Tag Archives: Leah Johnson

Fave Five: Queer Summer YA Reads, Part II

For books with “Summer” in the actual title, check out Part I.

Rise to the Sun by Leah Johnson

Hot Dog Girl and Melt With You by Jennifer Dugan

Camp by L.C. Rosen

The Honeys by Ryan La Sala

This is Why They Hate Us by Aaron H. Aceves

Fave Five: Sapphic YA for fans of Heartstopper

Late to the Party by Kelly Quindlen

You Should See Me in a Crown by Leah Johnson

Cool for the Summer by Dahlia Adler

Hani and Ishu’s Guide to Fake Dating by Adiba Jaigirdar

Some Girls Do by Jennifer Dugan

Bonus: She Gets the Girl by Alyson Derrick and Rachael Lippincott is set in college, not high school, but read it anyway

Happy Black History Month 2022!

Happy Black History Month! Like the other eleven months, it’s always an excellent time to buy queer books by Black authors! (Note: since I felt like the old posts weren’t highlighting individual books enough, I’ve switched to the standard Happy Holigays style, but you can always find more titles in the previous post.)

Please note that only one book per author was included here, but most have others, and I encourage you to check out their catalogs!

To Buy Now

(and through the end of the month)

Meow or Never by Jazz Taylor (MG Contemporary)

Avery Williams can sing, but that doesn’t mean she can sing in front of people. She likes to stay backstage at her new school, which is where, to her surprise, she finds a cat tucked away into a nook. Avery names the stray Phantom and visits any time she’s feeling stressed (which is a lot these days).

As she sings to Phantom one day, her crush, Nic, overhears her and ropes Avery into auditioning for the school’s musical. Despite her nerves, Avery lands the lead role!

She knows she should be excited, but mostly Avery is terrified. Can Phantom help her through her stage fright? And what will happen if anyone finds out about her secret pet?

Buy it: Bookshop | Amazon | IndieBound

Cameron Battle and the Hidden Kingdoms by Jamar J. Perry (MG Fantasy)

54456929. sy475 Cameron Battle grew up reading The Book of Chidani, cherishing stories about the fabled kingdom that cut itself off from the world to save the Igbo people from danger. Passed down over generations, the Book is Cameron’s only connection to his parents who disappeared one fateful night, two years ago.

Ever since, his grandmother has kept the Book locked away, but it calls to Cameron. When he and his best friends Zion and Aliyah decide to open it again, they are magically transported to Chidani. Instead of a land of beauty and wonder, they find a kingdom in extreme danger, as the Queen’s sister seeks to destroy the barrier between worlds. The people of Chidani have been waiting for the last Descendant to return and save them . . . is Cameron ready to be the hero they need?

Buy it: Bookshop | Amazon | IndieBound

The Kindred by Alechia Dow (YA M/F Sci-Fi Romance)

57803147To save a galactic kingdom from revolution, Kindred mind-pairings were created to ensure each and every person would be seen and heard, no matter how rich or poor…

Joy Abara knows her place. A commoner from the lowly planet Hali, she lives a simple life—apart from the notoriety that being Kindred to the nobility’s most infamous playboy brings.

Duke Felix Hamdi has a plan. He will exasperate his noble family to the point that they agree to let him choose his own future and finally meet his Kindred face-to-face.

Then the royal family is assassinated, putting Felix next in line for the throne…and accused of the murders. Someone will stop at nothing until he’s dead, which means they’ll target Joy, too. Meeting in person for the first time as they steal a spacecraft and flee amid chaos might not be ideal…and neither is crash-landing on the strange backward planet called Earth. But hiding might just be the perfect way to discover the true strength of the Kindred bond and expose a scandal—and a love—that may decide the future of a galaxy.

Buy it: Bookshop | Amazon | IndieBound

This Poison Heart by Kalynn Bayron (YA Fantasy)

Briseis has a gift: she can grow plants from tiny seeds to rich blooms with a single touch.

When Briseis’s aunt dies and wills her a dilapidated estate in rural New York, Bri and her parents decide to leave Brooklyn behind for the summer. Hopefully there, surrounded by plants and flowers, Bri will finally learn to control her gift. But their new home is sinister in ways they could never have imagined–it comes with a specific set of instructions, an old-school apothecary, and a walled garden filled with the deadliest botanicals in the world that can only be entered by those who share Bri’s unique family lineage.

When strangers begin to arrive on their doorstep, asking for tinctures and elixirs, Bri learns she has a surprising talent for creating them. One of the visitors is Marie, a mysterious young woman who Bri befriends, only to find that Marie is keeping dark secrets about the history of the estate and its surrounding community. There is more to Bri’s sudden inheritance than she could have imagined, and she is determined to uncover it . . . until a nefarious group comes after her in search of a rare and dangerous immortality elixir. Up against a centuries-old curse and the deadliest plant on earth, Bri must harness her gift to protect herself and her family.

Buy it: Bookshop | Amazon | IndieBound

The Stars and the Blackness Between Them by Junauda Petrus (YA Contemporary Romance)

petrusbookTrinidad. Sixteen-year-old Audre is despondent, having just found out she’s going to be sent to live in America with her father because her strictly religious mother caught her with her secret girlfriend, the pastor’s daughter. Audre’s grandmother Queenie (a former dancer who drives a white convertible Cadillac and who has a few secrets of her own) tries to reassure her granddaughter that she won’t lose her roots, not even in some place called Minneapolis. “America have dey spirits too, believe me,” she tells Audre.

Minneapolis. Sixteen-year-old Mabel is lying on her bed, staring at the ceiling and trying to figure out why she feels the way she feels–about her ex Terrell, about her girl Jada and that moment they had in the woods, and about the vague feeling of illness that’s plagued her all summer. Mabel’s reverie is cut short when her father announces that his best friend and his just-arrived-from-Trinidad daughter are coming for dinner.

Mabel quickly falls hard for Audre and is determined to take care of her as she tries to navigate an American high school. But their romance takes a turn when test results reveal exactly why Mabel has been feeling low-key sick all summer and suddenly it’s Audre who is caring for Mabel as she faces a deeply uncertain future.

Junauda Petrus’s debut brilliantly captures the distinctly lush and lyrical voices of Mabel and Audre as they conjure a love that is stronger than hatred, prison, and death and as vast as the blackness between the stars.

Buy it: Amazon | B&N | Indiebound

The Weight of the Stars by K. Ancrum (YA Speculative Romance)

The Weight of the StarsRyann Bird dreams of traveling across the stars. But a career in space isn’t an option for a girl who lives in a trailer park on the wrong side of town. So Ryann becomes her circumstances and settles for acting out and skipping school to hang out with her delinquent friends.

One day she meets Alexandria: a furious loner who spurns Ryann’s offer of friendship. After a horrific accident leaves Alexandria with a broken arm, the two misfits are brought together despite themselves—and Ryann learns her secret: Alexandria’s mother is an astronaut who volunteered for a one-way trip to the edge of the solar system.

Every night without fail, Alexandria waits to catch radio signals from her mother. And its up to Ryann to lift her onto the roof day after day until the silence between them grows into friendship, and eventually something more . . .

In K. Ancrum’s signature poetic style, this slow-burn romance will have you savoring every page.

Buy it: B&N | Amazon

The Taking of Jake Livingston by Ryan Douglass (YA Horror)

Sixteen-year-old Jake Livingston sees dead people everywhere. But he can’t decide what’s worse: being a medium forced to watch the dead play out their last moments on a loop or being at the mercy of racist teachers as one of the few Black students at St. Clair Prep. Both are a living nightmare he wishes he could wake up from. But things at St. Clair start looking up with the arrival of another Black student—the handsome Allister—and for the first time, romance is on the horizon for Jake.

Unfortunately, life as a medium is getting worse. Though most ghosts are harmless and Jake is always happy to help them move on to the next place, Sawyer Doon wants much more from Jake. In life, Sawyer was a troubled teen who shot and killed six kids at a local high school before taking his own life. Now he’s a powerful, vengeful ghost and he has plans for Jake. Suddenly, everything Jake knows about dead world goes out the window as Sawyer begins to haunt him. High school soon becomes a different kind of survival game—one Jake is not sure he can win.

Buy it: Bookshop | Amazon | IndieBound

Things We Couldn’t Say by Jay Coles (YA Contemporary)

There’s always been a hole in Gio’s life. Not because he’s into both guys and girls. Not because his father has some drinking issues. Not because his friends are always bringing him their drama. No, the hole in Gio’s life takes the shape of his birth mom, who left Gio, his brother, and his father when Gio was nine years old. For eight years, he never heard a word from her … and now, just as he’s started to get his life together, she’s back.

It’s hard for Gio to know what to do. Can he forgive her like she wants to be forgiven? Or should he tell her she lost her chance to be in his life? Complicating things further, Gio’s started to hang out with David, a new guy on the basketball team. Are they friends? More than friends? At first, Gio’s not sure … especially because he’s not sure what he wants from anyone right now.

There are no easy answers to love – whether it’s family love or friend love or romantic love. In Things We Couldn’t Say, Jay Coles shows us a guy trying to navigate love in all its ambiguity — hoping at the other end he’ll be able to figure out who is and who he should be.

Buy it: Bookshop | Amazon | IndieBound

The Passing Playbook by Isaac Fitzsimons (YA Contemporary Romance)

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

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

Buy it: Bookshop | Amazon | IndieBound

Ace of Spades by Faridah Àbíké-Íyímídé (YA Thriller)

When two Niveus Private Academy students, Devon Richards and Chiamaka Adebayo, are selected to be part of the elite school’s senior class prefects, it looks like their year is off to an amazing start. After all, not only does it look great on college applications, but it officially puts each of them in the running for valedictorian, too.

Shortly after the announcement is made, though, someone who goes by Aces begins using anonymous text messages to reveal secrets about the two of them that turn their lives upside down and threaten every aspect of their carefully planned futures.

As Aces shows no sign of stopping, what seemed like a sick prank quickly turns into a dangerous game, with all the cards stacked against them. Can Devon and Chiamaka stop Aces before things become incredibly deadly?

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

Rise to the Sun by Leah Johnson (YA Contemporary Romance)

Three days. Two girls. One life-changing music festival.

Toni is grieving the loss of her roadie father and needing to figure out where her life will go from here — and she’s desperate to get back to loving music. Olivia is a hopeless romantic whose heart has just taken a beating (again) and is beginning to feel like she’ll always be a square peg in a round hole — but the Farmland Music and Arts Festival is a chance to find a place where she fits.

The two collide and it feels like something like kismet when a bond begins to form. But when something goes wrong and the festival is sent into a panic, Olivia and Toni will find that they need each other (and music) more than they ever imagined.

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

Odd One Out by Nic Stone (YA Contemporary Romance)

39848512.jpgCourtney “Coop” Cooper
Dumped. Again. And normally I wouldn’t mind. But right now, my best friend and source of solace, Jupiter Sanchez, is ignoring me to text some girl.

Rae Evelyn Chin
I assumed “new girl” would be synonymous with “pariah,” but Jupiter and Courtney make me feel like I’m right where I belong. I also want to kiss him. And her. Which is . . . perplexing.

Jupiter Charity-Sanchez
The only thing worse than losing the girl you love to a boy is losing her to your boy. That means losing him, too. I have to make a move. . .

One story.
Three sides.
No easy answers

Buy It: B&N | Amazon | IndieBound | Google Play | Kobo 

A Phoenix Must Burn ed. by Patrice Caldwell (YA SFF Anthology)

43887961. sy475 Sixteen tales by bestselling and award-winning authors that explore the Black experience through fantasy, science fiction, and magic.

Evoking Beyoncé’s Lemonade for a teen audience, these authors who are truly Octavia Butler’s heirs, have woven worlds to create a stunning narrative that centers Black women and gender nonconforming individuals. A Phoenix First Must Burn will take you on a journey from folktales retold to futuristic societies and everything in between. Filled with stories of love and betrayal, strength and resistance, this collection contains an array of complex and true-to-life characters in which you cannot help but see yourself reflected. Witches and scientists, sisters and lovers, priestesses and rebels: the heroines of A Phoenix First Must Burn shine brightly. You will never forget them.

Authors include Elizabeth Acevedo, Amerie, Dhonielle Clayton, Jalissa Corrie, Somaiya Daud, Charlotte Davis, Alaya Dawn Johnson, Justina Ireland, Danny Lore, L.L. McKinney, Danielle Paige, Rebecca Roanhorse, Karen Strong, Ashley Woodfolk, and Ibi Zoboi.

Buy it: B&N | Amazon | IndieBound

Off the Record by Camryn Garrett (YA Contemporary)

Ever since seventeen-year-old Josie Wright can remember, writing has been her identity, the thing that grounds her when everything else is a garbage fire. So when she wins a contest to write a celebrity profile for Deep Focus magazine, she’s equal parts excited and scared, but also ready. She’s got this.

Soon Josie is jetting off on a multi-city tour, rubbing elbows with sparkly celebrities, frenetic handlers, stone-faced producers, and eccentric stylists. She even finds herself catching feelings for the subject of her profile, dazzling young newcomer Marius Canet. Josie’s world is expanding so rapidly, she doesn’t know whether she’s flying or falling. But when a young actress lets her in on a terrible secret, the answer is clear: she’s in over her head.

One woman’s account leads to another and another. Josie wants to expose the man responsible, but she’s reluctant to speak up, unsure if this is her story to tell. What if she lets down the women who have entrusted her with their stories? What if this ends her writing career before it even begins? There are so many reasons not to go ahead, but if Josie doesn’t step up, who will?

Buy it: Bookshop | Amazon | IndieBound

Meet Cute Diary by Emery Lee (YA Contemporary Romance)

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

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

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

The Sweet Sweet Fruit by David W. Johns (YA Fantasy)

The Sweet Sweet Fruit by [W Johns, David]Several light-years from Earth, Kelley spins his great granddaughter a fanciful story about how a summer job at a theme park changed his life forever. A story about discovery, friendship, and sacrifice. Like, literal human sacrifice. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves.

In a classic coming of age story, young Kelley arrives at Paradise Parks and Resort seeking a paradise of his own, only to have his hopes and dreams terminated along with his contract. Now, every proper theme park has a princess or two, and at Paradise Parks, Princess Hilola and her gang of feral socialites reign supreme. When they rescue Kelley and show him the finer sides of the island; yacht parties, VIP lounges, and high profile clientele, he thought he’d found his happily ever after…that is, until an ancient island curse turns the park into a very dark and heavy place. Theme rides mysteriously malfunction, people begin disappearing in the jungle, and a string of shark attacks has everyone on high alert. Princess Hilola reveals that in order to set things right, there must be a sacrifice to the massive volcano that looms over the island.

Through Kelley’s story, his great granddaughter learns a valuable lesson: in order to find yourself, you must get a little lost. Also, if a Princess invites you to a party, don’t drink the punch.

Buy it: Bookshop | Amazon

Every Body Looking by Candice Iloh (YA Contemporary)

43699419. sy475 Every Body Looking is a heavily autobiographical novel of a young woman’s struggle to carve a place for herself–for her black female body–in a world of deeply conflicting messages.

Told entirely in verse, Ada’s story encompasses her earliest memories as a child, including her abuse at the hands of a young cousin, her mother’s rejection and descent into addiction, and her father’s attempts to create a home for his American daughter more like the one he knew in Nigeria.

The present-tense of the book is Ada’s first year at Howard University in Washington D.C., where she must finally confront the fundamental conflict between who her family says she should be and what her body tells her she must be.

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

The Black Veins by Ashia Monet (YA Fantasy)

43927569In a world where magic thrives in secret city corners, a group of magicians embark on a road trip—and it’s the “no-love-interest”, found family adventure you’ve been searching for.

Sixteen-year-old Blythe is one of seven Guardians: magicians powerful enough to cause worldwide panic with a snap of their fingers. But Blythe spends her days pouring latte art at her family’s coffee shop, so why should she care about having apocalyptic abilities?

She’s given a reason when magician anarchists crash into said coffee shop and kidnap her family.

Heartbroken but determined, Blythe knows she can’t save them alone. A war is brewing between two magician governments and tensions are too high. So, she packs up her family’s bright yellow Volkswagen, puts on a playlist, and embarks on a road trip across the United States to enlist the help of six strangers whose abilities are unparalleled—the other Guardians.

Buy it: Amazon | B&N | Indigo | Apple Books

All Boys Aren’t Blue by George M. Johnson (YA Memoir)

39834234. sy475 In a series of personal essays, prominent journalist and LGBTQIA+ activist George M. Johnson explores his childhood, adolescence, and college years in New Jersey and Virginia. From the memories of getting his teeth kicked out by bullies at age five, to flea marketing with his loving grandmother, to his first sexual relationships, this young-adult memoir weaves together the trials and triumphs faced by Black queer boys.

Both a primer for teens eager to be allies as well as a reassuring testimony for young queer men of color, All Boys Aren’t Blue covers topics such as gender identity, toxic masculinity, brotherhood, family, structural marginalization, consent, and Black joy. Johnson’s emotionally frank style of writing will appeal directly to young adults.

Buy it: B&N | Amazon | IndieBound

Treasure by Rebekah Weatherspoon (F/F NA Romance)

Her sister’s bachelorette party is the highlight of a miserable year for Alexis Chambers, but once her bridesmaid’s dress is packed away, she’s back to coping with her life as a once popular athlete and violinist turned loner and the focus of her parents’ disappointment. She isn’t expecting much from her freshman year of college until she finds herself sharing a class with Treasure, the gorgeous stripper from her sister’s party.

Trisha Hamilton has finally gotten the credits and the money together to transfer to a four-year university. Between classes, studying, and her job as a stripper, she has little time for a social life, until she runs into the adorably shy baby butch from the club. Trisha can’t seem to hide her feelings for Alexis, even when Trisha discovers what she has been through, but will Alexis have the strength to be just as fearless about their new love?

Buy it: iBooks | Kobo | B&N | Amazon

The Days of Afrekete by Asali Solomon (Litfic)

56269273Liselle Belmont is having a dinner party. It seems a strange occasion—her husband, Winn, has lost his bid for the state legislature and they’re having the key supporters over to thank them for their work. Liselle was never sure about Winn becoming a politician, never sure about the limelight, about the life of fundraising and stump speeches. Now that it’s over she is facing new questions: Who are they to each other, after all this? How much of herself has she lost on the way—and was it worth it? Just before the night begins, she hears from an FBI agent, who claims that Winn is corrupt. Is it possible? How will she make it through this dinner party?

Across town, Selena is making her way through the same day, the same way she always does—one foot in front of the other, keeping quiet and focused, trying not to see the terrors all around her. Homelessness, starving children, the very living horrors of history that made America possible: these and other thoughts have made it difficult for her to live a normal life. The only time she was ever really happy was with Liselle back in college. But they’ve lost touch, so much so that when they run into each other at a drugstore just after Obama is elected president, they barely speak. But as the day wears on, Selena’s memories of Liselle begin to shift her path.

Buy it: Bookshop | Amazon | IndieBound

I’m So (Not) Over You by Kosoko Jackson (M/M Romance)

It’s been months since aspiring journalist Kian Andrews has heard from his ex-boyfriend, Hudson Rivers, but an urgent text has them meeting at a café. Maybe Hudson wants to profusely apologize for the breakup. Or confess his undying love. . . But no, Hudson has a favor to ask—he wants Kian to pretend to be his boyfriend while his parents are in town, and Kian reluctantly agrees.

The dinner doesn’t go exactly as planned, and suddenly Kian is Hudson’s plus one to Georgia’s wedding of the season. Hudson comes from a wealthy family where reputation is everything, and he really can’t afford another mistake. If Kian goes, he’ll help Hudson preserve appearances and get the opportunity to rub shoulders with some of the biggest names in media. This could be the big career break Kian needs.

But their fake relationship is starting to feel like it might be more than a means to an end, and it’s time for both men to fact-check their feelings.

Buy it: Bookshop | Amazon | IndieBound

D’Vaughn and Kris Plan a Wedding by Chencia C. Higgins (F/F Romance)

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

Real Life by Brandon Taylor (Litfic)

A novel of rare emotional power that excavates the social intricacies of a late-summer weekend–and a lifetime of buried pain. Almost everything about Wallace, an introverted African-American transplant from Alabama, is at odds with the lakeside Midwestern university town where he is working toward a biochem degree. For reasons of self-preservation, Wallace has enforced a wary distance even within his own circle of friends–some dating each other, some dating women, some feigning straightness. But a series of confrontations with colleagues, and an unexpected encounter with a young straight man, conspire to fracture his defenses, while revealing hidden currents of resentment and desire that threaten the equilibrium of their community.

Preorder: B&N | Amazon | IndieBound

Sorrowland by Rivers Solomon (Sci-Fi)

Vern—seven months pregnant and desperate to escape the strict religious compound where she was raised—flees for the shelter of the woods. There, she gives birth to twins, and plans to raise them far from the influence of the outside world.

But even in the forest, Vern is a hunted woman. Forced to fight back against the community that refuses to let her go, she unleashes incredible brutality far beyond what a person should be capable of, her body wracked by inexplicable and uncanny changes.

To understand her metamorphosis and to protect her small family, Vern has to face the past, and more troublingly, the future—outside the woods. Finding the truth will mean uncovering the secrets of the compound she fled but also the violent history in America that produced it.

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

If You Love Something by Jayce Ellis (M/M Romance)

As executive chef at one of the hottest restaurants in DC, DeShawn Franklin has almost everything he’s ever wanted. He’s well-known, his restaurant is Michelin starred and he can write his own ticket anywhere he wants. Until his grandmother calls him home and drops two bombshells:

1) She has cancer and she’s not seeking treatment.

2) She’s willing half her estate to DeShawn’s ex-husband, Malik.

Make that three bombshells. 

3) That whole divorce thing? It didn’t quite go through. DeShawn and Malik are still married.

And when DeShawn’s shady uncle contests Grandma’s will, there’s only one path back to justice: play it like he and Malik have reconciled. They need to act like a married couple just long enough to dispense with the lawsuit.

Once DeShawn is back in Malik’s orbit, it’s not hard to remember why they parted. All the reasons he walked away remain—but so do all the reasons he fell in love in the first place.

Buy it: Amazon | IndieBound

The Prophets by Robert Jones, Jr. (Historical)

Isaiah was Samuel’s and Samuel was Isaiah’s. That was the way it was since the beginning, and the way it was to be until the end. In the barn they tended to the animals, but also to each other, transforming the hollowed-out shed into a place of human refuge, a source of intimacy and hope in a world ruled by vicious masters. But when an older man—a fellow slave—seeks to gain favor by preaching the master’s gospel on the plantation, the enslaved begin to turn on their own. Isaiah and Samuel’s love, which was once so simple, is seen as sinful and a clear danger to the plantation’s harmony.

With a lyricism reminiscent of Toni Morrison, Robert Jones, Jr. fiercely summons the voices of slaver and the enslaved alike to tell the story of these two men; from Amos the preacher to the calculating slave-master himself to the long line of women that surround them, women who have carried the soul of the plantation on their shoulders. As tensions build and the weight of centuries—of ancestors and future generations to come—culminate in a climactic reckoning, The Prophets masterfully reveals the pain and suffering of inheritance, but is also shot through with hope, beauty, and truth, portraying the enormous, heroic power of love.

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

Honey Girl by Morgan Rogers (F/F Romance)

With her newly completed PhD in astronomy in hand, twenty-eight-year-old Grace Porter goes on a girls’ trip to Vegas to celebrate. She’s a straight A, work-through-the-summer certified high achiever. She is not the kind of person who goes to Vegas and gets drunkenly married to a woman whose name she doesn’t know…until she does exactly that.

This one moment of departure from her stern ex-military father’s plans for her life has Grace wondering why she doesn’t feel more fulfilled from completing her degree. Staggering under the weight of her father’s expectations, a struggling job market and feelings of burnout, Grace flees her home in Portland for a summer in New York with the wife she barely knows.

In New York, she’s able to ignore all the annoying questions about her future plans and falls hard for her creative and beautiful wife, Yuki Yamamoto. But when reality comes crashing in, Grace must face what she’s been running from all along—the fears that make us human, the family scars that need to heal and the longing for connection, especially when navigating the messiness of adulthood.

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

Dead Dead Girls by Nekesa Afia (Historical Mystery)

Harlem, 1926. Young black girls like Louise Lloyd are ending up dead.

Following a harrowing kidnapping ordeal when she was in her teens, Louise is doing everything she can to maintain a normal life. She”s succeeding, too. She spends her days working at Maggie”s Café and her nights at the Zodiac, Manhattan”s hottest speakeasy. Louise”s friends might say she”s running from her past and the notoriety that still stalks her, but don”t tell her that.

When a girl turns up dead in front of the café, Louise is forced to confront something she”s been trying to ignore–several local black girls have been murdered over the past few weeks. After an altercation with a local police officer gets her arrested, Louise is given an ultimatum: She can either help solve the case or let a judge make an example of her.

Louise has no choice but to take the case and soon finds herself toe-to-toe with a murderous mastermind. She’ll have to tackle her own fears and the prejudices of New York City society if she wants to catch a killer and save her own life in the process.

Buy it: Bookshop | Amazon | Indigo | B&N | Indiebound

Sweethand by N.G. Peltier (M/F Romance)

After a public meltdown over her breakup from her cheating musician boyfriend, Cherisse swore off guys in the music industry, and dating in general for a while, preferring to focus on growing her pastry chef business.

When Cherisse’s younger sister reveals she’s getting married in a few months, Cherisse hopes that will distract her mother enough to quit harassing her about finding a guy, settling down and having kids. But her mother’s matchmaking keeps intensifying.

Cherisse tries to humour her mother, hoping if she feigns interest in the eligible bachelors she keeps tossing her way, she’ll be off the hook, but things don’t quite go as planned. Turns out for the first time in ages, she and Keiran King, the most annoying man ever, are on the island at the same time. Avoiding him is impossible, especially when Keiran’s close friend is the one marrying her sister, and he’s the best man to her maid of honour.

Keiran doesn’t know what to make of Cherisse now. They’ve always butted heads. To him she’s always been a stuck-up brat who seeks attention, even while he secretly harbored a crush on her. Now with Cherisse’s sister marrying one of his good friends he can’t escape her as the wedding activities keep throwing them together.

When things turn heated after a rainy night of bedroom fun, they both have to figure out if they can survive the countdown to wedding day, without this turning into a recipe for disaster.

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Skye Falling by Mia McKenzie (Litfic)

When she was twenty-six and broke, Skye didn’t think twice before selling her eggs and happily pocketing the cash. Now approaching forty, Skye still moves through life entirely—and unrepentantly—on her own terms, living out of a suitcase and avoiding all manner of serious relationships. Maybe her junior high classmates weren’t wrong when they voted her “Most Likely to Be Single” instead of “Most Ride-or-Die Homie,” but at least she’s always been free to do as she pleases.

Then a twelve-year-old girl tracks Skye down during one of her brief visits to her hometown of Philadelphia and informs Skye that she’s “her egg.” Skye’s life is thrown into sharp relief and she decides that it might be time to actually try to have a meaningful relationship with another human being. Spoiler alert: It’s not easy.

Things get even more complicated when Skye realizes that the woman she tried and failed to pick up the other day is the girl’s aunt, and now it’s awkward. All the while, her brother is trying to get in touch, her mother is being bewilderingly kind, and the West Philly pool halls and hoagie shops of her youth have been replaced by hipster cafés.

With its endearingly prickly narrator and a cast of characters willing to both challenge her and catch her when she falls, this novel is a clever, moving portrait of a woman and the relationships she thought she could live without.

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How to Find a Princess by Alyssa Cole (F/F Romance)

Makeda Hicks has lost her job and her girlfriend in one fell swoop. The last thing she’s in the mood for is to rehash the story of her grandmother’s infamous summer fling with a runaway prince from Ibarania, or the investigator from the World Federation of Monarchies tasked with searching for Ibarania’s missing heir.

Yet when Beznaria Chetchevaliere crashes into her life, the sleek and sexy investigator exudes exactly the kind of chaos that organized and efficient Makeda finds irresistible, even if Bez is determined to drag her into a world of royal duty Makeda wants nothing to do with.

When a threat to her grandmother’s livelihood pushes Makeda to agree to return to Ibarania, Bez takes her on a transatlantic adventure with a crew of lovable weirdos, a fake marriage, and one-bed hijinks on the high seas. When they finally make it to Ibarania, they realize there’s more at stake than just cash and crown, and Makeda must learn what it means to fight for what she desires and not what she feels bound to by duty.

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Meet Cute Club by Jack Harbon (M/M Romance)

Jordan Collins doesn’t need a man.

What he needs is for his favorite author to release another one of her sexy supernatural novels and more people to sign up for the romance book club that he fears is slowly and steadily losing its steam. He also needs for the new employee at his local bookstore to stop making fun of him for reading things meant for “grandmas.”

The very last thing he needs is for that same employee, Rex Bailey, to waltz into his living room and ask to join Meet Cute Club. Despite his immediate thoughts—like laughing in his face and telling him to kick rocks—Jordan decides that if he wants this club to continue thriving, he can’t turn away any new members. Not even ones like Rex, who somehow manage to be both frustratingly obnoxious and breathtakingly handsome.

As Jordan and Rex team up to bring the club back from the ashes, Jordan soon discovers that Rex might not be the arrogant troll he made himself out to be, and that, like with all things in life, maybe he was wrong to judge a book by its cover.

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Stone and Steel by Eboni Dunbar (Fantasy)

In Stone and Steel, when General Aaliyah returns triumphant to the city of Titus, she expects to find the people prospering under the rule of her Queen, the stone mage Odessa. Instead, she finds a troubling imbalance in both the citizens’ wellbeing and Odessa’s rule. Aaliyah must rely on all of her allies, old and new, to do right by the city that made her.

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Stud Like Her by Fiona Zedde (F/F Romance)

Stud Like Her: A Lesbian Romance by [Fiona Zedde]Chance has been in love only once, but it wasn’t with the girlfriend she stayed with for far too long. The same girlfriend who dropped Chance when she became too inconvenient. Or maybe just boring.

To bury her disappointment, Chance tries to return to the woman she loved back when she was too afraid to be herself. A stud attracted to other studs.

Instead of her old love, though, Chance finds Garet: a new and persistent admirer with the kind of swagger that leaves Chance weak in the knees. Garet is hot and very popular with her half a million followers on social media. She’s also a lot younger than Chance is used to. Not to mention there’s something familiar about her, something dangerous, that Chance can’t quite put her finger on.

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From Scratch by Katrina Jackson (Polyam Romance)

From Scratch (Welcome to Sea Port Book 1) by [Katrina Jackson]Sea Port is a tiny southern town on the verge of collapse looking to entice people to move to the middle of nowhere and start life anew.

Mary Woods, stinging from her life as a failed academic, takes the opportunity by the reins and resettles in Sea Port to try her hand as a small town baker. A few days before the opening of her shop, Confections by Mary, she runs into small town cop, Miguel Santos, and small town fire chief, Billy Knox and there’s a whole lot of chemistry to go around.

Welcome to Sea Port, where the town baker, cop and fire chief fall heavily in lust.

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Fall Into You by Georgina Kiersten (F/F Romance)

Fall Into You by Georgina Kiersten (cover) A plus size back woman standing a in the woods full of fall autumn flowers.Imari Haines has had it with the gossip. The whole town is acting like she’s their very own Runaway Bride. A plus-size, black version of Julia Roberts that left a perfectly nice boy at the altar.

Her family is no exception. Her mother won’t stop making passive-aggressive comments.

Exhausted by this charged atmosphere, a boss that doesn’t appreciate her, and the never-ending town rumors, Imari makes a bold decision. Come autumn, she moves to Appeley (a small town in Hill Country) and never looks back.

In Appeley, for the first time ever, Imari feels welcome, happy, and unapologetically herself. She tries new things, makes brand-new friends and, while attending the fall apple festival, she accidentally bumps into a very familiar face…

Cassidy Martinez was her childhood best friend and partner in crime. Now, she has grown into a stunning, confident woman, and Imari can’t help noticing.

Should she take a risk?

Can the two of them pick up where they left off, or is being friends not going to be enough this time around?

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Punch Me Up to the Gods by Brian Broome (Memoir)

53968494. sy475 Punch Me Up to the Gods introduces a powerful new talent in Brian Broome, whose early years growing up in Ohio as a dark-skinned Black boy harboring crushes on other boys propel forward this gorgeous, aching, and unforgettable debut. Brian’s recounting of his experiences—in all their cringe-worthy, hilarious, and heartbreaking glory—reveal a perpetual outsider awkwardly squirming to find his way in. Indiscriminate sex and escalating drug use help to soothe his hurt, young psyche, usually to uproarious and devastating effect. A no-nonsense mother and broken father play crucial roles in our misfit’s origin story. But it is Brian’s voice in the retelling that shows the true depth of vulnerability for young Black boys that is often quietly near to bursting at the seams.

Cleverly framed around Gwendolyn Brooks’s poem “We Real Cool,” the iconic and loving ode to Black boyhood, Punch Me Up to the Gods is at once playful, poignant, and wholly original. Broome’s writing brims with swagger and sensitivity, bringing an exquisite and fresh voice to ongoing cultural conversations about Blackness in America.

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To Preorder

Every Variable of Us by Charles A. Bush (YA, March 1st)

57477082After Philly teenager Alexis Duncan is injured in a gang shooting, her dreams of a college scholarship and pro basketball career vanish in an instant. To avoid becoming another Black teen trapped in her poverty-stricken neighborhood, she shifts her focus to the school’s STEM team, a group of nerds seeking their own college scholarships. Academics have never been her thing, but Alexis is freshly motivated by Aamani Chakrabarti, the new Indian student who becomes her mentor (and crush?). Alexis begins to see herself as so much more than an athlete. But just as her future starts to reform, Alexis’s own doubts and old loyalties pull her back into harm’s way.

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Right Where I Left You by Julian Winters (YA, March 15th)

52698124School’s out, senior year is over, and Isaac Martin is ready to kick off summer. His last before heading off to college in the fall where he won’t have his best friend, Diego. Where—despite his social anxiety—he’ll be left to make friends on his own. Knowing his time with Diego is limited, Isaac enacts a foolproof plan: snatch up a pair of badges for the epic comic convention, Legends Con, and attend his first ever Teen Pride. Just him and Diego. The way it should be. But when an unexpected run-in with Davi—Isaac’s old crush—distracts him the day tickets go on sale, suddenly he’s two badges short of a perfect summer. Even worse, now he’s left making it up to Diego by hanging with him and his gamer buddies. Decidedly NOT part of the original plan. It’s not all bad, though. Some of Diego’s friends turn out to be pretty cool, and when things with Davi start heating up, Isaac is almost able to forget about his Legends Con blunder. Almost. Because then Diego finds out what really happened that day with Davi, and their friendship lands on thin ice. Isaac assumes he’s upset about missing the convention, but could Diego have other reasons for avoiding Isaac?

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Nothing Burns as Bright as You by Ashley Woodfolk (YA, April 5th)

56654666. sy475 Two girls.
One wild and reckless day.
Years of a tumultuous history unspooling
like thin, fraying string in the hours after they set a fire.

They were best friends. Until they became more.
Their affections grew. Until the blurry lines became dangerous.
Over the course of a single day, the depth of their past, the confusion of their present, and the unpredictability of their future is revealed.
And the girls will learn that hearts, like flames, aren’t so easily tamed.

It starts with a fire.
How will it end?

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New to Liberty by DeMisty D. Bellinger (Historical, April 5th)

In 1966, Sissily travels across Kansas with an older man, the father of one of her schoolfriends. On their way to California to begin a life together, he insists on stopping at his family ranch to see his mother. This family reunion is a painful reminder for Sissily about the truth about her own heritage, but she also sees a woman who, decades later, is still scarred by the great depression.

In 1947, Nella’s family relocates to Kansas from Milwaukee, and during the summer before her senior year, begins an interracial relationship with a white man called Lucky. They can only meet in secret, or as Lucky is in a wheelchair sometimes Nella pretends to be his nurse. When three white men stumble upon “Nurse Nella” one catastrophic afternoon, the violence of a racist society forces Nella to face the reality of their situation.

In 1933, at the height of the dust bowl and brutal jackrabbit roundups, surrounded by violence and starvation, Greta finds love with another farm woman. Their clandestine encounters will be unsustainable for obvious reasons but will have consequences for generations. A novel told in three parts, New to Liberty showcases the growth and strength of three unforgettable women as they evolve in a society that refuses to. In lustrous prose, DeMisty Bellinger brings the quiet, but treacherous landscape to life, offering a snapshot of mid-century America and keeping readers guessing until the end as to how these three women are connected.

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The Romantic Agenda by Claire Kann (M/F Romance, April 12th)

Thirty, flirty, and asexual Joy is secretly in love with her best friend Malcolm, but she’s never been brave enough to say so. When he unexpectedly announces that he’s met the love of his life—and no, it’s not Joy—she’s heartbroken. Malcolm invites her on a weekend getaway, and Joy decides it’s her last chance to show him exactly what he’s overlooking. But maybe Joy is the one missing something…or someone…and his name is Fox.

Fox sees a kindred spirit in Joy—and decides to help her. He proposes they pretend to fall for each other on the weekend trip to make Malcolm jealous. But spending time with Fox shows Joy what it’s like to not be the third wheel, and there’s no mistaking the way he makes her feel. Could Fox be the romantic partner she’s always deserved?

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In the Key of Us by Mariama J. Lockington (MG, April 26th)

Thirteen-year-old Andi feels stranded after the loss of her mother, the artist, who swept color onto Andi’s blank canvas. When she is accepted to a music camp, Andi finds herself struggling to play her trumpet like used to before her whole world changed. Meanwhile, Zora, a returning camper, is exhausted trying to please her parents, who are determined to make her a flute prodigy even though she secretly has a dancer’s heart.

At Harmony Music Camp, Zora and Andi are the only two Black girls in a sea of mostly white faces. In kayaks and creaky cabins, the two begin to connect, unraveling their loss, insecurities, and hope for the future.

And as they struggle to figure out who they really are, they may just come to realize who they really need: each other. From the author of the critically-acclaimed novel, For Black Girls Like Me, comes a lyrical story about the rush of first love and the power of one life-changing summer.

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Only on the Weekends by Dean Atta (YA, May 24th)

Fifteen-year-old Mack is a hopeless romantic – he blames the films he’s grown up watching. He has liked Karim for as long as he can remember, and is ecstatic when Karim becomes his boyfriend – it feels like love.

But when Mack’s dad gets a job on a film in Scotland, Mack has to move, and soon hediscovers how painful love can be. It’s horrible being so far away from Karim, but the worst part is that Karim doesn’t make the effort to visit. Love shouldn’t be only on the weekends.

Then, when Mack meets actor Finlay on a film set, he experiences something powerful, a feeling like love at first sight. How long until he tells Karim – and when will his old life and new life collide?

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You Made a Fool of Death with Your Beauty by Akwaeke Emezi (M/F Romance, May 24th)

Feyi Adekola wants to learn how to be alive again.

It’s been five years since the accident that killed the love of her life and she’s almost a new person now—an artist with her own studio, and sharing a brownstone apartment with her ride-or-die best friend, Joy, who insists it’s time for Feyi to ease back into the dating scene. Feyi isn’t ready for anything serious, but a steamy encounter at a rooftop party cascades into a whirlwind summer she could have never imagined: a luxury trip to a tropical island, decadent meals in the glamorous home of a celebrity chef, and a major curator who wants to launch her art career.

She’s even started dating the perfect guy, but their new relationship might be sabotaged before it has a chance by the dangerous thrill Feyi feels every time she locks eyes with the one person in the house who is most definitely off-limits. This new life she asked for just got a lot more complicated, and Feyi must begin her search for real answers. Who is she ready to become? Can she release her past and honor her grief while still embracing her future? And, of course, there’s the biggest question of all—how far is she willing to go for a second chance at love? ​

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Kings of B’More by R. Eric Thomas (YA, May 31st)

58936406With junior year starting in the fall, Harrison feels like he’s on the precipice of, well, everything. Standardized testing, college, and the terrifying unknowns and looming pressures of adulthood after that—it’s like the future wants to eat him alive. Which is why Harrison is grateful that he and his best friend, Linus, will face these things together. But at the end of a shift at their summer job, Linus invites Harrison to their special spot overlooking the city to deliver devastating news: He’s moving out of state at the end of the week.

To keep from completely losing it—and partially inspired by a cheesy movie-night pick by his Dad—Harrison plans a send-off à la Ferris Bueller’s Day Off that’s worthy of his favorite person. If they won’t be having all the life-expanding experiences they thought they would, Harrison will squeeze them all into their last day together. They end up on a mini road trip, their first Pride, and a rooftop dance party, all while keeping their respective parents, who track them on a family location app, off their trail. Harrison and Linus make a pact to do all the things—big and small—they’ve been too scared to do. But nothing feels scarier than saying goodbye to someone you love.

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Boys Come First by Aaron Foley (Romantic Contemporary, May 31st)

Suddenly jobless and single after a devastating layoff followed by a breakup with his cheating ex, advertising copywriter Dominick Gibson flees Hell’s Kitchen and finds himself trying get his life back on track in his hometown of Detroit, where he’s got one objective in mind: To exit the shallow gay dating pool ASAP and be married by 35—and he’s only got two years left.

Dom’s best friend Troy Clements, an idealistic teacher who never left the Motor City, finds himself at odds with all the men in his life: A troubled boyfriend he’s desperate to hold onto, a perpetually dissatisfied father, and his other best friend, Remy. Remy Patton is a rags-to-riches real estate agent in town with his own problems—namely choosing between making it work with a long-distance paramour or settling with a local Mr. Right Now that’s not quite Mr. Right—but his friendship with Troy may be compromised over his latest high-stakes deal.

Follow these three men as they confront their evolving friendship, but also individual hiccups—workplace microaggressions, bad Tinder dates, situationships, frenemies, learning the Tamia hustle—while attempting to navigate the new and changing Detroit.

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All Signs Point to Yes ed. by g. haron-davis, Cam Montgomery, and Adrianne White (YA Anthology, May 31st)

57803148A haunted Aquarius finds love behind the veil. An ambitious Aries will do anything to stay in the spotlight. A foodie Taurus discovers the best eats in town (with a side of romance). A witchy Cancer stumbles into a curious meet-cute.

Whether it’s romantic, platonic, familial, or something else you can’t quite define, love is the thing that connects us. All Signs Point to Yes will take you on a journey from your own backyard to the world beyond the living as it settles us among the stars for thirteen stories of love and life.

These stories will touch your heart, speak to your soul, and have you reaching for your horoscope forevermore.

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Greenland by David Santos Donaldson (Litfic, June 7th)

In 1919, Mohammed el Adl, the young Egyptian lover of British author E. M. Forster, spent six months in a jail cell. A century later, Kip Starling has locked himself in his Brooklyn basement study with a pistol and twenty-one gallons of Poland Spring to write Mohammed’s story.

Kip has only three weeks until his publisher’s deadline to immerse himself in the mind of Mohammed who, like Kip, is Black, queer, an Other. The similarities don’t end there. Both of their lives have been deeply affected by their confrontations with Whiteness, homophobia, their upper crust education, and their white romantic partners. As Kip immerses himself in his writing, Mohammed’s story – and then Mohammed himself – begins to speak to him, and his life becomes a Proustian portal into Kip’s own memories and psyche. Greenland seamlessly conjures two distinct yet overlapping worlds where the past mirrors the present, and the artist’s journey transforms into a quest for truth that offers a world of possibility.

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The Final Strife by Saara El-Arifi (Fantasy, June 21st)

In the first book of a visionary African- and Arabian-inspired fantasy trilogy, three women band together against a cruel empire that divides people by blood.

Red is the blood of the elite, of magic, of control.
Blue is the blood of the poor, of workers, of the resistance.
Clear is the blood of the slaves, of the crushed, of the invisible.

Sylah dreams of days growing up in the resistance, being told she would spark a revolution that would free the empire from the red-blooded ruling classes’ tyranny. That spark was extinguished the day she watched her family murdered before her eyes.

Anoor has been told she’s nothing, no one, a disappointment, by the only person who matters: her mother, the most powerful ruler in the empire. But dust always rises in a storm.

Hassa moves through the world unseen by upper classes, so she knows what it means to be invisible. But invisibility has its uses: It can hide the most dangerous of secrets, secrets that can reignite a revolution.

As the empire begins a set of trials of combat and skill designed to find its new leaders, the stage is set for blood to flow, power to shift, and cities to burn.

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Bad Things Happen Here by Rebecca Barrow (YA, June 28th)

Luca Laine Thomas lives on a cursed island. To the outside world, Parris is an exclusive, idyllic escape accessible only to the one percent. There’s nothing idyllic about its history, though, scattered with the unsolved deaths of young women—deaths Parris society happily ignores to maintain its polished veneer. But Luca can’t ignore them. Not when the curse that took them killed her best friend, Polly, three years ago. Not when she feels the curse lingering nearby, ready to take her next.

When Luca comes home to police cars outside her house, she knows the curse has visited once again. Except this time, it came for Whitney, her sister. Luca decides to take the investigation of Whitney’s death into her own hands. But as a shocking betrayal rocks Luca’s world, the identity Whitney’s killer isn’t the only truth Luca seeks. And by the time she finds what she’s looking for, Luca will come face to face with the curse she’s been running from her whole life.

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Moonflower by Kacen Callender (MG, July 19th)

58713803. sy475 Moon 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.

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Can’t Resist Her by Kianna Alexander (F/F Romance, July 19th)

After years away from home, Summer Graves is back in Austin, Texas, to accept a new teaching position. Of all the changes to the old neighborhood, the most dispiriting one is the slated demolition of the high school her grandmother founded. There’s no way she can let developers destroy her memories and her family legacy. But the challenge stirs memories of another kind.

On the architectural team revitalizing the neighborhood, hometown girl Aiko Holt is all about progress. Then she sees Summer again. Some things never change.

Neither can forget the kiss they shared at their senior-year dance. Neither can back down from her unwavering beliefs about what’s right for the neighborhood.

For now, the only thing Summer and Aiko are willing to give in to is a heat that still burns. But can two women with so much passion―for what once was and what could be―agree to disagree long enough to fall in love?

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Mademoiselle Revolution by Zoe Sivak (Historical, August 2nd)

59575976Sylvie de Rosiers, the biracial daughter of a rich planter in 1791 Saint-Domingue, is both a lady born to privilege and a damning reminder of her father’s infidelity with an enslaved woman. After a violent slave uprising begins the Haitian Revolution, Sylvie and her brother leave their parents and old lives behind to flee unwittingly into another uprising—austere and radical Paris. Sylvie quickly becomes enamored with the aims of the Revolution, as well as with the revolutionaries themselves—most notably Maximilien Robespierre and his mistress, Cornélie Duplay.

As a rising leader and abolitionist, Robespierre sees an opportunity to exploit Sylvie’s race and abandonment of her aristocratic roots as an example of his ideals, while the strong-willed Cornélie offers Sylvie guidance in free thought and a safe harbor. Sylvie battles with her past complicity in a slave society and her future within this new world order as she finds herself increasingly tugged between Robespierre’s ideology and Cornélie’s love.

When the Reign of Terror descends, she must decide whether to become an accomplice while another kingdom rises on the bones of innocents…or risk losing her head.

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The Unfortunates by J K Chukwu (Litfic)

58312003An edgy, bitingly funny debut about a queer, half-Nigerian college sophomore who, enraged and exhausted by the racism at her elite college, sets out to find truth about The Unfortunates—the unlucky subset of Black undergrads who have been mysteriously dying

Sahara is Not Okay. Entering her sophomore year at Elite University, she feels like a failure: her body is too curvy, her love life is nonexistent, her family is disappointed in her, her grades are terrible, and, well, the few Black classmates she has just keep dying. Sahara is close to giving up, herself: her depression is, as she says, her only “Life Partner.” And this narrative—taking the form of an irreverent, piercing “thesis” to the university committee that will judge her—is meant to be a final unfurling of her singular, unforgettable voice before her own inevitable disappearance and death. But over the course of this wild sophomore year, and supported by her eccentric community of BIPOC women, Sahara will eventually find hope, answers, and an unexpected redemption.

Buy it: Amazon | IndieBound

We Deserve Monuments by Jas Hammonds (YA, November 29th)

56777619. sy475 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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To Add to Your TBR

New Releases: July 2021

I Have Always Been Me by Precious Brady-Davis (1st)

57903292Precious Brady-Davis remembers the sense of being singular and grappling with “otherness.” Born into traumatic circumstances, Davis was brought up in the Omaha foster care system and the Pentecostal faith. As a biracial, gender-nonconforming kid, she felt displaced. Yet she realized by coming into her identity that she had a purpose all along.

In I Have Always Been Me, Brady-Davis reflects on a childhood of neglect, instability, and abandonment. She reveals her determination to dream through it and shares her profound journey as a trans woman now fully actualized, absolutely confident, and precious. She speaks to anyone who has ever tried to find their place in this world and imparts the wisdom that comes with surmounting odds and celebrating on the other side.

A memoir, a love story, and an outreach for the marginalized, Precious’s sojourn is a song of self-reliance and pride and an invitation to join in the chorus.

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The Very Nice Box by Eve Gleichman and Laura Blackett (6th)

Ava Simon designs storage boxes for STÄDA, a slick Brooklyn-based furniture company. She’s hard-working, obsessive, and heartbroken from a tragedy that killed her girlfriend and upended her life. It’s been years since she’s let anyone in.

But when Ava’s new boss—the young and magnetic Mat Putnam—offers Ava a ride home one afternoon, an unlikely relationship blossoms. Ava remembers how rewarding it can be to open up—and, despite her instincts, she becomes enamored. But Mat isn’t who he claims to be, and the romance takes a sharp turn.

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What We Devour by Linsey Miller (6th)

45184284In a world of devastating power and a bloodthirsty monarch, it’s time for the wealthy to be devoured.

Lorena Adler has a secret―she holds the power of the banished gods, the Noble and the Vile, inside her. But she has spent her entire life hiding from the world and her past. Lorena’s content to spend her days as an undertaker in a small town, marry her best friend, Julian, and live an unfulfilling life so long as no one uncovers her true nature.

But when the notoriously bloodthirsty and equally Vile crown prince comes to arrest Julian’s father, he immediately recognizes Lorena for what she is. So, she makes a deal―a fair trial for her betrothed’s father in exchange for her service to the crown.

The prince is desperate for her help. He’s spent years trying to repair the weakening Door that holds back the Vile…and he’s losing the battle. As Lorena learns more about the Door and the horrifying price it takes to keep it closed, she’ll have to embrace both parts of herself to survive.

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Everyone in this Room Will Someday Be Dead by Emily R. Austin (6th)

Gilda, a twenty-something, atheist, animal-loving lesbian, cannot stop ruminating about death. Desperate for relief from her panicky mind and alienated from her repressive family, she responds to a flyer for free therapy at a local Catholic church, and finds herself being greeted by Father Jeff, who assumes she’s there for a job interview. Too embarrassed to correct him, Gilda is abruptly hired to replace the recently deceased receptionist Grace.

In between trying to memorize the lines to Catholic mass, hiding the fact that she has a new girlfriend, and erecting a dirty dish tower in her crumbling apartment, Gilda strikes up an email correspondence with Grace’s old friend. She can’t bear to ignore the kindly old woman, who has been trying to reach her friend through the church inbox, but she also can’t bring herself to break the bad news. Desperate, she begins impersonating Grace via email. But when the police discover suspicious circumstances surrounding Grace’s death, Gilda may have to finally reveal the truth of her mortifying existence.

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Impacted by Benji Carr (6th)

56777668With every trip he makes to the dentist, Wade’s pain only gets worse. His smile has faded. He’s clenching his jaw and grinding his teeth more, not because of bad oral hygiene or any mishaps in orthodontics. Wade’s teeth don’t need straightening out, but the rest of his life could use that kind of adjustment. Wade has fallen in love with handsome Dr. Emmett, and their office visits in the afternoon have become decidedly more personal than professional. And poor Wade is sure his girlfriend Jessa would punch him in the mouth if she found out.

After all, Jessa did just abandon her church and her family to be with him. And she did just have Wade’s baby. So their relationship has already caused enough gossip in the small Georgia town of Waverly.

When Wade tries to end the affair, the breakup takes a brutal turn, leaving Wade in a state of panic. His life is under threat. His secrets could be exposed, and his family may fall apart before he realizes what kind of person he wants to be.

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Rise to the Sun by Leah Johnson (6th)

Three days. Two girls. One life-changing music festival.

Toni is grieving the loss of her roadie father and needing to figure out where her life will go from here — and she’s desperate to get back to loving music. Olivia is a hopeless romantic whose heart has just taken a beating (again) and is beginning to feel like she’ll always be a square peg in a round hole — but the Farmland Music and Arts Festival is a chance to find a place where she fits.

The two collide and it feels like something like kismet when a bond begins to form. But when something goes wrong and the festival is sent into a panic, Olivia and Toni will find that they need each other (and music) more than they ever imagined.

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Saved by a Song: The Art and Healing Power of Songwriting by Mary Gauthier (6th)

From the Grammy nominated folk singer and songwriter, an inspiring exploration of creativity and the redemptive power of song

Mary Gauthier was twelve years old when she was given her Aunt Jenny’s old guitar and taught herself to play with a Mel Bay basic guitar workbook. Music offered her a window to a world where others felt the way she did. Songs became lifelines to her, and she longed to write her own, one day.

Then, for a decade, while struggling with addiction, Gauthier put her dream away and her call to songwriting faded. It wasn’t until she got sober and went to an open mic with a friend did she realize that she not only still wanted to write songs, she needed to. Today, Gauthier is a decorated musical artist, with numerous awards and recognition for her songwriting, including a Grammy nomination.

In Saved by a Song, Mary Gauthier pulls the curtain back on the artistry of songwriting. Part memoir, part philosophy of art, part nuts and bolts of songwriting, her book celebrates the redemptive power of song to inspire and bring seemingly different kinds of people together.

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It Ends in Fire by Andrew Shvarts (6th)

Alka Chelrazi is on a mission:
1. Infiltrate Blackwater Academy
2. Win the Great Game
3. Burn Wizard society to the ground. As a child, Alka witnessed her parents’ brutal murder at the hands of Wizards before she was taken in by an underground rebel group.

Now, Alka is deep under cover at the most prestigious school of magic in the Republic: Blackwater Academy, a place where status is everything, where decadent galas end in blood-splattered duels, where every student has their own agenda.

To survive, Alka will have to lie, cheat and kill, to use every trick in her spy’s toolkit. And for the first time in her life, the fiercely independent Alka will have to make friends, to recruit the misfits and the outcasts into her motley rebellion.

But even as she draws closer to victory – to vengeance – she sinks deeper into danger as suspicious professors and murderous rivals seek the traitor in their midst, as dark revelations unravel her resolve. Can Alka destroy the twisted game… without becoming a part of it?

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There’s Magic Between Us by Jillian Maria (6th)

A diehard city girl, 16-year-old Lydia Barnes is reluctant to spend a week in her grandma’s small town. But hidden beneath Fairbrooke’s exterior of shoddy diners and empty farms, there’s a forest that calls to her. In it, she meets Eden: blunt, focused, and fascinating. She claims to be hunting fae treasure, and while Lydia laughs it off at first, it quickly becomes obvious that Eden’s not joking—magic is real.

Lydia joins the treasure hunt, thrilled by all the things it offers her. Things like endless places in the forest to explore and a friendship with Eden that threatens to blossom into something more. But even as she throws herself into her new adventure, some questions linger. Why did her mom keep magic a secret? Why do most of the townspeople act like the forest is evil? It seems that, as much as Lydia would like to pretend otherwise, not everything in Fairbrooke is as bright and easy as a new crush…

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Out of Character by Annabeth Albert (6th)

Milo Lionetti is not a gamer. Not even close. But when a stupid bet costs him his brother’s prized cards, he’ll do anything to replace them before anyone notices they’re gone. To do that, he’ll need a little help from the best gamer he knows…who also happens to hate him.

Jasper Quigley is known for moonlighting on a popular gaming blog, but he’s eager to stop playing the sidekick. The last thing he wants is to help out Milo and dredge up feelings he’d rather forget. But helping Milo comes with some perks, including getting his help running a cosplay event at the local children’s hospital. All that forced proximity was not supposed to come with kissing, and definitely not falling in love…

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Summer in the City of Roses by Michelle Ruiz Keil (6th)

56253675Inspired by the Greek myth of Iphigenia and the Grimm fairy tale “Brother and Sister,” Michelle Ruiz Keil’s second novel follows two siblings torn apart and struggling to find each other in early ’90s Portland.

All her life, seventeen-year-old Iph has protected her sensitive younger brother, Orr. But this summer, with their mother gone at an artist residency, their father decides it’s time for fifteen-year-old Orr to toughen up at a wilderness boot camp. When he brings Iph to a work gala in downtown Portland and breaks the news, Orr has already been sent away. Furious at his betrayal, Iph storms off and gets lost in the maze of Old Town. Enter George, a queer Robin Hood who swoops in on a bicycle, bow and arrow at the ready, offering Iph a place to hide out while she figures out how to track down Orr.

Orr, in the meantime, has escaped the camp and fallen in with The Furies, an all-girl punk band, and moves into the coat closet of their ramshackle pink house. In their first summer apart, Iph and Orr must learn to navigate their respective new spaces of music, romance, and sex work activism—and find each other to try to stop a transformation that could fracture their family forever.

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Bolla by Pajtim Statovsi, trans. by David Hackston (6th)

Bolla: A Novel by [Pajtim Statovci, David Hackston]April 1995. Arsim is a twenty-four-year-old, recently married student at the University of Pristina, in Kosovo, keeping his head down to gain a university degree in a time and place deeply hostile to Albanians. In a café he meets a young man named Miloš, a Serb. Before the day is out, everything has changed for both of them, and within a week two milestones erupt in Arsim’s married life: his wife announces her first pregnancy and he begins a life in secret.

After these fevered beginnings, Arsim and Miloš’s unlikely affair is derailed by the outbreak of war, which sends Arsim’s fledgling family abroad and timid Miloš spiraling down a dark path, as depicted through chaotic journal entries. Years later, deported back to Pristina after a spell in prison and now alone and hopeless, Arsim finds himself in a broken reality that makes him completely question his past. What happened to him, to them, exactly? How much can you endure, and forgive?

Entwined with their story is a re-created legend of a demonic serpent, Bolla; it’s an unearthly tale that gives Arsim and Miloš a language through which to reflect on what they once had. With luminous prose and a delicate eye, Pajtim Statovci delivers a relentless novel of desire, destruction, intimacy, and the different fronts of war.

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Out of Bounds by A.J. Truman (9th)

Out of Bounds (Browerton University Book 7) by [A.J. Truman]The plan was simple: Play the Game. Get the glory. Stay in the closet.

But the plan didn’t include my childhood crush walking back into my life. First, he wrecked my concentration. Then my body.

For college jock Cliff, crushing it on the court is all that matters. Yet his tightly maintained status quo begins to unravel when he discovers Brennan, his brother’s smooth-talking best friend, is also on campus.

Brennan’s last minute transfer to Browerton was an escape from a relationship that left his heart in shambles. When he offers to help Cliff with a class project, lessons in sketching give way to sizzling sexual tension – and some fun with neckties.

But as Cliff’s star rises on campus, their relationship becomes less of a release and more of a liability to his NBA aspirations. Brennan fears his heart is bound to be broken again, while Cliff grapples with a decision that’ll come down to the buzzer: the game or the guy?

Buy it: Amazon

The Taking of Jake Livingston by Ryan Douglass (13th)

Sixteen-year-old Jake Livingston sees dead people everywhere. But he can’t decide what’s worse: being a medium forced to watch the dead play out their last moments on a loop or being at the mercy of racist teachers as one of the few Black students at St. Clair Prep. Both are a living nightmare he wishes he could wake up from. But things at St. Clair start looking up with the arrival of another Black student—the handsome Allister—and for the first time, romance is on the horizon for Jake.

Unfortunately, life as a medium is getting worse. Though most ghosts are harmless and Jake is always happy to help them move on to the next place, Sawyer Doon wants much more from Jake. In life, Sawyer was a troubled teen who shot and killed six kids at a local high school before taking his own life. Now he’s a powerful, vengeful ghost and he has plans for Jake. Suddenly, everything Jake knows about dead world goes out the window as Sawyer begins to haunt him. High school soon becomes a different kind of survival game—one Jake is not sure he can win.

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The Calyx Charm by May Peterson (July 13th)

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

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

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

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

Buy it:  Amazon | B&N

Paranorthern and the Chaos Bunny A-Hop-Calypse by Stephanie Cooke and Mari Costa (13th)

50439061It’s fall break in the supernatural town of North Haven, and young witch Abby’s plans include pitching in at her mom’s magical coffee shop, practicing her potion making, and playing board games with her best friends—a pumpkinhead, a wolf-girl, and a ghost. But when Abby finds her younger sister being picked on by some speed demons, she lets out a burst of magic so strong, it opens a portal to a realm of chaos bunnies. And while these bunnies may look cute, they’re about to bring the a-hop-ocalypse (and get Abby in a cauldronful of trouble) unless she figures out a way to reverse the powerful magic she unwittingly released. What’s a witch to do?

In this deliciously humorous, cozy, and bewitching graphic novel, sometimes the most of powerful magic comes from our connections to family and friends (but kicking bunny butt is great, too)

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Flash Fire by T.J. Klune (13th)

This is the sequel to The Extraordinaries

Nick landed himself the superhero boyfriend of his dreams, but with new heroes arriving in Nova City it’s up to Nick and his friends to determine who is virtuous and who is villainous. Which is a lot to handle for a guy who just wants to finish his self-insert bakery AU fanfic.

 

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A Psalm for the Wild-Built by Becky Chambers (13th)

It’s been centuries since the robots of Panga gained self-awareness and laid down their tools; centuries since they wandered, en masse, into the wilderness, never to be seen again; centuries since they faded into myth and urban legend.

One day, the life of a tea monk is upended by the arrival of a robot, there to honor the old promise of checking in. The robot cannot go back until the question of “what do people need?” is answered.

But the answer to that question depends on who you ask, and how.

They’re going to need to ask it a lot.

Becky Chambers’s new series asks: in a world where people have what they want, does having more matter?

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The Rebellious Tide by Eddy Boudel Tan (13th)

Sebastien has heard only stories about his father, a mysterious sailor who abandoned his pregnant mother thirty years ago. But when his mother dies after a lifetime of struggle, he becomes obsessed with finding an explanation—perhaps even revenge.

The father he’s never met is Kostas, the commanding officer of a luxury liner sailing the Mediterranean. Posing as a member of the ship’s crew, Sebastien stalks his unwitting father in search of answers to why he disappeared so many years ago.

After a public assault triggers outrage among the ship’s crew, Sebastien finds himself entangled in a revolt against the oppressive ruling class of officers. As the clash escalates between the powerful and the powerless, Sebastien uncovers something his father has hidden deep within the belly of the ship—a disturbing secret that will force him to confront everything he’s always wondered and feared about his own identity.

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Breeder by Honni van Rijswijk (13th)

Will Meadows is a seemingly average fifteen-year-old Westie, who lives and works in Zone F, the run-down outermost ring of the Corporation. In the future state of the Corp, a person’s value comes down to productivity: the right actions win Units, the wrong ones lose them. If Will is unlucky and goes into Unit debt, there’s only one place to go: the Rator. But for Zone F Breeders, things are much worse — they’re born into debt and can only accrue Units through reproduction.

Every day in Zone F is a struggle, especially for Will who is fighting against time for access to an illegal medical drug, Crystal 8. Under the cover of night, Will travels to the Gray Zone, where life is less regulated and drugs — and people — are exchanged for gold. There, Will meets Rob, a corrupt member of the Corporation running a Breeder smuggling operation. Will also meets Alex, another teen whom he quickly recognizes as a Breeder in disguise.

Suddenly, Will has an illicit job and money, access to Crystal, and a real friend. As the pair grows closer, Alex shares her secret: she is part of the Response, an uprising to overthrow the Corporation. Caught up in the new friendship, Will and Alex become careless as the two covertly travel into Zone B for a day of adventure. Nothing goes as planned and Will’s greatest fear is realized. Will his true identity be revealed?

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The Mythic Koda Rose by Jennifer Nissley (13th)

Everything Koda Rose knows about her father she’s learned from other people. Moving to New York City with her mom won’t change that, even if New York was Mack Grady’s city—where he became famous, where he wrote his music, and also where he died.

Koda has more important things on her mind. Like how she’s in love with her best friend, Lindsay, and doesn’t have the courage to tell her. Agonizing over how to confess her feelings leads Koda to explore Mack’s enigmatic history in search of answers. She tracks down her dad’s band mate and ex-girlfriend, Sadie Pasquale, and finds herself becoming rapidly obsessed with the mercurial musician.

As Koda and Sadie’s complicated bond deepens, they are both forced to grapple with the black hole Mack left behind, or get sucked in themselves.

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Three Seeking Stars by Avi Silver (13th)

Sohmeng Minhal is going to fix the world.

With her home still in jeopardy, she doesn’t have much choice. What she does have is Ahnschen, an endearing prince of the dangerous empire that is disrupting the sãoni migration route. If she can convince Hei to trust him long enough to safely return him to his people, Sohmeng might just have a chance of restoring balance to Eiji. That is, until an unexpected piece of her past emerges from the jungle and challenges everything she is trying to achieve.

Now, the future of Eiji rests in Ahn’s hands—but does he have the courage to face the harm inflicted by his people? Determined to do right by the beloved friend who died on his sword, it will take a lot of unlearning to prove to Eiji—and to Hei—that he can, in fact, be good.

In the second chapter of the Sãoni Cycle, Sohmeng, Hei, and Ahn must reconcile their places in the human and natural worlds, all while navigating their complicated feelings about one another.

Buy it: Amazon | Bakka Phoenix | Kobo

Being You: A First Conversation about Gender by Megan Madison and Jessica Ralli, illustrated by Anne/Andy Passchier (13th)

Based on the research that race, gender, consent, and body positivity should be discussed with toddlers on up, this read-aloud board book series offers adults the opportunity to begin important conversations with young children in an informed, safe, and supported way.

Developed by experts in the fields of early childhood and activism against injustice, this topic-driven board book offers clear, concrete language and beautiful imagery that young children can grasp and adults can leverage for further discussion.

While young children are avid observers and questioners of their world, adults often shut down or postpone conversations on complicated topics because it’s hard to know where to begin. Research shows that talking about issues like race and gender from the age of two not only helps children understand what they see, but also increases self-awareness, self-esteem, and allows them to recognize and confront things that are unfair, like discrimination and prejudice.

This second book in the series begins the conversation on gender, with a supportive approach that considers both the child and the adult. Stunning art accompanies the simple and interactive text, and the backmatter offers additional resources and ideas for extending this discussion.

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The Monster I Am Today: Leontyne Price and a Life in Verse by Kevin Simmonds (15th)

Leontyne Price remains one of the twentieth century’s most revered opera singers and, notably, the first African American to achieve such international acclaim. In movements encompassing poetry and prose, writer and musician Kevin Simmonds explores Price as an icon, a diva, a woman, and a patriot—and himself as a fan, a budding singer, and a gay man—through passages that move polyphonically through the contested spaces of Black identity, Black sound, Black sensibility, and Black history.

Structured operatically into overture, acts, and postlude, The Monster I Am Today guides the reader through associative shifts from arias like “weather events” and Price’s forty-two-minute final ovation to memories of Simmonds’s coming of age in New Orleans. As he melds lyric forms with the biography of one of classical music’s greatest virtuosos, Simmonds composes a duet that spotlights Price’s profound influence on him as a person and an artist: “That’s how I hear: Her.”

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She Who Became the Sun by Shelly Parker-Chan (20th)

“I refuse to be nothing…”

In a famine-stricken village on a dusty yellow plain, two children are given two fates. A boy, greatness. A girl, nothingness…

In 1345, China lies under harsh Mongol rule. For the starving peasants of the Central Plains, greatness is something found only in stories. When the Zhu family’s eighth-born son, Zhu Chongba, is given a fate of greatness, everyone is mystified as to how it will come to pass. The fate of nothingness received by the family’s clever and capable second daughter, on the other hand, is only as expected.

When a bandit attack orphans the two children, though, it is Zhu Chongba who succumbs to despair and dies. Desperate to escape her own fated death, the girl uses her brother’s identity to enter a monastery as a young male novice. There, propelled by her burning desire to survive, Zhu learns she is capable of doing whatever it takes, no matter how callous, to stay hidden from her fate.

After her sanctuary is destroyed for supporting the rebellion against Mongol rule, Zhu takes the chance to claim another future altogether: her brother’s abandoned greatness.

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Everyman by M. Shelly Conner (20th)

Eve Mann arrives in Ideal, Georgia, in 1972 looking for answers about the mother who died giving her life. A mother named Mercy. A mother who for all of Eve’s twenty-two years has been a mystery and a quest. Eve’s search for her mother, and the father she never knew, is a mission to discover her identity, her name, her people, and her home.

Eve’s questions and longing launch a multigenerational story that sprawls back to the turn of the twentieth century, settles into the soil of the South, the blood and souls of Black folk making love and life and fleeing in a Great Migration into the savage embrace of the North.

Eve is a young woman coming of age in Chicago against the backdrop of the twin fires and fury of the civil rights and Black Power movements–a time when everything and everyone, it seems, longs to be made anew.

At the core of this story are the various meanings of love–how we love and, most of all, whom we love. everyman is peopled by rebellious Black women straining against the yoke of convention and designated identities, explorers announcing their determination to be and to be free. There is Nelle, Eve’s best friend and heart, who claims her right both to love women and to always love Eve as a sister and friend.

Brother Lee Roy, professor and mentor, gives Eve the tools for her genealogical search while turning away from his own bitter harvest of family secrets. Mama Ann, the aunt who has raised Eve and knows everything about Mercy, offers Eve a silence that she defines as protection and care. But it is James and Geneva, two strangers whom Eve meets in Ideal, who plumb the depths of their own hurt and reconciliations to finally give Eve the gift of her past, a reimagined present, and finally, her name.

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The River Has Teeth by Erica Waters (27th)

Girls have been going missing in the woods…

When Natasha’s sister disappears, Natasha desperately turns to Della, a local girl rumored to be a witch, in the hopes that magic will bring her sister home.

But Della has her own secrets to hide. She thinks the beast who’s responsible for the disappearances is her own mother—who was turned into a terrible monster by magic gone wrong.

Natasha is angry. Della has little to lose. Both are each other’s only hope.

From the author of Ghost Wood Song, this eerie contemporary fantasy is perfect for fans of Wilder Girls and Bone Gap.

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Summer Fun by Jeanne Thornton (27th)

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

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

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I am Not Starfire by Mariko Tamaki and Yoshi Yoshitani (27th)

From New York Times bestselling author Mariko Tamaki (Laura Dean Keeps Breaking Up with Me, Harley Quinn: Breaking Glass) and artist Yoshi Yoshitani (Zatanna and the House of Secrets) comes a story about Mandy, the daughter of super-famous superhero Starfire, and her desperate attempts to get out from under her shadow.

Seventeen-year-old Mandy Koriand’r is not her mother. Daughter of Starfire and high school outcast, Mandy is constantly trying to get out from under the shadow of her bright, bubbly, scantily clad, and famous mother. Dyeing her bright orange hair black and sticking close to her best friend, Lincoln, Mandy spends her days at school avoiding Teen Titans superfans and trying to hide her feelings for the gorgeous, popular, and perfect Claire. And while Mandy usually avoids spending too much time with her alien mother, she’s been particularly quiet as she’s keeping one major secret from her: Mandy walked out of her S.A.T.

While Mandy continues to tell Lincoln her plans of moving to France to escape the family spotlight and not go to college, she secretly hides a fear of not knowing her identity outside of just being the daughter of a superhero and who she will become. But when she is partnered with Claire to work on a school project, their friendship develops into something more and a self-confidence unknown to Mandy begins to bloom. Claire seems to like Mandy for being Mandy, not the daughter of Starfire.

But when someone from Starfire’s past comes to disrupt Mandy’s future, Mandy must finally make a choice: give up before the battle has even begun, or step into the unknown and risk everything. I Am Not Starfire is a story about mother-daughter relationships, embracing where you come from while finding your own identity, and learning to be unafraid of failing, if it was even failing in the first place.

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After You Died by Dea Poirier (27th)

Seventeen-year-old bisexual boy Asher remembers nothing from the night in 1968 that the police found him covered in his girlfriend’s blood. He knows he’d never hurt anyone, least of all her. But the only person who believes him is his twin sister. He’s sentenced to five years at the Dozier Reform School. And like Asher’s memory, Dozier hides violent secrets of its own.

Juvenile boys serving time for everything from truancy to murder are hidden away in the sinister School for Boys. Those who manage to escape its bounds with broken bones and scars are the lucky ones. Asher’s afraid he may end up like many of the other students buried beneath unmarked graves. Worse, his fellow inmates may become his next victims.

In hopes of recovering the events from the night of the murder, Asher visits the school’s psychiatrist. But when the memories return, he finds many aren’t his own. Thoughts, feelings, and visions from another life, and another time, slip into his mind. And each new memory brings consequences. First days disappear, then weeks. As the weeks slip away, students follow. He starts seeing his murdered girlfriend Olivia in the woods around the school. One morning, after following her ghost into the forest the night before, he wakes up outside covered in blood with no memory, and fears he’s killed someone else. On top of that, he learns that his sister—who had feared she was being stalked by a boy from their school—has disappeared. Could Asher himself somehow be responsible?

As Asher’s possible body count grows, he knows the answers he needs are trapped within his own mind, and in ghosts from the past. He needs to find out who he is and prove the murders aren’t connected to him or risk losing his sanity and freedom forever.

AFTER YOU DIED is a paranormal thriller loosely based on true events.

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Black History Month 2021

This is an annual feature that runs a little differently from the rest on LGBTQReads, as the post builds on itself each year and new titles/sections are added with asterisks. These books are all queer titles by Black authors, the vast majority of which star Black main characters. (Obviously this isn’t remotely exhaustive.)

Sites

Sistahs on the ShelfSotS is run by Rena, a Black lesbian who reviews Black lesbian books. You can also follow on Twitter at @SotS!

WoC in Romance – this is a site highlighting all Romance written by WoC, but there’s a page just for LGBTQ Romances. It’s run by Rebekah Weatherspoon, whose name you may recognize as being a prolific author of LGBTQ lit herself! You can follow on Twitter at @WOCInRomance, and make sure you check out their Patreon; link is in the pinned tweet!

Black Lesbian Literary Collective – To nab from their site, “The Black Lesbian Literary Collective creates a nurturing and sustainable environment for Black lesbian and queer women of color writers.” Looking for more reviews of Black lesbian fic? Ta da! The site is new, so it’s not packed with posts just yet, but there is already an active radio show linked to it. Find them on Twitter at @LezWriters.

The Brown Bookshelf – this is a site dedicated to Black kidlit; here are the posts that come up if you search LGBT.

Books

*=new additions this year

Picture Books

  • My Rainbow by DeShanna and Trinity Neal*

Middle-Grade

Young Adult

NA/Adult (Realistic)

NA/Adult (Speculative)

Comics/Graphic Novels*

Memoirs

Poetry

Featured Authors

Posts

Have more to share? Add them in the comments!

TBRainbow Alert: 2021 YA Starring QTBIPoC, Part I

Last Night at the Telegraph Club by Malinda Lo (January 19th)

Seventeen-year-old Lily Hu can’t remember exactly when the question took root, but the answer was in full bloom the moment she and Kathleen Miller walked under the flashing neon sign of a lesbian bar called the Telegraph Club.

America in 1954 is not a safe place for two girls to fall in love, especially not in Chinatown. Red-Scare paranoia threatens everyone, including Chinese Americans like Lily. With deportation looming over her father—despite his hard-won citizenship—Lily and Kath risk everything to let their love see the light of day.

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

The Boy from the Mish by Gary Lonesborough (February 2nd)

It’s a hot summer, and life’s going all right for Jackson and his family on the Mish. It’s almost Christmas, school’s out, and he’s hanging with his mates, teasing the visiting tourists, avoiding the racist boys in town. Just like every year, Jackson’s Aunty and annoying little cousins visit from the city – but this time a mysterious boy with a troubled past comes with them… As their friendship evolves, Jackson must confront the changing shapes of his relationships with his friends, family and community. And he must face his darkest secret – a secret he thought he’d locked away for good.

Buy it: Booktopia | Dymocks | Book Depository

Yesterday is History by Kosoko Jackson (February 2nd)

Andre Cobb hopes his luck is finally turning around. After being sick for as long as he can remember, he’s finally gotten the liver transplant he desperately needed. Now his life can finally begin. But weeks after the operation, he feels shaky and ill, passes out, and wakes up somewhere totally unexpected…the past.

Somehow, he’s slipped through time to the 1960s version of his neighborhood in Boston. While there he meets Michael, who he is instantly connected to. Michael is everything Andre is not. He’s free-spirited, artistic, and open to all of life’s possibilities.

But just as suddenly as he arrived, Andre slips back to present-day Boston. As he tries to figure out what happened, the family of his donor reaches out to let him know his new liver may have side effects… of the time travel variety. They task their youngest son, Blake, with the job of helping Andre figure out the ins and outs of his new ability.

As Andre trains with Blake, he can’t help but feel attracted to him. Blake understands Andre in a way no one else ever has. But every time Andre journeys to the past, he’s drawn back into to Michael’s world.

Torn between two boys, one in the past and one in the present, Andre has to figure out where he belongs and more importantly who he wants to be before the consequences of jumping in time catch up to him and changes his fate for good.

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Infinity Reaper by Adam Silvera (March 2nd)

This is the sequel to Infinity Son

53018247._SY475_Emil and Brighton Rey defied the odds. They beat the Blood Casters and escaped with their lives–or so they thought. When Brighton drank the Reaper’s Blood, he believed it would make him invincible, but instead the potion is killing him.

In Emil’s race to find an antidote that will not only save his brother but also rid him of his own unwanted phoenix powers, he will have to dig deep into the very past lives he’s trying to outrun. Though he needs the help of the Spell Walkers now more than ever, their ranks are fracturing, with Maribelle’s thirst for revenge sending her down a dangerous path.

Meanwhile, Ness is being abused by Senator Iron for political gain, his rare shifting ability making him a dangerous weapon. As much as Ness longs to send Emil a signal, he knows the best way to keep Emil safe from his corrupt father is to keep him at a distance.

The battle for peace is playing out like an intricate game of chess, and as the pieces on the board move into place, Emil starts to realize that he may have been competing against the wrong enemy all along.

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Ravage the Dark by Tara Sim (March 9th)

This is the sequel to Scavenge the Stars.

For seven long years, while she was imprisoned on a debtor’s ship, Amaya Chandra had one plan: to survive. But now, survival is not enough. She has people counting on her; counting on her for protection, for leadership, for vengeance. And after escaping Moray by the skin of her teeth, she’s determined to track down the man who betrayed her and her friends.

Cayo Mercado has lost everything: his money, his father, his reputation. Everything except his beloved sister. But he’s well on his way to losing her, too, with no way to afford the treatment for her deadly illness. In a foreign empire also being consumed by ash fever, Cayo has no choice but to join Amaya in uncovering the mystery of the counterfeit currency, the fever, and how his father was involved in their creation. But Cayo still hasn’t forgiven Amaya for her earlier deception, and their complicated feelings for each other are getting harder and harder to ignore.

Through glittering galas, dazzling trickery, and thrilling heists, Cayo and Amaya will learn that the corruption in Moray goes far deeper than they know, and in the end the only people they can trust are each other.

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The Mirror Season by Anna-Marie McLemore (March 16th)

When two teens discover that they were both sexually assaulted at the same party, they develop a cautious friendship through her family’s possibly-magical pastelería, his secret forest of otherworldly trees, and the swallows returning to their hometown, in Anna-Marie McLemore’s The Mirror Season

Graciela Cristales’ whole world changes after she and a boy she barely knows are assaulted at the same party. She loses her gift for making enchanted pan dulce. Neighborhood trees vanish overnight, while mirrored glass appears, bringing reckless magic with it. And Ciela is haunted by what happened to her, and what happened to the boy whose name she never learned.

But when the boy, Lock, shows up at Ciela’s school, he has no memory of that night, and no clue that a single piece of mirrored glass is taking his life apart. Ciela decides to help him, which means hiding the truth about that night. Because Ciela knows who assaulted her, and him. And she knows that her survival, and his, depend on no one finding out what really happened.

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Bruised by Tanya Boteju (March 23rd)

To Daya Wijesinghe, a bruise is a mixture of comfort and control. Since her parents died in an accident she survived, bruises have become a way to keep her pain on the surface of her skin so she doesn’t need to deal with the ache deep in her heart.

So when chance and circumstances bring her to a roller derby bout, Daya is hooked. Yes, the rules are confusing and the sport seems to require the kind of teamwork and human interaction Daya generally avoids. But the opportunities to bruise are countless, and Daya realizes that if she’s going to keep her emotional pain at bay, she’ll need all the opportunities she can get.

The deeper Daya immerses herself into the world of roller derby, though, the more she realizes it’s not the simple physical pain-fest she was hoping for. Her rough-and-tumble teammates and their fans push her limits in ways she never imagined, bringing Daya to big truths about love, loss, strength, and healing.

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Zara Hossain is Here by Sabina Khan (April 6th)

Seventeen-year-old Pakistani immigrant Zara Hossain has been leading a fairly typical life in Corpus Christi, Texas, since her family moved there for her father to work as a pediatrician. While dealing with the Islamophobia that she faces at school, Zara has to lay low, trying not to stir up any trouble and jeopardize their family’s dependent visa status while they await their green card approval, which has been in process for almost nine years.

But one day her tormentor, star football player Tyler Benson, takes things too far, leaving a threatening note in her locker, and gets suspended. As an act of revenge against her for speaking out, Tyler and his friends vandalize Zara’s house with racist graffiti, leading to a violent crime that puts Zara’s entire future at risk. Now she must pay the ultimate price and choose between fighting to stay in the only place she’s ever called home or losing the life she loves and everyone in it.

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Meet Cute Diary by Emery Lee (May 4th)

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

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

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Hani and Ishu’s Guide to Fake Dating by Adiba Jaigirdar (May 25th)

When Humaira “Hani” Khan comes out to her friends as bisexual, they immediately doubt her. Apparently, she can’t be bi if she’s only dated guys. Cornered into proving her sexuality, she tells them she’s dating someone—Ishita “Ishu” Dey, the straight A student who seems more concerned with studying than relationships.

When Hani approaches her about fake dating, she agrees on one condition–that Hani help her become more popular so she can win the school’s head girl election. It’s the perfect plan to help them achieve their goals, until Hani’s friends become jealous that she’s spending more time with Ishu. They’ll do everything they can to drive a wedge between them and ruin Ishu’s chances of becoming head girl.

Now, Hani has a decision to make: does she break off her relationship with Ishu for the sake of her friends? Or does she tell Ishu how she really feels and turn their “fake” relationship into something real?

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The Passing Playbook by Isaac Fitzsimons (June 1st)

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

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

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Ace of Spades by Faridah Àbíké-Íyímídé (June 1st/10th)

When two Niveus Private Academy students, Devon Richards and Chiamaka Adebayo, are selected to be part of the elite school’s senior class prefects, it looks like their year is off to an amazing start. After all, not only does it look great on college applications, but it officially puts each of them in the running for valedictorian, too.

Shortly after the announcement is made, though, someone who goes by Aces begins using anonymous text messages to reveal secrets about the two of them that turn their lives upside down and threaten every aspect of their carefully planned futures.

As Aces shows no sign of stopping, what seemed like a sick prank quickly turns into a dangerous game, with all the cards stacked against them. Can Devon and Chiamaka stop Aces before things become incredibly deadly?

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Love and Other Natural Disasters by Misa Sugiura (June 8th)

When Nozomi Nagai pictured the ideal summer romance, a fake one wasn’t what she had in mind.

That was before she met the perfect girl. Willow is gorgeous, glamorous, and…heartbroken? And when she enlists Nozomi to pose as her new girlfriend to make her ex jealous, Nozomi is a willing volunteer.

Because Nozomi has a master plan of her own: one to show Willow she’s better than a stand-in, and turn their fauxmance into something real. But as the lies pile up, it’s not long before Nozomi’s schemes take a turn toward disaster…and maybe a chance at love she didn’t plan for.

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Fifteen Hundred Miles From the Sun by Jonny Garza Villa (June 8th)

In a home where social conservatism, machismo, and masculine identity run deep, Corpus Christi, Texas high school senior Julián Luna is forced to keep his gay identity a secret. Jules’ only focus is laying low the next ten months and enjoying every moment he has left with his friends before college takes them on separate paths.

Completely doable.

Until Jules wakes up hungover and discovers he came out on Twitter in between tequila shots. In an instant, his entire life is thrown—literally—out the closet.

Helping him navigate the life that is openly gay Jules is Mat, a Twitter mutual from Los Angeles who slides into Jules’ DMs. He’s friendly, supportive, funny, and so attractive. He’s the first person Jules says the words “I’m gay” to. And, if he weren’t three states away, could definitely be Jules’ first boyfriend.

But a cute boy living halfway across the country can’t fix all Jules’ problems. There’s one thing he’ll have to face on his own: coming out to his homophobic father.

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Fire With Fire by Destiny Soria (June 8th)

Dani and Eden Rivera were both born to kill dragons, but the sisters couldn’t be more different. For Dani, dragon slaying takes a back seat to normal high school life, while Eden prioritizes training above everything else. Yet they both agree on one thing: it’s kill or be killed where dragons are concerned.

Until Dani comes face-to-face with one and forges a rare and magical bond with him. As she gets to know Nox, she realizes that everything she thought she knew about dragons is wrong. With Dani lost to the dragons, Eden turns to the mysterious and alluring sorcerers to help save her sister. Now on opposite sides of the conflict, the sisters will do whatever it takes to save the other. But the two are playing with magic that is more dangerous than they know, and there is another, more powerful enemy waiting for them both in the shadows.

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Gearbreakers by Zoe Hana Mikuta (June 29th)

The shadow of Godolia’s tyrannical rule is spreading, aided by their giant mechanized weapons known as Windups. War and oppression are everyday constants for the people of the Badlands, who live under the thumb of their cruel Godolia overlords.

Eris Shindanai is a Gearbreaker, a brash young rebel who specializes in taking down Windups from the inside. When one of her missions goes awry and she finds herself in a Godolia prison, Eris meets Sona Steelcrest, a cybernetically enhanced Windup pilot. At first Eris sees Sona as her mortal enemy, but Sona has a secret: She has intentionally infiltrated the Windup program to destroy Godolia from within.

As the clock ticks down to their deadliest mission yet, a direct attack to end Godolia’s reign once and for all, Eris and Sona grow closer―as comrades, friends, and perhaps something more…

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Rise to the Sun by Leah Johnson (July 6th)

Three days. Two girls. One life-changing music festival.

Toni is grieving the loss of her roadie father and needing to figure out where her life will go from here — and she’s desperate to get back to loving music. Olivia is a hopeless romantic whose heart has just taken a beating (again) and is beginning to feel like she’ll always be a square peg in a round hole — but the Farmland Music and Arts Festival is a chance to find a place where she fits.

The two collide and it feels like something like kismet when a bond begins to form. But when something goes wrong and the festival is sent into a panic, Olivia and Toni will find that they need each other (and music) more than they ever imagined.

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New Releases: June 2020

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Queen of Coin and Whispers by Helen Corcoran (1st)

This is the UK release. It will be released in the US on July 19.

When teenage queen Lia inherits her corrupt uncle’s bankrupt kingdom, she brings a new spymaster into the fold … Xania, who takes the job to avenge her murdered father.

Faced with dangerous plots and hidden enemies, can Lia and Xania learn to rely on each another, as they discover that all is not fair in love and treason?

In a world where the throne means both power and duty, they must decide what to sacrifice for their country – and for each other …

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The Groom Will Keep His Name by Matt Ortile (2nd)

A riotous collection of “witty and captivating” (Bitch Magazine) essays by a gay Filipino immigrant in America learning that everything is about sex–and sex is about power

When Matt Ortile moved from Manila to Las Vegas, the locals couldn’t pronounce his name. Harassed as a kid for his brown skin, accent, and femininity, he believed he could belong in America by marrying a white man and shedding his Filipino identity. This was the first myth he told himself. The Groom Will Keep His Name explores the various tales Ortile spun about what it means to be a Vassar Girl, an American Boy, and a Filipino immigrant in New York looking to build a home.

As we meet and mate, we tell stories about ourselves, revealing not just who we are, but who we want to be. Ortile recounts the relationships and whateverships that pushed him to confront his notions of sex, power, and the model minority myth. Whether swiping on Grindr, analyzing DMs, or cruising steam rooms, Ortile brings us on his journey toward radical self-love with intelligence, wit, and his heart on his sleeve.

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Exciting Times by Naoise Dolan (2nd)

Ava, newly arrived in Hong Kong from Dublin, spends her days teaching English to rich children.

Julian is a banker. A banker who likes to spend money on Ava, to have sex and discuss fluctuating currencies with her. But when she asks whether he loves her, he cannot say more than “I like you a great deal.”

Enter Edith. A Hong Kong–born lawyer, striking and ambitious, Edith takes Ava to the theater and leaves her tulips in the hallway. Ava wants to be her—and wants her.

And then Julian writes to tell Ava he is coming back to Hong Kong… Should Ava return to the easy compatibility of her life with Julian or take a leap into the unknown with Edith?

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If We Were Us by K.L. Waither (2nd)

Everyone at the prestigious Bexley School believes that Sage Morgan and Charlie Carmichael are meant to be….that it’s just a matter of time until they realize that they are actually in love.

When Luke Morrissey shows up on the Bexley campus his presence immediately shakes things up. Charlie and Luke are drawn to each other the moment they meet, giving Sage the opportunity to steal away to spend time with Charlie’s twin brother, Nick.

But Charlie is afraid of what others will think if he accepts that he has much more than a friendship with Luke. And Sage fears that things with Nick are getting too serious too quickly. The duo will need to rely on each other and their lifelong friendship to figure things out with the boys they love.

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You Don’t Live Here by Robyn Schneider (2nd)

In Southern California, no one lives more than thirty miles from the nearest fault line. Sasha Bloom is standing right on top of one when her world literally crumbles around her. With her mother now dead and father out of the picture, Sasha moves in with her estranged grandparents.

Living in her mom’s old bedroom, Sasha has no idea who she is anymore. Luckily, her grandparents are certain they know who she should be: A lawyer in the making. Ten pounds skinnier. In a socially advantageous relationship with a boy from a good family—a boy like Cole Edwards.

And Cole has ideas for who Sasha should be, too. His plus one at lunch. His girlfriend. His.

Sasha tries to make everything work, but that means folding away her love of photography, her grief for her mother, and he growing interest in the magnificently clever Lily Chen. Sasha wants to follow Lily off the beaten path, to discover hidden beaches, secret menus, and the truth about dinosaur pee.

But being friends with Lily might lead somewhere new. Is Sasha willing to stop being the girl everyone expects and let the girl beneath the surface breath through?

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Conventionally Yours by Annabeth Albert (2nd)

Charming, charismatic, and effortlessly popular, Conrad Stewart seems to have it all…but in reality, he’s scrambling to keep his life from tumbling out of control.

Brilliant, guarded, and endlessly driven, Alden Roth may as well be the poster boy for perfection…but even he can’t help but feel a little broken inside.

When these mortal enemies are stuck together on a cross-country road trip to the biggest fan convention of their lives, their infamous rivalry takes a backseat as an unexpected connection is forged. Yet each has a reason why they have to win the upcoming Odyssey gaming tournament and neither is willing to let emotion get in the way―even if it means giving up their one chance at something truly magical.

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You Should See Me in a Crown by Leah Johnson (2nd)

Liz Lighty has always believed she’s too black, too poor, too awkward to shine in her small, rich, prom-obsessed midwestern town. But it’s okay — Liz has a plan that will get her out of Campbell, Indiana, forever: attend the uber-elite Pennington College, play in their world-famous orchestra, and become a doctor.

But when the financial aid she was counting on unexpectedly falls through, Liz’s plans come crashing down . . . until she’s reminded of her school’s scholarship for prom king and queen. There’s nothing Liz wants to do less than endure a gauntlet of social media trolls, catty competitors, and humiliating public events, but despite her devastating fear of the spotlight she’s willing to do whatever it takes to get to Pennington.

The only thing that makes it halfway bearable is the new girl in school, Mack. She’s smart, funny, and just as much of an outsider as Liz. But Mack is also in the running for queen. Will falling for the competition keep Liz from her dreams . . . or make them come true?

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Where We Go From Here by Lucas Rocha (2nd)

Ian has just been diagnosed with HIV.

Victor, to his great relief, has tested negative.

Henrique has been living with HIV for the past three years.

When Victor finds himself getting tested for HIV for the first time, he can’t help but question his entire relationship with Henrique, the guy he has-had-been dating. See, Henrique didn’t disclose his positive HIV status to Victor until after they had sex, and even though Henrique insisted on using every possible precaution, Victor is livid.

That’s when Victor meets Ian, a guy who’s also getting tested for HIV. But Ian’s test comes back positive, and his world is about to change forever. Though Victor is loath to think about Henrique, he offers to put the two of them in touch, hoping that perhaps Henrique can help Ian navigate his new life. In the process, the lives of Ian, Victor, and Henrique will become intertwined in a story of friendship, love, and stigma-a story about hitting what you think is rock bottom, but finding the courage and support to keep moving forward.

Set in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, this utterly engrossing debut by Brazilian author Lucas Rocha calls back to Alex Sanchez’s Rainbow Boys series, bringing attention to how far we’ve come with HIV, while shining a harsh light on just how far we have yet to go.

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Swan Song by Lisa Alther (9th)

Dr. Jessie Drake, in her mid-sixties, following the sudden deaths of her parents and Kat, her partner of twenty years, has fled the Vermont life she has known for decades.

In an effort to escape the oppressive constancy of grief, she accepts a job from an old flame from her residency in New York City’s Roosevelt Hospital, and agrees to assist Ben as the ship’s doctor on a British liner. Jessie boards in Hong Kong, and, as the Amphitrite sails throughout Southeast Asia and the Middle East, cruise ship antics ensue. Jessie is lulled back into a long-ago romance with the ship’s co-doctor, and both she and her new/old beau become enmeshed with the ship’s lead (female) singer/entertainer. Among the passengers who fling socialized behavior aside on the high seas: a former Florida beauty queen (Miss Florida Power and Light) on a second honeymoon with her husband, as she causes high-velocity scandal, while juggling onboard affairs with a suicidal golf pro, and a defrocked priest hired as one of the liner’s gentleman hosts, until she vanishes–poof!–from the ship off the coast of Portugal . . . As the ship sails through the Gulf of Aden and into a possible hijacking by Somali pirates, Jessie retreats into her lover’s journals, written during her final months, journals filled with sketches of potential characters, observations on life and love–as well as drafts of a long new poem in progress, “Swan Song,” that seems to be about being in love with someone else, someone new. As Jessie’s grief turns to suspicion about the woman she thought she knew so well, her illumination of the poem’s meaning begins to lift the constraints of the past and make clear the way toward the future.

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The Falling in Love Montage by Ciara Smyth (9th)

Saoirse doesn’t believe in love at first sight. She definitely doesn’t believe in happy endings. If they were real, her mother would still be able to remember her name. She wouldn’t be in a care home with early onset dementia, a condition Saoirse may one day develop herself. So Saoirse isn’t looking for a relationship. She doesn’t see the point.

But Saoirse is about to break her own rules. For a girl with one blue freckle, an irresistible sense of mischief, and a passion for rom-coms.

Unbothered by Saoirse’s no-relationships rulebook, Ruby proposes a loophole. They don’t need true love to have one summer of fun, complete with every cliché, rom-com montage-worthy date they can dream up—and a binding agreement to end their romance come fall.

It would be the perfect plan . . . if they weren’t forgetting one thing about the Falling in Love Montage: when it’s over, the characters have fallen in love for real.

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You Brought Me the Ocean by Alex Sanchez, ill. by Julie Maroh (9th)

Jake Hyde doesn’t swim––not since his father drowned. Luckily, he lives in Truth or Consequences, New Mexico, which is in the middle of the desert, yet he yearns for the ocean and is determined to leave his hometown for a college on the coast. But his best friend, Maria, wants nothing more than to make a home in the desert, and Jake’s mother encourages him to always play it safe.

There’s nothing “safe” about Jake’s future—not when he’s attracted to Kenny Liu, swim team captain and rebel against conformity. And certainly not when he secretly applies to Miami University. Jake’s life begins to outpace his small town’s namesake, which doesn’t make it any easier to come out to his mom, or Maria, or the world.
But Jake is full of secrets, including the strange blue markings on his skin that glow when in contact with water. What power will he find when he searches for his identity, and will he turn his back to the current or dive headfirst into the waves?

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Short Stuff ed. by Alysia Constantine (9th)

It could start anywhere…

At a summer vacation at the lake, just before heading off to college. In a coffee shop, when the whole world is new. In a dragon’s cave, surrounded by gold. At a swim club, with the future in sight.

In Short Stuff, bestselling and award-winning authors dial down the angst in four meet-cute LGBTQ young adult romances.

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Belladonna by Anbara Salam (9th)

Isabella is beautiful, inscrutable, and popular. Her best friend, Bridget, keeps quietly to the fringes of their Connecticut Catholic school, watching everything and everyone, but most especially Isabella.

In 1957, when the girls graduate, they land coveted spots at the Accademia di Belle Arti di Pentila in northern Italy, a prestigious art history school on the grounds of a silent convent. There, free of her claustrophobic home and the town that will always see her and her Egyptian mother as outsiders, Bridget discovers she can reinvent herself as anyone she desires… perhaps even someone Isabella could desire in return.

But as that glittering year goes on, Bridget begins to suspect Isabella is keeping a secret from her, one that will change the course of their lives forever.

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The Unconquered City by K.A. Doore (16th)

Seven years have passed since the Siege — a time when the hungry dead had risen — but the memories still haunt Illi Basbowen. Though she was trained to be an elite assassin, now the Basbowen clan act as Ghadid’s militia force protecting the resurrected city against a growing tide of monstrous guul that travel across the dunes.

Illi’s worst fears are confirmed when General Barca arrives, bearing news that her fledgling nation, Hathage, also faces this mounting danger. In her search for the source of the guul, the general exposes a catastophic secret hidden on the outskirts of Ghadid.

To protect her city and the realm, Illi must travel to Hathage and confront her inner demons in order to defeat a greater one — but how much can she sacrifice to protect everything she knows from devastation?

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Vera Kelly is Not a Mystery by Rosalie Knecht (16th)


This is the sequel to Who is Vera Kelly?

When ex-CIA agent Vera Kelly loses her job and her girlfriend in a single day, she reluctantly goes into business as a private detective. Heartbroken and cash-strapped, she takes a case that dredges up dark memories and attracts dangerous characters from across the Cold War landscape. Before it’s over, she’ll chase a lost child through foster care and follow a trail of Dominican exiles to the Caribbean. Forever looking over her shoulder, she nearly misses what’s right in front of her: her own desire for home, connection, and a new romance at the local bar.

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The Circus Rose by Betsy Cornwell (16th)

Twins Rosie and Ivory have grown up at their ringmaster mother’s knee, and after years on the road, they’re returning to Port End, the closest place to home they know. Yet something has changed in the bustling city: fundamentalist flyers paper the walls and preachers fill the squares, warning of shadows falling over the land. The circus prepares a triumphant homecoming show, full of lights and spectacle that could chase away even the darkest shadow. But during Rosie’s tightrope act, disaster strikes.

In this lush, sensuous novel interwoven with themes of social justice and found family, it’s up to Ivory and her magician love—with the help of a dancing bear—to track down an evil priest and save their circus family before it’s too late.

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I’ll Be the One by Lyla Lee (16th)

Skye Shin has heard it all. Fat girls shouldn’t dance. Wear bright colors. Shouldn’t call attention to themselves. But Skye dreams of joining the glittering world of K-Pop, and to do that, she’s about to break all the rules that society, the media, and even her own mother, have set for girls like her.

She’ll challenge thousands of other performers in an internationally televised competition looking for the next K-pop star, and she’ll do it better than anyone else.

When Skye nails her audition, she’s immediately swept into a whirlwind of countless practices, shocking performances, and the drama that comes with reality TV. What she doesn’t count on are the highly fat-phobic beauty standards of the Korean pop entertainment industry, her sudden media fame and scrutiny, or the sparks that soon fly with her fellow competitor, Henry Cho.

But Skye has her sights on becoming the world’s first plus-sized K-pop star, and that means winning the competition—without losing herself.

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Her Lady’s Honor by Renée Dahlia (22nd)

When Lady Eleanor “Nell” St. George arrives in Wales after serving as a veterinarian in the Great War, she doesn’t come alone. With her is her former captain’s beloved warhorse, which she promised to return to him—and a series of recurring nightmares that torment both her heart and her soul. She wants only to complete her task, then find refuge with her family, but when Nell meets the captain’s eldest daughter, all that changes.

Beatrice Hughes is resigned to life as the dutiful daughter. Her mother grieves for the sons she lost to war; the care of the household and remaining siblings falls to Beatrice, and she manages it with a practical efficiency. But when a beautiful stranger shows up with her father’s horse, practicality is the last thing on her mind.

Despite the differences in their social standing, Beatrice and Nell give in to their unlikely attraction, finding love where they least expect it. But not everything in the captain’s house is as it seems. When Beatrice’s mother disappears under mysterious circumstances, Nell must overcome her preconceptions to help Beatrice, however she’s able. Together they must find out what really happened that stormy night in the village, before everything Beatrice loves is lost—including Nell.

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The Sullivan Sisters by Kathryn Ormsbee (23rd)

52768177Time changes things.

That painful fact of life couldn’t be truer for the Sullivan sisters. Once, they used to be close, sharing secrets inside homemade blanket castles. Now, life in the Sullivan house means closed doors and secrets left untold.

Fourteen-year-old Murphy, an aspiring magician, is shocked by the death of Siegfried, her pet turtle. Seventeen-year-old Claire is bound for better things than her Oregonian hometown—until she receives a crushing rejection from her dream college. And eighteen-year-old Eileen is nursing a growing addiction in the wake of life-altering news.

Then, days before Christmas, a letter arrives, informing the sisters of a dead uncle and an inheritance they knew nothing about. The news forces them to band together in the face of a sinister family mystery…and, possibly, murder.

The Sullivan Sisters is an unforgettable novel about the ghosts of the past, the power of connection, and the bonds of sisterhood.

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Lot Six by David Adjmi (23rd)

Brooklyn, 1970s. Born into the ruins of a Syrian Jewish family that once had it all, David is painfully displaced. Trapped in an insular religious community that excludes him and a family coming apart at the seams, he is plunged into suicidal depression by the age of eight. Through adolescence, David tries to suppress his homosexual feelings and fit in, but when pushed to the breaking point, he makes the bold decision to cut off his family, erase his past, and leave everything he knows behind. There’s only one problem: who should he be? Bouncing between identities he steals from the pages of fashion magazines, tomes of philosophy, sitcoms and foreign films, and practically everyone he meets–from Rastafarians to French preppies–David begins to piece together an entirely new adult self. But is this the foundation for a life, or just a kind of quicksand?

Moving from the glamour and dysfunction of 1970s Brooklyn, to the sybaritic materialism of Reagan’s 1980s to post-9/11 New York, Lot Six offers a quintessentially American tale of an outsider striving to reshape himself in the funhouse mirror of American culture. Adjmi’s memoir is a genre bending Künstlerroman in the spirit of Charles Dickens and Alison Bechdel, a portrait of the artist in the throes of a life and death crisis of identity. Raw and lyrical, and written in gleaming prose that veers effortlessly between hilarity and heartbreak, Lot Six charts Adjmi’s search for belonging, identity, and what it takes to be an artist in America.

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Two Rogues Make a Right by Cat Sebastian (23rd)

Will Sedgwick can’t believe that after months of searching for his oldest friend, Martin Easterbrook is found hiding in an attic like a gothic nightmare. Intent on nursing Martin back to health, Will kindly kidnaps him and takes him to the countryside to recover, well away from the world.

Martin doesn’t much care where he is or even how he got there. He’s much more concerned that the man he’s loved his entire life is currently waiting on him hand and foot, feeding him soup and making him tea. Martin knows he’s a lost cause, one he doesn’t want Will to waste his life on.

As a lifetime of love transforms into a tender passion both men always desired but neither expected, can they envision a life free from the restrictions of the past, a life with each other?

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Freedom by E. Davies (26th)

Agoraphobe Jaden shouldn’t have let his big brother put a ticket in a blind date raffle for him. He wasn’t expecting to win. And certainly not an overnight trip to the Grand Canyon with a gorgeous stranger—and his total opposite, a hunky wilderness guide.

Henry’s excited to meet a guy he clicks with, having finally finished bottom surgery. He’s been living stealth as the man he is for years, but he’s growing tired of hiding his past. Jaden not only accepts him, he captivates Henry, who resolves to be courageous and vulnerable in the rest of his life.

Back home in Denver, Henry starts to take pride in reconnecting with the trans community, while Jaden pushes himself out of his comfort zone. But freedom always comes at a price. Can they take the plunge into their wide open future together?

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Just Like That by Cole McCade (30th)

Summer Hemlock never meant to come back to Omen, Massachusetts.

But with his mother in need of help, Summer has no choice but to return to his hometown, take up a teaching residency at the Albin Academy boarding school—and work directly under the man who made his teenage years miserable.

Professor Fox Iseya.

Forbidding, aloof, commanding: psychology instructor Iseya is a cipher who’s always fascinated and intimidated shy, anxious Summer. But that fascination turns into something more when the older man challenges Summer to be brave. What starts as a daily game to reward Summer with a kiss for every obstacle overcome turns passionate, and a professional relationship turns quickly personal.

Yet Iseya’s walls of grief may be too high for someone like Summer to climb…until Summer’s infectious warmth shows Fox everything he’s been missing in life.

Now both men must be brave enough to trust each other, to take that leap.

To find the love they’ve always needed…

Just like that.

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In the Role of Brie Hutchens… by Nicole Melleby (30th)

Introducing Brie Hutchens: soap opera super fan, aspiring actor, and so-so student at her small Catholic school. Brie has big plans for eighth grade. She’s going to be the star of the school play and convince her parents to let her go to the performing arts high school. But when Brie’s mom walks in on her accidentally looking at some possibly inappropriate photos of her favorite actress, Brie panics and blurts out that she’s been chosen to crown the Mary statue during her school’s May Crowning ceremony. Brie’s mom is distracted with pride—but Brie’s in big trouble: she has not been chosen. No one has. Worse, Brie has almost no chance to get the job, which always goes to a top student.

Desperate to make her lie become truth, Brie turns to Kennedy, the girl everyone expects to crown Mary. But sometimes just looking at Kennedy gives Brie butterflies. Juggling her confusing feelings with the rapidly approaching May Crowning, not to mention her hilarious non-star turn in the school play, Brie navigates truth and lies, expectations and identity, and how to—finally—make her mother really see her as she is.

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Thin Girls by Diana Clarke (30th)

Rose and Lily Winters are twins, as close as the bond implies; they feel each other’s emotions, taste what the other is feeling. Like most young women, they’ve struggled with their bodies and food since childhood, and high school finds them turning to food—or not—to battle the waves of insecurity and the yearning for popularity. But their connection can be as destructive as it is supportive, a yin to yang. when Rose stops eating, Lily starts—consuming everything Rose won’t or can’t.

Within a few years, Rose is about to mark her one-year anniversary in a rehabilitation facility for anorexics. Lily, her sole visitor, is the only thing tethering her to a normal life.

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New Release Spotlight: You Should See Me in a Crown by Leah Johnson

Clever, funny, romantic, and empowering, You Should See Me in a Crown by Leah Johnson (Scholastic, June 1) is just so much of what makes both Contemporary YA and YA Romance great. (And yes, it is an f/f Romance!) The second I finished reading it I wanted to pass my ARC around like candy, and while maybe that kind of sharing isn’t the best idea these days, I definitely recommend getting your hands on your own as soon as you can!

Liz Lighty has always believed she’s too black, too poor, too awkward to shine in her small, rich, prom-obsessed midwestern town. But it’s okay — Liz has a plan that will get her out of Campbell, Indiana, forever: attend the uber-elite Pennington College, play in their world-famous orchestra, and become a doctor.

But when the financial aid she was counting on unexpectedly falls through, Liz’s plans come crashing down . . . until she’s reminded of her school’s scholarship for prom king and queen. There’s nothing Liz wants to do less than endure a gauntlet of social media trolls, catty competitors, and humiliating public events, but despite her devastating fear of the spotlight she’s willing to do whatever it takes to get to Pennington.

The only thing that makes it halfway bearable is the new girl in school, Mack. She’s smart, funny, and just as much of an outsider as Liz. But Mack is also in the running for queen. Will falling for the competition keep Liz from her dreams . . . or make them come true?

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