Exclusive Cover Reveal: Always the Almost by Edward Underhill

I am so excited to reveal the cover of Always the Almost by Edward Underhill today, a contemporary YA “romdram” that I truly loved and I know you will too when it releases from Wednesday Books on February 14, 2023! Here’s the story:

Sixteen-year-old trans boy Miles Jacobson has two New Year’s resolutions: 1) win back his ex-boyfriend (and star of the football team) Shane McIntyre, and 2) finally beat his slimy arch-nemesis at the Midwest’s biggest classical piano competition. But that’s not going to be so easy. For one thing, Shane broke up with Miles two weeks after Miles came out as trans, and now Shane’s stubbornly ignoring him, even when they literally bump into each other. Plus, Miles’ new, slightly terrifying piano teacher keeps telling him that he’s playing like he “doesn’t know who he is”—whatever that means.

Then Miles meets the new boy in town, Eric Mendez, a proudly queer cartoonist from Seattle who asks his pronouns, cares about art as much as he does—and makes his stomach flutter. Not what he needs to be focusing on right now. But after Eric and Miles pretend to date so they can score an invite to a couples-only Valentine’s party, the ruse turns real with a kiss…which is also definitely not in the plan. Why does Eric like him so much, anyway? It’s not like he’s cool or confident or comfortable in his own skin. He’s not even good enough at piano to get his fellow competitors to respect him…especially now, as Miles. Nothing’s ever been as easy for him as for other people—other boys. He’s only ever been almost enough.

So why, when he’s with Eric, does it feel like the only person he’s ever really not been enough for…is himself?

And here’s the gorgeous cover, illustrated by Myriam Strasbourg (aka @peaches.obviously) and designed by Kerri Resnick!

Buy it: Amazon | B&N | IndieBound

(c) Karianne Flaathen

Edward Underhill grew up in the suburbs of Wisconsin, where he could not walk to anything, which meant he had to make up his own adventures. He began writing (very bad) stories as a kid and wrote his first (also very bad) novel in his teens. He studied music composition in college at the Oberlin Conservatory, and got a masters in film scoring from NYU. After a few years of living in very tiny apartments in New York City, he moved to California, where by day he writes music (most frequently for cartoons) and by night he writes stories, which aren’t as bad as they used to be. He lives with his partner and a talkative black cat.

As a queer trans man, Edward is passionate about books where queer and trans teens can find themselves in the pages. His debut novel, Always the Almost, will release from Wednesday Books/Macmillan on February 14, 2023. Find him on Twitter and Instagram @edwardunderhill.

Fave Five: LGBTQIA YA About Plagues

At the End of Everything by Marieke Nijkamp

All That’s Left in the World by Erik J. Brown

Spellhacker by M.K. England

Sweet & Bitter Magic by Adrienne Tooley

The Names We Take by Trace Kerr

Bonus: Coming up in November, The Ones We Burn by Rebecca Mix

Exclusive Cover Reveal: Jude Saves the World by Ronnie Riley

Today on the site we’re revealing the extremely cute cover of Jude Saves the World by Ronnie Riley, a nonbinary middle grade contemporary with lots of varied queer rep that releases from Scholastic on April 18, 2023! Here’s the story:

Jude Winters might be in over their head. Maybe. But they’ll never admit it.

They befriend the ex-popular girl, Stevie Morgan, create an all-ages safe space at their local library with their best friend, Dallas Knight, and come out as nonbinary to their grandparents.

When the club becomes an overnight success, friendships crumble, and their grandparents act like they’re stuck in the Stone Age, Jude fights to keep their world from tearing itself apart. But a twelve-year-old can only handle so much.

And here’s the cover, designed by Maeve Norton with art by Ricardo Bessa!

Buy it: Amazon | Indigo | B&N | Book Depository | Ella Minnow Children’s Bookstore

Ronnie Riley (they/them) is a queer, nonbinary, neurodivergent, disabled author living with their partner in Ontario, Canada. They love tea, chocolate, and a cat (or six) nearby while they are writing or reading.

They can be found on Twitter at @mxronnieriley, via email at mxronnieriley.books@gmail.com, or online at mxronnieriley.com.

New Releases: May 10, 2022

Children’s

Mighty Red Riding Hood: A Fairly Queer Tale by Wallace West

In this clever twist on a traditional tale, a boy who loves his frilly, swishy riding hood turns the tables on a big, bad, bullying wolf!

Better not mess with Little Red when he’s got on his favorite frilly red riding hood! It makes him feel happier than a pig in mud, more special than a birthday cake, and mighty as a firecracker. Nothing’s gonna stop him from being himself…Not even a big ol’ bully of a WOLF! With admirable spunk and a heaping helping of southern humor and hospitality, Little Red finds a way to crack the shell of the closed-minded wolf’s perception of frills and bows.

This refreshingly spirited version of the classic tale of Little Red Riding Hood explores the challenge of staying on your path when confronted by strangers who don’t want to understand you.

Buy it: Bookshop | Amazon | IndieBound

Middle Grade

The Science of Being Angry by Nicole Melleby

58328432. sy475 Eleven-year-old Joey is angry. All the time. And she doesn’t understand why. She has two loving moms, a supportive older half brother, and, as a triplet, she’s never without company. Her life is good. But sometimes she loses her temper and lashes out, like that time she threw a soccer ball—hard—at a boy in gym class and bruised his collarbone. Or the time jealousy made her push her (former) best friend (and crush), Layla, a little bit too hard.

After an incident at Joey’s apartment building leads to her family’s eviction, Joey is desperate to figure out why she is so angry. A new unit on genetics in her science class makes Joey wonder if maybe the reason is genetic. Does she lose control because of the donor her mothers chose?

Buy it: Bookshop | Amazon | IndieBound

The One Who Loves You The Most by medina

have never felt like I belonged to my body. Never in the way rhythm belongs to a song or waves belong to an ocean.
It seems like most people figure out where they belong by knowing where they came from. When they look in the mirror, they see their family in their eyes, in their sharp jawlines, in the texture of their hair. When they look at family photos, they see faces of people who look like them. They see faces of people who they’ll look like in the future.
For me, I only have my imagination.
But I’m always trying.

Twelve-year-old Gabriela is trying to find their place in the world. In their body, which feels less and less right with each passing day. As an adoptee, in their all-white family. With their mom, whom they love fiercely and do anything they can to help with her depression. And at school, where they search for friends.

A new year will bring a school project, trans and queer friends, and a YouTube channel that helps Gabriela find purpose in their journey.

Buy it: Bookshop | Amazon | IndieBound

Zachary Ying and the Dragon Emperor by Xiran Jay Zhao

59365584Zachary Ying never had many opportunities to learn about his Chinese heritage. His single mom was busy enough making sure they got by, and his schools never taught anything except Western history and myths. So Zack is woefully unprepared when he discovers he was born to host the spirit of the First Emperor of China for a vital mission: sealing the leaking portal to the Chinese underworld before the upcoming Ghost Month blows it wide open.

The mission takes an immediate wrong turn when the First Emperor botches his attempt to possess Zack’s body and binds to Zack’s AR gaming headset instead, leading to a battle where Zack’s mom’s soul gets taken by demons. Now, with one of history’s most infamous tyrants yapping in his headset, Zack must journey across China to heist magical artifacts and defeat figures from history and myth, all while learning to wield the emperor’s incredible water dragon powers.

And if Zack can’t finish the mission in time, the spirits of the underworld will flood into the mortal realm, and he could lose his mom forever.

Buy it: Bookshop | Amazon | IndieBound

Every Bird a Prince by Jenn Reese

Every Bird a PrinceThe only time Eren Evers feels like herself is when she’s on her bike, racing through the deep woods. While so much of her life at home and at school is flying out of control, the muddy trails and the sting of wind in her face are familiar comforts.

Until she rescues a strange, magical bird, who reveals a shocking secret: their forest kingdom is under attack by an ancient foe—the vile Frostfangs—and the birds need Eren’s help to survive.

Seventh grade is hard enough without adding “bird champion” to her list of after-school activities. Lately, Eren’s friends seem obsessed with their crushes and the upcoming dance, while Eren can’t figure out what a crush should even feel like. Still, if she doesn’t play along, they may leave her behind…or just leave her all together. Then the birds enlist one of Eren’s classmates, forcing her separate lives to collide.

When her own mother starts behaving oddly, Eren realizes that the Frostfangs—with their insidious whispers—are now hunting outside the woods. In order to save her mom, defend an entire kingdom, and keep the friendships she holds dearest, Eren will need to do something utterly terrifying: be brave enough to embrace her innermost truths, no matter the cost.

Buy it: Bookshop | Amazon | IndieBound

Young Adult

Dead End Girls by Wendy Heard

In one week, Maude will be dead. At least, that’s what she wants everyone to think. After years of research, Maude has decided to fake her own death. She’s figured out the how, the when, the where, and who will help her unsuspectingly. The why is complex: revenge, partly. Her terrible parents deserve this. But there’s also l’appel du vide, the call of the void, that beckons her toward a new life where she will be tied to no one, free and adrift. Then Frankie, a step-cousin she barely knows, figures out what she’s plotting, and the plan seems like it’s ruined. Except Frankie doesn’t want to rat her out. Frankie wants in.

The girls vault into the unknown, risking everything for a new and limitless life. But there are some things you can never run away from. What if the poison is not in the soil, but in the roots? This pulse-pounding thriller offers a nuanced exploration of identity, freedom, and falling in love while your world falls apart.

Buy it: Bookshop | Amazon | IndieBound

Café Con Lychee by Emery Lee

58782892. sy475 Sometimes bitter rivalries can brew something sweet

Theo Mori wants to escape. Leaving Vermont for college means getting away from working at his parents’ Asian American café and dealing with their archrivals’ hopeless son Gabi who’s lost the soccer team more games than Theo can count.

Gabi Moreno is miserably stuck in the closet. Forced to play soccer to hide his love for dance and iced out by Theo, the only openly gay guy at school, Gabi’s only reprieve is his parents’ Puerto Rican bakery and his plans to take over after graduation.

But the town’s new fusion café changes everything. Between the Mori’s struggling shop and the Moreno’s plan to sell their bakery in the face of the competition, both boys find their dreams in jeopardy. Then Theo has an idea—sell photo-worthy food covertly at school to offset their losses. When he sprains his wrist and Gabi gets roped in to help, they realize they need to work together to save their parents’ shops but will the new feelings rising between them be enough to send their future plans up in smoke?

Buy it: Amazon | B&N | IndieBound

The Summer of Bitter and Sweet by Jen Ferguson (May 10th)

57320535. sy475 Lou has enough confusion in front of her this summer. She’ll be working in her family’s ice cream shack with her newly ex-boyfriend—whose kisses never made her feel desire, only discomfort—and her former best friend, King, who is back in their Canadian prairie town after disappearing three years ago without a word.

But when she gets a letter from her biological father—a man she hoped would stay behind bars for the rest of his life—Lou immediately knows that she cannot meet him, no matter how much he insists.

While King’s friendship makes Lou feel safer and warmer than she would have thought possible, when her family’s business comes under threat, she soon realizes that she can’t ignore her father forever.

Buy it: Bookshop | Amazon | IndieBound

Nate Plus One by Kevin van Whye

53241053. sy475 Two boys. Two bands. Two worlds colliding.

Nate Hargraves – stage-shy singer-songwriter – is totally stoked for his cousin’s wedding in South Africa, an all-expenses-paid trip of a lifetime. Until he finds out his sleazeball ex-boyfriend is also on the guest list.

Jai Patel – hot-as-hell high school rock-god – has troubles too. His band’s lead singer has quit, just weeks before the gig that was meant to be their big break.

When Nate saves the day by agreeing to sing with Jai’s band, Jai volunteers to be Nate’s plus-one to the wedding, and the stage is set for a summer of music, self-discovery, and simmering romantic tension. What could possibly go wrong . . . ?

Buy it: Amazon | IndieBound

Adult

First Time for Everything by Henry Fry

Danny Scudd is absolutely fine. He always dreamed of escaping the small-town life of his parents’ fish and chip shop, moving to London, and becoming a journalist. And, after five years in the city, his career isn’t exactly awful, and his relationship with pretentious Tobbs isn’t exactly unfulfilling. Certainly his limited edition Dolly Parton vinyls and many (maybe too many) house plants are hitting the spot. However, a visit to the local clinic reveals that Tobbs might not have been exactly faithful. In fact, Tobbs claims they were never operating under the “antiquated” terms of monogamy to begin with. Oh, and Danny’s flatmates are unceremoniously evicting him because they want to start a family. It’s all going quite well.

Newly single and with nowhere to live, Danny is forced to move in with his best friend, Jacob, a flamboyant non-binary artist whom he’s known since childhood, and their extravagant group of friends living in an East London “commune.” What follows is a colorful voyage of discovery through modern queer life, dating, work, and lots of therapy—all places Danny has always been too afraid to fully explore. Upon realizing just how little he knows about himself and his sexuality, he careens from one questionable decision (and man) to another, relying on his inscrutable new therapist and housemates to face the demons he’s spent his entire life trying to repress. Is he really fine, after all?

Buy it: Bookshop | Amazon | IndieBound

Magic, Lies, and Deadly Pies by Misha Popp

58896183The first time Daisy Ellery killed a man with a pie, it was an accident. Now, it’s her calling. Daisy bakes sweet vengeance into her pastries, which she and her dog Zoe deliver to the men who’ve done dirty deeds to the town’s women. But if she can’t solve the one crime that’s not of her own baking, she’ll be out of the pie pan and into the oven.

Parking her Pies Before Guys mobile bakery van outside the local diner, Daisy is informed by Frank, the crusty diner owner, that someone’s been prowling around the van—and not just to inhale the delectable aroma. Already on thin icing with Frank, she finds a letter on her door, threatening to reveal her unsavory secret sideline of pie a la murder.

Blackmail? But who whipped up this half-baked plot to cut a slice out of Daisy’s business? Purple-haired campus do-gooder Melly? Noel, the tender—if flaky—farm boy? Or one of the abusive men who prefer their pie without a deadly scoop of payback?

The upcoming statewide pie contest could be Daisy’s big chance to help wronged women everywhere…if she doesn’t meet a sticky end first. Because Daisy knows the blackmailer won’t stop until her business is in crumbles.

Buy it: Bookshop | Amazon | IndieBound

Siren Queen by Nghi Vo

“No maids, no funny talking, no fainting flowers.” Luli Wei is beautiful, talented, and desperate to be a star. Coming of age in pre-Code Hollywood, she knows how dangerous the movie business is and how limited the roles are for a Chinese American girl from Hungarian Hill—but she doesn’t care. She’d rather play a monster than a maid.

But in Luli’s world, the worst monsters in Hollywood are not the ones on screen. The studios want to own everything from her face to her name to the women she loves, and they run on a system of bargains made in blood and ancient magic, powered by the endless sacrifice of unlucky starlets like her. For those who do survive to earn their fame, success comes with a steep price. Luli is willing to do whatever it takes—even if that means becoming the monster herself.

Buy it: Bookshop | Amazon | IndieBound

Bad Girls by Camila Sosa Villada, trans. by Kit Maude

This was originally published in Spanish as Las Malas

59237338. sy475 Born in the small Argentine town of Mina Clavero, Camila is designated male but begins to identify from an early age as a girl. She is well aware that she’s different from other children and reacts to her oppressive, poverty-stricken home life, with a cowed mother and abusive, alcoholic father, by acting out—with swift consequences. Deeply intelligent, she eventually leaves for the city to attend university, slipping into prostitution to make ends meet. And in Sarmiento Park, in the heart of Córdoba, she discovers the strange, wonderful world of the trans sex workers who dwell there.

Taken under the wing of Auntie Encarna, the 178-year-old eternal whose house shelters this unconventional extended family, Camila becomes a part of their stories—of a Headless Man who fled his country’s wars, a mute young woman who transforms into a bird, an abandoned baby boy who brings a twinkle to your eye.

Buy it: Bookshop | Amazon

A Long Way to Fall by Elle Spencer

Bridget Berg grew up on the slopes of Elk Mountain, Utah. The daughter of a famous downhill skier, she was chasing her own Olympic dreams when her father’s unexpected death forced her to take over his ski lodge. It’s her home and she’ll protect it at all costs―especially from her insufferable neighbors.

Kennedy Fleming is only in Utah to put her dad’s vacation home on the market. She has no interest in living there. That is, until she meets her sexy redheaded neighbor. Sure, she’s rude and unwelcoming, but Kennedy isn’t one to shy away from a challenge.

When Kennedy makes a discovery that could cause Bridget to lose everything, she’s forced to choose between her family and her heart. There’s a mountain of history between their families, but as tempers rage and sparks fly, they’re about to discover that a love worth fighting for is right in front of them.

Buy it: Bookshop | Amazon | IndieBound

Misrule by Heather Walter

This is the sequel to Malice

The Dark Grace is dead.

Feared and despised for the sinister power in her veins, Alyce wreaks her revenge on the kingdom that made her an outcast. Once a realm of decadence and beauty, Briar is now wholly Alyce’s wicked domain. And no one will escape the consequences of her wrath. Not even the one person who holds her heart.

Princess Aurora saw through Alyce’s thorny facade, earning a love that promised the dawn of a new age. But it is a love that came with a heavy price: Aurora now sleeps under a curse that even Alyce’s vast power cannot seem to break. And the dream of the world they would have built together is nothing but ash.

Alyce vows to do anything to wake the woman she loves, even if it means turning into the monster Briar believes her to be. But could Aurora love the villain Alyce has become?

Or is true love only for fairy tales?

Buy it: Bookshop | Amazon | IndieBound

Why in Paris? by Harry F. Rey

Why in Paris?In the late summer of 1936, a budding young photographer from Vienna named Anders travels to pre-war Paris. His mother sends him ostensibly to attend art school… and to survive as a Jew. But Anders is ready to explore his other secret: his sexuality. Living with over-the-top escort, Claude, above Giovanni’s gay bar, Anders and Claude build their lives among the ruins of Bohemia in Montmartre. Anders soon falls for Jean, Claude’s bitter rival in the escort scene. Anders captures Jean’s beauty with his camera lens and sells the photos by the Seine to make a living. One buyer, a wealthy American socialite, David, comes along and presents Anders with a scandalous new venture.

With David’s film camera, they set up a secret studio, capturing incriminating reels of the rich and powerful committing all manner of compromising acts. As Paris falls to Hitler and the occupation takes hold, senior Nazis commandeer David’s mansion as their personal brothel. Anders and David begin secretly filming the Nazis’ trysts, scattering the evidence across Paris. Anders’s old flame Eilas returns to Paris as an SS officer, and Jean has hatched a plot with the Resistance to assassinate Eilas’s superior, the head of the SS in Paris. Amidst betrayal, love, and blackmail, who will survive these plots is far from certain.

Buy it: Bookshop | Amazon | IndieBound

Everything for You by Chloe Liese

59824159. sy475 Gavin
We’ve been teammates for two years, but it feels like a lifetime that Oliver Bergman’s been on my last nerve. A demanding captain and veteran player, I’m feared and friendless, while he’s the beloved rising star, all sunshine smiles and upbeat team spirit. To make matters worse, he’s obscenely attractive. In short: he’s genetically designed to get under my skin.

Avoiding Oliver has been my survival tactic on and off the field. But when Coach drops the bomb that we’re now co-captains, avoiding him becomes impossible, and keeping the truth from him–let alone my distance–is harder than ever.

Oliver
Life was great until soccer legend Gavin Hayes joined the team and proved he’s nothing like the guy I grew up idolizing. Instead, he’s a giant–albeit gorgeous–grump who lives to rain on my parade. I’ve sworn off pranks since entering the public eye, so rather than settle our differences the Bergman way, I’ve had to settle for killing Gavin with kindness. There’s just one problem: killing him with kindness is killing me.

To make matters worse, Coach gives us an ultimatum: put an end to our enmity or say goodbye to being captains. I’m prepared to be miserable while we meet her demands and make nice, but the last thing I expect is to discover an explosive attraction we can’t help but act on, and worse yet, to realize the man hiding beneath Gavin’s gruff exterior is all I’ve ever wanted.

Buy it: Amazon

In the Trap by Jessica Cranberry

For Hazel, an introvert with a knack for people watching, campus life is awkward and hard and…lonely. That is, until she starts to let her guard down around her roommate, Maeve—who’s fun and has a wicked flair for drama. Could there be more than just a friendship here? Maybe. But Hazel has a lot of family trauma to work through before figuring out the other big parts of her life. For now, she’s just happy to have someone to talk to.

All seems to go well until a night in the Trap—the university’s green space—leads to a tense encounter with some drunk guys. When one of the guys ends up dead, Hazel is implicated, and she and Maeve set out to solve the crime before police can connect either of them to it. But how can two amateur sleuths put together a solid case to hand over to the police in time? By following the campus online diaries, that’s how.

Set at the beginning of the internet age, people are just starting to share all their deepest, darkest secrets via the World Wide Web, yet the assumption of online anonymity may be a critical mistake. As the perpetrator posts their criminal diary for public consumption, Hazel and Maeve scramble to use technology to piece together the murderer’s identity. Can they hack their way out of becoming suspects? And if so, could they ever go back to their boring majors?

Buy it: Ninestar Press

Non-Fiction

The Women’s House of Detention by Hugh Ryan

58951004The Women’s House of Detention, Greenwich Village’s most forbidding and forgotten queer landmark, stood from 1929 to 1974, imprisoning tens of thousands from all over New York City. The little-known stories of the queer women and trans-masculine people incarcerated in this building present a uniquely queer argument for prison abolition. The “House of D” acted as a nexus, drawing queer women down to Greenwich Village from every corner of the city. Some of these women—Angela Davis, Grace Paley, Andrea Dworkin, Afeni Shakur—were famous, but the majority were working-class people, incarcerated for the “crimes” of being poor and improperly feminine. Today, approximately 40 percent of people in women’s prisons identify as queer; in earlier decades, the percentage was almost certainly higher.

Historian Hugh Ryan explores the roots of this crisis of queer and trans incarceration, connecting misogyny, racism, state-sanctioned sexual violence, colonialism, sex work, and the failures of prison reform. At the same time, The Women’s House of Detention highlights how queer relation and autonomy emerged in the most dire of circumstances: from the lesbian relationships and communities forged through the House of D, to a Black socialist’s fight for a college education during the Great Depression, to the forgotten women who rioted inside the prison on the first night of the Stonewall Uprising nearby. This is the story of one building and so much more: the people it caged, the neighborhood it changed, and the resistance it inspired.

Buy it: Bookshop | Amazon | IndieBound

I Cheated on My Wife and My Husband: a Guest Post by No More Neckties Author Dr. Loren Olson

Today on the site, we have Dr. Loren Olson, author of No More Neckties, a new memoir releasing from Oak Lane Press on May 17th. He’s here to talk about infidelity, healthy relationships, and moving on, but first, here’s more info on the book:

52-2_NoMoreNeckties_frontcover_11-8

In No More Neckties, Dr. Loren Olson, a well-regarded essayist and popular speaker on mental health and LGBTQ issues, flings open the doors on the hard stuff—sex, infidelity, guilt, shame, forgiveness, suicide, and aging—in his candid and inspiring new memoir.  He shares the story of his life and its hard lessons. A practicing psychiatrist and a proud husband and grandfather, Dr. Olson writes about intensely personal events such as tragedy and loss, love and heartbreak, infidelity and betrayal, fear of aging, and never feeling good enough. Nearly everyone, whether they’re gay, straight, bisexual, or something else, can relate to his experiences. No More Neckties reminds each of us the myriad of experiences we encountered at one time or another discovering our own sexuality. His life story is a wonderful memoir of succeeding to be happy over the pain or joy with family, colleagues, and lovers from his unique view.

Buy it: Bookshop | Amazon

And here’s the post!

I’m an expert on cheating. First, I cheated on my wife and then on my husband. I’m not proud of it. It’s just a fact. Fortunately, both still love me, and I love them.

You may disagree, but I don’t see myself as the cheating kind. We hear, “Once a cheater, always a cheater. Dump him/her,” as if the cheater has a malignant character flaw. But the world isn’t divided into good and bad people. Even good people make mistakes.

We live in a world surrounded by incalculable ways to cheat but where it’s nearly impossible to keep a secret. Many of us will be caught when we cheat.

Should infidelity always be a reason to leave an otherwise healthy relationship? How can you forgive someone who has hurt you so badly? Even if you can forgive, it’s unlikely you’ll forget.

Heterosexual couples have a long tradition of vows of “forsaking all others.” Gay couples lack that tradition. We, in the LGBTQ community, are more comfortable in negotiating the terms of our relationship up front.

When Doug and I got together thirty-five years ago, I loved it when he said, “I’m monogamous. VERY monogamous.” I’d been to enough weddings where they sang, “Oh perfect love” to understand it meant we must find the one person with whom we experience love, romance, emotional intimacy, and sex.

I was forty years old when I met Doug. I was just coming out, but I’d had my share of hookups. Those helped me understand my sexuality, my attractions, my desires. But it wasn’t something I wanted for the rest of my life.

I was in love with Doug and would have promised him anything. I believed that I had found the perfect man. He would meet all my needs and I would meet his. How naïve we were.

Passion in a relationship has a shelf-life of about a year. At first, monogamy was easy. Neither of us understood how vulnerable to cheating we become when we meet the hard stuff in our lives. And we all have hard stuff.

I was never unfaithful to Doug until once when I traveled out of town to a meeting where I was to present some research on men who came out later in life. It didn’t go well. Humiliated and defeated, I slunk out of that presentation to a cocktail hour that followed.

I stood on the fringes of the crowd with no interest in interacting. An attractive younger man also stood on the edges. Then he said, “Let’s get out of here.” To be desired by someone was the perfect antidote to the poisonous earlier experience. Guilt never extinguishes desire.

I reasoned, “Out of town. A one-off. A nameless partner. Unintentional and justifiable.” I needed something, anything, to make me feel better. I didn’t know many facts about him, but facts weren’t necessary or desired. He was who I wanted him to be; I was who he wanted me to be.

I hadn’t been the partner to Doug that I intended to be. I was self-absorbed and had dedicated all my energy to other things. I had treated Doug as a distraction. We’d avoided talking about the hard stuff in our relationship.

Although we value monogamy, we aren’t very good at it. How did Doug and I get to a place where we both felt alone, helpless, and desperate for something to change? We should have recognized how distance had grown between us. Perhaps we expected too much from our relationship from the beginning.

Sex had become routine and predictable. While that created comfort with each other, we both missed the excitement of fresh, unexpected sex with someone new. We need rules, values and ideals, but boundaries in relationships can be both too tight or too loose. Sometimes we need to deconstruct old rules and establish new ones based on what’s possible.

Monogamy is absolute. For some, consensual non-monogamy may be a more realistic option than absolute monogamy. Dan Savage, a relationship and sex columnist, coined the term “monogamish.” He suggests that couples can remain loyal and committed while at the same time experiencing occasional sexual pleasure with others.

Adjustment of the rules requires vigilance and honesty. It may be frightening to talk about a wish to change the rules of a relationship but talking about the hard stuff is what solidifies a relationship.

The damage I did to my relationship with Doug and with my ex-wife had nothing to do with where I put my penis. It came from the lies I used to protect myself. Had Doug and I had those difficult conversations, we might have preserved our trust in each other.

Sometimes we do wrong to get out of difficult situations only to find that we’ve created an even more difficult one. If you are absent in your relationship, an affair isn’t going to make you present.

Doug and I accepted we weren’t perfect, and we couldn’t expect perfection from each other. We had to set aside our feelings of hurt and betrayal and discover a new relationship with each other. The things that drew us together still hold us together. Neither of us has any desire to change that.

***

Loren A. Olson, MD, is a board-certified psychiatrist, a gifted storyteller, and the author of No More Neckties and Finally Out: Letting Go of Living Straight. He shares stories about his late-in-life coming out and the ensuing struggles he had with himself, his family, and his partner so that others feel they are not alone. His life’s mission has been to help people find ways to prevent life’s pains from becoming needless suffering.  For more info, visit https://www.lorenaolson.com.

Happy Jewish American Heritage Month 2022!

Happy Jewish American Heritage Month, and make sure to check out last year’s post for even more titles!

Books to Buy Now

Ellen Outside the Lines by A.J. Sass

55624941. sx318 Thirteen-year-old Ellen Katz feels most comfortable when her life is well planned out and people fit neatly into her predefined categories. She attends temple with Abba and Mom every Friday and Saturday. Ellen only gets crushes on girls, never boys, and she knows she can always rely on her best-and-only friend, Laurel, to help navigate social situations at their private Georgia middle school. Laurel has always made Ellen feel like being autistic is no big deal. But lately, Laurel has started making more friends, and cancelling more weekend plans with Ellen than she keeps. A school trip to Barcelona seems like the perfect place for Ellen to get their friendship back on track.

Except it doesn’t. Toss in a new nonbinary classmate whose identity has Ellen questioning her very binary way of seeing the world, homesickness, a scavenger hunt-style team project that takes the students through Barcelona to learn about Spanish culture and this trip is anything but what Ellen planned.

Making new friends and letting go of old ones is never easy, but Ellen might just find a comfortable new place for herself if she can learn to embrace the fact that life doesn’t always stick to a planned itinerary.

Buy it: Bookshop | Amazon | IndieBound

From Dust, A Flame by Rebecca Podos

Hannah’s whole life has been spent in motion. Her mother has kept her and her brother, Gabe, on the road for as long as she can remember, leaving a trail of rental homes and faded relationships behind them. No roots, no family but one another, and no explanations.

All of that changes on Hannah’s seventeenth birthday when she wakes up transformed, a pair of golden eyes with knife-slit pupils blinking back at her from the mirror—the first of many such impossible mutations. Promising that she knows someone who can help, her mother leaves Hannah and Gabe behind to find a cure. But as the days turn to weeks and their mother doesn’t return, they realize it’s up to them to find the truth.

What they discover is a family they never knew, and a history more tragic and fantastical than Hannah could have dreamed—one that stretches back to her grandmother’s childhood in Prague under the Nazi occupation, and beyond, into the realm of Jewish mysticism and legend.  As the past comes crashing into the present, Hannah must hurry to unearth their family’s secrets—and confront her own hidden legacy in order to break the curse and save the people she loves most, as well as herself.

Rebecca Podos, award-winning author of Like Water, returns with a contemporary fantasy of enduring love, unfathomable loss, and the power of stories to hold us together when it seems that nothing else can.

Buy it: Bookshop | Amazon | B&N | B-A-M

This Rebel Heart by Katherine Locke

The Fountains of Silence meets Spinning Silver in this rollicking tale set amid the 1956 Hungarian revolution in post-WWII Communist Budapest from Sydney Taylor Honor winner Katherine Locke.

In the middle of Budapest, there is a river. Csilla knows the river is magic. During WWII, the river kept her family safe when they needed it most–safe from the Holocaust. But that was before the Communists seized power. Before her parents were murdered by the Soviet police. Before Csilla knew things about her father’s legacy that she wishes she could forget.

Now Csilla keeps her head down, planning her escape from this country that has never loved her the way she loves it. But her carefully laid plans fall to pieces when her parents are unexpectedly, publicly exonerated. As the protests in other countries spur talk of a larger revolution in Hungary, Csilla must decide if she believes in the promise and magic of her deeply flawed country enough to risk her life to help save it, or if she should let it burn to the ground.

Buy it: Bookshop | Amazon | IndieBound

Matzo Match by Roz Alexander

56711248. sy475 Can a meddling matchmaker help two broken hearts to love again?

After a brutal break-up, Sam is ready for a lot of things: spring, hosting on her own again, a casual fling or two. Sam is definitely not ready for anything real, but her best friend Virginia has decided she’s taken long enough. When loving encouragements aren’t enough, Virginia takes fate into her own hands.

With Passover just around the corner, will a surprise blind date, three celebrations in eight days, and approximately 100 glasses of wine be enough to finally move on?

After one taste of the hard-bodied, immaculately dressed butch Jordan, it just might be time. Too bad Jordan has her own baggage to work through.

Matzo Match is a steamy lesbian age gap love story and the first entry in the “Hot for the Holidays” series.

Buy it: Amazon

Books to Preorder

When the Angels Left the Old Country by Sacha Lamb (October 18, 2022)

Uriel the angel and Little Ash (short for Ashmedai) are the only two supernatural creatures in their shtetl (which is so tiny, it doesn’t have a name other than Shtetl). The angel and the demon have been studying together for centuries, but pogroms and the search for a new life have drawn all the young people from their village to America. When one of those young emigrants goes missing, Uriel and Little Ash set off to find her.

Along the way the angel and demon encounter humans in need of their help, including Rose Cohen, whose best friend (and the love of her life) has abandoned her to marry a man, and Malke Shulman, whose father died mysteriously on his way to America.

But there are obstacles ahead of them as difficult as what they’ve left behind. Medical exams (and demons) at Ellis Island. Corrupt officials, cruel mob bosses, murderers, poverty. The streets are far from paved with gold.

Buy it: Bookshop | Amazon | IndieBound

Season of Love by Helena Greer (October 11, 2022)

A witty, glittering rom-com about finding the courage to face your past and learning what it truly means to return home, perfect for fans of the Hallmark channel (but queer and Jewish!), Jenny Bayliss, and Alexandra Bellefleur.

Buy it: Amazon | IndieBound

How to Excavate a Heart by Jake Maia Arlow (November 1, 2022)

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 it: Bookshop | Amazon | IndieBound

A Shot in the Dark by Victoria Lee (January 3, 2023)

Elisheva Cohen has just returned to Brooklyn after almost a decade. The wounds of abandoning the Orthodox community that raised her, then shunned her because of her substance abuse, are still painful. But when she gets an amazing opportunity to study photography with art legend Wyatt Cole, Ely is willing to take the leap.

On her first night back in town, Ely goes out to the infamous queer club Revel for a celebratory night of dancing. Ely is swept off her feet and into bed by a gorgeous man who looks like James Dean, but with a thick Carolina accent. The next morning, Ely wakes up alone and rushes off to attend her first photography class, reminiscing on the best one-night stand of her life. She doesn’t even know his name. That is, until Wyatt Cole shows up for class—and Ely realizes that the man she just spent an intimate and steamy night with is her teacher.

Everyone in the art world is obsessed with Wyatt Cole. He’s immensely talented and his notoriously reclusive personal life makes him all the more compelling. But there’s a reason why his past is hard for him to publicize. After coming out as transgender, Wyatt was dishonorably discharged from the military and disowned by his family. From then on he committed to sobriety and channeled his pain into his flourishing art career. While Ely and Wyatt’s relationship started out on a physical level, their similar struggles spark a much deeper connection. The chemistry is undeniable, but their new relationship as teacher and student means desperately wanting what they can’t have.

Buy it: Amazon | IndieBound

Ring of Solomon by Aden Polydoros (February 21, 2023)

This exciting and adventurous start to a middle-grade trilogy follows a queer boy and his family as they try to halt the chaotic effects of a mysterious ring, drawing upon Jewish mythology to navigate magic, mayhem and the search for pride in one’s identity.

The little beachside town of San Pancras is not known for anything exciting, but when Zach Darlington buys a mysterious ring at the local flea market, his quiet little hometown is turned topsy-turvy by monsters straight from Jewish folklore and a nefarious secret society focused on upholding an apocalyptic prophecy.

Zach discovers that the ring grants him strange powers, and he’s intrigued; maybe he can use the ring’s strengths to halt the slew of anti-Semitic and homophobic bullying he’s experiencing at school. But soon the ring brings unexpected visitors—Ashmedai, King of Demons, in the guise of a preteen boy named Ash, and the local chapter of the Knights of the Apocalypse, a secret society intent on completing a creepy prophecy that will bring three monsters to Earth to start the events of the end of times.

Now responsible for the ring and its consequences, will Zach and his friends, with the help of Ash, be able to stop the Apocalypse and save the world?

Buy it: Amazon | B&N

Books to Add to Your TBR

 

New Releases: May 3, 2022

I Kissed Shara Wheeler by Casey McQuiston

58756420Chloe Green is so close to winning. After her moms moved her from SoCal to Alabama for high school, she’s spent the past four years dodging gossipy classmates and a puritanical administration at Willowgrove Christian Academy. The thing that’s kept her going: winning valedictorian. Her only rival: prom queen Shara Wheeler, the principal’s perfect progeny.

But a month before graduation, Shara kisses Chloe and vanishes.

On a furious hunt for answers, Chloe discovers she’s not the only one Shara kissed. There’s also Smith, Shara’s longtime quarterback sweetheart, and Rory, Shara’s bad boy neighbor with a crush. The three have nothing in common except Shara and the annoyingly cryptic notes she left behind, but together they must untangle Shara’s trail of clues and find her. It’ll be worth it, if Chloe can drag Shara back before graduation to beat her fair-and-square.

Thrown into an unlikely alliance, chasing a ghost through parties, break-ins, puzzles, and secrets revealed on monogrammed stationery, Chloe starts to suspect there might be more to this small town than she thought. And maybe—probably not, but maybe—more to Shara, too.

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

If You Change Your Mind by Robby Weber

56324112. sy475 Harry wants nothing more than to write Hollywood screenplays. He knows the first step toward achieving that goal is winning a screenwriting competition that will seal his admission into the college of his dreams, so he’s determined to spend his summer free of distractions—also known as boys—and finish his script. After last year, Harry is certain love only exists in the movies anyway.

But then the cause of his first heartbreak, Grant, returns with a secret that could change everything. To complicate things further, new-in-town Logan is charming and sweet, making Harry question everything he knows about romance. As Harry tries to manage his feelings for Grant and Logan, he realizes life doesn’t always follow a script.

Buy it: Bookshop | Amazon | IndieBound

The Queen of Junk Island by Alexandra Mae Jones

58855148Still reeling from a recent trauma, sixteen-year-old Dell is relieved when her mom suggests a stay at the family cabin. But the much-needed escape quickly turns into a disaster. The lake and woods are awash in trash left by a previous tenant. And worse, Dell’s mom has invited her boyfriend’s daughter to stay with them. Confident, irreverent Ivy presses all of Dell’s buttons–somehow making Dell’s shame and self-consciousness feel even more acute. Yet Dell is drawn to Ivy in a way she doesn’t fully understand. As Dell uncovers secrets in the wreckage of her family’s past–secrets hinted at through troubling dreams and strange apparitions–Ivy leads her toward thrilling, if confusing, revelations about her sexuality and identity.

Set during a humid summer in the mid-2000s, The Queen of Junk Island simmers with the intensity of a teenage girl navigating the suffocating expectations of everyone around her.

Buy it: Bookshop | Amazon | IndieBound

Burn Down, Rise Up by Vincent Tirado

58523152For over a year, the Bronx has been plagued by sudden disappearances that no one can explain. Sixteen-year-old Raquel does her best to ignore it. After all, the police only look for the white kids. But when her crush Charlize’s cousin goes missing, Raquel starts to pay attention—especially when her own mom comes down with a mysterious illness that seems linked to the disappearances.

Raquel and Charlize team up to investigate, but they soon discover that everything is tied to a terrifying urban legend called the Echo Game. The game is rumored to trap people in a sinister world underneath the city, and the rules are based on a particularly dark chapter in New York’s past. And if the friends want to save their home and everyone they love, they will have to play the game and destroy the evil at its heart—or die trying.

Buy it: Bookshop | Amazon | IndieBound

When You Call My Name by Tucker Shaw

In the spirit of the author’s massively popular Twitter thread, Tucker Shaw’s When You Call My Name is a heartrending novel about two gay teens coming of age in New York City in 1990 at the height of the HIV/AIDS epidemic, perfect for fans of Adam Silvera and Mary H. K. Choi.

Film fanatic Adam is seventeen and being asked out on his first date―and the guy is cute. Heart racing, Adam accepts, quickly falling in love with Callum like the movies always promised.

Fashion-obsessed Ben is eighteen and has just left his home upstate after his mother discovers his hidden stash of gay magazines. When he comes to New York City, Ben’s sexuality begins to feel less like a secret and more like a badge of honor.

Then Callum disappears, leaving Adam heartbroken, and Ben finds out his new world is more closed-minded than he thought. When Adam finally tracks Callum down, he learns the guy he loves is very ill. And in a chance meeting near the hospital where Callum is being treated, Ben and Adam meet, forever changing each other’s lives. As both begin to open their eyes to the possibilities of queer love and life, they realize sometimes the only people who can help you are the people who can really see you―in all your messy glory.

Buy it: Bookshop | Amazon | IndieBound

The Many Half-Lived Lives of Sam Sylvester by Maya MacGregor

53478789. sy475 In this queer contemporary YA mystery, a nonbinary teen with autism realizes they must not only solve a 30-year-old mystery but also face the demons lurking in their past in order to live a satisfying life.

Sam Sylvester’s not overly optimistic about their recent move to the small town of Astoria, Oregon after a traumatic experience in their last home in the rural Midwest.

Yet Sam’s life seems to be on the upswing after meeting several new friends and a potential love interest in Shep, the pretty neighbor. However, Sam can’t seem to let go of what might have been, and is drawn to investigate the death of a teenage boy in 1980s Astoria. Sam’s convinced he was murdered–especially since Sam’s investigation seems to resurrect some ghosts in the town.

Threatening notes and figures hidden in shadows begin to disrupt Sam’s life. Yet Sam continues to search for the truth. When Sam discovers that they may be closer to a killer than previously known, Sam has a difficult decision to make. Would they risk their new life for a half-lived one?

Buy it: Bookshop | Amazon | IndieBound

The Dove in the Belly by Jim Grimsley

58739425. sy475 At the University of North Carolina, Ronny’s made some friends, kept his secrets, survived dorm life, and protected his heart.

Until he can’t. Ben is in some ways Ronny’s opposite; he’s big and solid where Ronny is small and slight. Ben’s at UNC on a football scholarship. Confident, with that easy jock swagger, and an explosive temper always simmering. He has a steady stream of girlfriends. Ben’s aware of the overwhelming effect he has on Ronny. It’s like a sensation of power. So easy to tease Ronny, throw playful insults, but it all feels somehow.loaded.

Meanwhile Ronny’s mother has moved to Vegas with her latest husband. And Ben’s mother is fighting advanced cancer. A bubble forms around the two, as surprising to Ronny as it is to Ben. Within it their connection ignites physically and emotionally. But what will happen when the tensile strength of a bubble is tested? When the rest of life intervenes?

Buy it: Bookshop | Amazon | IndieBound

Chef’s Kiss by TJ Alexander

Simone Larkspur is a perfectionist pastry expert with a dream job at The Discerning Chef, a venerable cookbook publisher in New York City. All she wants to do is create the perfect loaf of sourdough and develop recipes, but when The Discerning Chef decides to bring their brand into the 21st century by pivoting to video, Simone is thrust into the spotlight and finds herself failing at something for the first time in her life.

To make matters worse, Simone has to deal with Ray Lyton, the new test kitchen manager, whose obnoxious cheer and outgoing personality are like oil to Simone’s water. When Ray accidentally becomes a viral YouTube sensation with a series of homebrewing videos, their eccentric editor in chief forces Simone to work alongside the chipper upstart or else risk her beloved job. But the more they work together, the more Simone realizes her heart may be softening like butter for Ray. Things get even more complicated when Ray comes out at work as nonbinary to mixed reactions—and Simone must choose between the career she fought so hard for and the person who just might take the cake (and her heart).

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

Queerly Beloved by Susie Dumond

At her day job in a Christian bakery and with her conservative family, Amy plays the role of a straight, church-going young woman—exactly what’s expected in mid-2010s Tulsa, Oklahoma, the “Buckle of the Bible Belt.” But at night, she tends bar at the only place in town that truly feels like home: Ruby Red’s, a lovably grungy queer bar with a group of regulars who have become her chosen family. Amy’s spent a lifetime learning how to walk this fine line, placing others before herself so effortlessly that she doesn’t even realize she’s lost touch with her own needs and desires.

Still, everything seems more than fine, especially when Amy falls into a whirlwind romance with Charley, a charming newcomer to Tulsa. But then Amy is suddenly outed and subsequently fired from her bakery job. When a new friend begs her to fill in for one of the bridesmaids at her wedding—and offers to pay Amy more than she makes in a single night at Ruby Red’s—she can’t afford to turn it down. As her relationship with Charley heats up, this one-off opportunity turns into a full-time business, thanks to Amy’s baking talents, crafting skills, and expert ability to become whatever other people need her to be.

Between weddings, bachelorette parties, bridal showers, and dress fittings, Amy’s in her element, her years of watching rom-coms and Say Yes to the Dress finally paying off. But at what cost? Gay marriage is not legal, yet she’s playing the role of a straight girl, working hard to facilitate strangers’ special days even while she’s secretly dreaming of her own potential wedding day with Charley. When Amy’s precarious balancing act strains her relationships to a breaking point, she must decide what it looks like to be true to herself—and if she has the courage to try.

Buy it: Bookshop | Amazon | IndieBound

We Do What We Do in the Dark by Michelle Hart

We Do What We Do in the Dark by Michelle HartMallory is a freshman in college, reeling from her mother’s recent death, when she encounters the woman. She sees her for the first time at the university’s gym, immediately entranced. Soon, they meet, drawn by an electric tension and shared past wounds; before long, they begin sleeping together in secret. Self-possessed, successful, brilliant, and aloof—the woman is everything Mallory wants…and wants to be. Desiring not only the woman but also the idea of who she is when they’re together, Mallory retreats from the rest of the world, solidifying a sense of aloneness that has both haunted and soothed her since childhood and will continue to do so for years even after the affair ends. As an adult, Mallory must decide whether to stay safely in isolation or step fully into the world, to confront what the woman meant to her and how their relationship shaped her, for better or worse.

Mallory’s life is transformed by loss and by love and by discovering who she is while enduring both. In this enthralling debut novel, the complexities of influence, obsession, and admiration reveal how desire and its consequences can alter the trajectory of someone’s life.

Buy it: Bookshop | Amazon | IndieBound

Never Been Kissed by Timothy Janovsky

57352258Dear (never-been-quite-over-you) Crush,
It’s been a few years since we were together,
but I can’t stop thinking about the time we almost…

Wren Roland has never been kissed, but he wants that movie-perfect ending more than anything. Feeling nostalgic on the eve of his birthday, he sends emails to all the boys he (ahem) loved before he came out. Morning brings the inevitable Oh God What Did I Do?, but he brushes that panic aside. Why stress about it? None of his could-have-beens are actually going to read the emails, much less respond. Right?

Enter Derick Haverford, Wren’s #1 pre-coming-out-crush and his drive-in theater’s new social media intern. Everyone claims he’s coasting on cinematic good looks and his father’s connections, but Wren has always known there’s much more to Derick than meets the eye. Too bad he doesn’t feel the same way about the infamous almost-kiss that once rocked Wren’s world.

Whatever. Wren’s no longer a closeted teenager; he can survive this. But as their hazy summer becomes consumed with a special project that may just save the struggling drive-in for good, Wren and Derick are drawn ever-closer…and maybe, finally, Wren’s dream of a perfect-kiss-before-the-credits is within reach.

Buy it: Bookshop | Amazon | IndieBound

Acts of Service by Lillian Fishman

If sex is a truth-teller, Eve—a young, queer woman in Brooklyn—is looking for answers. On an evening when she is feeling particularly impulsive, she posts some nude photos of herself online. This is how Eve meets Olivia, and through Olivia, the charismatic Nathan—and soon the three begin a relationship that disturbs Eve as much as it delights her. As each act of the affair unfolds, Eve is left to ask: to whom is she responsible? And to what extent do our desires determine who we are?

Buy it: Bookshop | Amazon | IndieBound

Perks of Office by Liz Rain (4th)

60811267. sy475 When your new boss is hot as hell, what hope is there for a poor lovestruck office worker? A light-hearted, age-gap lesbian office romance with sexual tension leading the polls.

After high-powered politician Bridget O’Keefe sweeps into the uninspiring life of Australian electorate officer Emma Ives, nothing is the same again.

Hapless, hopeless Emma is smacked with an instant crush on the polished woman who’s her new boss…her hot, untouchable, straight boss. Yes, she knows she’s an idiot because unrequited lust at work is a terrible idea. Even so, she can dream.

One long night changes everything. A political scandal leads to a fall from grace and Emma suddenly finds herself the one Bridget turns to for comfort. There’s a lot for Emma to wrap her mind around, even as her body loves wrapping itself around Bridget’s curves.

Is it just a meaningless night of passion, nothing more? Because there’s absolutely no way ambitious, beautiful Bridget wants anything more from Emma. Is there?

Buy it: Ylva

Gay Club by Simon James Green (5th)

60286457. sy475 Barney’s a shoo-in for his school’s LGBTQ+ Society President at the club’s next election. But when the vote is opened up to the entire student body, the whole school starts paying attention. How low will the candidates go to win? Buckle up for some serious shade, scandals and sleazy shenanigans. It isn’t long before it’s National Coming Out Day – for everyone’s secrets!

But when the group faces an expected threat – and a big opportunity – can the club members put politics aside and stand united?

Buy it: Book Depository | Waterstones

Happy AAPI Heritage Month!

Happy Asian American Pacific Islander Heritage month! May is a fabulous month to celebrate all these books and authors, so if there are any missing from your bookshelf, please use the links below to rectify that! (They are indeed affiliate links, so a percentage of your purchase goes to supporting LGBTQReads.) See a fave of yours that is or isn’t mentioned here? Please recommend it in the comments! (As always, this does not include posts fully covered in last year’s post, so to see those, click here.)

To Buy Now

The Uncle’s Story by Witi Ihimaera

632244. sy475 Michael Mahana’s personal disclosure to his parents leads to the uncovering of another family secret-about his uncle, Sam, who had fought in the Vietnam War.

Now, armed with his uncle’s diary, Michael goes searching for the truth about his uncle, about the secret the Mahana family has kept hidden for over thirty years, and what happened to Sam.

A powerful love story set in the war-torn jungles of Vietnam and in present-day New Zealand and North America, Witi Ihimaera’s powerful new novel courageously confronts Maori attitudes to sexuality and masculinity and contains some of Ihimaera’s most passionate writing to date.

Buy it: Amazon

To Paradise by Hanya Yanagihara

57739876In an alternate version of 1893 America, New York is part of the Free States, where people may live and love whomever they please (or so it seems). The fragile young scion of a distinguished family resists betrothal to a worthy suitor, drawn to a charming music teacher of no means. In a 1993 Manhattan besieged by the AIDS epidemic, a young Hawaiian man lives with his much older, wealthier partner, hiding his troubled childhood and the fate of his father. And in 2093, in a world riven by plagues and governed by totalitarian rule, a powerful scientist’s damaged granddaughter tries to navigate life without him—and solve the mystery of her husband’s disappearances.

These three sections are joined in an enthralling and ingenious symphony, as recurring notes and themes deepen and enrich one another: A townhouse in Washington Square Park in Greenwich Village; illness, and treatments that come at a terrible cost; wealth and squalor; the weak and the strong; race; the definition of family, and of nationhood; the dangerous righteousness of the powerful, and of revolutionaries; the longing to find a place in an earthly paradise, and the gradual realization that it can’t exist. What unites not just the characters, but these Americas, are their reckonings with the qualities that make us human: Fear. Love. Shame. Need. Loneliness.

Buy it: Bookshop | Amazon | IndieBound

The Verifiers by Jane Pek

58065392Claudia Lin is used to disregarding her fractious family’s model-minority expectations: she has no interest in finding either a conventional career or a nice Chinese boy. She’s also used to keeping secrets from them, such as that she prefers girls—and that she’s just been stealth-recruited by Veracity, a referrals-only online-dating detective agency.

A lifelong mystery reader who wrote her senior thesis on Jane Austen, Claudia believes she’s landed her ideal job. But when a client goes missing, Claudia breaks protocol to investigate—and uncovers a maelstrom of personal and corporate deceit. Part literary mystery, part family story, The Verifiers is a clever and incisive examination of how technology shapes our choices, and the nature of romantic love in the digital age.

Buy it: Bookshop | Amazon | IndieBound

I Have Loved Me a Man: the Life and Times of Mika by Sharon Mazer

I Have Loved Me a Man takes readers inside the social revolution that has moved New Zealand from the 1960s to the present day through the story of the queer Maori performance artist, Mika. Adopted into a white family, Mika learnt Maori culture from the back of a cereal box. He discovered disco in the 1970s, worked with Carmen, Dalvanius Prime, and others to develop outrageous stage shows, and came out on screen with Harvey Keitel, playing a takatapui role in the film The Piano.

Mika has never been in the closet: his life has been an ongoing production of both the fabulous and the revolutionary. This highly visual book interweaves research with images hand-picked from Mika’s extensive archive to reveal the life and times of a queer brown boy from Aotearoa who took on the big white world.

Another Appalachia: Coming Up Queer and Indian in a Mountain Place by Neema Avashia

Another Appalachia cover: photo of an Indian-American family and the author as a young child in front of Glade Creek Grist Mill in Babcock State Park, West Virginia, in the late 1980s, in the fallWhen Neema Avashia tells people where she’s from, their response is nearly always a disbelieving “There are Indian people in West Virginia?” A queer Asian American teacher and writer, Avashia fits few Appalachian stereotypes. But the lessons she learned in childhood about race and class, gender and sexuality continue to inform the way she moves through the world today: how she loves, how she teaches, how she advocates, how she struggles.

Another Appalachia examines both the roots and the resonance of Avashia’s identity as a queer desi Appalachian woman, while encouraging readers to envision more complex versions of both Appalachia and the nation as a whole. With lyric and narrative explorations of foodways, religion, sports, standards of beauty, social media, gun culture, and more, Another Appalachia mixes nostalgia and humor, sadness and sweetness, personal reflection and universal questions.

Buy it: Bookshop | Amazon | Indiebound | WVU Press

Time is a Mother by Ocean Vuong

58582927How else do we return to ourselves but to fold
The page so it points to the good part

In this deeply intimate second poetry collection, Ocean Vuong searches for life among the aftershocks of his mother’s death, embodying the paradox of sitting within grief while being determined to survive beyond it. Shifting through memory, and in concert with the themes of his novel On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous, Vuong contends with personal loss, the meaning of family, and the cost of being the product of an American war in America. At once vivid, brave, and propulsive, Vuong’s poems circle fragmented lives to find both restoration as well as the epicenter of the break.

The author of the critically acclaimed poetry collection Night Sky With Exit Wounds, winner of the 2016 Whiting Award, the 2017 T. S. Eliot Prize, and a 2019 MacArthur fellow, Vuong writes directly to our humanity without losing sight of the current moment. These poems represent a more innovative and daring experimentation with language and form, illuminating how the themes we perennially live in and question are truly inexhaustible. Bold and prescient, and a testament to tenderness in the face of violence, Time Is a Mother is a return and a forging forth all at once.

Buy it: Bookshop | Amazon | IndieBound

Café Con Lychee by Emery Lee

58603814. sy475 Sometimes bitter rivalries can brew something sweet

Theo Mori wants to escape. Leaving Vermont for college means getting away from working at his parents’ Asian American café and dealing with their archrivals’ hopeless son Gabi who’s lost the soccer team more games than Theo can count.

Gabi Moreno is miserably stuck in the closet. Forced to play soccer to hide his love for dance and iced out by Theo, the only openly gay guy at school, Gabi’s only reprieve is his parents’ Puerto Rican bakery and his plans to take over after graduation.

But the town’s new fusion café changes everything. Between the Mori’s struggling shop and the Moreno’s plan to sell their bakery in the face of the competition, both boys find their dreams in jeopardy. Then Theo has an idea—sell photo-worthy food covertly at school to offset their losses. When he sprains his wrist and Gabi gets roped in to help, they realize they need to work together to save their parents’ shops but will the new feelings rising between them be enough to send their future plans up in smoke?

Buy it: Amazon | B&N | IndieBound

Black Ice Matter by Gina Cole

31946851. sy475 This collection of short stories explores connections between extremes of heat and cold. Sometimes this is spatial or geographical; sometimes it is metaphorical. Sometimes it involves juxtapositions of time; sometimes heat appears where only ice is expected.

In the stories, a woman is caught between traditional Fijian ways and the brutality of the military dictatorship; a glaciology researcher falls into a crevasse and confronts the unexpected; two women lose children in freak shooting accidents; a young child in a Barbie Doll sweatshop dreams of a different life; secondary school girls struggle with secrets about an addicted janitor; and two women take a deathly trip through a glacier melt stream. These are some of the unpredictable stories in this collection that follow themes of ice and glaciers in the heat of the South Pacific and take us into unusual lives and explorations.

Buy it: Amazon

Siren Queen by Nghi Vo

“No maids, no funny talking, no fainting flowers.” Luli Wei is beautiful, talented, and desperate to be a star. Coming of age in pre-Code Hollywood, she knows how dangerous the movie business is and how limited the roles are for a Chinese American girl from Hungarian Hill—but she doesn’t care. She’d rather play a monster than a maid.

But in Luli’s world, the worst monsters in Hollywood are not the ones on screen. The studios want to own everything from her face to her name to the women she loves, and they run on a system of bargains made in blood and ancient magic, powered by the endless sacrifice of unlucky starlets like her. For those who do survive to earn their fame, success comes with a steep price. Luli is willing to do whatever it takes—even if that means becoming the monster herself.

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She Gets the Girl by Rachael Lippincott and Alyson Derrick

58437812Alex Blackwood is a little bit headstrong, with a dash of chaos and a whole lot of flirt. She knows how to get the girl. Keeping her on the other hand…not so much. Molly Parker has everything in her life totally in control, except for her complete awkwardness with just about anyone besides her mom. She knows she’s in love with the impossibly cool Cora Myers. She just…hasn’t actually talked to her yet.

Alex and Molly don’t belong on the same planet, let alone the same college campus. But when Alex, fresh off a bad (but hopefully not permanent) breakup, discovers Molly’s hidden crush as their paths cross the night before classes start, they realize they might have a common interest after all. Because maybe if Alex volunteers to help Molly learn how to get her dream girl to fall for her, she can prove to her ex that she’s not a selfish flirt. That she’s ready for an actual commitment. And while Alex is the last person Molly would ever think she could trust, she can’t deny Alex knows what she’s doing with girls, unlike her.

As the two embark on their five-step plans to get their girls to fall for them, though, they both begin to wonder if maybe they’re the ones falling…for each other.

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Echidna by essa may ranapiri

60390643. sx318 Echidna is a dangerous animal; she pokes holes in men just to
remind them what kind of monster she is wakes up every single
morning and chooses violence cos what choice does she really have?

essa may ranapiri’s second poetry collection follows the story of Echidna, their own interpretation of the Greek Mother of Monsters, as she tries to figure out life and identity living in a colonised world. Alongside this Māui and Prometheus get into a very hot relationship.

Echidna contends with three strands of tradition; Greek mythology, Christianity and Māori esoteric knowledge, and through weaving them together attempts to create a queerer whole. It is a book that is in conversation with the work of many others; from Milton and R.S. Thomas to jayy dodd and Joshua Whitehead to Hinemoana Baker and Keri Hulme. Situating and building its own world out of a community of queer and Māori/Pasifika writing, it carefully places itself in a whakapapa of takatāpui story-telling. 

Buy it: Te Herenga Waka University Press (NZ)

Flip the Script by Lyla Lee

43785625. sy475 As an avid watcher of K-dramas, Hana knows all the tropes to avoid when she finally lands a starring role in a buzzy new drama. And she can totally handle her fake co-star boyfriend who might be falling in love with her. After all, she promised the producers a contract romance, and that’s all they’re going to get from her.

But when showrunners bring on a new girl to challenge Hana’s role as main love interest—and worse, it’s someone Hana knows all too well—can  Hana fight for her position on the show while falling for her on-screen rival in real life?

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Interim by Des Spicer-Orak

interimInterim is a short collection of poems written by Des Spicer-Orak, a queer mixed Palauan poet from the Pacific Northwest. Interim signifies the experiences between life and death. Exploring the intersections of identity, Interim captures the weight of culture, religion, climate crises, rejection, and connection. This book highlights the duality that exists in all things, and intentionally emphasizes the connection between grief and growth. Through the lens of various relationships, Interim tells a story of hurt and healing. At the heart of these poems is the fight for existence, reclamation, and resistance.

 Buy it: Amazon

To Preorder

The Loophole by Naz Kutub (June 7th)

56226875. sy475 Syyed is pining for his ex, who left home to—save the world? He doesn’t know much more, except to wish he’d gone along when Farouk asked. But Sy is shy and timid, from a controlling Indian Muslim family, and wants most to make a life and home with people he loves. Then he meets Reggie, an heiress—is she magical or just rich?—who, in exchange for his kindness, offers to grant Sy three wishes, the first of which is a million dollars, naturally!

But soon reality bites hard: His father realizes Sy is gay and kicks him out. Homeless and alone, he’s off with Reggie and his last two wishes, chasing Farouk to lands he never dreamed to visit to find his missing love for one last, desperate chance at rebuilding his life. And he’ll find out, maybe, that there is a loophole to everything, including wishes.

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Nuclear Family by Joseph Han (June 7th)

Things are looking up for Mr. and Mrs. Cho. Their dream of franchising their Korean plate lunch restaurants across Hawaiʻi seems within reach after a visit from Guy Fieri boosts the profile of Cho’s Delicatessen. Their daughter, Grace, is busy finishing her senior year of college and working for her parents, while her older brother, Jacob, just moved to Seoul to teach English. But when a viral video shows Jacob trying—and failing—to cross the Korean demilitarized zone, nothing can protect the family from suspicion and the restaurant from waning sales.

No one knows that Jacob has been possessed by the ghost of his lost grandfather, who feverishly wishes to cross the divide and find the family he left behind in the north. As Jacob is detained by the South Korean government, Mr. and Mrs. Cho fear their son won’t ever be able to return home, and Grace gets more and more stoned as she negotiates her family’s undoing. Struggling with what they don’t know about themselves and one another, the Chos must confront the separations that have endured in their family for decades.

Set in the months leading up to the 2018 false missile alert in Hawaiʻi, Joseph Han’s profoundly funny and strikingly beautiful debut novel is an offering that aches with histories inherited and reunions missed, asking how we heal in the face of what we forget and who we remember.

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Gods of Want by K-Ming Chang (July 12th)

57485174Startling stories that center the bodies, memories, myths, and relationships of Asian American women, from the National Book Award “5 Under 35” honoree and author of Bestiary

In “Auntland,” a steady stream of aunts adjust to American life by sneaking surreptitious kisses from women at temple, buying tubs of vanilla ice cream to prepare for citizenship tests, and hatching plans to name their daughter “Dog.” In “The Chorus of Dead Cousins,” ghost-cousins cross space, seas, and skies to haunt their live-cousin, wife to a storm-chaser. In “Xífù,” a mother-in-law tortures a wife in increasingly unsuccessful attempts to rid the house of her. In “Mariela,” two girls explore one another’s bodies for the first time in the belly of a plastic shark while in “Virginia Slims,” a woman from a cigarette ad comes to life. And in “Resident Aliens,” a former slaughterhouse serves as a residence to a series of widows, each harboring her own calamitous secrets.

With each tale, K-Ming Chang gives us her own take on a surrealism that mixes myth and migration, corporeality and ghostliness, queerness and the quotidian. Stunningly told in her feminist fabulist style, these are uncanny stories peeling back greater questions of power and memory.

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Beating Heart Baby by Lio Min (July 26th)

Cover for Beating Heart BabySanti 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.

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Unwieldy Creatures by Addie Tsai (August 2nd)

Unwieldy Creatures, a biracial, queer, gender-swapped retelling of Mary Shelley’s classic novel Frankenstein, follows the story of three beings who all navigate life from the margins: Plum, a queer biracial Chinese intern at one of the world’s top embryology labs, who runs away from home to openly be with her girlfriend only to be left on her own; Dr. Frank, a queer biracial Indonesian scientist, who compromises everything she claims to love in the name of science and ambition when she sets out to procreate without sperm or egg; and Dr. Frank’s nonbinary creation who, painstakingly brought into the world, is abandoned due to complications at birth that result from a cruel twist of revenge. Plum struggles to determine the limits of her own ambition when Dr. Frank offers her a chance to assist with her next project. How far will Plum go in the name of scientific advancement and what is she willing to risk?

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All This Could Be Different by Sarah Thankam Matthews (August 2nd)

Graduating into the long maw of an American recession, Sneha is one of the fortunate ones. She’s moved to Milwaukee for an entry-level corporate job that, grueling as it may be, is the key that unlocks every door: she can pick up the tab at dinner with her new friend Tig, get her college buddy Thom hired alongside her, and send money to her parents back in India. She begins dating women—soon developing a burning crush on Marina, a beguiling and beautiful dancer who always seems just out of reach.

But before long, trouble arrives. Painful secrets rear their heads; jobs go off the rails; evictions loom. Sneha struggles to be truly close and open with anybody, even as her friendships deepen, even as she throws herself headlong into a dizzying romance with Marina. It’s then that Tig begins to draw up a radical solution to their problems, hoping to save them all.

Buy it: Bookshop | Amazon | IndieBound

Anne of Greenville by Mariko Tamaki (October 4th)

60099223In this modern reimagining of Anne of Green Gables, Anne is an ABBA-loving singer/actor/writer of disco-operas, queer, Japanese-American who longs to be understood for her artistic genius. Recently relocated to middle-of-nowhere Greenville and starting at a new school, Anne has a tendency to A) fall in love quickly, deeply, and effervescently and B) fly off the handle in the face of jerks. Both personality quirks quickly come into play when the soccer team boos the premiere of her disco performance, which—in a roundabout way—introduces her to her new BFF, Berry, and she soon after meets the girl of her dreams, Gilly.

Falling quickly into that age-old trap of ignoring the best friend for the new crush, Anne soon becomes embroiled in a series of dramatic and unfortunate events, and quickly finds herself wrapped up in a love triangle she never expected. Is she MTB with Gilly? Or is Berry her true soul mate? Only time (or 304 pages) will tell.

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A Scatter of Light by Malinda Lo (October 4th)

59049157. sy475 Aria Tang West was looking forward to a summer on Martha’s Vineyard with her best friends–one last round of sand and sun before college. But after a graduation party goes wrong, Aria’s parents exile her to California to stay with her grandmother, artist Joan West.Aria expects boredom, but what she finds is Steph Nichols, her grandmother’s gardener. Soon, Aria is second-guessing who she is and what she wants to be, and a summer that once seemed lost becomes unforgettable–for Aria, her family, and the working-class queer community Steph introduces her to. It’s the kind of summer that changes a life forever.

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Nikhil Out Loud by Maulik Pancholy (11th)

60141378. sy475 Thirteen-year-old Nikhil Shah is the beloved voice actor for Raj Reddy on the hit animated series Raj Reddy in Outer Space. But being a star on TV doesn’t mean you have everything figured out behind the scenes. . . .

When his mom temporarily moves them to the small town in Ohio where she grew up to take care of Nikhil’s sick grandfather, Nikhil feels as out of orbit as his character.

Nikhil’s fame lands him the lead in the school musical, but he’s terrified that everyone will realize he’s a fraud once they find out he has stage fright. And when a group of conservative parents start to protest, making it clear they’re not happy with an openly gay TV star being in the starring role, Nikhil feels like his life would be easier if only he could be Raj Reddy full-time.

Then Nikhil wakes up one morning and hears a crack in his voice, which means his job playing Raj will have to come to an end. Life on earth is way more complicated than life on television. And some mysteries—like new friendships or a sick grandparent or finding the courage to speak out about what’s right—don’t wrap up neatly between commercial breaks.

Buy it: Bookshop | Amazon | IndieBound

Where the Lost Ones Go by Akemi Dawn Bowman (October 11th)

59406554Eliot is grieving Babung, her paternal grandmother who just passed away, and she feels like she’s the only one. She’s less than excited to move to her new house, which smells like lemons and deception, and is searching for a sign, any sign, that ghosts are real. Because if ghosts are real, it means she can find a way back to Babung.

When Eliot chases the promise of paranormal activity to the presumably haunted Honeyfield Hall, she finds her proof of spirits. But these ghosts are losing their memory, stuck between this world and the next, waiting to cross over. With the help of Hazel, the granddaughter of Honeyfield’s owner (and Eliot’s new crush), she attempts to uncover the mystery behind Honeyfield Hall and the ghosts residing within.

And as Eliot fits the pieces together, she may just be able to help the spirits remember their pasts, and hold on to her grandmother’s memory.

Buy it: Bookshop | Amazon | IndieBound

To Add to Your TBR

Queering up your shelf, one rec at a time!