Exclusive Excerpt Reveal: Heartstopper by Alice Oseman

Today on the site, I’m so thrilled to have Alice Oseman, whose YA graphic novel, Heartstopper, releases May 5th from Scholastic! We’re lucky enough to have an exclusive excerpt from the book, so check out the blurb and then enjoy a sneak peek!

Shy and softhearted Charlie Spring sits next to rugby player Nick Nelson in class one morning. A warm and intimate friendship follows, and that soon develops into something more for Charlie, who doesn’t think he has a chance. But Nick is struggling with feelings of his own, and as the two grow closer and take on the ups and downs of high school, they come to understand the surprising and delightful ways in which love works.

Preorder: Amazon | B&N | IndieBound | Target

And here’s the excerpt!

* * *

Alice Oseman was born in 1994 in Kent, England. She graduated from Durham University and is the author of YA contemporaries SolitaireRadio Silence, and I Was Born for This. Learn more about Alice at aliceoseman.com.

April Book Deal Announcements

Adult

Lecturer in creative writing at San Francisco State University and creator and teacher at The Lab: Writing Classes Matthew Clark Davison‘s DOUBTING THOMAS, chronicling a year in the life of a gay fourth grade teacher at a school serving Portland, Oregon’s progressive Obama-era elite; he is fired, even after being cleared of a false molestation accusation, just before a family tragedy makes him the guardian of his 12-year-old biracial nephew; digging into the disparity between ideals and reality, to Michael Nava at Amble, in a nice deal, in an exclusive submission, for publication in spring 2021 (world English).

Cornell University MFA graduate, poet, professor, and performer Ryka Aoki‘s LIGHT FROM UNCOMMON STARS, about three women trying to escape their pasts—a hell-damned violin legend and teacher, a young transgender runaway and aspiring musician, and a spaceship captain fleeing a faraway war—who find each other, and unexpected magic, in California’s San Gabriel Valley, to Lindsey Hall at Tor, in a pre-empt, in a two-book deal, by Meredith Kaffel Simonoff at DeFiore and Company (world English).

Gretchen Felker-Martin‘s MANHUNT, about trans women scavenging for estrogen in a post-apocalyptic world where a viral plague has transformed all cis men into feral monstrosities, fighting tooth and nail against a menace they’ll join if they miss a dose, and on the run from an authoritarian faction of cis women who see them as a dangerous liability, pitched as a trans woman’s response to Y: THE LAST MAN, plus another standalone horror novel, to Kelly Lonesome at Nightfire, in a very nice deal, in an exclusive submission, in a two-book deal, for publication in March 2022, by Connor Goldsmith at Fuse Literary (world).

Freya Marske‘s A MARVELLOUS LIGHT, a historical fantasy pitched as JONATHAN STRANGE AND MR. NORRELL meets WITCHMARK, about a young civil servant named as liaison to the secret magical bureaucracy of Britain who must work with his magician counterpart to unravel a dangerous conspiracy, while struggling with their unexpected attraction and a deadly curse, to Ruoxi Chen at Tor.com, in a three-book deal, for publication in 2021, by Diana Fox at Fox Literary (NA).

Brooklyn-based writer and VONA/Voices and Queer Art Mentorship alumna Emily Hashimoto’s A WORLD BETWEEN, in which a college fling between two women turns into a lifelong connection, to Lauren Hook at Feminist Press, for publication in September 2020, by Robert Guinsler at Sterling Lord Literistic (NA).

Lambda-nominated writer and critic Megan Milks’s MARGARET AND THE MYSTERY OF THE MISSING BODY, a genre-bending queer and trans coming-of-age story that combines a ’90s-era girl group mystery series with a haunted eating disorder treatment center and a surreal mutant body-world, and SLUG AND OTHER STORIES a reissue of their debut collection with new stories, to Lauren Hook at Feminist Press, in a two-book deal, by Rach Crawford at MacKenzie Wolf (world English).

Charlotte Anne Hamilton‘s OF TRUST & HEART, an #OwnVoices f/f 1920s historical in which a lesbian Scottish heiress, who must find a husband soon, falls for a singer at a speakeasy, to Lydia Sharp at Entangled Embrace, for publication in 2021 (world).

Children’s/Middle Grade

Rosiee Thor and Taylor Barton‘s Picture Book THE MEANING OF PRIDE, about the significance, beauty, and universality of the concept of pride, as celebrated by millions of queer people and their allies around the world, illustrated by Sam Kirk, to Erika Turner at Versify, for publication in spring 2022, by Saba Sulaiman at Talcott Notch Literary Services for the author, and by Nicolas Gomez and Michelle Collins at A Non-Agency for the illustrator (world).

Author of SEAFIRE Natalie Parker‘s Middle Grade THE DEVOURING WOLF, in which a young werewolf-to-be struggles to understand why she hasn’t yet transformed as expected, and to get to the bottom of the mystery and become the wolf she was always meant to be, she will have to unearth her community’s deepest secrets and face off against a terrifying creature from legend, to Chris Hernandez at Razorbill, in a very nice deal, in a two-book deal, for publication in fall 2021, by Lara Perkins at Andrea Brown Literary Agency (world English).

Founder and executive director of inQluded and 2019 SCBWI Emerging Voices winner medina’s THE ONE WHO LOVES YOU THE MOST, which follows a 12-year-old who lives at the intersection of multiple identities as they long to find their place in the world, but a school project, new trans and queer friends, and a YouTube channel helps them find purpose in their journey and find community, to Nick Thomas at Levine Querido, in a pre-empt, for publication in fall of 2021, by Marietta Zacker at Gallt and Zacker Literary Agency (NA and Dutch).

Young Adult

Aden Polydoros‘s YA THE CITY BEAUTIFUL, set against the backdrop of the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair, a queer Jewish Gothic fantasy that follows a young immigrant who is possessed by the dybbuk of his murdered best friend and is thrust into a deadly hunt for a serial killer, to Rebecca Kuss at Inkyard Press, in a nice deal, in a two-book deal, for publication in fall 2021, by Thao Le at Sandra Dijkstra Literary Agency (world English).

Robin Gow‘s YA A MILLION QUIET REVOLUTIONS, a love story in verse between two transgender boys who come out to each other the weekend before their senior year; together, they explore their identities and search history for the often untold stories of queer people like them, to Trisha de Guzman at Farrar, Straus Children’s, in a good deal, at auction, in a two-book deal, for publication in winter 2022, by Jordan Hamessley at New Leaf Literary & Media (NA).

Adrienne Tooley‘s SOFI AND THE BONE SONG, after losing everything to an undeserving rival, a young musician sets out to expose that her rival’s newfound musical abilities stem from an illegal use of magic—but what she discovers will rock everything she knows about her family, music, and the girl she thought was her enemy, to Sarah McCabe at Simon Pulse, for publication in spring 2022, by Jim McCarthy at Dystel, Goderich & Bourret (world).

Emery Lee’s MEET CUTE DIARY, about a trans teen who must decide if he’s dedicated to romantic formulas or open to unpredictable love after an internet troll-attack on his trans romance blog compels him and a fan to start fake-dating to salvage the blog’s reputation, to Alexandra Cooper at Quill Tree, for publication in summer 2021, by Beth Phelan at Gallt and Zacker Literary Agency (world English).

Kevin van Whye‘s NATE PLUS ONE, a teenage boy dreads the idea of attending his wealthy aunt’s wedding retreat in South Africa, until his crush, an indie rock musician, volunteers to be his plus-one; an #OwnVoices gay love story pitched as What if It’s Us meets Crazy Rich Asians, to Polo Orozco at Random House Children’s, for publication in spring 2022, by Robert Guinsler at Sterling Lord Literistic (world English).

Cara Davis-Araux, Candice Montgomery, and Adrianne Russell‘s ALL SIGNS POINT TO YES, an anthology of love stories for each of the star signs that will showcase BIPOC characters and celebrate the myriad facets of love, from meet-cutes to the lesser-explored love expressed by aromantic people, to Natashya Wilson at Inkyard Press, for publication in winter 2022, by Jim McCarthy at Dystel, Goderich & Bourret (world).

Hannah Blumenreich‘s FULL-COURT CRUSH, about a basketball player whose team is being shut down, and her bookish girlfriend who is struggling alone with her chronically depressed mother; together, they learn how to navigate the troubles of life and 11th grade, to Kiara Valdez at First Second, in a significant deal, at auction, in a two-book deal, for publication in 2023, by Linda Camacho at Gallt and Zacker Literary Agency (NA).

Aaron Aceves‘s THIS IS WHY THEY HATE US, a debut about a bisexual Latino teen from East L.A. who is determined to get over his crush on his best friend by summer’s end and winds up discovering hilarious, heartfelt truths about friendship, family, and himself, to Jennifer Ung at Simon Pulse, for publication in spring 2022, by Tina Dubois at ICM (NA).

Lambda Literary Award-winning author Rebecca Podos and Stonewall honoree Ashley Herring Blake‘s FOOLS IN LOVE, a YA romance anthology offering up fresh takes on classic romance tropes in multiple genres, featuring Rebecca Barrow, Gloria Chao, Sara Farizan, Claire Kann, Hannah Moskowitz, Lilliam Rivera, Laura Silverman, Amy Spalding, Rebecca Kim Wells, Natasha Ngan, Julian Winters, and more, to Britny Brooks at Running Press Kids, for publication in December 2021, by Eric Smith at P.S. Literary Agency (world).

Author of HAVE A LITTLE FAITH IN ME Sonia Hartl’s THE LOST GIRLS, about a girl who sets out for revenge against the undead ex-boyfriend who turned her into a vampire decades ago, then starts to fall for his mortal girlfriend, to Ashley Hearn at Page Street, for publication in fall 2021, by Rebecca Podos at Rees Literary Agency (world).

Jonny Garza Villa’s FIFTEEN HUNDRED MILES FROM THE SUN, an #OwnVoices debut pitched as SIMON VS. THE HOMO SAPIENS AGENDA meets One Day at a Time, about a Texas high school senior who accidentally comes out to the world on social media and must now juggle the joy of first love and fear of his socially conservative father finding out before he’s ready, to Carmen Johnson at Skyscape, at auction, by Claire Draper at The Bent Agency (world).

Nonfiction

Author of PEN/Diamonstein-Spielvogel Award and Lambda Literary Award-nominated essay collection MINE Sarah Viren‘s AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF SHADOWS, a dual narrative memoir about her coming-of-age and coming out in mid-’90s Florida under the tutelage of a conspiracy theorist high school teacher and her wife’s Title IX investigation as the result of false accusations leveled by a professional rival, as covered in the author’s viral New York Times Magazine essay, to Sally Howe at Scribner, in a pre-empt, by Matt McGowan at Frances Goldin Literary Agency (world English).

3 New April eBooks Under $5!

Sugar Summer by Hannah Moskowitz (f/f YA contemporary romance, $3.99)

Inked with a Kiss by Jennie Davids (f/f contemporary romance, $3.99)

Three to Love by Rebel Carter (m/m/f historical romance, $3.99)

All links are Amazon affiliate. Using them for your purchase earns a small percentage of income for the site.

Happy (Upcoming) Lesbian Day of Visibility!

This post only includes books that were not featured in last year’s post. For even more visibly lesbian goodness, check that one out too!

Books to Buy Now

The Stars and the Blackness Between Them by Junauda Petrus

petrusbookTrinidad. Sixteen-year-old Audre is despondent, having just found out she’s going to be sent to live in America with her father because her strictly religious mother caught her with her secret girlfriend, the pastor’s daughter. Audre’s grandmother Queenie (a former dancer who drives a white convertible Cadillac and who has a few secrets of her own) tries to reassure her granddaughter that she won’t lose her roots, not even in some place called Minneapolis. “America have dey spirits too, believe me,” she tells Audre.

Minneapolis. Sixteen-year-old Mabel is lying on her bed, staring at the ceiling and trying to figure out why she feels the way she feels–about her ex Terrell, about her girl Jada and that moment they had in the woods, and about the vague feeling of illness that’s plagued her all summer. Mabel’s reverie is cut short when her father announces that his best friend and his just-arrived-from-Trinidad daughter are coming for dinner.

Mabel quickly falls hard for Audre and is determined to take care of her as she tries to navigate an American high school. But their romance takes a turn when test results reveal exactly why Mabel has been feeling low-key sick all summer and suddenly it’s Audre who is caring for Mabel as she faces a deeply uncertain future.

Junauda Petrus’s debut brilliantly captures the distinctly lush and lyrical voices of Mabel and Audre as they conjure a love that is stronger than hatred, prison, and death and as vast as the blackness between the stars.

Buy it: Amazon | B&N | Indiebound

Sugar Summer by Hannah Moskowitz

Sugar Applebaum doesn’t hate the idea of spending a quiet summer at Sideling Springs, a sleepy Jewish resort in West Virginia, with her mother (who she adores) and her sister (who she does not), but she’s not exactly hyped about it. That is, until she crashes a staff party and meets Mara, the older, gorgeous, and acid-tongued dance instructor with very little patience for people with Sugar’s amount of privilege and supposed heterosexuality. But Mara’s dance partner, Tristan, is getting top surgery and can’t perform, and she needs a way to replace him without anyone noticing. Guess who’s the only volunteer?

Learning to look, dress, and, especially, dance like a boy means a lot of time with Mara, listening to her, arguing with her…touching her, and suddenly Sugar’s feeling things she thought were just in those sappy songs they have to dance to. But falling for a girl, especially one who doesn’t particularly seem to like her, was not in Sugar’s summer plans. What’s a girl to do?

SUGAR SUMMER is a lesbian retelling of the ’80s classic DIRTY DANCING, like you’ve never seen it before.

Buy it: Amazon

The Impossible Contract by K.A. Doore

Thana has a huge reputation to live up to as daughter of the Serpent, who rules over Ghadid’s secret clan of assassins. Opportunity to prove herself arrives when Thana accepts her first contract on Heru, a dangerous foreign diplomat with the ability to bind a person’s soul under his control.

She may be in over her head, especially when Heru is targeted by a rival sorcerer who sends hordes of the undead to attack them both. When Heru flees, Thana has no choice than to pursue him across the sands to the Empire that intends to capture Ghadid inside its iron grip.

A stranger in a strange city, Thana’s only ally is Mo, a healer who may be too noble for her own good. Meanwhile, otherworldly and political dangers lurk around every corner, and even more sinister plans are uncovered which could lead to worldwide devastation. Can Thana rise to the challenge—even if it means facing off against an ancient evil?

Buy it: Amazon | B&N | IndieBound

Late to the Party by Kelly Quindlen

Seventeen is nothing like Codi Teller imagined.

She’s never crashed a party, never stayed out too late. She’s never even been kissed. And it’s not just because she’s gay. It’s because she and her two best friends, Maritza and JaKory, spend more time in her basement watching Netflix than engaging with the outside world.

So when Maritza and JaKory suggest crashing a party, Codi is highly skeptical. Those parties aren’t for kids like them. They’re for cool kids. Straight kids.

But then Codi stumbles upon one of those cool kids, Ricky, kissing another boy in the dark, and an unexpected friendship is formed. In return for never talking about that kiss, Ricky takes Codi under his wing and draws her into a wild summer filled with late nights, new experiences, and one really cute girl named Lydia.

The only problem? Codi never tells Maritza or JaKory about any of it.

Buy it: B&N | Amazon | IndieBound

Back to September by Melissa Brayden

Hannah Shephard likes her life, her job, and her perfectly cozy apartment around the corner from her shop. She’s never been oneto take big risks and would much rather stay in on a Friday night with a warm cup of decaf and her favorite mystery novel, so why do her friends insist she needs more? Plus, Hannah has bigger problems to focus on. She’s in trouble. Well, her bookstore is, and if she doesn’t find a way to bring in some more cash, she’ll be closing the doors of A Likely Story for good.

When world famous romance novelist Parker Bristow accepts her request to come in for a signing, Hannah might finally be able to drum up some much-needed attention and save the shop. What she didn’t anticipate was an unexpected evening and a woman she wouldn’t soon forget. A real romance is off the table. Parker is flashy, sought after, and Hannah is just, well, Hannah. But for Parker, it seems like Hannah might be a safe place to fall. The question is, what kind of falling are they doing?

Buy it: Amazon

Music from Another World by Robin Talley

44786181. sy475 It’s summer 1977 and closeted lesbian Tammy Larson can’t be herself anywhere. Not at her strict Christian high school, not at her conservative Orange County church and certainly not at home, where her ultrareligious aunt relentlessly organizes antigay political campaigns. Tammy’s only outlet is writing secret letters in her diary to gay civil rights activist Harvey Milk…until she’s matched with a real-life pen pal who changes everything.

Sharon Hawkins bonds with Tammy over punk music and carefully shared secrets, and soon their letters become the one place she can be honest. The rest of her life in San Francisco is full of lies. The kind she tells for others—like helping her gay brother hide the truth from their mom—and the kind she tells herself. But as antigay fervor in America reaches a frightening new pitch, Sharon and Tammy must rely on their long-distance friendship to discover their deeply personal truths, what they’ll stand for…and who they’ll rise against.

Buy it: B&N | Amazon | IndieBound

Mangos and Mistletoe by Adriana Herrera

Kiskeya Burgos left the tropical beaches of the Dominican Republic with a lot to prove. As a pastry chef on the come up, when she arrives in Scotland, she has one goal in mind: win the Holiday Baking Challenge. Winning is her opportunity to prove to her family, her former boss, and most importantly herself, she can make it in the culinary world. Kiskeya will stop at nothing to win , that is, if she can keep her eyes on the prize and off her infuriating teammate’s perfect lips.

Sully Morales, home cooking hustler, and self-proclaimed baking brujita lands in Scotland on a quest to find her purpose after spending years as her family’s caregiver. But now, with her home life back on track, it’s time for Sully to get reacquainted with her greatest love, baking. Winning the Holiday Baking Challenge is a no brainer if she can convince her grumpy AF baking partner that they make a great team both in and out of the kitchen before an unexpected betrayal ends their chance to attain culinary competition glory.

Buy it: Amazon

Inked With a Kiss by Jennie Davids

Tattoo artist Jamie Winston is used to caring for others. Between her assistant manager position at a tattoo parlor, single-parenting her twelve-year-old daughter and supporting her alcoholic parents, Jamie rarely prioritizes her own needs—unless Sierra Clark is in her chair. The bubbly younger woman somehow manages to make Jamie feel like the carefree teenager she never got to be, making anything seem possible.

For Sierra, time with Jamie is a much-needed escape. She takes her work as a social worker seriously, but with budget cuts threatening her job, there’s a lot riding on the fund-raiser she’s planning with Jamie. The fact that it means working closely with the sexy older tattooist is a bonus—a deliciously tempting bonus. Sierra isn’t one for relationships, but she’s never felt such a strong desire to mix business with pleasure.

Sizzling chemistry quickly erodes Jamie’s fears of being too old for Sierra, but navigating a romance with someone who’s at such a different stage in life is no easy task. They’ve each come to rely on themselves more than anyone else, but having a future together will mean letting their guards down and accepting each other as a safe place to fall.

Buy it: Amazon | B&N

Dirty London by Kelley York

All London Noble wanted out of her senior year of high school was anonymity. The complete opposite of Jasmine, her emotionally unstable baby sister, London has worked hard to stay out of the spotlight.

Then she discovers that Wade, one of the most popular guys in school, is gay like her and their new-found closeness based around their shared secret has half the student body convinced they’re hooking up…and a lot of girls aren’t happy about it. Now she’s been dubbed “Dirty London.” Rumors are flying about her inability to keep her clothes on, and London is pretty sure she’s developing a crush on the one girl who sees through it all.

If she could admit why stealing boyfriends is the last thing on her mind—not to mention find out what’s going on with Jasmine and her rapidly disappearing psych medications—her life would be a much brighter place. But if her and Wade’s truth gets out, and if she doesn’t find a way to help her sister, London faces losing a lot more than her obscurity.

Buy it: Amazon | B&N

Books to Preorder

The Henna Wars by Adiba Jaigirdar (May 12th)

Nishat doesn’t want to lose her family, but she also doesn’t want to hide who she is, and it only gets harder once a childhood friend walks back into her life. Flávia is beautiful and charismatic, and Nishat falls for her instantly. But when a school competition invites students to create their own businesses, both Flávia and Nishat decide to showcase their talent as henna artists. In a fight to prove who is the best, their lives become more tangled―but Nishat can’t quite get rid of her crush, especially since Flávia seems to like her back.

As the competition heats up, Nishat has a decision to make: stay in the closet for her family, or put aside her differences with Flávia and give their relationship a chance.

Buy it: Amazon | B&N | IndieBound

This Coven Won’t Break by Isabel Sterling (May 19th)

Hannah Walsh just wants a normal life. It’s her senior year, so she should be focusing on classes, hanging out with her best friend, and flirting with her new girlfriend, Morgan. But it turns out surviving a murderous Witch Hunter doesn’t exactly qualify as a summer vacation, and now the rest of the Hunters seem more intent on destroying her magic than ever.

When Hannah learns the Hunters have gone nationwide, armed with a serum capable of taking out entire covens at once, she’s desperate to help. Now, with witches across the country losing the most important thing they have—their power—Hannah could be their best shot at finally defeating the Hunters. After all, she’s one of the only witches to escape a Hunter with her magic intact.

Or so everyone believes. Because as good as she is at faking it, doing even the smallest bit of magic leaves her in agony. The only person who can bring her comfort, who can make her power flourish, is Morgan. But Morgan’s magic is on the line, too, and if Hannah can’t figure out how to save her—and the rest of the Witches—she’ll lose everything she’s ever known. And as the Hunters get dangerously close to their final target, will all the Witches in Salem be enough to stop an enemy determined to destroy magic for good?

Buy it: Amazon | B&N | IndieBound

The Girl Next Door by Chelsea M. Cameron (May 26th)

Iris Turner hightailed it out of Salty Cove, Maine, without so much as a backward glance. Which is why finding herself back in her hometown—in her childhood bedroom, no less—has the normally upbeat Iris feeling a bit down and out. Her spirits get a much-needed lift, though, at the sight of the sexy girl next door.

No one knows why Jude Wicks is back in Salty Cove, and that’s just how she likes it. Jude never imagined she’d be once again living in her parents’ house, never mind hauling lobster like a local. But the solitude is just what she needs—until Iris tempts her to open up.

A no-strings summer fling seems like the perfect distraction for both women. Jude rides a motorcycle, kisses hard and gives Iris the perfect distraction from her tangled mess of a life. But come September, Iris is still determined to get out of this zero-stoplight town.

That is, unless Jude can give her a reason to stay…

Buy it: Amazon | B&N

Something to Talk About by Meryl Wilsner (May 26th)

Hollywood powerhouse Jo is photographed making her assistant Emma laugh on the red carpet, and just like that, the tabloids declare them a couple. The so-called scandal couldn’t come at a worse time–threatening Emma’s promotion and Jo’s new movie.

As the gossip spreads, it starts to affect all areas of their lives. Paparazzi are following them outside the office, coworkers are treating them differently, and a “source” is feeding information to the media. But their only comment is “no comment”.

With the launch of Jo’s film project fast approaching, the two women begin to spend even more time together, getting along famously. Emma seems to have a sixth sense for knowing what Jo needs. And Jo, known for being aloof and outwardly cold, opens up to Emma in a way neither of them expects. They begin to realize the rumor might not be so off base after all…but is acting on the spark between them worth fanning the gossip flames?

Buy it: Amazon | B&N | IndieBound

The Falling in Love Montage by Ciara Smyth (June 9th)

Saoirse doesn’t believe in love at first sight. She definitely doesn’t believe in happy endings. If they were real, her mother would still be able to remember her name. She wouldn’t be in a care home with early onset dementia, a condition Saoirse may one day develop herself. So Saoirse isn’t looking for a relationship. She doesn’t see the point.

But Saoirse is about to break her own rules. For a girl with one blue freckle, an irresistible sense of mischief, and a passion for rom-coms.

Unbothered by Saoirse’s no-relationships rulebook, Ruby proposes a loophole. They don’t need true love to have one summer of fun, complete with every cliché, rom-com montage-worthy date they can dream up—and a binding agreement to end their romance come fall.

It would be the perfect plan . . . if they weren’t forgetting one thing about the Falling in Love Montage: when it’s over, the characters have fallen in love for real.

Buy it: Amazon | B&N | IndieBound

The Care and Feeding of Waspish Widows by Olivia Waite (July 28th)

When Agatha Griffin finds a colony of bees in her warehouse, it’s the not-so-perfect ending to a not-so-perfect week. Busy trying to keep her printing business afloat amidst rising taxes and the suppression of radical printers like her son, the last thing the widow wants is to be the victim of a thousand bees. But when a beautiful beekeeper arrives to take care of the pests, Agatha may be in danger of being stung by something far more dangerous…

Penelope Flood exists between two worlds in her small seaside town, the society of rich landowners and the tradesfolk.  Soon, tensions boil over when the formerly exiled Queen arrives on England’s shores—and when Penelope’s long-absent husband returns to Melliton, she once again finds herself torn, between her burgeoning love for Agatha and her loyalty to the man who once gave her refuge.

As Penelope finally discovers her true place, Agatha must learn to accept the changing world in front of her. But will these longing hearts settle for a safe but stale existence or will they learn to fight for the future they most desire?

Buy it: Amazon | B&N | IndieBound

Hairpin Curves by Elia Winters (August 3rd)

Megan Harris had hopes of seeing the world, but at twenty-five she’s never even left Florida. Now a wedding invitation lures her to Quebec…in February. When her ex-friend Scarlett offers to be her plus-one (yeah, that’s a whole story) and suggests they turn the journey into an epic road trip, Megan reluctantly agrees to the biggest adventure of her life.

A week together in a car is a surefire way to kill a crush, and Scarlett Andrews has had a big one on Megan for years. The important thing is fixing their friendship.

As the miles roll away, what starts as harmless road-trip games and rest-stop dares escalates into something like intimacy. And when a surprise snowstorm forces Megan and Scarlett to hunker down without the open road as distraction, they’ve got a bigger challenge than making it to the church on time: facing the true nature of their feelings for each other.

Buy it: Amazon | B&N

The Art of Saving the World by Corinne Duyvis (September 15th)

When Hazel Stanczak was born, an interdimensional rift tore open near her family’s home, which prompted immediate government attention. They soon learned that if Hazel strayed too far, the rift would become volatile and fling things from other dimensions onto their front lawn—or it could swallow up their whole town. As a result, Hazel has never left her small Pennsylvania town, and the government agents garrisoned on her lawn make sure it stays that way. On her sixteenth birthday, though, the rift spins completely out of control. Hazel comes face-to-face with a surprise: a second Hazel. Then another. And another. Three other Hazels from three different dimensions! Now, for the first time, Hazel has to step into the world to learn about her connection to the rift—and how to close it. But is Hazel—even more than one of her—really capable of saving the world?

Buy it: Amazon | B&N | IndieBound

Books to Add to Your TBR

Lesbian Books Featured on the Site

 

Fave Five: Queer YA Takes on Shakespeare

As I Descended by Robin Talley (Macbeth)

The Last True Poets of the Sea by Julia Drake (Twelfth Night)

Nothing Happened by Molly Booth (Much Ado About Nothing)

Death Prefers Blondes by Caleb Roehrig (Hamlet)

That Way Madness Lies ed. by Dahlia Adler (an anthology containing a number of queer retellings)

New Releases: April 2020

Note: As you may have noticed, a lot of pub dates are doing some last-minute changes due to the global pandemic. We’re doing our best to keep up with the moves but the photo collage was made far in advance and does not reflect the most up-to-date pub schedules. (It’s possible the post does not either, but it’s certainly a closer fit.)

All Amazon, Indiebound, and Bookshop links are affiliate links. Purchasing through these links brings a small percentage of income back to the site, so please do!

Check, Please!, Book 2: Sticks and Scones by Ngozi Ukazu (7th)

Bitty is heading to junior year of college and though he has overcome his fear of getting ‘checked’ on the ice, he and Jack now face new challenges. They must navigate their new relationship while being apart and also decide how they want to reveal their relationship to those around them. Not only that, but Jack and the Falconers are now a big part of the NHL—and Bitty’s life! It’s a hockey season filled with victories and losses.

A collection of the second half of the mega-popular webcomic series of the same name, Check, Please!: Sticks and Scones is the last in a hilarious and stirring two-volume coming-of-age story about hockey, bros, and trying to find yourself during the best four years of your life.

Buy it: B&N | Amazon | IndieBound

Girl Crushed by Katie Heaney (7th)

Before Quinn Ryan was in love with Jamie Rudawski, she loved Jamie Rudawski, who was her best friend. But when Jamie dumps Quinn a month before their senior year, Quinn is suddenly girlfriend-less and best friend-less.

Enter a new crush: Ruby Ocampo, the gorgeous and rich lead singer of the popular band Sweets, who’s just broken up with her on-again, off-again boyfriend. Quinn’s always only wanted to be with Jamie, but if Jamie no longer wants to be with her, why can’t Quinn go all in on her crush on Ruby? But the closer Quinn grows to Ruby, the more she misses Jamie, and the more (she thinks) Jamie misses her. Who says your first love can’t be your second love, too?

Buy it: B&N | Amazon | IndieBound

The Sword in the Stars by Amy Rose Capetta and Cori McCarthy (7th)

This is the sequel to Once & Future

36233087. sy475 In this epic sequel to Once & Future, to save the future, Ari and her Rainbow knights pull off a heist…thousands of years in the past.

Ari Helix may have won her battle against the tyrannical Mercer corporation, but the larger war has just begun. Ari and her cursed wizard Merlin must travel back in time to the unenlightened Middle Ages and steal the King Arthur’s Grail—the very definition of impossible.

It’s imperative that the time travelers not skew the timeline and alter the course of history. Coming face-to-face with the original Arthurian legend could produce a ripple effect that changes everything. Somehow Merlin forgot that the past can be even more dangerous than the future…

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Bonds of Brass by Emily Skrutskie (7th)

A young pilot risks everything to save his best friend–the man he trusts most and might even love–only to learn that he’s secretly the heir to a brutal galactic empire.

Ettian Nassun’s life was shattered when the merciless Umber Empire invaded. He’s spent seven years putting himself back together under its rule, joining an Umber military academy and becoming the best pilot in his class. Even better, he’s met Gal Veres–his exasperating and infuriatingly enticing roommate who’s made the Academy feel like a new home.

But when dozens of classmates spring an assassination plot on Gal, a devastating secret comes to light: Gal is the heir to the Umber Empire. Ettian barely manages to save his best friend and flee the compromised Academy unscathed, rattled both that Gal stands to inherit the empire that broke him and that there are still people willing to fight back against Umber rule. As they piece together a way to deliver Gal safely to his throne, Ettian finds himself torn in half by an impossible choice. Does he save the man who’s won his heart and trust that Gal’s goodness could transform the empire? Or does he throw his lot in with the brewing rebellion and fight to take back what’s rightfully theirs?

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Somebody Told Me by Mia Siegert (7th)

After an assault, bigender seventeen-year-old Aleks/Alexis is looking for a fresh start―so they voluntarily move in with their uncle, a Catholic priest. In their new bedroom, Aleks/Alexis discovers they can overhear parishioners in the church confessional. Moved by the struggles of these “sinners,” Aleks/Alexis decides to anonymously help them, finding solace in their secret identity: a guardian angel instead of a victim.

But then Aleks/Alexis overhears a confession of another priest admitting to sexually abusing a parishioner. As they try to uncover the priest’s identity before he hurts anyone again, Aleks/Alexis is also forced to confront their own abuser and come to terms with their past trauma.

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The Truth About Keeping Secrets by Savannah Brown (7th)

This is the US release of the 2019 UK YA title

Sydney’s dad is the only psychiatrist for miles around their small Ohio town.

He is also unexpectedly dead.

Is Sydney crazy, or is it kind of weird that her dad-a guy whose entire job revolved around other peoples’ secrets-crashed alone, with no explanation?

And why is June Copeland, homecoming queen and the town’s golden child, at his funeral?

As the two girls grow closer in the wake of the accident, it’s clear that not everyone is happy about their new friendship.

But what is picture perfect June still hiding? And does Sydney even want to know?

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Indigo by Ellen Bass (7th)

Indigo, the newest collection by Ellen Bass, merges elegy and praise poem in an exploration of life’s complex grey areas. Whether her subject is oysters, high heels, a pork chop, a beloved dog, or a wife’s return to health, Bass pulls us in with exquisite immediacy. Her lush and precisely observed descriptions allow us to feel the sheer primal pleasure of being alive in our own “succulent skin,” the pleasure of the gifts of hunger, desire, touch. In this book, joy meets regret, devotion meets dependence, and most importantly, the poet so in love with life and living begins to look for the point where the price of aging overwhelms the rewards of staying alive. Bass is relentless in her advocacy for the little pleasures all around her. Her gaze is both expansive and hyperfocused, celebrating (and eulogizing) each gift as it is given and taken, while also taking stock of the larger arc. She draws the lines between generations, both remembering her parents’ lives and deaths and watching her own children grow into the space that she will leave behind. Indigo shows us the beauty of this cycle, while also documenting the deeply human urge to resist change and hang on to the life we have, even as it attempts to slip away.

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Ruthless Gods by Emily Duncan (7th)

This is the sequel to Wicked Saints

Nadya doesn’t trust her magic anymore. Serefin is fighting off a voice in his head that doesn’t belong to him. Malachiasz is at war with who–and what–he’s become.

As their group is continually torn apart, the girl, the prince, and the monster find their fates irrevocably intertwined. They’re pieces on a board, being orchestrated by someone… or something. The voices that Serefin hears in the darkness, the ones that Nadya believes are her gods, the ones that Malachiasz is desperate to meet—those voices want a stake in the world, and they refuse to stay quiet any longer.

In her dramatic follow-up to Wicked Saints, the first book in her Something Dark and Holy trilogy, Emily A. Duncan paints a Gothic, icy world where shadows whisper, and no one is who they seem, with a shocking ending that will leave you breathless.

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Diary of a Drag Queen by Crystal Rasmussen with Tom Rasmussen (14th)

A cocktail-spitting, norm-pinching dive into everyday queer life in the twenty-first century—a hilarious, moving memoir

Life’s a drag . . . Why not be a queen?

When you peel off the sequins and lashes, wipe away the lipstick and mascara, open your heart and your eyes—what does the life of a drag queen really look like? Crystal (and Tom) Rasmussen tell all in this outrageous, raunchy, moving, naked (in more ways than one) memoir about life on and off the stage.

Born into a loving working-class family in northern England, Crystal finds her way to London, to a coveted, soul-crushing job in New York fashion, and back again. Searching for good sex, good stories, and “the one,” she shags men of all kinds from all sorts of platforms, sells cider to tourists, and performs with her college drag band, DENIM. She learns about true love from her mum and falls in love with her best friend. Charting her day-to-day adventures over the course of a year, we encounter tucks, twists, and unfiltered sexy bits, heinous overspending, body shame and self-love, and endless nights sprinting from snag to snafu in a full face of makeup.

In these pages the previously unspeakable becomes the everyday and the celebrated, and Crystal makes sure we feel every single thing along the way. A full-hearted, full-throated, full-disclosure portrayal of the queer experience that makes you laugh and cry and wish for understanding, Diary of a Drag Queen is a dazzling, true performance of a real, flawed, extraordinary life.

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Inked with a Kiss by Jennie Davids (13th)

Tattoo artist Jamie Winston is used to caring for others. Between her assistant manager position at a tattoo parlor, single-parenting her twelve-year-old daughter and supporting her alcoholic parents, Jamie rarely prioritizes her own needs—unless Sierra Clark is in her chair. The bubbly younger woman somehow manages to make Jamie feel like the carefree teenager she never got to be, making anything seem possible.

For Sierra, time with Jamie is a much-needed escape. She takes her work as a social worker seriously, but with budget cuts threatening her job, there’s a lot riding on the fund-raiser she’s planning with Jamie. The fact that it means working closely with the sexy older tattooist is a bonus—a deliciously tempting bonus. Sierra isn’t one for relationships, but she’s never felt such a strong desire to mix business with pleasure.

Sizzling chemistry quickly erodes Jamie’s fears of being too old for Sierra, but navigating a romance with someone who’s at such a different stage in life is no easy task. They’ve each come to rely on themselves more than anyone else, but having a future together will mean letting their guards down and accepting each other as a safe place to fall.

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Confessions of a Gay Priest by Tom Rastrelli (15th)

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Late to the Party by Kelly Quindlen (21st)

Seventeen is nothing like Codi Teller imagined.

She’s never crashed a party, never stayed out too late. She’s never even been kissed. And it’s not just because she’s gay. It’s because she and her two best friends, Maritza and JaKory, spend more time in her basement watching Netflix than engaging with the outside world.

So when Maritza and JaKory suggest crashing a party, Codi is highly skeptical. Those parties aren’t for kids like them. They’re for cool kids. Straight kids.

But then Codi stumbles upon one of those cool kids, Ricky, kissing another boy in the dark, and an unexpected friendship is formed. In return for never talking about that kiss, Ricky takes Codi under his wing and draws her into a wild summer filled with late nights, new experiences, and one really cute girl named Lydia.

The only problem? Codi never tells Maritza or JaKory about any of it.

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Rick by Alex Gino (21st)

Rick’s never questioned much. He’s gone along with his best friend Jeff even when Jeff’s acted like a bully and a jerk. He’s let his father joke with him about which hot girls he might want to date even though that kind of talk always makes him uncomfortable. And he hasn’t given his own identity much thought, because everyone else around him seemed to have figured it out.

But now Rick’s gotten to middle school, and new doors are opening. One of them leads to the school’s Rainbow Spectrum club, where kids of many genders and identities congregate, including Melissa, the girl who sits in front of Rick in class and seems to have her life together. Rick wants his own life to be that … understood. Even if it means breaking some old friendships and making some new ones.

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Verona Comics by Jennifer Dugan (21st)

april18Jubilee has it all together. She’s an elite cellist, and when she’s not working in her stepmom’s indie comic shop, she’s prepping for the biggest audition of her life.

Ridley is barely holding it together. His parents own the biggest comic-store chain in the country, and Ridley can’t stop disappointing them–that is, when they’re even paying attention.

They meet one fateful night at a comic convention prom, and the two can’t help falling for each other. Too bad their parents are at each other’s throats every chance they get, making a relationship between them nearly impossible . . . unless they manage to keep it a secret.

Then again, the feud between their families may be the least of their problems. As Ridley’s anxiety spirals, Jubilee tries to help but finds her focus torn between her fast-approaching audition and their intensifying relationship. What if love can’t conquer all? What if each of them needs more than the other can give?

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Non-Binary Lives: An Anthology of Intersecting Identities ed. by Jos Twist, Ben Vincent, Meg-John Barker, Kat Gupta (21st)

What does it mean to be non-binary in the 21st Century? Our gender identity is impacted by our personal histories; the cultures, communities and countries we are born into; and the places we go and the people we meet. But the representation of contemporary non-binary identities has been limited, until now. Pushing the narrative around non-binary identities further than ever before, this powerful collection of essays represents the breadth of non-binary lives, across the boundaries of race, class, age, sexuality, faith and more. Leading non-binary people share stories of their intersecting lives; how it feels to be non-binary and neurodiverse, the challenges of being a non-binary pregnant person, what it means to be non-binary within the Quaker community, the joy of reaching gender euphoria. This thought-provoking anthology shows that there is no right or wrong way to be non-binary.

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The Deck of Omens by Christine Lynn Herman (21st)

This is the sequel to The Devouring Grey

The teenagers of Four Paths must save their home.

Though the Beast is seemingly subdued for now, a new threat looms in Four Paths: a corruption seeping from the Gray into the forest. And with the other Founders preoccupied by their tangled alliances and fraying relationships, only May Hawthorne seems to realize the danger. But saving the town she loves means seeking aid from the person her family despises most–her and Justin’s father.

May’s father isn’t the only newcomer in town–Isaac Sullivan’s older brother has also returned, seeking forgiveness for the role he played in Isaac’s troubled past. But Isaac isn’t ready to let go of his family’s history, especially when that history might hold the key that he and Violet Saunders need to destroy the Gray and the monster within it.

Harper Carlisle isn’t ready to forgive, either. Two devastating betrayals have left her isolated from her family and uncertain who to trust. As the corruption becomes impossible to ignore, Harper must learn to control her newfound powers in order to protect Four Paths. But the only people who can help her do that are the ones who have hurt her the most.

With the veil between the Gray and the town growing ever thinner, all of the Founder descendants must put their grievances with one another aside to stop the corruption and kill the Beast once and for all.

But maybe the monster they truly need to slay has never been the Beast…

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Swimming in the Dark by Tomasz Jedrowski (28th)

When university student Ludwik meets Janusz at a summer agricultural camp, he is fascinated yet wary of this handsome, carefree stranger. But a chance meeting by the river soon becomes an intense, exhilarating, and all-consuming affair. After their camp duties are fulfilled, the pair spend a dreamlike few weeks camping in the countryside, bonding over an illicit copy of James Baldwin’s Giovanni’s Room. Inhabiting a beautiful natural world removed from society and its constraints, Ludwik and Janusz fall deeply in love. But in their repressive communist and Catholic society, the passion they share is utterly unthinkable.

Once they return to Warsaw, the charismatic Janusz quickly rises in the political ranks of the party and is rewarded with a highly-coveted position in the ministry. Ludwik is drawn toward impulsive acts of protest, unable to ignore rising food prices and the stark economic disparity around them. Their secret love and personal and political differences slowly begin to tear them apart as both men struggle to survive in a regime on the brink of collapse.

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All Boys Aren’t Blue by George M. Johnson (28th)

39834234. sy475 In a series of personal essays, prominent journalist and LGBTQIA+ activist George M. Johnson explores his childhood, adolescence, and college years in New Jersey and Virginia. From the memories of getting his teeth kicked out by bullies at age five, to flea marketing with his loving grandmother, to his first sexual relationships, this young-adult memoir weaves together the trials and triumphs faced by Black queer boys.

Both a primer for teens eager to be allies as well as a reassuring testimony for young queer men of color, All Boys Aren’t Blue covers topics such as gender identity, toxic masculinity, brotherhood, family, structural marginalization, consent, and Black joy. Johnson’s emotionally frank style of writing will appeal directly to young adults.

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The Knockout Queen by Rupi Thorpe (28th)

Bunny Lampert is the princess of North Shore⁠—beautiful, tall, blond, with a rich real-estate-developer father and a swimming pool in her backyard. Michael⁠⁠—with a ponytail down his back and a septum piercing⁠—lives with his aunt in the cramped stucco cottage next door. When Bunny catches Michael smoking in her yard, he discovers that her life is not as perfect as it seems. At six foot three, Bunny towers over their classmates. Even as she dreams of standing out and competing in the Olympics, she is desperate to fit in, to seem normal, and to get a boyfriend, all while hiding her father’s escalating alcoholism. Michael has secrets of his own. At home and at school Michael pretends to be straight, but at night he tries to understand himself by meeting men online for anonymous encounters that both thrill and scare him. When Michael falls in love for the first time, a vicious strain of gossip circulates and a terrible, brutal act becomes the defining feature of both his and Bunny’s futures⁠⁠—and of their friendship.

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Queer Speculative Aotearoa New Zealand: a Guest Post by AJ Fitzwater

Today on the site I’m delighted to welcome author AJ Fitzwater, author of the very queer fantasy short story collection The Voyages of Cinrak The Dapper, which releases today from Queen of Swords Press! Here’s a little more on the book:

Cinrak the Dapper is a keeper of secrets, a righter of wrongs, the saltiest capybara on the sea and a rider of both falling stars and a great glass whale. Join her, her beloveds, the rat Queen Orvilia and the marmot diva Loquolchi, lead soprano of the Theatre Rat-oyal, her loyal cabin kit, Benj the chinchilla, and Agnes, last of the great krakens, as they hunt for treasures of all kinds and find adventures beyond their wildest dreams. Let Sir Julius Vogel Award-winning storyteller A.J. Fitzwater take you on a glorious journey about finding yourself, discovering true love and exploring the greatest secrets of the deep. Also, dapperness.

Buy it!

***

And here’s AJ to talk about queer speculative fiction of Aotearoa New Zealand!

Aotearoa New Zealand may be a small country (current population approx. 4.5 million), but our literary history is unique and strong.

The queer speculative of Aotearoa New Zealand is a niche within a niche. Where it’s come from and where it’s heading (like all star gazers, we have multiple understandings of our past and future) is a cloak woven with the threads of colonialism, indigeneity, race, and marginalization.

Aotearoa New Zealand’s colonial history carries many parallels to other lands claimed by the British Empire. We inherited their hetero-patriarchal religions, laws, and social sensibilities. Like many countries, our queer people were paraded in front of the courts and people as freaks, deviants, and society destroyers. Our history survived in the underground and in enclaves, through activism, oral storytelling and perseverance.

Our queer heroes include Carmen Rupe, a drag artist, activist, sex worker, and club owner who ran a safe space coffee lounge in Wellington back in the 60s and 70s; Georgina Beyer, the first transgender mayor in the world; Richard O’Brien, Rocky Horror creator; and Marilyn Waring, MP, activist, and economist. Since the turn of the century, we’ve had a great crop of MPs working hard on Rainbow Politics, like Louisa Wall, Jan Logie, Chris Carter, Tim Barnett, and Chris Finlayson. Our historic watersheds are the decriminalization of homosexuality in 1986 (a campaign that began back in the 60s) in the midst of the AIDS crisis, the first Hero Parade in 1991, and the passing of Marriage Equality in 2013. Our current legal battles include trans rights in multiple sectors, like inclusive language, employment, health care (standard, gender affirmative, and mental health), prison reform, and gender changes on official documents.

With the weight of history, the rich living cultures of Māori, Pasifika, and multiple cultures and ethnicities, a secular society, a sea-locked geography that often gives us a cut-off dystopian feel, and walking arm-in-arm with those who paved the way, we can begin to understand what’s different about our literature.

Many early century queer authors wrote in the closet, like Frank Sargeson, and we’re still coming to grips with the lost history of suppressed voices. Voices who led the charge into the 21st century include Witi Ihimaera, Renée, and Ngahuia Te Awekotuku, often working across multiple disciplines.

So now I’ve given you a little bit of our queer history and landscape, I can talk about who is creating our speculative narratives, the people picking up the threads, reweaving, and sharing a new spread of stories, sensibilities, and hope.

Academic, activist and historian Ngahuia Te Awekotuku has spent more than 50 years immersed in multiple strands of Māori culture and queer rights. Two of her sectors of interest were researching and revising pre-colonial Māori stories of women’s power and sexuality and gender. This produced the great collection Ruahine: Mythic Women (2003, Huia Publishers).

Everyone is gushing about Tamsyn Muir’s lesbian necromancer epic Gideon the Ninth (Tor, 2019), and quite rightly so. Like many local creatives who work on the big publishing stage, she works from an overseas base, but still claims Aotearoa New Zealand as a home.

Working in the YA sector, Karen Healey is the award winning author of Guardian of the Dead (2010, Allen and Unwin), The Shattering (2011, Allen and Unwin), When We Wake (2013, Allen and Unwin) and While We Run (2014, Allen and Unwin), and as a teacher in Christchurch tends to the hearts and souls of the next generation of authors. There’s also up-and-coming poet and YA author Alexander Te Pohe, who created Ruru Reads,  a site for publishing work from PoC and Indigenous people; a great site in it’s time, Alec has now moved on to fully focus on their writing career.

What does Aotearoa New Zealand’s urban fantasy taste like? Check out Rem Wigmore’s The Wind City (2013, Steam Press), which, as it’s title suggests, brings to life all that makes Wellington interesting. Jamie Sands has a flair for romantic fantasy, including The Suburban Book of the Dead (2018, self published), and the Fairyland Romances series (Self Published).

Author and trans rights activist Caitlin Spice has a versatile story telling voice, just as much at home writing dark fantasy and horror in the short story collection The Silver Path (2017, Mungfish Publishing), as co-authoring the fairy tales Promised Land (2017), Maiden Voyage (2018), and Raven Wild (2019), for LGBTQ children.

Writing aromantic Chinese fairy tales is Michelle Kan, including Come Drink With Me (2019), Gold and Jasper (2019), and East Flows the River (2020, Fish and Swallow). Under her Fish and Swallow Productions company, she also creates independent film, documentary, and online content.

Author of The Dawnhounds (2019, Little Hook Press), Sascha Stronach describes the book as “beserk, witchy, LBGTQ+ mycopunk”. If you like weird and cool and gritty, this is the book for you.

Writing across disciplines is Darusha Wehm. A well travelled creative, Darusha does everything from short stories to games to podcasts to interactive fiction to novellas and novels. They’re just as eclectic in their genres, including cyberpunk, future detective, and political sci-fi. Check out Children of Arkadia (2015, Bundoran Press),   The Voyage of the White Cloud (2018, in potentia press), and the Andersson Dexter series.

Aotearoa New Zealand’s speculative scene isn’t just about literature. FafSwag is a collective of indigenous creators, producing ballrooms, dance, costume, theatre, film, and art with a decidedly futurist bent. And creating comics is Jem Yoshioka with the queer romantic sci-fi webcomic Circuits and Veins.

In short fiction, you’ll find author and editor Andi C. Buchanan. Their novella From a Shadow Grave (2019, Paper Road Press) is a ghost story set in Wellington taking an innovative approach to split narratives; their short stories can be found in a variety of venues, including Fireside Magazine, Apex Magazine, and GlitterShip; and they are also the editor of the speculative magazine Capricious.

And there’s me. There’s my short collection The Voyage of Cinrak the Dapper (2020, Queen of Swords Press) about a lesbian capybara pirate and her found family, and my novella No Man’s Land (June 2020, Paper Road Press) about shape shifting land girls in WW2. I’ve also been published in magazines such as Clarkesworld, Beneath Ceaseless Skies, Fireside Fiction, and Shimmer.

This is just a taster of Aotearoa New Zealand’s speculative creative output. Once you look into one, you fall down the rabbit hole of many.

***

AJ Fitzwater lives between the cracks of Christchurch, New Zealand. Their work focuses on feminist and queer themes, and has appeared in venues of repute such as Clarkesworld, Beneath Ceaseless Skies, Shimmer, Giganotosaurus, GlitterShip, and in various anthologies. They are the author of rodent pirate escapades in The Voyages of Cinrak the Dapper, and the WW2 land girls shape-shifter novella No Man’s Land. With a background in radio, AJ lends their voice to podcast narrations, including for the Escape Artists universe. They enjoy maintaining a collection of bow ties. A unicorn disguised in a snappy blazer, they tweet @AJFitzwater

New Release Spotlight: Somebody Told Me by Mia Siegert

Out on April 7th, this intense contemporary I’d argue borders on thriller has traditional publishing’s first bigender MC, and we love a new trad pub milestone in this house! Check it out:

Somebody Told Me by Mia Siegert

After an assault, bigender seventeen-year-old Aleks/Alexis is looking for a fresh start―so they voluntarily move in with their uncle, a Catholic priest. In their new bedroom, Aleks/Alexis discovers they can overhear parishioners in the church confessional. Moved by the struggles of these “sinners,” Aleks/Alexis decides to anonymously help them, finding solace in their secret identity: a guardian angel instead of a victim.

But then Aleks/Alexis overhears a confession of another priest admitting to sexually abusing a parishioner. As they try to uncover the priest’s identity before he hurts anyone again, Aleks/Alexis is also forced to confront their own abuser and come to terms with their past trauma.

Buy it: Amazon | B&N | IndieBound

 

Happy Trans Day of Visibility!

Books to Read Now

Pet by Akwaeke Emezi

emezibookPet is here to hunt a monster.
Are you brave enough to look?

There are no more monsters anymore, or so the children in the city of Lucille are taught. With doting parents and a best friend named Redemption, Jam has grown up with this lesson all her life. But when she meets Pet, a creature made of horns and colours and claws, who emerges from one of her mother’s paintings and a drop of Jam’s blood, she must reconsider what she’s been told. Pet has come to hunt a monster, and the shadow of something grim lurks in Redemption’s house. Jam must fight not only to protect her best friend, but also to uncover the truth, and the answer to the question-How do you save the world from monsters if no one will admit they exist?

Buy it: Amazon | B&N | Indiebound

Birthday by Meredith Russo

BIRTHDAY Meredith Russo

ERIC: There was the day we were born. There was the minute Morgan and I decided we were best friends for life. The years where we stuck by each other’s side―as Morgan’s mom died, as he moved across town, as I joined the football team, as my parents started fighting. But sometimes I worry that Morgan and I won’t be best friends forever. That there’ll be a day, a minute, a second, where it all falls apart and there’s no turning back the clock.

MORGAN: I know that every birthday should feel like a new beginning, but I’m trapped in this mixed-up body, in this wrong life, in Nowheresville, Tennessee, on repeat. With a dad who cares about his football team more than me, a mom I miss more than anything, and a best friend who can never know my biggest secret. Maybe one day I’ll be ready to become the person I am inside. To become her. To tell the world. To tell Eric. But when?

Six years of birthdays reveal Eric and Morgan’s destiny as they come together, drift apart, fall in love, and discover who they’re meant to be―and if they’re meant to be together. From the award-winning author of If I Was Your Girl, Meredith Russo, comes a heart-wrenching and universal story of identity, first love, and fate.

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When Aidan Became a Brother by Kyle Lukoff, ill. by Kaylani Juanita

WHEN AIDAN BECAME A BROTHER Kyle Lukoff

When Aidan was born, everyone thought he was a girl. His parents gave him a pretty name, his room looked like a girl’s room, and he wore clothes that other girls liked wearing. After he realized he was a trans boy, Aidan and his parents fixed the parts of his life that didn’t fit anymore, and he settled happily into his new life.

Then Mom and Dad announce that they’re going to have another baby, and Aidan wants to do everything he can to make things right for his new sibling from the beginning–from choosing the perfect name to creating a beautiful room to picking out the cutest onesie. But what does “making things right” actually mean? And what happens if he messes up? With a little help, Aidan comes to understand that mistakes can be fixed with honesty and communication, and that he already knows the most important thing about being a big brother: how to love with his whole self.

When Aidan Became a Brother is a heartwarming book that will resonate with transgender children, reassure any child concerned about becoming an older sibling, and celebrate the many transitions a family can experience.

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Little Fish by Casey Plett

LITTLE FISH Casey Plett

In this extraordinary debut novel by the author of the Lambda Literary Award-winning story collection A Safe Girl to Love, Wendy Reimer is a thirty-year-old trans woman who comes across evidence that her late grandfather—a devout Mennonite farmer—might have been transgender himself. At first she dismisses this revelation, having other problems at hand, but as she and her friends struggle to cope with the challenges of their increasingly volatile lives—from alcoholism, to sex work, to suicide—Wendy is drawn to the lost pieces of her grandfather’s life, becoming determined to unravel the mystery of his truth. Alternately warm-hearted and dark-spirited, desperate and mirthful, Little Fish explores the winter of discontent in the life of one transgender woman as her past and future become irrevocably entwined.

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I’ve Got a Time Bomb by Sybil Lamb

I'VE GOT A TIME BOMB Sybil Lamb

On her way home from a gay wedding, Sybil’s eponymous protagonist is ambushed, beaten, and left for dead on the train tracks. Days later, Sybil awakens in a hospital and finds her skull has been reconstructed, but it quickly becomes clear that her version of “normal” and “reality” may have been permanently altered. When she falls in love with a very beautiful, but very married, actress, Sybil does what comes naturally: she presents the object of her affection with a homemade explosive device, and then abruptly leaves town.

I’ve Got A Time Bomb chronicles her surrealistic journey living among the loners, losers, and leave-behinds in the dark corners of Amerika.

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The Seep by Chana Porter

THE SEEP Chana PorterTrina Goldberg-Oneka is a fifty-year-old trans woman whose life is irreversibly altered in the wake of a gentle—but nonetheless world-changing—invasion by an alien entity called The Seep. Through The Seep, everything is connected. Capitalism falls, hierarchies and barriers are broken down; if something can be imagined, it is possible.

Trina and her wife, Deeba, live blissfully under The Seep’s utopian influence—until Deeba begins to imagine what it might be like to be reborn as a baby, which will give her the chance at an even better life. Using Seeptech to make this dream a reality, Deeba moves on to a new existence, leaving Trina devastated.

Heartbroken and deep into an alcoholic binge, Trina follows a lost boy she encounters, embarking on an unexpected quest. In her attempt to save him from The Seep, she will confront not only one of its most avid devotees, but the terrifying void that Deeba has left behind. A strange new elegy of love and loss, The Seep explores grief, alienation, and the ache of moving on.

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The Brilliant Death by Amy Rose Capetta

THE BRILLIANT DEATH Amy Rose Capetta

Teodora di Sangro is used to hiding her magical ability to transform enemies into music boxes and mirrors. Nobody knows she’s a strega—and she aims to keep it that way.

The she meets Cielo—and everything changes.

A strega who can switch outward form as effortlessly as turning a page in a book, Cielo shows Teodora what her life could be like if she masters the power she’s been keeping secret. And not a moment too soon:  the ruler of Vinalia has poisoned the patriarchs of the country’s five controlling families, including Teodora’s father, and demands that each family send a son to the palace.

If she wants to save her family, Teodora must travel to the capital—not disguised as a boy, but transformed into one. But the road to the capital, and to bridling her powers, is full of enemies and complications, including the one she least expects: falling in love.

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Their Troublesome Crush by Xan West

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In this queer polyamorous m/f romance novella, two metamours realize they have crushes on each other while planning their shared partner’s birthday party together.

Ernest, a Jewish autistic demiromantic queer fat trans man submissive, and Nora, a Jewish disabled queer fat femme cis woman switch, have to contend with an age gap, a desire not to mess up their lovely polyamorous dynamic as metamours, the fact that Ernest has never been attracted to a cis person before, and the reality that they are romantically attracted to each other, all while planning their dominant’s birthday party and trying to do a really good job.

Buy it: Amazon | Gumroad

Call Me Max by Kyle Lukoff, ill. by Luciano Lozano

47771322._SX318_When Max starts school, the teacher hesitates to call out the name on the attendance sheet. Something doesn’t seem to fit. Max lets her know the name he wants to be called by–a boy’s name. This begins Max’s journey as he makes new friends and reveals his feelings about his identity to his parents.

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Blood Sport by Tash McAdam

Jason is sure his sister, Becca, was murdered, but he’s the only one who thinks so. After finding a photograph Becca kept hidden, he decides to infiltrate a boxing gym to prove that she didn’t die accidentally. As a transgender kid, Jason’s been fighting for as long as he can remember, and those skills are going to come in handy as he investigates. Quickly invited into the inner circle, Jason must balance newfound friendships with the burning hate that drives him. Jason soon feels torn between two worlds, determined to discover what happened to his sister but struggling with the fact that this is the first time he’s ever felt like he belonged somewhere.

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Sorted by Jackson Bird

When Jackson Bird was twenty-five, he came out as transgender to his friends, family, and anyone in the world with an internet connection. Assigned female at birth and having been raised a girl, he often wondered if he should have been born a boy. Jackson didn’t share this thought with anyone because he didn’t think he could share it with anyone. Growing up in Texas in the 1990s, he had no transgender role models. He barely remembers meeting anyone who was openly gay, let alone being taught that transgender people existed outside of punchlines.

Today, Jackson is a writer, YouTuber, and LGBTQ+ advocate living openly and happily as a transgender man. So how did he get here? In this remarkable, educational, and uplifting memoir, Jackson chronicles the ups and downs of growing up gender confused. Illuminated by journal entries spanning childhood to adolescence to today, he candidly recalls the challenges he faced while trying to sort out his gender and sexuality, and worrying about how to interact with the world. With warmth and wit, Jackson also recounts how he navigated the many obstacles and quirks of his transition––like figuring out how to have a chest binder delivered to his NYU dorm room and having an emotional breakdown at a Harry Potter fan convention. From his first shot of testosterone to his eventual top surgery, Jackson lets you in on every part of his journey—taking the time to explain trans terminology and little-known facts about gender and identity along the way. Through his captivating prose, Bird not only sheds light on the many facets of a transgender life, but also demonstrates the power and beauty in being yourself, even when you’re not sure who “yourself” is.

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The Right Thing to Do at the Time by Dov Zeller

If Jane Austen and Sholem Aleichem (Fiddler on the Roof) schemed in an elevator, this just might be their pitch. Ari is Elizabeth and Itche is Jane–and this Jewish, queer, New York City retelling of Pride and Prejudice is for everyone.

Ari Wexler, a trans guy in his late 20s, is barely scraping by. His family life is a mess, he feels like a failure when it comes to love, and his job at a music library is on the rocks. His relationship with Itche Mattes, his doting best friend, helps him get through the days. Then a famous actress comes to town and sweeps Itche off his feet, leaving her dreadful sidekick to step on Ari’s toes.

As Ari’s despair grows, a fascinating music project falls into his lap, and he s faced with a choice: to remain within his comfort zone, however small and stifling, or to take a risk that could bring meaning and joy to his life.

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To My Trans Sisters by Charlie Craggs

Dedicated to trans women everywhere, this inspirational collection of letters written by successful trans women shares the lessons they learnt on their journeys to womanhood, celebrating their achievements and empowering the next generation to become who they truly are.

Written by politicians, scientists, models, athletes, authors, actors, and activists from around the world, these letters capture the diversity of the trans experience and offer advice from make-up and dating through to fighting dysphoria and transphobia.

By turns honest and heartfelt, funny and furious or beautiful and brave, these letters send a clear message of hope to their sisters: each of these women have gone through the struggles of transition and emerged the other side as accomplished, confident women; and if we made it sister, so can you!

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Books to Preorder

Somebody Told Me by Mia Siegert (April 7)

After an assault, bigender seventeen-year-old Aleks/Alexis is looking for a fresh start―so they voluntarily move in with their uncle, a Catholic priest. In their new bedroom, Aleks/Alexis discovers they can overhear parishioners in the church confessional. Moved by the struggles of these “sinners,” Aleks/Alexis decides to anonymously help them, finding solace in their secret identity: a guardian angel instead of a victim.

But then Aleks/Alexis overhears a confession of another priest admitting to sexually abusing a parishioner. As they try to uncover the priest’s identity before he hurts anyone again, Aleks/Alexis is also forced to confront their own abuser and come to terms with their past trauma.

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Felix Ever After by Kacen Callender (May 5)

FELIX EVER AFTER Kacen Callender

Felix Love has never been in love—and, yes, he’s painfully aware of the irony. He desperately wants to know what it’s like and why it seems so easy for everyone but him to find someone. What’s worse is that, even though he is proud of his identity, Felix also secretly fears that he’s one marginalization too many—Black, queer, and transgender—to ever get his own happily-ever-after.

When an anonymous student begins sending him transphobic messages—after publicly posting Felix’s deadname alongside images of him before he transitioned—Felix comes up with a plan for revenge. What he didn’t count on: his catfish scenario landing him in a quasi–love triangle….

But as he navigates his complicated feelings, Felix begins a journey of questioning and self-discovery that helps redefine his most important relationship: how he feels about himself.

Felix Ever After is an honest and layered story about identity, falling in love, and recognizing the love you deserve.

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The Thirty Names of Night by Zeyn Joukhadar (May 19)

THIRTY NAMES OF NIGHTFive years after a suspicious fire killed his ornithologist mother, a closeted Syrian American trans boy sheds his birth name and searches for a new one. He has been unable to paint since his mother’s ghost has begun to visit him each evening. As his grandmother’s sole caretaker, he spends his days cooped up in their apartment, avoiding his neighborhood masjid, his estranged sister, and even his best friend (who also happens to be his longtime crush). The only time he feels truly free is when he slips out at night to paint murals on buildings in the once-thriving Manhattan neighborhood known as Little Syria.

One night, he enters the abandoned community house and finds the tattered journal of a Syrian American artist named Laila Z, who dedicated her career to painting the birds of North America. She famously and mysteriously disappeared more than sixty years before, but her journal contains proof that both his mother and Laila Z encountered the same rare bird before their deaths. In fact, Laila Z’s past is intimately tied to his mother’s—and his grandmother’s—in ways he never could have expected. Even more surprising, Laila Z’s story reveals the histories of queer and transgender people within his own community that he never knew. Realizing that he isn’t and has never been alone, he has the courage to officially claim a new name: Nadir, an Arabic name meaning rare.

As unprecedented numbers of birds are mysteriously drawn to the New York City skies, Nadir enlists the help of his family and friends to unravel what happened to Laila Z and the rare bird his mother died trying to save. Following his mother’s ghost, he uncovers the silences kept in the name of survival by his own community, his own family, and within himself, and discovers the family that was there all along.

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Stay Gold by Tobly McSmith (May 26)

STAY GOLD Tobly McSmith

Pony just wants to fly under the radar during senior year. Tired from all the attention he got at his old school after coming out as transgender, he’s looking for a fresh start at Hillcrest High. But it’s hard to live your best life when the threat of exposure lurks down every hallway and in every bathroom.

Georgia is beginning to think there’s more to life than cheerleading. She plans on keeping a low profile until graduation…which is why she promised herself that dating was officially a no-go this year.

Then, on the very first day of school, the new guy and the cheerleader lock eyes. How is Pony supposed to stay stealth when he wants to get close to a girl like Georgia? How is Georgia supposed to keep her promise when sparks start flying with a boy like Pony?

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I’m Not a Girl by Maddox Lyons and Jessica Verdi, ill. by Dana Simpson (May 26)

I'M NOT A GIRL

Nobody seems to understand that Hannah is not a girl.

His parents ask why he won’t wear the cute outfits they pick out. His friend thinks he must be a tomboy. His teacher insists he should be proud to be a girl.

But a birthday wish, a new word, and a stroke of courage might be just what Hannah needs to finally show the world who he really is.

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Cemetery Boys by Aiden Thomas (June 9)

Yadriel has summoned a ghost, and now he can’t get rid of him.

When his traditional Latinx family has problems accepting his gender, Yadriel becomes determined to prove himself a real brujo. With the help of his cousin and best friend Maritza, he performs the ritual himself, and then sets out to find the ghost of his murdered cousin and set it free.

However, the ghost he summons is actually Julian Diaz, the school’s resident bad boy, and Julian is not about to go quietly into death. He’s determined to find out what happened and tie up some loose ends before he leaves. Left with no choice, Yadriel agrees to help Julian, so that they can both get what they want. But the longer Yadriel spends with Julian, the less he wants to let him leave.

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The Four Profound Weaves by R.B. Lemberg (September 1)

Two transgender elders must learn to weave from Death in order to defeat an evil ruler—a tyrant who murders rebellious women and hoards their bones and souls—in the first novella set in R. B. Lemberg’s award-winning queer fantasy Birdverse universe

Wind: To match one’s body with one’s heart
Sand: To take the bearer where they wish
Song: In praise of the goddess Bird
Bone: To move unheard in the night

The Surun’ nomads do not speak of the master weaver, Benesret, who creates the cloth of bone for assassins in the Great Burri Desert. But aged Uiziya must find her aunt in order to learn the final weave, although the price for knowledge may be far too dear to pay.

Among the Khana in the springflower city of Iyar, women travel in caravans to trade, while men remain in the inner quarter, as scholars. A nameless man struggles to embody Khana masculinity, after many years of performing the life of a woman, trader, wife, and grandmother. As his past catches up, the man must choose between the life he dreamed of and Uiziya – while Uiziya must discover how to challenge the evil Ruler of Iyar, and to weave from deaths that matter.

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Even if We Break by Marieke Nijkamp (September 15)

End the game before it ends you.

For five friends, it was supposed to be one last getaway before they went their separate ways—a time to say goodbye to each other, and to the game they’ve been playing for the past 3 years. But they all have their own demons to deal with and they’re all hiding secrets.

Finn hasn’t been able to trust anyone since he was attacked a few months ago. Popular girl Liva saw it happen and did nothing to stop it. Maddy was in an accident that destroyed her sports career. Carter is drowning under the weight of his family’s expectations. Ever wants to keep the game going for as long as they can, at all costs.

And things take a deadly twist when the game turns against them.

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Into the Real by Z Brewer (October 6)

Three different worlds. Three different Quinns. Who decides which one is real?

The first Brume is a waking nightmare, overrun by literal monsters and cutthroat survivors. For Quinn, who is openly genderqueer, the only bright side is their friendship with Lia—and the hope that there might still be a safe place to live beyond the fog.

The second Brume is a prison with no bars. Forced by her conservative parents to “sort out” their sexuality at Camp Redemption, Quinn must also, secretly, figure out why presenting as female has never felt quite right.

The third Brume is a war zone. For Quinn, who presents as male, leading the Resistance against an authoritarian government is hard, since even the Resistance might not accept them if they knew Quinn’s truth.

As Quinn starts to realize that they might be one person alternating among these three worlds and identities, they wonder: Which world is the real one? Or do they all contain some deeper truth?

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Trans-Galactic Bike Ride: Feminist Bicycle Science Fiction Stories of Transgender and Nonbinary Adventurers ed. by Lydia Rogue (October 15/February 9)

What would the future look like if we weren’t so hung up on putting people into boxes and instead empowered each other to reach for the stars? Take a ride with us as we explore a future where trans and nonbinary people are the heroes.

In worlds where bicycle rides bring luck, a minotaur needs a bicycle, and werewolves stalk the post-apocalyptic landscape, nobody has time to question gender. Whatever your identity, you’ll enjoy these stories that are both thought-provoking and fun adventures.

Featuring brand-new stories from Hugo, Nebula, and Lambda Literary Award-winning author Charlie Jane Anders, Ava Kelly, Juliet Kemp, Rafi Kleiman, Tucker Lieberman, Nathan Alling Long, Ether Nepenthes, and Nebula-nominated M. Darusha Wehm. Also featuring debut stories from Diana Lane and Marcus Woodman.

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Books to Add to Your TBR

Featured Trans Books

Featured Trans/Non-Binary Authors

Guest Posts

Rec Posts

Queering up your shelf, one rec at a time!