Hazel Hill is Gonna Win This One by Maggie Horne
In this funny, feminist, and queer middle grade debut, seventh-grader Hazel Hill is too busy for friends. No, really. She needs to focus on winning the school-wide speech competition over her nemesis, the popular and smart Ella Quinn, after last year’s embarrassing Hyperbole/Hyperbowl mishap that cost her first place. But when Hazel discovers Ella is being harassed by golden boy Tyler Harris, she has to choose between winning and doing the right thing. No one would believe that a nice boy like Tyler would harass and intimidate a nice girl like Ella, but Hazel knows the truth—and she’s determined to prove it.
Nothing Sung and Nothing Spoken by Nita Tyndall
It is the summer before World War II begins, but Charlotte Kraus doesn’t know it yet. All she knows is the zing of electricity she feels every time her best friend, Angelika Haas, grabs her hand. Charlie would follow Geli anywhere—which is how she finds herself at an underground club one Friday night, dancing to contraband American jazz and swing music, suddenly feeling that anything might be possible.
Under the oppressive shadow of the Nazi regime, returning to the club is a risk. But Charlie does, unable to resist the allure of sharing a secret with the girl she can’t stop thinking about, or the thrill of disobeying the Party’s rules. Soon the Swingjugend movement becomes more than a simple escape. It’s a place where Charlie and her friends find acceptance, freedom, and camaraderie among others who are determined not to sit on the sidelines of history.
Increasingly terrified by the tightening vise of Hitler’s power, Charlie is drawn to larger and larger acts of resistance—even as Geli, the daughter of a senior Party officer, begins to pull away. But resisting the Nazis is a dangerous proposition, and the war will test what Charlie is willing to risk at the expense of her family, her friends, and the girl she loves.
Deadbeat Druid by David R. Slayton
This is the third book in the Adam Binder series.
The living cannot be allowed to infect the dead.
Adam Binder has lost what matters most to him. Having finally learned the true identity of the warlock preying on his family, what was supposed to be a final confrontation with the fiend instead became a trap that sent Vic into the realm of the dead, where none living are meant to be. Bound by debt, oath, and love, Adam blazes his own trail into the underworld to get Vic back and to end the threat of the warlock once and for all.
But the road to hell is paved with more than good intentions. Demons are hungry and ghosts are relentless. What awaits Adam in the underworld is nothing he is prepared to face. If that weren’t enough, Adam has one more thing he must do if he and Vic are to return to world of the living: find the lost heart of Death herself.
Drizzle, Dreams, and Lovestruck Things by Maya Prasad
The Singh sisters grew up helping their father navigate the bustle of the Songbird Inn. Nestled on dreamy and drizzly Orcas Island in the Pacific Northwest, the inn’s always been warm and cozy and filled with interesting guests―the perfect home. But things are about to heat up now that the Songbird has been named the Most Romantic Inn in America.
Nidhi has everything planned out―until a storm brings a wayward tree crashing into her life one autumn . . . and along with it, an intriguing construction worker and a yearning for her motherland. Suddenly, she’s questioning everything she thought she wanted.
Avani can’t sit still. If she does, her grief for Pop, their dad’s late husband, will overwhelm her. So she keeps moving as much as she can, planning an elaborate Winter Ball in Pop’s memory. Until a blizzard traps her in a barn with the boy she accidentally stood up and has been actively avoiding ever since.
Sirisha loves seeing the world through her camera, but her shyness prevents her from stepping out from behind the lens. Talking to girls is such a struggle! When a pretty actress comes to the Songbird with her theater troupe, spring has sprung for Sirisha―if only she can find the words.
Rani is a hopeless romantic through and through. After gently nudging her sisters to open their hearts, she is convinced it’s finally her turn to find love. When two potential suitors float in on a summer breeze, Rani is swept up in grandeur to match her wildest Bollywood dreams. But which boy is the one she’s meant to be with?
Ultimately, the magic of the Songbird Inn leads the tight-knit Singh sisters to new passions and breathtaking kisses―and to unearth the truest versions of themselves.
When the Angels Left the Old Country by Sacha Lamb
Uriel the angel and Little Ash (short for Ashmedai) are the only two supernatural creatures in their shtetl (which is so tiny, it doesn’t have a name other than Shtetl). The angel and the demon have been studying together for centuries, but pogroms and the search for a new life have drawn all the young people from their village to America. When one of those young emigrants goes missing, Uriel and Little Ash set off to find her.
Along the way the angel and demon encounter humans in need of their help, including Rose Cohen, whose best friend (and the love of her life) has abandoned her to marry a man, and Malke Shulman, whose father died mysteriously on his way to America.
But there are obstacles ahead of them as difficult as what they’ve left behind. Medical exams (and demons) at Ellis Island. Corrupt officials, cruel mob bosses, murderers, poverty. The streets are far from paved with gold.
With cinematic sweep and tender observation, Sacha Lamb presents a totally original drama about individual purpose, the fluid nature of identity, and the power of love to change and endure.
Henry Hamlet’s Heart by Rhiannon Wilde
Henry Hamlet doesn’t know what he wants after school ends. It’s his last semester of high school, and all he’s sure of is his uncanny ability to make situations awkward. Luckily, he can always hide behind his enigmatic best friend, Len. They’ve been friends since forever, but Len is mysterious and Henry is clumsy, and Len is a heartthrob and Henry is a neurotic mess. Somehow it’s always worked.
That is, until Henry falls in love. Hard. How do you date your best friend?
Lavender House by Lev A.C. Rosen
Check out the trailer here.
When you’re a cop in 1952 and your colleagues bust you in a raid on a gay bar, your career options become extremely limited. Former San Francisco Police Inspector Evander Mills’ retirement plan is to drink until his money is gone, then pitch himself into the bay. Until a widow sits down next to Andy at the bar and offers him a private gig―find out what happened to her wife.
Persuaded to take the case, Andy accompanies the widow to Lavender House, the family seat of recently deceased Irene Lamontaine, head of the Lamontaine Soap empire. At this secluded estate, where none of the residents, or the staff, need to hide their identities, Andy finds a bewitching freedom.
He also immediately finds himself a pawn in a family game of old money, subterfuge, and jealousy―and Irene’s death was only the beginning. The gates of Lavender House can’t lock out the real world, and it turns out that not even a soap empire can keep everyone clean.
When We Were Sisters by Fatimah Asghar
In this heartrending, lyrical debut work of fiction, Fatimah Asghar traces the intense bond of three orphaned siblings who, after their parents die, are left to raise one another. The youngest, Kausar, grapples with the incomprehensible loss of her parents as she also charts out her own understanding of gender; Aisha, the middle sister, spars with her “crybaby” younger sibling as she desperately tries to hold on to her sense of family in an impossible situation; and Noreen, the eldest, does her best in the role of sister-mother while also trying to create a life for herself, on her own terms.
As Kausar grows up, she must contend with the collision of her private and public worlds, and choose whether to remain in the life of love, sorrow, and codependency she’s known or carve out a new path for herself. When We Were Sisters tenderly examines the bonds and fractures of sisterhood, names the perils of being three Muslim American girls alone against the world, and ultimately illustrates how those who’ve lost everything might still make homes in each other.
The Consequences by Manuel Muñoz
“Her immediate concern was money.” So begins the first story in Manuel Muñoz’s dazzling new collection. In it, Delfina has moved from Texas to California’s Central Valley with her husband and small son, and her isolation and desperation force her to take a risk that ends in profound betrayal.
These exquisite stories are mostly set in the 1980s in the small towns that surround Fresno. With an unflinching hand, Muñoz depicts the Mexican and Mexican American farmworkers who put food on our tables but are regularly and ruthlessly rounded up by the migra, as well as the quotidian struggles and immense challenges faced by their families. The messy and sometimes violent realities navigated by his characters―straight and gay, immigrant and American-born, young and old―are tempered by moments of surprising, tender care: Two young women meet on a bus to Los Angeles to retrieve husbands who must find their way back from the border after being deported; a gay couple plans a housewarming party that reveals buried class tensions; a teenage mother slips out to a carnival where she encounters the father of her child; the foreman of a crew of fruit pickers finds a dead body and is subsequently―perhaps literally―haunted.
In The Consequences, obligation can shape, support, and sometimes derail us.
Three’s a Crowd by Kate Gavin
For Zoe Tyler, adulting sucks. First big job, student loan payments, and an apartment to maintain with little help from her often-absent boyfriend, Jake. Throw in a half-sister of Jake’s that she never knew about and it’s a wonder she’s holding it together.
When Paige Newbanks shows up unannounced at her half-brother’s apartment, she’s not only desperate for a place to stay, but desperate to get to know the brother she hasn’t seen since she was five.
Zoe sets aside her frustrations with Jake, inviting Paige to stay with them for as long as she needs. But when Jake misses yet another night out with Zoe and he suggests she take Paige instead, Zoe and Paige are drawn toward each other in an unexpected way.
Will Zoe and Paige jeopardize their respective relationships with Jake in order to see what a relationship with each other could be?
Buy it: Amazon
Rooting for You by Roz Alexander
Botanist Fisch’s life in Clover Hill is small. Getting physical distance from her tense relationship with her mother was supposed to give her room to breathe. Instead, she’s created a new cage for herself, spending most of her time isolated and working on other people’s projects instead of her own dreams. Admitting she’s lonely is the first step. Doing something about it seems much harder.
When traveling photojournalist Jaeeun Kupperman comes to town, it’s a wake-up call like no other. Jaeeun’s hot, talented, sweet, and the proud cat parent of one perfect angel named Dan. Faster than Dan can take down a dandelion, the two butch women are mutually smitten. But the sun is setting as both of them search for their next assignments and Fisch realizes it’s past time to branch out just as Jaeeun considers planting roots.
They might both be eager to sow the seeds of love, but will they be brave enough to keep it growing? Or will Jaeeun leave Fisch in her rearview mirror when the golden hour is over?
Buy it: Amazon
Paris Daillencourt is About to Crumble by Alexis Hall
Paris Daillencourt is a recipe for disaster. Despite his passion for baking, his cat, and his classics degree, constant self-doubt and second-guessing have left him a curdled, directionless mess. So when his roommate enters him in Bake Expectations, the nation’s favourite baking show, Paris is sure he’ll be the first one sent home.
But not only does he win week one’s challenge—he meets fellow contestant Tariq Hassan. Sure, he’s the competition, but he’s also cute and kind, with more confidence than Paris could ever hope to have. Still, neither his growing romance with Tariq nor his own impressive bakes can keep Paris’s fear of failure from spoiling his happiness. And when the show’s vicious fanbase confirms his worst anxieties, Paris’s confidence is torn apart quicker than tear-and-share bread.
But if Paris can find the strength to face his past, his future, and the chorus of hecklers that live in his brain, he’ll realize it’s the sweet things in life that he really deserves.
Helen House by Kayla Kumari Upadhyaya
Right before meeting her girlfriend Amber’s parents for the first time, the unnamed narrator of Helen House learns that she and her partner share a similar trauma: both of their sisters are dead. As the narrator wonders what else Amber has been hiding, she struggles with her own secret–using sex as a coping mechanism–as well as confusion and guilt over whether she really cares about Amber, or if she’s only using her for sex. When they arrive at the parents’ rural upstate home, a quaint but awkward first meeting unravels into a nightmare in which the narrator finds herself stranded in a family’s decades-long mourning ritual.
Buy it: Burrow Press
This Arab is Queer ed. by Elias Jahshan
This ground-breaking anthology features the searingly honest and moving memoirs of eighteen queer Arab writers – some internationally bestselling, others using pseudonyms. Here, we find heart-warming connections and moments of celebration, alongside essays exploring the challenges of being LGBTQ+ and Arab.
From a military base in the Gulf to whispers between lovers caught between the bedsheets; and from a concert in Cairo where the rainbow flag was raised to a crowd of thousands, to making it hap-pen as a drag queen in exile, this collection celebrates the true colours of a rich, vibrant Arab queer experience.
Life in Every Breath: Ester Blenda by Fatima Bremmer
Born in 1891 in Stockholm, Ester Blenda Nordström defied stereotypes from an early age. She wore trousers, smoked a pipe, and rode motorbikes, much to the chagrin of her esteemed family. As a young woman, she captivated the public as Sweden’s first investigative journalist.
Ester’s real passion was uncovering the truth, which she did by inhabiting the lives of others. Under an assumed identity, she toiled as a Swedish milkmaid on a farm, lived for six months with the indigenous Scandinavian Sami people, and journeyed to America alongside poor emigrants aspiring to a better life. She saved villages from starvation during the Finnish Civil War and joined an expedition to study volcanoes in Siberia. Her groundbreaking reports were received by a spellbound audience and would change journalism forever.
But just as Ester’s star was rising, her forbidden love affair with a woman ended in heartbreak—and her powerful voice was silenced. Her spectacular adventures and untamed spirit belied an inner turmoil that came to define the later years of her life—until, at the very end, when she was reunited with the great love of her life and died by her side.