Category Archives: Backlist Book of the Month

Backlist Book of the Month: The Last 8 by Laura Pohl

With sequel The First 7 releasing on March 7th, now is the perfect time to grab this alien sci-fi with a queer cast, including aromantic bisexual lead Clover. I am not typically a sci-fi reader, and this one had me on the edge of my seat the entire time and dying to see what comes next, so if you’re even on the fence because it isn’t your typical read, rest assured it’s the perfect choice to yank you out of your comfort zone a little bit without really doing that at all, especially if you love found family vibes!

The Last 8 by Laura Pohl

The Last 8 (The Last 8, #1)A high-stakes survival story about eight teenagers who outlive an alien attack—perfect for fans of The 5th Wave 

Clover Martinez has always been a survivor, which is the only reason she isn’t among the dead when aliens invade and destroy Earth as she knows it.

When Clover hears an inexplicable radio message, she’s shocked to learn there are other survivors—and that they’re all at the former Area 51. When she arrives, she’s greeted by a band of misfits who call themselves The Last Teenagers on Earth.

Only they aren’t the ragtag group of heroes Clover was expecting. The group seems more interested in hiding than fighting back, and Clover starts to wonder if she was better off alone. But then she finds a hidden spaceship, and she doesn’t know what to believe…or who to trust.

Buy it: B&N | Amazon

Backlist Book of the Month: People Like Us by Dana Mele

If you’re anything like me, you desperately pled for a queer YA version of Mean Girls, and then you read People Like Us by Dana Mele back in February 2018 and were wildly thrilled at how it delivered. If you’re not like me, you might’ve missed this vicious whirlwind of a psych thriller, so I’m here to help you remedy that mistake, especially since a sequel is reported to be coming in the nearish future. 

Kay Donovan may have skeletons in her closet, but the past is past, and she’s reinvented herself entirely. Now she’s a star soccer player whose group of gorgeous friends run their private school with effortless popularity and acerbic wit. But when a girl’s body is found in the lake, Kay’s carefully constructed life begins to topple.

The dead girl has left Kay a computer-coded scavenger hunt, which, as it unravels, begins to implicate suspect after suspect, until Kay herself is in the crosshairs of a murder investigation. But if Kay’s finally backed into a corner, she’ll do what it takes to survive. Because at Bates Academy, the truth is something you make…not something that happened.

Buy it: B&N | Amazon | IndieBound

 

Backlist Book of the Month: What Belongs to You by Garth Greenwell

It’s the start of a new year, and with that comes resolutions. One of mine? To read more adult fiction. So it’s probably a good thing I’ve been stocking up on it for the last couple of years. One of the first books I purchased toward that end was Garth Greenwell’s debut, What Belongs to You, about an American teacher who begins an illicit affair with a Bulgarian hustler he meets and pays for sex in the well-hidden bathrooms under Sofia’s National Palace of Culture. Those who actually read my intros to these posts know I vastly prefer to have read a book before featuring it, but Greenwell’s sophomore, Cleanness, releases on the 14th of this month, so what better time to draw attention? (Plus it was lauded by pretty much every reviewer on the planet, so do you really need to take my word for it?) Come join me in reading it this month!

On an unseasonably warm autumn day, an American teacher enters a public bathroom beneath Sofia’s National Palace of Culture. There he meets Mitko, a charismatic young hustler, and pays him for sex. He returns to Mitko again and again over the next few months, drawn by hunger and loneliness and risk, and finds himself ensnared in a relationship in which lust leads to mutual predation, and tenderness can transform into violence. As he struggles to reconcile his longing with the anguish it creates, he’s forced to grapple with his own fraught history, the world of his southern childhood where to be queer was to be a pariah. There are unnerving similarities between his past and the foreign country he finds himself in, a country whose geography and griefs he discovers as he learns more of Mitko’s own narrative, his private history of illness, exploitation, and disease.

Amazon | B&N | IndieBound

Backlist Book of the Month: Under the Mistletoe by Everly James

‘Tis the season for winter holiday books! And okay yes, I never read these because they’re almost always about Christmas, which I don’t celebrate, but how damn cute does this one look? And the main character is an author! Which, okay, again a little biased but who really cares? Christmas is coming early this year and it’s coming with lesbians.

Samantha Evans, popular lesbian romance author, has writer’s block and a book due by New Year’s Eve. When she signs up for a writing retreat in an attempt to overcome her lack of creativity, she expects a single-occupancy cabin and plenty of silence for crafting her new book.

What she doesn’t expect is a roommate. A gorgeous, woman roommate.

Gia Torres is an aspiring novelist eager to break into the publishing world and leave her horrible day job as a barista behind. She travels to a Colorado retreat to finish her very first novel, not expecting to find beautiful Samantha waiting for her there.

The only problem? The two women hate each other.

How will they overcome their first impressions and let Christmas sparks fly?

Buy it: Amazon

Backlist Book of the Month: Beneath the Citadel by Destiny Soria

The policy here for what constitutes “backlist” is that it has to be a year old. So did I literally put Beneath the Citadel by Destiny Soria into my schedule to promote the very single month it became eligible, even though it’s technically kind of the author’s frontlist? Sure did! Because it is great and underread and has gay, bi, and ace rep and it’s “friends on a quest” which is my favorite kind of contemporary (think Finnikin but gay!) and if you haven’t yet read it, you absolutely should!

In the city of Eldra, people are ruled by ancient prophecies. For centuries, the high council has stayed in power by virtue of the prophecies of the elder seers. After the last infallible prophecy came to pass, growing unrest led to murders and an eventual rebellion that raged for more than a decade.

In the present day, Cassa, the orphaned daughter of rebels, is determined to fight back against the high council, which governs Eldra from behind the walls of the citadel. Her only allies are no-nonsense Alys, easygoing Evander, and perpetually underestimated Newt, and Cassa struggles to come to terms with the legacy of rebellion her dead parents have left her — and the fear that she may be inadequate to shoulder the burden. But by the time Cassa and her friends uncover the mystery of the final infallible prophecy, it may be too late to save the city — or themselves.

Backlist Book of the Month: Casting Lacey by Elle Spencer

Is banter the #1 thing you crave in romance novels? Was Kalinda Sharma being bi one of the highlights of your TV-watching experience? Is slow-burn with fiery chemistry one of your favorite things on the planet? Do you appreciate Romance novels where a character still has to deal with coming out for the first time as an adult? Are Hollywood Romances your jam? Honestly, the answer is a resounding “Yes” for me for every one of these questions, but if it’s a “Yes” for even one of them for you, Casting Lacey is an A+ choice for your next f/f Romance read! I’m often asked for my favorite adult f/f Romance, and, well, here’s the answer, so I hope you love it as much as I do!

Coming out is easier when you’ve got someone by your side. At least that’s how the hyper-private Quinn Kincaid sees it. When her publicist suggests a good old-fashioned sham of a Hollywood relationship, Quinn reluctantly agrees. And that’s how the star of Jordan’s Appeal, TV’s highest rated legal drama, ends up with a fake girlfriend—the very real, very sexy, and very gay soap star, Lacey Matthews.

The two clash immediately, and often hilariously, as they figure out how to fake a budding romance. And of course, things are never as simple as they seem. A freak accident, some reluctant caregiving, and a chance to work together on Jordan’s Appeal force Quinn and Lacey closer together—for better or worse.

In Casting Lacey, Elle Spencer gives us a funny new take on a classic storyline, complete with nosy mothers, fawning assistants, and two beautiful actresses who might learn about true love. If they don’t kill each other first.

Buy it: Amazon | Kobo | Audible

 

Backlist Book of the Month: The Scorpion Rules by Erin Bow

Everyone’s got their favorite genres, and neither Sci-Fi nor Dystopian has ever topped my personal list, but The Scorpion Rules by Erin Bow managed to break through my preconceptions and become a major fave…and I’m guessing the MC being bi and the romance being between two cute girls helped a little bit. But it’s also smart, and political, and interesting in its approach and its world, and a little terrifying, and I’m definitely down for finding it some more love!

Greta is a Duchess and a Crown Princess. She is also a Child of Peace, a hostage held by the de facto ruler of the world, the great Artificial Intelligence, Talis. This is how the game is played: if you want to rule, you must give one of your children as a hostage. Start a war and your hostage dies.

The system has worked for centuries. Parents don’t want to see their children murdered.

Greta will be free if she can make it to her eighteenth birthday. Until then she is prepared to die with dignity, if necessary. But everything changes when Elian arrives at the Precepture. He’s a hostage from a new American alliance, and he defies the machines that control every part of their lives—and is severely punished for it. His rebellion opens Greta’s eyes to the brutality of the rules they live under, and to the subtle resistance of her companions. And Greta discovers her own quiet power.

Then Elian’s country declares war on Greta’s and invades the prefecture, taking the hostages hostage. Now the great Talis is furious, and coming himself to deliver punishment. Which surely means that Greta and Elian will be killed…unless Greta can think of a way to break all the rules.

Buy it: B&N | Amazon | IndieBound

Backlist Book of the Month: Who is Vera Kelly? by Rosalie Knecht

I freaking love books that are helmed by female spies, and this brilliant historical about a queer woman working as one during the Cold War was everything I’d wanted it to be when I read it in one sitting on a flight. Who is Vera Kelly? is fun and surprising and clever and a good glimpse into a fraught era from both a political and queer perspective, so do yourself a favor and check it out!

New York City, 1962. Vera Kelly is struggling to make rent and blend into the underground gay scene in Greenwich Village. She’s working night shifts at a radio station when her quick wits, sharp tongue, and technical skills get her noticed by a recruiter for the CIA.

Next thing she knows she’s in Argentina, tasked with wiretapping a congressman and infiltrating a group of student activists in Buenos Aires. As Vera becomes more and more enmeshed with the young radicals, the fragile local government begins to split at the seams. When a betrayal leaves her stranded in the wake of a coup, Vera learns the Cold War makes for strange and unexpected bedfellows, and she’s forced to take extreme measures to save herself.

Buy it: Amazon | B&N | IndieBound | Tin House

Backlist Book of the Month: Less by Andrew Sean Greer

My favorite thing about this feature is that I’m totally allowed to be tardy to the party, and yep, you better believe this one flew all the way under my radar until it won the Pulitzer. Even then, despite buying it, I didn’t read it until my book club made it the pick for our June meeting, but I finally get there, and I loved it! It’s got self-deprecating humor, unpredictable romance, a fun mix of settings (the main character is traveling the world), an older protagonist than we usually get to see (he’s on the verge of his 50th birthday), and best of all (for me personally), the author is a hugely relatable midlist author. So, if you, like me, are so late to jump on the train that even the Pulitzer committee beat you to it, hopefully this well convince you to get on board!

You are a failed novelist about to turn fifty. A wedding invitation arrives in the mail: your boyfriend of the past nine years is engaged to someone else. You can’t say yes–it would be too awkward–and you can’t say no–it would look like defeat. On your desk are a series of invitations to half-baked literary events around the world.

QUESTION: How do you arrange to skip town?

ANSWER: You accept them all.

What would possibly go wrong? Arthur Less will almost fall in love in Paris, almost fall to his death in Berlin, barely escape to a Moroccan ski chalet from a Saharan sandstorm, accidentally book himself as the (only) writer-in-residence at a Christian Retreat Center in Southern India, and encounter, on a desert island in the Arabian Sea, the last person on Earth he wants to face. Somewhere in there: he will turn fifty. Through it all, there is his first love. And there is his last.

Because, despite all these mishaps, missteps, misunderstandings and mistakes, LESS is, above all, a love story.

Amazon | B & N | IndieBound

Backlist Book of the Month: An Unkindness of Ghosts by Rivers Solomon

Confession: I’ve never read an adult sci-fi novel in my life, but I’m asked for recommendations for them with a decent amount of frequency, which means I spend a lot of time looking into the good ones. When I find one that’s purported to be engaging, brilliant, nuanced, and full of good rep, I know it needs more eyes. So check out An Unkindness of Ghosts and find yourself a new fave!

Odd-mannered, obsessive, withdrawn, Aster has little to offer folks in the way of rebuttal when they call her ogre and freak. She’s used to the names; she only wishes there was more truth to them. If she were truly a monster, as they accuse, she’d be powerful enough to tear down the walls around her until nothing remained of her world, save for stories told around the cookfire.

Aster lives in the low-deck slums of the HSS Matilda, a space vessel organized much like the antebellum South. For generations, the Matilda has ferried the last of humanity to a mythical Promised Land. On its way, the ship’s leaders have imposed harsh moral restrictions and deep indignities on dark-skinned sharecroppers like Aster, who they consider to be less than human.

When the autopsy of Matilda‘s sovereign reveals a surprising link between his death and her mother’s suicide some quarter-century before, Aster retraces her mother’s footsteps. Embroiled in a grudge with a brutal overseer and sowing the seeds of civil war, Aster learns there may be a way off the ship if she’s willing to fight for it.

Buy it: Amazon | B&N | IndieBound