Tag Archives: Cheer Up

New Release Spotlight: Cheer Up! by Crystal Frasier, Val Wise, and Oscar O. Jupiter

Okay, my copy of this one hasn’t arrived yet, so I haven’t actually read it, but some things just look too cute and joyful and wonderful not to give all the spotlight action possible. Cheer Up! Love and Pompoms is one of those books, a graphic novel with a cis f/trans f romance between two cheerleaders whose friendship is reignited and transformed when they join the same squad. I mean, it kind of can’t be bad? And that’s good enough for me!

Annie is a smart, antisocial lesbian starting her senior year of high school who’s under pressure to join the cheerleader squad to make friends and round out her college applications. Her former friend BeeBee is a people-pleaser—a trans girl who must keep her parents happy with her grades and social life to keep their support of her transition. Through the rigors of squad training and amped up social pressures (not to mention micro aggressions and other queer youth problems), the two girls rekindle a friendship they thought they’d lost and discover there may be other, sweeter feelings springing up between them.

Buy it: Bookshop | Amazon | IndieBound

New Releases: August 2021

All Are Welcome by Liz Parker (1st)

58187215. sy475 Tiny McAllister never thought she’d get married. Not because she didn’t want to, but because she didn’t think girls from Connecticut married other girls. Yet here she is with Caroline, the love of her life, at their destination wedding on the Bermuda coast. In attendance―their respective families and a few choice friends. The conflict-phobic Tiny hopes for a beautiful weekend with her bride-to-be. But as the weekend unfolds, it starts to feel like there’s a skeleton in every closet of the resort.

From Tiny’s family members, who find the world is changing at an uncomfortable speed, to Caroline’s parents, who are engaged in conspiratorial whispers, to their friends, who packed secrets of their own―nobody seems entirely forthcoming. Not to mention the conspicuous no-show and a tempting visit from the past. What the celebration really needs now is a monsoon to help stir up all the long-held secrets, simmering discontent, and hidden agendas.

All Tiny wanted was to get married, but if she can make it through this squall of a wedding, she might just leave with more than a wife.

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You’ll Be Fine by Jen Michalski (2nd)

After Alex’s mother dies of an accidental overdose, Alex takes leave from her job as a writer for a lifestyle magazine to return home to Maryland and join her brother Owen, a study in failure to launch, in sorting out their mother’s whimsical, often self-destructive, life. While home, Alex plans to profile Juliette Sprigg, an Eastern Shore restaurant owner and celebrity chef in the making who Alex secretly dated in high school. And when Alex enlists the help of Carolyn, the editor of the local newspaper, in finding a photographer for the article’s photo shoot, Alex struggles with the deepening, tender relationship that blossoms between them as well. To complicate matters, Alex and Owen’s “Aunt” Johanna, who has transitioned to a woman, offers to come from Seattle to help with arrangements, and all hell breaks loose when she announces she is actually Alex and Owen’s long-estranged father. Can Alex accept her mother and father for who they are, rather than who she hoped they would be? And can Alex apply the same philosophy to herself?

Buy it: NineStar Press

The Perfume Thief by Timothy Schaffert (3rd)

Clementine is a seventy-two year-old reformed con artist with a penchant for impeccably tailored suits. Her life of crime has led her from the uber-wealthy perfume junkies of belle epoque Manhattan, to the scented butterflies of Costa Rica, to the spice markets of Marrakech, and finally the bordellos of Paris, where she settles down in 1930 and opens a shop bottling her favorite extracts for the ladies of the cabarets.

Now it’s 1941 and Clem’s favorite haunt, Madame Boulette’s, is crawling with Nazis, while Clem’s people–the outsiders, the artists, and the hustlers who used to call it home–are disappearing. Clem’s first instinct is to go to ground–it’s a frigid Paris winter and she’s too old to put up a fight. But when the cabaret’s prize songbird, Zoe St. Angel, recruits Clem to steal the recipe book of a now-missing famous Parisian perfumer, she can’t say no. Her mark is Oskar Voss, a Francophile Nazi bureaucrat, who wants the book and Clem’s expertise to himself. Hoping to buy the time and trust she needs to pull off her scheme, Clem decides to tell Voss the real story of the life and loves she came to Paris to escape. But Clem doesn’t have much practice telling the truth and it turns out to be more dangerous than she could have imagined.

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Radiant Fugitives by Nawaaz Ahmed (3rd)

Working as a political activist in the early days of the Obama presidency, Seema still struggles with her father’s long-ago decision to exile her from the family after she came out as lesbian, forcing her to construct a new life in the West. Now, nine months pregnant and estranged from the father of her unborn son, Seema seeks reconciliation with the family that once renounced her: her ailing mother, Nafeesa, traveling alone to California from Chennai, and her devoutly religious sister, Tahera, an OB-GYN living in Texas with her husband and children.

Pushed apart and drawn together in equal measure by their often conflicting beliefs, Seema, Tahera, and Nafeesa must confront the complex yearnings in their relationships with one another—and within their innermost selves—as the events that transpire over the course of one fateful week unearth an accumulated lifetime of love, betrayal, and misunderstandings.

Told from the point of view of Seema’s child at the moment of his birth and infused with the poetry of Wordsworth, Keats, and the Quran, Radiant Fugitives is an operatic debut from a bold new voice, exploring the tensions between ideology and practicality, hope and tradition, forgiveness and retribution for one family navigating a shifting political landscape.

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The Dead and the Dark by Courtney Gould (3rd)

Courtney Gould’s thrilling debut The Dead and the Dark is about the things that lurk in dark corners, the parts of you that can’t remain hidden, and about finding home in places―and people―you didn’t expect.

The Dark has been waiting for far too long, and it won’t stay hidden any longer.

Something is wrong in Snakebite, Oregon. Teenagers are disappearing, some turning up dead, the weather isn’t normal, and all fingers seem to point to TV’s most popular ghost hunters who have just returned to town. Logan Ortiz-Woodley, daughter of TV’s ParaSpectors, has never been to Snakebite before, but the moment she and her dads arrive, she starts to get the feeling that there’s more secrets buried here than they originally let on.

Ashley Barton’s boyfriend was the first teen to go missing, and she’s felt his presence ever since. But now that the Ortiz-Woodleys are in town, his ghost is following her and the only person Ashley can trust is the mysterious Logan. When Ashley and Logan team up to figure out who—or what—is haunting Snakebite, their investigation reveals truths about the town, their families, and themselves that neither of them are ready for. As the danger intensifies, they realize that their growing feelings for each other could be a light in the darkness.

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I Kissed a Girl by Jennet Alexander (3rd)

Noa Birnbaum has just gotten a job as a makeup assistant on a movie, thanks to her roommate. She’s thrilled when she learns that Lilah Silver will be the star—she’s had a crush on the leading lady for a while. But when she meets Lilah at the studio, Noa is unimpressed – Lilah is distant and shallow, and Noa isn’t in any hurry to get to know her.

Lilah Silver is tired of being in B-rate movies and has finally landed a leading role—in a sci-fi creature feature. Worried that no one will take her seriously, she’s hidden herself behind her pageant queen persona. Lilah is awed by Noa’s self-confidence and style, but how can she convince Noa she’s not a snobby scream queen when she can’t find the right words without a script in her hands?

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Like Other Girls by Britta Lundin (3rd)

After getting kicked off the basketball team for a fight that was absolutely totally not her fault (okay maybe a little her fault), Mara is dying to find a new sport to play to prove to her coach that she can be a team player. A lifelong football fan, Mara decides to hit the gridiron with her brother, Noah, and best friend, Quinn-and she turns out to be a natural. But joining the team sets off a chain of events in her small Oregon town-and within her family-that she never could have predicted.

Inspired by what they see as Mara’s political statement, four other girls join the team. Now Mara’s lumped in as one of the girls-one of the girls who can’t throw, can’t kick, and doesn’t know a fullback from a linebacker. Complicating matters is the fact that Valentina, Mara’s crush, is one of the new players, as is Carly, Mara’s nemesis-the girl Mara fought with when she was kicked off the basketball team. What results is a coming-of-age story that is at once tear-jerking and funny, thought-provoking and real, as Mara’s preconceived notions about gender, sports, sexuality, and friendship are turned upside down.

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Afterparties by Anthony Veasna So (August 3rd)

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A Lesson in Vengeance by Victoria Lee (3rd)

Felicity Morrow is back at Dalloway School.

Perched in the Catskill mountains, the centuries-old, ivy-covered campus was home until the tragic death of her girlfriend. Now, after a year away, she’s returned to graduate. She even has her old room in Godwin House, the exclusive dormitory rumored to be haunted by the spirits of five Dalloway students—girls some say were witches. The Dalloway Five all died mysteriously, one after another, right on Godwin grounds.

Witchcraft is woven into Dalloway’s history. The school doesn’t talk about it, but the students do. In secret rooms and shadowy corners, girls convene. And before her girlfriend died, Felicity was drawn to the dark. She’s determined to leave that behind her now; all Felicity wants is to focus on her senior thesis and graduate. But it’s hard when Dalloway’s occult history is everywhere. And when the new girl won’t let her forget.

It’s Ellis Haley’s first year at Dalloway, and she’s already amassed a loyal following. A prodigy novelist at seventeen, Ellis is a so-called “method writer.” She’s eccentric and brilliant, and Felicity can’t shake the pull she feels to her. So when Ellis asks Felicity for help researching the Dalloway Five for her second book, Felicity can’t say no. Given her history with the arcane, Felicity is the perfect resource.

And when history begins to repeat itself, Felicity will have to face the darkness in Dalloway–and in herself.

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Fresh by Margot Wood (3rd)

A hilarious and vulnerable coming-of-age story about the thrilling new experiences––and missteps––of a girl’s freshman year of college

Some students enter their freshman year of college knowing exactly what they want to do with their lives. Elliot McHugh is not one of those people. But picking a major is the last thing on Elliot’s mind when she’s too busy experiencing all that college has to offer—from dancing all night at off-campus parties, to testing her RA Rose’s patience, to making new friends, to having the best sex one can have on a twin-sized dorm room bed. But she may not be ready for the fallout when reality hits. When the sex she’s having isn’t that great. When finals creep up and smack her right in the face. Or when her roommate’s boyfriend turns out to be the biggest a-hole. Elliot may make epic mistakes, but if she’s honest with herself (and with you, dear reader), she may just find the person she wants to be. And maybe even fall in love in the process . . . Well, maybe.

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Chemistry Lessons by Jae (4th)

58517427Kylie and Regan have been best friends since kindergarten, supporting each other through thick and thin.

While everyone thinks they would be perfect for each other, they insist there’s no chemistry between them—and Regan should know since she’s a chemistry teacher.

To prove it, they agree to a little chemistry experiment: they’ll go on three dates with each other.

So what if their gazes start to linger and accidental touches no longer feel platonic? They chalk it up to the romantic atmosphere—until a friendly good night kiss turns passionate.

Can their friendship go back to the way it was before? Do they even want it to? Or will they risk losing what they have for a chance at love?

Buy it: Amazon | Ylva

Fake It by Lily Seabrooke (6th)

Fake It by [Lily Seabrooke]Avery Lindt finally opened her dream restaurant—and there’s no customers. She’s staying optimistic, though: she’s confident she can fake it till she makes it, roll with the punches, and find a way to save her luxury restaurant, Paramour.

But it gets harder when she gets restaurant mogul and star chef Mike Wallace angry, and finds herself on the other end of a campaign to shut down Paramour.

Celebrity chef Holly Mason’s show is in trouble: people are bored with her routine of helping struggling restaurants. Worse, her ex-boyfriend Mike Wallace is making backdoor deals trying to steal the starring role.

Luckily, Holly’s agent Tay has a solution: ditch her show plans for the season, throw their lot in with luxury restaurant Paramour against Mike Wallace’s racketeering operation of a restaurant partnership. The cherry on top? A fake relationship between Holly and Avery to stir up drama.

It would already be a mess if Holly and Avery weren’t already struggling to hold back their attraction for one another. Despite their promise not to date, the lines between acting and reality get awfully blurry sometimes.

Buy it: Amazon

The King of Infinite Space by Lyndsey Faye (10th)

55881109Meet Ben Dane: brilliant, devastating, devoted, honest to a fault (truly, a fault). His Broadway theater baron father is dead–but by purpose or accident? The question rips him apart.

Unable to face alone his mother’s ghastly remarriage to his uncle, Ben turns to his dearest friend, Horatio Patel, whom he hasn’t seen since their relationship changed forever from platonic to something…other. Loyal to a fault (truly, a fault), Horatio is on the first flight to NYC when he finds himself next to a sly tailor who portends inevitable disaster. And who seems ominously like an architect of mayhem himself.

Meanwhile, Ben’s ex-fiancé Lia, sundered her from her loved ones thanks to her addiction recovery and torn from her art, has been drawn into the fold of three florists from New Orleans–seemingly ageless sisters who teach her the language of flowers, and whose magical bouquets hold both curses and cures. For a price.

On one explosive night these kinetic forces will collide, and the only possible outcome is death. But in the masterful hands of Lyndsay Faye, the story we all know has abundant surprises in store. Impish, captivating, and achingly romantic, this is Hamlet as you’ve never seen it before.

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Cheer Up!: Love and Pompoms by Crystal Frasier, Val Wise, and Oscar O. Jupiter (10th)

Annie is a smart, antisocial lesbian starting her senior year of high school who’s under pressure to join the cheerleader squad to make friends and round out her college applications. Her former friend BeeBee is a people-pleaser—a trans girl who must keep her parents happy with her grades and social life to keep their support of her transition. Through the rigors of squad training and amped up social pressures (not to mention micro aggressions and other queer youth problems), the two girls rekindle a friendship they thought they’d lost and discover there may be other, sweeter feelings springing up between them.

Buy it: Bookshop | Amazon | IndieBound

The Reality of Us by Vanessa North (10th)

The reality of Alden…
Arrogant. Aloof. Argumentative. Antagonistic. Angry. Alden Kaufman is many things, and none of them are nice. Trauma has left him deeply scarred and incapable of easy friendships. He doesn’t know how to let anyone past his walls, and he doesn’t think it’s worth the trouble.

The reality of Kit…
Everybody’s best friend, nobody’s boyfriend. In spite of a lifestyle that doesn’t invite attachments, Kit Taylor gets along with everyone he meets—except Alden. He can’t entice his prickly co-worker out of his shell, and has given up on trying.

The Reality of Us…
Two men at odds with themselves and each other embark on what should be a simple team-building exercise, but nothing goes as planned. Unexpected intimacy and a freak accident leave Kit and Alden dependent on each other long after they leave the mountain behind. Now they have a choice—to continue as they’ve been, or trust a shaky new reality together.

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Kiss the Scars on the Back of My Neck by Joe Okwonko (10th)

55101556. sy475 The eclectic stories in this collection are bound by the threads of desire in its many forms, above all, the desire for love and a place of safety in a world where being Black and gay can thwart the fulfillment of that longing. The characters are complex, driven, difficult, and even, at times, unsympathetic, but always compelling. In other words: fully rounded human beings living complicated lives.

A proud Black woman who escaped her rural, impoverished town returns after the collapse of her marriage and faces the scorn of those she left behind. A middle-aged gay man finds his loneliness temporarily relieved by the arrival of a stray cat. An unhappily married woman becomes enmeshed in her bisexual husband’s attempt to create a ménage à trois with a much younger man. A 16-year-old boy discovers the power of his sexuality when he embarks upon a dangerous seduction. Two Black men, one mature and rich, the other young and struggling, are drawn into a contentious affair by their shared love of opera. The legendary blues singer Glady Bentley crashes up against the barriers of race and gender when she gets caught up in a police raid.

Kiss the Scars on the Back of My Neck is a masterful collection of stories by a gifted writer who has fully hit his stride.

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Sink or Swim by Tash McAdam (17th)

Sixteen-year-old shy, socially awkward trans teen Bass reluctantly skips school and goes on a boat trip with his adventure-seeking girlfriend, Rosie. When a sudden storm smashes their boat on a rocky shore off a deserted island, Bass and Rosie struggle to make it to safety. Bruised and battling hypothermia, the pair have to seek shelter and work together to survive until they can be rescued. After a horrible night, Rosie, an experienced climber, decides to scale a steep cliff to find help. She falls and injures herself badly. Now Bass has to find the strength and courage to swim around a dangerous headland and make his way back to civilization before it’s too late.

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Simply the Best by Karin Kallmaker (17th)

Simply the Best… Giselle Otero needs a win in her life, and being personal assistant to Helene Jolie, the socialite founder of SimplytheBest.com, is finally it. The hours are long, and keeping Helene happy is more than a full-time job. That Helene seems to find Giselle’s company pleasing in ways beyond work is dizzying.

Simply the Worst… An unfortunate lapse in judgment has bumped New York reporter Alice Cabot from Science to Style. Even worse, she’s exiled to New Mexico to complete a series of in-depth and upbeat features on Helene Jolie and her company’s meteoric success. She knows she’s going to hate every last thing about this assignment, starting with the assistant who’ll be her corporate babysitter.

Simply Irresistible… Tasked with keeping the inquisitive reporter in check, Giselle is eager to prove her worth to the demanding, charismatic Helene. Even if that means spending every day arguing with a big mouth, big city know-it-all whose probing questions lead to sleepless nights―and awakened desires.

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After the Dragons by Cynthia Zhang (19th)

57544433Dragons were fire and terror to the Western world, but in the East they brought life-giving rain…

Now, no longer hailed as gods and struggling in the overheated pollution of Beijing, only the Eastern dragons survive. As drought plagues the aquatic creatures, a mysterious disease—shaolong, or “burnt lung”—afflicts the city’s human inhabitants.

Jaded college student Xiang Kaifei scours Beijing streets for abandoned dragons, distracting himself from his diagnosis. Elijah Ahmed, a biracial American medical researcher, is drawn to Beijing by the memory of his grandmother and her death by shaolong. Interest in Beijing’s dragons leads Kai and Eli into an unlikely partnership. With the resources of Kai’s dragon rescue and Eli’s immunology research, can the pair find a cure for shaolong and safety for the dragons? Eli and Kai must confront old ghosts and hard truths if there is any hope for themselves or the dragons they love.

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Child in the Valley by Gordy Sauer (24th)

Seventeen-year-old Joshua Gaines is the orphaned foster son of a failed doctor on the run from his father’s debt. In 1849, he travels to Independence, Missouri and falls in with the mysterious, four-fingered Renard, and his companion, formerly-enslaved Free Ray. Joshua offers his medical expertise to their party, and together they embark on the fifteen-hundred mile overland journey to Gold Rush California.

Following the hardship, disease, and death on the trail, the company abandons panning the river in favor of robbery and murder. Engulfed by violence, the young doctor-turned-marauder must reckon with his own morality, his growing desire for the men around him, and the brutality that has haunted him all his life.

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Both Sides Now by Peyton Thomas (24th)

There’s only one thing standing between Finch Kelly and a full-blown case of high school senioritis: the National Speech & Debate Tournament. Taking home the gold would not only be the pinnacle of Finch’s debating career, but the perfect way to launch himself into his next chapter: college in Washington, DC, and a history-making career as the first trans congressman. What could possibly go wrong?

Well, for starters, Finch could develop a teeny tiny crush on his very attractive, very taken, and very gay debate partner, Jonah. Never mind that Finch has never considered whether he’s interested in more than just girls.

And that dream of college in DC? Finch hasn’t exactly been accepted anywhere yet, let alone received the full-ride scholarship he’ll need to make this dream a reality.

Worst of all, though, is this year’s topic for Nationals: transgender rights. If he wants to cinch the gold, and get into college, Finch might have to argue against his own humanity.

People say there are two sides to every argument. But, as Finch is about to discover, some things—like who you are and who you love—are not up for debate.

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The Second Rebel by Linden A. Lewis (24th)

This is the second book in the First Sister trilogy

Astrid has reclaimed her name and her voice, and now seeks to bring down the Sisterhood from within. Throwing herself into the lioness’ den, Astrid must confront and challenge the Aunts who run the Gean religious institution, but she quickly discovers that the business of politics is far deadlier than she ever expected.

Meanwhile, on an outlaw colony station deep in space, Hiro val Akira seeks to bring a dangerous ally into the rebellion. Whispers of a digital woman fuel Hiro’s search, but they are not the only person looking for this link to the mysterious race of Synthetics.

Lito sol Lucious continues to grow into his role as a lead revolutionary and is tasked with rescuing an Aster operative from deep within an Icarii prison. With danger around every corner, Lito, his partner Ofiera, and the newly freed operative must flee in order to keep dangerous secrets out of enemy hands.

Back on Venus, Lito’s sister Lucinia must carry on after her brother’s disappearance and accusation of treason by Icarii authorities. Despite being under the thumb of Souji val Akira, Lucinia manages to keep her nose clean…that is until an Aster revolutionary shows up with news about her brother’s fate, and an opportunity to join the fight.

Buy it: Bookshop | Amazon | IndieBound

Edie in Between by Laura Sibson (24th)


It’s been one year since Edie’s mother died. But her ghost has never left.

According to her GG, it’s tradition that the dead of the Mitchell family linger with the living. It’s just as much a part of a Mitchell’s life as brewing cordials or talking to plants. But Edie, whose pain over losing her mother is still fresh, has no interest in her family’s legacy as local “witches.”

When her mother’s teenage journal tumbles into her life, her family’s mystical inheritance becomes once and for all too hard to ignore. It takes Edie on a scavenger hunt to find objects that once belonged to her mother, each one imbued with a different memory. Every time she touches one of these talismans, it whisks her to another entry inside the journal—where she watches her teenage mom mourn, love, and hope just as Edie herself is now doing. Maybe, just maybe, Edie hopes, if she finds every one of these objects, she can finally make peace with her loss and put the past to rest for good. But this journey to stake her independence from her family may actually show Edie who she truly is…and the beautiful gifts that come with being just a little different.

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On Home by Becca Spence Dobias (24th)

When tragedy strikes, Cassidy, a cam girl living in Southern California, must return to the small West Virginia town she left behind. Cassidy likes her job getting naked for men on camera, though she prefers sex with women. She never came out to her family or friends back in her home state―not about her sexuality and certainly not about her sex work. Now, she must figure out how to hold on to the life she’s built for herself while picking up the pieces of her fractured family.

As Cassidy’s story unfolds, we glimpse into the lives of the strong, complicated women who came before her: Jane, the sheltered daughter of farmers, escapes West Virginia for Washington, DC to work as a Government Girl for the FBI during World War II, until a fateful mistake threatens her future. Paloma, a Fulbright Scholar, journeys to newly Westernized Prague―only to fall for an idealistic but safe man from West Virginia.

Though worlds and generations apart, all three search for meaning as they face impending motherhood and the pull to return home to rural Appalachia.

Buy it: Bookshop | Amazon | IndieBound

Sips of Her by Karmen Lee (25th)

Sips of Her (Coffee Shops of Love Book 2) by [Karmen Lee]Julie Kim’s life was supposed to be simple. Falling for the gorgeous barista with the enigmatic smile was not part of the plan.

Cameran Davis loves love and her coffee shop, Love & Lattes, reflects that. But, she’s starting to wonder if maybe happily ever after isn’t in the cards.

A surprise run-in culminates in a ruse leading to acknowledging feelings and steamy nights. When things get real, will they fight for a chance at happiness or go their separate ways?

Buy it: Amazon

In the Watchful City by S. Qiouyi Lu (31st)

In the Watchful CityThe city of Ora is watching.

Anima is an extrasensory human tasked with surveilling and protecting Ora’s citizens via a complex living network called the Gleaming. Although ær world is restricted to what æ can see and experience through the Gleaming, Anima takes pride and comfort in keeping Ora safe from harm.

When a mysterious outsider enters the city carrying a cabinet of curiosities from around with the world with a story attached to each item, Anima’s world expands beyond the borders of Ora to places—and possibilities—æ never before imagined to exist. But such knowledge leaves Anima with a question that throws into doubt ær entire purpose: What good is a city if it can’t protect its people?

Buy it: Bookshop | Amazon | IndieBound

For the Love of April French by Penny Aimes (31st)

April French doesn’t do relationships and she never asks for more.

A long-standing regular at kink club Frankie’s, she’s kind of seen it all. As a trans woman, she’s used to being the scenic rest stop for others on their way to a happily-ever-after. She knows how desire works, and she keeps hers carefully boxed up to take out on weekends only.

After all, you can’t be let down if you never ask.

Then Dennis Martin walks into Frankie’s, fresh from Seattle and looking a little lost. April just meant to be friendly, but one flirtatious drink turns into one hot night.

When Dennis asks for her number, she gives it to him.

When he asks for her trust, well…that’s a little harder.

And when the desire she thought she had such a firm grip on comes alive with Dennis, April finds herself wanting passion, purpose and commitment.

But when their relationship moves from complicated to impossible, April will have to decide how much she’s willing to want.

Buy it: Amazon | IndieBound

Red X by David Demchuk (31st)

Red XMen are disappearing from Toronto’s gay village. They’re the marginalized, the vulnerable. One by one, stalked and vanished, they leave behind small circles of baffled, frightened friends. Against the shifting backdrop of homophobia throughout the decades, from the HIV/AIDS crisis and riots against raids to gentrification and police brutality, the survivors face inaction from the law and disinterest from society at large. But as the missing grow in number, those left behind begin to realize that whoever or whatever is taking these men has been doing so for longer than is humanly possible.

Woven into their stories is David Demchuk’s own personal history, a life lived in fear and in thrall to horror, a passion that boils over into obsession. As he tries to make sense of the relationship between queerness and horror, what it means for gay men to disappear, and how the isolation of the LGBTQ+ community has left them profoundly exposed to monsters that move easily among them, fact and fiction collide and reality begins to unravel.

Buy it: Bookshop | Amazon | Indigo

Walk Between Worlds by Samara Breger (31st)

58360576. sy475 On what should be the biggest night of her life, everything suddenly goes horribly wrong. First, her king denies her the promotion she rightfully earned, as well as the knighthood that goes along with it. And then, when Scratch is wallowing somewhere near the fetid rock bottom, she and her best friend, the flamboyant and carefree Sergeant James Ursus, are arrested for orchestrating the abduction of Princess Frances and sentenced to death. On the whole, things could be better.

Luckily, help comes in the form of the mysterious Shae siblings―Vel and Umbrella―who inform the doomed pair that the issue of the missing Princess is far more complicated than it appears. After a daring escape, the four embark on an ill-advised rescue mission through a forest filled with beasts, bandits, and mysterious fair folk, bringing nothing with them but a kitchen knife and the vague outline of a plan. Their destination is the Between, a sacred and shadowy fae-guarded place that promises to deliver Scratch and James to the princess―if they manage to survive.

But Scratch didn’t rise above her humble childhood in the Royal City slums by accepting things at face value. It’s clear that the enigmatic Shaes are hiding something, but what do they know? Who are they working with? And why, in the name of all the divine constellations in the scrambled sky, can’t Scratch stop staring at Brella?

Buy it: Bookshop | Amazon | IndieBound

Fave Five: MG/YA Starring Trans Athletes

Obie is Man Enough by Schuyler Bailar (MG, swimming)

The Passing Playbook by Isaac Fitzsimons (YA, soccer)

May the Best Man Win by ZR Ellor (YA, cheerleading)

Blood Sport by Tash McAdam (YA, boxing)

Cheer Up! by Crystal Frasier, Val Wise, and Oscar O. Jupiter (YA, cheerleading)

Bonus: These books all have binary trans main characters, but for a nonbinary athlete, check out Ana on the Edge by AJ Sass (MG, ice skating)

Happy Trans Day of Visibility!

Happy Trans Day of Visibility! As usual, we’re celebrating with books by trans authors and starring trans main characters, so please check ’em out! (Please note that this post only includes books that weren’t featured last year, so you can find even more here.)

Books to Buy Now

Detransition Baby by Torrey Peters

Reese almost had it all: a loving relationship with Amy, an apartment in New York City, a job she didn’t hate. She had scraped together what previous generations of trans women could only dream of: a life of mundane, bourgeois comforts. The only thing missing was a child. But then her girlfriend, Amy, detransitioned and became Ames, and everything fell apart. Now Reese is caught in a self-destructive pattern: avoiding her loneliness by sleeping with married men.

Ames isn’t happy either. He thought detransitioning to live as a man would make life easier, but that decision cost him his relationship with Reese–and losing her meant losing his only family. Even though their romance is over, he longs to find a way back to her. When Ames’s boss and lover, Katrina, reveals that she’s pregnant with his baby–and that she’s not sure whether she wants to keep it–Ames wonders if this is the chance he’s been waiting for. Could the three of them form some kind of unconventional family–and raise the baby together?

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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.

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Sasha Masha by Agnes Borinsky

Sasha MashaIn this #OwnVoices LGBTQ young adult debut, Alex comes to realize his true identity as a young woman named Sasha Masha.

Alex feels like he is in the wrong body. His skin feels strange against his bones. And then comes Tracy, who thinks he’s adorably awkward, who wants to kiss him, who makes him feel like a Real Boy. But it is not quite enough. Something is missing. Is the missing piece a part of Alex himself?

As Alex grapples with his identity, he finds himself trying on dresses and swiping on lipstick in the quiet of his bedroom. He meets Andre, a gay boy who is beautiful and unafraid to be who he is. Slowly, Alex begins to realize: Maybe his name isn’t Alex at all. Maybe it’s Sasha Masha.

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Girl Haven by Lilah Sturges, ill. by Meaghan Carter

Three years ago, Ash’s mom, Kristin, left home and never came back. Now, Ash lives in the house where Kristin grew up. All of her things are there. Her old room, her old clothes, and the shed, where she spent her childhood creating a fantasy world called Koretris.

Ash knows all about Koretris: how it’s a haven for girls, with no men or boys allowed, and filled with fanciful landscapes and creatures. When Ash’s friends decide to try going to Koretris, using one of Kristin’s spellbooks, Ash doesn’t think anything will happen. But the spell works, and Ash discovers that the world Kristin created is actually a real place, with real inhabitants and very real danger.

But if Koretris is real, why is Ash there? Everyone has always called Ash a boy. Ash uses he/him pronouns. Shouldn’t the spell have kept Ash out? And what does it mean if it let Ash in?

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Can’t Take That Away by Steven Salvatore

Carey Parker dreams of being a diva, and bringing the house down with song. They can hit every note of all the top pop and Broadway hits. But despite their talent, emotional scars from an incident with a homophobic classmate and their grandmother’s spiraling dementia make it harder and harder for Carey to find their voice.

Then Carey meets Cris, a singer/guitarist who makes Carey feel seen for the first time in their life. With the rush of a promising new romantic relationship, Carey finds the confidence to audition for the role of Elphaba, the Wicked Witch of the West, in the school musical, setting off a chain reaction of prejudice by Carey’s tormentor and others in the school. It’s up to Carey, Cris, and their friends to defend their rights–and they refuse to be silenced.

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Books to Preorder

Victories Greater Than Death by Charlie Jane Anders (April 13th)

Tina never worries about being “ordinary”she doesn’t have to, since she’s known practically forever that she’s not just Tina Mains, average teenager and beloved daughter. She’s also the keeper of an interplanetary rescue beacon, and one day soon, it’s going to activate, and then her dreams of saving all the worlds and adventuring among the stars will finally be possible. Tina’s legacy, after all, is intergalacticshe is the hidden clone of a famed alien hero, left on Earth disguised as a human to give the universe another chance to defeat a terrible evil.

But when the beacon activates, it turns out that Tina’s destiny isn’t quite what she expected. Things are far more dangerous than she ever assumed–and everyone in the galaxy is expecting her to actually be the brilliant tactician and legendary savior Captain Thaoh Argentian, but Tina….is just Tina. And the Royal Fleet is losing the war, badly–the starship that found her is on the run and they barely manage to escape Earth with the planet still intact.

Luckily, Tina is surrounded by a crew she can trust, and her best friend Rachel, and she is still determined to save all the worlds. But first she’ll have to save herself.

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The Companion by EE Ottoman (April 16th)

New York, 1949

After years of trying to break into New York City’s literary scene, Madeline Slaughter is emotionally and physically exhausted. When a friend offers her a safe haven as the live-in companion to reclusive, bestselling novelist Victor Hallowell she jumps at the chance to escape the city.

Madeline expects to find rest and quiet in the forests of Upstate New York. Instead, she finds Victor, handsome and intensely passionate, and Audrey Coffin, Victor’s mysterious and beautiful neighbor.

When Victor offers her a kiss and the promise of more Madeline allows herself to become entangled even as Audrey is also claiming her heart. The only problem is that Audrey and Victor are ex-lovers with plenty of baggage between them. As Madeline finds herself opening up and falling in love with both she starts to wonder, can there be a future for all three?

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Too Bright to See by Kyle Lukoff (April 20th)

It’s the summer before middle school and eleven-year-old Bug’s best friend Moira has decided the two of them need to use the next few months to prepare. For Moira, this means figuring out the right clothes to wear, learning how to put on makeup, and deciding which boys are cuter in their yearbook photos than in real life. But none of this is all that appealing to Bug, who doesn’t particularly want to spend more time trying to understand how to be a girl. Besides, there’s something more important to worry about: A ghost is haunting Bug’s eerie old house in rural Vermont…and maybe haunting Bug in particular. As Bug begins to untangle the mystery of who this ghost is and what they’re trying to say, an altogether different truth comes to light—Bug is transgender.

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Defekt by Nino Cipri (April 20th)

This is the sequel to Finna.

Derek is LitenVärld’s most loyal employee. He lives and breathes the job, from the moment he wakes up in a converted shipping container at the edge of the parking lot to the second he clocks out of work 18 hours later. But after taking his first ever sick day, his manager calls that loyalty into question. An excellent employee like Derek, an employee made to work at LitenVärld, shouldn’t need time off.

To test his commitment to the job, Derek is assigned to a special inventory shift, hunting through the store to find defective products. Toy chests with pincers and eye stalks, ambulatory sleeper sofas, killer mutant toilets, that kind of thing. Helping him is the inventory team—four strangers who look and sound almost exactly like him. Are five Dereks better than one?

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Between Perfect and Real by Ray Stoeve (April 27th)

Dean Foster knows he’s a trans guy. He’s watched enough YouTube videos and done enough questioning to be sure. But everyone at his high school thinks he’s a lesbian—including his girlfriend Zoe, and his theater director, who just cast him as a “nontraditional” Romeo. He wonders if maybe it would be easier to wait until college to come out. But as he plays Romeo every day in rehearsals, Dean realizes he wants everyone to see him as he really is now––not just on the stage, but everywhere in his life. Dean knows what he needs to do. Can playing a role help Dean be his true self?

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Meet Cute Diary by Emery Lee (May 4th)

Noah Ramirez thinks he’s an expert on romance. He has to be for his popular blog, the Meet Cute Diary, a collection of trans happily ever afters. There’s just one problem—all the stories are fake. What started as the fantasies of a trans boy afraid to step out of the closet has grown into a beacon of hope for trans readers across the globe.

When a troll exposes the blog as fiction, Noah’s world unravels. The only way to save the Diary is to convince everyone that the stories are true, but he doesn’t have any proof. Then Drew walks into Noah’s life, and the pieces fall into place: Drew is willing to fake-date Noah to save the Diary. But when Noah’s feelings grow beyond their staged romance, he realizes that dating in real life isn’t quite the same as finding love on the page.

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All Kinds of Other by James Sie (4th)

Two boys are starting at a new school.

Jules is just figuring out what it means to be gay and hasn’t totally decided whether he wants to be out at his new school. His parents and friends have all kinds of opinions, but for his part, Jules just wants to make the basketball team and keep his head down.

Jack is trying to start over after a best friend break-up. He followed his actor father clear across the country to LA, but he’s also totally ready to leave his past behind. Maybe this new school where no one knows him is exactly what he needs.

When the two boys meet, the sparks are undeniable. But then a video surfaces linking Jack to a pair of popular transgender vloggers, and the revelations about Jack’s past thrust both Jack and Jules into the spotlight they’ve been trying to avoid. Suddenly both boys have a choice to make—between lying low where it’s easier or following their hearts.

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May the Best Man Win by Z.R. Ellor (May 18)

Jeremy Harkiss, cheer captain and student body president, won’t let coming out as a transgender boy ruin his senior year. Instead of bowing to the bigots and outdate school administration, Jeremy decides to make some noise—and how better than by challenging his all-star ex-boyfriend, Lukas for the title of Homecoming King?

Lukas Rivers, football star and head of the Homecoming Committee, is just trying to find order in his life after his older brother’s funeral and the loss long-term girlfriend—who turned out to be a boy. But when Jeremy threatens to break his heart and steal his crown, Lukas kick starts a plot to sabotage Jeremy’s campaign.

When both boys take their rivalry too far, the dance is on the verge of being canceled. To save Homecoming, they’ll have to face the hurt they’re both hiding—and the lingering butterflies they can’t deny.

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Future Feeling by Joss Lake (June 1st)

The year is 20__, and Penfield R. Henderson is in a rut. When he’s not walking dogs for cash or responding to booty calls from his B-list celebrity hookup, he’s holed up in his dingy Bushwick apartment obsessing over holograms of Aiden Chase, a fellow trans man and influencer documenting his much smoother transition into picture-perfect masculinity on the Gram. After an IRL encounter with Aiden leaves Pen feeling especially resentful, Pen enlists his roommates, the Witch and the Stoner-Hacker, to put their respective talents to use in hexing Aiden. Together, they gain access to Aiden’s social media account and post a picture of Pen’s aloe plant, Alice, tied to a curse:

Whosoever beholds the aloe will be pushed into the Shadowlands.

When the hex accidentally bypasses Aiden, sending another young trans man named Blithe to the Shadowlands (the dreaded emotional landscape through which every trans person must journey to achieve true self-actualization), the Rhiz (the quasi-benevolent big brother agency overseeing all trans matters) orders Pen and Aiden to team up and retrieve him. The two trace Blithe to a dilapidated motel in California and bring him back to New York, where they try to coax Blithe to stop speaking only in code and awkwardly try to pass on what little trans wisdom they possess. As the trio makes its way in a world that includes pitless avocados and subway cars that change color based on occupants’ collective moods but still casts judgment on anyone not perfectly straight, Pen starts to learn that sometimes a family isn’t just the people who birthed you.

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The Ghosts We Keep by Mason Deaver (June 1)

When Liam Cooper’s older brother Ethan is killed in a hit-and-run, Liam has to not only learn to face the world without one of the people he loved the most, but also face the fading relationship with his two best friends.

Feeling more alone and isolated than ever, Liam finds themself sharing time with Marcus, Ethan’s best friend, and through Marcus, Liam finds the one person that seems to know exactly what they’re going through, for the better, and the worse.

This book is about grief. But it’s also about why we live. Why we have to keep moving on, and why we should.

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The Witch King by H.E. Edgmon (June 1)

Wyatt would give anything to forget where he came from—but a kingdom demands its king.

In Asalin, fae rule and witches like Wyatt Croft…don’t. Wyatt’s betrothal to his best friend, fae prince Emyr North, was supposed to change that. But when Wyatt lost control of his magic one devastating night, he fled to the human world.

Now a coldly distant Emyr has hunted him down. Despite transgender Wyatt’s newfound identity and troubling past, Emyr has no intention of dissolving their engagement. In fact, he claims they must marry now or risk losing the throne. Jaded, Wyatt strikes a deal with the enemy, hoping to escape Asalin forever. But as he gets to know Emyr, Wyatt realizes the boy he once loved may still exist. And as the witches face worsening conditions, he must decide once and for all what’s more important—his people or his freedom.

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The Passing Playbook by Isaac Fitzsimons (June 1st)

Fifteen-year-old Spencer Harris is a proud nerd, an awesome big brother, and a David Beckham in training. He’s also transgender. After transitioning at his old school leads to a year of isolation and bullying, Spencer gets a fresh start at Oakley, the most liberal private school in Ohio.

At Oakley, Spencer seems to have it all: more accepting classmates, a decent shot at a starting position on the boy’s soccer team, great new friends, and maybe even something more than friendship with one of his teammates. The problem is, no one at Oakley knows Spencer is trans–he’s passing. So when a discriminatory law forces Spencer’s coach to bench him after he discovers the “F” on Spencer’s birth certificate, Spencer has to make a choice: cheer his team on from the sidelines or publicly fight for his right to play, even though it would mean coming out to everyone– including the guy he’s falling for.

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The (Un)popular Vote by Jasper Sanchez (June 1st)

Vaseline on the teeth makes a smile shine. It’s a cheap stunt, but Mark Adams knows it’s optics that can win or ruin an election.

Everything Mark learned about politics, he learned from his father, the congressman who still pretends he has a daughter and not a son. To protect his father’s image, Mark promises to keep his past hidden and pretend to be the cis guy everyone assumes he is. But when he sees a manipulatively charming candidate for student body president inflame dangerous rhetoric, Mark decides to risk the low profile he assured his father and insert himself as a political challenger.

One big problem? No one really knows Mark. He didn’t grow up in this town, and he has few friends; plus, the ones he does have aren’t exactly with the in-crowd. Still, thanks to countless seasons of Scandal and The West Wing, these nerds know where to start: from campaign stops to voter polling to a fashion makeover. Soon Mark feels emboldened to get in front of and engage with voters—and even start a new romance. But with an investigative journalist digging into his past, a father trying to silence him, and a bully front-runner who stands in his way, Mark will have to decide which matters most: perception or truth, when both are just as dangerous.

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Both Can Be True by Jules Machias (June 8th)

Ash is no stranger to feeling like an outcast. For someone who cycles through genders, it’s a daily struggle to feel in control of how people perceive you. Some days Ash is undoubtedly girl, but other times, 100 percent guy. Daniel lacks control too—of his emotions. He’s been told he’s overly sensitive more times than he can count. He can’t help the way he is, and he sure wishes someone would accept him for it.

So when Daniel’s big heart leads him to rescue a dog that’s about to be euthanized, he’s relieved to find Ash willing to help. The two bond over their four-legged secret. When they start catching feelings for each other, however, things go from cute to complicated. Daniel thinks Ash is all girl . . . what happens when he finds out there’s more to Ash’s story?

With so much on the line—truth, identity, acceptance, and the life of an adorable pup named Chewbarka—will Ash and Daniel forever feel at war with themselves because they don’t fit into the world’s binaries? Or will their friendship help them embrace the beauty of living in between?

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Violet Ghosts by Leah Thomas (June 8th)

Dani’s best friend, Sarah, is a ghost. But maybe that’s normal when you’ve spent your childhood running from an abusive parent.

Dani and Sarah might be more than friends, though Dani dares not say so. Dani is afraid that if he tells Sarah he’s trans, she won’t bother haunting him anymore. Sarah’s got good reason to distrust boys, having been strangled by one.

After Sarah and Dani come across another ghost haunted by her own brutal murder, they set out to bring peace and safety to spirits like her. But when an old rival reenters Dani’s life, their unexpected friendship gives Dani a strange new feeling of belonging. As Dani starts to find his place in the living world, he’ll need to let go of his ghosts.

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The Natural Mother of the Child: A Memoir of Nonbinary Parenthood by Krys Malcolm Belc (June 15th)

Krys Malcolm Belc’s visual memoir-in-essays explores how the experience of gestational parenthood—conceiving, birthing, and breastfeeding his son Samson—eventually clarified his gender identity.

Krys Malcolm Belc has thought a lot about the interplay between parenthood and gender. As a nonbinary, transmasculine parent, giving birth to his son Samson clarified his gender identity. And yet, when his partner Anna adopted Samson, the legal documents listed Belc as “the natural mother of the child.”

By considering how the experiences contained under the umbrella of “motherhood” don’t fully align with Belc’s own experience, The Natural Mother of the Child journeys both toward and through common perceptions of what it means to have a body and how that body can influence the perception of a family. With this visual memoir-in-essays, Belc has created a new kind of life record, one that engages directly with the documentation often thought to constitute a record of one’s life—childhood photos, birth certificates—and addresses his deep ambivalence about the “before” and “after” so prevalent in trans stories, which feels apart from his own experience.

The Natural Mother of the Child is the story of a person moving past societal expectations to take control of his own narrative, with prose that delights in the intimate dailiness of family life and explores how much we can ever really know when we enter into parenting.

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The Calyx Charm by May Peterson (July 13th)

Second chances take many forms…

Violetta Benedetti knows how to hide things. She spent years concealing herself behind the persona her father expected of her. Now she hides in the dark corners of Vermagna’s underworld, lying low to keep her father from using her magic in his unending quest for power.

But her biggest secret is her love for her best friend, who only knew her as Mercurio Benedetti, not the woman she is today. Now he’s dead, and she’ll never be able to tell him the truth.

Tibario Gianbellicci was dead. And then…he wasn’t. Reborn as an immortal, he has powers he never imagined. Powers his crime boss mother wants to tap into to destroy their longtime rivals: House Benedetti.

But Tibario is hiding something, too: his best friend is a Benedetti—and the love of his life. With a second chance at life, he’ll have to risk revealing his heart.

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Summer Fun by Jeanne Thornton (July 27th)

Gala, a young trans woman, works at a hostel in Truth or Consequences, New Mexico. She is obsessed with the Get Happies, the quintessential 1960s Californian band, helmed by its resident genius, B—-. Why did the band stop making music? Why did they never release their rumored album, Summer Fun?

Gala writes letters to B—- that she light not only on the Get Happies, but paint an extraordinary portrait of Gala. The parallel narratives of B—- and Gala form a dialogue about creation–of music, identity, self, culture, and counterculture.

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Cheer Up: Love and Pom-Poms by Crystal Frazier, ill. by Val Wise (August 10th)

Annie is a smart, antisocial lesbian starting her senior year of high school who’s under pressure to join the cheerleader squad to make friends and round out her college applications. Her former friend BeeBee is a people-pleaser—a trans girl who must keep her parents happy with her grades and social life to keep their support of her transition. Through the rigors of squad training and amped up social pressures (not to mention micro aggressions and other queer youth problems), the two girls rekindle a friendship they thought they’d lost and discover there may be other, sweeter feelings springing up between them.

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Both Sides Now by Peyton Thomas (August 24th)

There are just two things keeping Finch Kelly from a full-blown case of high-school senioritis: a) the agony of waiting to learn whether he’s gotten off the deferral list to Georgetown, the school of his nerdy political dreams; and b) the prospect of taking home the gold at Nationals, the culmination of his four-year unbroken debate team winning streak. With his own unmatched expertise, and with the charming, silver-tongued Jonah Cabrera as his partner and #1 fan, Finch is nearly invincible — until a devastating second-place finish at the State Championship sends him reeling into self-doubt.

Nationals are Finch’s chance at redemption, and his last, best shot at showing Georgetown that he belongs there. But no amount of debate prep can shake Finch of his deeply held fears: that his wrinkled Gap Kids suit will never measure up to his prep-school competitors’ starched uniforms and that he’ll never have a love as picture-perfect as the one Jonah has with his movie-star-handsome boyfriend. But as Finch knows better than anyone else, there’s always more than one side to every argument.

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For the Love of April French by Penny Aimes (August 31st)

April French doesn’t do relationships and she never asks for more.

A long-standing regular at kink club Frankie’s, she’s kind of seen it all. As a trans woman, she’s used to being the scenic rest stop for others on their way to a happily-ever-after. She knows how desire works, and she keeps hers carefully boxed up to take out on weekends only.

After all, you can’t be let down if you never ask.

Then Dennis Martin walks into Frankie’s, fresh from Seattle and looking a little lost. April just meant to be friendly, but one flirtatious drink turns into one hot night.

When Dennis asks for her number, she gives it to him.

When he asks for her trust, well…that’s a little harder.

And when the desire she thought she had such a firm grip on comes alive with Dennis, April finds herself wanting passion, purpose and commitment.

But when their relationship moves from complicated to impossible, April will have to decide how much she’s willing to want.

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Act Cool by Tobly McSmith (September 7th)

Aspiring actor August Greene just landed a coveted spot at the prestigious School of Performing Arts in New York. There’s only one problem: His conservative parents won’t accept that he’s transgender. And to stay with his aunt in the city, August must promise them he won’t transition.

August is convinced he can play the part his parents want while acting cool and confident in the company of his talented new friends.

But who is August when the lights go down? And where will he turn when the roles start hitting a little too close to home?

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Obie is Man Enough by Schuyler Bailar (September 7th)

Obie knew his transition would have ripple effects. He has to leave his swim coach, his pool, and his best friends. But it’s time for Obie to find where he truly belongs.

As Obie dives into a new team, though, things are strange. Obie always felt at home in the water, but now he can’t get his old coach out of his head. Even worse are the bullies that wait in the locker room and on the pool deck. Luckily, Obie has family behind him. And maybe some new friends too, including Charlie, his first crush. Obie is ready to prove he can be one of the fastest boys in the water—to his coach, his critics, and his biggest competition: himself.

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Light From Uncommon Stars by Ryka Aoki (September 28th)

Shizuka Satomi made a deal with the devil: to escape damnation, she must entice seven other violin prodigies to trade their souls for success. She has already delivered six.

When Katrina Nguyen, a young transgender runaway, catches Shizuka’s ear with her wild talent, Shizuka can almost feel the curse lifting. She’s found her final candidate.

But in a donut shop off a bustling highway in the San Gabriel Valley, Shizuka meets Lan Tran, retired starship captain, interstellar refugee, and mother of four. Shizuka doesn’t have time for crushes or coffee dates, what with her very soul on the line, but Lan’s kind smile and eyes like stars might just redefine a soul’s worth. And maybe something as small as a warm donut is powerful enough to break a curse as vast as the California coastline.

As the lives of these three women become entangled by chance and fate, a story of magic, identity, curses, and hope begins, and a family worth crossing the universe for is found.

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The Heartbreak Bakery by A.R. Capetta (October 12th)

Syd (no pronouns, please) has always dealt with big, hard-to-talk-about things by baking. Being dumped is no different, except now Syd is baking at the Proud Muffin, a queer bakery and community space in Austin. And everyone who eats Syd’s breakup brownies . . . breaks up. Even Vin and Alec, who own the Proud Muffin. And their breakup might take the bakery down with it. Being dumped is one thing; causing ripples of queer heartbreak through the community is another. But the cute bike delivery person, Harley (he or they, check the pronoun pin, it’s probably on the messenger bag), believes Syd about the magic baking. And Harley believes Syd’s magical baking can fix things, too—one recipe at a time.

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Books to Add to Your TBR