Category Archives: New Release Spotlight

New Release Spotlight: How to Excavate a Heart by Jake Maia Arlow

Love light Sapphic YA romance? Love queer holiday romance? Excited to see a book mesh the two and be resplendent with nerdery? It’s got enemies-to-lovers! It’s got Jewish rep! It’s cozy and funny and basically exactly what you want to read as the fall turns to winter, and I loved it so much I blurbed it, so I’ll throw that in here too, because why not:  “With wit and chemistry that crackle like a roaring fire, the warmth and sweetness of gourmet hot cocoa, and the surprising softness of a gentle snowfall, How to Excavate a Heart truly gave me the romantic winter break of my dreams. You’ll want to savor every word, and then run and recommend it to everyone you know.” (Let the record show I am not usually so annoyingly flowery with blurbs, but like, the perfect winter vibes are so strong, it was beyond my control!) Anyway, it’s out now from HarperTeen, so go get it!

How to Excavate a Heart by Jake Maia Arlow

55348105. sy475 It all starts when Shani runs into May. Like, literally. With her mom’s Subaru.

Attempted vehicular manslaughter was not part of Shani’s plan. She was supposed to be focusing on her monthlong paleoichthyology internship. She was going to spend all her time thinking about dead fish and not at all about how she was unceremoniously dumped days before winter break.

It could be going better.

But when a dog-walking gig puts her back in May’s path, the fossils she’s meant to be diligently studying are pushed to the side—along with the breakup.

Then they’re snowed in together on Christmas Eve. As things start to feel more serious, though, Shani’s hurt over her ex-girlfriend’s rejection comes rushing back. Is she ready to try a committed relationship again, or is she okay with this just being a passing winter fling?

Buy from an indie using Jake’s very comprehensive website!

Buy it: Bookshop | Amazon

Special Edition: Dazzling Book Box

New Release Spotlight: Beating Heart Baby by Lio Min

Allllways feels good to get to talk about how much I loved a book I feel is going way too far under the radar, so here I am to shout about Beating Heart Baby by Lio Min, which releases from Flatiron Books on the 26th! I personally bill this book as Radio Silence by Alice Oseman meets All Kinds of Other by James Sie, and it’s half narrated by cis pansexual Filipino-American Santi and half by trans gay Japanese-Korean Suwa. There’s anime and music and friendship and Tokyo and a great cast and so much to love, so check it out when it releases later this month!

Beating Heart Baby by Lio Min

58724791Santi has only had his heart broken one time, and it was all his fault. When he accidentally leaked his internet best friend Memo’s song, and it became an overnight hit, Memo disappeared—leaving their song’s cult fame, and Santi, behind.

Three years later, Santi arrives in Los Angeles with a mission: get over the ghost of Memo. Thankfully, his new school and its wildly-talented Sunshower marching band welcome him with open arms. All except for his section leader, the prickly, proud, musical prodigy Suwa. But when Santi realizes Suwa is trans, then Suwa realizes Santi takes his identity in stride, both boys begin to let their guards down. Santi learns Suwa’s surliness masks a painful, still raw history of his own, and as they open up to each other, their friendship quickly takes on the red-hot blush of a mutual crush.

Just as Santi is feeling settled in this new life, with a growing found family and a head-over-heels relationship with Suwa, he begins to put together the pieces of an impossible truth—that he knows both more and less of Suwa’s story than he’s been told. Their fragile fresh start threatens to rip apart at the seams again when Suwa is offered the chance to step into the spotlight he’s owed but has always denied himself. Now, Santi and Suwa must finally reckon with their dreams, their pasts—and their futures, together or apart.

Buy it: Bookshop | Amazon | IndieBound

New Release Spotlight: Wrath Goddess Sing by Maya Deane

Look, I know queer readers are mythology nerds, and I’ve seen what readers of all genders and orientations have done for Song of Achilles. So what I’m saying is, this Pride month, treat yourself to a fantastic fantastic featuring a badass trans woman Achilles. You can thank me in July when we get to Wrath month. (It’s a perfect read for that one too.) Wrath Goddess Sing releases from William Morrow on June 7th, and is available for preorder now. (See handy links below!)

Drawing on ancient texts and modern archeology to reveal the trans woman’s story hidden underneath the well-known myths of The Iliad, Maya Deane’s Wrath Goddess Sing weaves a compelling, pitilessly beautiful vision of Achilles’ vanished world, perfect for fans of Song of Achilles and the Inheritance trilogy.

The gods wanted blood. She fought for love.

Achilles has fled her home and her vicious Myrmidon clan to live as a woman with the kallai, the transgender priestesses of Great Mother Aphrodite. When Odysseus comes to recruit the “prince” Achilles for a war against the Hittites, she prepares to die rather than fight as a man. However, her divine mother, Athena, intervenes, transforming her body into the woman’s body she always longed for, and promises her everything: glory, power, fame, victory in war, and, most importantly, a child born of her own body. Reunited with her beloved cousin, Patroklos, and his brilliant wife, the sorceress Meryapi, Achilles sets out to war with a vengeance.

But the gods—a dysfunctional family of abusive immortals that have glutted on human sacrifices for centuries—have woven ancient schemes more blood-soaked and nightmarish than Achilles can imagine. At the center of it all is the cruel, immortal Helen, who sees Achilles as a worthy enemy after millennia of ennui and emptiness. In love with her newfound nemesis, Helen sets out to destroy everything and everyone Achilles cherishes, seeking a battle to the death.

An innovative spin on a familiar tale, this is the Trojan War unlike anything ever told, and an Achilles whose vulnerability is revealed by the people she chooses to fight…and chooses to trust.

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

New Release Spotlight: Rainbow Rainbow by Lydia Conklin

I must confess that other than YA anthologies, I’m not much of a short story person, but I was really intrigued by Rainbow Rainbow by Lydia Conklin and decided to pick it up, figuring I’d read a couple of stories. Of course, I ended up devouring it and all its beautifully messy stories about gender and sexuality, falling in love with it, and blogging about it for Buzzfeed, and now I’m passing that love along to you in the hopes you’ll pick it up too (it releases May 31st from Catapult), whether or not you think you’re a short story reader!

Rainbow Rainbow by Lydia Conklin

In this delightful debut collection of prize-winning stories, queer, gender-nonconforming, and trans characters struggle to find love and forgiveness, despite their sometimes comic, sometimes tragic mistakes.

In one story, a young lesbian tries to have a baby with her lover using an unprofessional sperm donor and a high-powered, rainbow-colored cocktail. In another, a fifth-grader explores gender identity by dressing as an ox—instead of a matriarch—for a class Oregon Trail reenactment. Meanwhile a nonbinary person on the eve of top surgery dangerously experiments with an open relationship during the height of the COVID crisis.

With insight and compassion, debut author Lydia Conklin takes their readers to a meeting of a queer feminist book club and to a convention for trans teenagers, revealing both the dark and lovable sides of their characters. The stories in Rainbow Rainbow will make you laugh and wince, sometimes at the same time.

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

New Release Spotlight: Nothing Burns as Bright as You by Ashley Woodfolk

A toxic obsessive romantic best-friendship between two Black girls who know that to actually give in and get together would spark the most dangerous flame, and who also set real ones together? A meditation on how not all friendships are meant to last, even if it’s the most compelling relationship of your life? One of the most stunning novels in verse you’ll ever read? If you haven’t yet picked up Nothing Burns as Bright As You, the only better time than now is yesterday.

56654666. sy475 Two girls.
One wild and reckless day.
Years of a tumultuous history unspooling
like thin, fraying string in the hours after they set a fire.

They were best friends. Until they became more.
Their affections grew. Until the blurry lines became dangerous.
Over the course of a single day, the depth of their past, the confusion of their present, and the unpredictability of their future is revealed.
And the girls will learn that hearts, like flames, aren’t so easily tamed.

It starts with a fire.
How will it end?

Buy it: Bookshop | Amazon | IndieBound

New Release Spotlight: Tripping Arcadia by Kit Mayquist

Combining the luxurious partying vibes and outsider perspective of The Great Gatsby with a revenge plot, budding queer romance, and some deadly botany, Tripping Arcadia is a lush Gothic thriller that definitely deserves a space on your shelf, whether you grab it brand new, pick it up for gardening vibes in the spring, or embrace its creepiness come Spooky Season. It releases on the 22nd from Dutton Books, and we’ve got preorder links for your convenience below!

55073801. sy475 Med school dropout Lena is desperate for a job, any job, to help her parents, who are approaching bankruptcy after her father was injured and laid off nearly simultaneously. So when she is offered a position, against all odds, working for one of Boston’s most elite families, the illustrious and secretive Verdeaus, she knows she must accept it—no matter how bizarre the interview or how vague the job description.

By day, she is assistant to the family doctor and his charge, Jonathan, the sickly, poetic, drunken heir to the family empire, who is as difficult as his illness is mysterious. By night, Lena discovers the more sinister side of the family, as she works overtime at their lavish parties, helping to hide their self-destructive tendencies . . . and trying not to fall for Jonathan’s alluring sister, Audrey. But when she stumbles upon the knowledge that the Verdeau patriarch is the one responsible for the ruin of her own family, Lena vows to get revenge—a poison-filled quest that leads her further into this hedonistic world than she ever bargained for, forcing her to decide how much—and who—she’s willing to sacrifice for payback.

Buy it: Bookshop | Amazon | IndieBound

Intersex Awareness Day Book Spotlight: Just Ash by Sol Santana

Ashley “Ash” Bishop has always known who he is: a guy who loves soccer, has a crush on his friend Michelle, and is fascinated by the gruesome history of his hometown―Salem, Massachusetts. He’s also always known that he’s intersex, born with both male and female genitalia. But it’s never felt like a big deal until his junior year of high school, when Ash gets his first period in front of the entire boys’ soccer team. Now his friends and teachers see him differently, and his own mother thinks he should “try being a girl.”

As tensions mount with his parents and Ash feels more and more like an outcast, he can’t help feeling a deeper kinship with his ancestor Bridget Bishop, who was executed for witchcraft. She didn’t conform to her community’s expectations either; she was different, and her neighbors felt threatened by her. And she paid the ultimate price. Ash is haunted by her last recorded words: You will keep silent.

Ash realizes that he needs to find a way to stand up for who he really is, or the cost of his silence might destroy his life, too.

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

Intersex author Sol Santana became one of only a handful of women to make the rank of Eagle Scout before being shunned by President Trump in 2017. She later turned in her badge. Her writing has received commendations from President Obama and NYS Assemblyman William Colton. She is studying to be a preschool teacher.

New Release Spotlight: The City Beautiful by Aden Polydoros

Look, I’m well aware I cannot shut up about this book, but I also cannot shut up about this book, so. To quote my own blurb, “Chillingly sinister, warmly familiar, and breathtakingly transportive, The City Beautiful is the haunting, queer Jewish historical thriller of my darkest dreams.” Whether your holidays are the many Jewish ones we just passed or the upcoming Halloween, or every day with a good book is a holiday to you, this is the book to gift to yourself this month!

Death lurks around every corner in this unforgettable Jewish historical fantasy about a city, a boy, and the shadows of the past that bind them both together.  

The City Beautiful by [Aden Polydoros]Chicago, 1893. For Alter Rosen, this is the land of opportunity, and he dreams of the day he’ll have enough money to bring his mother and sisters to America, freeing them from the oppression they face in his native Romania.

But when Alter’s best friend, Yakov, becomes the latest victim in a long line of murdered Jewish boys, his dream begins to slip away. While the rest of the city is busy celebrating the World’s Fair, Alter is now living a nightmare: possessed by Yakov’s dybbuk, he is plunged into a world of corruption and deceit, and thrown back into the arms of a dangerous boy from his past. A boy who means more to Alter than anyone knows.

Now, with only days to spare until the dybbuk takes over Alter’s body completely, the two boys must race to track down the killer—before the killer claims them next.

Buy it: Bookshop | Amazon | IndieBound | Blackwell’s

New Release Spotlight: The Charm Offensive by Alison Cochrun

I know everyone’s moving on to spooky season and so there will be about five billion rec lists accordingly over the next couple of months, but first, let me squeeze in a little bit of delightful joy in the form of this absolutely delightful m/m romance. The Charm Offensive is like the show UnReal meets Red, White & Royal Blue, with both great mental health rep and great ace-spec rep. I laughed, I cried, I swooned, and you will too, so check it out!

56898248Dev Deshpande has always believed in fairy tales. So it’s no wonder then that he’s spent his career crafting them on the long-running reality dating show Ever After. As the most successful producer in the franchise’s history, Dev always scripts the perfect love story for his contestants, even as his own love life crashes and burns. But then the show casts disgraced tech wunderkind Charlie Winshaw as its star.

Charlie is far from the romantic Prince Charming Ever After expects. He doesn’t believe in true love, and only agreed to the show as a last-ditch effort to rehabilitate his image. In front of the cameras, he’s a stiff, anxious mess with no idea how to date twenty women on national television. Behind the scenes, he’s cold, awkward, and emotionally closed-off.

As Dev fights to get Charlie to connect with the contestants on a whirlwind, worldwide tour, they begin to open up to each other, and Charlie realizes he has better chemistry with Dev than with any of his female co-stars. But even reality TV has a script, and in order to find to happily ever after, they’ll have to reconsider whose love story gets told.

Buy it: Bookshop | Amazon | IndieBound

New Release Spotlight: Cheer Up! by Crystal Frasier, Val Wise, and Oscar O. Jupiter

Okay, my copy of this one hasn’t arrived yet, so I haven’t actually read it, but some things just look too cute and joyful and wonderful not to give all the spotlight action possible. Cheer Up! Love and Pompoms is one of those books, a graphic novel with a cis f/trans f romance between two cheerleaders whose friendship is reignited and transformed when they join the same squad. I mean, it kind of can’t be bad? And that’s good enough for me!

Annie is a smart, antisocial lesbian starting her senior year of high school who’s under pressure to join the cheerleader squad to make friends and round out her college applications. Her former friend BeeBee is a people-pleaser—a trans girl who must keep her parents happy with her grades and social life to keep their support of her transition. Through the rigors of squad training and amped up social pressures (not to mention micro aggressions and other queer youth problems), the two girls rekindle a friendship they thought they’d lost and discover there may be other, sweeter feelings springing up between them.

Buy it: Bookshop | Amazon | IndieBound