Tag Archives: How to Excavate a Heart

Fave Five: New Queer Holiday Romances

For some older titles, click here for m/m and here for f/f.

In the Event of Love by Courtney Kae

You’re a Mean Once, Matthew Prince by Timothy Janovsky

Season of Love by Helena Greer

Kiss Her Once for Me by Alison Cochrun

The Holiday Trap by Roan Parrish

Bonus: Check out Honeymoon for One by Rachel Bowdler and read her post all about queer holiday romance here.

These are all Adult novels, but for a novella, try Felix Navidad by ‘Nathan Burgoine, and in YA, check out How to Excavate a Heart by Jake Maia Arlow 

New Release Spotlight: How to Excavate a Heart by Jake Maia Arlow

Love light Sapphic YA romance? Love queer holiday romance? Excited to see a book mesh the two and be resplendent with nerdery? It’s got enemies-to-lovers! It’s got Jewish rep! It’s cozy and funny and basically exactly what you want to read as the fall turns to winter, and I loved it so much I blurbed it, so I’ll throw that in here too, because why not:  “With wit and chemistry that crackle like a roaring fire, the warmth and sweetness of gourmet hot cocoa, and the surprising softness of a gentle snowfall, How to Excavate a Heart truly gave me the romantic winter break of my dreams. You’ll want to savor every word, and then run and recommend it to everyone you know.” (Let the record show I am not usually so annoyingly flowery with blurbs, but like, the perfect winter vibes are so strong, it was beyond my control!) Anyway, it’s out now from HarperTeen, so go get it!

How to Excavate a Heart by Jake Maia Arlow

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

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

It could be going better.

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

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

Buy from an indie using Jake’s very comprehensive website!

Buy it: Bookshop | Amazon

Special Edition: Dazzling Book Box

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?

Buy it: Bookshop | Amazon | IndieBound

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.

Buy it: Bookshop | Amazon | IndieBound

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.

Buy it: BookshopAmazon | IndieBound

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?

Buy it: Amazon

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.

Buy it: Amazon

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?

Buy it: Bookshop | Amazon | IndieBound

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 . . .

Buy it: Amazon | Bookshop | IndieBound

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.

Buy it: Waterstones | Book Depository

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.

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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.

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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

Most Anticipated LGBTQ+ Young Adult Fiction: July-December 2022

This post is sponsored by me and Home Field Advantage, available now in hardcover and ebook from Wednesday books and audio (narrated by Natalie Naudus and Lori Prince) by OrangeSky Audio!


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

***

The Comedienne’s Guide to Pride by Hayli Thomson (July 19th)

58724672Taylor Parker has always been a funny girl―but when she is accepted as a finalist for a diverse writers’ internship at Saturday Night Live, it turns her life upside down. If she wants a shot at winning in a little more than a month, Taylor will have to come out about both of her secrets: She wants to be a comedian . . . and she’s a lesbian.

With a mom who gave up a career in comedy to raise her, and a comedian dad who left for a younger woman, working in comedy is a sore subject in Taylor’s house. To keep her secret under wraps, she sneaks out to do improv and hides her sketches under the bed, and to distract from her anxiety about the competition, Taylor frequents Salem’s Museum of Witchcraft to pine for Abigail Williams from the back row.

It’s at the Museum of Witchcraft where Taylor falls deeper in love with the girl who plays Abigail Williams―Charlotte Grey, an out and proud lesbian at Nathaniel Hawthorne High. Charlotte radiates so much confidence in her acting and queerness that Taylor can’t resist her. So when Charlotte reaches out for help on a school project, Taylor readily agrees. As they spend more time together, Taylor sees what living her truth and pursuing her dreams could bring her, but Charlotte can’t understand why someone as funny as Taylor wouldn’t go all out to make the most of her opportunities. To live up to her own comedy dreams and become the person she wants to be, Taylor will have to find the confidence to tell everyone exactly who she is and what she wants.

Buy it: Bookshop | Amazon | IndieBound

Continue reading Most Anticipated LGBTQ+ Young Adult Fiction: July-December 2022

Happy Jewish American Heritage Month 2022!

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

Books to Buy Now

Ellen Outside the Lines by A.J. Sass

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

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

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

Buy it: Bookshop | Amazon | IndieBound

From Dust, A Flame by Rebecca Podos

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

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

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

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

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

This Rebel Heart by Katherine Locke

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

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

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

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Matzo Match by Roz Alexander

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

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

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

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

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

Buy it: Amazon

Books to Preorder

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

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

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

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

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

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

Buy it: Amazon | IndieBound

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

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

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

It could be going better.

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

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

Buy it: Bookshop | Amazon | IndieBound

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

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

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

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

Buy it: Amazon | IndieBound

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

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

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

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

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

Buy it: Amazon | B&N

Books to Add to Your TBR

 

Happy Lesbian Visibility Day 2022!

This post only includes books that were not featured in past posts. For even more visibly lesbian goodness, check out posts from 2021, 2020, and 2019, too!

Books to Read Now

D’Vaughn and Kris Plan a Wedding by Chencia C. Higgins

56918560. sy475 Instant I Do could be Kris Zavala’s big break. She’s right on the cusp of really making it as an influencer, so a stint on reality TV is the perfect chance to elevate her brand. And $100,000 wouldn’t hurt, either.

D’Vaughn Miller is just trying to break out of her shell. She’s sort of neglected to come out to her mom for years, so a big splashy fake wedding is just the excuse she needs.

All they have to do is convince their friends and family they’re getting married in six weeks. If anyone guesses they’re not for real, they’re out. Selling their chemistry on camera is surprisingly easy, and it’s still there when no one else is watching, which is an unexpected bonus. Winning this competition is going to be a piece of wedding cake.

But each week of the competition brings new challenges, and soon the prize money’s not the only thing at stake. A reality show isn’t the best place to create a solid foundation, and their fake wedding might just derail their relationship before it even starts.

Buy it: Bookshop | Amazon | IndieBound

Continue reading Happy Lesbian Visibility Day 2022!