Forget I Told You This by Hilary Zaid (1st)
Amy Black, a queer single mother and an aspiring artist in love with calligraphy, dreams of a coveted artist’s residency at the world’s largest social media company, Q. One ink-black October night, when the power is out in the hills of Oakland, California, a stranger asks Amy to transcribe a love letter for him. When the stranger suddenly disappears, Amy’s search for the letter’s recipient leads her straight to Q and the most beautiful illuminated manuscript she has ever seen, the Codex Argentus, hidden away in Q’s Library of Books That Don’t Exist—and to a group of data privacy vigilantes who want her to burn Q to the ground.
Amy’s curiosity becomes her salvation, as she’s drawn closer and closer to the secret societies and crackpot philosophers that haunt the city’s abandoned warehouses and defunct train depots. All of it leads to an opportunity of a lifetime: an artist’s residency deep in the holographic halls of Q headquarters. It’s a dream come true—so long as she follows Q’s rules.
The Mossheart’s Promise by Rebecca Mix (5th)
The mold takes all.
Twelve-year-old fairy Canary Mossheart knows this better than most. A few years ago, the mold took her papa, and even her famous, former-chosen-one Gran never found a cure. So when Ary’s beloved mama falls ill, Ary decides it’s taken enough. Armed with only a bucket and a prayer, she sneaks out to find a magical, underground lake whose healing waters are straight out of Gran’s adventures.
But when Ary gets there, the lake’s bone dry, and instead of healing waters, she finds a terrifying secret: Her entire world is actually trapped inside a giant terrarium—one they were meant to leave centuries ago. Worse, Gran knew and hid the truth, dooming Ary and her generation to a dying, rotting world.
Now, allied with only her doomsday-obsessed frenemy, a timid pill bug, and a particularly grumpy newt, Ary has one week to unravel the clues and find a way out of the terrarium—or they’ll be trapped for good.
Deephaven by Ethan M. Aldridge (5th)
When Guinevere “Nev” Tallow receives an acceptance letter to the exclusive Deephaven Academy, they know it’s the fresh start that they’ve been looking for.
But things are strange from the moment they arrive—the house itself seems to breathe, students whisper secrets in dark corridors, and the entire east wing of the academy is locked away for reasons no one wants to explain. And Nev knows something ragged stalks the shadowy corridors, something that sobs quietly and scratches at the walls, waiting to be released.
With the help of another first-year student, Nev takes it upon themselves to unravel the mysteries hidden in Deephaven’s halls. But will they risk their fresh start to bring the academy’s secret to light?
Into the Bright Open by Cherie Dimaline (5th)
Mary Lennox didn’t think about death until the day it knocked politely on her bedroom door and invited itself in. When a terrible accident leaves her orphaned at fifteen, she is sent to the wilderness of the Georgian Bay to live with an uncle she’s never met.
At first the impassive, calculating girl believes this new manor will be just like the one she left in Toronto: cold, isolating, and anything but cheerful, where staff is treated as staff and never like family. But as she slowly allows her heart to open like the first blooms of spring, Mary comes to find that this strange place and its strange people―most of whom are Indigenous self-named “halfbreeds”―may be what she can finally call home.
Then one night Mary discovers Olive, her cousin who has been hidden away in an attic room for years due to a “nervous condition.” The girls become fast friends, and Mary wonders why this big-hearted girl is being kept out of sight and fed medicine that only makes her feel sicker. When Olive’s domineering stepmother returns to the manor, it soon becomes clear that something sinister is going on.
With the help of a charming, intoxicatingly vivacious Metis girl named Sophie, Mary begins digging further into family secrets both wonderful and horrifying to figure out how to free Olive. And some of the answers may lie within the walls of a hidden, overgrown and long-forgotten garden the girls stumble upon while wandering the wilds…
Every Star that Falls by Michael Thomas Ford (5th)
This is the sequel to Suicide Notes
Jeff spent forty-five days in the psych ward of a hospital after a suicide attempt. Now that he’s home and has accepted that he’s gay, he’s ready to reenter his life feeling stronger and more comfortable being his true self than ever before.
But it’s hard to come back to an old life when you have a new perspective on it. Returning to school is complicated, and his mother’s anxiety isn’t helping. Jeff will also have to figure out how to reconnect with his best friend, Allie, whose boyfriend he kissed before he went to the hospital. To make things even more complicated, a fellow patient from the ward suddenly appears at school, which brings up all kinds of mixed emotions for Jeff.
Luckily, he’s got new friends from a local community center for queer youths to help him through it all. And some may turn out to be more than just friends…
Straight Expectations by Callum McSwiggan (5th)
If you were granted one wish, what would it be?
Seventeen-year-old Max has always been out and proud. But every time he looks around his small school, he sees straight couples everywhere. It’s everything he’s ever wanted for himself, but there are few queer boys to choose from. When his frustrations get the better of him, he lashes out at his best friend, Dean, and wishes he had what everyone else has. And he wishes they’d never been friends.
Max gets more than he bargained for when he wakes up to find his wish has come true—his feelings for boys have vanished, and so has Dean. And he got exactly what he wanted… a girlfriend. With his school life turned upside down and his relationship with his family in tatters, Max sets out on a journey of rediscovery to find a way back to the life he took for granted, and the love story he thought he’d never have.
Fly With Me by Andie Burke (5th)
A one-way ticket to love or a bumpy ride ahead?
Flying-phobic ER nurse Olive Murphy is still gripping the armrest from her first-ever take-off when the pilot announces an in-flight medical emergency. Olive leaps into action and saves a life, but ends up getting stuck in the airport hours away from the marathon she’s running in honor of her brother. Luckily for her, Stella Soriano, the stunning type A copilot, offers to give her a ride.
After the two spend a magical day together, Stella makes a surprising request: Will Olive be her fake girlfriend?
A video of Olive saving a life has gone viral and started generating big sales for Stella’s airline. Stella sees their union as the perfect opportunity to get to the boys’ club executives at her company who keep overlooking her for a long-deserved promotion. Realizing this arrangement could help her too, Olive dives into memorizing Stella’s comically comprehensive three-ring-binder guide to fake dating. As the two grow closer, what’s supposed to be a ruse feels more and more real. Could this be the romantic ride of their lives, or an epic crash and burn?
Herc by Phoenicia Rogerson (5th)
A queer revisionist retelling of the story of Hercules, for fans of The Song of Achilles, A Thousand Ships and Ariadne.
This should be the story of Hercules: his twelve labours, his endless adventures… everyone’s favorite hero, right?
Well, it’s not.
This is the story of everyone else:
- Alcmene: Herc’s mother (She has knives everywhere)
- Hylas: Herc’s first friend (They were more than friends)
- Megara: Herc’s wife (She’ll tell you about their marriage)
- Eurystheus: Oversaw Herc’s labours (He never asked for the job)
- His friends, his enemies, his wives, his children, his lovers, his rivals, his gods, his victims
It’s time to hear their stories.
Wound by Oksana Vasyakina (5th)
From one of Russia’s most exciting new voices, Wound follows a young lesbian poet on a journey from Moscow to her hometown in Siberia, where she has promised to bury her mother’s ashes. Woven throughout this fascinating travel narrative are harrowing and at times sublime memories of her childhood and her sexual and artistic awakening. As she carefully documents her grief and interrogates her past, the narrator of Oksana Vasyakina’s autobiographical novel meditates on queerness, death, and love and finds new words for understanding her relationship with her mother, her country, her sexuality, and her identity as an artist.
A sensual, whip-smart account of the complicated dynamics of queer life in present-day Siberia and Moscow, Wound is also in conversation with feminist thinkers and artists, including Susan Sontag, Louise Bourgeois, and Monique Wittig, locating Vasyakina’s work in a rich and exciting international literary tradition.
A Shot in the Dark by Victoria Lee (5th)
Elisheva Cohen has just returned to Brooklyn after almost a decade. The wounds of abandoning the Orthodox community that raised her, then shunned her because of her substance abuse, are still painful. But when she gets an amazing opportunity to study photography with art legend Wyatt Cole, Ely is willing to take the leap.
On her first night back in town, Ely goes out to the infamous queer club Revel for a celebratory night of dancing. Ely is swept off her feet and into bed by a gorgeous man who looks like James Dean, but with a thick Carolina accent. The next morning, Ely wakes up alone and rushes off to attend her first photography class, reminiscing on the best one-night stand of her life. She doesn’t even know his name. That is, until Wyatt Cole shows up for class—and Ely realizes that the man she just spent an intimate and steamy night with is her teacher.
Everyone in the art world is obsessed with Wyatt Cole. He’s immensely talented and his notoriously reclusive personal life makes him all the more compelling. But there’s a reason why his past is hard for him to publicize. After coming out as transgender, Wyatt was dishonorably discharged from the military and disowned by his family. From then on he committed to sobriety and channeled his pain into his flourishing art career. While Ely and Wyatt’s relationship started out on a physical level, their similar struggles spark a much deeper connection. The chemistry is undeniable, but their new relationship as teacher and student means desperately wanting what they can’t have.
The Otherwoods by Justine Pucella Winans (12th)
The Otherwoods is calling. And it won’t be ignored.
Some would call River Rydell a ‘chosen one’: born with the ability to see monsters and travel to a terrifying spirit world called The Otherwoods, they have all the makings of a hero. But River just calls themself unlucky. After all, it’s not like anyone actually believes River can see these things-or that anyone even believes monsters exist in the first place. So the way River sees it, it’s better to keep their head down and ignore anything Otherwoods related.
But The Otherwoods won’t be ignored any longer.
When River’s only friend (and crush) Avery is kidnapped and dragged into The Otherwoods by monsters, River has no choice but to confront the world they’ve seen only in their nightmares-but reality turns out be more horrifying than they could have ever imagined. With only their cat for protection and a wayward teen spirit as their guide, River must face the monsters of The Otherwoods and their own fears to save Avery and become the hero they were (unfortunately) destined to be.
The Lonely Book by Meg Grehan (12th)
Every morning, when Annie’s moms open up their bookshop, there’s a pile of books on the counter, waiting for the right reader to come and find them.
But one day, there’s a book nobody comes for. Nobody ever comes, and each day the book gets lonelier, and the bookshop becomes an unhappy place. Who can the book be for, and why don’t they come?
Eventually, the book finds the reader who needs it: Annie’s sister, Charlotte. Charlotte asks the family to call her Charlie now, and to use ‘they/them’ pronouns.
The bookshop cheers up. Customers start buying books again.
The Borrow a Boyfriend Club by Page Powars (12th)
Noah Byrd is the perfect boy. At least, that’s what he needs to convince his new classmates of to prove his gender. His plan? Join the school’s illustrious (and secret) Borrow a Boyfriend Club, whose members rent themselves out for dates. Once he’s accepted among the bros, the “slip-ups” end.
But Noah’s interview is a flop. Desperate, he strikes a deal with the club’s prickly but attractive president, Asher. Noah will help them win an annual talent show—and in return, he’ll get a second shot to demonstrate his boyfriend skills in a series of tests that include romancing Asher himself.
If Noah can’t bring home the win, his best chance to prove that he’s man enough is gone. Yet even if he succeeds, he still loses . . . because the most important rule of the Borrow a Boyfriend Club is simple: no real boyfriends (or girlfriends) allowed.
And as long as the club remains standing as high as Asher’s man bun, Noah and Asher can never explore their growing feelings for one another.
Those Pink Mountain Nights by Jen Ferguson (12th)
Over-achievement isn’t a bad word—for Berlin, it’s the goal. She’s securing excellent grades, planning her future, and working a part-time job at Pink Mountain Pizza, a legendary local business. Who says she needs a best friend by her side?
Dropping out of high school wasn’t smart—but it was necessary for Cameron. Since his cousin Kiki’s disappearance, it’s hard enough to find the funny side of life, especially when the whole town has forgotten Kiki. To them, she’s just another missing Native girl.
People at school label Jessie a tease, a rich girl—and honestly, she’s both. But Jessie knows she contains multitudes. Maybe her new job crafting pizzas will give her the high-energy outlet she desperately wants.
When the weekend at Pink Mountain Pizza takes unexpected turns, all three teens will have to acknowledge the various ways they’ve been hurt—and how much they need each other to hold it all together.
A Hundred Vicious Turns by Lee Paige O’Brien (12th)
Rat Evans, nonbinary heir to one of the oldest magical bloodlines in New York, doesn’t cast spells anymore. For as long as Rat can remember, they’ve been surrounded by doorways no one else sees and corridors that aren’t on any map. Then one day, they opened a passage and found a broken tower in a field of weeds—and something followed them back.
When Rat is accepted into Bellamy Arts, all they want is a place to hide and to make sure they never open another passageway again. But when the only other person who knows what really happened last year—Harker Blakely, the dangerously gifted trans boy who used to be Rat’s closest friend—turns up on campus, Rat begins to realize that Bellamy Arts might not be as safe as they’d thought. And the tower might not be through with them yet.
Soon, Rat finds themself caught in a web of secrets and long-buried magic, with their friend-turned-enemy at their throat. But the closer they come to uncovering the truth about the tower, the further they’re drawn toward the unsettling powers that threaten to swallow them whole.
Your Lonely Nights Are Over by Adam Sass (12th)
Dearie and Cole are two popular (but sort of hated) queen bee boys of Stone Grove High School. But when the famed Mr. Sandman (a serial killer from the seventies) returns to their town—killing a fellow member of Queer Club and brutally hurting another—their whole lives change.
And when suspicion falls on Cole, Dearie and Cole will have to do whatever it takes to uncover the real killer, before they and the rest of Queer Club are hunted down. But they’re not getting away from the killer without a fight.
Along the way, their investigation leads them to face the deeper forces trying to tear their friendship apart, and the dark truth of Dearie’s relationship with his ex. When the world is stacked against them, and everyone is a possible suspect, can Dearie and Cole take down Mr. Sandman before it’s too late?
The Meadows by Stephanie Oakes (12th)
Everyone hopes for a letter—to attend the Estuary, the Pines, the Glades, the Meadows. These are the special places where only the best and brightest go to burn even brighter.
When Eleanor gets her letter, she knows she’s freed from her hardscrabble life by the sea, in a country ravaged by climate disaster. But despite the Meadows’ luminous facilities, endless fields, and pretty things, it keeps dark secrets.
Four years later, Eleanor and her friends seem free of the Meadows, changed but not in the ways they expected. Eleanor is an adjudicator, ensuring her former classmates don’t stray from the lives they’ve been conditioned to live.
But Eleanor can’t escape her past, or thoughts of the girl she once loved. Because Rose isn’t here anymore. And as secrets emerge that force Eleanor to grapple with her history, she must wage a dangerous battle for her own identity and for the full truth of what happened to the girl she lost, knowing if she’s not careful, Rose’s fate could be her own.
Monstrous by Jessica Lewis (12th)
Don’t go outside past dark. Come straight home after church. And above all—never, ever, go into Red Wood.
These are the rules Latavia’s aunt tells her as soon as she arrives in Sanctum, Alabama for the summer. Weird, but Latavia isn’t here to solve any scary small town mysteries; she’s here for six weeks and six weeks only, and then she’s off to college and won’t look back. Still, Sanctum has its perks—mainly, the cute girl who works at the local ice cream shop.
But Latavia can’t ignore how strange her aunt’s tiny town is. The residents are suspicious of her and at times hostile, and it’s clear she’s some kind of outsider. That’s proven when Latavia is dragged out of her house in the dead of night, into the forbidden Red Wood, and presented as a human sacrifice to an ancient monster.
Latavia won’t be eaten without a fight. She’ll do whatever she has to do to survive—even if that includes making a deal with the monster, endangering her crush and family, and even risk turning into a monster herself.
Ryan and Avery by David Levithan (12th)
When a blue-haired boy (Ryan) meets a pink-haired boy (Avery) at a dance–a queer prom–both feel an inexplicable but powerful connection. Follow them through their first ten dates as they bridge their initial shyness and fall in love–through snowstorms, groundings, meeting parents (Avery’s) and not (Ryan’s), cast parties, heartbreak, and every day and date in between.
What Stalks Among Us by Sarah Hollowell (September 12th)
Best friends and high school seniors Sadie and Logan make their first mistake when they ditch their end-of-year field trip to the amusement park in favor of exploring some old, forgotten backroads. The last thing they expect to come across is a giant, abandoned corn maze.
But with a whole day of playing hooking unspooling before them, they make their second mistake. Or perhaps their third? Maybe even their fourth. Because Sadie and Logan have definitely entered this maze before. And again before that.
When they stumble on the corpses in the maze, identical to them in every way (if you can ignore the stab and gunshot wounds)–from their clothes to their hidden scars to their dyed hair, to that one missing tooth–they quickly realize they’ve not only entered this maze before, they’ve died in it too. A lot. And no matter what they try, they can’t figure out what—or who—is hunting them.
The Death I Gave Him by Em X. Liu (12th)
Hayden Lichfield’s life is ripped apart when he finds his father murdered in their lab, and the camera logs erased. The killer can only have been after one thing: the Sisyphus Formula the two of them developed together, which might one day reverse death itself. Hoping to lure the killer into the open, Hayden steals the research. In the process, he uncovers a recording his father made in the days before his death, and a dying wish: Avenge me…
With the lab on lockdown, Hayden is trapped with four other people—his uncle Charles, lab technician Gabriel Rasmussen, research intern Felicia Xia and their head of security, Felicia’s father Paul—one of whom must be the killer. His only sure ally is the lab’s resident artificial intelligence, Horatio, who has been his dear friend and companion since its creation. With his world collapsing, Hayden must navigate the building’s secrets, uncover his father’s lies, and push the boundaries of sanity in the pursuit of revenge.
Buy it: Bookshop | Amazon
Thank You for Sharing by Rachel Runya Katz (12th)
Daniel Rosenberg and Liyah Cohen-Jackson’s last conversation―fourteen years ago at summer camp―ended their friendship. Until they find themselves seated next to each other on a plane, and bitterly pick up right where they left off. At least they can go their separate ways again after landing…
That is, until Daniel’s marketing firm gets hired by the Chicago museum where Liyah works as a junior curator, and they’re forced to collaborate with potential career changing promotions on the line.
With every meeting and post-work social gathering with colleagues, the tension (and chemistry) between Daniel and Liyah builds until they’re forced to confront why they broke apart years ago at camp. But as they find comfort in their shared experiences as Jews of color and fumble towards friendship, can they ignore their growing feelings for each other?
With sexy charm and undeniable wit, Rachel Runya Katz’s sparkling debut, Thank You For Sharing, proves that if you’re open to love, anything is possible.
OKPsyche by Anya Johanna DeNiro (12th)
An unnamed trans woman is looking for a sense of belonging, a better relationship with her son, and friends that aren’t imaginary in this playful and aching short novel. As she navigates the many worlds she belongs to she wrestles with her many anxieties and fears about the world around her. Her son and ex live in another state. Companion robots are popping up. Environmental disasters are being outsourced from the coast to the Midwest. And at any time anyone anywhere might turn out to be a new friend or an enemy.
In this stunning short novel, a trans woman slowly builds her confidence as she wends her way through the real and imagined worries, fears, and weirdness of adulthood, parenthood, and selfhood in the contemporary world.
Cursebreakers by Madeleine Nakamura (12th)
Adrien Desfourneaux, professor of magic and disgraced ex-physician, has discovered a conspiracy. Someone is inflicting magical comas on the inhabitants of the massive city of Astrum, and no one knows how or why. Caught between a faction of scheming magical academics and an explosive schism in the ranks of the Astrum’s power-hungry military, Adrien is swallowed by the growing chaos. Alongside Gennady, an unruly, damaged young soldier, and Malise, a brilliant healer and Adrien’s best friend, Adrien searches for a way to stop the spreading curse before the city implodes. He must survive his own bipolar disorder, his self-destructive tendencies, and his entanglement with the man who doesn’t love him back.
Buy it: Bookshop | Amazon
You, Again by Kate Goldbeck (12th)
When Ari and Josh first meet, the wrong kind of sparks fly. They hate each other. Instantly.
A free-spirited, struggling comedian who likes to keep things casual, Ari sublets, takes gigs, and never sleeps over after hooking up. Born-and-bred Manhattanite Josh has ambitious plans: Take the culinary world by storm, find The One, and make her breakfast in his spotless kitchen. They have absolutely nothing in common…except that they happen to be sleeping with the same woman.
Ari and Josh never expect their paths to cross again. But years later, as they’re both reeling from ego-bruising breakups, a chance encounter leads to a surprising connection: friendship. Turns out, spending time with your former nemesis is fun when you’re too sad to hate each other—and too sad for hate sex.
As friends-without-benefits, they find comfort in late night Netflix binges, swiping through each other’s online dating profiles, and bickering across boroughs. It’s better than romance. Until one night, the unspoken boundaries of their platonic relationship begin to blur…
A Market of Dreams and Destiny by Trip Galey (12th)
Below Covent Garden lies the Under Market, where anything and everything has a price: a lover’s first blush, a month of honesty, five minutes of strength, a wisp of luck and fortune. As a child, Deri was sold to one of the most powerful merchants of the Under Market as a human apprentice. Now, after seventeen years of servitude and stealing his master’s secrets, Deri spots a chance to buy not only his freedom but his place amongst the Under Market’s elite.
A runaway princess escapes to the market, looking to sell her destiny. Deri knows an opportunity when he sees it and makes the bargain of the century. If Deri can sell it on, he’ll be made for life, but if he’s caught with the goods, it will cost him his freedom forever. Now that Deri has met a charming and distractingly handsome young man, and persuaded him that three dates are a suitable price for his advice and guidance, Deri realises he has more to lose than ever.
News of the princess spreads quickly and with the royal enforcers closing in, Deri finds himself the centre of his master’s unwanted attention. He’ll have to pull out all the stops to outmanoeuvre the Master Merchant, save the man he loves, make a name for himself, and possibly change the destiny of London forever.
Mammoths at the Gates by Nghi Vo (12th)
This is the fourth book in the Singing Hills Cycle
The wandering Cleric Chih returns home to the Singing Hills Abbey for the first time in almost three years, to be met with both joy and sorrow. Their mentor, Cleric Thien, has died, and rests among the archivists and storytellers of the storied abbey. But not everyone is prepared to leave them to their rest.
Because Cleric Thien was once the patriarch of Coh clan of Northern Bell Pass–and now their granddaughters have arrived on the backs of royal mammoths, demanding their grandfather’s body for burial. Chih must somehow balance honoring their mentor’s chosen life while keeping the sisters from the north from storming the gates and destroying the history the clerics have worked so hard to preserve.
But as Chih and their neixin Almost Brilliant navigate the looming crisis, Myriad Virtues, Cleric Thien’s own beloved hoopoe companion, grieves her loss as only a being with perfect memory can, and her sorrow may be more powerful than anyone could anticipate. . .
This Spells Disaster by Tori Anne Martin (12th)
Potion maker and self-proclaimed “messy witch” Morgan Greenwood is sure she was hexed at birth. Not only did she drunkenly offer to fake date the woman of her dreams during the biennial New England Witches’ festival, but Rory Sandler, spellcasting champion and brilliant elemental witch–for reasons known only to the Goddess–accepted. It’s like every good luck spell Morgan ever cast came through at once, and it doesn’t take a crystal ball to predict this charade will end with a broken heart.
Or is the magic between them real? As Morgan and Rory prepare to fool everyone at the festival, their relationship starts to feel a whole lot less fake–right until Morgan realizes she might have screwed up the common relaxation potion she made for Rory and given her a love potion instead, breaking one of the most sacred Witch Council Laws.
To fulfill her promise to Rory, Morgan must somehow keep playing pretend while under the watchful eyes of Rory’s family and legion of fans. But to break the love potion, she’ll also have to prove how incompatible she and Rory really are. For a screwup like her, ruining their relationship should be easy–except every day, Morgan is becoming more bewitched by Rory herself.
The Free People’s Village by Sim Kern (12th)
In an alternate 2020 timeline, Al Gore won the 2000 election and declared a War on Climate Change rather than a War on Terror. For twenty years, Democrats have controlled all three branches of government, enacting carbon-cutting schemes that never made it to a vote in our world. Green infrastructure projects have transformed U.S. cities into lush paradises (for the wealthy, white neighborhoods, at least), and the Bureau of Carbon Regulation levies carbon taxes on every financial transaction.
English teacher by day, Maddie Ryan spends her nights and weekends as the rhythm guitarist of Bunny Bloodlust, a queer punk band living in a warehouse-turned-venue called “The Lab” in Houston’s Eighth Ward. When Maddie learns that the Eighth Ward is to be sacrificed for a new electromagnetic hyperway out to the wealthy, white suburbs, she joins “Save the Eighth,” a Black-led organizing movement fighting for the neighborhood. At first, she’s only focused on keeping her band together and getting closer to Red, their reckless and enigmatic lead guitarist. But working with Save the Eighth forces Maddie to reckon with the harm she has already done to the neighborhood—both as a resident of the gentrifying Lab and as a white teacher in a predominantly Black school.
When police respond to Save the Eighth protests with violence, the Lab becomes the epicenter of “The Free People’s Village”—an occupation that promises to be the birthplace of an anti-capitalist revolution. As the movement spreads across the U.S., Maddie dreams of a queer, liberated future with Red. But the Village is beset on all sides—by infighting, police brutality, corporate-owned media, and rising ecofascism. Maddie’s found family is increasingly at risk from state violence, and she must decide if she’s willing to sacrifice everything in pursuit of justice.
Idlewild by James Frankie Thomas (12th)
Idlewild is a tiny, artsy Quaker high school in lower Manhattan. Students call their teachers by their first names, there are no grades, and every day begins with 20 minutes of contemplative silence in the Meetinghouse. It is during one of those meetings that an airplane hits the Twin Towers.
For two Idlewild outcasts, 9/11 serves as the first day of an intense, 18-month friendship. Fay is prickly, aloof, and obsessed with gay men; Nell is shy, sensitive, and obsessed with Fay. The two of them bond fiercely and spend all their waking hours giddily parsing their environment for homoerotic subtext. Then, during rehearsals for the fall play, they notice two sexually ambiguous boys who are potential candidates for their exclusive Invert Society. The pairs become mirrors of one another and drive each other to make choices that they’ll regret for the rest of their lives.
Looking back on these events as adults, the estranged Fay and Nell trace that fateful school year, recalling backstage theater department intrigue, antiwar demonstrations, smutty fanfic written over AIM and a shared dial-up connection–and the spectacular cascade of mistakes, miscommunications, and betrayals that would ultimately tear the two of them apart.
Buy it: Bookshop | Amazon
Godkiller by Hannah Kaner (12th)
Gods are forbidden in the kingdom of Middren. Formed by human desires and fed by their worship, there are countless gods in the world—but after a great war, the new king outlawed them and now pays “godkillers” to destroy any who try to rise from the shadows.
As a child, Kissen saw her family murdered by a fire god. Now, she makes a living killing them and enjoys it. But all this changes when Kissen is tasked with helping a young noble girl with a god problem. The child’s soul is bonded to a tiny god of white lies, and Kissen can’t kill it without ending the girl’s life too.
Joined by a disillusioned knight on a secret quest, the unlikely group must travel to the ruined city of Blenraden, where the last of the wild gods reside, to each beg a favor. Pursued by assassins and demons, and in the midst of burgeoning civil war, they will all face a reckoning. Something is rotting at the heart of their world, and they are the only ones who can stop it.
Glitter and Concrete: A Cultural History of Drag in NYC by Elyssa Maxx Goodman (12th)
From the lush feather boas that adorned early female impersonators, to the sequined lip syncs of barroom queens, to the drag kings that have us laughing in stitches, drag has played a vital role in the creative life of New York City. But the evolution of drag in the city—as an art form, a community, and a mode of liberation—has never before been fully chronicled.
Now, for the first time, journalist and drag historian Elyssa Goodman unearths the dramatic, provocative untold story of drag in New York City in all its glistening glory. Readers duck beneath the velvet ropes of Harlem Renaissance balls, examine drag’s crucial role in the Stonewall Uprising, trace its influence on disco and punk rock as well as its unifying power during the AIDS crisis and 9/11, culminating in the era of RuPaul’s Drag Race.
Informed by meticulous research and archival work, as well as original interviews with high-profile performers, Glitter and Concrete is a significant contribution to queer history and an essential read for anyone curious about the story that echoes beneath the heels.
In the Ring by Sierra Isley (15th)
Rose Berman is losing her mind. At least, that’s what everyone at school seems to think. Plagued by panic attacks that started after her mother’s death, Rose is the target of frequent teasing and rumors. But when the star quarterback takes a joke too far, the school’s tattooed, cigarette-smoking time bomb — Elliott King — steps in and punches him in the face. Rose’s therapist recommends she try out a sport to manage her anxiety. She can’t help but think of Elliott – maybe if she could punch like him, she’d feel safer and stronger.
She sticks out like a sore thumb at the boxing gym, but she soon finds power in the sport and a reprieve from her panic attacks. As their worlds intertwine, Rose and Elliott are forced to face their most daunting opponent outside the Ring: their growing feelings for each other.
But Midtown Ring isn’t just a gym. As Rose falls deeper into the world of boxing, she learns Midtown is a front for a late-night, underground fight club where Elliott King is the headliner. Surrounded by violence and destruction, Rose’s anxiety begins to spiral. She starts hallucinating, just like her mother did before her death, leaving her to wonder if everyone at school might be right. If her newfound physical strength can’t keep her grounded in reality, she may be doomed to walk the same path as her mom.
How to Find a Missing Girl by Victoria Wlosok (19th)
A year ago, beloved cheerleader Stella Blackthorn vanished without a trace. Devastated, her younger sister, Iris, launched her own investigation, but all she managed to do was scare off the police’s only lead and earn a stern warning: Once she turns eighteen, more meddling means prison-level consequences.
Then, a year later, the unthinkable happens. Iris’s ex-girlfriend, Heather, goes missing, too—just after dropping the polarizing last episode of her true crime podcast all about Iris’s sister. This time, nothing will stop Iris and her amateur sleuthing agency from solving these disappearances.
But with a suspicious detective watching her every move, an enemy-turned-friend-turned-maybe-more to contend with, and only thirty days until she turns eighteen, it’s a race against the clock for Iris to solve the most dangerous case of her life.
A Crown So Cursed by L.L. McKinney (September 19th)
This is the third and final book in the Nightmare-verse
Alice and her crew are doing their best to recover from the last boss battle, but some of them keep having these. . . dreams: visions of a dark past―and an even darker future. Sadly, the evil in Wonderland may not be as defeated as they’d hoped.
Attacked by Nightmares unlike any they’ve ever seen, Alice will have to step between the coming darkness and the mortal world once more. But this time is different. This time, the monsters aren’t waiting for her on the other side of the Veil.
They’re in her own back yard.
The Society for Soulless Girls by Laura Steven (19th)
A sapphic enemies-to-lovers retelling of Jekyll & Hyde, this dark academia thriller follows two roommates who must solve an infamous cold case of serial murders on their campus after an arcane ritual gone wrong prompts another death.
Ten years ago, four students lost their lives in the infamous unsolved North Tower murders at the elite Carvell Academy of the Arts, forcing the school to close its doors.
Now Carvell is reopening, and fearless freshman Lottie Fitzwilliam is determined to find out what really happened. But when her beautiful but standoffish roommate, Alice Wolfe, stumbles upon a sinister soul-splitting ritual in a book hidden in Carvell’s library, the North Tower claims another victim. Is there a killer among them . . . or worse, within them?
Cleat Cute by Meryl Wilsner (19th)
Grace Henderson has been a star of the US Women’s National Team for ten years, even though she’s only 26. But when she’s sidelined with an injury, a bold new upstart, Phoebe Matthews, takes her spot. Phoebe is everything Grace isn’t―a gregarious jokester who plays with a joy that Grace lost somewhere along the way. The last thing Grace expects is to become friends with benefits with this class clown she sees as her rival.
Phoebe Matthews has always admired Grace’s skill and was star struck to be training alongside her idol. But she quickly finds herself looking at Grace as more than a mere teammate. After one daring kiss, she’s hooked. Grace is everything she has been waiting to find.
As the World Cup approaches, and Grace works her way back from injury, the women decide to find a way they can play together instead of vying for the same position. Except, when they are off the field, Grace is worried she’s catching feelings while Phoebe thinks they are dating. As the tension between them grows, will both players realize they care more about their relationship than making the roster?
A Nobleman’s Guide to Seducing a Scoundrel by KJ Charles (19th)
Major Rufus d’Aumesty has unexpectedly become the Earl of Oxney, master of a remote Norman manor on the edge of the infamous Romney Marsh. There he’s beset on all sides, his position contested both by his greedy uncle and by Luke Doomsday, son of a notorious smuggling clan.
The earl and the smuggler should be natural enemies, but cocksure, enragingly competent Luke is a trained secretary and expert schemer—exactly the sort of man Rufus needs by his side. Before long, Luke becomes an unexpected ally…and the lover Rufus had never hoped to find.
But Luke came to Stone Manor with an ulterior motive, one he’s desperate to keep hidden even from the lord he can’t resist. As the lies accumulate and family secrets threaten to destroy everything they hold dear, master and man find themselves forced to decide whose side they’re really on…and what they’re willing to do for love.
Alex Wise vs. the End of the World by Terry J. Benton-Walker (26th)
Alex Wise feels like his world is ending. His best friend, Loren, is leaving town for the summer, his former friend and maybe sort of crush Sky hasn’t spoken to him since he ditched Alex on first day of sixth grade, and now his mom is sending him and his annoying younger sister, Mags, on a cruise with the dad who abandoned them. And, as if things couldn’t get worse, a creepy shadow monster may or may not be stalking him.
But none of this could prepare Alex for the actual end of the world. Too bad that is exactly what’s coming, after the definitely-real Shadow Man kidnaps Mags and she is possessed by the ancient spirit of Death—one of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. Luckily (depending on who you ask), Alex is possessed as well by a powerful god who imbues Alex with their powers in an effort to stop the Horsemen…if he can figure out how to use them. So begins an epic battle between good and evil: Alex, Loren, a grumpy demi-god, and Alex’s fourth grade teacher vs. Death, Pestilence, Famine, War, and the waves of chaos and destruction they bring to LA and soon the rest of the globe. Just your average summer vacation.
Alex is more used to being left behind than leading the way, but now he’s the only one who can save his sister—and the world. That is, if he can unlock his new powers and and see himself as the hero he is.
The Problem with Gravity by Michelle Mohrweis (26th)
Autistic seventh-grader Maggie Weir loves spacecraft, but aerospace engineering isn’t the only thing that gives her butterflies: she’s got a secret crush on an eighth grader—the amazing, baton-twirling Tatum Jones. And they’ve just teamed up for an engineering contest! It might be the perfect chance for Maggie to tell Tatum how she feels, except . . .
Tatum is focused on outshining her genius twin brother, and Maggie’s forgetfulness isn’t making a great impression. Still, there’s something about the quirky girl with a messy backpack that sets Tatum’s heart aflutter. But before they can finish designing a low-gravity cabinet, Maggie reveals that her dad wants to move to Houston.
Now, Maggie must choose: Does she follow her dad and her dreams of NASA? Or does she stay with her mom to be near Tatum? If the stars are meant to align between these two, they’ll both have to fully realize their feelings for each other before Maggie leaves forever.
This Dark Descent by Kalyn Josephson (26th)
The Rusel family is famous throughout Enderlain as breeders of enchanted horses, but their prestige is no match for their rising debts. To save her family’s ranch, Mikira Rusel is left with only one option: enter the Illinir, a cutthroat, cross-country horserace known for its high death rate as much as its flashy prize money.
To have any chance of success, she’ll have to recruit Arielle Kadar, an unlicensed enchanter who creates golems in place of enchanted animals, and Damien Adair, a lord in the midst of a succession battle. Both her accomplices have reasons of their own to help Mikira – and their own blood feuds to avenge.
In a world as dangerous as this, will hidden agendas and conflicting desires butcher their chances of winning the Illinir. . . or will another rider’s dagger?
The Siren, the Song, and the Spy by Maggie Tokuda Hall (26th)
This is a companion to The Mermaid, the Witch, and the Sea
By sinking a fleet of Imperial Warships, the Pirate Supreme and their resistance fighters have struck a massive blow against the Emperor. Now allies from across the empire are readying themselves, hoping against hope to bring about the end of the conquerors’ rule and the rebirth of the Sea. But trust and truth are hard to come by in this complex world of mermaids, spies, warriors, and aristocrats. Who will Genevieve—lavishly dressed but washed up, half-dead, on the Wariuta island shore—turn out to be? Is warrior Koa’s kindness toward her admirable, or is his sister Kaia’s sharp suspicion wiser? And back in the capital, will pirate-spy Alfie really betray the Imperials who have shown him affection, especially when a duplicitous senator reveals xe would like nothing better?
Meanwhile, the Sea is losing more and more of herself as her daughters continue to be brutally hunted, and the Empire continues to expand through profits made from their blood. The threads of time, a web of schemes, shifting loyalties, and blossoming identities converge in Maggie Tokuda-Hall’s companion to The Mermaid, the Witch, and the Sea, as unlikely young allies work to forge a new and better world.
Buy it: Bookshop | Amazon
Mall Goth by Kate Leth (text, art), Diana Sousa (coloring), and Robin Crank (lettering) (26th)
Laura Dean Keeps Breaking Up with Me gets a Y2K twist in this coming-of-age young adult graphic novel from acclaimed comic artist Kate Leth about a 2000s goth teen whose favorite part of her new town is the mall.
Liv Holme is not exactly thrilled to be moving to a new town with her mother. After all, high school can be brutal, even more so when you’re a fifteen-year-old, bisexual goth. But Liv is determined to be who she is, bullies or not. Still, being the new kid and the only out student brings her a lot of unwelcome attention, and Liv flounders in her search for community. The only person who makes time for her is one of teachers, but Liv isn’t sure how to feel about the way he behaves toward her.
Thankfully, she’s found the perfect escape: the mall. Under its fluorescent lights, Liv feels far away from her parents’ strained marriage and the peers who don’t understand her. Amid the bright storefronts, food court smell, and anonymous shoppers, Liv is safely one of the crowd and can enjoy the feeling of calling the shots in her own life for once.
With the help of her suburban refuge, Liv sets off on a journey of self-acceptance and learns to navigate the ups and downs of high school and to recognize true friendship.