Backlist Book of the Month: Willful Machines by Tim Floreen

Fun and cute shippy sci-fi, even for people who don’t usually love sci-fi! (Like me. I do not usually like sci-fi. I liked this book.) And as a bonus, if you love it, Floreen’s got a whole new book out you can buy next!

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The closeted son of an ultra-conservative president must keep a budding romance secret from his father while protecting himself from a sentient computer program that’s terrorizing the United States—and has zeroed in on him as its next target—in this “socially conscious sci-fi thriller to shelve between The Terminator and Romeo and Juliet” (Kirkus Reviews, starred review).

In the near future, scientists create what may be a new form of life: an artificial human named Charlotte. All goes well until Charlotte escapes, transfers her consciousness to the Internet, and begins terrorizing the American public.

Charlotte’s attacks have everyone on high alert—everyone except Lee Fisher, the closeted son of the US president. Lee has other things to worry about, like keeping his Secret Service detail from finding out about his crush on Nico, the eccentric, Shakespeare-obsessed new boy at school. And keeping Nico from finding out about his recent suicide attempt. And keeping himself from freaking out about all his secrets.

But when attacks start happening at his school, Lee realizes he’s Charlotte’s next target. Even worse, Nico may be part of Charlotte’s plan too.

As Lee races to save himself, uncover Charlotte’s plan, and figure out if he can trust Nico, he comes to a whole new understanding of what it means to be alive…and what makes life worth living.

Buy it: Amazon * B&N * Indiebound

Fave Five: LGBTQ Fandom Books

How to Repair a Mechanical Heart by J.C. Lillis

Defying Convention by Cecil Wilde

Gena/Finn by Hannah Moskowitz and Kat Helgeson

Queens of Geek by Jen Wilde

Radio Silence by Alice Oseman

(Bonus: All the Feels by Danika Stone is a fandom YA with a bi LI)

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New Release Spotlight: Of Fire and Stars by Audrey Coulthurst

Oh hi, this is a book about princesses in love, and yes, it is super happy. Do you need to know anything else? Yeah, I didn’t think so. If you’ve been waiting for a book that finally pairs with Malinda Lo’s Ash and/or Sara Gaines’ Noble Falling and Noble Persuasion, ta da!

25164304Betrothed since childhood to the prince of Mynaria, Princess Dennaleia has always known what her future holds. Her marriage will seal the alliance between Mynaria and her homeland, protecting her people from other hostile lands. But Denna has a secret. She possesses an Affinity for fire—a dangerous gift for the future queen of a kingdom where magic is forbidden.

Now, Denna must learn the ways of her new home while trying to hide her growing magic. To make matters worse, she must learn to ride Mynaria’s formidable warhorses before her coronation—and her teacher is the person who intimidates her most, the prickly and unconventional Princess Amaranthine (called Mare), sister of her betrothed.

When a shocking assassination leaves the kingdom reeling, Mare and Denna reluctantly join forces to search for the culprit. As the two work together, each discovers there’s more to the other than she thought. Mare is surprised by Denna’s intelligence and bravery, while Denna is drawn to Mare’s independent streak. Soon their friendship is threatening to blossom into something more.

But with dangerous conflict brewing that makes the alliance more important than ever, acting on their feelings could be deadly. Forced to choose between their duty and their hearts, Mare and Denna must find a way to save their kingdoms—and each other.

Buy it: IndieBound * Amazon * Barnes & Noble * Book Depository

Fave Five: Bi Girls in YA Fantasy

Of Fire and Stars by Audrey Coulthurst

Ash and Huntress by Malinda Lo

Labyrinth Lost by Zoraida Cordova

Otherbound by Corinne Duyvis

The Impostor Queen and The Cursed Queen by Sarah Fine

Bonus: I’m never really sure what genre A Darkly Beating Heart by Lindsay Smith is, but Fantasy’s one of the ones I juggle, so, let’s put that here

Double Bonus: Coming in 2018, Garden of Blood and Dust by K.K. Pérez

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Fave Five: Bi/Pan Guys in SFF YA/NA

To Terminator, With Love by Wes Kennedy

Seven Tears at High Tide by C.B. Lee

The Girl at Midnight by Melissa Grey

Climbing the Date Palm by Shira Glassman

Gold Runner by Tessa Gratton

Bonus: Coming in 2017, 27 Hours by Tristina Wright

Bonus #2: They’re not POV characters, but Timekeeper by Tara Sim and Gates of Thread and Stone by Lori M. Lee both have bi/pan love interests

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Cover Reveal: A&B by J.C. Lillis!

As you can probably guess, I am super excited to be revealing the cover of A&B, the newest queer YA by J.C. Lillis, author of one of my all-time faves, How to Repair a Mechanical Heart. I have been dying to see what Lillis can do with a queer-girl YA, and ta da! My prayers have been answered! Best part of this cover reveal, besides the absolutely adorable cover itself? THE BOOK COMES OUT IN FIVE DAYS. And you better believe there are buy links below! But first, the blurb and brand-spankin-new cover:

Eighteen-year-old Barrie Krumholtz is a super-tall optimist hell-bent on a single goal: securing a slot on Pop University, a reality show for singer-songwriters helmed by her #1 musical idol. When she humiliates herself on national TV and loses a spot in the finals to smug balladeer Ava Alvarez, the door to Barrie’s well-hidden dark side swings open. Never a quitter, she uses her bitter envy of Ava to shape a bold new artistic direction, and people love it. But when Ava ropes her into a secret collaboration, it sparks feelings neither girl expected—feelings that might threaten their creative identities and distract them from their professional goals. Can love and ambition live side by side? Is happiness an art-killer? They’ll figure it out with the help of a blue guitar named Fernando, a keyboard named Rosalinda, and a few new friends who feel like home.

(Rated R for Rivalry, Romance, and Really Neat Subplot featuring Brandon and Abel from How to Repair a Mechanical Heart.)

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J.C. Lillis is the author of contemporary YA novels HOW TO REPAIR A MECHANICAL HEART, WE WON’T FEEL A THING, and A&B, plus various other stories about fandom, friendship, love, and art. She lives in Baltimore with her patient family, a possibly haunted dollhouse, and a cat who intends to eat her someday.

How to Repair a Mechanical Heart: amzn.to/1rM486A
We Won’t Feel a Thing: http://amzn.to/1mndD6m
A&B: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/32296251-a-b?from_search=true

website: jclillis.com
twitter: twitter.com/jclillis
instagram: instagram.com/jclillis
facebook: facebook.com/jclillisbooks
pinterest: pinterest.com/jclillis

How amazing is that?? Are you a fan of Lillis’s previous works, or are you thinking of trying her books for the first time? Do you love this cover as much as we do? Sound off in the comments!

LGBThanksgiving!

I asked people to tell me the LGBTQIAP+ books they’re most thankful for, in honor of American Thanksgiving coming up this week, and here’s what they had to say! (And if these happen to encourage you to do some holiday shopping, all the better!)

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Fave Five: LGBTQ Royalty

Of Fire and Stars by Audrey Coulthurst (f/f YA Fantasy)

The Rules of Ever After by Killian B. Brewer (m/m YA Fantasy)

The Impostor Queen by Sarah Fine (m/f bi YA Fantasy)

The Princess Affair by Nell Stark (f/f Adult Contemp)

Cinder Ella by S.T. Lynn (f/f Adult Fantasy w/trans protag)

Bonus: Shira Glassman’s entire Mangoverse series features a variety of royals and representation!

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Fave Five: Queer BFF YAs

These are all dual-POV books in which at least one POV belongs to a queer character and the other belongs to a close friend, not a love interest.

Run by Kody Keplinger

You Know Me Well by Nina LaCour and David Levithan

Under the Lights by Dahlia Adler

Meg & Linus by Hanna Nowinski

Queens of Geek by Jen Wilde

Bonus: Fans of the Impossible Life by Kate Scelsa is tri-POV, and two of those POVs belong to BFFs who are a gay guy and a straight girl;

Bonus #2: Radio Silence by Alice Oseman is single POV, but the BFFship is the core relationship of the story, and both BFFs are queer (bi and demi, respectively)

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Modern Mind, Ancient Heart: a Guest Post by Flying Without a Net author E.M. Ben Shaul

Please welcome E.M. Ben Shaul to the blog today, to talk about the Orthodox Jewish representation in Flying Without a Net, which releases today! As many of you know, I happen to be Orthodox Jewish, so this book and post are of special interest to me, even though I’m kinda lousy about the prayer part. (Though I’m good about the food blessings! And I definitely got a “halachic prenup.” But I digress. You can add the book to your TBR and/or read the blurb here, and buy links are at the end of the post!)

30124943Think about what you did first thing this morning. You probably got up, used the bathroom, got dressed, maybe grabbed something for breakfast. Perhaps you have a favorite coffee shop where you stopped to pick up your usual morning drink. Did you drive to work? Take public transportation? Or maybe you work from home in your pajamas and bunny slippers. Maybe you’re a student with an 8 AM class. (If so, you have my sympathy.)

For most people, their morning routine is completed without really putting much thought to it. But for Orthodox Jews, many of those regular morning tasks come with an extra level of thought, because they each have a blessing or prayer associated with them. When an Orthodox Jew opens their eyes in the morning, they say “Modeh Ani,” a short prayer thanking God for, basically, returning their soul to them so that they could wake up in the morning. Then they get up and go to the bathroom. There’s a blessing for that, too, in which we thank God for keeping the various systems of our bodies working. For men, when they get dressed, there’s a blessing associated with putting on the tallit katan, a four-cornered garment with ritual fringes.

Eating breakfast involves at least one and possibly as many as five (or six, if wine is part of the meal) blessings over the food. Each blessing takes less than 30 seconds to say, but there’s still an extra moment of thought that is necessary. But breakfast has to wait, anyway — first you have to say Shacharit, the morning prayer service. It is preferable to say the prayers with a minyan, a religious quorum, which Orthodox Jews interpret as ten males thirteen years old or above. So not only do you have to be in a proper mindset for prayer, you also have to build time into your schedule for about 45 minutes of prayer before you go to work.

When you stop for your usual cup of coffee, there’s another food-related blessing to say. Again you thank God for creating everything in the world, including your half-caff soy latte. You say so many food blessings in a day that your co-workers no longer worry that you’re talking to your mid-morning snack.

And that’s just the simple stuff.

What if something in the teachings of those ancient rabbis go against your modern lifestyle? What if your modern brain cannot reconcile the ancient beliefs and your modern sensibilities? For example, a lot of the religious traditions assume a male-dominated culture and lifestyle. In the twenty-first century, Modern Orthodox communities are working to balance the traditions established thousands of years ago with the more modern role that women play in day-to-day life. One example of this is the marriage contract. The traditional wedding contract was originally codified in the first century CE and has not changed significantly. By Jewish law, a man can divorce his wife, but there is no way to force him to give her a get, an official document of divorce. Without a get, a woman is considered an agunah, an anchored or chained woman, as she is still anchored or chained to her ex-husband, even if she has been granted a civil divorce. To give more power to the woman, in the 1990s the Orthodox rabbinate instituted the “halachic prenup,” a religiously and civilly valid contract that allows civil courts to punish the ex-husband financially until he grants his ex-wife a get.

In Flying Without a Net, Avi, an Orthodox Jew, is faced with a dilemma. He has recently come out to himself, and he is now starting to explore the idea of dating men and perhaps starting a relationship with another man. However, everything he has been taught by his religious upbringing tells him that acting on his attraction to men is amongst the biggest violations of Torah law possible. Yet his heart knows that he will never be happy following the community norm of marrying a woman. He struggles to find a path that allows him to be true to both his religious beliefs and his yearning for a relationship with Dani, an Israeli who is not religiously observant and who has been out to himself and to others since high school.

Dani cannot fully understand Avi’s struggle, having never been in his position, but he hopes that he and Avi will be able to find a way to be together while Avi stays true to his beliefs.

When faced with a contradiction between one’s religious beliefs and one’s modern reality, it can be very difficult to stay true to both. Many make the difficult choice to leave the religious life behind, knowing that for them it will be impossible to reconcile the two. Some make the opposite choice and retreat from the modern world. But others find a way to live in both worlds. It requires flexibility, and it’s important for everyone facing such a choice to discover where their flexibility ends and what is too important for them to compromise on. For each person this point is different, and therefore one person’s willingness to compromise may be anathema to someone else. So is there a way to blend the ancient and the modern? Everyone has to figure that out for themselves.

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 Buy it:

Interlude Press: http://store.interludepress.com/collections/flying-without-a-net-by-e-m-ben-shaul

Amazon: http://amzn.to/2fxy7Ae

Barnes & Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/flying-without-a-net-em-ben-shaul/1123885961?ean=2940153056104

Apple: https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/flying-without-a-net/id1121128562?mt=11

Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/641542

Kobo: https://store.kobobooks.com/en-us/ebook/flying-without-a-net-3

 

All Romance eBooks: https://www.allromanceebooks.com/product-flyingwithoutanet-2166406-149.html?referrer=55feb862851f8

 

Book Depository: http://www.bookdepository.com/Flying-Without-Net-E-M-Ben-Shaul/9781945053115?ref=grid-view

 

Indiebound: http://www.indiebound.org/book/%209781945053115&aff=InterludePress

Queering up your shelf, one rec at a time!