Tag Archives: A.J. Sass

Happy International Nonbinary People’s Day 2022!

Today is International Nonbinary Day, so here’s a post to help you celebrate in traditional bookish fashion! This post only includes books that were either not featured in or not published by previous International Nonbinary People’s Day posts, so for more, click here and here!

Books to Buy Now

The Best Liars in Riverview by Lin Thompson

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Aubrey and Joel are like two tomato vines that grew along the same crooked fence—weird, yet the same kind of weird. But lately, even their shared weirdness seems weird. Then Joel disappears. Vanishes. Poof. The whole town is looking for him, and Aubrey was the last person to see Joel. Aubrey can’t say much, but since lies of omission are still lies, here’s what they know for sure:

-For the last two weeks of the school year, when sixth grade became too much, Aubrey and Joel have been building a raft in the woods.

-The raft was supposed to be just another part of their running away game.

-The raft is gone now, too.

Aubrey doesn’t know where Joel is, but they might know how to find him. As Aubrey, their friend Mari, and sister Teagan search along the river, Aubrey has to fess up to who they really are, all the things they never said, and the word that bully Rudy Thomas used that set all this into motion.

Buy it: Bookshop | Amazon | IndieBound

Tiger Honor by Yoon Ha Lee

58293370Sebin, a young tiger spirit from the Juhwang Clan, wants nothing more than to join the Thousand World Space Forces and, like their Uncle Hwan, captain a battle cruiser someday. But when Sebin’s acceptance letter finally arrives, it’s accompanied by the shocking news that Hwan has been declared a traitor. Apparently the captain abandoned his duty to steal a magical artifact, the Dragon Pearl, and his whereabouts are still unknown. Sebin hopes to help clear their hero’s name and restore honor to the clan.

Nothing goes according to plan, however. As soon as Sebin arrives for orientation, they are met by a special investigator named Yi and Yi’s assistant, a girl named Min. Yi informs Sebin that they must immediately report to the ship Haetae and await further instructions. Sebin finds this highly unusual, but soon all protocol is forgotten when there’s an explosion on the ship, the crew is knocked out, and the communication system goes down. It’s up to Sebin, three other cadets, and Yi and Min to determine who is sabotaging the battle cruiser. When Sebin is suddenly accused of collaborating with the enemy, the cadet realizes that Min is the most dangerous foe of all…

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Ellen Outside the Lines by A.J. Sass

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

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

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

Buy it: Bookshop | Amazon | IndieBound

Rabbit Chase by Elizabeth LaPensée and K.C. Oster

59342979. sx318 Aimée, a non-binary Anishinaabe middle-schooler, is on a class trip to offer gifts to Paayehnsag, the water spirits known to protect the land. While stories are told about the water spirits and the threat of the land being taken over for development, Aimée zones out, distracting themselves from the bullying and isolation they’ve experienced since expressing their non-binary identity. When Aimée accidentally wanders off, they are transported to an alternate dimension populated by traditional Anishinaabe figures in a story inspired by Alice in Wonderland.

To gain the way back home, Aimée is called on to help Trickster by hunting down dark water spirits with guidance from Paayehnsag. On their journey, Aimée faces off with the land-grabbing Queen and her robotic guards and fights the dark water spirits against increasingly stacked odds. Illustrated by KC Oster with a modern take on their own Ojibwe style and cultural representation, Rabbit Chase is a story of self-discovery, community, and finding one’s place in the world.

Buy it: Bookshop | Amazon | IndieBound

Alice Austen Lived Here by Alex Gino

Sam is very in touch with their own queer identity. They’re nonbinary, and their best friend, TJ, is nonbinary as well. Sam’s family is very cool with it… as long as Sam remembers that nonbinary kids are also required to clean their rooms, do their homework, and try not to antagonize their teachers too much.

The teacher-respect thing is hard when it comes to Sam’s history class, because their teacher seems to believe that only Dead Straight Cis White Men are responsible for history. When Sam’s home borough of Staten Island opens up a contest for a new statue, Sam finds the perfect non-DSCWM subject: photographer Alice Austen, whose house has been turned into a museum, and who lived with a female partner for decades.

Soon, Sam’s project isn’t just about winning the contest. It’s about discovering a rich queer history that Sam’s a part of — a queer history that no longer needs to be quiet, as long as there are kids like Sam and TJ to stand up for it.

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At the End of Everything by Marieke Nijkamp

53403613. sy475 The Hope Juvenile Treatment Center is ironically named. No one has hope for the delinquent teenagers who have been exiled there; the world barely acknowledges that they exist.

Then the guards at Hope start acting strange. And one day…they don’t show up. But when the teens band together to make a break from the facility, they encounter soldiers outside the gates. There’s a rapidly spreading infectious disease outside, and no one can leave their houses or travel without a permit. Which means that they’re stuck at Hope. And this time, no one is watching out for them at all.

As supplies quickly dwindle and a deadly plague tears through their ranks, the group has to decide whom among them they can trust and figure out how they can survive in a world that has never wanted them in the first place.

Buy it: Bookshop | Amazon | IndieBound

The One True Me and You by Remi K. England

One small fandom convention. One teen beauty pageant.
One meet cute waiting to happen.

Up and coming fanfic author Kaylee Beaumont is internally screaming at the chance to finally meet her fandom friends in real life and spend a weekend at GreatCon. She also has a side quest for the weekend:

Try out they/them pronouns to see how it feels
Wear more masculine-presenting cosplay
Kiss a girl for the first time

It’s… a lot, and Kay mostly wants to lie face down on the hotel floor. Especially when her hometown bully, Miss North Carolina, shows up in the very same hotel. But there’s this con-sponsored publishing contest, and the chance to meet her fandom idols… and then, there’s Teagan.

Pageant queen Teagan Miller (Miss Virginia) has her eye on the much-needed prize: the $25,000 scholarship awarded to the winner of the Miss Cosmic Teen USA pageant. She also has secrets:

She loves the dresses but hates the tiaras
She’s a giant nerd for everything GreatCon
She’s gay af

If Teagan can just keep herself wrapped up tight for one more weekend, she can claim the scholarship and go off to college out and proud. If she’s caught, she could lose everything she’s worked for. If her rival, Miss North Carolina, has anything to do with it, that’s exactly how it’ll go down.

When Teagan and Kay bump into one another the first night, sparks fly. Their connection is intense—as is their shared enemy. If they’re spotted, the safe space of the con will be shattered, and all their secrets will follow them home. The risks are great… but could the reward of embracing their true selves be worth it?

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Across a Field of Starlight by Blue Delliquanti

When they were kids, Fassen’s fighter spaceship crash-landed on a planet that Lu’s survey force was exploring. It was a forbidden meeting between a kid from a war-focused resistance movement and a kid whose community and planet are dedicated to peace and secrecy.

Lu and Fassen are from different worlds and separate solar systems. But their friendship keeps them in each other’s orbit as they grow up. They stay in contact in secret as their communities are increasingly threatened by the omnipresent, ever-expanding empire.

As the empire begins a new attack against Fassen’s people–and discovers Lu’s in the process–the two of them have the chance to reunite at last. They finally are able to be together…but at what cost?

This beautifully illustrated graphic novel is an epic science fiction romance between two non-binary characters as they find one another through time, distance, and war.

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

53478789. sy475 Sam Sylvester’s not overly optimistic about their recent move to the small town of Astoria, Oregon after a traumatic experience in their last home in the rural Midwest.

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

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

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And They Lived… by Steven Salvatore

Chase Arthur is a budding animator and hopeless romantic obsessed with Disney films and finding his true love, but he’s plagued with the belief that he’s not enough for anyone: he’s recovering from an eating disorder and suffers from body dysmorphia fueled by his father, and can’t quite figure out his gender identity. When Chase starts his freshman year of college, he has to navigate being away from home and missing his sister, finding his squad, and contending with his ex-best friend Leila who is gunning for the same exclusive mentorship. If only he can pull together a short for the freshman animation showcase at the end of the semester.

Then Chase meets Jack Reid, a pragmatic poet who worships words and longs to experience life outside of his sheltered world. But Chase throws everything into question for Jack, who is still discovering his sexual identity, having grown up in close-knit conservative family. Jack internalized a lot of homophobia from his parents and childhood best friend, who unexpectedly visit campus, which threatens to destroy their relationship. Chase will have to learn to love–and be enough for–himself, while discovering what it means to truly live.

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Lakelore by Anna-Marie McLemore

In this young adult novel by award-winning author Anna-Marie McLemore, two non-binary teens are pulled into a magical world under a lake – but can they keep their worlds above water intact?

Everyone who lives near the lake knows the stories about the world underneath it, an ethereal landscape rumored to be half-air, half-water. But Bastián Silvano and Lore Garcia are the only ones who’ve been there. Bastián grew up both above the lake and in the otherworldly space beneath it. Lore’s only seen the world under the lake once, but that one encounter changed their life and their fate.

Then the lines between air and water begin to blur. The world under the lake drifts above the surface. If Bastián and Lore don’t want it bringing their secrets to the surface with it, they have to stop it, and to do that, they have to work together. There’s just one problem: Bastián and Lore haven’t spoken in seven years, and working together means trusting each other with the very things they’re trying to hide.

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This Rebel Heart by Katherine Locke

54886974The Fountains of Silence meets Spinning Silver in this rollicking tale set amid the 1956 Hungarian revolution in post-WWII Communist Budapest from Sydney Taylor Honor winner Katherine Locke.

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

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

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Love & Other Disasters by Anita Kelly

55297669. sy475 Recently divorced and on the verge of bankruptcy, Dahlia Woodson is ready to reinvent herself on the popular reality competition show Chef’s Special. Too bad the first memorable move she makes is falling flat on her face, sending fish tacos flying—not quite the fresh start she was hoping for. Still, she’s focused on winning, until she meets someone she might want a future with more than she needs the prize money.

After announcing their pronouns on national television, London Parker has enough on their mind without worrying about the klutzy competitor stationed in front of them. They’re there to prove the trolls—including a fellow contestant and their dad—wrong, and falling in love was never part of the plan.

As London and Dahlia get closer, reality starts to fall away. Goodbye, guilt about divorce, anxiety about uncertain futures, and stress from transphobia. Hello, hilarious shenanigans on set, wedding crashing, and spontaneous dips into the Pacific. But as the finale draws near, Dahlia and London’s steamy relationship starts to feel the heat both in and outside the kitchen—and they must figure out if they have the right ingredients for a happily ever after.

Buy it: Bookshop | Amazon | IndieBound

Base Notes by Lara Elena Donnelly

Base Notes by [Lara Elena Donnelly]In New York City everybody needs a side hustle, and perfumer Vic Fowler has developed a delicate art that has proved to be very lucrative: creating bespoke scents that evoke immersive memories—memories that, for Vic’s clients, are worth killing for. But the city is expensive, and these days even artisanal murder doesn’t pay the bills. When Joseph Eisner, a former client with deep pockets, offers Vic an opportunity to expand the enterprise, the money is too good to turn down. But the job is too intricate—and too dangerous—to attempt alone.

Manipulating fellow struggling artists into acting as accomplices is easy. Like Vic, they too are on the verge of burnout and bankruptcy. But as relationships become more complicated, Vic’s careful plans start to unravel. Hounded by guilt and a tenacious private investigator, Vic grows increasingly desperate to complete Eisner’s commission. Is there anyone—friends, lovers, coconspirators—that Vic won’t sacrifice for art?

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Man O’ War by Cory McCarthy

59029659. sy475 The jellyfish commonly known as a Portuguese man o’ war is neither Portuguese, nor a jellyfish, nor a man, nor even a singular organism. If you can cope with those facts, you can begin to understand River McIntyre, an elite high school swimmer who’s bad at counting laps.

River McIntyre has lived all their life in the shadow of Sea Planet, a now infamous ocean theme park slowly going out of business in the middle of Ohio. As Sea Planet drifts toward its final end, so does River’s high school career and, worse, their time as a competitive swimmer. Or maybe not. When River makes an impulsive dive into Ocean Planet’s shark tank, they unintentionally set off on a wrenching journey of self-discovery, from internalized homophobia and self-loathing through layers of coming out, gender confirmation surgery, and true love. And at the end of this race? Who knows. After all, counting laps has never been River’s strong suit.

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Chef’s Kiss by TJ Alexander

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

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

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All the Things We Don’t Talk About by Amy Feltman

Morgan Flowers just wants to hide. Raised by their neurodivergent father, Morgan has grown up haunted by the absence of their mysterious mother Zoe, especially now, as they navigate their gender identity and the turmoil of first love. Their father Julian has raised Morgan with care, but he can’t quite fill the gap left by the dazzling and destructive Zoe, who fled to Europe on Morgan’s first birthday. And when Zoe is dumped by her girlfriend Brigid, she suddenly comes crashing back into Morgan and Julian’s lives, poised to disrupt the fragile peace they have so carefully cultivated.

Through it all, Julian and Brigid have become unlikely pen-pals and friends, united by the knowledge of what it’s like to love and lose Zoe; they both know that she hasn’t changed. Despite the red flags, Morgan is swiftly drawn into Zoe’s glittering orbit and into a series of harmful missteps, and Brigid may be the only link that can pull them back from the edge.

Buy it:  Amazon | IndieBound

Books to Preorder

Riley Reynolds Crushes Costume Day by Jay Albee (August 1, 2022)

60403195It’s book week at school, and nonbinary fourth grader Riley and their best friends craft hard for the Dress Like Your Favorite Character Day. Colorful fabric! Paint! Glitter! They are ready to make the biggest and best group costume ever! But most of the other kids are having trouble coming up with costumes. Riley is ready to use their creativity and vision to help as many kids as possible so dress-up day will be a big success!

Buy it: Bookshop | Amazon | IndieBound

The Honeys by Ryan La Sala (August 16, 2022)

Mars has always been the lesser twin, the shadow to his sister Caroline’s radiance. But when Caroline dies under horrific circumstances, Mars is propelled to learn all he can about his once-inseparable sister who’d grown tragically distant.

Mars’s genderfluidity means he’s often excluded from the traditions — and expectations — of his politically-connected family. This includes attendance at the prestigious Aspen Conservancy Summer Academy where his sister poured so much of her time. But with his grief still fresh, he insists on attending in her place.

What Mars finds is a bucolic fairytale not meant for him. Folksy charm and sun-drenched festivities camouflage old-fashioned gender roles and a toxic preparatory rigor. Mars seeks out his sister’s old friends: a group of girls dubbed the Honeys, named for the beehives they maintain behind their cabin. They are beautiful and terrifying — and Mars is certain they’re connected to Caroline’s death.

But the longer he stays at Aspen, the more the sweet mountain breezes give way to hints of decay. Mars’s memories begin to falter, bleached beneath the relentless summer sun. Something is hunting him in broad daylight, toying with his mind. If Mars can’t find it soon, it will eat him alive.

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Moonflower by Kacen Callender (September 6, 2022)

MoonflowerMoon has been plunged into a swill of uncertainty and confusion. They travel to the spirit realms every night, hoping never to return to the world of the living.

But when the realm is threatened, it’s up to Moon to save the spirit world, which sparks their own healing journey through the powerful, baffling, landscape that depression can cause.

From this novel’s very first utterance, author Kacen Callender puts us behind Moon’s eyes so that we, too, are engulfed by Moon’s troubling exploration through mental illness.

Moon’s mom is trying her best, but is clueless about what to do to reach the ugly roiling of her child’s inner struggles. At the same time, though, there are those who see Moon for who they are – Blue, the Keeper, the Magician, Wolf. These creature-guides help Moon find a way out of darkness. The ethereal aspects of the story are brilliantly blended with real-world glimmers of light. Slowly, Moon grows toward hope and wholeness, showing all children that each and every one of us has a tree growing inside. That our souls emerge when we discover, and fully accept, ourselves.

Buy it: Bookshop | Amazon | IndieBound

The Unbalancing by R.B. Lemberg (September 20, 2022)

The Unbalancing is R. B. Lemberg’s new novel in their acclaimed Birdverse. It is the tale of Erígra Lilún, an autistic nonbinary poet, and Ranra Kekeri, a new Starkeeper, as they try to save their island home from sinking. The Unbalancing explores deep names, the magic system of Birdverse, as well as the starlore unique to Lemberg’s world. Readers will learn the origin of the stars and what they are made of through Ranra and Lilún’s efforts to understand the Star of the Tides. Birdverse fans may recognise the story from R. B.’s 2015 poem, “Ranra’s Unbalancing,” which placed 1st in the Strange Horizons Readers Poll that year.

Buy it: Bookshop | Amazon | IndieBound

Lark & Kasim Start a Revolution by Kacen Callender (September 27, 2022)

Lark Winters wants to be a writer, and for now that means posting on their social media accounts––anything to build their platform. When former best friend Kasim accidentally posts on Lark’s Twitter a thread declaring his love for a secret, unrequited crush, Lark’s tweets are suddenly the talk of the school—and beyond. To protect Kasim, Lark decides to take the fall, pretending they accidentally posted the thread in reference to another classmate. It seems like a great idea: Lark gets closer to their crush, Kasim keeps his privacy, and Lark’s social media stats explode. But living a lie takes a toll—as does the judgment of thousands of Internet strangers. Lark tries their best to be perfect at all costs, but nothing seems good enough for the anonymous hordes––or for Kasim, who is growing closer to Lark, just like it used to be between them . . .

In the end, Lark must embrace their right to their messy emotions and learn how to be in love.

Buy it: Bookshop | Amazon | IndieBound

My Name is Magic by Xan van Rooyen (September 27, 2022)

My Name Is Magic by [Xan van Rooyen]Taika Turunen has no magic.

Despite coming from a long line of powerful Finnish mages, and their name literally meaning magic, Taika can’t perform the simplest of spells.

Forced to attend Myrskyjärvi International School for the Magically Gifted on account of their mom being principal, Taika has a hard time fitting in. Sometimes, they wonder if not having magic has something to do with the fact they’re neither a girl nor a boy and if they’re fated to be Taika the Talentless forever.

Life goes from bad to worse when Taika sees a liekkiö and recognizes the spirit’s voice begging for help as that of their former BFF and major crush, Natalie Khumalo, whose recent absence from class hadn’t gone unnoticed. When more students go missing, Taika must take the lead in a race against time to save friends old and new before a powerful cabal of chaos mages can unleash the legendary Sampo, an artifact capable of either renewing the world’s waning magic or destroying everything Taika holds dear.

To rescue Natalie, Taika will have to journey to the liminal space between worlds where they’ll be forced to battle mythical monsters and their own flagging self-esteem. In doing so, Taika might just discover that magic—and love—comes in many different forms.

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

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

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

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

Buy it: Bookshop | Amazon | IndieBound

Good Dream Dragon by Jacky Davis (text) and Courtney Dawson (illustration) (October 25, 2022)

59314901Good Dream Dragon comes to the rescue in easing a child’s bedtime fears in this magical story featuring a nonbinary child. 

When a young child is afraid to go to sleep, they call on the Good Dream Dragon to help lead the way. Together, the pair race past comets as they travel through the night galaxy, making their way to the magical world of Dreamland.

This soothing bedtime story celebrates imagination as a way to help alleviate a child’s bedtime jitters. It is a gentle reminder to children that comfort is always within reach.

Sir Callie and the Champions of Helston by Esme Symes-Smith (November 8, 2022)

60323939. sy475 My name is Callie, and I’m not a girl. I am here as Papa’s squire, and I want to train as a knight.

In a world where girls learn magic and boys train as knights, twelve-year-old nonbinary Callie doesn’t fit in anywhere. And you know what? That’s just fine. Callie has always known exactly what they want to be, and they’re not about to let a silly thing like gender rules stand in their way.

When their ex-hero dad is summoned back to the royal capital of Helston to train a hopeless crown prince as war looms, Callie lunges at the opportunity to finally prove themself worthy to Helston’s great and powerful.

Except the intolerant great and powerful look at Callie and only see girl.

Trapped in Helston’s rigid hierarchy, Callie discovers they aren’t alone–there’s Elowen, the chancellor’s brilliant daughter, whose unparalleled power is being stifled; Edwyn, Elowen’s twin brother, locked in a desperate fight to win his father’s approval; and Willow, the crown prince who was never meant to be king.

Buy it: Bookshop | Amazon | IndieBound

Endpapers by Jennifer Savran Kelly (February 7, 2023)

It’s 2003, and artist Dawn Levit is stuck. A bookbinder who works in conservation at the Met, she spends her free time scouting the city’s street art, hoping something might spark inspiration. Instead, everything looks like a dead end. And art isn’t the only thing that feels wrong: wherever she turns, her gender identity clashes with the rest of her life. Her relationship, once anchored by shared queerness, is falling apart as her boyfriend Lukas increasingly seems to be attracted to Dawn only when she’s at her most masculine. Meanwhile at work, Dawn has to present as female, even on the days when that isn’t true. Either way, her difference feels like a liability.

Then, one day at work, Dawn finds something hidden behind the endpaper of an old book: the torn-off cover of a ‘50s lesbian pulp novel, Turn Her About. On the front is a campy illustration of a woman looking into a handheld mirror and seeing a man’s face. And on the back is a love letter.

Dawn latches onto the coincidence, becoming obsessed with tracking down the note’s author. Her fixation only increases when her best friend Jae is injured in a hate crime, for which Dawn feels responsible. As Dawn searches for the letter’s author, she is also looking for herself. She tries to understand how to live in a world that doesn’t see her as she truly is, how to get unstuck in her gender, and how to rediscover her art, and she can’t shake the feeling that the note’s author might be able to help guide her to the answers.

Buy it: Amazon | IndieBound

Camp QUILTBAG by Nicole Melleby and A.J. Sass (March 21, 2023)

57737479Twelve-year-old Abigail (she/her/hers) is so excited to spend her summer at Camp QUILTBAG, an inclusive retreat for queer and trans kids. She can’t wait to find a community where she can be herself—and, she hopes, admit her crush on Laura Dern to kids who will understand.

Thirteen-year-old Kai (e/em/eir) is not as excited. E just wants to hang out with eir best friend and eir parkour team. And e definitely does not want to think about the incident that left eir arm in a sling—the incident that also made Kai’s parents determined to send em somewhere e can feel like emself.

After a bit of a rocky start at camp, Abigail and Kai make a pact to help each other find their footing, all while navigating crushes, their queer identities, and a competition pitting cabin against cabin.

Buy it: Bookshop | Amazon | IndieBound

Ander and Santi Were Here by Jonny Garza Villa (April 11, 2023)

Finding home. Falling in love. Fighting to belong.

The Santos Vista neighborhood of San Antonio, Texas, is all Ander Lopez has ever known. The smell of pan dulce. The mixture of Spanish and English filling the streets. And, especially their job at their family’s taquería. It’s the place that has inspired Ander as a muralist, and, as they get ready to leave for art school, it’s all of these things that give them hesitancy. That give them the thought, are they ready to leave it all behind?

To keep Ander from becoming complacent during their gap year, their family “fires” them so they can transition from restaurant life to focusing on their murals and prepare for college. That is, until they meet Santiago Garcia, the hot new waiter. Falling for each other becomes as natural as breathing. Through Santi’s eyes, Ander starts to understand who they are and want to be as an artist, and Ander becomes Santi’s first steps toward making Santos Vista and the United States feel like home.

Until ICE agents come for Santi, and Ander realizes how fragile that sense of home is. How love can only hold on so long when the whole world is against them. And when, eventually, the world starts to win.

Buy it: Amazon | IndieBound

Jude Saves the World by Ronnie Riley (April 18, 2023)

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

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

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

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

Bianca Torre is Afraid of Everything by Justine Pucella Winans (April 22, 2023)

59237736. sy475 Sixteen-year-old Bianca Torre is an avid birder undergoing a gender identity crisis and grappling with an ever-growing list of fears. Some, like Fear #6: Initiating Conversation, keep them constrained, forcing them to watch birds from the telescope in their bedroom. And, occasionally, their neighbors. When their gaze wanders from the birds to one particular window across the street, Bianca witnesses a creepy plague-masked murderer take their neighbor’s life. Worse, the death is ruled a suicide, forcing Bianca to make a choice—succumb to their long list of fears (including #3: Murder and #55: Breaking into a Dead Guy’s Apartment) or investigate what happened.

Bianca enlists the help of their friend Anderson Coleman, but the two have more knowledge of anime than true crime. As Bianca and Anderson dig deeper into the murder with a little help from Bianca’s crush and fellow birding aficionado, Elaine Yee (#13: Beautiful People, #11: Parents Discovering They’re A Raging Lesbian), the trio uncovers a conspiracy much larger—and weirder—than imagined. But when the killer catches wind of the investigation, Bianca’s #1 fear of public speaking doesn’t sound so bad compared to the threat of being silenced for good.

Buy it: Amazon | IndieBound

Books to Add to Your TBR

The Wicked Bargain by Gabe Cole Novoa (February 28, 2023)

On Mar León-de la Rosa’s 16th birthday, el Diablo comes calling. Mar is a transmasculine nonbinary teen pirate hiding a magical ability to manipulate fire and ice. But their magic isn’t enough to reverse a wicked bargain made by their father and now el Diablo has come to collect his payment: the soul of Mar’s father and the entire crew of their ship.

When Mar is miraculously rescued by the sole remaining pirate crew in the Caribbean, el Diablo returns to give them a choice: give up your soul to save your father by the Harvest Moon or never see him again. The task is impossible–Mar refuses to make a bargain and there’s no way their magic is any match for el Diablo. Then, Mar finds the most unlikely allies: Bas, an infuriatingly arrogant and handsome pirate — and the captain’s son; and Dami, a genderfluid demonio whose motives are never quite clear. For the first time in their life, Mar may have the courage to use their magic. It could be their only redemption — or it could mean certain death.

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Court of the Undying Seasons by A.M. Strickland (May 16, 2023)

When nineteen-year-old Fin volunteers to take her secret love’s place in their village’s Finding, she is terrified. Those who are chosen at the Finding are whisked away to Castle Courtsheart, a vampire school where human students either succeed and become vampires, fail and spend the rest of their lives as human thralls…or they don’t survive long enough to become either.

Fin is determined to forge a different path: learn how to kill the undead and get revenge for her mother, who was taken by the vampires years ago. But Courtsheart is as captivating as it is deadly, and Fin is quickly swept up in her new world and its inhabitants – particularly Gavron, her handsome and hostile vampire maker, whose blood is nothing short of intoxicating. As Fin begins to discover new aspects of her own identity and test her newfound powers, she stumbles across a string of murders that may be connected to a larger ritual – one with potentially lethal consequences for vampires and humans alike. Fin must uncover the truth and find the killer before she loses her life…or betrays her own heart.

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Happy Jewish American Heritage Month 2022!

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

Books to Buy Now

Ellen Outside the Lines by A.J. Sass

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

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

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

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From Dust, A Flame by Rebecca Podos

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

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

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

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

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

This Rebel Heart by Katherine Locke

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

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

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

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Matzo Match by Roz Alexander

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

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

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

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

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

Buy it: Amazon

Books to Preorder

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

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

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

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

Buy it: Bookshop | Amazon | IndieBound

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

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

Buy it: Amazon | IndieBound

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

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

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

It could be going better.

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

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

Buy it: Bookshop | Amazon | IndieBound

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

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

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

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

Buy it: Amazon | IndieBound

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

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

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

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

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

Buy it: Amazon | B&N

Books to Add to Your TBR

 

New Releases: March 2022

This post is sponsored in honor of the paperback release of That Way Madness Lies ed. by Dahlia Adler on March 15th, an anthology Kirkus called “A radical reimagining and avant garde interpretation of Shakespeare.”

Buy it in paperback: Bookshop | Amazon | IndieBound | Target

***

Chef’s Kiss by Jarrett Melendez (Author), Danica Brine (Illustrator), Hank Jones (Colorist), Hassan Otsmane-Elhaou (Letterer) (1st)

Now that college is over, English graduate Ben Cook is on the job hunt looking for something…anything…related to his passion for reading and writing. But interview after interview, hiring committee after hiring committee, Ben soon learns getting the dream job won’t be as easy as he thought. Proofreading? Journalism? Copywriting? Not enough experience. It turns out he doesn’t even have enough experience to be a garbage collector! But when Ben stumbles upon a “Now Hiring—No Experience Necessary” sign outside a restaurant, he jumps at the chance to land his first job. Plus, he can keep looking for a writing job in the meantime. He’s actually not so bad in the kitchen, but he will have to pass a series of cooking tests to prove he’s got the culinary skills to stay on full-time. But it’s only temporary…right?

When Ben begins developing a crush on Liam, one of the other super dreamy chefs at the restaurant, and when he starts ditching his old college friends and his old writing job plans, his career path starts to become much less clear.

Buy it: Bookshop | Amazon | IndieBound

Continue reading New Releases: March 2022

Fave Five: Books with Young Teen Protagonists

Almost Flying by Jake Maia Arlow (13)

Hazel’s Theory of Evolution and Drum Roll, Please by Lisa Jenn Bigelow (13)

Starring Kitty by Keris Stainton (14)

Anything Could Happen by Will Walton (14)

Boy Meets Hamster by Birdie Milano (14)

Bonus: Coming in 2022, Ellen Outside the Lines by A.J. Sass (13) and In the Key of Us by Mariama J. Lockington (13)

Happy Jewish American Heritage Month!

Books to Buy Now

Cool for the Summer by Dahlia Adler

Lara’s had eyes for exactly one person throughout her three years of high school: Chase Harding. He’s tall, strong, sweet, a football star, and frankly, stupid hot. Oh, and he’s talking to her now. On purpose and everything. Maybe…flirting, even? No, wait, he’s definitely flirting, which is pretty much the sum of everything Lara’s wanted out of life.

Except she’s haunted by a memory. A memory of a confusing, romantic, strangely perfect summer spent with a girl named Jasmine. A memory that becomes a confusing, disorienting present when Jasmine herself walks through the front doors of the school to see Lara and Chase chatting it up in front of the lockers.

Lara has everything she ever wanted: a tight-knit group of friends, a job that borders on cool, and Chase, the boy of her literal dreams. But if she’s finally got the guy, why can’t she stop thinking about the girl?

Cool for the Summer is a story of self-discovery and new love. It’s about the things we want and the things we need. And it’s about the people who will let us be who we are.

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The Intimacy Experiment by Rosie Danan

Naomi Grant has built her life around going against the grain. After the sex-positive start-up she cofounded becomes an international sensation, she wants to extend her educational platform to live lecturing. Unfortunately, despite her long list of qualifications, higher ed won’t hire her.

Ethan Cohen has recently received two honors: LA Mag named him one of the city’s hottest bachelors and he became rabbi of his own synagogue. Taking a gamble in an effort to attract more millennials to the faith, the executive board hired Ethan because of his nontraditional background. Unfortunately, his shul is low on both funds and congregants. The board gives him three months to turn things around or else they’ll close the doors of his synagogue for good.

Naomi and Ethan join forces to host a buzzy seminar series on Modern Intimacy, the perfect solution to their problems–until they discover a new one–their growing attraction to each other. They’ve built the syllabus for love’s latest experiment, but neither of them expected they’d be the ones putting it to the test.

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The Rabbi Who Prayed with Fire by Rachel Sharona Lewis

Congregation Beth Abraham expected their newest rabbi to “sing some songs and go to an environmental rally.” But Vivian Green has other ideas. She wants her flock to engage meaningfully with their city-special mayoral elections, interfaith breakfasts, fights for affordable housing and all. Also, she would like just one night off to go dancing in the leather boots that make her look like her finest gay self.

Taking on the city’s old boys’ club is already proving difficult…but then Beth Abraham bursts into flames. Fingers get pointed, and everyone’s biases rise to the surface. It turns out that wasn’t the only fire burning in town.

Vivian sticks to her instincts, raising tensions with her boss, her community, and a certain hottie in a power suit. And she learns that knowing whodunnit is only half the battle.

Buy it: Bookshop | Amazon | IndieBound

The Fever King by Victoria Lee

The Fever King (Feverwake, #1)In the former United States, sixteen-year-old Noam Álvaro wakes up in a hospital bed, the sole survivor of the viral magic that killed his family and made him a technopath. His ability to control technology attracts the attention of the minister of defense and thrusts him into the magical elite of the nation of Carolinia.

The son of undocumented immigrants, Noam has spent his life fighting for the rights of refugees fleeing magical outbreaks—refugees Carolinia routinely deports with vicious efficiency. Sensing a way to make change, Noam accepts the minister’s offer to teach him the science behind his magic, secretly planning to use it against the government. But then he meets the minister’s son—cruel, dangerous, and achingly beautiful—and the way forward becomes less clear.

Caught between his purpose and his heart, Noam must decide who he can trust and how far he’s willing to go in pursuit of the greater good.

Buy it: Bookshop | B&N | Amazon

Milk Fed by Melissa Broder

Rachel is twenty-four, a lapsed Jew who has made calorie restriction her religion. By day, she maintains an illusion of existential control, by way of obsessive food rituals, while working as an underling at a Los Angeles talent management agency. At night, she pedals nowhere on the elliptical machine. Rachel is content to carry on subsisting—until her therapist encourages her to take a ninety-day communication detox from her mother, who raised her in the tradition of calorie counting.

Early in the detox, Rachel meets Miriam, a zaftig young Orthodox Jewish woman who works at her favorite frozen yogurt shop and is intent upon feeding her. Rachel is suddenly and powerfully entranced by Miriam—by her sundaes and her body, her faith and her family—and as the two grow closer, Rachel embarks on a journey marked by mirrors, mysticism, mothers, milk, and honey.

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Nine of Swords, Reversed by Xan West z”l

Dev has been with xyr service submissive Noam for seven years and xe loves them very much. Dev and Noam have built a good life together in Noam’s family home in Oakland, where they both can practice their magecraft, celebrate the high holidays in comfort, support each other as their disabilities flare, and where Noam can spend Shabbos with their beloved family ghost.

But Dev’s got a problem: xe has been in so much arthritis pain recently that xe has not been able to shield properly. As an empath, no shielding means Dev cannot safely touch Noam. That has put a strain on their relationship, and it feels like Noam is pulling away from xym. To top it off, Dev has just had an upsetting dream-vision about xyrself and Noam that caused one of the biggest meltdowns xe has had in a while. It’s only with a timely tarot reading and the help of another genderfluid mage that Dev is able to unpack the situation. Can xe figure out how to address the issues in xyr relationship with Noam before everything falls apart?

Buy it: Gumroad | Amazon

The Spy With the Red Balloon by Katherine Locke

38650956In a nuclear arms race, you’d use anything for an edge. Even magic.

Ilse and Wolf Klein bear many secrets. Genius Ilse is unsure if her parents will ever accept her love of physics. Her brother Wolf strives for a quiet life, though he worries that there’s no place in the world for people like him. But their deepest secret lies within their blood: with it, they can work magic.

Blackmailed into service during World War II, Ilse lends her magic to America’s newest weapon, the atom bomb, while Wolf goes behind enemy lines to sabotage Germany’s nuclear program. It’s a dangerous mission, but if Hitler were to create the bomb first, the results would be catastrophic.

When Wolf’s plane is shot down, his entire mission is thrown into jeopardy. Wolf needs Ilse’s help to develop the magic that will keep him alive, but with a spy afoot in Ilse’s laboratory, the secret letters she sends to Wolf begin to look treasonous. Can Ilse prove her loyalty—and find a way to help her brother—before their time runs out?

Loyalties and identities will be tested in this sweeping fantasy and a fast-paced thriller that bravely explores the tensions at the dawn of the nuclear age.

Buy it: Amazon | B&N | IndieBound

Sarahland by Sam Cohen

54503493In Sarahland, Sam Cohen brilliantly and often hilariously explores the ways in which traditional stories have failed us, both demanding and thrillingly providing for its cast of Sarahs new origin stories, new ways to love the planet and those inhabiting it, and new possibilities for life itself. In one story, a Jewish college Sarah passively consents to a form-life in pursuit of an MRS degree and is swept into a culture of normalized sexual violence. Another reveals a version of Sarah finding pleasure—and a new set of problems—by playing dead for a wealthy necrophiliac. A Buffy-loving Sarah uses fan fiction to work through romantic obsession. As the collection progresses, Cohen explodes this search for self, insisting that we have more to resist and repair than our own personal narratives. Readers witness as the ever-evolving “Sarah” gets recast: as a bible-era trans woman, an aging lesbian literally growing roots, a being who transcends the earth as we know it. While Cohen presents a world that will clearly someday end, “Sarah” will continue.

In each Sarah’s refusal to adhere to a single narrative, she potentially builds a better home for us all, a place to live that demands no fixity of self, no plague of consumerism, no bodily compromise, a place called Sarahland.

Buy it: Bookshop | Amazon | IndieBound

Kissing Ezra Holtz by Brianna Shrum

40879516. sy475 Seventeen-year-old Amalia Yaabez and Ezra Holtz couldn’t be more different. They’ve known (and avoided) each other their whole lives; she unable to stand his buttoned-up, arrogant, perfect disposition, and he unwilling to deal with her slacker, rule-breaking way of moving through the world.

When they are unhappily paired on an AP Psychology project, they come across an old psychological study that posits that anyone can fall in love with anyone, if you put them through the right scientific, psychological steps. They decide to put that theory to the test for their project, matching couples from different walks of high school life to see if science really can create love.

As they go through the whirlwind of the experiment, Ezra and Amalia realize that maybe it’s not just the couples they matched who are falling for each other . . .

Buy it: Bookshop | Amazon | IndieBound

Something to Talk About by Meryl Wilsner

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 | Bookshop

Camp by L.C. Rosen

Sixteen-year-old Randy Kapplehoff loves spending the summer at Camp Outland, a camp for queer teens. It’s where he met his best friends. It’s where he takes to the stage in the big musical. And it’s where he fell for Hudson Aaronson-Lim – who’s only into straight-acting guys and barely knows not-at-all-straight-acting Randy even exists.

This year, though, it’s going to be different. Randy has reinvented himself as ‘Del’ – buff, masculine, and on the market. Even if it means giving up show tunes, nail polish, and his unicorn bedsheets, he’s determined to get Hudson to fall for him.

But as he and Hudson grow closer, Randy has to ask himself how much is he willing to change for love. And is it really love anyway, if Hudson doesn’t know who he truly is?

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The Second Mango by Shira Glassman

32179385. sy475 Queen Shulamit never expected to inherit the throne of the tropical land of Perach so young. At twenty, grief-stricken and fatherless, she’s also coping with being the only lesbian she knows after her sweetheart ran off for an unknown reason. Not to mention, she’s the victim of severe digestive problems that everybody thinks she’s faking. When she meets Rivka, an athletic and assertive warrior from the north who wears a mask and pretends to be a man, she finds the source of strength she needs so desperately.

Unfortunately for her, Rivka is straight, but that’s okay — Shulamit needs a surrogate big sister just as much as she needs a girlfriend. Especially if the warrior’s willing to take her around the kingdom on the back of her dragon in search of other women who might be open to same-sex romance. The real world outside the palace is full of adventure, however, and the search for a royal girlfriend quickly turns into a rescue mission when they discover a temple full of women turned to stone by an evil sorcerer.

Buy it: Amazon

The Art of Starving by Sam J. Miller

theartofstarvingMatt hasn’t eaten in days.

His stomach stabs and twists inside, pleading for a meal. But Matt won’t give in. The hunger clears his mind, keeps him sharp—and he needs to be as sharp as possible if he’s going to find out just how Tariq and his band of high school bullies drove his sister, Maya, away.

Matt’s hardworking mom keeps the kitchen crammed with food, but Matt can resist the siren call of casseroles and cookies because he has discovered something: the less he eats the more he seems to have . . . powers. The ability to see things he shouldn’t be able to see. The knack of tuning in to thoughts right out of people’s heads. Maybe even the authority to bend time and space.

So what is lunch, really, compared to the secrets of the universe?

Matt decides to infiltrate Tariq’s life, then use his powers to uncover what happened to Maya. All he needs to do is keep the hunger and longing at bay. No problem. But Matt doesn’t realize there are many kinds of hunger… and he isn’t in control of all of them.

Buy it: Amazon | B&N | IndieBound

All My Mother’s Lovers by Ilana Masad

Intimacy has always eluded twenty-seven-year-old Maggie Krause—despite being brought up by married parents, models of domestic bliss—until, that is, Lucia came into her life. But when Maggie’s mom, Iris, dies in a car crash, Maggie returns home only to discover a withdrawn dad, an angry brother, and, along with Iris’s will, five sealed envelopes, each addressed to a mysterious man she’s never heard of.

In an effort to run from her own grief and discover the truth about Iris—who made no secret of her discomfort with her daughter’s sexuality—Maggie embarks on a road trip, determined to hand-deliver the letters and find out what these men meant to her mother. Maggie quickly discovers Iris’s second, hidden life, which shatters everything Maggie thought she knew about her parents’ perfect relationship. What is she supposed to tell her father and brother? And how can she deal with her own relationship when her whole world is in freefall?

Told over the course of a funeral and shiva, and written with enormous wit and warmth, All My Mother’s Lovers is the exciting debut novel from fiction writer and book critic Ilana Masad. A unique meditation on the universality and particularity of family ties and grief, and a tender and biting portrait of sex, gender, and identity, All My Mother’s Lovers challenges us to question the nature of fulfilling relationships.

Buy it: Amazon | B&N | IndieBound

What If It’s Us? by Becky Albertalli and Adam Silvera

36341204. sy475 Arthur is only in New York for the summer, but if Broadway has taught him anything, it’s that the universe can deliver a showstopping romance when you least expect it.

Ben thinks the universe needs to mind its business. If the universe had his back, he wouldn’t be on his way to the post office carrying a box of his ex-boyfriend’s things.

But when Arthur and Ben meet-cute at the post office, what exactly does the universe have in store for them?

Maybe nothing. After all, they get separated.

Maybe everything. After all, they get reunited.

But what if they can’t quite nail a first date . . . or a second first date . . . or a third?

What if Arthur tries too hard to make it work . . . and Ben doesn’t try hard enough?

What if life really isn’t like a Broadway play?

But what if it is?

Buy it: Bookshop | Amazon | IndieBound

Ana on the Edge by A.J. Sass

For fans of George and Ivy Aberdeen’s Letter to the World, a heartfelt coming of age story about a nonbinary character navigating a binary world.

Twelve-year-old Ana-Marie Jin, the reigning US Juvenile figure skating champion, is not a frilly dress kind of kid. So, when Ana learns that next season’s program will be princess themed, doubt forms fast. Still, Ana tries to focus on training and putting together a stellar routine worthy of national success.

Once Ana meets Hayden, a transgender boy new to the rink, thoughts about the princess program and gender identity begin to take center stage. And when Hayden mistakes Ana for a boy, Ana doesn’t correct him and finds comfort in this boyish identity when he’s around. As their friendship develops, Ana realizes that it’s tricky juggling two different identities on one slippery sheet of ice. And with a major competition approaching, Ana must decide whether telling everyone the truth is worth risking years of hard work and sacrifice.

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

You Asked for Perfect by Laura Silverman

bivis5Senior Ariel Stone is the perfect college applicant: first chair violin, dedicated community volunteer, and expected valedictorian. He works hard – really hard – to make his life look effortless. A failed Calculus quiz is not part of that plan. Not when he’s number one. Not when his peers can smell weakness like a freshman’s body spray.

Figuring a few all-nighters will preserve his class rank, Ariel throws himself into studying. His friends will understand if he skips a few plans, and he can sleep when he graduates. Except Ariel’s grade continues to slide. Reluctantly, he gets a tutor. Amir and Ariel have never gotten along, but Amir excels in Calculus, and Ariel is out of options.

Ariel may not like Calc, but he might like Amir. Except adding a new relationship to his long list of commitments may just push him past his limit.

Buy it: Amazon | B&N | Indiebound

Wide Awake by David Levithan

I can’t believe there’s going to be a gay Jewish president.

As my mother said this, she looked at my father, who was still staring at the screen. They were shocked, barely comprehending.

Me? I sat there and beamed.

Everything seems to be going right in Duncan’s life: The candidate he’s been supporting for president has just won the election. Duncan’s boyfriend, Jimmy, is with him to celebrate. Love and kindness appear to have won the day.

But all too quickly, things start to go wrong. The election is called into question… and Duncan and Jimmy’s relationship is called into question, too. Suddenly Duncan has to decide what he’s willing to risk for something he believes in… and how far he’s willing to go to hold on to the people we hold dear.

Buy it: Bookshop | Amazon | IndieBound

Becoming Eve: My Journey from Ultra-Orthodox Rabbi to Transgender Woman by Abby Chava Stein

44287250Abby Stein was raised in a Hasidic Jewish community in Brooklyn, isolated in a culture that lives according to the laws and practices of eighteenth-century Eastern Europe, speaking only Yiddish and Hebrew and shunning modern life. Stein was born as the first son in a dynastic rabbinical family, poised to become a leader of the next generation of Hasidic Jews.

But Abby felt certain at a young age that she was a girl. She suppressed her desire for a new body while looking for answers wherever she could find them, from forbidden religious texts to smuggled secular examinations of faith. Finally, she orchestrated a personal exodus from ultra-Orthodox manhood to mainstream femininity-a radical choice that forced her to leave her home, her family, her way of life.

Powerful in the truths it reveals about biology, culture, faith, and identity, Becoming Eve poses the enduring question: How far will you go to become the person you were meant to be?

Buy it: B&N | Amazon | IndieBound

The Wife in the Attic by Rose Lerner

54369673. sx318 Goldengrove’s towers and twisted chimneys rose at the very edge of the peaceful Weald, a stone’s throw from the poisonous marshes and merciless waters of Rye Bay. Young Tabby Palethorp had been running wild there, ever since her mother grew too ill to leave her room.

I was the perfect choice to give Tabby a good English education: thoroughly respectable and far too plain to tempt her lonely father, Sir Kit, to indiscretion.

I knew better than to trust my new employer with the truth about my past. But knowing better couldn’t stop me from yearning for impossible things: to be Tabby’s mother, Sir Kit’s companion, Goldengrove’s new mistress.

All that belonged to poor Lady Palethorp. Most of all, I burned to finally catch a glimpse of her.

Surely she could tell me who had viciously defaced the exquisite guitar in the music room, why all the doors in the house were locked after dark, and whose footsteps I heard in the night…

Buy it: Audible

The Papercutter by Cindy Rizzo

A deeply polarized and ungovernable United States of America has separated into two nations―the God Fearing States (GFS) and the United Progressive Regions (UPR).

Judith Braverman, a teenager living in an Orthodox Jewish community in the GFS, is not only a talented artist accomplished in the ancient craft of papercutting, she also has the gift of seeing into peoples’ souls―and can tell instantly if someone is good or evil.

Jeffrey Schwartz has no love for religion or conformity and yearns to escape to the freedom of the UPR. When he’s accepted into an experimental pen pal program and paired with Dani Fine, an openly queer girl in the UPR, he hopes that he can finally find a way out.

As danger mounts and their alarm grows, Judith embeds a secret code in her papercuts so that she and Jeffrey can tell Dani what’s happening to Jews in the GFS without raising suspicions from the government. When the three arrange a quick, clandestine meeting, Jeffrey is finally faced with the choice to flee or to stay and resist. And Judith is reeling from a pull toward Dani that is unlike anything she has ever felt before.

Buy it: Amazon

Depart, Depart! by Sim Kern

53417444. sy475 When an unprecedented hurricane devastates the city of Houston, Noah Mishner finds shelter in the Dallas Mavericks’ basketball arena. Though he finds community among other queer refugees, Noah fears his trans and Jewish identities put him at risk with certain “capital-T” Texans. His fears take form when he starts seeing visions of his great- grandfather Abe, who fled Nazi Germany as a boy. As the climate crisis intensifies and conditions in the shelter deteriorate, Abe’s ghost grows more powerful. Ultimately, Noah must decide whether he can trust his ancestor ⁠— and whether he’s willing to sacrifice his identity and community in order to survive.

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

Books to Preorder

Almost Flying by Jake Maia Arlow (June 8th)

Would-be amusement park aficionado Dalia only has two items on her summer bucket list: (1) finally ride a roller coaster and (2) figure out how to make a new best friend. But when her dad suddenly announces that he’s engaged, Dalia’s schemes come to a screeching halt. With Dalia’s future stepsister Alexa heading back to college soon, the grown-ups want the girls to spend the last weeks of summer bonding–meaning Alexa has to cancel the amusement park road trip she’s been planning for months. Luckily Dalia comes up with a new plan: If she joins Alexa on her trip and brings Rani, the new girl from her swim team, along maybe she can have the perfect summer after all. But what starts out as a week of funnel cakes and Lazy River rides goes off the rails when Dalia discovers that Alexa’s girlfriend is joining the trip. And keeping Alexa’s secret makes Dalia realize one of her own: She might have more-than-friend feelings for Rani.

Buy it: Bookshop | Amazon | IndieBound

I Kissed a Girl by Jennet Alexander (August 3rd)

Lilah Silver’s a young actress who dreams of climbing out of B-list stardom. She’s been cast as the “final girl” in what could be her breakout performance…but if she wants to prove herself to everyone who ever doubted her, she’s going to need major help along the way.

Noa Birnbaum may be a brilliant makeup artist and special effects whiz-kid, but cracking into the union is more difficult than she imagined. Keeping everyone happy is a full-time job, and she’s already run ragged. And yet when the beautiful star she’s been secretly crushing on admits to fears of her own, Noa vows to do everything in her power to help Lilah shine like never before.

Long hours? Exhausting work? No problem. Together they can take the world by storm…but can the connection forged over long hours in the makeup chair ever hope to survive the glare of the spotlight?

Preorder: Bookshop | Amazon | B&N | Books-A-Million

The City Beautiful by Aden Polydoros (September 7th)

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

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

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

Preorder: Bookshop | Amazon | IndieBound | Blackwell’s

Books to Add to Your TBR

April 2021 Deal Announcements

Adult Fiction

2021 Tin House Scholar Luke Dani Blue’s PRETEND IT’S MY BODY, a collection of stories exploring dysphorias of gender and reality, trans teen psychics and tornado survivors, con artists and runaways, mothers who are daughters and daughters who are sons, ultimately asking if there’s a real self, and if so, what does it look like, to Lauren Rosemary Hook at Feminist Press, by Adam Schear at DeFiore and Company (world English).

London Writers Award winner and activist Henry Fry’s FIRST TIME FOR EVERYTHING, about a shy 20-something who, discovering his boyfriend will never give him what he wants (monogamy), moves into an East London “commune” and, with the help of his madcap flatmates and inscrutable therapist, sets out in search of his most authentic self, exploring the exuberance of queer life with many missteps along the way, to Jesse Shuman at Ballantine, and Bhavna Chauhan at Doubleday Canada, at auction, in a two-book deal, by Hayley Steed at Madeleine Milburn Literary Agency (NA).

Iowa MFA candidate Jenny Fran Davis’s DYKETTE, following a young aspiring writer and her partner over the course of a dysfunctional 10-day getaway with two other queer couples; exploring the nuanced contradictions of intimacy, jealousy, and desire, to Ruby Rose Lee at Holt, in a pre-empt, in a two-book deal, by Miriam Altshuler at DeFiore and Company (world).

Author of SOMETHING TO TALK ABOUT Meryl Wilsner‘s MISTAKES WERE MADE, pitched as a raunch-com in which a college senior has a one night stand with a stranger, who she later learns is her friend’s mom, to Vicki Lame at Griffin, for publication in fall 2022, by Patrice Caldwell at New Leaf Literary & Media (NA).

Hugo Award-winning blogger Foz Meadows‘s A STRANGE AND STUBBORN ENDURANCE, a m/m epic fantasy romance about a closeted young nobleman preparing for a political arranged marriage to a foreign princess — but when his sexuality is revealed, he’s offered marriage to her brother the prince instead, to Claire Eddy at Tor, in a good deal, in a pre-empt, in a two-book deal, for publication in summer 2022, by Hannah Bowman at Liza Dawson Associates (world English).

Cartoonist and Associate Editor of The Nib Matt Lubchansky‘s BOYS WEEKEND, part autobiographical fiction, part satire, and part SF horror, following Sammie, who a year after they come out as trans must navigate a bachelor party weekend on El Campo, a hedonistic floating wonderland in international waters, while a murderous cult tries to take over the island, to Anna Kaufman at Pantheon, by Kate McKean at Howard Morhaim Literary Agency (world).

Iowa MFA candidate Jenny Fran Davis‘s DYKETTE, following a young aspiring writer and her partner over the course of a dysfunctional 10-day getaway with two other queer couples; exploring the nuanced contradictions of intimacy, jealousy, and desire, to Ruby Rose Lee at Holt, in a pre-empt, in a two-book deal, by Miriam Altshuler at DeFiore and Company (world).

Courtney Kae‘s debut IN THE EVENT OF LOVE, a queer rom-com that finds an L.A. event planner back in her rustic mountain hometown over the holidays for a career-saving gig, where she discovers that the sexy lumberjane owner of the tree farm she’s there to revive is the same girl who broke her heart seven years ago, to Elizabeth Trout at Kensington, in a two-book deal, by Claire Friedman at Inkwell Management.

Author of A LITTLE LIFE Hanya Yanagihara’s TO PARADISE, spanning three centuries and three different versions of the American experiment, about lovers, family, loss, and the elusive promise of utopia; opening in 1893 in an alternate version of America, where New York is part of the Free States, where people may live and love whomever they please (or so it seems) and the fragile young scion of a distinguished family resists betrothal to a worthy suitor, drawn to a charming music teacher of no means; in a 1993 Manhattan besieged by the AIDS epidemic, a young Hawaiian man lives with his much older, wealthier partner, hiding his troubled childhood and the fate of his father; and in 2093, in a world riven by plagues and governed by totalitarian rule, a powerful scientist’s damaged granddaughter tries to navigate life without him—and solve the mystery of her husband’s disappearances, to Doubleday, for publication in January 2022, by Anna Stein at ICM (US).

Season Vining‘s PENNY FOR YOUR HEART, an LGBTQ+ #OwnVoices rom-com in which two childhood friends who were separated by fear and discrimination reunite and struggle to find the authentic love they’ve long been missing, to Nikki Babri at Tule, in a three-book deal, by Amy Brewer at Metamorphosis Literary Agency.

Children’s Fiction

Nicole Melleby and A.J. Sass’s CAMP QUILTBAG*, in which a 12-year-old and 13-year-old attend a queer summer camp for very different reasons and make a pact to help one another find their footing at camp, all while navigating crushes, their queer identities, and a competition pitting cabin against cabin, to Krestyna Lypen at Algonquin Young Readers, for publication in spring 2023, by Jim McCarthy at Dystel, Goderich & Bourret for Melleby, and Jordan Hamessley at New Leaf Literary & Media for Sass (world).

Young Adult Fiction

Author of the forthcoming MAY THE BEST MAN WIN Z.R. Ellor’s ACTING THE PART, in which a teenage actor questioning their gender identity starts a fake relationship with a costar to convince their showrunners to give their on-screen f/f couple a happy ending, to Stephanie Guerdan at Harper Teen, at auction, for publication in fall 2022, by Kaitlyn Johnson at Belcastro Agency (world English).

Molly Horton Booth and Stephanie Kate Strohm‘s TWELFTH GRADE NIGHT and KING CHEER, the first two books in the Arden High series, set at a modern-day high school where magic and fairies are real, the LGBTQ themes of the original plays are more than subtext, and the drama is quite literally Shakespearean, illustrated by Jamie Green, to Kieran Viola at Disney-Hyperion, with Rachel Stark editing, in a two-book deal, for publication in fall 2022, by Alexander Slater at Trident Media Group for Booth, Molly Ker Hawn at The Bent Agency for Strohm, and Chad Beckerman at The CAT Agency for the illustrator (world).

Sarah Rees Brennan‘s FENCE: DISARMED, the second original novel based on the graphic novel series created by C.S. Pacat and Johanna The Mad, following the boys of Kings Row to a training camp in Europe where they face elite fencers, ex-boyfriends, expulsion, and an infamous character, to Mary-Kate Gaudet at Little, Brown Children’s, for publication in summer 2021, by Suzie Townsend at New Leaf Literary & Media (world).

Non-Fiction

Author of BLACK WAVE, MODERN TAROT, and AGAINST MEMOIR Michelle Tea‘s KNOCKING MYSELF UP, following the author’s journey to get pregnant as a 40-year-old, single, queer, uninsured woman, venturing into the very straight world of prospective motherhood and artificial reproductive technologies, and the often hidden and taboo truths of women’s bodies, bringing her wild, transgressive community along for the ride, to Peter Kispert at Dey Street Books, in a six-figure deal, at auction, by Alison Lewis at Zoe Pagnamenta Agency (world English).

Coauthor of AVA GARDNER: A LIFE IN MOVIES Anthony Uzarowski‘s FRIENDS OF DOROTHY: A CELEBRATION OF LGBTQ+ ICONS, about larger-than-life characters who over the decades inspired LGBTQ+ people, creating controversy, challenging conventions, and sometimes putting their own lives on the line in order for new generations to live in a more equal and accepting world, illustrated by Alejandro Mogollo, to Kevin Stevens at Imagine Publishing, in a nice deal, for publication in 2023, by Lee Sobel at Lee Sobel Literary Agency (world).

Journalist Jessie Stephens‘s HEARTSICK, using interwoven narratives of a diverse group of three people—a middle aged married woman who falls in love with someone who is not her husband, a 20-something queer woman who moves to London and starts dating the wrong person, and a young man who has never been in a relationship before and falls head over heels as you can only do in first love—whose lives are altered by major heartbreak, to explore the devastation of love, our need for connection, and how relationships transform us, to Serena Jones at Holt, at auction, for publication in spring 2022, by Daniel Lazar at Writers House, on behalf of Macmillan Australia (NA). (Previously published in Australia.)

*Deals originally published in Publishers Marketplace (c) 2021.

Uncertainty as Opportunity: Why It’s Okay To Not Know Everything About Your Identity Right Away, A Guest Post By Ana on the Edge Author A.J. Sass

Today on the site I am so excited to be welcoming A.J. Sass, author of the groundbreaking middle grade contemporary Ana on the Edge, which releases today from Little, Brown Young Readers. Here’s a little more about the book:

For fans of George and Ivy Aberdeen’s Letter to the World, a heartfelt coming of age story about a nonbinary character navigating a binary world.

Twelve-year-old Ana-Marie Jin, the reigning US Juvenile figure skating champion, is not a frilly dress kind of kid. So, when Ana learns that next season’s program will be princess themed, doubt forms fast. Still, Ana tries to focus on training and putting together a stellar routine worthy of national success.

Once Ana meets Hayden, a transgender boy new to the rink, thoughts about the princess program and gender identity begin to take center stage. And when Hayden mistakes Ana for a boy, Ana doesn’t correct him and finds comfort in this boyish identity when he’s around. As their friendship develops, Ana realizes that it’s tricky juggling two different identities on one slippery sheet of ice. And with a major competition approaching, Ana must decide whether telling everyone the truth is worth risking years of hard work and sacrifice.

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

And here’s the post!

A month after I started hormone replacement therapy, my friends threw me a “T-party” in San Francisco’s Dolores Park. I’d recently come out as trans and chosen a name that has stayed with me to this day: Andrew. And pronouns? He, him, and his, because I’m a guy, obviously.

Hold that thought.

I remember that afternoon well. It was unusually warm for a July in San Francisco, and the outing felt festive, reminiscent of a Pride Month weekend just a few weeks earlier. I was surrounded by friends who’d supported me as I navigated both my social and medical transition. My world felt full of potential. Finally, I could focus on living my life rather than on coming out to everyone and the emotional labor that entailed.

Just the same, I found myself shrugging when a friend jokingly asked if, two injections into my transition, I’d noticed any physical changes yet.

“Not yet,” I’d said. Then, a slight hesitation before I admitted, “honestly, I’m not even sure I feel like a man at this point.”

“Give it time,” my friends who’d been on testosterone (T) longer encouraged me. “It’ll happen, especially when strangers stop misgendering you.”

Their advice was well-meaning and, I suspect, a truth for many folks who’ve pursued this particular avenue of transition. So I waited, and I hoped my feelings would change on a similar trajectory with my body.

They didn’t.

I can’t remember the first time I heard the word nonbinary. Maybe I read an interview online or it came up in a casual conversation. What I do remember is the immediate connection I felt to its definition:

Nonbinary: not relating to, composed of, or involving just two things.

That’s me. I knew instantly.

So why did it take me another four years to decide to discontinue T and even longer to publicly announce my identity? Simple: I didn’t want to be a burden. I’d just come out as a trans man to my friends and family, then had to approach my workplace’s HR department to change my name and pronouns. There was a nagging concern that I’d be inconveniencing people after I’d already asked them to use one new name and set of pronouns.

And what if I realized that different pronouns worked better for me later on? How many times could I come out to people before they got fed up?

By the time I wrote Ana on the Edge, I was more or less comfortable being seen as a man in my public life, even if it didn’t perfectly describe who I am. But, as writing often does when you’re delving into something personal, Ana’s journey to discovering her nonbinary identity brought to the surface feelings and thoughts about my own.

I created an ending to Ana’s story that left things open, one that sent readers the message that, “hey, this kid now knows she’s nonbinary, but she doesn’t have everything figured out yet, and that’s okay.” But it wasn’t until relatively late in the drafting process—after I’d revised the story enough to begin querying agents—that I realized the same logic could be applied to myself.

It was a revelation that allowed me to critically evaluate how I wanted to be seen as an author who plans to continue exploring queer themes in the kidlit space. In a way, Ana, my fictional ‘enby bean’ ice skater, taught me that not knowing everything about myself all at once is not only acceptable but something to embrace. And the individuals who might not be so enthusiastic about having to learn a new set of pronouns? They’re not people worth being concerned about. My identity—an inherent part of who I am as a living, breathing, feeling human being—is not up for debate no matter how often it happens to evolve, nor is it an inconvenience.

Near the end of Ana’s story, she reflects on the decision not to change her pronouns yet: “Uncertainty feels like less of a burden and more of an opportunity.”

I’ve held that line close to me on the lead-up to publication. Because some people know who they are when they’re young, and that’s entirely valid. But for a long time, the only trans narratives I could find in the media exclusively reflected the experience that you either know you’re trans at a young age or else you’re not really trans.

People aren’t static. Our tastes, interests, and even appearances change as we learn more about ourselves over time. Why not the understanding of our internal sense of self, as well? Instead of the shame I’m tempted to feel for inconveniencing people when I learn something new about myself, Ana helped me acknowledge that my identity is my own, even at times when I’ve been uncertain about some aspect of it.

Maybe you were twelve like Ana when you discovered your identity or well into adulthood like I was. Maybe you’re still trying to figure it out now; that’s also perfectly fine. The wonderful thing about identity is it has no expiration date. Sit back, enjoy the journey, and celebrate every new discovery.

Parties (T, tea, or otherwise) are also highly recommended.

***

A. J. Sass is a writer, editor, and occasional mentor. A long-time figure skater, he has passed his U.S. Figure Skating Senior Moves in the Field and Free Skate tests, medaled twice at the U.S. Synchronized Skating Championships, and currently dabbles in ice dance. When he’s not exploring the world as much as possible, A. J. lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with his boyfriend and two cats who act like dogs. Ana on the Edge is his first novel.

LGBTQA MG 2020 Preview (July-December)

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Cattywampus by Ash Van Otterloo (August 4th)

In the town of Howler’s Hollow, conjuring magic is strictly off-limits. Only nothing makes Delpha McGill’s skin crawl more than rules. So when she finds her family’s secret book of hexes, she’s itching to use it to banish her mama’s money troubles. She just has to keep it quieter than a church mouse — not exactly Delpha’s specialty.

Trouble is, Katybird Hearn is hankering to get her hands on the spell book, too. The daughter of a rival witching family, Katy has reasons of her own for wanting to learn forbidden magic, and she’s not going to let an age-old feud or Delpha’s contrary ways stop her. But their quarrel accidentally unleashes a hex so heinous it resurrects a graveyard full of angry Hearn and McGill ancestors bent on total destruction. If Delpha and Katy want to reverse the spell in time to save everyone in the Hollow from rampaging zombies, they’ll need to mend fences and work together.

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

Goldie Vance: Larceny in La La Land created Hope Larson, written by Jackie Ball, and ill. by Mollie Rose (August 4th)

This is the 5th volume in the Goldie Vance series

Goldie, Diane, and Cheryl find themselves jetsetting to sunny Los Angeles for a break but are drawn into a deeply personal investigation in this all new original graphic novel.

CALIFORNIA HERE WE COME!

Thanks to a serendipitous conflagration of events, Goldie, Diane, and Cheryl find themselves jetsetting to sunny Los Angeles! While Cheryl pursues space dreams at JPL and Diane continues her work as a remote scout for a music label, Goldie finds her days lost in the haze of old Hollywood, becoming friendly with a silent film start long past her prime. But when she’s framed for stealing, Goldie must dive back into her secret history in Tinsel Town to get to the bottom of it!

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

Beetle and the Hollowbones by Aliza Layne (August 4th)

52765957In the eerie town of ‘Allows, some people get to be magical sorceresses, while other people have their spirits trapped in the mall for all ghastly eternity.

Then there’s twelve-year-old goblin-witch Beetle, who’s caught in between. She’d rather skip being homeschooled completely and spend time with her best friend, Blob Glost. But the mall is getting boring, and B.G. is cursed to haunt it, tethered there by some unseen force. And now Beetle’s old best friend, Kat, is back in town for a sorcery apprenticeship with her Aunt Hollowbone. Kat is everything Beetle wants to be: beautiful, cool, great at magic, and kind of famous online. Beetle’s quickly being left in the dust.

But Kat’s mentor has set her own vile scheme in motion. If Blob Ghost doesn’t escape the mall soon, their afterlife might be coming to a very sticky end. Now, Beetle has less than a week to rescue her best ghost, encourage Kat to stand up for herself, and confront the magic she’s been avoiding for far too long. And hopefully ride a broom without crashing.

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

Pepper’s Rules for Secret Sleuthing by Briana McDonald (September 29th)

Amateur detective Pepper Blouse has always held true to this rule, even if it meant pushing people away. But when the results of Pepper’s latest case cost her any hope of the girl she likes returning her feelings, she decides that maybe she should lay low for a while.

That is, until her Great Aunt Florence passes away under mysterious circumstances. And even though her dad insists there’s nothing to investigate, Pepper can’t just ignore rule fourteen: Trust your gut.

But there’s nothing in the rulebook that could’ve prepared her for this.

Maybe it’s time to stop playing by the rules.

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

Ana on the Edge by A.J. Sass (October 20th)

Twelve-year-old Ana-Marie Jin, the reigning US Juvenile figure skating champion, is not a frilly dress kind of kid. So, when Ana learns that next season’s program will be princess themed, doubt forms fast. Still, Ana tries to focus on training and putting together a stellar routine worthy of national success.

Once Ana meets Hayden, a transgender boy new to the rink, thoughts about the princess program and gender identity begin to take center stage. And when Hayden mistakes Ana for a boy, Ana doesn’t correct him and finds comfort in this boyish identity when he’s around. As their friendship develops, Ana realizes that it’s tricky juggling two different identities on one slippery sheet of ice. And with a major competition approaching, Ana must decide whether telling everyone the truth is worth risking years of hard work and sacrifice.

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

Spin With Me by Ami Polonsky (November 10th)

Essie is a thirteen-year-old girl feeling glum about starting a new school after her professor dad takes a temporary teaching position in a different town. She has 110 days here and can’t wait for them to end. Then she meets Ollie: delicate, blue eyes, short hair, easy smile. At first, Essie thinks she has a typical crush on a beautiful boy. But as her crush blossoms, she soon realizes that Ollie is not a boy or a girl, but gender non-binary.

Meanwhile, Ollie is experiencing a crush of their own . . . on Essie. As Ollie struggles to balance their passion for queer advocacy with their other interests, they slowly find themselves falling for a girl whose stay is about to come to an end. Can the two unwind their merry-go-round of feelings before it’s too late?

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

February Book Deal Announcements

Adult Fiction

Assistant Books Editor at O, the Oprah Magazine Michelle Hart‘s WE DO WHAT WE DO IN THE DARK, about a young woman who has an affair with an older, married female professor during college, and how that relationship reshapes the rest of her life; a story of desire, loneliness, and the secrets we keep, even from ourselves, to Laura Perciasepe at Riverhead, in a pre-empt, by Sarah Burnes at The Gernert Company (NA).

New Yorker contributor and University Fellow at the Syracuse MFA program Anthony Veasna So‘s AFTERPARTIES, in which young Cambodian Americans grapple with race, sexuality, and their inherited traumas from the Khmer Rouge genocide, even as they carve out lives in the California Central Valley and Bay Area, and STRAIGHT THRU CAMBOTOWN, about three Cambodian-American cousins who inherit their late aunt’s illegitimate loan sharking business and then become embroiled in a Hollywood conspiracy, to Helen Atsma at Ecco, in a significant deal, at auction, in a two-book deal, for publication in summer 2021, by Rob McQuilkin at Massie & McQuilkin (NA).

Sidney Bell‘s THIS IS NOT THE END, a polyamorous romance in which a deeply reserved songwriter is invited to join his best friend and his wife in bed for a night, and what starts as a fling may just turn into forever, to Stephanie Doig at Carina Press (world).

Author of LILY AND THE OCTOPUS and THE EDITOR Steven Rowley‘s THE GUNCLE, about a reclusive television star who takes his young niece and nephew into his Palm Springs home after a family tragedy, and how his outsized lifestyle and unusual life wisdom bring about a season of healing that redefines their understanding of family and finally leads him back to himself, again to Sally Kim at Putnam, by Rob Weisbach at Rob Weisbach Creative Management (NA).

Children’s

NYT-bestselling author of THREE LITTLE WORDS and THREE MORE WORDS Ashley Rhodes-Courter’s SAM IS OUR SISTER, a picture book based on the experiences of the author’s family that follows three siblings, one of whom is transgender, as they play astronauts, learn about what it means to become your true self, and realize they will always be together, illustrated by MacKenzie Haley, to Wendy McClure at Albert Whitman, for publication in spring 2021, by Jacqueline Flynn at Joelle Delbourgo Associates for the author, and by Samantha Groff at Advocate-Art for the illustrator (world).

Katherine Locke and Nicole Melleby’s THIS IS OUR RAINBOW: 16 STORIES OF HER, HIM, THEM, AND US, a middle grade anthology that collects short stories, poetry, and comics about LGBTQIA+ characters and experiences by contributors Locke, Melleby, Eric Bell, Lisa Jenn Bigelow, Ashley Herring Blake, Lisa Bunker, Alex Gino, Justina Ireland, Shing Yin Khor, Mariama Lockington, Marieke Nijkamp, Claribel Ortega, Mark Oshiro, Molly Knox Ostertag, Aida Salazar, and A.J. Sass, to Marisa DiNovis at Knopf Children’s, for publication in fall 2021, by Jim McCarthy at Dystel, Goderich & Bourret (world).

Stephanie Stein at HarperCollins has bought, at auction, in a two-book deal, middle grade novel THE INSIDERS by Schneider Family Award winner Mark Oshiro (ANGER IS A GIFT). The book features a queer boy who, fleeing from bullies, discovers a magical closet that not only provides him sanctuary, but also unites him with two other kids facing persecution at their own schools across the country, helping them find friendship and strength in one another. Publication is slated for fall 2021; DongWon Song at Howard Morhaim Literary Agency negotiated the deal for North American rights.*

Natashya Wilson at Inkyard Press has acquired THE WITCH KING plus a sequel from debut author H.E. Edgmon. The YA fantasy duology tells the story of witch and angry trans boy Wyatt Croft, who wants nothing to do with his mediocre magic or his betrothal to fae prince Emyr North, but his plans to change his fate are shattered when the kingdom is threatened by a coup and Emyr comes to claim him. Publication of book one is planned for summer 2021; Rena Rossner at the Deborah Harris Agency brokered the deal for North American rights.*

Krista Marino at Delacorte has bought, at auction, Victoria Lee’s (THE FEVER KING and THE ELECTRIC HEIR) A LESSON IN VENGEANCE. Pitched as The Secret History meets Genuine Fraud and The Craft, the YA novel follows Felicity Morrow, a senior returning to school after her girlfriend’s tragic death, only to meet a new student and teenage literary prodigy who transferred to research the school’s bloody history, and recruits Felicity into a murderous experiment of their own. Publication is set for 2021; Holly Root and Taylor Haggerty at Root Literary negotiated the deal for North American rights.*

Maya Marlette at Scholastic has bought Leah Johnson’s (YOU SHOULD SEE ME IN A CROWN) new YA romance, RISE TO THE SUN. Set over the course of four days at a music festival, the novel features strangers Toni and Olivia, who meet and realize that the music is more than just a way out; it’s a way through… if they are brave enough to face it together. Publication is scheduled for summer 2021; Sarah Landis at Sterling Lord Literistic brokered the deal for world rights.*

Sarah Rees Brennan‘s FENCE: STRIKING DISTANCE, based on the comic series created by C.S. Pacat and Johanna The Mad, following the rise of a sixteen-year-old outsider in the world of competitive fencing as he joins the team at an elite boys school and experiences intense rivalries, lifelong friendships, and romance between teammates, to Mary-Kate Gaudet at Little, Brown Children’s, for publication in fall 2020, by Suzie Townsend at New Leaf Literary & Media (world).

A.M. Strickland‘s IN THE RAVENOUS DARK, a LGBTQIA+ dark fantasy featuring a teen blood-magic user bound to an undead guardian, to John Morgan at Imprint, for publication in summer 2021, by Hannah Bowman at Liza Dawson Associates (world).

Graphic Novels

Jonah Newman’s OUT OF LEFT FIELD, a semi-autobiographical young adult graphic novel in which a gay teen boy, determined to excel at baseball but decidedly much more at home in a history book, discovers himself, to Andrea Colvin at Little, Brown Children’s, at auction, for publication in summer 2023, by Chad Luibl at Janklow & Nesbit (world).

Non-Fiction

Oxford University research fellow and LitHub contributor Jack Parlett’s WRITTEN IN THE SAND, a blend of memoir and literary history, exploring the queer identity, idyllic beaches, and famous locales of an iconic destination—Fire Island; pitched as in the vein of Hugh Ryan’s WHEN BROOKLYN WAS QUEER and Olivia Laing’s THE LONELY CITY, examining a number of key literary figures like W.H. Auden, Carson McCullers, Edmund White, Andrew Holleran, and Jeremy O. Harris, who together tell the story of what it means to create a queer space, to John Glynn at Hanover Square Press, at auction, by David Forrer at Inkwell Management, on behalf of Jane Finigan at Lutyens & Rubinstein (NA).

Kelly Delaney at Knopf has acquired, in a preempt, ALL THE THINGS I’VE KEPT FROM MYSELF by Karina Manta. This YA memoir tells of the champion figure skater’s experiences as a professional athlete, coming out as bisexual in a hyper-feminine sport, and her continually evolving body image. Publication is scheduled for fall 2021; Jess Regel at Foundry Literary + Media brokered the deal for North American rights.*

Foreign/Subrights

Arkady Martine’s A MEMORY CALLED EMPIRE and A DESOLATION CALLED PEACE, to J’ai Lu (France), in a two-book deal, by Danny Baror at Baror International; also to Mondadori (Italy), in a two-book deal, by Danny Baror at Baror International; on behalf of DongWon Song at Howard Morhaim Literary Agency.

Morgan Rogers’s HONEY GIRL, to DTV (Germany), by Heather Baror-Shapiro at Baror International, on behalf of Holly Root at Root Literary.

Taylor Jenkins Reid’s THE SEVEN HUSBANDS OF EVELYN HUGO, to Locus (Bulgaria), by Katalina Sabeva at Anthea Agency, on behalf of Taryn Fagerness Agency and Carly Watters at P.S. Literary.

***

*Copyright (c) Publishers Weekly PWxyz LLC. Used by permission.

Happy (Upcoming) International Nonbinary Day!

July 14th is International Nonbinary Day, so here’s a post to help you celebrate in traditional bookish fashion!

Books to Read Now

The Brilliant Death by Amy Rose Capetta

34198648For Teodora DiSangro, a mafia don’s daughter, family is fate.

All her life, Teodora has hidden the fact that she secretly turns her family’s enemies into music boxes, mirrors, and other decorative objects. After all, everyone in Vinalia knows that stregas—wielders of magic—are figures out of fairytales. Nobody believes they’re real.

Then the Capo, the land’s new ruler, sends poisoned letters to the heads of the Five Families that have long controlled Vinalia. Four lie dead and Teo’s beloved father is gravely ill. To save him, Teo must travel to the capital as a DiSangro son—not merely disguised as a boy, but transformed into one.

Enter Cielo, a strega who can switch back and forth between male and female as effortlessly as turning a page in a book. Teo and Cielo journey together to the capital, and Teo struggles to master her powers and to keep her growing feelings for Cielo locked in her heart. As she falls in love with witty, irascible Cielo, Teo realizes how much of life she’s missed by hiding her true nature. But she can’t forget her mission, and the closer they get to the palace, the more sinister secrets they uncover about what’s really going on in their beloved country—and the more determined Teo becomes to save her family at any cost.

Buy it: B&N | Amazon 

The Black Tides of Heaven by J.Y. Yang

33099588Mokoya and Akeha, the twin children of the Protector, were sold to the Grand Monastery as children. While Mokoya developed her strange prophetic gift, Akeha was always the one who could see the strings that moved adults to action. While his sister received visions of what would be, Akeha realized what could be. What’s more, he saw the sickness at the heart of his mother’s Protectorate.

A rebellion is growing. The Machinists discover new levers to move the world every day, while the Tensors fight to put them down and preserve the power of the state. Unwilling to continue to play a pawn in his mother’s twisted schemes, Akeha leaves the Tensorate behind and falls in with the rebels. But every step Akeha takes towards the Machinists is a step away from his sister Mokoya. Can Akeha find peace without shattering the bond he shares with his twin sister?

Buy it: Amazon | B&N

No Man of Woman Born by Ana Mardoll

39878322Destiny sees what others don’t.

A quiet fisher mourning the loss of xer sister to a cruel dragon. A clever hedge-witch gathering knowledge in a hostile land. A son seeking vengeance for his father’s death. A daughter claiming the legacy denied her. A princess laboring under an unbreakable curse. A young resistance fighter questioning everything he’s ever known. A little girl willing to battle a dragon for the sake of a wish. These heroes and heroines emerge from adversity into triumph, recognizing they can be more than they ever imagined: chosen ones of destiny.

From the author of the Earthside series and the Rewoven Tales novels, No Man of Woman Born is a collection of seven fantasy stories in which transgender and nonbinary characters subvert and fulfill gendered prophecies. These prophecies recognize and acknowledge each character’s gender, even when others do not. Note: No trans or nonbinary characters were killed in the making of this book. Trigger warnings and neopronoun pronunciation guides are provided for each story.

Buy it: B&N | Amazon

Lizard Radio by Pat Schmatz

24727102Fifteen-year-old Kivali has never fit in. As a girl in boys’ clothes, she is accepted by neither tribe, bullied by both. What are you? they ask. Abandoned as a baby wrapped in a T-shirt with an image of a lizard on the front, Kivali found a home with nonconformist artist Sheila. Is it true what Sheila says, that Kivali was left by a mysterious race of saurians and that she’ll one day save the world? Kivali doesn’t think so. But if it is true, why has Sheila sent her off to CropCamp, with its schedules and regs and what feels like indoctrination into a gov-controlled society Kivali isn’t sure has good intentions?

But life at CropCamp isn’t all bad. Kivali loves being outdoors and working in the fields. And for the first time, she has real friends: sweet, innocent Rasta; loyal Emmett; fierce, quiet Nona. And then there’s Sully. The feelings that explode inside Kivali whenever Sully is near—whenever they touch—are unlike anything she’s experienced, exhilarating and terrifying. But does Sully feel the same way?

Between mysterious disappearances, tough questions from camp director Ms. Mischetti, and weekly doses of kickshaw—the strange, druglike morsel that Kivali fears but has come to crave—things get more and more complicated. But Kivali has an escape: her unique ability to channel and explore the power of her animal self. She has Lizard Radio.

Will it be enough to save her?

Buy It: B&N | Amazon

Documenting Light by E.E. Ottoman

31145748 (1)If you look for yourself in the past and see nothing, how do you know who you are? How do you know that you’re supposed to be here?

When Wyatt brings an unidentified photograph to the local historical society, he hopes staff historian Grayson will tell him more about the people in the picture. The subjects in the mysterious photograph sit side by side, their hands close but not touching. One is dark, the other fair. Both wear men’s suits.

Were they friends? Lovers? Business partners? Curiosity drives Grayson and Wyatt to dig deep for information, and the more they learn, the more they begin to wonder — about the photograph, and about themselves.

Grayson has lost his way. He misses the family and friends who anchored him before his transition and the confidence that drove him as a high-achieving graduate student. Wyatt lives in a similar limbo, caring for an ill mother, worrying about money, unsure how and when he might be able to express his nonbinary gender publicly. The growing attraction between Wyatt and Grayson is terrifying — and incredibly exciting.

As Grayson and Wyatt discover the power of love to provide them with safety and comfort in the present, they find new ways to write the unwritten history of their own lives and the lives of people like them. With sympathy and cutting insight, Ottoman offers a tour de force exploration of contemporary trans identity.

Buy it: B&N | Amazon

The Brightsiders by Jen Wilde

35901105A teen rockstar has to navigate family, love, coming out, and life in the spotlight after being labeled the latest celebrity trainwreck in Jen Wilde’s quirky and utterly relatable novel.

As a rock star drummer in the hit band The Brightsiders, Emmy King’s life should be perfect. But there’s nothing the paparazzi love more than watching a celebrity crash and burn. When a night of partying lands Emmy in hospital and her girlfriend in jail, she’s branded the latest tabloid train wreck.

Luckily, Emmy has her friends and bandmates, including the super-swoonworthy Alfie, to help her pick up the pieces of her life. She knows hooking up with a band member is exactly the kind of trouble she should be avoiding, and yet Emmy and Alfie Just. Keep. Kissing.

Will the inevitable fallout turn her into a clickbait scandal (again)? Or will she find the strength to stand on her own?

Buy It: B&N | Amazon

Behrouz Gets Lucky by Avery Cassell

27214426Behrouz Gets Lucky is a romantic, literary, kinky, and political novel about two older San Francisco queers – a butch dyke gardener named Lucky and a genderqueer librarian named Behrouz. A coffee date at Café Flore in the Castro, sparks a fiery trans masculine relationship that ends with the couple eating falafel in bed at 3 am half way around the world in a hotel room in Tehran. Forced gentrification in modern San Francisco goads Behrouz and Lucky to find their own uniquely sexual way of reclaiming the city’s lost queer spaces. Behrouz Gets Lucky is also tenderly sensual – an immersive novel, full of fragrances, delicious food, delirious sexual touch, dandy fashion, and beauty.

Buy It: B&N | Amazon

Masquerade by Cyrus Parker

Non-binary poet Cyrus Parker returns with an all-new collection of poetry and prose dedicated to those struggling to find their own identity in a world that often forces one into the confines of what’s considered “socially acceptable.”

Divided into three parts and illustrated by Parker, masquerade grapples with topics such as the never-ending search for acceptance, gender identity, relationships, and the struggle to recognize your own face after hiding behind another for so long.

Buy it: Amazon | B&N

Book to Preorder

Dithered Hearts by Chace Verity (July 24th)

A gender-confused farmer desperate to reclaim her farm and escape her stepparents’ abuse. A closeted prince more interested in helping his people than finding a bride. A fairy godfather with a ton of secrets and no powers. In this diverse fairy tale, everyone is searching for a happy ending.

The masquerade ball to find Prince Longhollow’s future bride might be Cynthia Lynah’s best chance at getting her family farm back. If she can marry him, she’ll have all the money and power she needs. Her newly discovered fairy godfather is ready to help her, but his magic can’t do anything to stop her heart from falling for two women she shouldn’t be attracted to–her stepsisters. In the midst of her flirtations, she causes her fairy godfather to lose his magic and stirs trouble for the prince desperate to save his nation from a famine.

Everyone gets a chance to be the hero of their story, but happy endings seem impossible when they need more than magic to make them happen.

Buy it: Amazon 

Previously Featured Works with Nonbinary MCs

Upcoming Books to add on Goodreads:

Rec Posts

Features with Non-Binary Creators