Category Archives: Backlist Book of the Month

Backlist Book of the Month: A Love Story Starring My Dead Best Friend by Emily Horner

Published in 2010, Horner’s debut was one of the first f/f romances in modern YA, and I’m going to admit right now that that totally scared me off of reading it for years. Let’s just say, with some notable exceptions, early queer YA was…not excellent. But man, as soon as I read this I was really mad for cheating myself, because this is a book I would’ve been recommending for sure during all those in-between years. Road trip and theater elements plus a best friend/romance confusion element plus an enemies-to-lovers romance, all in an alternating timeline story? I MEAN. Anyway, don’t make the same mistake I did, especially now that it’s out of print! (But not hard to find used and discounted!)

For months, Cass Meyer has heard her best friend Julia, a wannabe Broadway composer, whispering about a top-secret project. Then Julia is killed in a sudden car accident, and while Cass is still reeling from her death, Julia’s boyfriend and her other drama friends make it their mission to bring to fruition the nearly-completed secret project: a musical about an orphaned ninja princess entitled Totally Sweet Ninja Death Squad.

Cass isn’t one of the drama people. She doesn’t feel at home with Julia’s drama friends, and she doesn’t see a place for her in the play. Things only get worse when she finds out that Heather Galloway, the girl who made her miserable all through middle school, has been cast as the ninja princess.

Cass can’t take a summer of swallowing her pride and painting sets, so she decides to follow her original plan for a cross-country road trip with Julia. Even if she has a touring bicycle instead of a driver’s license, and even if Julia’s ashes are coming along in Tupperware.

Totally Sweet Ninja Death Squad is a story about friendship. About love. About traveling a thousand miles just to find yourself. About making peace with the past, and making sense of it. And it’s a story about the bloodiest high school musical one quiet suburb has ever seen.

Buy it: Amazon * B&N * AbeBooks

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Backlist Book of the Month: Anything Could Happen by Will Walton

One of the rarer things in gay YA is books geared toward younger teen readers. Walton’s debut is forever on my rec list for having a 14-year-old protag dealing with a crush on his straight best friend and…that’s mostly it. It’s real, it hurts, and it’s life.

When you’re in love with the wrong person for the right reasons, anything could happen.

Tretch lives in a very small town where everybody’s in everybody else’s business. Which makes it hard for him to be in love with his straight best friend. For his part, Matt is completely oblivious to the way Tretch feels – and Tretch can’t tell whether that makes it better or worse.

The problem with living a lie is that the lie can slowly become your life. For Tretch, the problem isn’t just with Matt. His family has no idea who he really is and what he’s really thinking. The girl at the local bookstore has no clue how off-base her crush on him is. And the guy at school who’s a thorn in Tretch’s side doesn’t realize how close to the truth he’s hitting.

Tretch has spent a lot of time dancing alone in his room, but now he’s got to step outside his comfort zone and into the wider world. Because like love, a true self can rarely be contained.

Buy it: Amazon * B&N * Book Depository

 

Backlist Book of the Month: First Impressions by Christopher Koehler

Something you may have picked up about me is that I’m super intrigued by retellings, so I talk about them a lot. This book was actually the very first queer one I ever read, and one of my first m/m books ever, too! It’s a super fun, modern Pride and Prejudice, so if gaying up Jane Austen is your jam, make sure you check this one out!

13554984The first time Henry Hughes and Cameron Jameson meet, it’s an unmitigated disaster. Cameron reminds Henry of all he left behind when he stopped making adult films, and he cruelly rejects Cameron. When Cameron discovers Henry’s porno-thespian past, he assumes he’s dodged a bullet.

But circumstances continue to throw the two together. Though the physical attraction between them grows, they cling to first impressions, even as a slow dance reveals just how good they could be.

Henry finally realizes how wrong he was, but Cameron can’t cope with “sleeping with the enemy.” It will take a confrontation for Cameron to realize just how wrong he’s been, but unfortunately, he may have lost his chance.

Buy it: Dreampinner * Amazon * B&N * iBooks

Backlist Book of the Month: One Man Guy by Michael Barakiva

I pretty often get requests for cute gay YA romances, and this is one I think kinda slipped under the radar after its initial release, despite being funny and charming and having strong #ownvoices Armenian representation. And so, ta da! 

Alek Khederian should have guessed something was wrong when his parents took him to a restaurant. Everyone knows that Armenians never eat out. Between bouts of interrogating the waitress and criticizing the menu, Alek’s parents announce that he’ll be attending summer school in order to bring up his grades. Alek is sure this experience will be the perfect hellish end to his hellish freshman year of high school. He never could’ve predicted that he’d meet someone like Ethan.

Ethan is everything Alek wishes he were: confident, free-spirited, and irreverent. He can’t believe a guy this cool wants to be his friend. And before long, it seems like Ethan wants to be more than friends. Alek has never thought about having a boyfriend—he’s barely ever had a girlfriend—but maybe it’s time to think again.

Buy it:  B&N * Amazon * Indiebound

Backlist Book of the Month: Love in the Time of Global Warming by Francesca Lia Block

It’s Pride Month! And also the U.S. is currently kinda in shambles. So what better choice for June’s Backlist Book of the Month than Francesca Lia Block’s seminal Love in the Time of Global Warming, a reimagining of The Odyssey that features a whole lot of queer representation (of the bisexual, transgender, and gay varieties) set against an Apocalyptic LA? 

Her life by the sea in ruins, Pen has lost everything in the Earth Shaker that all but destroyed the city of Los Angeles. She sets out into the wasteland to search for her family, her journey guided by a tattered copy of Homer’s Odyssey. Soon she begins to realize her own abilities and strength as she faces false promises of safety, the cloned giants who feast on humans, and a madman who wishes her dead. On her voyage, Pen learns to tell stories that reflect her strange visions, while she and her fellow survivors navigate the dangers that lie in wait.

Buy it: B&N * Amazon * iBooks

Backlist Book of the Month: Treasure by Rebekah Weatherspoon

It’s been exactly a year since romance rock star Rebekah Weatherspoon has appeared on the site in this awesome interview, and that’s about as long as I can take not devoting a feature to one of her books. Treasure is thus far my personal fave, a rare lesbian NA Romance set in college with Black female leads, some beyond adorable flirting, and major sex (and sex work) positivity. It’s a fairly short read, but definitely a recommended one! (And if you read cishet allo Romance too, check out her seriously lauded newest release, Haven!)

Her sister’s bachelorette party is the highlight of a miserable year for Alexis Chambers, but once her bridesmaid’s dress is packed away, she’s back to coping with her life as a once popular athlete and violinist turned loner and the focus of her parents’ disappointment. She isn’t expecting much from her freshman year of college until she finds herself sharing a class with Treasure, the gorgeous stripper from her sister’s party.

Trisha Hamilton has finally gotten the credits and the money together to transfer to a four-year university. Between classes, studying, and her job as a stripper, she has little time for a social life, until she runs into the adorably shy baby butch from the club. Trisha can’t seem to hide her feelings for Alexis, even when Trisha discovers what she has been through, but will Alexis have the strength to be just as fearless about their new love?

Buy it: Bold Strokes * iBooks * Kobo * B&N * Amazon

Backlist Book of the Month: The Abyss Surrounds Us by Emily Skrutskie

LESBIAN PIRATES AND SEA MONSTERS. That’s pretty much all anyone really needs to know about this book, other than that it is really damn good, especially if you’re a fan of slow-burn romance and/or an animal lover. I am not at all a sci-fi person, and this was definitely one of my 2016 faves. And the best part? The sequel comes out this month! So get to know Cas and the rest of the badass pirate gang, and make sure you snag The Edge of the Abyss when it releases on April 18!

24790901For Cassandra Leung, bossing around sea monsters is just the family business. She’s been a Reckoner trainer-in-training ever since she could walk, raising the genetically-engineered beasts to defend ships as they cross the pirate-infested NeoPacific. But when the pirate queen Santa Elena swoops in on Cas’s first solo mission and snatches her from the bloodstained decks, Cas’s dream of being a full-time trainer seems dead in the water.

There’s no time to mourn. Waiting for her on the pirate ship is an unhatched Reckoner pup. Santa Elena wants to take back the seas with a monster of her own, and she needs a proper trainer to do it. She orders Cas to raise the pup, make sure he imprints on her ship, and, when the time comes, teach him to fight for the pirates. If Cas fails, her blood will be the next to paint the sea.

But Cas has fought pirates her entire life. And she’s not about to stop.

Buy it: Amazon | B&N | Indiebound | BAM | Book Depository

Backlist Book of the Month: Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe

I know, I know, you’re definitely thinking, “Ummm, everyone has already read that.” But one thing I learned from starting this site? NOT EVERYONE HAS READ IT. (Even though it’s beautifully written, even though it’s a glorious story of friends becoming more, even though it’s intersectional, even though it has great parents, and even though it’s got awards up the wazoo.)

Of course, I also have an ulterior motive to making it this month’s Backlist feature: I want to draw your attention to the fact that Benjamin Alire Saenz has a brand-new book out this month as well! While the protag of The Inexplicable Logic of My Life isn’t under the rainbow umbrella, his wonderful adoptive father is (as are other characters).

So do yourself a favor and bump Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe to the top of your TBR if you haven’t yet, and if you’ve already read it, pick up The Inexplicable Logic of My Life when it releases on March 7 and/or get ready for upcoming companion, There Will Be Other Summers!

12000020Aristotle is an angry teen with a brother in prison. Dante is a know-it-all who has an unusual way of looking at the world. When the two meet at the swimming pool, they seem to have nothing in common. But as the loners start spending time together, they discover that they share a special friendship—the kind that changes lives and lasts a lifetime. And it is through this friendship that Ari and Dante will learn the most important truths about themselves and the kind of people they want to be.

Buy it: B&N * Amazon * IndieBound

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