Category Archives: Backlist Book of the Month

Backlist Book of the Month: Juliet Takes a Breath by Gabby Rivera

This is another one of those titles I had to jump on covering as soon as it hit being just over a year old, because it’s got one of the most memorable heroines I’ve ever read, and it’s just a must-read for basically everyone. Plus, the next time you’ll be seeing Gabby Rivera, it’ll be in the America Chavez solo series! How cool is that??

28648863Juliet Milagros Palante is leaving the Bronx and headed to Portland, Oregon. She just came out to her family and isn’t sure if her mom will ever speak to her again. But Juliet has a plan, sort of, one that’s going to help her figure out this whole “Puerto Rican lesbian” thing. She’s interning with the author of her favorite book: Harlowe Brisbane, the ultimate authority on feminism, women’s bodies, and other gay-sounding stuff.

Will Juliet be able to figure out her life over the course of one magical summer? Is that even possible? Or is she running away from all the problems that seem too big to handle?

With more questions than answers, Juliet takes on Portland, Harlowe, and most importantly, herself.

Buy It: Amazon * B&N * Indiebound

Backlist Book of the Month: Otherbound by Corinne Duyvis

Badass premise, a standalone fantasy (so no waiting for sequels!), a bi main character, disability rep, PoC rep, and a great intro to an author you definitely wanna watch. What more could you ask for?
16081758Amara is never alone. Not when she’s protecting the cursed princess she unwillingly serves. Not when they’re fleeing across dunes and islands and seas to stay alive. Not when she’s punished, ordered around, or neglected.

She can’t be alone, because a boy from another world experiences all that alongside her, looking through her eyes.

Nolan longs for a life uninterrupted. Every time he blinks, he’s yanked from his Arizona town into Amara’s mind, a world away, which makes even simple things like hobbies and homework impossible. He’s spent years as a powerless observer of Amara’s life. Amara has no idea . . . until he learns to control her, and they communicate for the first time. Amara is terrified. Then, she’s furious.

All Amara and Nolan want is to be free of each other. But Nolan’s breakthrough has dangerous consequences. Now, they’ll have to work together to survive–and discover the truth about their connection.

Buy it:

ABRAMS
IndieBound • Barnes & Noble
ABC.nl • Waterstones
Amazon • Book Depository

Backlist Book of the Month: Willful Machines by Tim Floreen

Fun and cute shippy sci-fi, even for people who don’t usually love sci-fi! (Like me. I do not usually like sci-fi. I liked this book.) And as a bonus, if you love it, Floreen’s got a whole new book out you can buy next!

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The closeted son of an ultra-conservative president must keep a budding romance secret from his father while protecting himself from a sentient computer program that’s terrorizing the United States—and has zeroed in on him as its next target—in this “socially conscious sci-fi thriller to shelve between The Terminator and Romeo and Juliet” (Kirkus Reviews, starred review).

In the near future, scientists create what may be a new form of life: an artificial human named Charlotte. All goes well until Charlotte escapes, transfers her consciousness to the Internet, and begins terrorizing the American public.

Charlotte’s attacks have everyone on high alert—everyone except Lee Fisher, the closeted son of the US president. Lee has other things to worry about, like keeping his Secret Service detail from finding out about his crush on Nico, the eccentric, Shakespeare-obsessed new boy at school. And keeping Nico from finding out about his recent suicide attempt. And keeping himself from freaking out about all his secrets.

But when attacks start happening at his school, Lee realizes he’s Charlotte’s next target. Even worse, Nico may be part of Charlotte’s plan too.

As Lee races to save himself, uncover Charlotte’s plan, and figure out if he can trust Nico, he comes to a whole new understanding of what it means to be alive…and what makes life worth living.

Buy it: Amazon * B&N * Indiebound

Backlist Book of the Month: Adaptation by Malinda Lo

One of the most frequent questions I get on Tumblr is about books with polyamorous relationships, and to the best of my knowledge, this is one of the first (and only) YA books to contain one. Well, to be clearer, the polyam part really comes together in the sequel, Inheritance, but you gotta start somewhere! Plus, this sci-fi’s got a bi MC, a diverse cast, and a premise even not-usually-sci-fi readers can latch on to!

10744752Reese can’t remember anything from the time between the accident and the day she woke up almost a month later. She only knows one thing: She’s different now.

Across North America, flocks of birds hurl themselves into airplanes, causing at least a dozen to crash. Thousands of people die. Fearing terrorism, the United States government grounds all flights, and millions of travelers are stranded.

Reese and her debate team partner and longtime crush David are in Arizona when it happens. Everyone knows the world will never be the same. On their drive home to San Francisco, along a stretch of empty highway at night in the middle of Nevada, a bird flies into their headlights. The car flips over. When they wake up in a military hospital, the doctor won’t tell them what happened, where they are—or how they’ve been miraculously healed.

Things become even stranger when Reese returns home. San Francisco feels like a different place with police enforcing curfew, hazmat teams collecting dead birds, and a strange presence that seems to be following her. When Reese unexpectedly collides with the beautiful Amber Gray, her search for the truth is forced in an entirely new direction—and threatens to expose a vast global conspiracy that the government has worked for decades to keep secret.

Buy it: IndieBound | Barnes & Noble | Amazon | iBooks | Google Play | Kobo

Backlist Book of the Month: George by Alex Gino

The truth is, I kind of take for granted that everyone’s read this fabulous Stonewall Award-winning MG about a trans girl named Melissa, by the wonderful Alex Gino, but I have to make sure just in case you haven’t, right? And we all want to put our support toward LGBTQIAP+ MG to make sure we get more of it, right? So, if you haven’t fallen in love with this one yet, make this month the month you do! (And yes I realize this isn’t technically a backlist book for the author, but the feature just means a book is more than a year old, so!)

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BE WHO YOU ARE.

When people look at George, they think they see a boy. But she knows she’s not a boy. She knows she’s a girl.

George thinks she’ll have to keep this a secret forever. Then her teacher announces that their class play is going to be Charlotte’s Web. George really, really, REALLY wants to play Charlotte. But the teacher says she can’t even try out for the part . . . because she’s a boy.

With the help of her best friend, Kelly, George comes up with a plan. Not just so she can be Charlotte — but so everyone can know who she is, once and for all.

To quote from the author’s website on where to buy:

Laurel Bookstore is your most reliable source for signed  copies of GEORGE. GEORGE can also be bought at your favorite book retailer. Independent bookstores like Powell’s, Books Inc, Oblong Books & Music would be glad to help you out or use Indie Bound to find an independent bookstore near you. GEORGE is also available at iBooks, Google Play, or Kobo, Barnes & Noble and Amazon!

Backlist Book of the Month: Far From You by Tess Sharpe

Since this month contains Bisexual Awareness Week, I had to choose one of my (and pretty much everyone’s) first and favorite bi books, Far From You by Tess Sharpe! Sharpe’s debut nails so much: addiction, recovery, chronic pain, grieving, and, of course, attraction not being limited to a single gender, no matter how unfriendly local circumstances are.

18296034Sophie Winters nearly died. Twice.

The first time, she’s fourteen, and escapes a near-fatal car accident with scars, a bum leg, and an addiction to Oxy that’ll take years to kick.

The second time, she’s seventeen, and it’s no accident. Sophie and her best friend Mina are confronted by a masked man in the woods. Sophie survives, but Mina is not so lucky. When the cops deem Mina’s murder a drug deal gone wrong, casting partial blame on Sophie, no one will believe the truth: Sophie has been clean for months, and it was Mina who led her into the woods that night for a meeting shrouded in mystery.

After a forced stint in rehab, Sophie returns home to a chilly new reality. Mina’s brother won’t speak to her, her parents fear she’ll relapse, old friends have become enemies, and Sophie has to learn how to live without her other half. To make matters worse, no one is looking in the right places and Sophie must search for Mina’s murderer on her own. But with every step, Sophie comes closer to revealing all: about herself, about Mina and about the secret they shared.

Buy it: Amazon I IndieBound I Powell’s I Book DepositoryBarnes & Noble (US)
Waterstones I WHSmith I Book Depository I Amazon (UK)
Amazon (Germany)

Backlist Book of the Month: Tell Me Again How a Crush Should Feel by Sara Farizan

Two things that are seriously rare in LGBTQIAP+ YA are intersectionally diverse books and lighter contemporary with happy endings, especially for queer girls. In her sophomore novel, the awesome Sara Farizan brings both, making this a Must Read of the highest order.
20312458High-school junior Leila has made it most of the way through Armstead Academy without having a crush on anyone, which is something of a relief. Her Persian heritage already makes her different from her classmates; if word got out that she liked girls, life would be twice as hard. But when a sophisticated, beautiful new girl, Saskia, shows up, Leila starts to take risks she never thought she would, especially when it looks as if the attraction between them is mutual. Struggling to sort out her growing feelings and Saskia’s confusing signals, Leila confides in her old friend, Lisa, and grows closer to her fellow drama tech-crew members, especially Tomas, whose comments about his own sexuality are frank, funny, wise, and sometimes painful. Gradually, Leila begins to see that almost all her classmates are more complicated than they first appear to be, and many are keeping fascinating secrets of their own.

Buy it: Amazon * Barnes & Noble * Powell’s * IndieBound * Workman

Backlist Book of the Month: How to Repair a Mechanical Heart by J.C. Lillis

In the last month, I’ve been asked a lot for recs of happy LGBTQIAP+ books, and this is probably the #1 I’d found to my dismay that most people still hadn’t read. This book is hilarious and adorable, and it’s also thoughtful, and it’s also fun and joyful and angsty too. I don’t know how to make more people read this one, but I’m gonna keep pushing it until everyone does!

16102490Eighteen-year-old Castaway Planet fans Brandon and Abel hate bad fan fiction—especially when it pairs their number-one TV crushes of all time, dashing space captain Cadmus and dapper android Sim. As co-runners of the Internet’s third most popular Castaway Planet vlog, they love to spar with the “Cadsim” fangirls who think Cadmus will melt Sim’s mechanical heart by the Season 5 finale. This summer, Brandon and Abel have a mission: hit the road in an RV to follow the traveling Castaway Planet convention, interview the actors and showrunner, and uncover proof that a legit Cadsim romance will NEVER, EVER HAPPEN.

A Brandon and Abel romance: also not happening. Brandon’s sick of his struggle to make “gay and Catholic” compute, so it’s safer to love a TV android. Plus Abel’s got a hot new boyfriend with a phoenix tattoo, and how can Brandon compete with that? But when mysterious messages about them start popping up in the fan community, they make a shocking discovery that slowly forces their real feelings to the surface. Before they get to the last Castaway Planet convention, Brandon’s going to find out the truth: can a mechanical heart be reprogrammed, or will his first shot at love be a full system failure?

Buy it: Amazon * B&N

Backlist Book of the Month: A Safe Girl to Love by Casey Plett

This month’s backlist book of the month is A Safe Girl to Love by Casey Plett, a collection of short stories, each featuring at least one trans woman. Here are three reason to get this one on your shelf ASAP:

  1. The writing. I mean, it’s a straight-up good book with well-written stories, and if you dig short-story collections, this is a great one to pick up. It’s raw and honest and gives voice to far too many women who still don’t get one in literature.
  2. The diversity of representation. There’s some nice variety of trans experiences here—single and partnered and polyamorous and monogamous and straight and queer and vanilla and kinky and fat and easily read and not easily read.
  3. It’s not “trans lit for cis people.” Which, ya know, fellow cis people, I think we can cop to very largely writing when it’s us behind the wheel. I’m all for writing outside of your lane but this is a perfect example of #ownvoices at its finest, and why it matters.

Eleven unique short stories that stretch from a rural Canadian Mennonite town to a hipster gay bar in Brooklyn, featuring young trans women stumbling through loss, sex, harassment, and love.

These stories, shiny with whiskey and prairie sunsets, rattling subways and neglected cats, show growing up as a trans girl can be charming, funny, frustrating, or sad, but never will it be predictable.

Buy it: B&N * Amazon * IndieBound

Backlist Book of the Month: The Five Stages of Andrew Brawley by Shaun David Hutchinson

This month’s Backlist Book of the Month is The Five Stages of Andrew Brawley, a gay YA hybrid novel by Shaun David Hutchinson, whose work also includes the hiiiighly acclaimed gay YA We Are the Ants. Here are three reasons this one’s a Must Read:

  1. FEEEEEEELINGS. You like feeling things, don’t you? Sadness and pain and sympathy or maybe empathy but also friendship feelings and caring and that spark of discovering someone new? I’m not gonna pretend this book won’t crush you, but…come on. Isn’t that what books are for, really?
  2. The art. As I mentioned, this book is a hybrid – the main character is a comic artist, and the actual art in the book was done by illustrator Christine Larsen. The comic panels add so much to the work, not just because they’re beautifully done, and not just because they encompass so many emotions, but because they allow you to get that much further into Andrew’s head and the swirl of emotions that come with it.
  3. The universality. You might not be gay, or have lost your family, or be in the hospital, or have a friend who’s dying, but this isn’t just about those things individually – it’s everything that comes with survivor’s guilt, with your life turning upside-down, with considering a new future when you know it won’t look anything like you thought it would. It’s finding beauty in ugly places and strength through your weakest times. And I’m pretty sure we can all relate to that.

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Andrew Brawley was supposed to die that night. His parents did, and so did his sister, but he survived.

Now he lives in the hospital. He serves food in the cafeteria, he hangs out with the nurses, and he sleeps in a forgotten supply closet. Drew blends in to near invisibility, hiding from his past, his guilt, and those who are trying to find him.

Then one night Rusty is wheeled into the ER, burned on half his body by hateful classmates. His agony calls out to Drew like a beacon, pulling them both together through all their pain and grief. In Rusty, Drew sees hope, happiness, and a future for both of them. A future outside the hospital, and away from their pasts.

But Drew knows that life is never that simple. Death roams the hospital, searching for Drew, and now Rusty. Drew lost his family, but he refuses to lose Rusty, too, so he’s determined to make things right. He’s determined to bargain, and to settle his debts once and for all.

But Death is not easily placated, and Drew’s life will have to get worse before there is any chance for things to get better.

Barnes & Noble * Indiebound * Amazon