Treasure by Rebekah Weatherspoon
The Good Girls by Teresa Mummert
Take Them by Storm by Marie Landry
For those of you who feel like you’ve already read every LGBTQIAP+ book in existence, not to worry – there’s plenty still to come! Every TBRainbow Alert will have a mix of five LGBTQIAP+ titles to make sure are on your radar, along with three reasons why you should know them. Here are a few coming up in 2016! (Title links to Goodreads; Author links to book pages for preorder.)
Title: Roller Girl (July 25)
Author: Vanessa North
Genre/Category: Contemporary Romance
Rainbow details: f/f, trans woman and cis woman
Why put it on your radar?
1. Ummm roller derby? Did you not catch that?
2. This is actually gonna be my first Vanessa North read, but far as I can tell she’s pretty great!
3. Mainstream f/f Romance is still reasonably rare, and including at least one trans woman even more so.
Title: Georgia Peaches and Other Forbidden Fruit (August 30)
Author: Jaye Robin Brown
Genre/Category: Contemporary YA
Rainbow details: f/f, both MC and LI are lesbian and cis
Why put it on your radar?
1. Super fun, cute, and hot f/f YA with an HEA; all the things I almost never find together in one space.
2. Really great exploration of the intersection between queerness and religion.
3. It’s set in the south, where queer teens could especially stand to see their stories in happy contexts right now.
Title: As I Descended (September 6)
Author: Robin Talley
Genre/Category: Paranormal YA
Rainbow details: f/f, bi MC
Why put it on your radar?
1. This is a freaking Macbeth retelling. In boarding school. With ghosts. I MEAN.
2. I haven’t read this one yet but I’ve heard rumblings of a much A+ representation in this book, in addition to queerness.
3. Robin Talley is maybe the author most frequently and consistently publishing LGBTQ YA with a big house right now, and always does so with an eye on intersectionality; she’s just generally a fabulous person to support.
Title: Last Seen Leaving (October 4)
Author: Caleb Roehrig
Genre/Category: YA Thriller
Rainbow details: Questioning/Gay boy
Why put it on your radar? 1. Thrillers are my crack. Willing to bet I’m not alone there.
2. Debut author! Love getting in on the ground floor of a potential great new voice in LGBTQIAP+ YA, and all signs (and reviews)(and, if I’m being honest, his tweets) point to him being someone to watch
3. It’s just so…interesting. And resonant. And the representation is every bit as beautiful as the writing.
Title: When the Moon Was Ours (October 4)
Author: Anna-Marie McLemore
Genre/Category: Magical Realism YA
Rainbow details: m/f, queer cis girl and straight trans boy
Why put it on your radar?
1. The writing is melt-your-brain beautiful.
2. QPoC are incredibly rare in YA, as are romances between PoC (and especially interracial romances between PoC), and this is between a Latina girl and a Desi boy.
3. It’s just so…interesting. And resonant. And the representation is every bit as beautiful as the writing.
Stay tuned for the next TBR Alert, coming soon; in the meantime, please spread the word about these!
In honor of Mental Health Awareness Month, check out these excellent LGBTQ YAs featuring main characters dealing with mental health issues:
Not Otherwise Specified by Hannah Moskowitz (B, Eating Disorder)
Highly Illogical Behavior by John Corey Whaley (G, Agoraphobia)
History is All You Left Me by Adam Silvera (G, Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder)
Symptoms of Being Human by Jeff Garvin (GF, Anxiety)
Scars by Cheryl Rainfield (L, Depression w/suicidal ideation and self-harm)
If you read f/f NA/Romance, it’s pretty impossible not to know Rebekah Weatherspoon, but how well do you really know Rebekah Weatherspoon? (Also, not to brag, but I just got to see her on several panels at RT and she was freaking fantastic; if you ever get the opportunity to hear her panel somewhere, DO IT.) How could I not beg to pick the brain behind not only a seriously epic collection of diverse romance, but the entire #WoCInRomance site? (PS she also had a new release just this past weekend: check out So Right, the sequel to So Sweet, which share a bi heroine in an m/f relationship!)
I usually avoid asking authors about their inspiration because I know it gets asked to death, but you have a paranormal lesbian sorority series, and I’m sorry but I must know where the idea for that came from. Must.
Ha! I don’t know where the idea came from, I remember exactly where I was when the idea came to me. I was driving down Wilshire Blvd and I hit the intersection at New Hampshire Ave (I’m from New Hampshire, you see). The idea popped into my head and I remember thinking this is so ridiculous and over the top I’ll be kicking myself if I don’t run with it. So I did.
You’re one of very few writers of f/f NA, and bless you for it. What have been the biggest challenges and awesome moments of publishing it?
Honestly, I don’t see any challenges. I think a lot of my work is outside of the mainstream. I write a lot of women of color and being a woman of color I face the same challenges walking down the street or going to the bank. It’s just another day.
What’s a particularly conscious choice you’ve made in your representation?
I’ve made the choice to write women of color, particularly young black women. I feel like young women of color (tween-25) almost NEVER seen themselves on screen or in literature. And if they are screen they are sometimes played by an adult. I love Arden Cho something fierce, but she was like 28 when she started playing a 17-year-old on Teen Wolf. I know that sort of thing messes with the teen mind. In writing NA, I wanted to give younger women a most realistic portrayal of themselves. Even if there are vampires involved.
What’s the first queer representation you saw in any medium that really stuck with you, for better or for worse?
Oh man, I really have to think. When I was growing up none of the LGBTQ terms were in my vocabulary. My parents just had friends that were married to other women, but they didn’t tell me they were lesbians so I didn’t have the words for it. BUT I think Ricky on My So-Called Life stuck with me. Ricky was gay and out and Latino and living in a mostly white town, but he was also so cool. I remember really wishing that Ricky could find his own happiness outside of Angela and her family. I’m sure he’d have it by now.
What’s something you’ve seen in LGBTQIAP+ lit that’s really stuck with you, for better or for worse?
Uh, there’s a lot of racism. That kinda sucks. Also a lot of different flavors of misogyny and transmisogny and transphobia that sneak in. When I came out I remember being really excited and then extra bummed that a lot of what I was seeing in the straight/cis community was presenting in every aspect of the LGBTQIAP+ community as well including our literature.
Which of your books has queer representation?
What’s your favorite of your covers, and why?
You can’t make me choose. I won’t choose. (Blogger’s note: This is legit; her covers are fanfreakingtastic. You can scroll through them all here.)
What are some of your favorite queer-centric things on the Internet?
Tumblr. Aint nothing queerer than my tumblr feed.
What do you do when you’re not writing?
Watching TV. I’m super boring, but I’m also kind of obsessed with consuming media. To be a writer or to work in entertainment you have to know what’s going on. I watch a ton of TV and a lot of movies.
What are your favorite LGBTQIAP+ reads?
What would you still love to see in LGBTQIAP+ lit?
A lot less of the crud I mentioned before with the bigotry, etc. and I NEED more queer New Adult reads, and I would sell my grandma for more erotic queer lit of every kind. Queer erotic fairy tales, queer erotic sports romances, queer erotic romantic comedies. Make ’em queer, and sweet, and extra porny.
What’s up next for you?
Self-pub wise, after I wrap up the Sugar Baby series in the fall I’ll be working on some space lesbian erotic romance. There’s not enough erotic romance in space, featuring lesbians.
“Under the Gaydar” features books you might not realize have queer content but do! And definitely belong on your radar.
This week we’re looking at some f/f YA heartbreakers – books that will totally kill your soul, but are so good, you need to read each and every one anyway.
Far From You by Tess Sharpe – Part murder mystery, part tragic love story, and a whole lotta excellence in Sharpe’s debut. Not only does main character Sophie possess one of the only (very well-done) examples of invisible disability in YA, but she was also the first character many current readers had ever seen self-ID as bisexual in a YA novel. (Also one of very few examples of an on-page sex scene in YA between girls. Basically, this book broke a lot of molds, and we’re very grateful for it!)
This is Where it Ends by Marieke Nijkamp – Plenty of people are aware of This is Where it Ends; after all, it is a New York Times bestseller, and it’s kiiiinda hard to ignore that cover. That tagline. That premise. That…everything. But not everyone knows that two of the four POVs present in the book belong to two halves of a lesbian couple, Sylv and Autumn, and they’re at the center of the hunt.
Paperweight by Meg Haston – When people argue about sexuality being a spoiler, this is the kind of story I imagine they mean, but at this point, if you haven’t picked this one up, then allow me to use this to steer you in its direction, because I also know it to be one of the best representations of an Eating Disorder in YA.
Beautiful by Amy Reed – Cassie is in a major downward spiral, shifting into a life of popularity and beauty in her new town that’s as alien to her as her new skin, her new friends, her new capacity for adventure. And in that journey, Cassie only truly gets close to one person, but Sarah is every bit as full of pain and not quite as thoroughly numbed.
So excited to welcome Brooklyn Wallace aka Wes Kennedy to the site today! Her debut novella, To Terminator, With Love, features a fat Asian asexual biromantic male main character and a Black pansexual male love interest, and releases today! In honor of its entrance into the world, I asked the author to write my a post, and voila, she wrote a fabulous one!
Growing up a bisexual aromantic black girl in a Southern Baptist family in a Texas town with a population of less than 1600 wasn’t easy. Growing up a bisexual aromantic black girl in a Southern Baptist family in a Texas town with a population of less than 1600 and being the weird kid into trading cards and theatrical Japanese heavy rock was definitely not easy.
Needless to say, my formative years were the stuff PSAs were made of.
Despite my weird interests that were out of place in my little southern hole in the wall, I was pretty okay with my differences. Being black, I had a hefty extended family that lived in town so I was never really alone. I didn’t get bullied so much as ignored or asked a ton of probing questions. I made a few white friend (“You don’t even sound black!”), and otherwise ate lunch with my cousins and kept to myself. I liked being alone. I still like being alone. Three cheers for dreading human interaction!
The one area I felt weird in was dating. Everyone was doing it, or talking about doing it, or wish they were doing it. When friends would ask I would make up some excuse, or pick a guy at random and just hope they didn’t ask me anymore questions. In reality, I had zero interest in dating. The more I thought about that, though, the more it got to me. I mean, what was wrong with me? I was a teenage girl. Teenage girls date. If Moesha taught me nothing else, it was that.
I knew I appreciated the aesthetic of boys (I still have a Orlando-Bloom-as-Legolas poster in my childhood bedroom), and I would admit to absolutely no one that I appreciated the aesthetic of girls, too (there may or may not be a Rose-McGowan-in-Planet-Terror on my childhood bedroom wall, too).
But can you blame me?Dating, though? Even the thought sounded ridiculous.
So what was wrong with me?
What got me through the hectic mess that was my middle and high school years was books. We had a tiny public library in town, and a tinier school library with a dismal young adult sections. I was one of those kids that read levels ahead of myself (which gave my parents false expectations of me that fueled my spiral into a bottomless pit of C+ college despair, but that’s a horror story for another time), so I stuck with fantasy and sci-fi for my escapism. The Bartimaeus books, Eragon, and Inkheart were stories I read and re-read. In class, at lunch, and sneakily between the pages of my bible in church. You just couldn’t tear me away from lands far, far away.
The first book I ever fell in love with was Nancy Farmer’s Sea of Trolls, the first book in the Sea of Trolls trilogy. I was thirteen and browsing in section when I grabbed it on a whim. I mean, vikings? Norse mythology? I was all in. I read the whole thing in about three days, making myself stop every now and then just to last longer. The story was amazing, and I loved everything it had to give.
What I loved most, though, was what it didn’t have: romance. There’s no romantic subplot in Sea of Trolls. The protagonist, Jack, meets up with a rude, aspiring berserker named Thorgil, but the two become reluctant friends with no hint of anything more.
I had no idea how much I needed to see that until I picked up that book.
Thorgil had no time for boys. She was a shield maiden with dreams of becoming a powerful berserker and one day going up to Valhalla.
Thorgil doesn’t want a boyfriend, I thought to myself during my second reading. She doesn’t want a boyfriend, just like me. Thorgil was strong and determined and so, so cool, and she had no interest in boys. How could I be weird for not wanting to have a boyfriend when Thorgil only had eyes for her sword?
What I found in that book was a kickass shield maiden with dubious morality (like I said, my formative years were wild). I found validation in that story. I remember picking up the second book in the trilogy, The Land of the Silver Apples, with a gnawing sense of dread. What if Jack and Thorgil started liking each other in this one? What if I was wrong?
But nope. Thorgil and Jack met elves, battled evil, and rescued Jack’s sister all without so much as brushing hands. It had felt like I’d won something, which was a big deal, because roughly 86% of my life is dedicated to losing.
Through the long, long eighteen years in my tiny town I scrounged and found pieces of my identity in books. I expanded into libraries town over, broke my mother’s heart when I discovered online shopping, and took advantage of my libraries’ interloan program. Later that year I read Freak Show by James St. James—and I still have no idea how that got through to our library, by the way—and found LGBTQIA representation. I found Sharon G. Flake and was confronted with my own internalized anti-blackness. I read books about powerful black girls and bisexual heroines and weirdos who loved themselves for being weirdos. I found me, and wondered how I ever got through not seeing me for so long.
Later, when I found words for the way I felt, I mellowed. Now I write queer romance novels (Aromantic Romance Author has a ring to it, eh?) and do my best to include a variety of identities into my stories. It’s an amazing experience to write the stories I needed when I was younger, and stories that I still need now, but not everyone has that chance. So many people are quick to call representation in books and shows pandering, but I call it realism. People are diverse, and stories that reflect our lives should be just as diverse.
Somewhere there’s a dorky 8th grader with an unhealthy Rose McGowan obsession wondering if there’s something wrong with them. The stories you tell could help them, even if it’s just one, feel a lot less alone, and isn’t that kind of power amazing?
Brooklyn Wallace (aka Wes Kennedy) is a queer fiction author and starving graduate student from the great state of Texas. She loves libraries, hot wings, Pepsi, Blaxploitation, the Golden Age of Hip-Hop, and kpop. An anxious perpetual sleeper with a penchant for self-deprecating humor, Brooklyn has a soft spot for writing comedies, forbidden love, and nerdy queers.
Juliet Takes a Breath by Gabby Rivera (Contemp)
More Happy Than Not by Adam Silvera (Light Sci-Fi)
When the Moon was Ours by Anna-Marie McLemore (Magical Realism)
Down to the Bone by Mayra Lazara Doyle (Contemp)
Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe (and presumably its future companion, There Will Be Other Summers) by Benjamin Alire Saenz (Contemp)
So excited to have our very first cover reveal on LGBTQ Reads! Cinnamon and Cigarettes is Samantha Kate’s first novel, and it releases June 1st from Torquere Press. Here’s the story:
Sara Clarke, recent college grad, is sweet, demure, and cautious in all things, but especially romance—until she meets Moira Estrada, a bold amateur pilot and patron at the library where Sara works. Their intimacy blooms rapidly as they share everything from a sudden medical emergency to Christmas with the Estrada family. With her dashing new girlfriend by her side, Sara learns to overcome some of her greatest fears, whether they be acknowledging her own bisexuality, flying across the sky in a Cessna, or falling in love for the first time.
But Sara’s fear of confrontation is harder to conquer. When asked about her relationship, she finds herself lying to her family, pretending to date a man so she can avoid conflict with her straight-laced and image-conscious parents. But her attempts to please everyone cannot last forever and could result in far worse than her parents’ disapproval: she might lose the respect of her new friends at the library, or become estranged from her sister—or, worst of all, Sara might lose the only person she’s ever truly loved.
Aaaand here’s the lovely cover!
Samantha Kate works as a paralibrarian (that’s library support staff) for her day job. In her free time, she tries to pursue more creative projects than is humanly possible. Her short story “Bottom of the River” was published in Torquere’s Twisted Fables anthology in February 2016. Cinnamon and Cigarettes is her first novel.
“Under the Gaydar” features books you might not realize have queer content but should definitely have on your radar. This edition is all about some great “bad girls” in YA who, in addition to loving lying, petty crime, bullying, and more, also quite love the ladies. (Or at least one lady!)
Winning by Lara Zeises Deloza – Mean Girls meets Election, with multiple POVs, including Sam, best friend to the Regina George-esque lead, who’s easily manipulated into helping her BFF get on top… or is she? (my convoluted little review here)
Trust Me, I’m Trouble by Mary Elizabeth Summer – The second in a series about a teen girl con artist sees her going from a male love interest in book 1 to a female love interest in book 2, and it does so with zero sexuality angst while also not ignoring that sexual angst about your first time having feelings for someone of another gender can be a Thing. This series is so voice-y and fabulous and these girls are hands-down one of my favorite YA pairings ever. I ship it so hard, and so will you.
Underneath Everything by Marcy Beller Paul – Uggghhhh homoerotic toxic friendship novels are my crack, and Mattie and Jolene in this one are basically, like, “Match, meet gasoline. I think you guys are gonna hit it off super well.” Don’t go in thinking this is a Romance – it isn’t – but when I say “Homoerotic toxic friendship novel” I mean every single one of those words to the max.
Suicide Notes From Beautiful Girls by Lynn Weingarten – My thoughts on this one are similar to Underneath Everything, but whereas UE is sort of dreamily lyrical and introspective, SNFBG is rife with plot twistiness, and I still think about that ending and wish I were in a book club just so I could discuss it with other people.
Vanished by E.E. Cooper – Kalah isn’t really a bad girl, per se, but she’s gone ahead and fallen for one, who also happens to be one of her best friends…who also happens to be missing. There’s a whole web of lies and twists, and all that’s cool, but the best part of this book is Kalah herself, how she comes into her own sexuality, and finally seeing some intersectional diversity in “cool girl” YA.
Every month, the site will feature an LGTBQIAP+ read that’s over a year old, as part of a “Backlist Book of the Month” feature. I’m excited to kick it off with one of my personal favorites, Not Otherwise Specified by Hannah Moskowitz (Simon Pulse). Three reasons I love this book:
Etta is tired of dealing with all of the labels and categories that seem so important to everyone else in her small Nebraska hometown.
Everywhere she turns, someone feels she’s too fringe for the fringe. Not gay enough for the Dykes, her ex-clique, thanks to a recent relationship with a boy; not tiny and white enough for ballet, her first passion; and not sick enough to look anorexic (partially thanks to recovery). Etta doesn’t fit anywhere— until she meets Bianca, the straight, white, Christian, and seriously sick girl in Etta’s therapy group. Both girls are auditioning for Brentwood, a prestigious New York theater academy that is so not Nebraska. Bianca seems like Etta’s salvation, but how can Etta be saved by a girl who needs saving herself?