 7 Train to Flushing. I still remember my very first Mets game, Saturday afternoon April 20, 1974. We sat in the mezzanine, and the Mets won 5-2. Jerry Koosman tossed a complete game five-hitter.

PB: So you’re a Brewers fan from way, way back in the day. I’m old enough to remember the Harvey’s Wallbangers teams from the early 80s. I used to love Cecil Cooper because having 1980 Cecil Cooper on your Strat-O-Matic baseball team was like having a cheat code in your line-up. Who were your favorite players from those teams?

AM: I was born in Madison, Wisconsin, but we moved to the East Coast when I was four. My grandparents were still in Madison and Milwaukee, however, and they made sure I grew up a Brewers fan. We lived in Washington, D.C. when I was in first grade through ninth grade, and every time the Brewers came to Baltimore to play the Orioles, my Dad and I would go see the Brew Crew. I think it shaped my character being a fan of the road team, going against the grain and being happy when everyone else was sad, sad when 30,000 people were cheering. In 1981, we took the train up to New York to see the Brewers play the Yankees in the playoffs. I was 11 and it was my first trip to New York. Yankee fans were burning Brewers caps in the row behind us. It was an eye-opening experience. My favorite players back then were Paul Molitor and Robin Yount, but I loved all those guys — Cooper, Gorman Thomas, Ben Oglivie, Pete Vuckovich. My Twitter handle @trublu24 is a nod to the True Blue Brew Crew and Oglivie, who wore #24.

AM: When did you first learn of Glenn Burke’s story?

PB: Baseball cards! I started collecting Topps baseball cards in kindergarten, and of course, I had to have the complete sets. Each season, I knew every player on every team and even memorized many of their year-to-year statistics. That’s when I first learned about Glenn Burke. But I didn’t know about Glenn Burke. That didn’t happen until I was a teenager — when Inside Sports, a magazine I subscribed to published, The Double Life Of a Gay Dodger.

My origin story for A High Five for Glenn Burke is pretty cool. The first seeds were planted back in 2014 when I watched “High Five,” a short film that was part of ESPN’s “30 for 30” documentary series. I remember watching and thinking there’s a picture book in here somewhere, but I was working on a middle grade series at the time and didn’t have the bandwidth for a deep dive.

A few years later I did and wrote that picture book biography, but my editor, Wes Adams didn’t see it as a picture book. That’s exactly what he told me, “I don’t see it.” He didn’t think it was the right way to explore Glenn’s story. Wes was the one who suggested we try to weave Glenn Burke’s story into a contemporary realistic fiction middle grade novel. As soon as he said it, I was all in!

PB: And you? When did you first learn about Glenn Burke? What prompted you to write a biography for teens about him?

AM: Very similar stories involving conversations and baseball cards. My first book, Strong Inside, is a biography of Perry Wallace, the first Black basketball player in the SEC. My second, Games of Deception, is the story of the first U.S. men’s Olympic basketball team at the 1936 Olympics in Nazi Germany. As soon as I submitted Games of Deception to my editor, I started thinking about another narrative nonfiction story combining sports and social justice. I was speaking with my agent, Alec Shane, about various ideas and he mentioned that there had never been a biography of Glenn Burke. As soon as he said that, my mind flashed to Glenn’s 1978 Topps baseball card, where he’s swinging a bat in the Dodger road gray uniform. I’m grateful to Alec for suggesting Glenn as the subject of a biography. It was a no-brainer — a chance to write about my favorite sport, a tremendously interesting person and the gay rights movement of the 70s.

PB: What’s your connection to sports? Did you play ball as a kid? Were you a fan of teams other than the Brew Crew? Did you read sports books?

AM: Baseball was my favorite sport growing up. I played through high school in Austin, Texas, and if I hadn’t received a full-tuition sportswriting scholarship to Vanderbilt, I would have gone to school and played ball at Macalester College in Minnesota. They didn’t offer any scholarships but they did play once a year at the Metrodome, which was a ridiculous reason to be interested in a college. But what can I say?! As far as other teams, I’ve always been a big Green Bay Packers fan. My favorite college basketball team as a kid was Georgetown. We had season tickets in the Patrick Ewing era. I loved collecting baseball cards, and those same grandparents who brainwashed me into being a Brewers fan subscribed me to newsletters such as What’s Brewing and Packer Report. I ended up working in sports after college, first as the Sports Information Director for the Vanderbilt men’s basketball team and then as media relations manager for the Tampa Bay Devil Rays during their inaugural season of 1998. I was with a public relations firm in Nashville for nearly 20 years after that. Writing sports-related books has been a bit of a return to what I loved as a younger person. I also now manage the Sports & Society Initiative at Vanderbilt.

AM: How about you?

PB: As a kid, I played baseball, basketball, soccer, and tennis. I started playing little league baseball in second grade, basketball in third, and soccer in fourth.

I was a huge sports fan, too. Of course, I loved the Mets. I was also a Knicks fan — had season tickets in Section 324 of Madison Square Garden and went to all the Reggie Miller and Michael Jordan games and was even there for the OJ game against the Rockets during the NBA Finals in 1994. And I was an Islanders fan – they used to practice at a rink that was biking distance from my house. But I didn’t read many sports books. I read the newspaper, the sports section. That’s how I was able to keep track of my teams.

AM: When it comes to openly gay athletes in sports, we’ve seen many more high-profile women than men here in the U.S. Glenn Burke said on his deathbed that he hoped his experience would make it easier for gay ballplayers in the future. Obviously, there are many reasons why anyone, athlete or not, may or may not choose to come out at any particular time, but are you surprised there aren’t more out gay men in American sports? What would it mean to gay kids to see a pro baseball, basketball or football star in the prime of their career come out today?

PB: It would literally and figuratively be a game changer and have immeasurable value to queer kids.

But am I surprised there aren’t more out gay men in American sports? Unfortunately, no. While we’ve made tremendous strides towards acceptance in recent years, we now live in an era where a disturbingly large segment of our society proudly flaunts their hate and inhumanity. It’s become their brand like the alligator on their shirt or the Swoosh on their sneakers. So it’s understandable, sadly, why a gay male athlete in the prime of his career wouldn’t want to add fighting off fascists to his plate.

PB: What about you? Are you surprised there aren’t any openly gay professional baseball, basketball, or football players?

AM: When I interviewed Billy Bean, the gay vice president at Major League Baseball, he talked about how short the typical pro sports career is, how brief a window to make a life-changing amount of money. A closeted athlete has to make a calculation of whether it’s worth it to risk all that by coming out, not knowing what the reaction will be from teammates, coaches, team management and ownership, fans and the media. As you said, this is one of so many areas of American life where we see polarization between truth and lies. One thing I tried to do in Singled Out is to show the absurdity of the standard arguments against the viability of an out player. They’ll say it would be a “distraction,” as if teams don’t welcome distractions all the time. When Glenn Burke was with the Dodgers, manager Tommy Lasorda was literally inviting actors, comedians, and singers into the team’s clubhouse minutes before games. When Burke was with the A’s, the owner, Charlie Finley, was calling his manager in the middle of games to suggest changes in strategy and had a teenaged MC Hammer serving as his vice president. People say a gay player would be unpopular with teammates. Glenn Burke was the most popular player on the Dodgers. His teammates cried when was traded to the A’s. It was the straight player with the All-American image, Steve Garvey, who was disliked by many of his teammates. I think that while an out male player would be unpopular with many fans, he’d be wildly popular with others, and probably would have the best-selling jersey in the game pretty quickly.

PB: One of the things I loved most about Singled Out was that it was so much more than a biography. It captured a moment in time. As an example, I love how you wove Disco Demolition Night into the narrative. Can you explain what that was and why you decided to include it in the book?

AM: That was a fun chapter to write! On July 12, 1979, the Chicago White Sox encouraged fans to bring disco records to the stadium so they could be placed in a big pile on the field and blown up between games of a doubleheader against the Tigers. Fifty thousand people showed up, twice as many as the team expected, and the night turned chaotic, with fans throwing records on the field like frisbees during the first game, running onto the field and ripping up handfuls of grass. Glenn Burke had nothing to do with this game in a literal sense, but I felt like this event, which has been characterized as representing the symbolic end of the disco era, illustrated a cultural backlash to some of the gains made by gay, Black and Latino people in the 1970s — all of whom had played such a big part in the rise of disco. So, when thousands of mostly white fans showed up chanting “disco sucks,” it was all part of the same backlash that fueled the anti-gay rights rhetoric of Anita Bryant and inspired the fans who taunted Glenn Burke. When the 1979 season began, Glenn was a starting center fielder in the major leagues. By June, he was driven from the game. In July ‘79, the top six albums on the pop charts were all disco. By late September, there were none in the top 10.

PB: Another thing I loved about your book was how you created context for the AIDS epidemic of the 1980s. Obviously, when you first sat down to write Singled Out, you didn’t know it would be published while we were living through another global pandemic Do you think the fact that we are helps young readers to better understand what it was like during that time?

AM: In some ways, yes, I think the experience of having lived through COVID will help young people better understand what it might have felt like in the early days of the AIDS epidemic, particularly the initial uncertainty and confusion about what causes the virus and how to prevent its spread. There is also the parallel of a Republican administration not taking the virus seriously — even mocking it — and treating the lost lives as unimportant because of who was most at risk — gay men with AIDS and Black and brown Americans with COVID.

PB: My book came out last winter at the start of the pandemic, and there’s a cruel irony in publishing a book celebrating the high five at the very moment in which we were being urged to physically distance ourselves from one another.

AM: What have been some of the most meaningful reactions to the book from middle schoolers, teachers and librarians?

PB: There have been so many, but by far the most meaningful ones have been from elementary and middle school readers who’ve taken the time to let me know they saw themselves or their experiences in Silas, the main character in the book. In a lot of ways, I wrote A High Five for Glenn Burke for middle school me. It’s the book I wish I had when I was twelve. Unlike Silas, I didn’t have the internet. I didn’t have his access to information, language, words, and ideas. All I knew is that as much as I loved playing ball, kids like me didn’t. I didn’t know queer kids played sports. I didn’t know queer kids could play sports. A book like this would’ve given middle school me hope. Visibility matters. Representation matters. Our truths matter.

For more information on Phil Bildner and his books, visit philbildner.com and follow him on Twitter @philbildner.

For more information on Andrew Maraniss and his books, visit andrewmaraniss.com and follow him on Twitter @trublu24. 

Phil Bildner is the New York Times–bestselling author of numerous books for kids. His latest is the 2021 Charlotte Huck Award Honor-winning A High Five for Glenn Burke. His many picture books include the Margaret Wise Brown Prize winning Marvelous Cornelius, the Texas Bluebonnet Award winning Shoeless Joe & Black Betsy, Martina & Chrissie, Twenty-One Elephants, and The Soccer Fence. He is also the author of A Whole New Ballgame, Rookie of the Year, Tournament of Champions, and Most Valuable Players in the critically acclaimed middle grade Rip & Red series. In 2017, Phil established The Author Village, a children’s book author booking business.

Andrew Maraniss is a New York Times-bestselling author of narrative nonfiction. His latest book, SINGLED OUT, is a biography of Glenn Burke, the first openly gay Major League Baseball player.

His first book, STRONG INSIDE, was the recipient of the 2015 Lillian Smith Book Award and the lone Special Recognition honor at the 2015 RFK Book Awards. The Young Reader edition was named one of the Top 10 Biographies and Top 10 Sports Books of 2017 by the American Library Association and was selected as a Notable Social Studies Book for 2019 by the National Council for the Social Studies.

His second book, GAMES OF DECEPTION, is the story of the first U.S. Olympic basketball team, which competed at the 1936 Summer Games in Nazi Germany. It received the 2020 Sydney Taylor Honor Award and was named one of Amazon’s Best Books of 2019. Both the National Council for the Social Studies and the American Library Association honored it as a Notable Book of 2019.

Andrew is a Visiting Author at Vanderbilt University Athletics and a contributor to ESPN’s TheUndefeated.com.

Andrew was born in Madison, Wis., grew up in Washington, D.C. and Austin, Texas and now lives in Brentwood, Tenn., with his wife Alison, and their two young children. Follow Andrew on Twitter @trublu24 and visit his website at andrewmaraniss.com.

Fave Five: Queer Appalachian Fiction

Cattywampus by Ash Van Otterloo (MG Fantasy)

Cub by Jeff Mann (Contemporary Coming of Age)

Sugar Run by Mesha Maren (Adult Contemporary)

Road Out of Winter by Alison Stine (Adult Dystopian)

The Falls of the Wyona by David Brendan Hopes (Adult Historical)

Bonus: Summer Sons by Lee Mandelo (Southern Gothic) is coming September 28, 2021

Double Bonus: For story collections, check out F*ckface: and Other Stories by Leah Hampton and LGBTQ Fiction and Poetry From Appalachia, ed. by Jeff Mann and Julia Watts, and for nonfiction, Tar Hollow Trans by Stacy Jane Grover is coming in 2022,

Exclusive Cover Reveal: Unfettered Hexes: Queer Tales of Insatiable Darkness ed. by dave ring

Brace yourself for an extreeeemely killer lineup, because that’s what you’re getting with Unfettered Hexes: Queer Tales of Insatiable Darkness, along with, you know, the the titular tales. Coming to you in October 2021 from Neon Hemlock Press, Unfettered Hexes: Queer Tales of Insatiable Darkness is a speculative anthology edited by dave ring of queer witches, infinite darkness and the knife edge between the sacred and the profane.

Unfettered Hexes asks you to sling salt in a circle, call the corners, and breathe life into the unutterable cadences that call forth the void. Find your coven, craft new rituals and hex your enemies.

This anthology launched on Kickstarter and ran December 2nd to January 1st, hitting 207% of the initial goal. Pre-orders are currently open via Backerkit.

The anthology will include work from:

  • Rasha Abdulhadi
  • Sharang Biswas
  • C.B. Blanchard
  • Die Booth
  • Priya Chand
  • Tania Chen
  • H.A. Clarke
  • Kel Coleman
  • Amelia Fisher
  • Craig L. Gidney
  • Diana Hurlburt
  • Tamara Jerée
  • Ruth Joffre
  • Marianne Kirby
  • L.D. Lewis
  • Danny Lore
  • Hanna A. Nirav
  • Chelsea Obodoechina
  • Suzan Palumbo
  • Nicasio Reed
  • Almah LaVon Rice
  • Jordan Shiveley
  • Cecilia Tan
  • R.J. Theodore
  • Elizabeth Twist

The book will also include:

  • Comics from Grace Fong, Caleb Hosalla & Viane Londoño
  • Story games from Mercedes Acosta & Allie Bustion
  • Art from Matt Spencer & Frances P

Matt Spencer is also working with editor dave ring on an oracle deck inspired by the stories from the anthology. (You can also preview the mostly-completed cards here. )

And now, the jawdropping cover, illustrated by Robin Ha!

What’s that? You wanna see the full flap?? Yeah, we’ve got that too!

Preorder Unfettered Hexes!

dave ring is a queer editor and writer of speculative fiction living in Washington, DC. He is the publisher and managing editor of Neon Hemlock Press, and the co-editor of Baffling Magazine.  He is also a chair emeritus of the OutWrite LGBTQ Book Festival.

He is the editor of the upcoming anthology Unfettered Hexes: Queer Tales of Insatiable Darkness (Neon Hemlock Press, 2021) as well as Broken Metropolis: Queer Tales of a City That Never Was (Mason Jar Press, 2018) and Glitter + Ashes: Queer Tales of a World That Wouldn’t Die (Neon Hemlock Press, 2020).

dave was a 2013 Lambda Literary Fellow, a 2018 resident of Futurescapes and Disquiet, and a 2019 resident of Sundress Academy for the Arts.  His short fiction has been featured in numerous publications including Fireside Fiction, Podcastle, and A Punk Rock Future. Find him at www.dave-ring.com or @slickhop on Twitter.

New Releases: April 2021

The Outrage by William Hussey (1st)

Welcome to England, where the Protectorate enforces the Public Good. Here, there are rules for everything – what to eat, what to wear, what to do, what to say, what to read, what to think, who to obey, who to hate, who to love. Your safety is assured, so long as you follow the rules.

Gabriel is a natural born rule-breaker. And his biggest crime of all? Being gay.

Gabriel knows his sexuality must be kept secret from all but his closest friends, not only to protect himself, but to protect his boyfriend. Because Eric isn’t just the boy who has stolen Gabriel’s heart. He’s the son of the chief inspector at Degenerate Investigations ­­­- the man who poses the single biggest threat to Gabriel’s life.

And the Protectorate are experts at exposing secrets.

Buy it: Blackwells

Create My Own Perfection by E.H. Timms (2nd)

“It’s not every day you get to put the fear of Medusa into a god.”

Emma Stone, medusa, is the groundskeeper for Olson College of Extensive Education, a place where everyone is welcome, from the mythical to the magical. When her selkie best friend loses her skin in Fresher’s week, the race is on to find it before someone uses it against her.

The search brings Emma face to face with her oldest enemy – and forces her to confront the worst nightmares of her past.

Buy it: iBooks | Kobo | B&N

The Sky Blues by Robbie Couch (6th)

Sky Baker may be openly gay, but in his small, insular town, making sure he was invisible has always been easier than being himself. Determined not to let anything ruin his senior year, Sky decides to make a splash at his high school’s annual beach bum party by asking his crush, Ali, to prom—and he has thirty days to do it.

What better way to start living loud and proud than by pulling off the gayest promposal Rock Ledge, Michigan, has ever seen?

Then, Sky’s plans are leaked by an anonymous hacker in a deeply homophobic e-blast that quickly goes viral. He’s fully prepared to drop out and skip town altogether—until his classmates give him a reason to fight back by turning his thirty-day promposal countdown into a school-wide hunt to expose the e-blast perpetrator.

But what happens at the end of the thirty days? Will Sky get to keep his hard-won visibility? Or will his small-town blues stop him from being his true self?

Buy it: Bookshop | Amazon | IndieBound

Peaces by Helen Oyeyemi (6th)

When Otto and Xavier Shin declare their love, an aunt gifts them a trip on a sleeper train to mark their new commitment—and to get them out of her house. Setting off with their pet mongoose, Otto and Xavier arrive at their sleepy local train station, but quickly deduce that The Lucky Day is no ordinary locomotive. Their trip on this former tea-smuggling train has been curated beyond their wildest imaginations, complete with mysterious and welcoming touches, like ingredients for their favorite breakfast. They seem to be the only people onboard, until Otto discovers a secretive woman who issues a surprising message. As further clues and questions pile up, and the trip upends everything they thought they knew, Otto and Xavier begin to see connections to their own pasts, connections that now bind them together.

Buy it: Bookshop | Amazon | IndieBound

First, Become Ashes by K.M. Szpara (6th)

Lark spent the first twenty-four years, nine months, and three days of his life training for a righteous quest: to rid the world of monsters. Alongside his partner Kane, he wore the cage and endured the scourge in order to develop his innate magic. He never thought that when Kane left, he’d next see him in the company of FBI agents and a SWAT team. He never dreamed that the leader of the Fellowship of the Anointed would be brought up on charges of abuse and assault.

He never expected the government would tell him that the monsters aren’t real–that there is no magic, and all the pain was for nothing.

Lark isn’t ready to give up. He is determined to fulfill his quest, to defeat the monsters he was promised. Along the way he will grapple with the past, confront love, and discover his long-buried truth.

Buy it: Bookshop | Amazon | B&N | IndieBound | Book Depository

Mask for Mask by J.D. Scott (6th)

JD Scott conjures up unruly personae that are propelled by queer fantasies, youthful regrets, incantations, and apocryphal parables. Mask for Mask is a kaleidoscopic poetry collection, one that is both formally innovative and an imaginative descent into LGBTQ+ undergrounds and underworlds.

Buy it:  Amazon | SPD Books

Zara Hossain is Here by Sabina Khan (6th)

Seventeen-year-old Pakistani immigrant Zara Hossain has been leading a fairly typical life in Corpus Christi, Texas, since her family moved there for her father to work as a pediatrician. While dealing with the Islamophobia that she faces at school, Zara has to lay low, trying not to stir up any trouble and jeopardize their family’s dependent visa status while they await their green card approval, which has been in process for almost nine years.

But one day her tormentor, star football player Tyler Benson, takes things too far, leaving a threatening note in her locker, and gets suspended. As an act of revenge against her for speaking out, Tyler and his friends vandalize Zara’s house with racist graffiti, leading to a violent crime that puts Zara’s entire future at risk. Now she must pay the ultimate price and choose between fighting to stay in the only place she’s ever called home or losing the life she loves and everyone in it.

Buy it: Bookshop | Amazon | B&N | IndieBound | Book Depository

Our Work is Everywhere: an Illustrated Oral History of Queer and Trans Resistance by Syan Rose (6th)

Over the past ten years, we have witnessed the rise of queer and trans communities that have defied and challenged those who have historically opposed them. Through bold, symbolic imagery and surrealist, overlapping landscapes, queer illustrator and curator Syan Rose shines a light on the faces and voices of these diverse, amorphous, messy, real and imagined queer and trans communities.

In their own words, queer and trans organizers, artists, healers, comrades, and leaders speak honestly and authentically about their own experiences with power, love, pain, and magic to create a textured and nuanced portrait of queer and trans realities in America. The many themes include Black femme mental health, Pacific Islander authorship, fat queer performance art, disability and healthcare practice, sex worker activism, and much more. Accompanying the narratives are Rose’s startling and sinuous images that brings these leaders’ words to visual life.

Our Work Is Everywhere is a graphic nonfiction book that underscores the brilliance and passion of queer and trans resistance.

Includes a foreword by Lambda Literary Award-winning author and activist Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha, author of Care Work: Dreaming Disability Justice.

Buy it: Bookshop | Amazon | IndieBound

Middletown by Sarah Moon (6th)

Thirteen-year-old Eli likes baggy clothes, baseball caps, and one girl in particular. Her seventeen-year-old sister Anna is more traditionally feminine; she loves boys and staying out late. They are sisters, and they are also the only family each can count on. Their dad has long been out of the picture, and their mom lives at the mercy of her next drink. When their mom lands herself in enforced rehab, Anna and Eli are left to fend for themselves. With no legal guardian to keep them out of foster care, they take matters into their own hands: Anna masquerades as Aunt Lisa, and together she and Eli hoard whatever money they can find. But their plans begin to unravel as quickly as they were made, and they are always way too close to getting caught.

Buy it: Bookshop | Amazon | IndieBound

No Way, They Were Gay?: Hidden Lives and Secret Loves by Lee Wind (6th)

“History” sounds really official. Like it’s all fact. Like it’s definitely what happened.

But that’s not necessarily true. History was crafted by the people who recorded it. And sometimes, those historians were biased against, didn’t see, or couldn’t even imagine anyone different from themselves.

That means that history has often left out the stories of LGBTQIA+ people: men who loved men, women who loved women, people who loved without regard to gender, and people who lived outside gender boundaries. Historians have even censored the lives and loves of some of the world’s most famous people, from William Shakespeare and Pharaoh Hatshepsut to Cary Grant and Eleanor Roosevelt.

Join author Lee Wind for this fascinating journey through primary sources―poetry, memoir, news clippings, and images of ancient artwork―to explore the hidden (and often surprising) Queer lives and loves of two dozen historical figures.

Buy it: Bookshop | Amazon | IndieBound

The Intimacy Experiment by Rosie Danan (6th)

Naomi Grant has built her life around going against the grain. After the sex-positive start-up she cofounded becomes an international sensation, she wants to extend her educational platform to live lecturing. Unfortunately, despite her long list of qualifications, higher ed won’t hire her.

Ethan Cohen has recently received two honors: LA Mag named him one of the city’s hottest bachelors and he became rabbi of his own synagogue. Taking a gamble in an effort to attract more millennials to the faith, the executive board hired Ethan because of his nontraditional background. Unfortunately, his shul is low on both funds and congregants. The board gives him three months to turn things around or else they’ll close the doors of his synagogue for good.

Naomi and Ethan join forces to host a buzzy seminar series on Modern Intimacy, the perfect solution to their problems–until they discover a new one–their growing attraction to each other. They’ve built the syllabus for love’s latest experiment, but neither of them expected they’d be the ones putting it to the test.

Buy it: Bookshop | Amazon | IndieBound

Malice by Heather Walter (13th)

Once upon a time, there was a wicked fairy who, in an act of vengeance, cursed a line of princesses to die. A curse that could only be broken by true love’s kiss.

You’ve heard this before, haven’t you? The handsome prince. The happily-ever-after.

Utter nonsense.

Let me tell you, no one in Briar actually cares about what happens to its princesses. Not the way they care about their jewels and elaborate parties and charm-granting elixirs. I thought I didn’t care, either.

Until I met her.

Princess Aurora. The last heir to Briar’s throne. Kind. Gracious. The future queen her realm needs. One who isn’t bothered that I am Alyce, the Dark Grace, abhorred and feared for the mysterious dark magic that runs in my veins. Humiliated and shamed by the same nobles who pay me to bottle hexes and then brand me a monster. Aurora says I should be proud of my gifts. That she . . . cares for me. Even though it was a power like mine that was responsible for her curse.

But with less than a year until that curse will kill her, any future I might see with Aurora is swiftly disintegrating—and she can’t stand to kiss yet another insipid prince. I want to help her. If my power began her curse, perhaps it’s what can lift it. Perhaps, together, we could forge a new world.

Nonsense again.

Because we all know how this story ends, don’t we? Aurora is the beautiful princess. And I—

I am the villain.

Buy it: Bookshop | Amazon | B&N | IndieBound

Victories Greater Than Death by Charlie Jane Anders (13th)

Tina never worries about being “ordinary”she doesn’t have to, since she’s known practically forever that she’s not just Tina Mains, average teenager and beloved daughter. She’s also the keeper of an interplanetary rescue beacon, and one day soon, it’s going to activate, and then her dreams of saving all the worlds and adventuring among the stars will finally be possible. Tina’s legacy, after all, is intergalacticshe is the hidden clone of a famed alien hero, left on Earth disguised as a human to give the universe another chance to defeat a terrible evil.

But when the beacon activates, it turns out that Tina’s destiny isn’t quite what she expected. Things are far more dangerous than she ever assumed–and everyone in the galaxy is expecting her to actually be the brilliant tactician and legendary savior Captain Thaoh Argentian, but Tina….is just Tina. And the Royal Fleet is losing the war, badly–the starship that found her is on the run and they barely manage to escape Earth with the planet still intact.

Luckily, Tina is surrounded by a crew she can trust, and her best friend Rachel, and she is still determined to save all the worlds. But first she’ll have to save herself.

Buy it: Bookshop | Amazon | IndieBound

The Companion by EE Ottoman (16th)

New York, 1949

After years of trying to break into New York City’s literary scene, Madeline Slaughter is emotionally and physically exhausted. When a friend offers her a safe haven as the live-in companion to reclusive, bestselling novelist Victor Hallowell she jumps at the chance to escape the city.

Madeline expects to find rest and quiet in the forests of Upstate New York. Instead, she finds Victor, handsome and intensely passionate, and Audrey Coffin, Victor’s mysterious and beautiful neighbor.

When Victor offers her a kiss and the promise of more Madeline allows herself to become entangled even as Audrey is also claiming her heart. The only problem is that Audrey and Victor are ex-lovers with plenty of baggage between them. As Madeline finds herself opening up and falling in love with both she starts to wonder, can there be a future for all three?

Buy it: Amazon

These Feathered Flames by Alexandra Overy (20th)

When twin heirs are born in Tourin, their fates are decided at a young age. While Izaveta remained at court to learn the skills she’d need as the future queen, Asya was taken away to train with her aunt, the mysterious Firebird, who ensured magic remained balanced in the realm.

But before Asya’s training is completed, the ancient power blooms inside her, which can mean only one thing: the queen is dead, and a new ruler must be crowned.

As the princesses come to understand everything their roles entail, they’ll discover who they can trust, who they can love—and who killed their mother.

Buy it: Bookshop | Amazon | IndieBound

Defekt by Nino Cipri (20th)

This is the sequel to Finna.

Derek is LitenVärld’s most loyal employee. He lives and breathes the job, from the moment he wakes up in a converted shipping container at the edge of the parking lot to the second he clocks out of work 18 hours later. But after taking his first ever sick day, his manager calls that loyalty into question. An excellent employee like Derek, an employee made to work at LitenVärld, shouldn’t need time off.

To test his commitment to the job, Derek is assigned to a special inventory shift, hunting through the store to find defective products. Toy chests with pincers and eye stalks, ambulatory sleeper sofas, killer mutant toilets, that kind of thing. Helping him is the inventory team—four strangers who look and sound almost exactly like him. Are five Dereks better than one?

Buy it: Bookshop | Amazon | B&N | IndieBound

The Key to You and Me by Jaye Robin Brown (20th)

Piper Kitts is spending the summer living with her grandmother, training at the barn of a former Olympic horseback rider, and trying to get over her ex-girlfriend. Much to Piper’s dismay, her grandmother is making her face her fear of driving head-on by taking lessons from a girl in town.

Kat Pearson has always suspected that she likes girls but fears her North Carolina town is too small to color outside the lines. But when Piper’s grandmother hires Kat to give her driving lessons, everything changes.

Piper’s not sure if she’s ready to let go of her ex. Kat’s navigating uncharted territory with her new crush. With the summer running out, will they be able to unlock a future together?

Buy it: Bookshop | Amazon | IndieBound

Too Bright to See by Kyle Lukoff (20th)

It’s the summer before middle school and eleven-year-old Bug’s best friend Moira has decided the two of them need to use the next few months to prepare. For Moira, this means figuring out the right clothes to wear, learning how to put on makeup, and deciding which boys are cuter in their yearbook photos than in real life. But none of this is all that appealing to Bug, who doesn’t particularly want to spend more time trying to understand how to be a girl. Besides, there’s something more important to worry about: A ghost is haunting Bug’s eerie old house in rural Vermont…and maybe haunting Bug in particular. As Bug begins to untangle the mystery of who this ghost is and what they’re trying to say, an altogether different truth comes to light—Bug is transgender.

Buy it: Bookshop | Amazon | B&N | IndieBound

In Deeper Waters by FT Lukens (20th)

Prince Tal has long awaited his coming-of-age tour. After spending most of his life cloistered behind palace walls as he learns to keep his forbidden magic secret, he can finally see his family’s kingdom for the first time. His first taste of adventure comes just two days into the journey, when their crew discovers a mysterious prisoner on a burning derelict vessel.

Tasked with watching over the prisoner, Tal is surprised to feel an intense connection with the roguish Athlen. So when Athlen leaps overboard and disappears, Tal feels responsible and heartbroken, knowing Athlen could not have survived in the open ocean.

That is, until Tal runs into Athlen days later on dry land, very much alive, and as charming—and secretive—as ever. But before they can pursue anything further, Tal is kidnapped by pirates and held ransom in a plot to reveal his rumored powers and instigate a war. Tal must escape if he hopes to save his family and the kingdom. And Athlen might just be his only hope…

Buy it: Bookshop | Amazon | IndieBound

The Galaxy, and the Ground Within by Becky Chambers (20th)

This is the fourth book in the Wayfarers series

With no water, no air, and no native life, the planet Gora is unremarkable. The only thing it has going for it is a chance proximity to more popular worlds, making it a decent stopover for ships traveling between the wormholes that keep the Galactic Commons connected. If deep space is a highway, Gora is just your average truck stop.

At the Five-Hop One-Stop, long-haul spacers can stretch their legs (if they have legs, that is), and get fuel, transit permits, and assorted supplies. The Five-Hop is run by an enterprising alien and her sometimes helpful child, who work hard to provide a little piece of home to everyone passing through.

When a freak technological failure halts all traffic to and from Gora, three strangers—all different species with different aims—are thrown together at the Five-Hop. Grounded, with nothing to do but wait, the trio—an exiled artist with an appointment to keep, a cargo runner at a personal crossroads, and a mysterious individual doing her best to help those on the fringes—are compelled to confront where they’ve been, where they might go, and what they are, or could be, to each other.

Buy it: Bookshop | Amazon | IndieBound

She Drives Me Crazy by Kelly Quindlen (20th)

After an embarrassing loss to her ex-girlfriend in their first basketball game of the season, seventeen-year-old Scottie Zajac gets into a fender bender with the worst possible person: her nemesis, Irene Abraham, head cheerleader for the Fighting Reindeer.

Irene is as mean as she is beautiful, so Scottie makes a point to keep her distance. When the accident sends Irene’s car to the shop for weeks’ worth of repairs and the girls are forced to carpool, their rocky start only gets bumpier.

But when an opportunity arises for Scottie to get back at her toxic ex—and climb her school’s social ladder—she bribes Irene into an elaborate fake- dating scheme that threatens to reveal some very real feelings.

Buy it: Bookshop | Amazon | IndieBound

Parker by Jack Harbon (20th)

People come to me because I fix things.

Broken taillights, faulty dishwashers, you name it. There are very few things I can’t make brand-new again. If it’s broken, malfunctioning, or just in need of a hand, it lands in my lap. That’s how Trey ended up in front of me, an unexpected stranger in my kitchen.

Only, he’s not broken.

Far from it. He’s gentle, creative, compassionate, and bright, all wrapped up in this timid, cagey package of blond curls and shy smiles. He’s been dealt a bad hand, running from someone that hurt him more than just physically, and he needs my help. My protection.

But Trey is different from every other guy.

He makes me feel things I don’t quite comprehend. Things I didn’t know were buried inside. No matter how hard I try to keep them quiet, I can’t ignore the way his attention quickens my heartbeat or how his soft eyes and even softer lips stir up desires I’ve never had before, and now that he’s this close to me, I’m not letting anything or anyone take him away.

Buy it: Amazon

On This Unworthy Scaffold by Heidi Heilig (27th)

This is the final book in the Shadow Players trilogy

Jetta is in the center of a war. With her magical power, she could save everyone, save her country… or she could destroy it all.

Jetta’s home is spiraling into civil war. Le Trépas—the deadly necromancer—has used his blood magic to wrest control of the country, and Jetta has been without treatment for her malheur for weeks. Meanwhile, Jetta’s love interest, brother, and friend are intent on infiltrating the palace to stop the Boy King and find Le Trépas to put an end to the unleashed chaos.

The sweeping conclusion to Heidi Heilig’s ambitious trilogy takes us to new continents, introduces us to new gods, flings us into the middle of palace riots and political intrigue, and asks searching questions about power and corruption. As in the first two books, the story is partly told in ephemera, including original songs, myths, play scripts, and various forms of communication.

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The Hate Project by Kris Ripper (27th)

Oscar is a grouch.

That’s a well-established fact among his tight-knit friend group, and they love him anyway.

Jack is an ass.

Jack, who’s always ready with a sly insult, who can’t have a conversation without arguing, and who Oscar may or may not have hooked up with on a strict no-commitment, one-time-only basis. Even if it was extremely hot.

Together, they’re a bickering, combative mess.

When Oscar is fired (answering phones is not for the anxiety-ridden), he somehow ends up working for Jack. Maybe while cleaning out Jack’s grandmother’s house they can stop fighting long enough to turn a one-night stand into a frenemies-with-benefits situation.

The house is an archaeological dig of love and dysfunction, and while Oscar thought he was prepared, he wasn’t. It’s impossible to delve so deeply into someone’s past without coming to understand them at least a little, but Oscar has boundaries for a reason—even if sometimes Jack makes him want to break them all down.

After all, hating Jack is less of a risk than loving him…

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Between Perfect and Real by Ray Stoeve (27th)

Dean Foster knows he’s a trans guy. He’s watched enough YouTube videos and done enough questioning to be sure. But everyone at his high school thinks he’s a lesbian—including his girlfriend Zoe, and his theater director, who just cast him as a “nontraditional” Romeo. He wonders if maybe it would be easier to wait until college to come out. But as he plays Romeo every day in rehearsals, Dean realizes he wants everyone to see him as he really is now––not just on the stage, but everywhere in his life. Dean knows what he needs to do. Can playing a role help Dean be his true self?

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Lies With Man by Michael Nava (27th)

Los Angeles, 1986.

A group of right-wing Christians has put an initiative on the November ballot to allow health officials to force people with HIV into quarantine camps―and it looks like it’s going to pass. Rios, now living in LA, agrees to be counsel for a group of young activists who call themselves QUEER [Queers United to End Erasure and Repression]. QUEER claims to be committed to peaceful civil disobedience. But when one of its members is implicated in the bombing of an evangelical church that kills its pastor, who publicly supported the quarantine initiative, Rios finds himself with a client suddenly facing the death penalty.

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Green Glass Ghosts by Rae Spoon, ill. by Gem Hall (27th)

At age nineteen, the queer narrator of Green Glass Ghosts steps off a bus in downtown Vancouver, a city where the faceless condo towers of the wealthy loom over the streets to the east where folks are just trying to get by, against the deceptively beautiful backdrop of snow-capped mountains and sparkling ocean. It’s the year 2000, and the world is still mostly analogue–pagers are the best way to get ahold of someone and resumes are printed out on paper and dropped off in person, and what’s this new fad called webmail?

Our hopeful hero arrives on the West Coast on the cusp of adulthood, fleeing a traumatic childhood in an unsafe family plagued by religious extremism, mental health crises, and abuse in a conservative town not known for accepting difference. They’re eager to build a new life among like-minded folks, and before they know it, they’ve got a job, an apartment, and a relationship, dancing, busking, and making out in bars, parks, art spaces, and apartments across the city. But their search for belonging and stability is buried in drinking, jealousy, and painful memories of the past, distracting the protagonist from their ultimate goal of playing live music and spurring them to an emotional crisis. If they can’t learn to care for themselves, how will they ever find true connection and community?

With haunting illustrations by Gem Hall that conjure the moody, misty urban landscape, Green Glass Ghosts is an evocation of that delicate, aching moment between youth and adulthood when we are trying, and often failing, to become the person we dream ourselves to be.

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Anna K Away by Jenny Lee (27th)

The sequel to Anna K, set over the course of the next summer, as the characters come to terms with Vronsky’s tragic death

How the mighty have fallen. Anna K, once the golden girl of Greenwich, CT, and New York City, has been brought low by a scandalous sex tape and the tragic death of her first love, Alexia Vronsky. At the beginning of the summer, her father takes her to the other side of the world, to connect with his family in South Korea and hide her away. Is Anna in exile? Or could this be her chance to figure out who she really is?

Back in the U.S., Lolly has forgiven Steven for cheating on her, and their relationship feels stronger than ever. But when Lolly meets a boy at her beloved theater camp, she has to ask herself how well Steven will ever really know her. Meanwhile, in Manhattan, everything between Kimmie and her new boyfriend, Dustin, is easy—except when it comes to finally having sex. And Bea escapes to LA, running away from her grief at her beloved cousin’s death, until a beautiful stranger steals her heart. Is Bea ready to finally forgive Anna, and let herself truly fall in love for the very first time?

Set over the course of one unforgettable summer, Jenny Lee’s Anna K Away is full of the risk, joy, heartbreak, and adventure that mark the three months between the end of one school year and the beginning of the next.

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