LGBTQIAP+ YAs Available in Audio

In the last two Shopper’s Delight posts, the accessibility focus was on finances. Today’s post is on a different form of accessibility – those who require (or even simply prefer) audiobooks. To that end, here are a whole bunch of LGBTQIAP+ YA books available in audio! (Please note that Adult books have their own Gay & Lesbian category, which is why I’m not doing a post on that here. YA does not.)

Male Protags

  • Highly Illogical Behavior by John Corey Whaley (CD * Audible)
  • We Are the Ants by Shaun David Hutchinson (Audible)
  • Seven Ways We Lie by Riley Redgate (MP3 CD * Audible)
  • The Great American Whatever by Tim Federle (CD * Audible)
  • Drag Teen by Jeffery Self (Audible)
  • Wonders of the Invisible World by Christopher Barzak (MP3 CD * Audible)
  • More Happy Than Not by Adam Silvera (CD * Audible)
  • One Man Guy by Michael Barakiva (CD * Audible)
  • Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Saenz (CD * Audible)
  • Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli (CD * Audible)
  • Fans of the Impossible Life by Kate Scelsa (CD * Audible)
  • Boy meets Boy by David Levithan (MP3 CD * Audible)
  • Two Boys Kissing by David Levithan (CD * Audible)
  • And I Darken by Kiersten White (CD * Audible)
  • Proxy by Alex London (Audible)
  • Hero by Perry Moore (MP3 CD * Audible)

Female Protags

  • This is Where it Ends by Marieke Nijkamp (MP3 CD * Audible)
  • Ash by Malinda Lo (MP3 CD * Audible)
  • Huntress by Malinda Lo (MP3 CD * Audible)
  • Girl Mans Up by M-E Girard (CD * Audible)
  • Labyrinth Lost by Zoraida Cordova (Audible)
  • Unbecoming by Jenny Downham (Audible)
  • None of the Above by I.W. Gregorio (Audible)
  • The Miseducation of Cameron Post by Emily Danforth (MP3 CD * Audible)
  • Keeping You a Secret by Julie Anne Peters (Audible)
  • If I Was Your Girl by Meredith Russo (CD * Audible)
  • Juliet Takes a Breath by Gabby Rivera (MP3 CD * Audible)
  • Annie on My Mind by Nancy Garden (CD * Audible)
  • Tell Me Again How a Crush Should Feel by Sara Farizan (CD * Audible)
  • Ask the Passengers by A.S. King (Audible)
  • Love in the Time of Global Warming by Francesca Lia Block (MP3 CD * Audible)
  • The Scorpion Rules by Erin Bow (CD * Audible)
  • Lies My Girlfriend Told Me by Julie Anne Peters (CD * Audible)
  • Empress of the World by Sara Ryan (Audible)
  • Unspeakable by Abbie Rushton (Audible)

Male and Female Protags

  • You Know Me Well by David Levithan and Nina LaCour (CD * Audible)
  • As I Descended by Robin Talley (CD * Audible)

Non-Binary Protags

Contemp F/F Romances Under Five Bucks

If you shop for f/f Romance a decent amount, you’ve probably noticed that it tends to be waaaay pricier than m/m or m/f, so, in yet another round of helping you queer up your shelves (or your Kindle) on a budget, here are ten f/f Romances (NA and up; you can find YA here) that are all under five bucks (with thanks to Vanessa North for the help and the inspiration!):

Abstract colorful background with wave, illustration for design

The Belle vs. the BDOC by Amy Jo Cousins ($2.99)

Roller Girl by Vanessa North ($3.99)

The Final Rose by Eliza Lentzki ($3.99)

Out on Good Behavior by Dahlia Adler ($3.99)

The Gravity Between Us by Kristen Zimmer ($3.99)

Something True by Karelia Stetz-Waters ($3.99)

Treasure by Rebekah Weatherspoon ($4.99)

The Butch and the Beautiful by Kris Ripper ($4.99)

Such a Pretty Face by Gabrielle Goldsby ($4.99)

Top to Bottom by Delphine Dryden ($4.99)

Fast Five: YA Sci-Fi/Spec-Fic with Queer Male Protags

More Happy Than Not by Adam Silvera

Proxy by Alex London

We Are the Ants by Shaun David Hutchinson

Wonders of the Invisible World by Christopher Barzak

Willful Machines by Tim Floreen

(Bonus: Coming October 25, 2016: Boy Robot by Simon Curtis)

Rainbow heart

Release Day Interview with Radical author E.M. Kokie!

I’m psyched to have E.M. Kokie on the blog today, in honor of her brand-new YA, Radical, about a lesbian pro-gun survivalist named Bex who falls for a girl with a strongly differing ideology from the one that’s defined her life. It’s such a different book for the YA canon, and one of so few with a butch lesbian MC, I knew I had to pick her brain about it.

First, a little more about the book:

Radical Cover MediumDetermined to survive the crisis she’s sure is imminent, Bex is at a loss when her world collapses in the one way she hasn’t planned for.

Preppers. Survivalists. Bex prefers to think of herself as a realist who plans to survive, but regardless of labels, they’re all sure of the same thing: a crisis is coming. And when it does, Bex will be ready. She’s planned exactly what to pack, she knows how to handle a gun, and she’ll drag her family to safety by force if necessary. When her older brother discovers Clearview, a group that takes survival just as seriously as she does, Bex is intrigued. While outsiders might think they’re a delusional doomsday group, she knows there’s nothing crazy about being prepared. But Bex isn’t prepared for Lucy, who is soft and beautiful and hates guns. As her brother’s involvement with some of the members of Clearview grows increasingly alarming and all the pieces of Bex’s life become more difficult to juggle, Bex has to figure out where her loyalties really lie.

And here’s info on the special deal if you order a signed copy from indie bookstore A Room of One’s Own today!

Pre-order Twitter Graphic

And now, the interview:

Right off the bat, let’s discuss the fact that Radical is tackling some tough topics at a tough time. What thoughts have come to mind about releasing a book with a very pro-gun lesbian MC just a few months after the shooting at Pulse?

I knew, even when I was writing the early drafts of Radical, that writing about a pro-gun lesbian was going to be a double whammy. In later drafts, I found myself calling Radical the book with “something for everyone to hate”—some might really struggle with the parts about the guns (or the mere mention of guns might turn them off), some readers might not be comfortable with the lesbianism, and some might be uncomfortable with the sex. But this was the book I needed to write. I needed to better understand our gun culture, the pervasive fear and anger feeding movements like the survivalist and private militia movements, and I wondered about the girls and women within these subcultures. But in early drafts and in the first years working on the manuscript, I couldn’t have foreseen just how hard it would be to talk about a book about guns and queers in the months before publication.

And not just because of Pulse, but also because of the steady and horrific string of shootings we’ve seen in recent years. Every one has hit me hard, and every one is part of why I wrote this book.  But in the months after Pulse, it seemed impossible to talk about any of this. I ached for every lost life, every shattered dream, every face and name and their families. And I didn’t want to talk about guns—or Radical.

In the last few months I’ve re-read bits of Radical and reminded myself why I wrote it.  I’ve never been a gun owner. I’d never touched a gun before the research for Radical. Writing Radical didn’t change my mind about gun ownership for myself, and probably not for those in my home. And I still have complicated thoughts about gun ownership in general. But it helped me understand a little better what I had thought of as “gun culture” in this country, and gave me some insights into the factors driving movements like the survivalist and private militia movements. And I think I was also working through some issues about why we laud as feminist and empowering stories about a girl saving the world, but don’t often embrace stories about a girl saving herself—especially when we don’t like where she comes from or some of her choices—even when the latter often takes more bravery.

Radical doesn’t offer any quick and easy answers. Not about family. Not about survival. Definitely not about guns. And I get why it makes some readers uncomfortable. My hope is that it stimulates questions, and conversations, and an attempt to get beyond the “them” and “us” so many big issues seem to devolve into.

Probably the thing that’s most startling about Radical is how familiarly Dystopian the feel is, but then it’s in fact a Contemporary. How intentional was that? Or do you think it’s just inevitable with the subject matter?

It was not at all intentional. In fact, when I shared the first bits and pieces of early drafts at conferences and with writer friends, I was surprised by how many people thought it was a dystopian novel, or not even our world at all.  I worked hard to anchor the first chapters in our here and now reality.

But it does feel sometimes like we’re living in the early chapters of a dystopian story, doesn’t it? Or maybe not a dystopia, because there was no utopia preceding it, but the things we think of as the hallmarks of a dystopia—oppression, targeting of immigrants and minorities and women, chilling of a vigorous and objective media, wealth inequality, ever-present fears of external threats, scary politics and scapegoating, and an uptick in violence and weapons stockpiling.

Radical has a seriously well-researched feel. What kind of work went into its creation?

I’m an attorney, so research is my first instinct whenever something piques my interest or puzzles me, or when I want to better understand something or someone.  The first glimpse of the idea for Radical began with a newspaper story that led to several years of research into survivalist training and organizations, preppers, and the private militia movement. I first needed to understand the differences between these movements and the common threads, politics, and influences.  Then, as I knew nothing about guns, I needed to do significant research into firearms handling, gun laws, and related legal issues. I also did some reading and engaged in conversations about gender and sexual identity. I did a lot of the early gun research online, but when it came to the guns, I needed to viscerally experience them. I needed to feel the heft, weight, kick, how it felt to aim and fire, and the smells and almost taste of the tang in the air right after a shot.  How it felt to take them apart, clean them, and what it might be like to be responsible for your own firearms.  So, I had to shoot a gun for the first time, multiple guns, in fact.  I was lucky enough to connect with some experienced gun owners, and so I was able to experience shooting their firearms in an outdoor setting, much as Bex and her brother would shoot in their woods.  Then I connected with an expert in firearms training and handling who offered insights and advice while I was writing and revising Radical. Candlewick later hired him to do a content review of the manuscript, which was fantastic.

What’s a particularly conscious choice you made in Bex’s representation?

It took three drafts to work out Bex’s gender identity. Everything about it was deliberate, but also sort of organic at the same time. In the earliest draft I thought Bex might be transgender, or maybe genderqueer. But as I worked through the early drafts, I started to wonder how Bex would identify and if she was a butch lesbian. I tried really hard to separate my understanding of identity and identity politics from Bex’s far less studied understanding.  And to ultimately understand Bex, I needed to work out how Bex actually felt about her body and how she experienced the world in that body. It was a deliberate choice to walk those lines between butch lesbian, genderqueer, and transgender in the early drafts, trying to figure out who Bex is. Ultimately, I chose to write her as a butch lesbian because it’s what felt most natural for her character, and for me, but also because it spoke to me to write this butch girl, clear in her love of other girls, clear in her identity as a girl, but also embracing her expression of that feminine as not the girly version her mother attempted to instill. She knows who she is and how she feels most herself. I love that about her.  I get why some describe her as masculine, but that, to me, implies she is rejecting her female identity. I don’t see her as rejecting the feminine, so much as expectations of femininity. And, of course, she knows she looks good in cargo shorts.

What’s the first queer representation you saw in any medium that really stuck with you, for better or for worse?

At some point in my early teens I read both The Color Purple by Alice Walker and The Shell Seekers by Rosamunde Pilcher. I can’t remember which I read first, but it’s my memory of reading The Shell Seekers that has most viscerally stuck with me. I can barely remember the sprawling plot, but I remember how the cover felt and I can remember exactly where I was when I realized the older women who lived down the way in the book were lovers. They were lesbians. And the other characters called them lesbians, on the page. But they were…old. Like, old-old (to my young teen sensibility). And lovers. And other characters knew it. And still talked to them and liked them. And people like my mom and women in her book group read this book. And they liked it.  I was giddy and thrilled and shocked and filled with glee to find comfortable lesbians in this book-group-type-book.  I was probably fifteen years or more from fully coming out, but it was the first moment I realized there were happy, old lesbians, and maybe I could be one of them someday. (And I have to say, my recollection was that the lesbianism wasn’t a large part of the plot or even really mentioned in the book. But when I went looking for it to confirm my memory, it’s discussed even more than I remembered. One character even references The Well of Loneliness, which went over my head at the time I read the book. Maybe if I had gone looking for that, it would have moved my coming out up by quite a few years).

What’s something you’ve seen in LGBTQIAP+ lit that’s really stuck with you, for better or for worse?

The lack of sexual experiences between queer characters, especially girls. We’ve seen queer romantic storylines for a while, but they seem to fade to black even more often than heterosexual teen romances in young adult lit. Sometimes in queer YA lit it even feels like a cut to black with only the merest reference to something physical happening beyond kissing. And looking at heterosexual sexuality in YA isn’t really a substitute for exploring queer sexual experience, in part because of the gender dynamics such experiences often involve and in part because of what acts are often classified as “sex” and what acts are discounted or ignored. I find it problematic that there isn’t more exploration of the significance and value of a wider an array of sexual experiences.

While working on Radical, I went looking for YA novels with lesbian relationships specifically to see what was already out there. I was surprised to find very few with any kind of specific sexual experiences or any sensory detail. It left me feeling a little like I was treading unexplored territory when I first started working on those scenes in Radical. And prompted some soul searching and blogging of my own. [http://emkokie.com/attractive_nuisance/2013/05/09/in-our-own-words/]  I was frustrated that I didn’t even feel like I had go-to language for my characters to use in thinking about and discussing their bodies.  It was really important for me that Bex and Lucy’s physical relationship feel organic and natural to them, but that it also explored consent and language and a more female-centric exploration of sexuality.  I’m happy to see that since those early drafts of Radical there seem to be more explorations of the physical side of romance in LGBTQIAP+ YA novels, but I think we still have a lot of unexplored territory. To be clear, I’m not saying there aren’t novels and characters in which a fade to black isn’t appropriate or that every queer YA should include sexual exploration or even romance. But I would like to see more parity for LGBTQIAP+ teen characters, and overall a better exploration of positive depictions of female and queer sexuality.

What are your favorite LGBTQIAP+ reads?

These questions haunt me. Tomorrow, or next week, or three days after this interview posts, I will inevitably think of one or more books I can’t believe I didn’t think to include. But some of my favorites are: George by Alex Gino, Ash & Huntress by Malinda Lo, Sister Mischief by Laura Goode, If You Could Be Mine by Sara Farizan, Freak Show by James St. James, Empress of the World by Sara Ryan, Aristotle and Dante by Benjamin Alire Saenz, Hard Love by Ellen Wittlinger,  Ask the Passengers by A. S. King, Honor Girl by Maggie Thrash, 37 Things I Love (In No Particular Order) by Kekla Magoon, and After Tupac and D Foster by Jacqueline Woodson. They’re not all perfect, flawless books, and some of the queer characters or storylines are secondary to the primary plot, but these are some of the ones that really stick with me for a variety of reasons.

What would you still love to see in LGBTQIAP+ lit?

Queer girls of all kinds, shapes, colors, cultures, class, and identities. More happy queer girls. More exploring queer girls.  More genderqueer and genderfluid characters. More truly questioning characters, maybe who are even still questioning at the end of the book, or at least obviously and proudly still evolving. I’d like to see more stories where the focus isn’t on the teen confirming their identity for all time, but on exploring who they are and who they are becoming.  And more exploration of what it’s like to be queer outside of upper-middle-class suburbia.

What’s up next for you?

Radical took a lot out of me. The research, the writing, and even ramping up to promotion with everything going on in the world. So, I’ve been working on several projects, but not really sure quite yet which will reach manuscript, or book form, next.  😉

*****

3013aAbout E.M. Kokie

I have always loved the way a good book could sweep me away, but I was a lazy student and never thought I could actually be a writer. So in between the usual tortures of high school, I made up stories, but kept them in my head. Now I share my stories—specifically, novels about teens on the cusp of life-changing moments, exploring issues of identity and self-determination. My debut novel Personal Effects was published on September 11, 2012 by Candlewick Press. I am represented by Chris Richman of Upstart Crow Literary. I live in Madison, Wisconsin with my partner.

Better Know an Author: Alex London

Welcome to Better Know an Author, a feature title I stole from Colbert Report because I miss it so, which will introduce you to a fabulous author of LGBTQIAP+ books every month! This month, the spotlight is on Alex London, aka C. Alexander London, author of YA sci-fi duology Proxy and Guardian, and lots of other books besides! Come say hi!

alex-london-author-photo_photo-credit-sonya-sones

You write adult nonfic, YA fic, and, primarily, books for younger readers. Do any of those categories feel the most like You, or does writing as widely as you do really feel like the best expression of you as an author?

I’ve never been all that into labels, limits, or categories when it comes to story-telling (or to people!), so it never occurred to me not to write across age ranges and genres. I write to the story I want to tell that needs me to tell it. Sometimes that leads to a silly talking animal story for kids or a gritty cyberpunk for teens or a bit of reportage about armed conflict. Each book is a prism, taking some of who I am and refracting it. I guess added up, all the different books would give a person a pretty strong sense of me, but it’s by no means complete. I couldn’t say I know solar thermodynamics just because I’ve felt the sun on my neck, and I couldn’t say I know an author just because I’ve read their books.

Got any tips for other authors who might struggle with jumping genres (or categories)?

Write the most honest story you can, whether it’s humorous or grim, realistic or fantasticalif it fills you with wonder and need and you tell it with clarity and honesty, you’ll find the voice for it and it’ll find the readers who need it. Don’t let the market dictate the stories you tell. I say this, even as it probably drives my publishers crazy that there is no clear “brand” that I adhere to. I’m sure I’d be more successful, commercially, if I was better at staying in one lane, but I’d probably get bored. I guess, in terms of switches genres or age categories, there are no real rules but what works. To quote the great sage of Bravo, just “make it work.”

What was it like publishing Proxy when LGBT YA Sci-Fi was basically nonexistent? (Not that it’s particularly booming now, but.) What’s been your favorite kind of feedback to it?

16101023It’s been quite wild these last few years. When I first turned in Proxy, there were conversations within the publisher (blessedly, all affirmative) about whether they could publish a mainstream sci-fi thriller with a gay lead. It just wasn’t done. And they certainly didn’t advertise that the main character was gay. They didn’t want it to be pigeonholed as a “gay book.”

And shortly after it came out…no one read it. It was, sad to say, a flop. Hollywood decidedly did not come knocking, as, at the time, there was no appetite for queer characters in “genre” stories (that is changing…) and the sales numbers on the book were pitiful.

And then, word started to spread, one reader a time. The publisher repackaged the book, doubled down on it. It found champions in the YA community and then librarians embraced it, putting it on state reading lists, thrusting it into the hands of Hunger Games and Divergent fans, whether they were straight or gay. And all of sudden, nearly two years after it was first published, it found an audience. It does not have millions of readers (yet!), but every week, more eager story-seekers find their way to it, and I’m just beyond thrilled that it keeps going after a rather inauspicious start.

I’m moved when I hear from queer readers, especially queer readers of color, who thought they’d never get to see someone like themselves represented in this kind of story, but I’m just as moved when I hear from straight white readers that they’d never rooted for a gay hero before, let alone a gay PoC, never been waiting with bated breath for him to (spoiler alert) kiss another guy. The diversity of my readership has really been the most inspiring thing for me, from football players in Texas, to juvenile detention centers in Alaska, to Connecticut boarding schools. I love seeing how a book can still be the story we all gather around the campfire to hear, and we all see it from whatever different angle we’re sitting through the blazing embers of our experience. That sounds a bit grandiose. What I mean is, I love how much smarter my readers are than I am, and how much more they bring to the book than I or my publisher could have predicted or hoped.

You’ve got a lot of travel under your belt. What’s a city or country you dream of setting a book in someday, and why?

Right now, I’m working on a new YA fantasy trilogy, and I’m loving inventing cities and countries, so the idea of limiting myself to a real place isn’t all that appealing. That said, I hope to set a book in the neighborhood I just moved to in Philadelphia. It’s a magical little place filled with all kinds of quirks. I don’t know it well yet, but I’m sure there’s a darkness hidden beneath its idyl that is just waiting to be mined for narrative!

What’s something you’ve seen in LGBTQIAP+ lit that’s really stuck with you, for better or for worse?

I’m troubled by the dominance of white cis gay boys in YA, while at the same time, as one myself who was starved for representation until adulthood, I love reading all of them. But I think I can like something while recognizing its cultural dominance is a problem. I’m doing what I can to champion LGBTQ stories that aren’t all the white gay boy story, even while devouring those same stories. There is enough room in our reading culture for a wide range, and the growth of one type of story shouldn’t imperil another…if we don’t let it. Another thing I’ve been thinking about within the gay boy stories is the devaluing of more “femme” boys, especially in genre, and what that says about who gets to be a hero. I’m very interested in Le Guin’s “carrier bag theory of fiction” and want to read more and write more within fantasy and sci-fi that relies less on the “way of the sword” so to speak. I want to see how queer heroes can queer heroism itself.

What are your favorite LGBTQIAP+ reads, and which ones are you most looking forward to?

Right now there are just so many (and I am woefully behind in my  TBR pile), but some recent faves include (for grown-ups) What Belongs to You by Garth Greenwell and Christadora by Tim Murphy. In YA, I’m eager to dive in to Adam Silvera’s History is All You Left Me, and I can’t wait for Katherine Locke’s The Girl with the Red Balloon.

I recently devoured On The Edge of Gone by Corinne Duyvis (there are queer characters and themes in it). Also recently loved John Corey Whaley’s Highly Illogical Behavior. There are so many good books with LGBTQIAP+ characters and perspectives that it’s hard to choose. I’m reading a grown-up fantasy novel right nowPatrick Rothfuss’s The Name of the Windand I’m loving it except I find myself wondering: where are all the queer characters?! A gay male couple showed up eventually in the background of a scene and were perfectly fine, but it is a reminder that queer people, though we are everywhere in the world, are still often erased or sidelined in fantasy worlds, even really good fantasy worlds (and I’d say Rothfuss’s is really really good so far…I’m still reading). While not every story in the world is about LGBTQ people or should be, we need to keep speaking up and writing our stories and sharing each other’s until a world without us feels incomplete to any reader, not just the queer readers.

Your next book up is a YA Fantasy called Other Bloods. What can you share about it?

Yes, and I’m super excited to be returning to YA at last! Other Bloods is set in a land of high stakes falconry, where all eyes turn to the sky, even as intrigue and danger pull them to the ground. It’s the story of a brother and sister on a reluctant quest to capture the legendary eagle that they believe killed their father, although of course, there is more afoot than they know. There’s love and longing, mystery and danger, and a matriarchal owl cult that I’m ridiculously giddy about writing. I think Proxy fans will be delighted, and I hope fantasy readers will too. And fans of LGBTQIAP+ lit. And, really all readers…I mean, who doesn’t want a book that can be described as The Scorpio Races meets Lord of the Ringswith falcons (which is how my agent put it…I might have yelped/peed a little with that description)? It won’t be out until 2018, I think, but I’ll certainly be sharing more details as the date approaches.

New Releases: September 6, 2016

Today is a huuuuge day in LGBTQ YA releases, so get your wallets and library cards ready and check out what’s now out in the world! (And congrats to all the authors!)

As I Descended by Robin Talley

28218948Maria Lyon and Lily Boiten are their school’s ultimate power couple—even if no one knows it but them.

Only one thing stands between them and their perfect future: campus superstar Delilah Dufrey.

Golden child Delilah is a legend at the exclusive Acheron Academy, and the presumptive winner of the distinguished Cawdor Kingsley Prize. She runs the school, and if she chose, she could blow up Maria and Lily’s whole world with a pointed look, or a carefully placed word.

But what Delilah doesn’t know is that Lily and Maria are willing to do anything—absolutely anything—to make their dreams come true. And the first step is unseating Delilah for the Kingsley Prize. The full scholarship, awarded to Maria, will lock in her attendance at Stanford―and four more years in a shared dorm room with Lily.

Maria and Lily will stop at nothing to ensure their victory—including harnessing the dark power long rumored to be present on the former plantation that houses their school.

But when feuds turn to fatalities, and madness begins to blur the distinction between what’s real and what is imagined, the girls must decide where they draw the line.

Buy it: Amazon * B&N * Indiebound

Girl Mans Up by M-E Girard

28217802All Pen wants is to be the kind of girl she’s always been. So why does everyone have a problem with it? They think the way she looks and acts means she’s trying to be a boy—that she should quit trying to be something she’s not. If she dresses like a girl, and does what her folks want, it will show respect. If she takes orders and does what her friend Colby wants, it will show her loyalty. But respect and loyalty, Pen discovers, are empty words. Old-world parents, disintegrating friendships, and strong feelings for other girls drive Pen to see the truth–that in order to be who she truly wants to be, she’ll have to man up.

Buy it: Amazon * B&N * Indiebound

Not Your Sidekick by CB Lee

29904219Welcome to Andover… where superpowers are common, but internships are complicated. Just ask high school nobody, Jessica Tran. Despite her heroic lineage, Jess is resigned to a life without superpowers and is merely looking to beef-up her college applications when she stumbles upon the perfect (paid!) internship—only it turns out to be for the town’s most heinous supervillain. On the upside, she gets to work with her longtime secret crush, Abby, who Jess thinks may have a secret of her own. Then there’s the budding attraction to her fellow intern, the mysterious “M,” who never seems to be in the same place as Abby. But what starts as a fun way to spite her superhero parents takes a sudden and dangerous turn when she uncovers a plot larger than heroes and villains altogether.

Buy it: Amazon * B&N

Labyrinth Lost by Zoraida Cordova

27969081Nothing says Happy Birthday like summoning the spirits of your dead relatives.

Alex is a bruja, the most powerful witch in a generation…and she hates magic. At her Deathday celebration, Alex performs a spell to rid herself of her power. But it backfires. Her whole family vanishes into thin air, leaving her alone with Nova, a brujo boy she can’t trust. A boy whose intentions are as dark as the strange marks on his skin.

The only way to get her family back is to travel with Nova to Los Lagos, a land in-between, as dark as Limbo and as strange as Wonderland…

Buy it: Amazon * B&N * Books of Wonder

It Looks Like This by Rafi Mittlefehldt

24755394A new state, a new city, a new high school. Mike’s father has already found a new evangelical church for the family to attend, even if Mike and his plainspoken little sister, Toby, don’t want to go. Dad wants Mike to ditch art for sports, to toughen up, but there’s something uneasy behind his demands.

Then Mike meets Sean, the new kid, and “hey” becomes games of basketball, partnering on a French project, hanging out after school. A night at the beach. The fierce colors of sunrise. But Mike’s father is always watching. And so is Victor from school, cell phone in hand.

Buy it: Amazon * B&N * Indiebound

And yesterday marked the release of yet another YA and an m/m Romance!

Assassins: Discord by Erica Cameron

29618746Kindra’s moral compass has never pointed north, but that’s what happens when you’re raised as an assassin and a thief. At sixteen, she’s fantastic with a blade, an expert at slipping through the world unnoticed, and trapped in a life she didn’t chose. But nothing in her training prepares her for what happens when her father misses a target.

In the week-long aftermath, Kindra breaks rank for the first time in her life. She steals documents, starts questioning who their client is and why the target needs to die, botches a second hit on her father’s target, and is nearly killed. And that’s before she’s kidnapped by a green-eyed stranger connected to a part of her childhood she’d almost forgotten.

Kindra has to decide who to trust and which side of the battle to fight for. She has to do it fast and she has to be right, because the wrong choice will kill her just when she’s finally found something worth living for.

Buy it: Amazon * B&N * Riptide

Shatterproof by Xen Sanders

30306399Grey Jean-Marcelin wants to die. He thought painting his passion—vivid portrayals of Haitian life and vodou faith—would be enough to anchor him to this world. But it isn’t. And when the mysterious man known only as Saint saves Grey from a suicide attempt, it’s more curse than blessing—until Grey discovers that Saint isn’t just an EMT. He’s a banished fae, and can only survive by draining the lives of those he loves.

All Saint needed was a simple bargain: one life willingly given for another. But as Saint’s feelings for Grey grow deeper, centuries of guilt leave him desperate to save a man who doesn’t want salvation, even if Grey’s life means Saint’s death.

When Grey’s depression consumes him, only he can decide if living is worth the struggle. Yet his choice may come too late to save his life . . . or Saint’s soul. And whatever choice he makes, it may shatter them both.

Buy it: Amazon * B&N * Riptide

Fave Five: Adult Romances with Trans Male MCs

A Boy Called Cin by Cecil Wilde (Contemporary m/m)

What it Looks Like by Matthew J. Metzger (Contemporary m/m)

Bad Boy by Elliot Wake (Contemporary m/f)

The Burnt Toast B&B by Heidi Belleau and Rachel Haimowitz (Contemporary m/m)

A Matter of Disagreement by E.E. Ottoman (Steampunk m/m)

Bonus: The Queer and the Restless by Kris Ripper, coming October 31, 2016

Rainbow heart

 

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)

New Release Spotlight: Love Beyond Body, Space, and Time (An LGBT and Two-Spirit Sci-Fi Anthology)

As soon as this anthology was brought to my attention (h/t Lex Leone!) I reached out to the editor, Hope Nicholson, and asked if the authors would be open to contributing a little information about their stories. So, please check out the book itself below (only $5.00!) and then see what the authors have to say about their contributions to this cool-as-hell antho.

31560094Love Beyond, Body, Space, and Time is a collection of indigenous science fiction and urban fantasy focusing on LGBT and two-spirit characters. These stories range from a transgender woman trying an experimental transition medication to young lovers separated through decades and meeting far in their own future. These are stories of machines and magic, love, and self-love.

This collection features prose stories by:
Cherie Dimaline “The Girl Who Grew a Galaxy,” “Red Rooms”
Gwen Benaway “Ceremonies for the Dead”
David Robertson “Betty: The Helen Betty Osborne Story,” Tales From Big Spirit series
Richard Van Camp “The Lesser Blessed,” “Three Feathers”
Mari Kurisato “Celia’s Song,” “Bent Box”
Nathan Adler “Wrist”
Daniel Heath Justice “The Way of Thorn and Thunder: The Kynship Chronicles”
Darcie Little Badger “Nkásht íí, The Sea Under Texas”
Cleo Keahna
And an introduction by Niigaanwewidam James Sinclair “Manitowapow,” with a foreword by Grace Dillon “Walking the Clouds”.
Edited by Hope Nicholson “Moonshot,” “The Secret Loves of Geek Girls”

Buy it: Kindle * Paperback
*****
Gwen Benaway

I wrote “Transition” because I wanted to see a 1st person narrative of an Indigenous transwoman in the world. I can’t remember ever reading a narrative with an Indigenous transwoman as the main voice, so it felt important to centre us as active subjects in literature. Another part of my desire was to also challenge Western models of becoming “female.” The transgender specific narratives I encounter are often about the medical process of transitioning like surgeries or hormones, but I am interested in exploring what transitioning means in an Indigenous context. We know there was Indigenous transwoman before contact in most Indigenous nations. I often wish I could call up those transgender aunties and ask them “what was it like for you?”. For them, transitioning must have been very different. Being female would have meant something different. They certainly were not going on hormones, removing body hair, or having surgeries, but they were also very clearly perceived and lived as women in our societies.

It is empowering for me to imagine a process of transitioning which is not about morphing our biological bodies, but about reclaiming our souls. Being transgender for Indigenous transwomen is spiritual. Our teachings say it comes from our relationship to the earth and the world around us. It’s intrinsically who we are and we demonstrate our femininity through our actions and responsibilities, not our appearance. In the context of this story, I wanted to place ceremony and Western science side by side and have a main character who works through her gender via both. I cheat a little and fall strongly on the side of her gender coming through her ancestors, but the idea of her female ancestors reaching out to her to guide her into womanhood is a really beautiful and loving image for me. She’s not “changing” her gender. She is reconnecting to who she has always been: an Indigenous woman interwoven into a web of powerful Indigenous women which stretches across time and space.

David Robertson

You don’t always get the opportunity to write a story that involves an LGBT couple, has one character that is Indigenous, and, oh yeah, is sci-fi. Needless to say, it was an amazing and challenging experience to write “Perfectly You.” I wanted to write a love story that felt real in an unreal setting, that didn’t fall into cliche or stereotype, and that was surprising in its narrative, rather than in the sexual orientation or cultural background of its protagonist. In the end, for me, “Perfectly You” really is saying that love is love, and love is timeless.

Richard Van Camp

“Aliens” was a fun piece to write. I believe that this is my third piece of writing as a woman and I’m proud to have placed this story in Fort Smith, my home town. I’ve always had a “what if?” story about aliens, as in, “What if they just showed up and stayed? What would we do?” I didn’t want this story to be about the Sky People as beings. I wanted this to be about the Sky People as a symbol of never being able to go back to the way humanity was before: I also wanted there to be hope with the gentle bubbling of the oceans. I pray that, in this story, the Sky People are coming to help and teach us what we need to get along and heal our planet together. I also wanted this to be a love story. I love it when friendships break down and people start making out. Mah! 🙂

When you listen to the hunters and trappers, so many of them have stories of seeing UFO’s and I believe them. This was a joy to write and I’m grateful to Hope Nicholson for asking me to create something for “Love Beyond Body, Space and Time.” Mahsi cho!

You’ll notice that I dedicated this story to Carla Ulrich. Carla is a director, producer, writer and actor from the North who has adapted three of my books and turned them into movies: “Hickey Gone Wrong”, “Three Feathers” and “The Blue Raven.” I’m so grateful for her and her vision in all that she does. The least I could do is dedicate a story to her.

“Aliens” is now the first story in my new short story collection manuscript “Moccasin Square Gardens” because it has such a playful spirit.

Mahsi.

Mari Kurisato

Imposter Syndrome is the short story of Aanji, a noncitizen artificial life-form who is desperate to escape a grim fate, using her human ancestors’ memories. Set several (hundred?) years after the events of Escape Light, it details one person’s attempt to reclaim her soul. It’s also very autobiographical in some spots, which is why I’m nervous and pleased as punch that the wonderful Hope L. Nicholson is publishing it, alongside amazing Indigenous authors like Doctor Darcie Little Badger, Daniel Heath Justice, Nathan Adler, Gwen Benaway, and Cherie Dimaline.

Nathan Adler

“Valediction at The Star View Motel” is about relationships, and death, and meteor-showers, and messages from beyond the grave, it’s about one of the strongest and lightest materials in the world, spider’s-silk, and love, and connection across time and space. The story started with the two characters—Edie and Mushkeg—and I knew they had this back-story forming, waiting to be told, so when Hope approached me about contributing to this Anthology, I thought this story would be a good fit, and that maybe it was time to write the story of how Edie and Mushkeg met.

Daniel Heath Justice

Hummingbirds fascinate me. They possess a kind of wild, fierce beauty you don’t see in other creatures; they’re brave, bold, temperamental, and dramatic. In so many ways, they embody a courageous certainty of self, and I wanted to capture some of this spirit in a story for those on the margins (especially queer and two-spirit Indigenous folks) who are coming to an understanding of their own special beauty but see too few examples to help inspire their struggle. This world isn’t kind to those who are different; we know this too well. But that’s only because of human prejudices—the rest of the world is teeming with strange beauty.

I drew a bit of inspiration from the Cherokee story about Hummingbird and how sacred tobacco came to heal the People through the skill and cleverness of a medicine man. He put on a feathered cloak and became a hummingbird to steal the plant from an island of selfish, murderous giants. But there are many different kinds of healing, and there are many different kinds of medicine. To me this is a story of love and self-acceptance, and the beauty that inhabits so many of us but is so often denied.

Darcie Little Badger

At its core, Né łe is a lighthearted story about lesbians and puppies in space. Perhaps counterintuitively, I – a horror fanatic – enjoy writing sweet comedies. That said, Né łe contains sad themes that are familiar to my tribe and many others, particularly dispossession. Her longing for a stolen home drives the Apache protagonist of Né łe to Mars.

As a final note, the Watson to my Holmes is a Navajo veterinarian; their guidance enabled me to write the sci-fi veterinary scenes in Né łe. I’m extremely grateful!

*****

Hope Nicholson is the publisher of Bedside Press and comics historian. Her latest book is a collection of indigenous science fiction and fantasy stories starring queer and two-spirit characters. She also works in reprinted work bringing attention to lost comics.

Queering up your shelf, one rec at a time!