Tag Archives: Esme Symes-Smith

New Releases: November 2022

How to Excavate a Heart by Jake Maia Arlow (1st)

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?

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This is Our Place by Vitor Martins, trans. by Larissa Helena (1st)

If the walls of Number 8 Sunflower Street could talk …

As Ana celebrates the new millennium, she is shocked to learn that she must leave behind her childhood home, her hometown, and — hardest of all — her girlfriend for a new life in Rio de Janeiro.

Ten years later, Greg is sent to live with his aunt — who runs a video rental store from her garage and owns a dog named Keanu Reeves — as his parents work out their not-so-secret divorce.

And ten years after that, Beto must put his dreams of becoming a photographer on hold as the COVID-19 pandemic arrives in Brazil, forcing him to live with his overprotective mother and overachieving sister.

Set in and narrated by the same house, Number 8 Sunflower Street, and in three different decades – 2000, 2010, and 2020 respectively – This Is Our Place is a novel about queer teens dealing with sudden life changes, family conflict, and first loves, proving that while generations change, we will always be connected to each other.

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A Restless Truth by Freya Marske (1st)

59807966Magic! Murder! Shipboard romance! The second entry in Freya Marske’s beloved The Last Binding trilogy, the queer historical fantasy series that began with A Marvellous Light

The most interesting things in Maud Blyth’s life have happened to her brother Robin, but she’s ready to join any cause, especially if it involves magical secrets that may threaten the whole of the British Isles. Bound for New York on the R.M.S. Lyric, she’s ready for an adventure.

What she actually finds is a dead body, a disrespectful parrot, and a beautiful stranger in Violet Debenham, who is everything—a magician, an actress, a scandal—Maud has been trained to fear and has learned to desire. Surrounded by the open sea and a ship full of loathsome, aristocratic suspects, they must solve a murder and untangle a conspiracy that began generations before them.

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Kiss Her Once for Me by Alison Cochrun (1st)

One year ago, recent Portland transplant Ellie Oliver had her dream job in animation and a Christmas Eve meet-cute with a woman at a bookstore that led her to fall in love over the course of a single night. But after a betrayal the next morning and the loss of her job soon after, she finds herself adrift, alone, and desperate for money.

Finding work at a local coffee shop, she’s just getting through the days—until Andrew, the shop’s landlord, proposes a shocking, drunken plan: a marriage of convenience that will give him his recent inheritance and alleviate Ellie’s financial woes and isolation. They make a plan to spend the holidays together at his family cabin to keep up the ruse. But when Andrew introduces his new fiancée to his sister, Ellie is shocked to discover it’s Jack—the mysterious woman she fell for over the course of one magical Christmas Eve the year before. Now, Ellie must choose between the safety of a fake relationship and the risk of something real.

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Silver in the Mist by Emily Victoria (1st)

9781335406705_SMP_FC.jpgEight years ago, everything changed for Devlin: Her country was attacked. Her father was killed. And her mother became the Royal Spymistress, retreating into her position away from everyone… even her daughter.

Joining the spy ranks herself, Dev sees her mother only when receiving assignments. She wants more, but she understands the peril their country, Aris, is in. The malevolent magic force of The Mists is swallowing Aris’s edges, their country is vulnerable to another attack from their wealthier neighbor, and the magic casters who protect them from both are burning out.

Dev has known strength and survival her whole life, but with a dangerous new assignment of infiltrating the royal court of their neighbor country Cerena to steal the magic they need, she learns that not all that glitters is weak. And not all stories are true.

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The World Keeps Ending, and the World Goes On by Franny Choi (1st)

Many have called our time dystopian. But The World Keeps Ending, and the World Goes On reminds us that apocalypse has already come in myriad ways for marginalized peoples and calls us to imagine what will persist in the aftermaths.

With lyric and tonal dexterity, these poems spin backwards and forwards in time. They look into the collective psyche of our years in the pandemic and in the throes of anti-racist uprisings, while imagining other vectors, directions, and futures. Stories of survival collide across space and time—from Korean comfort women during World War II to children wandering a museum in the future. These poems explore narrative distances and queer linearity, investigating on microscopic scales before soaring towards the universal. Throughout, Choi grapples with where the individual fits within the strange landscapes of this apocalyptic world, with its violent and many-layered histories. In the process, she imagines what togetherness—between Black and Asian and other marginalized communities, between living organisms, between children of calamity and conquest—could look like. Bringing together Choi’s signature speculative imagination with even greater musicality than her previous work, The World Keeps Ending, and the World Goes On ultimately charts new paths toward hope.

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Màgòdiz by Gabe Calderón (1st)

Màgòdiz (Anishinabemowin, Algonquin dialect): a person who refuses allegiance to, resists, or rises in arms against the government or ruler of their country.

Everything that was green and good is gone, scorched away by a war that no one living remembers. The small surviving human population scavenges to get by; they cannot read or write and lack the tools or knowledge to rebuild. The only ones with any power are the mindless Enforcers, controlled by the Madjideye, a faceless, formless spiritual entity that has infiltrated the world to subjugate the human population.

A’tugwewinu is the last survivor of the Andwànikàdjigan. On the run from the Madjideye with her lover, Bèl, a descendant of the Warrior Nation, they seek to share what the world has forgotten: stories. In Pasakamate, both Shkitagen, the firekeeper of his generation, and his life’s heart, Nitàwesì, whose hands mend bones and cure sickness, attempt to find a home where they can raise children in peace, without fear of slavers or rising waters. In Zhōng yang, Riordan wheels around just fine, leading xir gang of misfits in hopes of surviving until the next meal. However, Elite Enforcer H-09761 (Yun Seo, who was abducted as a child, then tortured and brainwashed into servitude) is determined to arrest Riordan for theft of resources and will stop at nothing to bring xir to the Madjideye. In a ruined world, six people collide, discovering family and foe, navigating friendship and love, and reclaiming the sacredness of the gifts they carry.

With themes of resistance, of ceremony as the conduit between realms, and of transcending gender, Màgòdiz is a powerful and visionary reclamation that Two-Spirit people always have and always will be vital to the cultural and spiritual legacy of their communities.

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The Wicked Remain by Laura Pohl (1st)

This is the sequel to The Grimrose Girls.

54732645. sy475 Nani, Yuki, Ella, and Rory have discovered the truth about the curse that’s left a trail of dead bodies at Grimrose. But the four still know nothing of its origins, or how to stop the cycle of doomed fates.

And each girl harbors her own secret. One is learning why she was brought to the school. One struggles to keep her new and deadly power under control. One knows exactly how much time she has left.

And one, trying to escape her dark destiny, will come even closer to fulfilling it.

Can the girls change their own stories and break the curse? Or must one of them die to end it forever?

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Ocean’s Echo by Everina Maxwell (1st)

59808117When Tennal—a rich socialite, inveterate flirt, and walking disaster—is caught using his telepathic powers for illegal activities, the military decides to bind his mind to someone whose coercive powers are strong enough to control him.

Enter Lieutenant Surit, the child of a disgraced general. Out of a desperate need to restore a pension to his other parent, Lieutenant Surit agrees to be bound to Tennal and keep him conscripted in the army, a task that seems impossible even for someone with Surit’s ability to control minds.

Tennal just wants to escape, but Surit isn’t all that he seems. And their bond may just be the key to their freedom.

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Securing Ava by Anne Shade (1st)

Securing AvaAva Prescott has had one goal in life, to carry on the Prescott legacy by taking the reins of Diamond Unlimited Wealth Management. Her father’s determination to uphold the company’s wholesome family image propels Ava into a reluctant fake relationship with Kyle, a man she’s sure is a threat to the business. When her father is the victim of a suspicious accident, Ava believes Kyle is responsible and has no choice but to run.

Paige Richards saw enough violence to last a lifetime during her years as a counterintelligence specialist. She’s ready for some peace on her ranch in Oklahoma and is paying the bills as a private investigator. Paige takes a case to locate and bring back runaway heiress Ava Prescott. It seems simple enough, until she stumbles upon a bungled kidnapping attempt and her peaceful life is turned upside down. Now she must use every skill she has to secure Ava.

As they try to figure out who is out to hurt Ava and her family, Paige and Ava fight to stay one step ahead of the threat and resist their growing attraction. But ignoring their feelings may prove impossible when their hearts and lives are at stake.

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In the Key of Dale by Benjamin Lefebvre (1st)

Sixteen-year-old Dale Cardigan is a loner who’s managed to make himself completely invisible at his all-boys high school. He doesn’t fit with his classmates (whom he gives nicknames in his head), his stepbrother (whom nobody at school knows he’s related to), or even his mother (who never quite sees how gifted a musician Dale might be)—but they don’t fit with him, either. And he’s fine with that. To him, high school and home are stages to endure until his real life can finally begin.

Somewhat against his will, he befriends his classmate Rusty, who gets a rare look at Dale’s complex life outside school, but their friendship is made awkward when Dale is uncertain whether his growing attraction to Rusty is one-sided. Still, it’s to Rusty that Dale turns when he stumbles upon a family secret that shakes everything he thought he knew.

An epistolary novel written in the form of letters to his late father, In the Key of Dale is a beguiling, pitch-perfect book about growing up, fitting in, and finding a way out of grief and loneliness toward the melodic light of adulthood.

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The Heartbreak Handshake by J.R. Hart (1st)

60168776. sy475 Paxton McKee, Clover Hill’s rideshare driver and handyman, is known by his customers as responsible, dependable, and loyal. On first dates, though, he’s known by another word: boring. His dates never seem to appreciate his in-depth knowledge of famous aviation disasters or his LEGO expertise. His book club buddy, Mrs. Sawyer, keeps trying to set him up. But after so many failed dates, Paxton’s given up on finding someone who can accept him, special interests, stims, and all.

Hand-crafter Remi Sawyer put Clover Hill in their rear-view mirror to sell at craft fairs across the country. But being a traveling artisan is harder than Remi thought. With mounting bills, they’ve ended up back home. Being in their old teenage bedroom is weird. Weirder, their mother keeps trying to set them up on dates, even after they’ve made it clear the homecoming is temporary.

To get Mrs. Sawyer off their backs, Paxton and Remi agree on a scheme: they’ll go on three dates. When it’s over, Paxton can pretend to be heartbroken, and Remi can get back on the road. They even shake on it. But awkward dates lead to the realization the two have a lot in common. Kissing is gross? Check. Spending quiet time doing projects together is enjoyable? Double check.

But Remi is still hell-bent on leaving Clover Hill again, and Paxton is dead-set on staying. Can they find a new vision that doesn’t involve Remi leaving their kindred spirit behind, or are they both destined to lose the person who might be their perfect companion?

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Check Your Work by Skye Kilaen (1st)

59867218. sy475 Bisexual ex-barista Oliver is finally a high school math teacher, and it’s everything he ever wanted. Until he stumbles across the mysterious customer he crushed on back when he worked at Knockdown Coffee… and kinda sorta accidentally tells his Vice Principal that he’s dating her. Oops?

Octavia, a bi programmer, didn’t expect to run into the cute blue-haired barista again. Certainly not while volunteering at a local arts high school. He’s much too young and much too nice for her—but when she discovers he’s told people they’re dating, it’s a stroke of luck. She needs a fake relationship to stick it to her nemesis, and Oliver’s the perfect fit.

Their assignment is simple: one month of a convincing charade, and after the company gala, everything between them is absolutely and completely over.

Sometimes, however, the homework is harder than you expected.

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Is it Hot in Here (Or am I Suffering for All Eternity for the Sins I Committed on Earth?) by Zach Zimmerman

60420674In this laugh-and-cry-out-loud, memoir-esque exploration of selfhood, Zimmerman dives into the pros and cons of retiring a Bible-Belt-dwelling, meat-eating, God-fearing identity in exchange for a new, metropolitan lease on life—one of vegetarianism, atheism, queerness, and humor. Whether learning to absolve instilled religious guilt or reminiscing over Tinder dates gone horribly wrong, this book is a candid and hysterical look at one person’s journey toward making peace with the past and seeking hope in the future.

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Sir Callie and the Champions of Helston by Esme Symes-Smith (8th)

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.

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Beneath the Burning Wave by Jennifer Hayashi Danns (8th)

60254110Kaori and Kairi are the first twins to survive infancy on the ancient island of Mu, where gender is as fluid as the crashing waves. One was born of fire, the other of water.

But there’s a reason why none have survived before. A prophecy that has haunted the elders since time began. A rivalry destined to sink the entire island beneath a twin catastrophe of volcano and tsunami.

As hatred spills from the forbidden twins like the deadly poison of sacrificed sea snakes, they must decide what matters to them most…

The fight for the island – for tradition and duty.
Or the fight for freedom – for love and light.

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Even Though I Knew the End by C.L. Polk (8th)

A magical detective dives into the affairs of Chicago’s divine monsters to secure a future with the love of her life. This sapphic period piece will dazzle anyone looking for mystery, intrigue, romance, magic, or all of the above.

An exiled augur who sold her soul to save her brother’s life is offered one last job before serving an eternity in hell. When she turns it down, her client sweetens the pot by offering up the one payment she can’t resist―the chance to have a future where she grows old with the woman she loves.

To succeed, she is given three days to track down the White City Vampire, Chicago’s most notorious serial killer. If she fails, only hell and heartbreak await.

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Girlcrush by Florence Given (8th)

In Given’s debut novel, we follow Eartha on a wild, weird and seductive modern-day exploration as she commences life as an openly bisexual woman whilst also becoming a viral sensation on Wonder Land, a social media app where people project their dreamselves online. But as her online self and her offline self become more and more distanced, trauma from her past comes back to haunt and destroy her present. Eartha must make a choice: which version of herself should she kill off?

Buy it: Bookshop | Amazon | IndieBound

Whiteout by Dhonielle Clayton, Tiffany D. Jackson, Nic Stone, Ashley Woodfolk, and Nicola Yoon (8th)

60579828As the city grinds to a halt, twelve teens band together to help a friend pull off the most epic apology of her life. But will they be able to make it happen, in spite of the storm?

No one is prepared for this whiteout. But then, we can’t always prepare for the magical moments that change everything.

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Reader, I Murdered Him by Betsy Cornwell (15th)

55959429Adele grew up in the shadows–first watching from backstage at her mother’s Parisian dance halls, then wandering around the gloomy, haunted rooms of her father’s manor. When she’s finally sent away to boarding school in London, she’s happy to enter the brightly lit world of society girls and their wealthy suitors.

Yet there are shadows there, too. Many of the men that try to charm Adele’s new friends do so with dark intentions. After a violent assault, she turns to a roguish young con woman for help. Together, they become vigilantes meting out justice. But can Adele save herself from the same fate as those she protects?

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The Forever Factor by Melissa Brayden (15th)

Is it truly better to have loved and lost? Bethany Cahill says nope. Eleven years ago, her fellow cheerleader Reid Thatcher held her heart in her hand…and crushed it like a bug. Since then, Bethany avoids risk, reward, and anything romantic on TV. Just, no. When a new patient walks into her office, she’s catapulted into the past and staring into Reid’s eyes, who is still annoyingly stunning. Forgiveness doesn’t come easy, and Bethany isn’t about to let Reid in. Not after all she took.

Reid never understood why Bethany ran from her all those years ago, but no kiss since has ever been as satisfying as Bethany’s lips on hers. Orchestrating a run-in was the best idea she’s ever had, and Reid plans to get to the bottom of Bethany’s silence, a mystery she can’t let drop. But she hadn’t planned on the reckoning in store when she learns the truth.

When Bethany and Reid confront their past, they give new meaning to letting go, forgiveness, and a future worth fighting for.

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A Pros and Cons List for Strong Feelings by Will Betke-Brunswick (15th)

During Will Betke-Brunswick’s sophomore year of college, their beloved mother, Elizabeth, is diagnosed with an aggressive form of cancer. They only have ten more months together, which Will documents in evocative two-color illustrations. But as we follow Will and their mom through chemo and hospital visits, their time together is buoyed by laughter, jigsaw puzzles, modern art, and vegan BLTs. In a delightful twist, Will portrays their family as penguins, and their friends are cast as a menagerie of birds. In between therapy and bedside chats, they navigate uniquely human challenges, as Will prepares for math exams, comes out as genderqueer, and negotiates familial tension.

A Pros and Cons List for Strong Feelings is an act of loving others and loving oneself, offering a story of coming-of-age, illness, death, and life that announces the arrival of a talented storyteller in Will Betke-Brunswick. At its heart, Will’s story is a celebration of a mother-child relationship filled with unconditional devotion, humor, care, and openness.

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Calling the Shots by Kelly Farmer (15th)

Calling the Shots (Out on the Ice Book 3) by [Kelly Farmer]Retired superstar Regan Lane is known for being outspoken. She’s never been one to keep her opinions to herself. When she lands a head coaching job in the women’s pro league with the Boston Ice, her brash promise to win the championship in her first year shocks no one. Especially not Tierney McGovern, head coach of the rival New York Lady Libertys.

Single mom Tierney knows what it’s like to live in someone else’s shadow, and she won’t let Regan steal the spotlight. Besides, she knows exactly how Regan operates: when it comes to delivering on her promises, she falls pitifully short. At least she did when she ghosted Tierney after their long-ago amazing week together.

As their teams face each other game after game, it doesn’t take long for them to realize their hockey rivalry isn’t the only thing heating up. And that maybe the real victory is in taking big chances on the ice—and off.

Buy it: Amazon

Schuss by E. J. Noyes (17th)

Schuss by E. J. NoyesStacey Evans wants only one thing: to be the best alpine ski racer she can be. Everything else—like her sweet and ultra-supportive best friend, and hot-but-vapid girlfriend—is just a bonus. Fresh from a medal at her first Olympics, Stacey knows she can only get better and is firmly focused on the future, and totally not thinking about how she’s kind of a little in love with that sweet, ultra-supportive best friend…

Gemma Archer has had a crush on Stacey from the moment she first saw her, but being her best friend is so amazing that she’s almost managed to push that crush aside. Almost. But even if Gemma finds the courage to tell Stacey how she really feels, there’s a mountain of obstacles to overcome—like the fact Gemma’s stepmom is Stacey’s coach (awkward) and Gemma will be going away to college in a few months. And most importantly…what if admitting how she feels ruins the best friendship she’s ever had?

Schuss brings back two beloved side characters from E. J. Noyes’ bestselling, award-winning novel Gold.

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At Midnight: 15 Beloved Fairytales Reimagined ed. by Dahlia Adler (22nd)

Fairy tales have been spun for thousands of years and remain among our most treasured stories. Weaving fresh tales with unexpected reimaginings, At Midnight brings together a diverse group of acclaimed YA writers to breathe new life into a storied tradition.

Fifteen celebrated authors reclaim classic fairy tales for a new generation:

Dahlia Adler, “Rumplestiltskin”
Tracy Deonn, “The Nightingale”
H.E. Edgmon, “Snow White”
Hafsah Faizal, “Little Red Riding Hood”
Stacey Lee, “The Little Matchstick Girl”
Roselle Lim, “Hansel and Gretel”
Darcie Little Badger, “Puss in Boots”
Malinda Lo, “Frau Trude”
Alex London, “Cinderella”
Anna-Marie McLemore, “The Nutcracker”
Rebecca Podos, “The Robber Bridegroom”
Rory Power, “Sleeping Beauty”
Meredith Russo, “The Little Mermaid”
Gita Trelease, “Fitcher’s Bird”
and an all-new fairy tale by Melissa Albert

Once upon a time . . .

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Astrid Parker Doesn’t Fail by Ashley Herring Blake (22nd)

58800142. sy475 For Astrid Parker, failure is unacceptable. Ever since she broke up with her fiancé a year ago, she’s been focused on her career—her friends might say she’s obsessed, but she’s just driven. When Pru Everwood asks her to be the designer for the Everwood Inn’s renovation that will be broadcasted on a popular home improvement show, Innside America, Astrid knows this is the answer to everything that is wrong with her life. It’ll be the perfect distraction from her failed love life, and her perpetually displeased mother might finally give her nod of approval.

However, Astrid never planned on Jordan Everwood, Pru’s granddaughter and lead carpenter for the inn’s renovation, who despises every modern design decision Astrid makes. Jordan is determined to preserve the history of her family’s inn, particularly as the rest of her life is in shambles. When that determination turns into a little light sabotage, ruffling Astrid’s perfect little feathers, the showrunners ask them to play up the tension. But somewhere along the way, their dislike for each other turns into something quite different, and Astrid must decide what success truly means. Is she going to pursue the life that she’s expected to lead, or the one she wants?

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Mabel and Everything After by Hannah Saffren (22nd)

Emma thinks she has her life all mapped out, until a flirty encounter at an Orioles game finds her thrown drastically off course. Mabel is everything her long-time boyfriend, Jack, isn’t—smart and funny, sweet and confident—and it doesn’t take Emma long to realize a relationship with Mabel could hold the keys to happiness. And it does…until Emma’s deep insecurities about their same-sex relationship emerge and she leaves for law school. Without Mabel.

As years pass, Emma and Mabel find themselves repeatedly crossing paths, even as distance tries to keep them apart. And now that Emma has finally found comfort in her own skin, it should be an easy road to their fairy tale happily-ever-after, right?

Buy it: Amazon

Two Wrongs Make a Right by Chloe Liese

60039565Jamie Westenberg and Bea Wilmot have nothing in common except a meet-disaster and the mutual understanding that they couldn’t be more wrong for each other. But when the people closest to them play Cupid and trick them into going on a date, Jamie and Bea realize they have something else in common after all—an undeniable need for revenge.

Soon their plan is in place: Fake date obnoxiously and convince the meddlers they’re madly in love. Then, break up spectacularly and dash everyone’s hopes, putting an end to the matchmaking madness once and for all.

To convince everyone that they’ve fallen for each other, Jamie and Bea will have to nail the performance of their lives. But as their final act nears and playing lovers becomes easier than not, they begin to wonder: What if Cupid’s arrow wasn’t so off the mark? And what if two wrongs do make a right?

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The Red Scholar’s Wake by Aliette de Bodard (24th)

60811024. sy475 Xich Si: bot maker, data analyst, mother, scavenger. But those days are over now-her ship has just been captured by the Red Banner pirate fleet, famous for their double-dealing and cruelty. Xich Si expects to be tortured to death-only for the pirates’ enigmatic leader, Rice Fish, to arrive with a different and shocking proposition: an arranged marriage between Xich Si and herself.

Rice Fish: sentient ship, leader of the infamous Red Banner pirate fleet, wife of the Red Scholar. Or at least, she was the latter before her wife died under suspicious circumstances. Now isolated and alone, Rice Fish wants Xich Si’s help to find out who struck against them and why. Marrying Xich Si means Rice Fish can offer Xich Si protection, in exchange for Xich Si’s technical fluency: a business arrangement with nothing more to it.

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We Deserve Monuments by Jas Hammonds (29th)

What’s more important? Knowing the truth or keeping the peace?

The summer of her senior year, seventeen-year-old Avery Anderson finds herself uprooted from her life in DC and moved into the hostile home of her terminally ill grandmother, Mama Letty. The tension between her mom and Mama Letty makes for an unwelcoming arrival and unearths some family drama they refuse to talk about. Everytime Avery tries to look deeper, they turn her away, leaving her desperate to learn the secrets that split her family in two.

Where Mama Letty is cantankerous and closed off, Avery finds friendship in some unexpected places: in Simone, her captivating next-door neighbor, and Jade Oliver, daughter of the town’s most prominent family— whose mother’s murder remains unsolved.

But as the three girls grow closer—Avery and Simone’s friendship blossoming into something more—the sharp-edged opinions of their small southern town start to hint at something more insidious underneath. Turning to Mama Letty for answers only result in more questions, uncovering decades-old secrets that have been brewing for generations, exposing the towns racist history and threatening to topple the new life Avery’s built in Bardell County, Georgia.

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In the City of Time by Gwendolyn Clare (29th)

In 1891, Willa Marconi’s life falls apart when her mentor at the University of Bologna unexpectedly dies, but Willa refuses to let anyone take her research away. While testing her prototype radio equipment, she detects a mysterious signal and pursues its origin.

In 2034, a cataclysmic event has rendered Earth uninhabitable, and humankind survives by living inside artificial worlds. Riley would do anything for Jaideep, who lost his family in the collapse of the Bay Area pocket universe—and “anything” includes building a time machine so they can travel back to the nineteenth century to prevent the destabilization of the planet and rewrite history.

But the experiment goes wrong. Willa is pulled forward in time, and the three find themselves stranded in a strange, seemingly abandoned city. Now they’ve got a glitchy time machine, a scary android time cop hot on their trail—dead set on preserving the current timeline—and some tangled temporal mechanics to unravel. Can they save the Earth before there’s no Earth left to save?

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Never Ever Getting Back Together by Sophie Gonzales (29th)

59808187It’s been two years since Maya dumped her cheating ex-boyfriend Jordy, and she still can’t escape him: his sister married the crown prince of a minor European country, and in the lead up to the wedding he captured hearts globally as the eligible younger brother. So, when Maya receives an invitation to be a contestant on Second Chance Romance, a new reality show in which the now-famous Jordy will re-date his ex-girlfriends in an effort to find “the one that got away,” she isn’t interested…that is, until she realizes she can use this opportunity to exact her revenge. If she can make it to the finale, she can reject Jordy and publicly break his heart. As far as Maya’s concerned, it’s payback with interest: just what a guy like Jordy deserves.

But when she gets to the set, she’s confronted with the one person she hasn’t accounted for: Skye, the beautiful, charismatic girl Jordy cheated on Maya with. How is she supposed to live with this girl for six weeks? Sharing bunkbeds, for crying out loud?

Except, of course, there’s more to Skye than she lets most people see. Skye has her own reasons for being careful with her heart, and might be more willing to take Maya’s side than it initially seems. If they can sustain their reluctant alliance—and keep their unexpected chemistry from interfering—they might just have a chance to take Jordy down.

Buy it: Bookshop | Amazon | IndieBound | Libro.fm

The Two Doctors Górski by Isaac Fellman (29th)

The Two Doctors GórskiAnnae, a brilliant graduate student in psychiatric magic and survivor of academic abuse, can’t stop reading people’s minds. This is how she protects herself, by using her abilities to know exactly how her colleagues view her. This is how she escapes the torturous experience of her own existence.

When Annae moves to England to rebuild her life and finish her studies under the seminal magician Marec Górski—infamous for bringing to life a homunculus made from his unwanted better self—she sees, inside his head, a man who is both a destructive force to everyone around him, and her mirror image. For Annae to survive, she’ll need to break free of a lifetime of conditioning to embody her own self and forge her own path.

Buy it: Bookshop | Amazon | IndieBound

Drama! by A.J. Truman (29th)

62346706. sy475 My arch nemesis is now my fake boyfriend. Can you say drama?

Uptight drama teacher Everett and cocky jock Raleigh must pretend to be boyfriends at an upcoming wedding in order for Everett to save face in front of his mega-famous ex.

Buy it: Amazon

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

55884944. sx318

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…

Buy it: Bookshop | Amazon | IndieBound

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.

Buy it: Bookshop | Amazon | IndieBound

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?

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

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.

Buy it: Bookshop | Amazon | IndieBound

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?

Buy it: Bookshop | Amazon | IndieBound

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.

Buy it: Bookshop | Amazon | IndieBound

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.

Buy it: Bookshop | Amazon | IndieBound

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.

Buy it: Bookshop | Amazon | IndieBound

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?

Buy it: Bookshop | Amazon | IndieBound

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.

Buy it: Bookshop | Amazon | IndieBound

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).

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

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.

Buy it: Bookshop | Amazon | IndieBound

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.

Buy it: Bookshop | Amazon | IndieBound

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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Most Anticipated LGBTQ+ Middle Grade Fiction: July-December 2022

The Language of Seabirds by Will Taylor (July 19th)

Jeremy is not excited about the prospect of spending the summer with his dad and his uncle in a seaside cabin in Oregon. It’s the first summer after his parents’ divorce, and he hasn’t exactly been seeking alone time with his dad. He doesn’t have a choice, though, so he goes… and on his first day takes a walk on the beach and finds himself intrigued by a boy his age running by. Eventually, he and Runner Boy (Evan) meet — and what starts out as friendship blooms into something neither boy is expecting… and also something both boys have been secretly hoping for.

Buy it: Bookshop | Amazon | IndieBound

Continue reading Most Anticipated LGBTQ+ Middle Grade Fiction: July-December 2022